Toyota Wants Cars to Predict Heart Attacks

By Jeremy Hsu | July 23, 2017 11:11 am
Toyota's Collaborative Safety Research Center is working with the University of Michigan on developing heart monitoring methods that could someday help predict heart attacks in drivers. Credit: University of Michigan

Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center is working with the University of Michigan on developing heart monitoring methods that could someday help predict heart attacks in drivers. Credit: University of Michigan

A heart attack or diabetic blackout can have especially deadly consequences for drivers when they cause car crashes. Toyota researchers hope to change that grim equation by studying how wearable devices could help smart cars possibly save lives by predicting medical emergencies ahead of time.

The day when smart cars—either manually driven or self-driven—will watch out for the health of their drivers remains some ways off into the future. But Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center think it’s worth investing in the technology and scientific research needed to make that future happen today through a $35-million, five-year effort that will last until 2021. Toyota researchers have already begun working with universities on seeing if wearables such as smartwatches could someday prove as accurate as clinical-grade medical equipment in monitoring signs of impending heart attacks or blackouts due to low blood sugar. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: technology, top posts

How Disney Tech Can Immerse Park Guests in ‘Star Wars’

By Jeremy Hsu | July 18, 2017 1:55 pm
Disney's planned attractions for a Star Wars theme park include requiring visitors to help pilot the Millennium Falcon through danger and fight off TIE Fighters. Credit: Disney

Disney’s planned attractions for a Star Wars theme park include requiring visitors to help pilot the Millennium Falcon through danger and fight off TIE Fighters. Credit: Disney

Disney tech is getting ready to grant the wish of any Star Wars fan who ever wished to stand inside the cavernous space of a Star Destroyer hanger or help fly the Millennium Falcon during a space battle. The entertainment giant has promised a “revolutionary new vacation experience” at its theme parks that will supposedly include getting visitors dressed up in proper Star Wars attire and even allowing families to stay at a 100-percent immersive Star Wars hotel where everyone is in character all the time.

The new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge “lands” scheduled to open at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort in 2019 appear to go well beyond Disney’s famed dedication to having costumed staff stay in character. They seem designed around creating “living adventures”—set within the conflict between the First Order and the Resistance as depicted in the newest Star Wars films—in which visitors could earn extra galactic credits for doing well on a mission or end up being pursued by local bounty hunters if they barely pull it off. Crucially, Disney has already demonstrated or patented a wide array of technologies that could help create the Star Wars illusion for guests.

“Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories, and adventures that unfold all around you,” Chapek said in a Disney blog post. “It is 100 percent immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.” Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: technology, top posts

Report Tells Pentagon to Beware Nuclear Drone Bombers

By Jeremy Hsu | June 30, 2017 11:16 pm
A 509th Bomb Wing B-2 Spirit conducts a fly-by during the Scott Air Force Base 2017 Air Show and Open House June 11, which celebrates the base’s 100th anniversary. The Air Force plans to replace the B-2 Spirit bomber with the similar-looking B-21 Raider bomber starting in the mid 2020s. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tristin English

A 509th Bomb Wing B-2 Spirit conducts a fly-by during the Scott Air Force Base 2017 Air Show and Open House June 11, which celebrates the base’s 100th anniversary. The Air Force plans to replace the B-2 Spirit bomber with the similar-looking B-21 Raider bomber starting in the mid 2020s. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tristin English

The U.S. Air Force’s future B-21 Raider bomber may have the option to remove the human pilots from the cockpit and effectively become a large drone bomber. In one of the more unlikely scenarios, B-21 Raiders could theoretically end up carrying nuclear bombs or missiles without a human pilot onboard. That seems like an extremely remote possibility given the U.S. Air Force’s current views, but other countries may not hesitate as much to turn uninhabited aircraft into nuclear drone bombers, according to a new report. Read More

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China Profits as US Hesitates on Selling Armed Drones

By Jeremy Hsu | June 30, 2017 5:20 pm
An MQ-9 Reaper performs during an air show demonstration May 29, 2016, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.

An MQ-9 Reaper performs during an air show demonstration May 29, 2016, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dennis J. Henry Jr.

More than 15 years after a U.S. Predator drone launched its first Hellfire missile, the United States remains reluctant to sell armed drones to even its closest allies. That hesitation in selling armed drones has left the door open for countries such as Israel and China to dominate military drone sales across the world. Now the U.S. government runs the risk of losing influence in a world of drone proliferation unless it reconsiders its policy on sales of military drones, according to a new report. Read More

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Largest US Employer Adopts Virtual Reality Training

By Jeremy Hsu | June 14, 2017 10:16 pm
A Walmart employee experiences virtual reality training. Credit: STRIVR

A Walmart employee experiences virtual reality training. Credit: STRIVR

Virtual reality technology that has helped train NFL quarterbacks could also soon provide virtual training experiences for hundreds of thousands of Walmart associates. By the end of 2017, Walmart plans to roll out virtual reality training to the 140,000 associates who complete the retail giant’s training academy program each year. The move by the largest private employer of American workers may represent the biggest step yet for virtual reality training.

