Top 5 Technological Advancements In Law Enforcement

Law enforcement is under growing scrutiny from the public over safety concerns. Now more than ever. So, in order to keep situations as safe as possible for responding officers and the general public, there is new technology being developed and improved constantly.

Here are five really interesting and important technological advancements that are going to help out.

Remote Controlled, Wireless and Highly Mobile Cameras

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Police often find themselves in situations where scenes are far too dangerous to risk entering. With rising violence and hostilities towards police officers across the country, law enforcement has been relying heavily on new mobile, wireless cameras. The technology for these extra eyes is being constantly improved.

These cameras can navigate a crime scene by using an electric motor and unique wheels, which allow the camera unique mobility. Other amazing details include the camera’s ability to climb and explore its environment wirelessly. These cameras were developed and continuously improved on by ReconRobotics located in Edina, Minnesota.

The Gunshot Detection System

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Whenever there has been an active shooting situation, law enforcement often finds itself having to waste a lot of time going through arduous investigations concerning the gun or guns used, where the shots came from and most importantly, who the shooter is.

New technology from ShotSpotter has been utilized by the Nassau County Police Department. This system is based on electronic sensors placed throughout problem neighborhoods to help determine the precise source of the gunfire. It has helped the most when officers have to deal with witnesses not willing to cooperate.

Tablets

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Tablets and application technology is now developed and used actively by police officers. This technology and special applications are now becoming utilized by a growing number of police departments to take statements, pictures of crimes scenes and victims and to videotape other important evidence, which is considered a breakthrough method when dealing with a crime scene.

The way to maximize this and other new technologies are now being placed into the academics of respected criminal justice programs like the one offered at ASA college. Associates’ programs in criminal justice like at ASA college are starting to offer quality education on this and many other breakthroughs in technology for police.

Advanced Drones for Local Law Enforcement

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Drones are not especially new, but they are new tech for local law enforcement, and the development of the T-Hawk Micro Air Vehicle is considered cutting edge. It is equipped with a high def camera, and it is small enough to often go undetected by criminals.

Giving police a bird’s eye view with a perfect camera has been an important breakthrough in technology for local law enforcement. Also, it has distinct advantages for safety and evidence gathering.

GPS Vehicle Pursuit Darts

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Frantic, high-speed pursuits are a danger to the police and to the general public, but there is finally a way to make it safer. The company StarChase has a system allowing pursuing law enforcement to shoot a dart at a vehicle with GPS equipped technology. This breakthrough technology allows the criminal’s vehicle to be tracked at a safe distance.

These five developments have done a great deal of good for society. New technology is constantly being developed to assist law enforcement in the fight to keep the public safe. The developments above are proof of the amazing talent police actually have, and the effort criminal justice programs go through to keep law enforcement trained and educated.

Top Technologies Helping You Go Green In 2016

Technological advances have inundated–and improved–almost every facet of our lives. Thankfully, those innovations now focus on improving the environment, too.

Whether it’s an electric car parked next to you at your local farmer’s market or the solar panels installed on your neighbor’s roof, eco-friendly, sustainable advances surround us.

However, with endless options and information at our fingertips, deciding to go green can be a rather overwhelming decision. If that sounds like you, don’t fret. Technology has a solution for that, too!

From social media to phone apps to energy-efficient home improvements, there are countless tools out there to assist you on this journey. These top technologies will help you go green in 2016.

Cloud Storage

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Whether it’s at home or in the corporate world, cloud storage is revolutionizing our consumption practices and improving overall productivity.

Companies waste countless watts of energy and thousands of dollars every year on maintaining their servers, just to keep them powered, cooled, and properly upgraded, all of which gets taken care of automatically when they opt for online software storage.

Smaller businesses benefit so greatly that it’s projected that 80 percent of these corporations will be partially or fully cloud-based by the end of 2016. Research has also shown that employees who are given the opportunity to work from home–a major perk of the cloud–are 13 percent more productive than their in-office counterparts and have an improved work-life balance.

Social Media Networks

The world is now more connected than ever before, in large part due to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and green organizations are using this to their advantage to get their message out there.

By choosing to follow your favorite eco-minded organizations, you can read articles on global climate change, find ways to decrease your carbon footprint, sign petitions, and donate to green initiatives, all while scrolling through funny cat videos and your friend’s vacation photos on your newsfeed.

