SpinLaunch

According to, “This Company Built a Gigantic Centrifuge to Fling Rockets Into Space“, an article written by Courtney Linder and published by Popular Mechanics, SpinLaunch, a newcomer to the pursuit of space exploration, plans to enter Earth’s orbit through the use of a unique launch system.

In describing the procedure for takeoff, Linder states that “a centrifuge the size of a football  will spin a rocket around in circles for about an hour until its speed eventually exceeds 5,000 miles per hour. At that point, the rocket and its payload will feel forces 10,000 times stronger than gravity. When the centrifuge finally releases the rocket at launch speed, it should, practically speaking, fly through the stratosphere until it fires its engines at the periphery of our atmosphere” (Linder).

SpinLaunch claims that this action will account for a large portion of the distance needed to enter orbit, and that fuel-based boosters will only be used in a small portion of the rocket’s flight (SpinLaunch via Wired and Popular Mechanics)(Oberhaus)(Linder).

While the rocket and payload will undergo immense stress, the company has reportedly completed successful tests on cargo within their smaller-scale, test centrifuge. That being said, this test model does not induce the same increased force of gravity as SpinLaunch’s ideal centrifuge (SpinLaunch via Wired and Popular Mechanics)(Oberhaus)(Linder).

The centrifuge holds promise, and “in June, SpinLaunch signed a responsive launch prototype contract with the Department of Defense to build out its kinetic energy-based launch system that will provide a lower-cost option for the ever-growing satellite industry” according to Linder (Linder).

In my opinion, I believe that this technology has the potential to revolutionize space travel as it is known today. The development of a reusable launch system and minimal use of rocket propulsion of fuel will most likely reduce the cost of launching a satellite into orbit immensely. Hopefully, this reduced price tag will aid in human research efforts in Earth’s immediate orbit and bolster mankind’s understanding of space itself.

Sources:

Article: “Inside SpinLaunch, the Space Industry’s Best Kept Secret”(Daniel Oberhaus)(Wired Magazine)- https://www.wired.com/story/inside-spinlaunch-the-space-industrys-best-kept-secret/

Article: “This Company Built a Gigantic Centrifuge to Fling Rockets Into Space”(Courtney Linder)(Popular Mechanics)- https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/a30716423/spinlaunch-centrifuge-rocket/

Claims from SpinLaunch can only be found as they are reported on the websites of Popular Mechanics or Wired Magazine.

Esports Growing in Popularity

According to an article I read on NPR, Esports are becoming more and more mainstream. Competitive video games currently dominate the online gaming community, with many games such as League of Legends and Overwatch having their own professional leagues where teams compete against one another for millions of dollars in prize money. One statistic in this article that I found particularly interesting is that Esports are the third most watched sports league in the U.S, behind the NFL and NBA (Chris Greely — Esports Commissioner — via NPR). 

As a gamer myself, one thing that fascinates me about the growing popularity of esports is how much other gamers want to watch these live streams and competitions. A large difference between esports and other professional sports like football and basketball is that people interested in esports can actually play the games themselves from the comfort of their own home, but sometimes will still choose to watch a live stream on Twitch or another platform. If I’m at home looking for something to do or watch, I oftentimes would much rather play the game myself rather than watch someone else play it. However, I do love to see my favorite games getting more public recognition and love that more people are becoming aware of and involved with the video gaming community. I think that if esports leagues find a way to be more inclusive of non-gamers and women, and discover ways to make events more accessible, esports and the online gaming community in general will both see an increase in popularity. With Esports continually rising in popularity, what might the future of sports television and events look like in the future?

Source:
https://www.npr.org/2020/01/31/801353864/esports-evangelists-want-to-bring-gaming-to-a-broader-audience

 

NFL and Verizon Partner to Deliver Super Bowl App With 5G Capabilities

Verizon has recently announced that it will be partnering with the NFL to release an app that will allow users to experience the capabilities of 5G. The NFL OnePass app has been a major part of the NFL experience since it was released last year in 2019. The app has already been able to help customers access tickets and lead the stadium-goers to their seats, but for the Super Bowl will be introducing a great amount of new features. For example, while watching the game users of the app will be able to switch between 5 different live views of the fame from different positions on the field. The users will also be able to rewind plays and watch instant replays as they please. The app will also let users use AR features to present fans real time stats that can overlay the views of the stadium.

These features would not be possible without the speeds of 5G, which is capable of reaching speeds up to 100x faster than 4G. The rollout of 5G has been pretty slow so far for the US telecom carriers. 5G requires the use of extremely high frequency radio waves that can carry a lot of data but are not able to permeate physical structures very easily. This means that there have to be a huge amount of 5G cell towers in close proximity to each other in order to deliver full coverage. This is not a huge problem for this scenario, though, as the wide open stadium will be covered by the use of a few 5G stations in and around Hard Rock Stadium where the game will be played.

What do you think of these features? Does something like this get you excited for the future of 5G, or are you underwhelmed by the idea? Do you think this will even get much use (as you need a 5G capable phone in order to use these features)?

