A roundup of the week’s news including baby robots, Google stuff, and Carbon Nanotubes.
Who can? ICANN Can
Despite opposition from Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, control of internet naming non-profit ICANN has been ceded by the US and is now fully independent. Despite warnings from certain Republican quarters, the internet hasn’t fallen apart yet. Phew.
Remember when there was a bit of mystery around product launches? Maybe even a few actually surprises and curveballs? As expected, search giant Google announced the Pixel Phone, a price and release date for its Alexa-like Home product, and its fabric-covered Daydream VR headset. And a new chromecast.
Google did announce that the Pixel phones will be using custom silicon chips, which might worry some of the incumbents somewhat. But that would depend on a level of success far beyond anything the Nexus ever achieved.
Trump gets (cyber) offensive
While not getting upset about the US giving up control of ICANN, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has been calling for the US to be offensive. Cyber offensive that is. "This is the warfare of the future," he said during a recent speech in Virginia. “We should turn cyber warfare into one of our greatest weapons against the terrorists.”
In a classic case of “should have bought the domain earlier”, a group supporting Trump has bought ClintonKaine.com before the Democratic candidates could, and turned the site into a site dedicated to a Drudge Report-like exposé site focused on scandals relating to the pair.
And finally, a survey of 100 federal IT professionals found there was overwhelming support for Clinton. 52% say they will vote for Clinton, 32% support Trump, and 16% won’t vote.
Samsung has acquired AI startup (and original team behind Siri) Viv Labs, IBM has bought Promontory and folded it into Watson, Accenture has snapped up Defense Point Security, SAP now owns IoT startup PLAT.ONE, Salesforce has got its hands on Krux, Akamai has snaffled Soha Systems, and Nokia has purchased base station power provider Eta Devices.
In other news, Oracle has bought the San Mateo Marriott to house staff visiting HQ for training.
- Switzerland has voted for more surveillance.
- Germany says WhatsApp can’t share data with Facebook.
- UK companies will definitely have to comply with GDPR between 2018 and Brexit, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
LinkedIn recently released its latest transparency report. In the first six months of 2016, the company saw 145 requests for data (almost 90% from the US) and the company divulged some info in 62% of cases.
It’s not enough to have half the online world on your platform, plus plans to fill the skies and monopolise anyone not on fast internet. No, Facebook has its sights firmly set on your office too. In an interview with the Information, Julien Codorniou, director of Facebook at Work, says his company’s alternative to Slack and Yammer will be officially released in the next month. Currently, there have been various trials but this will be the first time it’s officially shown to the world.
Going Loon-y in the US
Facebook isn’t the only company bringing it’s “internet for everybody” tech to more developed nations. Alphabet’s internet-providing Project Loon balloons are now floating over Yellowstone National Park. Because when you’re out in one of the most impressive parks in the US, you best have some damn internet to check Facebook and let everyone know how awesome nature is.
Microsoft leaves another segment
Microsoft has already killed off what little hope it had left in the mobile space, and now looks set to abandon wearables that don’t go your face. The Redmond company is reportedly killing off its Band fitness trackers. Seems that consumer tech just isn’t a thing for the company anymore.
Driverless car add-ons
Google’s self-driving cars have now driven over 2 million miles, and despite its fair share of fender benders and one pretty rough-looking t-bone, no one has been killed (but someone was recently hospitalised). The company reached the million-mile point just over a year ago, so is racking up the miles at a rapid pace.
Volvo is the latest major automaker to outline its driverless car timeline. The Swedish multinational said its first autonomous vehicle would be on sale by 2021 but would come with an additional $10,000 on the price tag.
California has passed new transport laws to allow driverless cars to actually take to public roads sans driver and steering wheel AND drive at speeds up to 25 miles per hour. Expect ROBOT CARS SPEEDING THROUGH STREETS headlines from the tabloids in the near future.
Sharp’s tiny robot phone was pretty cute but did actually had a purpose as a phone. Toyota, meanwhile, has created some sort of child robot – just 4 inches tall – which it says can be a “cuddly companion always on hand for heart-touching communication.” Called the Kirobo Mini, It’s thoroughly creepy. The fact an expert told the Beeb that “a robot could not be a substitute for a child” makes it even weirder.
And in today’s terrifying robotics video, check out Ghost Robotics’ Minitaur, which can CLIMB FENCES AT WILL.
Tiny, tiny Carbon Nanutubes
I recently wrote a long, long listicle on cool new materials and technologies looking to keep Moore’s Law somewhat on track. Since it was published, scientists at Berkeley Lab have made a new breakthrough in making transistors out of Carbon Nanotubes – single atom layers of carbon rolled into a tube in order to gain new conductive qualities. The team at Berkeley has created a transistor with a working 1-nanometer gate. The current industry standard is normally between 10 and 20 nanometers. They managed this through combining the nanotubes with molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), an engine lubricant which is used to help better control the flow of electrons. Impressive stuff. Maybe we’ve not hit the miniaturized brick wall yet.
Ah, that new Mac smell
We’ve all heard of the “new car” smell. But apparently there’s a definitive “new Mac” smell, and people like it. Apple accessory provider Twelve South liked it so much they now offer a candle that releases this “new Mac smell”, which is a combo of mint, peach, basil, lavender, mandarin, and sage. According to some Apple experts, it’s pretty close to the real thing. Somehow this product has sold out.
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