If you need a place to start, check out the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, and the Earth Day Network. As an added bonus, as the site’s internal algorithms learn your preferences for eco-friendly companies, you will begin to get advertisements that are more in tune with your sustainability mindset.

Smartphone Apps
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If we aren’t on our computers, we’re on our smartphones, where apps abound to improve green awareness in our own personal lives.

Whether you’re looking for the closest recycling center or chemical-free cleaning solutions, there’s an app for that, most of which cost little to nothing to download. The diversity of apps simply goes to show that there is a plethora of ways to green up your daily life.

Many of these apps offer suggestions on ways to make more eco-friendly choices, while others offer information about specific companies and location data. Now all you have to do in order to make significant strides for the planet is pull out your phone!

Environmentally-Friendly Phone Chargers

Green accessories for your smartphone abound, due in large part to consumer demand for sustainably-made alternatives.

Since most electronic devices tend to be incredibly energy-inefficient, with frequent and excessive charging, phone chargers that automatically break the connection to the power source once a device has been unplugged, like this one from Asmo, help eradicate wasted power.

However, you can eliminate your energy pull altogether and unleash your charging ability from the confines of an outlet by opting for a solar-powered charger instead.

Plummeting Price of Solar Power

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Not that long ago, installing solar panels on your home was an expense few people could afford.

But thanks in large part to the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which provides a 30 percent tax incentive for all residential and commercial solar power installations, as well as encouraging technological advances that have greatly increased a solar cell’s energy capacity, the demand for photovoltaic power has skyrocketed, causing prices to plummet.

In fact, it’s projected that the US will have installed enough solar panels by the end of 2020 to generate almost 100 gigawatts of power. States like Hawaii are leading the charge to make this happen by signing legislation that mandates 100 percent of their energy come from renewable resources by 2045.

Affordable Electric Cars

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Electric cars used to get a bad wrap. Most people considered them to be an incredibly expensive waste of money. However, because of improvements in reliability and battery life, the market for electric cars is steadily growing, and rightly so.

These vehicles are able to reduce noise pollution and toxic emissions down to zero, all while saving an owner $2,000 to $4,000 a year on gas. Add in federal tax incentives, and the sticker price of many electric cars becomes relatively comparable to most gas-guzzlers out there, too.

Just by making a few small choices, we can all go greener in 2016—with a lot of help from technology.

Living With Robots: Fascinating Web Series Explores The Relationship Between Man And Machine

You probably haven’t noticed yet, but robots are now living among us!

Take a look around. Whether it’s something as little as a Roomba vacuum or a Nest thermostat, these self-learning robots are slowly taking over the world.

While people like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking worry about Artificial Intelligence and the inevitable doom of humanity, researchers around the world are still working hard to perfect robots.

We may not have personal robots at our houses yet, but we are getting there.

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How far have we come? Well, you can find the answer to that question by watching the video above. Folks over at Financial Times have created this web series called “Living With Robots” to showcase the advancements in the robotic technologies.

Check out the video below if you need more scares.

 

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Cybercrime And Its Ever-Rising Impact

Cyber Crime, a by-product of the escalating technological revolution, is an increasing matter of concern for the governing and law enforcing authorities all around the world.

Before digging deeper into the impact of this mind-boggling problem, we need to educate ourselves about what exactly does it mean and the existing types of cybercrime.

What is Cyber Crime?

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Cyber Crime is among the exploding crimes of today’s age. The fast-pacing internet usage is gauged to bring people closer globally fostering human connectivity, informatisation and communication to a huge extent, making world a smaller place to live in for the internet users.

However, such extensive growth in the number of connected people and devices has given birth to another problem for the people who spend hours and hours surfing the web- which is cyber crime. Cybercrime is a crime that involves some kind of computer or cyber aspect.

In a nutshell, this crime can be committed by anyone with a computer and network. As a result of the industrialization of this type of crime, many people have become a target of hacking, identity theft, malicious software and theft-enabling personal information move far too quickly and conveniently surpassing the conventional law enforcement agencies from one source to another.

A large number of criminals are exploiting the speed, anonymity and convenience that come with the internet to commit a wide range of criminal activities that need no physical or virtual boundaries. These crimes pose serious threats to security, businesses, governments, and citizens and play an aggressive role in facilitating majority of organized terrorism activities and related crimes.