 

Source: https://www.cnet.com/news/verizon-touts-5g-capabilities-at-super-bowl-2020/

Facebook Lawsuit

Facebook recently settled a $550 million Illinois internet privacy lawsuit. The article claims, “each Illinois Facebook user could get $200 or more” (Pletz). The reason for Facebook paying that much money is to settle a lawsuit regarding an Illinois biometric privacy law. According to the suit, “a Facebook feature that allowed users to recognize and tag friends in photos based on facial recognition violated the 2008 Illinois law that required consumers to give their consent for their biometric information to be gathered” (Pletz). The attorneys do not know how many users from Illinois will receive a payout but they will most likely receive at least $200. Facebook will also have to ask for permission to use biometric information such as facial recognition. This was not the only occasion where Facebook was sued for a violation of privacy. Last year, Facebook was required to pay $5 billion to settle an FTC lawsuit.

I am glad Facebook had to pay the people whose privacy rights they violated. The fact that Facebook used biometric information without the user’s permission is definitely a violation of privacy. I highly doubt Facebook is the only social media company that violates people’s privacy using biometrics. Platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram, where users can post pictures, could potentially be guilty of the same crimes. Hopefully, all the other social media companies who use our personal information will also have to pay for their crimes.

Source:

https://www.chicagobusiness.com/john-pletz-technology/facebook-settles-illinois-internet-privacy-suit-550-million

Kwikset Kevo Bluetooth Deadbolt

A collaboration between Kwikset and Unikey developed one of the smart locks, Kevo: a Bluetooth-enabled deadbolt. Basically, what Kevo does is it let you unlock your front door without taking out or using your key. Paring with your phone, Kevo allows you to unlock the door with just a tap of your finger as well as it detects your presence. In addition to the Bluetooth function, Kevo is designed in a way that it could stand any sorts of brute-force attacks.

I personally thought that the idea of the Bluetooth door lock was very innovative and creative. Even for me, I sometimes forget to bring my student ID with me that I sometimes face trouble getting into my dorm. If we have the Bluetooth door, we would not have to worry much about carrying our keys or IDs with you, but you would only need your smartphone with you. Also, the fact that we do not have to even take out our smartphone really makes our lives easier. With the touch of our fingertip, it would automatically unlock our door.

However, on the negative side, I found it very difficult and complicated to actually install it to my door. According to an article, there were all kinds of different things for us to consider before installing the deadbolt including the house door’s design, the structure of your doorknob, and so on. Perceiving it as a customer point of view, these steps seemed redundant, time-consuming, and too detailed to follow along.

Overall, I think the idea of Bluetooth door lock really has fascinated me. Although it is a small step, I think this idea would make a big difference in the future. It will be interesting to see how this technology would develop and be utilized in the future.

 

Sources:

https://www.cnet.com/news/kwiksets-kevo-touch-to-open-smart-lock-is-now-90-its-lowest-price-ever/

https://www.cnet.com/reviews/kwikset-kevo-2nd-gen-bluetooth-smart-lock-review/

Gun Detection in Las Vegas

As examined in, “The Las Vegas Resort Using Microwaves to Keep Guns Out of its Casino”, an article written by Robbie Gonzalez and published by Wired Magazine, a new technology is being tested at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino that has the ability to detect concealed firearms (Gonzalez).

According to Gonzalez, the device is the, “Patscan Cognitive Microwave Radar. Marketed by Canadian security outfit PatriotOne, the Patscan CMR combines short-range radar with machine learning algorithms to scan individual guests for guns, knives, and bombs in real time—without forcing them to line up and walk through metal detectors” (Gonzalez). Furthermore, this system is fairly small is rather concealable (Gonzalez).

Concerning the specifics of the CMR’s operation, “the first antenna emits 1,000 pulses of electromagnetic radiation per second, at frequencies between 500 MHz and 5 Ghz” (Gonzalez) while “the second antenna monitors for electromagnetic patterns inside that two-meter range. When you hit an object with electromagnetic radiation, it resonates according to its shape and material…pistols, grenades, rifles…all resonate in the frequency range that Patscan emits” (Gonzalez).

Finally, Patscan utilizes a computer and a de-facto radar signature library that can be added to in order to identify potential threats and inform local police forces (Gonzalez).

In my perspective, I view this development as a positive and ethical utilization of machine learning. Unlike facial recognition, the CMR does not necessarily care about who an individual is but rather what they are carrying. In addition, I believe that the operational procedure of this product is very “hands off” and seems to require no input or manipulation from the customer or the resort staff.

It will be interesting to follow the Patscan CMR as it progresses through its testing phase and possibly into everyday use at public hotspots such as airports, museums, or sporting events.

