For years we've been hearing all about the decline of brick-and-mortar shops, but it turns out that prediction just isn't true. Shopping isn't going full-on digital, but rather embracing a blend of physical and virtual opportunities. Big name brands like Walmart, Amazon, and Alibaba are turning to solutions like augmented reality, robots, and dynamic personalized ad displays in and out of physical stores to reinvigorate retail.
Taylor Swift Knows Your Face
When you've achieved Taylor Swift levels of fame, stalkers are an unfortunate and inevitable reality. In order to keep the superstar safe at a recent California concert, Swift's team employed a sneaky facial recognition kiosk, disguised as videos of behind-the-scene rehearsals, to send scans back to a team in Nashville who would then compare them to a database of Swift's known pursuers. The take away? Future tech continues to be an ethical morass!
Bad Acoustics Are A Killer. Here's What Designers Can Do About It.
Noise is all around us, whether we like it or not. We're only now beginning to understand the detrimental effects loud sounds can have on our health. Luckily, we can mitigate those effects with design thinking.
In 2029, artificial intelligence will pass a Turing test and match human intelligence. By 2045, humans and AI will merge in an event called the Singularity. At least, that's what Ray Kurzweil, Google's director of engineering, says. But don't be so quick to write him off—since the 1990's, 147 of his predictions have come true, which is equivalent to an 86% accuracy rate.
The Fuzz Takes Flight
First it was predictive crime artificial intelligence. Now, police are taking to the sky, at least in Dubai. A California-based hover vehicle company called Hoversurf has gifted the Middle Eastern city's police force one unit for the time being, but if the officers prove capable of flying it more could be on the way.
Move Over Solar Panels, Solar Paint is Coming
Researchers at Australia's Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology have developed a new renewable energy solution in the form of solar paint. The paint can produce electricity through solar energy or by absorbing moisture out of the air, making it ideal for humid and arid climates. The researchers estimate that when the paint becomes commercially available it will be relatively cheap to produce.
Ikea furniture may look innocuous, but it has of destroying new couples before they even leave the store. And when lovebirds do escape the commercial behemoth's clutches, they inevitably fall apart when it comes time to assemble the pieces. Two researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore may have finally given couples everywhere a solution to the latter problem with a robot that can (partially) put together Ikea products in under a half-hour.
Dockless Bicycles Contribute to Smart City Planning
People generally don't like how technology can track their location at all times—the profusion of articles about how to hide from Google and Facebook's panopticon-like power make that perfectly clear. Silicon Valley–based startup Lime, which deploys and operates dockless bicycles in over 88 American cities, may slightly improve that opinion. A few city planning departments have turned to Lime's data about user locations to understand how people are biking in their cities and how to accommodate those riders with new and improved bicycle infrastructure.
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall...
Who's the buffest of them all? Thanks to Naked Labs' newest product, a high-tech personal computer housed in a floor-length mirror, athletes and fitness enthusiasts will have an answer that's more than what meets the eye. The mirror comes with a scale that can produce a 360-degree 3-D model of the user, showing current and predictive weight loss, in just 15 seconds.
Nanobots may be teeny-tiny, but once they become commercially viable, their impact could be huge. A team of MIT scientists recently created an aerosol spray full of these microscopic, self-reproducing machines. The spray could be used to identify problems in systems in our built environment and eventually in our own bodies.
So Apparently Robo-Bees Are a Thing
Robo-bees may sound like our worst nightmare, but they could be a dream come true for the endangered insects and their human saviors. A group of European scientists developed robotic bees to learn how other social animals communicate and maybe one day use that knowledge to influence their survival rates. The experiment was also conducted on zebra fish, opening up an avenue to save aquatic animals, too.
Genetically Modified Houseplants Could Be the Next Technology to Track Our Environments
Sure, houseplants are good for our health and wellbeing from a holistic, biophilic point of view. But what if they could track our environment and alert us to dangers the way wearable tech monitors our internal workings? Scientists from the University of Tennessee think that with the possibility of genetic engineering we may be able to update the famous "canary in a coal mine" idiom for the 21st century.
Ocean plastic is a serious problem and humans are scrambling to turn the tide in the battle for oceanic cleanliness. The ban on plastic straws is one way to stop some of the trash, but that's only a small piece of the puzzle. Waste Shark, an aquatic drone, may be a more successful solution, designed to pick up as much as 770 pounds of trash over a 16-hour work day.
The Best New HIV Defense May Exist in a Grain of Rice
An international team of scientists may have created the first wonder GMO. They developed a new strain of rice that could help prevent HIV. The creation could mean a cheap miracle for developing countries with high HIV rates.
Spider-Like Robot Will Keep Your Succulents Alive
Keeping succulents alive isn’t too demanding, but some of us just aren’t blessed with a green thumb. Thankfully, the robot ranks have expanded with HEXA, a mobile flowerpot that monitors its occupant’s solar needs and moves on its own into and out of
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