Tag Archives: technology

Tech solutions helping people with disabilities

One of my previous posts was about how technology is killing education. I might be sceptical about it sometimes, but as a person who barely remembers life before computers and smartphones, I definitely see the bright side of technology too.

To me, the best usage of technology or gadgets is not making our lives more interesting or even easier, but helping people in need. Below I’ll present some of the best (in my humble opinion) solutions for disabled people.

  • Liftware

I came across a movie about Liftware during one of many hours spent on scrolling my Facebook feed. I instantly fell in love with the solution, it’s brilliant and really helpful. It’s a handle to which you can attach utensils like fork or spoon. It’s designed for people with Parkinson or other diseases causing hand tremors. The main idea behind is counteracting unwanted movements so that the person can eat with ease and dignity. Take a look at the video below to understand how brilliant this is:

  • Talkitt

Another, truly amazing solution is Talkitt. It’s a software that helps people with speech and language disorders communicate with others. It can be run on any computer, smartphone or tablet and works for all languages! It first learns pattern speechs and then identifies what the person is saying and translates it so that others can understand.

Speech is one of the most important parts of being a human. It’s said that speech and thought are two things that make us distinct from animals. That’s why the need of being understood is huge and Talkitt helps people finally get that.

  • UNI

Speaking of helping people communicate, there are more oustanding solutions. UNI helps deaf and speech-impaired people communicate with others. It detects sign language (thanks to the camera installed in the device) and converts it to text. Thanks to that other people can understand a meaning of given signs. The second functionality is converting speech into signs. Thanks to that, UNI provides two-way communication.

It’s not only an amazing solution, but also inspiring story, as the whole company is deaf. Watch to see how it works:

  • Braille Edge 40 & Lechal shoes

The last two solutions are designed for visually impaired people. The first one, Braille Edge 40, is a device helping blind people control their smartphones or computers. It’s connected by Bluetooth or USB port and it converts text into Braille. Producer describes it as follows: ‘Braille EDGE 40 contains 2 four-way navigation keys and 8 function keys (Escape, Tab, Control, Alt, Shift, Insert, Windows and Applications) combining the convenience of entering text in Braille with the intuitive functionality of a PC keyboard.’ Finally blind people are not technologically-excluded!

Another deivce worth mentioning are Lechal shoes. These are GPS-enabled sneakes that ‘navigate’ a blind person by vibrating (to give a correct direction). The shoes can be connected via Bluetooth and are compatible with most of iOS and Android versions. They can be synced with Google apps and navigate you to any given location. To me, being blind in a city must be terrifying. Leachal shoes seem to make the world a little less scary.

I truly admire technology that makes people’s lifes better. Disabilities often lead to exclusion, both technological and social. Seeing people invent such devices and softwares gives a lot of hope that developing technology won’t destroy us, but will really help.

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Is technology killing education?

We all believe or want to believe that technology development is something good. It shows we’re moving forward, we’re getting better, we’re pushing the limits. But does it always make sense? Do we always need to introduce more gadgets and software to all fields? Is it always justified with thorough thinking and planning?

I doubt that.

I want to raise a taboo subject of technology in education (and in classrooms in general). More and more schools are facing this problem, including Kozminski University.

smartphones in the classrom

Source: www.bostonglobe.com

The first thing you notice when you enter the classroom is that literally 90% of students do not pay attention to the teacher, but do pay attention to their smartphones, tablets and laptops. What is the point of going to a class if all you do is scrolling Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat? And why do teachers never react?

It is said that problems with attention can be blamed on technology. You can argue and say we’re a generation of multitasking, but guess what? Researches show multitasking is actually impossible and what you do is more of a “task-switching”.

My point is not criticizing students for not paying attention in a class. I’m guilty myself! Moreover, being addicted to social media is not something my generation chose. It’s rather something we inherited from previous generations and are forced to live in.

 

no-powerpoing

Source: www.someecards.com

Let’s look at the problem from a different perspective. Why would someone pay attention to the full-of-text PowerPoint slides that he knows he’ll receive before the exam? Slides that can be read at home in 1 hour? Of course, there are teachers who try to make their classes more interesting and engaging, but even in spite of those efforts, PowerPoint in killing education. There’s no point in making notes when they’re already made and sent to you. Not to mention taking notes with a pen and paper, which happens to be the best way to learn.

Another taboo is cheating. We’re in Poland where cheating is, unfortunately, socially accepted. Teachers pretend they don’t see that, but smartphones and access to the Internet make cheating easier than ever before. With practically no reaction and no penalties, the value of your diploma is getting low. It is also said that with easy access to academic information, any academic writing is no longer original. Is that what we wanted?

Of course, there are amazing companies that help people learn (like Brainly, Skillshare, Khan Academy, Lynda, Codeacademy and many many others), knowledge is now more accessible than ever before. But is school really teaching us how to learn? Or just how to pass the exams?

