Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Could Airships be the Future?

Ever since the 1937 Hindenburg disaster, we have been relatively hesitant to really explore airship or blimp technologies. However, that event is probably going to be the biggest hurdle to jump over for aerospace companies like Flying Whales. What’s really interesting about Flying Whales is there latest project is a blimp that will be able to carry an industry-leading 60 tons. Internally, have a rigid structure with individual pockets of helium, which apparently that technically makes it airship. Also, it’s going to be powered by a small diesel or electric engine but it won’t require that much power. They have already been able to receive $246 million in capital to start on a concept that’s going to be a 500-foot model that will debut in 2021 and will also be backed by China.
The amazing thing about these handful of companies delving into the blimp technologies are the markets that could potentially open. Flying Whale says that originally its designed to lift logs over forests but the designs can be tweaked to maybe be a new way of luxury air travel, or maybe a legitimate flying circus. Imagine in the super distant future, so far that it would make none of this worth anything, that we could have potential cities, potentially up in the sky. I know I sound like a 6-year-old, and mentally I feel like that’s where I’m at; although, I am a realist and I know it’s a stupid idea. For example, there would be nothing we could do to lower the suicide rates, and that’s pretty bad.
            However, my terrible ideas aside, there is still a lot of money to be made in this field especially now that we have the technology to make these more efficient and cleaner. The founder and CEO of Flying Whales, Sebastien Bougon said in an interview with Bloomberg that they estimated sales at 5 billion euros over 10 years from a fleet of 150 machines that are being built in China and France.
What I’m trying to say is that I’m glad that there is a sort of an “airship race” between companies because I’m so curious about the different applications that we can apply this technology to in a way we haven’t really seen before. Hopefully I’ll be alive long enough to see at least some sort levitating city. I won’t, but I can hope, right?

Word Count: 397


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Is Biometric Technology Safer for Businesses?

Passwords have been around for as long as anyone can remember.  In the past, people have used passwords as a way of allowing specific persons to gain access to parties or secret meetings.  Children often use passwords when they play made up games.  With technology, passwords are used for people to gain access to their email or different accounts online.  As technology has swiftly improved, it seems that many businesses are trying to eradicate passwords from their company altogether.
Passwords can be annoying as people often forget what password they use to sign into online accounts.  Often times, websites have different parameters they set for users to create their password such as having a number or a punctuation mark in their passwords.  This makes it difficult because most people who use social media and technology in general sign up to have different accounts on websites like Facebook or Amazon.  Having different passwords is annoying because it is hard to keep track of all of them. 
Many companies are trying to switch from using passwords to using biometrics.  Biometric authentication uses face, fingerprint or iris scans to confirm a person’s identity.  A well-known example is the newer models of iPhone that Apple produces, which have fingerprint scanners to make it easier for people to unlock their phone.  The new iPhoneX has facial recognition, which lets people unlock their phones simply by looking at the screen. 
A professional network for people in the IT industry called Spiceworks predicts that 90% of businesses will use biometric authentication by the year 2020.  Today, the number is currently at 62%.  The most common type today is fingerprint scanning.  One benefit of biometrics is that it reduces the risk of hackers, because it can be quite easy to guess someone’s passwords and it is a lot tougher to steal one’s fingerprints or facial recognition.  I am personally in favor of this movement because I have so many passwords I use that it is tough to keep track of them all.  While I may be a college student, I am striving to work for a company one day and in my opinion it will be a lot easier for everyone if people simply had to scan their fingerprint or look at a monitor instead of remembering and typing in a password. 
Having to use passwords can be quite expensive for a company.  The director of program management in Microsoft’s identity division, Alex Simons, claims he spends “over $2 million in help desk calls per month helping people change their passwords.”  Banks and financial industries are most interested in biometric technology because, obviously, they hold and control the flow of money in the world and as stated before, passwords can be stolen or guessed and this would allow people to steal money from these industries.
Overall, I believe biometric technology is a positive technology that can help to reshape and improve the way businesses are run and help make day-to-day life easier for people.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Roomba iRobot Vaccum