Source:

Article: “The Las Vegas Resort Using Microwaves to Keep Guns Out of its Casino”(Robbie Gonzalez)(Wired Magazine)- https://www.wired.com/story/the-las-vegas-resort-using-microwaves-to-keep-guns-out-of-its-casino/

An AI-developed medicine will go through first human trial

A recent collaboration between a British start-up and Japanese pharmaceutical has used AI to develop a new medicine molecule named DSP-1181 and was used to treat patients with OCD. It is stunning that in a technologically advanced world that now we can use AI to create something that can actually benefit the human body. The two companies wrote an algorithm to sift through the database to form a potent compound that may be useful for curing OCD. In addition, while traditional new drug development can take up to 5 years to eventually be brought to human trials, the AI-developed drug can be tested on humans from scratch to complete in just 12 months. Imagine how much increase in efficiency will be applied to drug development, and this technology is not limited to just drug development, it can also be used in developing vaccines and flu shots.

However, I can see the downside of such technology. That is if AI can increase the efficiency in new drug development, does that mean medical scientists can now be replaced by AI? with new technology like AI, the business world is already adapting to it in which jobs in the business world require people to know some type of technological skills. It is no longer a specialty for tech people. Would this go the same for medical personnel?

Source:

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51315462

Toyota Unveils Plans for its City of the Future

Recently, Toyota released plans to develop an extremely high tech city from scratch called the Woven City at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan starting in 2021 (Poon, 2020). They designed homes to be full of AI assistance to monitor the residents’ health or features of the house. Additionally they will make buildings out of wood to consume less fossil fuels than concrete buildings do in production, and everything will be powered by hydrogen fuel as opposed to fossil fuels. For transportation, there would be autonomous shuttles that also contain elements of retail stores for shopping. The designers envision 3 kinds of roads: those for autonomous vehicles, those for small vehicles, and those for pedestrians. Such types of autonomous cities are being attempted by many tech companies looking to create futuristic communities. The first set of residents of Toyota’s creation are expected to be 2,000 people involved with the company and industry professionals. However, even if the city is to be created, one possible challenge could be populating the city to its natural capacity. When South Korea attempted a futuristic city in Songdo, only ⅓ of the city’s residential goal was met leading to an eerie and lonely feeling for inhabitants. I believe that this kind of city will take decades to develop due to the challenges that designers could face, but could set a precedent for non-tech companies and governments around the world to start incorporating more technological advances into existing cities.

Source: 

https://www.citylab.com/life/2020/01/toyota-woven-city-smart-technology-cities-of-the-future/604741/

New High Tech Motorcycle Helmet to Enhance Convenience for Riders

At the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, French company Tali Connected unveiled a new smart motorcycle helmet (Paukert, 2020). The helmet has LED lights that can change colors, and display turn signals and brake lights. It makes use of Bluetooth to connect to phones, allowing the helmet to serve as a device for phone calls, music, and navigation. Furthermore, the headgear has other safety features such as using digital mapping to share location and notify the user through an app if the helmet is stolen, and automatically calling police if the rider has an accident. Another such beneficial feature is the photochromic visor, which darkens when exposed to UV light to ensure the rider can see. The helmet even has access to Siri and Alexa, so that the rider can speak commands instead of having to look at their phone, which could serve as a danger. However, the product revealed at CES has minimal functionality and is not ready for real life testing. The company’s app is still in development and the product still need to be certified by the Department of Transportation. The helmet is estimated to cost around $1200 when it releases at earliest by late 2020. I believe this innovation could greatly improve safety and comfort for motorcycle riders as it would make the experience more similar to riding in the numerous cars that currently exist that have built in navigation, Bluetooth, and voice command features.

Source:

https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/tali-motorcycle-helmet-connected-safety-ces/

New app, byte, just launched as a potential TikTok competitor.

Byte is the second Vine.

Byte is an app made by the creator of Vine, Dan Hofmann to come back into the social media realm after the original was shut down.  This app is designed for people to create six second videos to share with friends and the general app’s community. (“Byte… mobile” 2020)

However, the logistics of the platform are not too thought out yet – as it is still in beta stages.  Issues like crashing, no way of blocking, and no hashtags to connect communities are in existence.  But, Perhaps the largest issue on the platform is spam.  Being dubbed “spam bots,” these accounts are only made to get the greatest amount of random followers by leaving unwarranted comments and messages. (“Byte… spam” 2020)

It is possible this app was only now created because of TikTok’s popularity, with many people comparing it to the original Vine.  There had been talks of a “Vine 2” years ago, but it never came to light.  However, the creators plan to use their history to their advantage in terms of nostalgia (“What is Byte?” 2020).  By returning to the original six second platform, removed from all of the gimmicky aspects on TikTok, the app is expected to have many participators.  Already according to slate.com, a few people who were once popular on Vine have made a debut in this app. (2020)

It is interesting to see how this new platform will pan out.  It may lose it’s footing against the continuously growing TikTok, or enough people might miss the original, that they wont want to miss out on this opportunity.  In class we spoke about the different abilities of different platforms.  It is possible this is too similar to pre-existing concepts.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/25/tech/byte-app-tiktok-vine/index.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/what-byte-internet-s-new-old-school-short-form-video-n1123866

https://slate.com/technology/2020/01/byte-vine-spam-ios-android-fake-accounts.html