Some people say technology is making us stupid and it’s hard not to agree with that. Others will list trends that are changing education for better and you can’t argue with that either. Technology is getting better every day and we probably should be excited about it, but are we actually ready for it? Maybe it’s time to stop for a moment and think not only about how we can implement technology at schools, but also how we can reduce its negative influence. After all, education is our future.

 

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Back in time

Have you ever heard of Neo-Luddism? Or have you ever heard the term “Technophobia”? There are people in the world who oppose to technology or are afraid of it. Actually, how can you not be afraid of technology after watching Black Mirror? 😉

These two terms mentioned above refer to extreme phenomena. However, there is a trend in technology that aims at traveling back in time. Well, not literally. There are apps that will make people, who were born before widely accessible computers, feel pretty nostalgic. By that I don’t mean 1950s, but let’s bring 90s back!

  1. VHS Camcorder

Do you remember the thing called VHS? Kind of old-school, I know. But don’t you sometimes miss it? Those white number in the bottom-left corner of the video that instantly tell you when it was recorded and that it’s a tape from your 3rd, not 4th birthday? Now you can have these back on the videos recorded with your smartphone. How cool is that! For $3 you can download it here.

VHS camcorder

Source: itunes.apple.com

 

  1. Games

There are some classics you’ll never forget. Games of our childhood, which we really spent hours playing. They were not complicated and graphics were… well, were enough back then! Of course, now with the ocean of games and consoles like Xbox or PlayStation, with the growing market of Virtual Reality in the gaming industry it’s easy to find top quality entertainment. But don’t you sometimes miss good old Pac-Man, Snake, or Tamagotchi? I do! If you want to travel back in time when standing in a line or in the bus, just download old-school versions of those games.

  1. Photography

Now let me show you one of my favorites! Meet Yoso, a new Polish product that can change your smartphone into an analog camera. Nowadays we tend to take gigabytes of pictures every day. You’re at a concert? You take 300 pictures. You’re going out? 50 selfies. In a restaurant? #instafood. Vacation? 1000 pictures. Most of them are the same, few of them are good. And most probably you won’t go back to the majority of your pictures because it’s just too much! Yoso will make you actually think before taking a picture, you won’t see it instantly, but then they’ll send you a physical copy. Wouldn’t it be great to have 36 awesome pictures from vacation and simply live the moment for the other 9964?

  1. Conversations?!

It’s not an app, but still an exceptional idea. Last year MasterCard started a campaign in Warsaw restaurants called #PricelessTime. Its goal was to make people put their phones down and start having real conversations. That they did was installing special capsules in the restaurants. Based on the time people’s phones spent in the capsule, customers were given prizes.

The idea is brilliant and sad at the same time. Do we really need a prize to focus on the people we met with? I hope this campaign will inspire you to re-thinking the way you spend time with your friends. How about living real life even without special apps and capsules? 😉

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What makes Amazon greatest IT-company in the world? A guide to the company of the future

What makes Amazon great?  Why and how the company has become so big?
– Inspirational management? Well-knit team? Company culture? Or innovativeness? Or probably all together?

All those components have led to a unique synergy that drives the company ahead, and innovativeness is probably the main part of the progress.

Being proactive is ain’t easy. Thinking out of the box is a huge skill developed with years, and trained by the experiences. Managing the technology and the change in a fast-developing world is an art. Jeff Besos is an artist who  has implemented numerous successful innovations in the company. Here are the best of them, those who made Amazon one of the leading IT-companies in the world.

Amazon Go

In 2016 Amazon introduced the most advanced shop in the world. Smart shopping is real – no lines, no cash desks. The shop is supported by the application Amazon Go, which allows to do any transaction with the help of the smartphone, just scan the item and put it in the basket. Special technology, called Just Walk Out, automatically detects when the products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart.
Currently it is often only for Amazon employees in a Beta program, yet in 2017 it will open to the public.

Prime Air
First Customer delivery

Amazon is not the first company to use drones as a delivery vehicle, but Amazon is the first to put it into their business strategy, not only  use it as a promotional tool. The very first parcel was delivered in December, 2016. Amazon will continue using drones in the area of Cambridge.

Airship warehouses

In 2014 Amazon has filed a patent for using airship warehouses that would work in tandem with drones to make a delivery. Amazon calls those air stations “Airborne fulfilment centres”(AFc), which are aimed to be used in the times of a high demand (e.g. Christmas holidays) to deliver goods to metropolitan areas using drones. They will be dispatched directly from the AFc, which will make the delivery faster than ever.

What else has Amazon planned for us in 2017? We’ll see. But we can be sure – it’s going to be astonishing.

