Shape-Changing Soft Robot Created

Researchers from Stanford University have developed a shape-changing, free-roaming soft robots that can work side by side with humans. With further research and development of these robots, they will be able to help assist humans with lifting various heavy objects and even carrying humans out of danger. A limitation that the researchers had to overcome was the fact that most soft robots require to be attached to some type of air source, most of the time a air compressor that has to be attached to the wall which therefore prevents the robot from being able to move. However, researchers were able to keep the same amount of air within these soft robots all the time, allowing the robot to change shapes, move, and even roll in controllable directions.

While the field of soft robotics is still very young, the research and development that has gone behind it so far is fascinating. The soft robots are most desirable towards everyday home and workplace usage whereas traditional robots could cause potential harm. The best way that the soft robot has been described is as a mix between BigHero 6 from Big Max and a Transformer. The mixture of softness and flexibility is the key component to what makes these futuristic robots so appealing. The most interesting part of this development of the soft robot in my opinion is the fact that if could be used to explore various planets and space. It could be sent up in a small package and then act untethered once inflated. It could also use its ability to shape-shift as a way to fit in small places if it had to on a foreign planet. I’m looking forward to seeing how scientists and researchers are going to use and further develop this piece of technology and maybe even be able to incorporate it in our everyday lives.

Source:

“Shape-Changing, Free-Roaming Soft Robot Created.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 18 Mar. 2020, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200318143711.htm

 

Netflix Watch Party

In an attempt to shine some positive light in a time filled with chaos and social and misinformation, I decided to write something about a development conducted by Google to encourage “social distancing” while still being able to interact with friends. Considering that going to the movies and hanging out with large groups of friends have temporarily come to an end, Google decided to pair with Netflix to allow people to stream movies and shows together and at the same time to stimulate watching movies together in person.

This free Google extension is called ‘Netflix Party’. This software allows for anyone in the invited ‘party’ to pause, play, rewind or do anything that a usual movie would do so that everyone in the ‘party’ is in the same time frame of the movie. One of the things that I thought of when I first heard of this is what’s the point of watching a movie together if you can’t talk (because how are you going to use the webcam audio and Netflix audio at the same time)? Well, this was clearly answered in the article. Netflix Party included a a side bar where everyone can type like a chat room and make comments on the movie or just talk in general. Since this program is so new, it hasn’t been answered what the max about of people that can join a party is. In order for this program to work and be successful, everyone that desires to be in the party must already have an existing Netflix account and then download the Google extension.

So, if you’re looking for way to be connected to your friends while you’re stuck at home this could be a great tool and way to interact. I also think it’s really cool how Google Netflix are developing this new software in a time when people need it the most. If you’re interested, the article attached contains all instructions on how to set it up. Stay safe!

Source:

Netflix Watch Party: How to Simultaneously Stream Movies with Your Friends Remotely, www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/netflix-watch-party-how-to-simultaneously-stream-movies-with-your-friends-remotely/ar-BB11wOoh

 

Community Colleges and Google

Was the reason you decided to not pursue a degree at your local community college because they didn’t have an IT certificate or degree? Well this is just the problem that Google is trying to fix in an attempt to fill over 215,000 job openings for IT Support in the United States (Zinshteyn). Google has been developing it’s very own IT degree that only takes six months to complete with a fee of $49 a month and they even pay community colleges $215 per student that obtains the degree, just for teaching and making the material available to the students. Also, not to mention that information from Google entails that these certificates can lead to wages of $50,000+.

While Google’s main goal was the fill the job shortage that is currently occurring in the IT industry, they are also focusing on cutting costs for companies whom spent million of dollars putting employees through job training programs. Companies such as Amazon spend up to $700 MILLION a year funding employee training (Zinshteyn). However, if Google makes this IT certificate easy available to companies like Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, and Walmart and expands outside community colleges, these companies will be able to hire more people and redirect there funding towards product development and research.

On the other hand, there are millions of students nationwide that trek through four long years at a university to maintain a bachelors, and sometimes even a masters to become valuable in the IT workforce. Will this certificate lessen the value of a regular IT degree? Lower the amount of students that enroll in universities just to maintain that “prestigious” degree? Also, is it possible that the same amount and quality of material could be taught within six months versus a four year program? And what does this mean for the other tech jobs such as cyber security? Will they switch to online to? There are many factors that must go into consideration when weighing out the pros and cons of Google’s new development.