Word Count: 392
In the world of technology, there is a heightened sense of convenience, ease, and accessibility. Recently one of my favorite YouTuber RavenEylse vlogged about her experience with the Roomba 980- a robotic vacuum cleaner. It is the shape of a frisbee which vacuum cleans the floor of your home. It comes with Bluetooth capability, Wi-Fi, application support, scheduling cleans by date and time. Along with application notification with alerts if the Roomba is stuck, needs to be cleared of dirt, is on its way to self-charge and if it needs to be updated. It goes into performance mode to detect carpet, wood, and title. The Roomba’s top competitors are the Dyson 360 eye and the MiMi Robot. Over time it accesses the entire space, can navigate cables, wires, and the sorts. The Tach Chap says “99.9% of the time, the Roomba works well with cords” and unlike the Dyson 360 eye, the Roomba can sliver under beds, sofas, and small tables. Why should you care about the Roomba? Millennials generally enjoy ease, comfort, and the reduction of domesticity which is why companies like Peapod, HelloFresh, Blue Apron, and Healthy Harvest (prepared meals and grocery services) are successful with individuals or young people ranged 18 to 30 years of age. The purpose of introducing the Roomba to our class is to allow the consideration of technological innovation and systems which connect to our daily lives.
Now let’s briefly explore the technical specifications of the Roomba 980. According to, “iRobot has been developing robots with wireless integration along with intelligent navigation capability based on VSLAM (Vision Simultaneous Localization and Mapping)” The VSLAM builds an interactive map for the Roomba to navigate, it uses a camera that can look u to 45 degrees to track, position, and capture pixels of things in its way. The VSLAM is an attractive software because, “as far as VSLAM algorithms go, the Roomba has to be a little bit clever, because it frequently finds itself under tables and couches and beds, where tracking “features” in the environment gets harder” ( I am interested to see how this software and technology may be implemented in things such as toilets, kitchen sinks, window blinds, even bedding to increase the autonomous nature within technology to simplify some of the most mundane tasks which exist (i.e.; chores).


Lil Miquela: The Internet Phenomenon

            For years, the development of technology has stunned and impressed audiences all over the world. While, for the most part, these advances have been a way to meet public demands and make tasks like vacuuming easier, technology has now found a place within the arts. We have social media, Instagram more specifically, to thank for this development.
            Ever since the rise of the popular app, there have been celebrities present within it, sharing a range of content. More recently, however, this “celebrity” status has been extended to a new group of people who refer to themselves as “influencers.” The prerequisites to obtain this status are rather vague, and it is more often than not a self-given title. Among these is Miquela Sousa, also known as Lil Miquela (@lilmiquela), who has taken over the internet.

The 19-year-old Brazilian/Spanish model currently lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys going to different spots around the city by herself and with friends, who include a couple celebrities. However, she is different from the average Instagram influencer, as well as from you and I as well. That difference being Miquela isn’t actually human, which has contributed to her internet fame.
            For a while, people were skeptical on whether or not she was real. Although her features closer resemble a computer-generation’s than a human’s, her pictures in known places have caused confusion. It wasn’t until February 5th, 2018, following an interview with Business of Fashion, that her audience got confirmation that Miquela really was a computer-generation. However, the mystery behind her creator and who’s running her page still remains a mystery. This has, in turn, caused many people to come up with different theories on who is behind all of this. One of these is that digital artist Nicole Ruggiero is behind the account.
            The theory behind Ruggiero stems from the physical similarities between Miquela and herself, as well as her history with 3D models. However, Ruggiero quickly shut down these theories, claiming that she not only wasn’t behind it but also has no idea who is. In an interview when asked about Lil Miquela, Ruggiero said “She seems very realistic, like she’s actually a social influencer, whoever came up with this is brilliant.” 

            The mystery behind this social media phenomenon hasn’t caused interest in Miquela to decrease. She has now been involved and worked on projects with fashion icons like Chanel, Versace and Moschino, a huge honor for anyone in the fashion industry. Although this mystery remains almost entirely unsolved, it is safe to say that not knowing is what’s contributing to Miquela’s fame and success. While the world wants to know who is behind this project, this is a mystery which might remain better unsolved.


Self-driving cars – are they as safe as they claim?

