Robot’s Arms Learn to Grip Like A Human

While robots are excellent at doing things they have been programmed for, they are horrible at improvising a solution to an unfamiliar issue. DexNet is a special AI system that has been designed to augment a robotic arm’s capacity to handle objects without prior training. It is the hope of DexNet’s programmers that their system will allow robots to solve a physics-oriented problem with full competence, without a trace of hesitation and faster, if not as fast, than a human could ever hope to achieve.


The underlying framework of DexNet’s artificial intelligence, referred to as “deep learning,” is that it learns to grip objects in the same manner that humans learn to do so; we notice an item, get an understanding of its particular shape, compare and contrast that object to objects we remember from past life experience and then combine those details in order to hypothesize the best approach to manipulating the item. Unlike humans, who have the benefit of vision and memory, DexNet’s creators have uploaded over six million computer simulated objects into their system, complete with the best ways that those objects can best be manipulated. The execution of this system results in the robot analyzing an object, comparing it to the database of objects in DexNet’s system and then proceeding with the most recommended approach.


In their test work, the researchers, a group of roboticists at Berkeley University, presented the robotic arm with a variety of objects it had never encountered before, such as rubber ducks, spray bottles and shoes. Despite being presented with a wide array of materials, the DexNet-connected arm only failed to correctly grip a single object. This rate of failure would seem to indicate that the system is quite robust for one built on synthetic data. Additionally, the arm was able to decide on a proper grip in less than a second, an average speed nearly three times as fast as the initial version of DexNet.


DexNet’s research team is set to present their latest iteration of the system, DexNet 2.0, at a July conference. They also have plans to publicize their collection of object data and point clouds. Their intended application for this pursuit is in the field of industry, particularly within supply chains and manufacturing.


Software’s Many Uses, Good and Bad


Software is an inherent function of technological instruments today. Software tells the machine how to operate. Without software, computers would be hunks of metal that did nothing. Software, important as it is, can obviously be used for good, or bad. One software program named Unity helps run over half of all mobile games made recently.


Fiat Chrysler has recently been sued in a United States court that they wrongfully used software to falsely pass emissions tests to save money, speed production, and harm precious Earth as little as possible.


Software is also used in education, a tool that facilitates effective, remembered learning of classroom material faster than without technology. Many students of today’s classrooms learn using iPads and computers, which sometimes accomplish tasks more effectively than before, and also cause some hindrances. A negative aspect of using screens in education in the classroom is that many students usually use them at once, resulting in kids generally unfocused on the task and plugged in to the fact they are on electronic devices, things children usually love. Screen addictions — yes, you read that right — can occur from allowing children to use screens more often than they should.


Technology can also be used to report data taken from 911 calls to place in statewide databases to understand and analyze trends in 911 calls and other health related emergencies. Relying on data automatically pulled from events is far less time consuming and, over time, cheaper than manually entering and transmitting data.


Virtual reality is expensive, but fun with breathtaking potential. Most users are overwhelmed in a 3D world that feels like life but is actually a video simulation. Virtual reality headsets can even be used by people with PTSD to overcome triggers and work towards a more positive state of mental health. Some mental health servicers in the United States have even received grants to implement VR headsets for people with PTSD.


There are literally endless uses for technology and software in 2017. Technology is expected to continue to grow in complexity, usefulness, and popularity in coming years at an exponential rate. Technology can speed and simplify some processes, but can also cause detriments and road blocks to others who have been violated by illicit computer hackers.


A Legal Battle between Apple and Nokia Finally Settled

The relationship between Nokia Inc. and Apple Inc. has taken a new turn after the two technology giants agreed to settle a seven-year-old dispute and corporate in the foreseeable future. This agreement comes after Apple Inc. was sued by Nokia 7 months ago for breaching approximately 32 patents that belonged to Nokia. Some of the patents that Apple had been accused of interfering with include video encoding patents, user interfaces patents as well as display patents. The new deal between these two companies gives Apple the right to use these technologies. However, they will have to pay Nokia a certain amount of cash that must be paid up-front. In part of the agreement, Apple agreed to sell some health products from Nokia in its retail stores.