Sources:

“Community Colleges Work With Google to Offer Tech Training.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2020-03-09/community-colleges-offer-google-it-certificate

 

 

AI Replacing Nurses

The development of AI in the medical field is nothing new, especially if you’re a fan of the popular show Grey’s Anatomy.  However, this recent innovation created by Rutgers engineers completes a task that is traditionally done by nurses. This tabletop machine completes basic actions such as drawing blood, inserting catheters and delivering fluids and blood. The new device uses a mix of “artificial intelligence, and near-infrared and ultrasound imaging” (Rutgers University) in order to complete these tasks. There is even significant evidence that with more experience and testing that these devices will be able to complete such tasks much better than people. Another benefit of this is that if these devices can conduct routine procedures with minimal supervision, surgeons and doctors can focus on the more critical cases and be more available in the hospital. I think it’s really cool how the robot that can draw blood uses the ultra-sound and infrared imaging to to identify blood vessel depth as well as their motion. This eliminates the worry of people with abnormal veins, or veins in abnormal places.

Personally, I’ve never thought of using such technology to do something as routine as drawing blood and delivering fluid and blood. But in the perspective of employers, paying a one time fee of the purchase of the device instead of continuing to pay a salary to multiple nurses and technicians is a very smart move if the device can truly perform the tasks better than people and save money. On the other hand, where will the people whose income and livelihoods rely on these jobs in the medical field. This is just another one of the many examples when it comes to technology and AI potentially increasing the unemployment rate and taking jobs that are traditional conducted by people.

Sources:

“Robot Uses Artificial Intelligence and Imaging to Draw Blood.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 4 Mar. 2020, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200304141540.htm.

Using VR to Get the Live Music Experience!

Have you ever really wanted to go see and experience your favorite artists concert but it was too far away or the cost of the tickets were WAY out of your budget? Well, the company MelodyVR and artists such as Kelly Clarkson and Wiz Khalifa have worked to make this possible. Through an Oculus VR headset you are able to witness the concert itself, the stage, behind the sound booth, backstage and even the experience of being onstage with the band all on the comfort of your home through an app on your IPhone or Android device.

This type of technology is available now using a pay-per-view model starting at $1.99 per song and around $10 for the whole concert. These prices vary greatly from those concerts like Post Malone, Billie Ellish and Harry Styles whose ticket prices begin at $150. Imagine being able to see a whole concert for $10! However, there are drawbacks as there is to every type of technology such as the price of the Oculus itself running at about $400 plus the prices that come with the app. You won’t be able to take pictures and actually experience the thrill of seeing your favorite artist in person and making memories with friends over actually attending a concert. Also, the artist isn’t gaining as much profit considering people are much more willing to pay $10 than $150 plus gas money, snacks, and parking that are all wrapped up into going to a concert. But on the bright side, if you pay a certain monthly subscription you get unlimited streaming access to concerts.

This type of technology is revolutionizing the entertainment industry in a whole new perspective that I would’ve never thought of before. Using VR to encapsulate and make experiences available to those that wouldn’t have access to it otherwise redefines ways in which people are getting said entertainment. Maybe this company will even go as far as to live stream and make avaiable huge events like the New Year’s ball drop in NYC, music festivals like Coachella and major news events accessible via VR.

Source:

Sing, Nathan. “How Virtual Reality Is Changing the Live Music Experience.” CNN, Cable News Network, 27 Feb. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/02/27/tech/vr-live-music-intl/index.html

Is “Ring” REALLY Keeping Your Family Safe?

Ring. A technology owed by Amazon that hasn’t been around for the longest amount of time but has managed to revolutionize security in one’s home. This device is known for allowing you and your family to live-stream video on basically any device and see what is happening on your front porch. However, Ring has recently gained backlash as not only a device that allows live coverage of who/what is entering your home, but also “as a webcam that spies on you and that has failed to protect your data” (The New York Times). If this is true, why do copious amounts of people continue to buy and support the device?

Personally, I was fascinated by this article just learning about the huge amount of data breaches caused by Ring itself since it is not commonly covered on the news. Only last month did a team of researchers discover that the Ring device contained hidden code that had leaked all sorts of personal data out to third-party consumers. While Ring has come out with various statements about how they are going to address this and many other issues, many security experts have commented that the Ring teams’ solutions were weak. The problem with addressing such issues as these is that people are more willing to consume in a product that claims to protect their families that use tools like motion sensors, cameras, microphones and speakers rather than doing research about how these products could potentially be putting them in more danger.

Now I’m not saying that no one should invest in security devices like the Ring, but simply endorsing the importance of research and knowing what you are bringing into your home before mindlessly insulting these devices. According to Brian Chen from the New York Times, there are ways to maker smarter decisions about your security devices. These include developing a STRONG password and using a password manager, set up two-factor verification but be careful with sharing your phone number with a stranger, turn off the microphone, and install a tracker blocker on your phone. Overall, remember to be smart about would security products you bring into your home, do your research, and always consider the company’s data security polices and practices.

Source:

Chen, Brian X. “Your Doorbell Camera Spied on You. Now What?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Feb. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/02/19/technology/personaltech/ring-doorbell-camera-spying.html.