The chief executive of Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving car unit Waymo, John Krafcik stated that Waymo’s technology would be able to adeptly detect and stop for a pedestrian.  This statement was in response to the recent accident in Tempe, Arizona in which a woman was struck and killed by an Uber self-driving car.  Waymo believes its self-driving technology is more advanced than Uber’s and will be able to appropriately respond to and handle life-threatening situations.  I think that Waymo making this statement is encouraging because it shows that they are very confident in their technology they have developed.  I hope that every company is that confident in their products because their cars are trusted with people’s lives.  Sadly, even if they are 100% confident in their vehicles, there can still be accidents caused by these cars. 
Waymo’s statement and the accident in Arizona raise serious questions.  I think the most prevalent is: are self-driving cars safe?  This question does not have a clear answer.  When I first learned that self-driving cars were being developed, I thought the idea of a self-driving car was crazy.  I never thought that a car would be able to actually drive itself on active roads without a driver at the wheel.  The more I thought about it the more unsafe the cars sounded.  I think that there are way too many things that can malfunction in a car that is not automated.  If you take all of these potential issues and add to them that the car is completely driven through technology, the possibilities that something could go wrong are much higher.  Also, I think that there are some aspects of driving that only a human can react to and judge.  A self-driving car cannot communicate to other drivers on the road like a human can.  Likewise, given the choice between trusting my life with a computer’s ability to hit the break and my own I would pick my own.  I think a human reacting to a problem on the road is faster than waiting for the car to detect it and then brake.
The self-driving car industry is developing and expanding.  With this expansion I think it is important to step back and think about the potential risks that come with the benefits of these new vehicles.  I think that because of the unfortunate accident in Arizona, we will begin to see a lot more regulation on self-driving cars.  I think this would be a very good thing because I do not think that self-driving cars are regulated enough.  Waymo has stated that their vehicles have driven more than 5 million miles on public roadways.  I think that other drivers should be notified when self-driving cars are being used or tested in their area, so they are informed beforehand.  I would like to be notified if a self-driving car was driving near me so I could be more aware while I was on the road.

Can Google Put a Dent in Apple's Tablet Dominance?

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           For years Apple has had a hold on the education market, with students all over the country using their Macbook and iPad products. With recent press releases, it looks like the company seeks an even stronger grip on the demographic. The company looks to make iPads even more available to students, specifically those still in grade school. One specific company is not content just watching Apple grow even stronger. It should come at no surprise that this company is Google.
            Google just revealed a new Chromebook tablet aimed at students across various levels of the education system. The announcement comes in partnership with Acer, a renowned tech company in and of itself. As you might know, this is not Google’s first crack at the tablet market. They hope this time for a bit more success. Over the past decade or so, the company has released the handheld devices featuring an android interface. Though they experienced some success, sales paled in comparison to those of Apple’s iPad. Because of this, Google has slowly moved away from the Android software.
            This time, Google isn’t making the same mistake. The new Chromebook tablet will feature the same operating system as the Chromebook laptops, which have been on the market for some time. The shared interface should make it much easier to transfer files, applications, etc. between devices. This is similar to the transparency between Apple’s main devices (Macbook, iPad, iPhone), which makes them so easy to go back and forth between with iCloud technology. The use of Chromebook OS also means that the device is much closer to a computer than an Android tablet was. This difference makes a big impact from the education standpoint. From my personal experience using an iPad in high school then a Macbook in college, it is a lot easier to get work done on a laptop rather than a tablet.

            All this said, it will still most likely be very difficult to pry the education demographic from the strong grasp of Apple. However, as us Apple users know all to well, the company has a fondness for the premium price range and, if Google plays its cards right, they might be able to attract some users with a more budget friendly option. Many schools already demand that their students purchase iPads for their classes, but those and many others might find it easier to pitch a cheaper alternative. Students purchasing independently will also appreciate a lower cost.  If Google really wants to steal some market share away from Apple, they need to undercut the iPad price by a rather substantial margin. Unfortunately, Google might be in denial of this fact given that the product is predicted to be in the same price range as the iPad. Google also needs to make sure that the OS works as fluidly between devices as Apple’s iCloud. Time will tell if Google can pry the education and tablet market from Apple, but they clearly need to calculate their moves.