 

 

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THE ERA OF INTEGRATED SUSTAINABLE ENERGY JUST BEGUN!

TESLA OFFICIALLY AQUIRES SOLARCITY.

Couple weeks ago (28.10.2016) Tesla in cooperation with SolarCity presented new solar powered ecosystem for private houses and small businesses. Tesla’s new green energy system is entirely sustainable and more cost-effective than regular grid system.

 

Power generating Roof Tiles are more durable, less costly and almost indistinguishable from traditional roofs. With this design and cost-efficiency Tesla is undeniably a forerunner in emerging market of accessible photovoltaic roofs.

Tesla, Solar Roof tiles

 

That day Tesla also announced Powerwall 2, energy storing lithium-ion batteries for private use. Powerwall 2 is capable of powering a two-bedroom house for 24 hours entirely without power from the grid. Tesla’s approach to product design is also very visible with this one. Powerwall 2 has very aesthetical design making it the most elegant home battery on the market.

Tesla, Powerwall 2

 

Tesla’s solar system allows households to be more energy independent and save thousands dollars on their annual energy bill. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the Powerwall 2 “may be the cheapest lithium ion battery for the home ever made.” This is making Powerwall 2 an approachable home battery system of now and today.

Solar Roof and Powerwall 2 combined with Tesla’s electric cars creates cost-efficient, zero-emission ecosystem of the future.

Tesla, zero-emission ecosystem

 

Tesla new ecosystem presentation caused widespread buzz in the media and was a first sign of upcoming event.

Last Monday (21.11.2016) Tesla acquisition of SolarCity was officially announced.

SolarCity is the biggest provider of commercial solar panels in the United States. It has its own direct sales force and the best installation team in the industry. Moreover, SolarCity has developed innovative financing options making solar energy more accessible and affordable.

 

Just one day after the acquisition Tesla published this mind blowing one-minute video showing their new solar-powered microgrid that can supply whole energy demand of beautiful Tau Island located in American Samoa.

Thanks to combined effort of Tesla and SolarCity Tau Island is able now to entirely abandon diesel generators and become sustainable, remote Island powered fully by renewable energy.

 

Acquisition of SolarCity made Tesla a truly integrated sustainable energy company. They are now able to produce energy (Solar Roofs), storage it (Powerwall 2) and efficiently use it for transportation (Tesla cars). With those resources Tesla is giving people possibility of living zero-emission, entirely sustainable, green lifestyle.

This is the beginning of revolution in the way we produce and consume energy and Tesla just made another big step towards the world free of fossil fuels.

 

Sources:

https://www.tesla.com/blog/tesla-and-solarcity?redirect=no

http://blog.solarcity.com/island-in-the-sun/

https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/17/shareholders-approve-tesla-acquisition-of-solarcity/

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-31/no-one-saw-tesla-s-solar-roof-coming

 

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Chinese woman is considered to be dead for ten years lived in Internet cafes playing online shooter

Chinese girl Xiao Yun, which over the last ten years, presumed dead, discovered during a police raid at an internet cafe in the province of Zhejiang. This is with reference to local newspaper Qianjiang Evening News Portal reports The Star Online.

According to parents, Xiao Yun left home at age 14 in 2005, and since that time considered as missing. She was presumed dead until 20 November 2015, when it was early in the morning during the ordinary police raid discovered at a local internet cafe.

14 Mar 2006, HEFEI, China --- Chinese use computers at Internet cafe in Nanjing --- Image by © STRINGER/CHINA/Reuters/Corbis

Check showed that the 24-year-old Xiao Yong used forged documents. She was taken to the nearest police station for questioning, which found that in the last ten years she lived mainly in Internet cafes.

The girl, a fan of multiplayer shooter CrossFire, almost all the free time spent on the game, and for personal hygiene use public baths. For the life of Xiao Yun earned from time to time settling a cashier in an internet cafe. In them she usually slept.

Police fined Woman on one thousand yuan (about 150$), and then against her will contacted her parents. Mother Cao Yong’s conversation with the Qianjiang Evening News reported that in the last 10 years did not change your phone number in case the daughter wanted to contact her. The woman admitted that because of her quick temper often beat daughter, but promised never to it is no longer in conflict.

The history of San Yong – not an isolated case. In the spring of 2013 the media reported on the Chinese who had lived for six years in an Internet cafe, leaving it only to take a shower. Man provide for themselves by selling virtual goods in online games for real money.

At the beginning of 2015 on this kind of “Internet cafe refugees” in Japan, was cast a documentary film. In the picture it was reported that many Japanese because of the lack of a permanent job are forced to live in small closets in an Internet cafe, where they spend most of their free time sitting in a network and playing online games.

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Apple acquired motion capture technology used in Star Wars

Apple acquired a startup Faceshift, who developed a widely used motion capture technology. Rumors about buying the company from Cupertino Faceshift were before, but now Apple has officially confirmed the purchase, according to TechCrunch.