However, as expected, these giants did not reveal the financial details of the agreement. However, experts specializing in patent disputes between technology companies have revealed that this deal between Nokia and Apple could be worth millions of dollars. With the deal expected to last several years, Nokia will receive huge sums of money on a yearly basis. For this reason, the deal could have cost or will have cost Apple over hundreds of millions. Furthermore, the deal is suspected to be expensive considering that Nokia was the pioneer when it comes to cellular standards and for this reason, they own many patents. In the year 2016 alone, apple is said to have made over $140 billion from the sale of iPhones. The significance of this figure is to show what Nokia is in for. If they were given a 1 percent of the sales royalty, they could end up with hundreds of millions of dollars.


Representatives of these companies said that they were looking forward to working together. As for Nokia, their representative said that they looked forward to supporting Apple while an Apple representative by the name Jeff Williams said that the company had been relieved that the dispute had finally been settled. The two companies have been in and out of courts contesting a breach of patents since the year 2009. The major complainant in these battles has been Apple. Despite the battles and competition from other manufacturers, Nokia remains the leading manufacturer of phones around the world.



Technology Leaders Speak Up About NSA Mass Surveilance

Top executives from leading Silicon Valley companies are taking a proactive stance of displeasure at the National Security Agency conducts mass surveillance and espionage operations over the internet.


Amazon, Google, Microsoft and 29 other companies signed a letter urging the United States Congress to do something about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; specifically, tech leaders want to see reforms made to Section 702 of the FISA law, which essentially allows the NSA to carry out total digital snooping on U.S. citizens.


Section 702 was part of the NSA secrets leaked by Edward Snowden, the former contractor whose revelations about the U.S. espionage apparatus prompted him to seek asylum in Russia. The section is up for renewal at the end of this year; tech leaders are at odds with the government with regard to mass online surveillance, which takes advantage of the digital infrastructure they have built over many decades.


What Silicon Valley executives would like to see is an overhaul of intelligence collection operations so that they extend privacy safeguards that do not run afoul of the Constitution and personal liberties that Americans are supposed to enjoy. Legal analysts believe that tech giants would be prepared to play hardball with the NSA in the sense that they would take their cases to high courts if Section 702 is not suspended or amended considerably.


According to a report by cNet, Apple was not among the companies whose executives signed the letter addressed to Bob Goodlatte, a Republican Member of Congress who currently leads the House Judiciary Committee. Apple has endured its share of conflict with the government over digital privacy issues; this was made clear by the San Bernardino terrorist attack and the company’s refusal to unlock an iPhone used during the deadly incident. Nowadays, Apple receives thousands of national security orders to turn over iPhone data each year.


The Trump administration has had an uneasy relationship with the intelligence community, and thus it is difficult to forecast scenarios as to the kind of action the White House will take in relation to FISA and other matters related to mass surveillance. On one hand, President Trump has shown sharp disdain over leaks; on the other hand, he has criticized the work of intelligence agencies that may have investigated his electoral campaign.



Where Software Is in Education and Acquisitions


The marriage of companies fusing with software companies to help them perform better in mobile apps and on web pages is increasing rapidly in current years. Just two weeks ago did Airbnb acquire Deco Software to help develop apps for Airbnb to make traveling easier and more fun.


Deco Software is also great at designing, an aspect of business that few software development teams take advantage of. Airbnb has acquired several other technology companies such as Tilt, along with twelve — yes, 12! — more acquisitions in its short life span.


A startup named Smartsheet recently attempted to secure rounds of investing and brought home $52 million to reinvest back in the company. Smartsheet is great for collaboration within companies that need to be able to share customer profiles within seconds of looking up. Smartsheet makes it free for people to save most things on its cloud software, but most pay for extended coverage, ranging between $15 to $25, a sum so high there is no wonder why it has excelled so far.


Snapchat has upgraded even further their on demand geofilters. The app recently tacked on five new fun filters to share pictures with friends online. Snapchat, just like how Airbnb did so, has acquired a lot of companies to make them the giant they are today. Acquisitions in technology is usually required for success, scaling, or both.


