GOOGLE, SPEAK TO ME!: Google Assistant now has a voice in smart speakers

Washington – VIJAY SHAH via HEATHER KELLY and CNN

Google Assistant, the voice-activated virtual personal assistant technology widely used on home devices and mobile phones, is destined to make an appearance on new ‘smart speakers’ fitted with screens, reported CNNtech magazine, an imprint of U.S. news network CNN, recently.

The devices, known at Google HQ as ‘smart displays’, are a step up from the current wave of internet connected home speakers such as Alexa/Amazon Echo devices. Instead of just a round box with a speaker and lights, the new technology incorporates a screen for greater user-friendliness and accessibility.

Image credit: www.nextdayblinds.com/

 

Google announced the technology officially at the renowned CES technology show which was held in Las Vegas, USA from the 9th to the 12th of January this year, and the first smart displays packaged together with the Google Assistant are planned to made available in stores and online later in 2018. Not only will the displays be an improvement on current assistant devices, but also remove the need for people to rely on using mobile phones in having to stand them up in, say, the kitchen.

Google has partnered with hardware manufacturers such as Lenovo of China, and has shown some prototypes. According to CNNtech, the smart displays are sleek rectangular devices, much like a tablet, which can be stood up on counters and tables like a picture frame.

The smart displays are expected to have compatibility with other Google products, such as Photos, Duo and searches using the eponymous search engine. There is also the possibility of being able to watch YouTube videos. The company also announced it has grand plans for its Assistant, hinting that it is planning to bring the voice to more smart televisions, headphones and Android Auto, an app that links Android devices with systems in vehicles.

SOURCES:

HEM Newsbreakers, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/halfeatenmind/lists/hem-newsbreakers

Bangladesh News 24, HEM News Agency, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/bdnews24

“Google’s assistant now works on smart speakers with screens” – Heather Kelly, CNNtech/Cable News Network/Time Warner (8 January 2018) http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/08/technology/google-assistant-smart-speakers-screens/index.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Google Assistant with notepad and glasses” – NDB Photos, Flickr (16 March 2017) https://www.flickr.com/photos/142305740@N05/33433114166

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OUR HIGH-TECH FUTURE: 5 technologies that will shape our tomorrow

Have you ever wondered what kind of technologies will become established in our world in the next 20, 30 or 50 years? Super-thin mobile phones with holographic screens, robot servants, perhaps those flying cars from the Back to the Future films we are still waiting on?. Well I do not keep a crystal ball in my bedroom, but in August 2017, Spanish-language online magazine TecNovedosos played soothsayer and predicted what technologies we might be using and experiencing in our daily lives in the future, perhaps as early as the next decade.

Technology has made leaps and bounds in the past few years. Just remember that only ten years ago, smartphones were just getting on the market, and you can realise the rapid strides we have made in innovation. Here are the five technological developments that could be coming to a house, high street or hospital (maybe) near you.

 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and clones

In 1996, the world witnessed the birth of the world’s first cloned animal, Dolly the sheep. Today we have robo-lawyers that can help fill out asylum applications, virtual holographic assistant on the London ‘Tube’ and every other website seems to have a chatbot. Virtual assistants like Siri and Google Assistant are now a standard feature on many phones. In the future, these ‘e-ssistants’ could become more human-like, perhaps crossing into physical technology as cyborgs, which could talk like us and be almost indistinguishable from flesh-and-blood humans.

Super processors

British scientists are said to be working on a ‘quantum computer’ the size of a sports stadium. This super-comp will have processing power far greater than any current system we have in place currently. It is hoped that this massive hunk of circuitry may unlock cures for diseases that now cannot be treated, solve complex scientific problems and even the enigmas of life.

Smart objects

The ‘internet of things’ is a interconnected setup where electronics like your refrigerator, microwave and heating systems, for example, are linked up via the internet to enable you to run your house and life better. For example, your fridge could tip you off if your milk is about to go off, or if you need to stock up on carrots. An IoT fridge could even place the shopping order for you based on what it detects inside it. In the future, advances in nanotechnology could see microscopic computing systems incorporated into everyday objects such as clothing and hygiene devices, that could even be controlled by your voice. Imagine telling your mop to jump out and start cleaning your kitchen.

Surgical nano-robots

We already have robots that can perform surgery and tiny endoscope cameras that can be swallowed as a pill. Future developments in nano-technology could point the way for microscopic robots that can be delivered into the bloodstream via a simple injection and identify or even obliterate harmful viruses or cells, such as that found with cancer.

A longer life

Some scientists think that within the next century, humans will not find it strange if they make it past their 150th birthday. Researchers in the US working with genetics have found ways to switch off the genes associated with ageing in human bodies. By deactivating them, they could extend the lifespans of certain cells. By 2030, it is hoped that doctors will be able to make their patients live longer just by doing a bit of genetic tinkering, without harming the patient’s health.

What other technological developments do you think will revolutionise our future in the next ten years? Please leave your ideas in the comments section below this post.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Alexander Ochoa, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/AlexanderOchoaQ

“Las 5 tecnologías que cambiarán el mundo en los próximos años” – ANews via TecNovedosos (14 August 2017) https://www.tecnovedosos.com/tecnologias-cambiaran-mundo/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Future Connected City: 2086” – JCT 600, Flickr (12 August 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/143789194@N03/28650310590

 

OUTLASTING THE ENERGIZER BUNNY: US researcher creates stronger batteries with cheap materials

Houston – VIJAY SHAH via noticiasdelaciencia.com and AgroAlimentando

Batteries are one of the most important elements of our technologically driven society. We rely on them to energise everything from children’s toys and torches, to cars and lorries, yet often they can be the bane of our lives too. Batteries can have their drawbacks, such as catching on fire, running out too quickly, leaking, and performing poorly in wintry weather.