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Lost Bomber of World War II Rediscovered

By Jeremy Hsu | May 31, 2017 11:11 pm
The underwater wreckage of a B-25 Mitchell bomber from World War II near Papua New Guinea. Credit: Project Recover

The underwater wreckage of a B-25 Mitchell bomber from World War II near Papua New Guinea. Credit: Project Recover

About 75 years ago, the North American B-25 Mitchell bomber became famous as the twin-engined plane that helped the United States launch the first retaliatory attack on the Imperial Japanese homeland during World War II. The medium bombers mainly deployed in the Pacific theater of war, where they often served as low-flying gunships that attacked both land and sea targets with bombs and machine gun strafing. But not all of the bombers and their six-man crews returned home from those missions, as evidenced by the recently announced discovery of a lost bomber after it had gone missing for the better part of a century. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: technology, top posts

Hacking and Doomsday Top Self-Driving Car Fears Online

By Jeremy Hsu | May 30, 2017 11:58 pm
A color-coded view from a self-driving car operated by Waymo. Credit: Waymo

A color-coded view from a self-driving car operated by Waymo. Credit: Waymo

Silicon Valley tech giants and Detroit automakers have to convince people to trust self-driving cars before they can sell the futuristic technology to customers. That may prove tricky considering the public’s lingering fears and concerns regarding self-driving cars. A recent AI-assisted analysis of more than one trillion social posts revealed that scared-face emoticons related to self-driving cars rose from 30 percent of all emoticons used on the topic to 50 percent by 2016. Top concerns mentioned in social media included self-driving car fears of being hacked and “robot apocalypse” scenarios of technological change. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: technology, top posts

Memorial Day Parade 1922: Runaway Tank Kills Veteran

By Jeremy Hsu | May 30, 2017 12:04 am
American troops on Renault FT tanks going forward to the battle line in the Forest of Argonne. France, September 26, 1918. Credit: U.S. National Archives

American troops on Renault FT tanks going forward to the battle line in the Forest of Argonne. France, September 26, 1918. Credit: U.S. National Archives

New York City Memorial Day celebrations have featured parades of military hardware almost since the earliest commemorations following the U.S. Civil War. Barely 15 years after that war’s end, Union Army veterans from New Jersey marched alongside a battery of rapid-fire Gatling guns in a New York City parade described as being “intended to eclipse all former demonstrations.” As World War I loomed just beyond the horizon in 1914, crowds cheered a “wicked looking battery of machine gun troop of New York Cavalry” and the “brave array of war equipment” on parade. But in 1922, one unfortunate military veteran was crushed to death between two light “whippet” tanks on parade after one of the armored vehicles’s engines started up for unknown reasons.

The sergeant of the Bronx National Guardsmen of the 27th Tank Company who died in that freak Memorial Day incident was named Julian Stahlschmidt. A board of inquiry later awarded him a posthumous medal of valor for trying to “stop a tank which had run amuck, threatening the lives of throngs who lined the sidewalks watching the parade.” It’s not clear from the initial New York Times story whether or not the tank had actually been threatening to crush crowds of spectators lining Riverside Drive along Manhattan’s Upper West Side. But it does seem that Stahlschmidt was trying to switch off the runaway tank’s motor when he slipped and fell between the armored vehicle and the tank lined up ahead of it.

Stahlschmidt, described as a veteran who served in the tank company of the 27th Division for three years, may have survived World War I only to have been killed by “friendly” war machines during his hometown Memorial Day parade. If he was indeed a tanker veteran from the Great War, he was probably among the first group of American soldiers to witness firsthand the rise of tanks as a battlefield technology.  Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: technology, top posts

An IBM Patent on Midair Handoffs for Delivery Drones

By Jeremy Hsu | May 6, 2017 4:13 pm
The IBM invention described in US Patent No. 9,561,852: In flight transfer of packages between aerial drones helps to extend the range of drones that are delivering packages from a warehouse to a customer's home. Credit: IBM

The IBM invention described in US Patent No. 9,561,852: In flight transfer of packages between delivery drones helps to extend the range of drones that are delivering packages from a warehouse to a customer’s home. Credit: IBM

Amazon and Google’s dreams of delivery drones dropping off packages or pizza still face the problem of short delivery ranges. Most drones have limited battery life that restricts their services to less than a 10-mile delivery radius. A recently-approved IBM patent offers an unusual way to extend delivery ranges by having drones transfer packages in midair. Read More

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Any Ban on Killer Robots Faces a Tough Sell

By Jeremy Hsu | April 29, 2017 5:11 pm
The Harpy drone made by Israel Aerospace Industries can autonomously loiter in the air until it detects a radar target below. Credit: Israel Aerospace Industries

The Harpy drone made by Israel Aerospace Industries can autonomously loiter in the air until it detects a radar target below. Credit: Israel Aerospace Industries

Fears of a Terminator-style arms race have already prompted leading AI researchers and Silicon Valley leaders to call for a ban on killer robots. The United Nations plans to convene its first formal meeting of experts on lethal autonomous weapons later this summer. But a simulation based on the hypothetical first battlefield use of autonomous weapons showed the challenges of convincing major governments and their defense industries to sign any ban on killer robots.

In October 2016, the Chatham House think tank in London convened 25 experts to consider how the United States and Europe might react to a scenario in which China uses autonomous drone aircraft to strike a naval base in Vietnam during a territorial dispute. The point of the roleplaying exercise was not to predict which country would first deploy killer robots, but instead focused on exploring the differences in opinion that might arise from the U.S. and European side. Members of the expert group took on roles representing European countries, the United States and Israel, and certain institutions such as the defense industry, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the European Union, the United Nations and NATO.

The results were not encouraging for anyone hoping to achieve a ban on killer robots. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: technology, top posts
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Lovesick Cyborg

Lovesick Cyborg examines how technology shapes our human experience of the world on both an emotional and physical level. I’ll focus on stories such as why audiences loved or hated Hollywood’s digital resurrection of fallen actors, how soldiers interact with battlefield robots and the capability of music fans to idolize virtual pop stars. Other stories might include the experience of using an advanced prosthetic limb, whether or not people trust driverless cars with their lives, and how virtual reality headsets or 3-D film technology can make some people physically ill.
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