Types of Cyber Crimes

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#1 Identity Theft

This is probably the most leading challenge that the authorities have to face as somebody is being a victim of stolen identity every 3 seconds.

During the course of last ten years, the advancements in technology and “informatisation” in the society has witnessed a phenomenal growth as never before in human history.

With such a rapid growth rate, there is widespread insurgency of identity theft. In this type of crime a criminal can have access to one’s private and confidential data including his/her bank account details such as credit/debit card information, social services and other sensitive information to siphon money or to purchase things online in the name of the victim.

The unprecedented magnitude of the problem is resulting in the increase of serious financial losses and corruption and can hammer the victim’s credit history and reputation.

#2 Hacking

In this particular type of crime, the criminal can have access to any piece of information by breaking into the victim’s personal computer. As per the law, hacking is considered as a felony and a punishable offence.

This cybercrime involves the criminal using a variety of software to enter the victim’s computer. In most cases the victim is not aware of the fact that someone is accessing his computer from a remote location.

#3 Cyber Stalking and online Harassment

This type of crime wherein the victim is subjected to a bombardment of online messaging and emails. The scale of this problem is so treacherous that it might lead the victim to acute depression or even worse, suicide.

Cyber stalking is the root cause of many related problems such as blackmail, online harassment, extortion, market manipulation, corporate espionage and planning and executing terrorism.

In usual scenarios, the stalker knows every little detail about the victim and instead of offline stalking, they choose internet for stalking. Cyber stalking can have life-threatening effects and makes the victim’s life miserable and frustrating.

#4 Theft

This type of crime occurs as a result of violating copyrights and illegally downloading music, movies, games and software. Today’s justice system has introduced many laws to prevent people from illegal downloading and is playing a huge role in addressing this kind of cyber crime.

#5 Malicious Software

These include various software available on the internet being used for disrupting a network.  The software is used for spreading different kinds of computer viruses, stealing or gaining access to sensitive information or damaging software present in the system.

#6 Child Predation and Abuse

In this type of cyber crime, the offender solicits or blackmails minors via chat rooms for engaging into child pornography.

Measures for tackling Cyber Crime

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The widespread global internet penetration through mobile internet access and the continuous deployment of broadband internet infrastructure, poses potential external and internal threats to people, organizations and governments adopting the latest advancements of internet technologies.

The increasing vulnerability of the potential victims that stay online for longer periods of time and share data very frequently, presents imminent risks to information security and data protection.

While law enforcement agencies are trying to keep pace with the ever-rising cyber crime rate, the problem still proves to be a Herculean task. The primary reason behind this collaborative failure is the fact that methods adopted by cybercriminals keep changing too frequently and quickly making it impossible for law enforcement agencies to remain effective.

This is why an efficient and highly effective course of action must be adopted at all individual, institutional and government levels in order to safeguard ourselves from any type of cyber crime.

At individual level, the internet users should be more proactive and well informed before making online transactions especially while online shopping.

The best way to go about it is to shop online through reliable websites both nationally and internationally. Amazon and Ebay are among the most trust-worthy websites and assure safety of sensitive credit and debit information of it’s customers.

Another growing trend to avoid fraudulent purchases is the cash-on-delivery services being offered by many e-commerce companies. Online shopping place such as Kaymu and Myshop have a safe and secure cash-on-delivery system to prevent the chances of any phony transactions.

At institutional and government levels, a lot of homework needs to be done to harness the intelligence of networks and the concerned information regulatory bodies.  A relationship of exchanging timely and accurate information using the help of various Internet security organizations and online financial services must be developed to fight against cyber crime.

 

About the author – :

Thambaru is a passionate blogger, freelancing journalist of Dinamina newspaper and a senior developer at Ceylon Systems. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook for more updates.

This Helicopter Has 18 Rotors, Takes First Manned Flight

This is what happens when you get too obsessed with Drones.

Back in 2013, we shared the story about a weird helicopter with 18 rotors named Volocopter VC200. After 3 years of hard work, E-Volo, the developers of this drone-like helicopter have successfully launched its first manned flight.

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Looks like they are ready to take this thing to the next level. E-Volo is now preparing to start taking pre-orders for the Volocopter VC200 later this year. Is this going to be the future of personal transportation?

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Check out the interviews video below for more info.