Recently, researchers led by Dr. Yan Yao at the US’ University of Houston have discovered that manufacturing batteries from a new and inexpensive class of materials may help solve the problem of troublesome lithium ion batteries and the like.

 

Yao and team used quinones, a type of chemical organic compound derived from petrochemicals which are easy to obtain and cheap. These recyclable materials were converted into a stable anode compound, which can be used in the manufacture of water-rechargeable batteries. Water-chargeable batteries contain water-based electrolytes that carry current easily, but unlike conventional batteries, do not corrode. Until recently, these kinds of batteries were only really good in the laboratory environment, as their short shelf life made them impractical for situations where replacing the battery regularly is inconvenient, such as in heavy machinery. Despite their short lifespans, water-rechargeable batteries, also known as aqueous-rechargeable batteries are much safer and are more robust.

The main problem with previous models of water-rechargeable batteries has been their anodes, one of three parts in a battery, that is negative when the battery is discharging, and then switches to a positive charge when the battery is being charged up. The anodes in these previous models were intrinsically structurally and chemically unstable, which means that the battery was only efficient for a relatively short period of time.

Yan Yao and the researchers used quinones, which cost as little as $2 (£1.54) per kilogram. They discovered that anodes made from quinones were effective in both acid and alkali batteries as well as newer water-based models using metallic ions. This diversity of usage means that Yao’s technology could be applied to any battery setting for any technology, including for devices not yet invented.

The quinones also help batteries work at a wide range of temperatures, which gives Yao’s batteries an advantage even over other existing aqueous rechargeable battery technology, which still underperforms in cold conditions.

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Alejandro Shammah‏, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/aleshammah

“Baterías con vida más larga gracias a una clase de materiales baratos” – noticiasdelaciencia.com via Agroalimentando – AgroA http://agroalimentando.com/nota.php?id_nota=7753&utm_content=buffer2de86&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Duracell battery AA type” – Anton Fomkin, Flickr (19 November 2008) https://www.flickr.com/photos/antonfomkin/3046002213

 

SAMSUNG SUR40: The future of the office?

Tables and technology…they are not your usual bedfellows. While technology is forever updating, reinventing itself with every coffee-and-biscuits brainstorm at Sony-Ericsson or Google, Inc., a table is something that has not changed in centuries. Putting it at its simplest, it is a flat surface with four horizontal legs. Nothing whizz-kiddy about that. Until relatively recently, the nearest a table got to being computerised was if someone came along and plonked a PC monitor and some wires on top. Maybe even a tablet!.

tmp_UWHS-Samsungs-SUR40-for-Microsoft-Surface_thumb841994204

Our technologically-driven and media-hungry society means that even the humble table is now being propelled screaming into the 21st century. As people desire a more technology-centric existence where the internet, documents, pictures etc are always on hand and easily accessible, the fake pine dinner table may soon find itself relegated to a dusty shed or the local charity shop.Interactive coffee tables have already been making special appearances at numerous fairs and expos, setting tech and gadget-watchers’ tongues collectively wagging.

Korean electronics giant Samsung is already leading the way with its range of televisions, PC screens, and is now heavily dominating the smartphone market with its Galaxy and Note offerings. The super-boffins in Seoul did not just stop there. They took a ordinary boardroom table, applied some high-tech knowhow, added a 40-inch PC with touchscreen and gave birth to the SUR40. A chief executive’s dream machine.

According to Shortlist magazine, the SUR40 is a forward, but relatively simple concept. The widescreen PC that serves as the tabletop is 4 inches thick, supported by what HEM presumes to be toughened aluminium or stainless steel legs that look like they were hastily borrowed from a Argos television stand. The touchscreen is made from patented ‘Gorilla Glass’ from Corning – the same fingerprint-proof tough material Samsung used for the Galaxy SII and SIII. In fact the screen is sufficiently strong to support a whole round of office teas.

The software inside the ‘table’ is very much au courant. PixelSense gives the LCD screen the ability to detect with infrared signals any object placed on or near the table, enabling a user to hold a video or Powerpoint presentation, flip it around and zoom in, using just a couple of fingers. The SUR40 can even read text placed face-down on the surface, making it ideal for saving and distributing documents to the whole team at your company’s weekly sales analysis.

(c) SlashGear

The SUR40 means no more costly and clunky projectors and laptops being carried from one room to another. It would have a positive impact on the environment too, as offices no longer have to prepare paper handouts for distribution to colleagues at meetings. As companies become increasingly keen on their green credentials and aim to save trees, the SUR-40 may be a high-demand item to help support corporate social responsibility objectives.

It could also be a feature of university seminars and may revolutionise teaching in schools . The cost however is a bit prohibitive. On online retailers like jigsaw.com SUR40s are selling for £9354.00 a piece, which includes the easy-to-attach legs, so you might want to hold to your desktop just a little longer. It requires some dexterity too, with Shortlist describing it as “akin to conducting an orchestra”. Its simple no-frills design and usability however could soon see it making an appearance at an AGM near you…and hopefully not at a branch of Barnardo’s.

See the Samsung SUR40 doing its stuff:

samsungs-next-gen-microsoft-interactive-surface-first-look-1cwfo2hXP6T2k