The publication writes that Apple has not confirmed the deal direct text, but the company voiced its standard response to the case of the purchase: “From time to time Apple buys smaller technology companies. And we generally do not discuss our goals and plans”.

Company Faceshift, founded in 2012, is located in Zurich. It motion capture technology is actively used in scientific research, computer games and film industry in particular, for the filming of the latest Star Wars.

motion-capture

Faceshift is the author of the method of animation characters and objects without the use of markers. This technology requires no special costume or sensors, that is the actor was for the camera in any clothes. Markerless motion capture is especially convenient when shooting the fights, falls, jumps and other complex movements, during which markers may be damaged.

Faceshift has consumer software solutions, including Faceshift Freelance and Faceshift Studio. Sales last stop after the company was bought by Apple. With this program you can create characters and export them to the software for 3D-animation.

It is unknown what the purpose of the acquisition of Apple. In addition, company from Cupertino have patents on the technology of motion capture, face recognition and augmented reality, which Apple acquired earlier along with three other European companies working in this field – PrimeSense, Polar Rose and Metaio. The media speculated that the company uses the acquired technologies in the new generation Apple TV.

More info on a company : Here

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Techno companies are unlikely to survive for a century

Hello everyone. Today’s post I want to dedicate to rumination about the life cycle of technological companies. Are they easy to go beyond the times and survive hundred years, as did their peers in other industries?

Recently HP got split into two separated companies and now is traded on exchange as two different units. HP was a pioneer, the first techno start-up of Silicon Valley, the company that gave an inspiration to new breed of other audacious geeks to believe they can create something similar. Now techno giant has hard times…

Now, like never before, techno companies are vulnerable and I believe there are several reasons for that:

  • Times are changing faster, especially in digital world: company that popped up could enjoy the trend for years, calmly developing the idea. Now trends change so rapidly, that no one can feel secure with just a good idea.
  • What we see now is a world of start-ups – one can get funds and initial investors right away. That favored the condition for mushrooming hundreds and hundreds of start-ups. Can they be thread for acknowledged technological firms? Absolutely. Breed of new entities like Facebook, Google, Airbnb, Uber and others are so young compered to Sony, Apple, Microsoft and others. And still they compete even right now.
  • Companies, which stand only on sole idea, are doomed. The great example (not from virtual world though) is a PLAYBOY. There was only one reason why man all over the world kept buying the magazine: eagerness for naked flesh. However wind changed, a nudity may be found everywhere on Internet and the magazine struggles. Therefore the companies, which are not bothered with establishing affiliate businesses, will eventually have hard times. And now it’s reasonable, as never before – companies can’t afford to have lack of innovations.

So having these thoughts in mind, I believe, that companies in technological field are unlikely to survive hundreds years in their original state – if we will have a Facebook it will not be famous for social networking.

 

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“Smart” watch learn to recognize objects in your hand

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Disney specialists have developed a prototype “smart” watches, which recognize a metallic object or an electrical device in the hand of man.

When a person touches a metal object or electrical device “smart” watch determine the kind of object and display its name on the clock screen.

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Hussarya-33 Polish super car

unikalne-zegarki-dla-wlascicieli-arrinery-hussarya-33

Arrinera Automotive is a company that is expected to begin production of sports car, they want to be competitors of cars such as Ferrari and Lamborghini. The prototype was recently tested at the airport in Biala Podlaska and is a prelude to a future serial version.

Currently Arrinera Automotive rapidly working on the final version of its first model Hussarya. In October last year, there were test driving around the frame on the track Ułęż. A few days ago, they were carried out while in the białe Podlasie further attempts to have the vehicle dressed in body. The tests were designed to investigate aspects related to the aerodynamic body and the functioning of the chassis.

The first version, which goes into production will  be arrinera hussarya 33, which is the most expensive edition of the car, only 33 cars will be produce. Price of finished vehicle in its basic configuration will be around 160 thousand Euro (approx. 660 000 zł). Variety Limited Hussarya 33 it cost about 200 thousand. Euro (about 828 000 zł).

PERFORMANCE

Frame designed by Lee Noble formed of high strength steel with a varying cross section including the appropriate torsional strength. It will be lightweight and resistant to deformation. The design of the car includes a centrally placed engine 8-cylinder with a capacity of 6.2-liters, dating from Chevrolet. Maximum power is 650 hp and 820 Nm of maximum torque. Hussarya will accelerate in 3.2 seconds from 0 to 100 km / h, and 8.9 s to 200 km / h. Expected maximum speed of up to 340 km / h

The space for the brake system will take care of 19-inch alloy wheels.

Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7OkBKFAjvk

 

What do you think about design and price?
Do you see it as competitors of ferrari

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