[Via: Engadget / YouTube ]
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10 Amazing TED Talks That Will Make You Think Twice About Your Life

I start my day by watching a TED talk. How about you?

The internet is filled with tons of information, most of it adds no value to our life but waste our time. TED.com is one of the very few places you can go to find high-quality content and learn something new without having to spend any of your hard earned money.

Check out these brilliant lectures that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and learn how to improve your life, one step at a time.

Make Stress Your Friend

People don’t take stress serious enough. What you don’t know is that “stress increases the chances of dying from heart-related problems by five-fold.” In this incredibly engaging TED talk, Kelly McGonigal shares some tips for making stress your friend.

You Can Grow New Brain Cells

This TED talk discusses an incredible breakthrough in science and explains how you can grow new brain cells every day.

A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit

Trying to quit smoking, drinking, or break free from a bad habit? This trick will make the process easier.

The Happy Secret To Better Work

Keeping yourself busy and making a ton of money won’t make you happy. This TED talk will tell you why.

How to Find Work You Love

If you truly love what you do, you won’t consider it work. This TED talk will teach you how to find and do what you love.

Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career

What kind of excuses do you make for not persuing your dreams?

Smash Fear, Learn Anything

Author of Four-Hour-WorkWeek, Tim Ferris shares what you achieve when you get rid of the fear within you.

All It Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes

This TED talk explains why you should set aside 10 minutes each day to do absolutely nothing.

How To Buy Happiness

Can you buy happiness with money? Watch this TED talk to find out.

How To Succeed? Get More Sleep

Founder of Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, talks about the importance of sleep in this valuable TED talk.

 

 

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Watch: Microsoft’s “Holoportation” Tech in Action

Folks over at i3D group of Microsoft Research has used Microsoft HoloLens to develop a new teleportation technology that allows you to virtually teleport to anywhere in the world, represent yourself as a 3D model, and even interact with others. They call it “Holoportation”.

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After almost 40 years, we will finally get to have Star Wars-style holographic technology in real-life and in every household, very soon.

“Holoportation is a new type of 3D capture technology that allows high quality 3D models of people to be reconstructed, compressed, and transmitted anywhere in the world in real-time. When combined with mixed reality displays such as HoloLens, this technology allows users to see and interact with remote participants in 3D as if they are actually present in their physical space. Communicating and interacting with remote users becomes as natural as face to face communication.”

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It’s truly a technology with great potential and a what a way to take our communication tech to the next-generation.

Not to mention in other areas as well. Most of the comments on the YouTube page shows that people are interested in HoloPorn and HoloGaming, more than using it for communication.

yt-holo-comment yt-holo-comment2

[Via: Microsoft / YouTube ]
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Watch: Sexy Robot Lady “Sophia” Wants To Destroy Humans

When Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk expressed their concerns over artificial intelligence, many people laughed and said those things are only possible in sci-fi movies. Just watch the video to see how easy it is to convince a robot to destroy humans.

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Folks over at CNBC have spotted this realistic looking robot named Sophia at SXSW 2016, who’s very capable of interacting with humans, answering to questions, and showing facial expressions.

When Dr. David Hanson, the CEO of Hanson Robotics, ask if Sophia wants to destroy humans. The robot simply answers “OK, I will destroy humans”.

Hanson believes that these robots will be everywhere within the next 20 years. I just finished watching the Humans and I definitely don’t want to live in that future.

 

[Via: CNBC]
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Watch: Chameleon Robot Shows Off Mad Camouflage Skills

Nothing to see here. Just a robot that can blend in with the background. Wait.. where did it go?

chameleon-robot

Compared to Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility, this RGB color changing robot may seem like nothing. But, keep in mind that this is just a 3D-printed prototype model built with plasmonic displays. Apparently, it uses a bunch of light sensors to detect the background color and project it on the displays.

At the moment, the robot can only camouflage in red, green, blue. However, Guoping Wang and his team mates from Wuhan University in China has big plans to develop this robot into something big.

 

[Via: New Scientist ]
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Watch This Badass Eagle Take Down an Illegal Drone

Soon, drones will become a huge part of our lives. All your FedEx packages, Amazon orders, and even your pizzas will get delivered at your doorstep by these things. And of course, there will be bad drones too, like using them for hacking or stealing. How are we gonna fight those drones?