Apple has started to teach people how to develop apps for free, which is called “App Development with Swift.” The program will be tried out in a few high schools before its nationwide launch takes place. It is able to be downloaded for any person not in high school to try, found on Apple’s app store. Later this year, at least six community colleges will bring this curriculum to the classroom and make it easier to teach students to develop mobile apps from code, a skill that is valuable because so few people know how to.


Swift is one of the most popular programming languages for computers today. Apple has chosen to use Swift because it is easy to pick up, widely used by people of different languages, and effective in carrying out coding procedures.


Smart Device For Car Tracking

With more citizens investing in cars on the road, car tracking has become a fundamental need in most households. In the current generation, a car is almost like a basic need. With the society full of different characters including burglars, it is vital to be on the look by providing maximum security for the car. Car tracking devices offer security by giving the right details of the whereabouts of an individual’s car in case it is missing. Additionally, just like conventional GPS, car tracking devices have the ability to calculate the quickest routes to final destinations. Some high-tech car tracking software is too advanced to the point of updating an individual on the amount of fuel required for a particular mileage. Those are the features of TrackR.






Derived from its name, TrackR is a device used to locate lost items. This is one of the easiest ways for finding misplaced or stolen cars. For most individuals who have lost cars in the parking lot, the series of events that follow the loss include roaming about in panic. This is usually a tense moment for an individual especially in scenarios where the car belongs to a company. From clicking on the panic button for the car keys to calling security personnel, losing a car is a devastating occurrence. In such cases, there is no need for investing in expensive GPS systems for vehicle tracking. The costs of subscribing to the monthly packages of GPS are exorbitant. A company in California manufactured TrackR. It is a state of the art monitoring device that takes the shape as well as the dimension of a quarter.






Here is how TrackR works. Install the application on the smartphone device. This is followed by connecting the application to the cell phone. Operating a TrackR device is that simple. It is as simple as attaching the device to all items that might be misplaced. It takes less than five minutes to install this TrackR. The device is easy to install as well as operate. Through TrackR, an individual can trace all lost items. At the affordable price of $ 29, an individual’s items can be wholly secure.




1-Page Was Not The One For Shareholders

It is a familiar story, a Silicon Valley startup went bust, however, 1-Page was the first to go public on the Australian Stock Exchange. After the share price rose 2,700 percent in the first year, co-founder Joanna Riley was flying high. Unfortunately, 1-Page didn’t have the revenue, paying customers or any other matrix to justify its rapid rise. A $726.2 million valuation seemed high as well, however, by May 2017, shareholders turned on Riley, voting to remove her from the board. According to the Australian Financial Review, even Riley’s own father, who co-founded the 1-Page with his daughter, sold 75 percent of his stake in 1-Page and he isn’t publicly supporting his daughter.


When Riley originally pitched her recruiting software, she excelled at generating buzz, but, unfortunately, she and her sales team were not as good at generating a paying clientele. Using artificial intelligence, 1-Page claimed that they could transform the recruiting process for companies. While 1-Page’s website claims that Fortune 100 clients such as Under Armour are clients of the company’s Talent On-Demand solution, when Forbes interviewed ten former 1-Page staff members, they claimed that this was not true. Under Armour and other prominent clients were given a free trial. Once the free trial was over, most users did not turn into paying clients.


Corporate raider Andrew Chapman bought eight percent of 1-Page and was put on the board at the same time as Riley’s abrupt removal, Now, Chapman wants to close down 1-Page as there is little hope for the company to recover. The company’s product was unworkable, with one former staffer calling the product “vaporware.” The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the board voted to cease operations at 1-Page, nevertheless, 1-Page’s website is up and running, urging businesses to claim an early access invitation to several different products more than one week later. Riley may have had a great idea, but things did not go as planned. Even an overhaul of the business, a new client focus and significantly lowered operating expenses were not enough to convince the shareholders that 1-Page was worth saving.



