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Top Stories for the Week of April 18, 2018

  • Episode 552
  • April 18, 2018

Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday April 18, 2018


The future of electric cars could look a lot like a slot car track.

The world’s first electrified road that recharges the batteries of cars and trucks driving on it has been opened in Sweden.

About 2km (1.2 miles) of electric rail has been embedded in a public road near Stockholm, but the government’s roads agency has already drafted a national map for future expansion.

Sweden’s target of achieving independence from fossil fuel by 2030 requires a 70% reduction in the transport sector.

The technology behind the electrification of the road linking Stockholm Arlanda airport to a logistics site outside the capital city aims to solve the thorny problems of keeping electric vehicles charged, and the manufacture of their batteries affordable.

Energy is transferred from two tracks of rail in the road via a movable arm attached to the bottom of a vehicle. The design is not dissimilar to that of a slot car track.

The electrified road is divided into 50m sections, with an individual section powered only when a vehicle is above it.

When a vehicle stops, the current is disconnected. The system is able to calculate the vehicle’s energy consumption, which enables electricity costs to be debited per vehicle and user.

There is no electricity on the surface. There are two tracks, just like an outlet in the wall. Five or six centimetres down is where the electricity is. But if the road is flooded with salt water they’ve found that the electricity level at the surface is only one volt. So, you could walk on it barefoot.

The “dynamic charging” – as opposed to the use of roadside charging posts – means that the vehicle’s batteries can be smaller, along with their manufacturing costs.

National grids are increasingly moving away from coal and oil, and battery storage is seen as crucial to changing the source of the energy used in transportation.

Source: www.theguardian.com

Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson


Amazon claims it doesn’t eavesdrop on customers' conversations to target advertising at them, after it emerged that it had patented "voice-sniffing" tech.

Amazon claims it does not eavesdrop on customers' conversations to target advertising at them, after it emerged that it had patented "voice-sniffing" tech.

The patent describes listening to conversations and building a profile of customers' likes and dislikes.

Reports speculated that Amazon would deploy the technology in its voice-activated Echo speakers. But Amazon said it did not listen to customers' conversations to target advertising at them.

Launched in 2014, Amazon's Echo speakers can play music, set a timer or read the news when addressed with the wake word "Alexa."

However, the patent describes an algorithm that can listen to entire conversations, using "trigger words," such as like and love, to build a profile of customers.

The document states that the system could then offer "targeted advertising and product recommendations."

But Amazon said it did not use customers' voice recordings for targeted advertising.

In a statement, it said: "We take privacy seriously and have built multiple layers of privacy into our Echo devices.

"Like many companies, we file a number of forward-looking patent applications that explore the full possibilities of new technology.

"Patents take multiple years to receive and do not necessarily reflect current developments to products and services."

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


A U.S. federal judge ruled on Monday that Facebook must face a class action lawsuit alleging that the social network unlawfully used a facial recognition process on photos without user permission.

A U.S. federal judge ruled on Monday that Facebook must face a class action lawsuit alleging that the social network unlawfully used a facial recognition process on photos without user permission.

The ruling adds to the privacy woes that have been mounting against Facebook for weeks since it was disclosed that the personal information of millions of users was harvested by the political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica.

U.S. District Judge, James Donato, ruled in a San Francisco federal court that a class action was the most efficient way to resolve the dispute over facial templates.

Facebook said it was reviewing the ruling, stating, "We continue to believe the case has no merit and will defend ourselves vigorously."

The class will consist of Facebook users in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored facial recognition algorithms after June 7, 2011. That is the date when Facebook launched "Tag Suggestions," a feature that suggests people to tag after a Facebook user uploads a photo.

Source: www.cnbc.com

Sent to us by: Bekah Ferguson


Veteran game maker Sega announced it is getting back into the hardware game at the Sega FES 2018 event over the weekend - with a shrunken version of its classic Megadrive (or Genesis) console.

Veteran game maker Sega announced it is getting back into the hardware game at the Sega FES 2018 event over the weekend, with a shrunken version of its classic Megadrive (or Genesis) console.

In an announcement in no way connected to the success of Nintendo’s SNES Mini, Sega might well have been inspired by the tried and trusted formula of preloading a bunch of elderly games into what could well be an emulator running inside a retro plastic shell. Of course, we have no insight into what software and hardware will be used.

Sega hopes to get the device on sale this year, in time for the 30th anniversary of the Japanese launch of the original console.

European residents with long memories will remember the frustration of having to wait the additional two years until the Mega Drive arrived on UK shores. Hopefully eager buyers will not face the same delay this time around.

Sega followed up the announcement with a tweet giving the device the startlingly original and tentative name of “Mega Drive Mini.” There’s no word yet on the roster of games to be included. But we do expect to see at least one Sonic the Hedgehog game.

We've yet to learn the hardware specifications of the device, but it is a quarter of the size of the original and will connect to a modern television.

Source: www.theregister.co.uk

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


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