The Dutch National Police has the perfect solution to that problem. They are now training eagles to take down and capture drones that pose a risk to civilians (see video).

eagle-drone

Obviously, it’s the perfect solution because unlike drones, which are vulnerable to hacking and manipulation, eagles work based on instincts.

The drone hunting eagles are still in their early training. The Dutch Police officers are working on making the hunting process safer for the eagles, as the drones’ rotors pose a danger to the creature.

Let’s just hope these eagles won’t get in the way of your KFC drone delivery.

 

[Via: Engadget / YouTube ]
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How South Africa Is Building Its Own Digital Empire

Few countries have had such a dramatic past couple of decades as that of South Africa. The Rainbow Nation has risen from the ashes of Apartheid to not only become a top global tourist destination, but it is also enjoying the fantastic entrepreneurial opportunities offered by the digital revolution too.

So from software that helps us create the website of our dreams, to user-friendly casino gaming resources, here’s a look at the companies who are giving South Africa a bright new future.

Web innovation

With individuals and organizations facing the increasing need to create websites for their various projects, there’s been a rapid rise in companies looking to facilitate this trend without the need for the user having to know how to code.

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Thankfully companies such as Yola have risen out of their Cape Town origins to become a top player in website creation through their handy drag-and-drop interface that allows users to create a striking site in just a few minutes.

And such is the level of South African innovation that entrepreneurs such as Adii Pienaar have created companies like WooThemes that provide easy-to-use WordPress themes, plug-ins and eCommerce facilities to help kickstart the Rainbow Nation’s tech revolution.

Entertainment adaptation

The way in which South Africans have been able to enjoy the massive range of TV, films and games has also been aided by the new technologies.

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Streaming sites such as South Africa’s DStv have managed to successfully expand across the nation’s borders by providing instant access to streamed TV series, movies and top sporting events.

South Africa’s games developers have also hit the headlines too with endlessly enjoyable homegrown shoot-em-ups like Broforce proving that the country can compete on the global stage.

Everyday life

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Even the humble practice of making a payment has been digitalised thanks to South African innovation.

Companies like Snapscan have made it easy for South Africans to make payments via their smartphone, and it’s thought that Cape Town is now at the forefront of the mobile payment revolution.

So whether it’s a company that helps anybody to create their own website, to gaming developers that can deliver an entire casino to a user’s smartphone, it seems that South Africa is helping all of us enter the digital age.

 

6 Technologies That Bring STAR WARS Into Real Life

Science fiction has always been the place to look for futuristic, interplanetary inspiration. What lies in those galaxies beyond the moon, and how can we apply it to our lives here on Earth? Star Wars, perhaps the most famous “space opera” of all time, puts humans alongside robots and aliens, in a world filled with exciting gizmos and gadgets as well as dramatic adventure.

With the latest installment in the franchise, The Force Awakens, about to hit theaters, let’s take a look at just a few of the technological advancements that the creators of Star Wars saw in the stars before they came down to our home planet.

Robotic Arms

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The iconic end scene of Empire Strikes Back will forever live in film history, but many forget the follow-up scene where Luke replaces his recently removed right hand with a robotic version. The scene even shows it being tested for sensitivity to pain.

Today Touch Bionics has developed their own robotic arm with astonishing sensitivity and gripping increments for a strong, precise grasp that even allows for complicated tasks like shoelace tying – or possibly lightsaber dueling?

3D Holographic Displays  

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Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi. You’re our only hope.” While this line is among the most famous from the film canon, it’s also hard to forget that it was uttered by a holographic recording.

Holograms play a major role in Star Wars, from this line that drew Luke into the adventure to the terrifying and looming image of the Emperor that Vader kneels to.

Today we have several solutions, like the “Voxiebox” technology, that are creating 3D holograms using coordinated cameras and laser displays to project them into mid-air. They are still largely monochromatic, but so were the ones in Star Wars.

Automated Personal Assistants

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Many of us wanted an R2-D2 of our own growing up, and today we live in closer proximity to robotic helpers than ever before. Digital voice assistants like Siri and Alexa, similar to the droids Star Wars showed us, are already capable of handling people’s email and managing calendars as well as connecting to various automated home appliances such as thermostats, security systems and lights.

These “assistants” can essentially do many of the same tasks a human personal assistant would. Now there is FRIEND too, is a semi-autonomous robot designed to help people who have had strokes or are otherwise incapacitated.

And as a fun nod to the upcoming film, the app Waze replaced its voice navigation with audio of Anthony Daniels (C3PO), which makes sense since our cell phones – possessing the ability to translate languages and inform us of cultural traditions – are basically protocol droids.

Hoverbikes

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When the Star Wars arcade game was released, one of the most popular segments was the speeder bike race through the forests of Endor’s moon. That exciting scene from the film was so memorably thrilling that Aerofex has been working on making their own.

The Aero-X will be able to use carbon fiber rotors to lift up to two people vertically about 10 feet off the ground and transport them at speeds approaching 72 mph. It is set to be released in 2017 and the company is already taking refundable deposits of $5,000 on their website while they work out stability issues.

Light Cannons

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When it comes to large armaments for space ships and vehicles, Star Wars had no shortage of light cannons. From the ones that lit up space while Luke and Han fought off TIE fighters to the powerful weapon that provided cover for the Rebels to escape Hoth, these laser blasters are no joke.

And we already have one deployed on a US Navy ship, the USS Ponce. While not as impressive looking, it does use a laser trained on a target to burn through aerial attackers like drones.

Lightsabers

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The king of all Star Wars technology, hardly a child or adult has seen these films and not wanted one of these “elegant weapons.” The signature sidearm of the Jedi knights, lightsabers are plasma-based swords that can cut through almost anything and often are used to indicate a person’s metaphorical allegiance to Jedi or Sith.

In reality we haven’t quite made these, but more than a few battle-ready light-up versions are available, there is at least one using a high-powered laser that is insanely dangerous, and at MIT and Harvard professors are working on a method of building molecules out of photons.

Much of what we have come to love about Star Wars, the technology that helped to immerse us in this “galaxy far, far away,” has entered into our everyday lives back on Earth. Maybe it won’t be long before the first Jedi Academy is founded to help us learn the tricks of using all of these great tools.

 

About the author -:

Beth Kelly is a freelance writer and blogger. Born and raised in Michigan, she moved to Chicago to attend DePaul University where she graduated with a BA in Communications and Media. She lived in Krakow, Poland briefly before moving to South Korea to teach English. Follow her on Twitter

New Startup Plans to Bring Dead People Back to Life Through Artificial Intelligence

Resurrecting the dead has only been possible in horror movies, but soon it might be a possibility. A startup named Humai thinks their technology can help bring back dead people within the next 30 years.

“We’re using artificial intelligence and nanotechnology to store data of conversational styles, behavioral patterns, thought processes and information about how your body functions from the inside-out. This data will be coded into multiple sensor technologies, which will be built into an artificial body with the brain of a deceased human,” according to Humai website.

As Humai’s CEO, Josh Bocanegra, told Popular Science, the company’s plan is to basically upload the human consciousness into a robot body. Pretty much like in the Johnny Depp movie Transcendence, except this time more creepy.

“We’ll first collect extensive data on our members for years prior to their death via various apps we’re developing. After death we’ll freeze the brain using cryonics technology. When the technology is fully developed we’ll implant the brain into an artificial body. The artificial body functions will be controlled with your thoughts by measuring brain waves. As the brain ages we’ll use nanotechnology to repair and improve cells. Cloning technology is going to help with this too.”

Transcendence-movie

Is this possible? I highly doubt it. However, there are some people are hopeful about resurrecting dead people. Like that rich couple from Thailand who cryogenically froze a 2-year-old child hoping to bring her back to life in the future.

Read Also: Behold! NASA’s 6-Foot-Tall “Valkyrie” Humanoid Robot

Either way, I hope I wont be alive to see this creepy stuff when it actually happens.

 

 

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Technology and The Future Of Augmented Reality

Just recently Mark Zuckerberg spoke at Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco about Facebook’s plans to venture into augmented reality (AR) in the near future. And that’s just one of many examples we’ve witnessed in the last couple of months that show the tech industry’s interest in this cutting-edge technology. Apple has acquired Metaio, a prominent AR startup, and Google was a leading investor in a smashing $500 million poured into Magic Leap, a company which works with augmented reality.

But that’s not all. It’s clear that consumers will soon enjoy an increasing number of augmented reality solutions as well. Just last year Google commercialized Google Glass, which together with other wearable technologies popping up all over the place (like GooglePal, a cutting-edge device for skiers and snowboarders) signals the arrival of AR into daily lives of consumers all over the world.

What is the near and long-term future of this technology? Are there any limitations to augmented reality which will affect its development in the years to come? Here’s everything you should know about the future of AR.

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality isn’t a novelty – in fact the idea itself has been with us since the early 1990s. During all this time it just hasn’t earned a name for itself – until the arrival of mobile devices, smart wearables and the Internet of Things technologies.

Augmented reality is basically the introduction of superimposed graphics, audio and other sense enhancements over a real-world environment, always displayed in real-time. AR is a technology closely aligned with virtual reality (VR) and in essence aims to duplicate the environment in a computer device to create a visual system that effectively blurs the difference between the actual reality and its virtual augmentation.

Today augmented reality is no longer a domain for science fiction writers or curious researchers – it’s exploited in commercial environments by a wide range of small startups which develop technologies often thanks to investments from tech giants like Apple or Google. Some industry insiders expect the technology to revolutionize the way in which we perceive and interact with reality.

Augmented Reality is More Than Google Glass

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Even if Google Glass is often interpreted as an important step towards augmented reality, AR is not only about wearables. AR apps are all the rage right now – and they come in handy to an incredible variety of industries. Google Translate AR app is just the tip of the iceberg.

AR technology emerges in sectors as disparate as medical/aesthetic (think ModiFace, the leading creator of facial recognition solutions), music (a projected Shazam visual feature and entertainment (for instance, the Star Wars app.

Retail and interior design already merge in apps like Cimagine, Curioos or the award-winning Tylko.

The Future of Augmented Reality

One possible direction of AR’s development is captured in a short movie Sight. Even if the idea of receiving instant contextual information about a person we’ve just met seems attractive, users will have to wait for a while to gain access to such solutions.

How about practical applications of AR? One area which will  be revolutionized by technology is the retail sector, where AR will breach the gap between online and physical shops, offering personalized promotions delivered right to the wearer of a device, as well as a richer shopping experience – the latter particularly relevant to e-commerce and m-commerce.

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Not many realize that augmented reality can potentially revolutionize customer service. Imagine that your car breaks down and all it takes is turn on an app which will perform a diagnostic test and guide you in a repair by showing you, for instance, where are jumper cables and where to connect them. We see the beginning of this in Volksvagen’s MARTA app or Audi’s AR app (both developed by Metaio) which superimpose information about the vehicle or display a manual.

Other possible future uses of augmented reality will emerge in sectors like medicine (direct training of students), fine art (mixed media and interactive artworks), industry (assistance in prototyping), military (precise geolocation) and education (visualizing learning material in interactive apps).

Limitations of Augmented Reality

Every technology has limitations and AR is no exception to this rule. There are at least several issues that should be addressed before the technology can become fully commercialized and go mainstream. Here are 4 serious issues AR is struggling with right now.

Data Rendition

This problem relates to the ways in which data is rendered on devices – for best effect, it should be rendered across the wearer’s full scope of vision, not partially. But that’s just part of the problem. For AR to fully serve its purpose, it should be equipped with a better understanding of natural body movements. Moreover, AR apps require Internet connectivity for optimized data rendition and that’s still a problem – there are many places where no connection is available.

Mobile Battery Life and Processing power

Whether we’re talking about mobile devices, smart wearables or the Internet of Things (which are all relevant to the development of AR), another important limitation is their battery life. Naturally, it should be extended to allow users make the most from the technology in daily use. Another serious problem lies in hardware since mobile devices aren’t powerful enough to process lots of real-time data. Before they become mainstream, some of those devices (think Google Glass) will need to become less pricy.

Privacy Issues

This is a serious concern about the AR technology which might impede its full growth right now, even if it mostly relates to its future applications. Image or face-recognition software paired with AR will allow users to access information about strangers imported from their online profiles. Sure, most of this data is put there willingly by users, but having a stranger learn all this about us upon the first meeting might be a bit disturbing. Devices using AR apps providing contextual information will need to deal with the widespread social privacy requirements first.

Information Overload

Finally, there’s the argument of information overload which we see often applied to technology in general. There are many people who are convinced that living in a constantly switched on society is going to change how we see reality (naturally, for the worse). A 24/7 technology on demand will surely impact our lives, but the criticism doesn’t really apply to AR – the danger of spending too much time in the virtual world and missing out on moments which are happening in reality doesn’t work for a technology which in fact merges the two, proving an enriched experience.

What will be the future of augmented reality? Right now everyone is curious whether AR will live up to its promise and deliver experiences that will revolutionize many different industries and aspects of consumer lives. According to the Pew Research Center, 83% of experts say that by 2025 wearable tech will have a “widespread and beneficial effect” on consumers and that those enriched with AR solutions will become commonplace in the next five years.

One way or another, we will surely find a way to benefit from the constant intelligent analytical mapping of the physical and social reality.

 

About the author -:

Isabel Wiliams is part of the team at – a UK business directory featuring free companies house filings. She is a great advocate of augmented reality. She combines her passion for everything tech- and digital-related with her love for writing.

How Apple is Integrating Technology Into Classrooms

Apple products have long been popular with the consumer public, going back to the original Apple II and Macintosh. The company’s latest keynote address is evident of this fact. Even though there were no real new announcements – most of the products that were announced, like the iPhone 6S Plus, were derivatives of something that the company already sells – the hype leading up to the event was palpable. Even now, a week or two on, people are still talking about it.

In this type of atmosphere, it’s easy to forget that Apple devices are more than simple consumer products. But the fact is that Apple devices are used by professionals on a daily basis in a wide variety of fields, and one field in which their presence is growing is education. From iMacs to iPads, classrooms across the country are becoming dens for Apple products.

The Future of Education is Digital

It goes without saying that computers (and by association, the Internet) are hugely powerful tools which can enable students and teachers alike to learn, produce, explore, and create with greater freedom and efficiency than ever before. Steve Jobs said it best when he likened a computer to being a bicycle for the mind. They enable. So then, it’s well understood that computers can and should have a place in the classroom. Not surprisingly, Apple has long embraced this concept.

ipad-flush(Image credit: Apple.com)

One example of this belief in practice is the company’s latest updates to its iTunes U platform. With these updates, Apple is seeking to revolutionize the way that students and teachers engage in and out of the classroom. Among its many features, iTunes U allows for remote homework hand-in and private discussions, and it also includes an integrated grade book and lesson planner. Creating and sharing lessons with students can be accomplished in mere minutes, even if those students aren’t in the classroom. Of course, it also provides access to the many thousands of educational applications which are to be found in Apple’s App Store. For teachers, it’s sort of an all-in-one classroom management application with the familiarity of Apple’s touchscreen iOS interface. Put simply, it is a fully integrated educational tool.

The question isn’t can computers (and tablets) work in the classroom. Their adoption in school districts as far and wide as New York and Los Angeles indicates that they can. The question is how computers work in the classroom. How do you use a computer or tablet to promote learning? How can you use computers, tablets, or a smartphone to improve your processes? How do you use a computer, tablet, or smartphone to do something that would be impossible otherwise? Perhaps most simply, how do you pay for it? There are hardware fees which need to be covered up front, of course, but let’s not forget that many connected devices require a wireless plan as well.

Thankfully, carriers seem aware of this, and some have even taken steps to make their plans and devices more affordable for teachers and students. For example, T-Mobile offers a discount plan for U.S. college students, K-12 staff, and college staff. For those students and faculty that qualify, smartphones and tablets are available for up to $50 off of the resale price – not an insignificant savings. In an ideal world, schools would cover the cost of new equipment, but the reality is that many schools simply don’t have the budget to equip their students and staff with new tablets and smartphones. In such cases, a discount from a wireless carrier is a welcome reprieve.

What Promise Does the Apple Classroom Hold?

luminary(Image credit: Apple.com)

Walk into any modern classroom and you’re likely to see iMacs and iPads. Their presence is so ubiquitous across the nation that it is no longer a surprise (or perhaps even a novelty) to see them in use in classroom settings. But is an “Apple” classroom inherently better than a traditional classroom that doesn’t make use of technology? Ultimately, success can only be judged on how the environment impacts the students, but in our increasingly digital world, exposing children to computers and tablets as early as possible can only aid them in their long-term success. Based on Apple’s commitment to education, it would seem that they agree.

 

 

About the author:

Jennifer Thayer is a technology writer who enjoys writing about gadgets, apps and the latest tech news.