Newly Discovered Microsoft Windows Bug Causes Hard Crashes

A new file name issue that can crash and lock up the entire operating system has been discovered in three current versions of Windows. The bug is mostly pesky and annoying instead of dangerous, and it resembles file name issues that were common in the Windows 95 and Windows 98 eras.


According to a report published by tech news website Ars Technica, a Russian information security firm found the bug in May 2017. The problem can be traced to a Windows feature that reserves the use of certain names that can only be assigned to system files or processes. The file name in question is $MFT, and it is used by Windows to designate a special file created by the NTFS system used to format the hard drive.


Files named $MFT by Windows cannot be accessed by regular means; for example, a Windows 8.1 user would not be able to click on the file or folder icon using an explorer utility, but this limitation does not extent to the command line or to creating a directory using that unique file name. Should $MFT be accessed from the command line, the NTFS driver would become confusedly stuck on a loop that effectively locks up the file system. At some point, the desktop either freezes or the blue screen of death appears and a reboot of the system would be required.


The problem has been recreated in desktops, laptops and even tablets running Windows 8.1. There were initial concerns about whether the bug could be exploited by remote means; thankfully, initial attempts were not successful. This does not mean that pranksters and hackers cannot take advantage of this issue; all it takes would be malicious script that prompts code execution to open the file.


It is interesting to note that Windows 95 and Windows 98 had a similar issue; in those operating systems, the offending file name was CON, which was reserved for console environment drivers. Years ago, the CON file name bug was exploited by pranksters who concealed code within digital images. This is not an issue in Windows 10, and it will not affect computers or tablets protected by antivirus shields that interact with web browsers since loading local resources is often blocked for security reasons.


Aura: The Next Step Towards Complete Security

Technology is continually advancing, be it in the entertainment sector, practicality for the consumer or even in weapons and mechanism for war. This week, a company named Cognitive Systems Corporation, founded in 2014 is already shaking up the news with their fantastic new release to the market.



They are a company focused on applying cognitive sensors into technology and allow it to surpass the existing equipment that exists today, for a wide variety of themes.



They have announced their newest contribution to modern home security systems, and it surpasses any functionality that a camera or a traditional movement sensor by mixing the best of both worlds.



It’s called “Aura:” A small white box that has the cognitive power to cover an entire house and warn if any trespassers are sneaking in. The gadget utilizes a base station inside the box and another receptor that is placed somewhere else in the house, away from the Aura box.



Now, the signals that the product emits will return to it and warn if there is any significant movement detected. It can also tell you who is moving; if you remember to register their smartphone in the system.



Aura utilizes Radio Frequencies (RF), and it successfully covers an entire house. Because of how the cognitive sensors have to detect movement anywhere within the walls of the building, the RF is the best option to be utilized as it travels the entire space and returns in a matter of milliseconds.



More information on how the Aura system operates can be found on their official website,, or in a news article posted by Matthew Braga, a technology reporter, at CBC News:



Aura will surely define a new way to look at the Home Security market, as there is a new way to protect a space without relying on cameras and other sensors that cover a small area. Because cameras cannot be placed in the bathroom, and that made it one of the most appealing places to use to sneak into someone’s house. Aura, however, is programmed to detect even the smallest spaces inside those walls.



But not everything comes without a bit of extra refinement. Manku and Hind, leading developers of the project, laughed at how Aura still has to be better adjusted to ignore minimal movements produced by pets. However, the rotatory circulation of a fan or the weaving of the curtains, for example, is always eliminated by the system.


Google Chromebook for Schools

Google made a major revelation about its Chromebook program during the Bett education technology conference in London recently. Apart from revealing that there is over 20 million teachers as well as the student who are currently using Chromebooks a minimum four times a month and that there is more than 70 million G Suite for the education users. The tech giant also illustrated the use of new convertible Chromebooks due with USB-C charging, stylus support as well as the world facing cameras. They are the Asus Chromebook C213 and Acer Chromebook Spin 11.



During this announcement, Google made it known that it would enable the admin to have full control over the Android apps that are functional on the Chromebooks that they give the students. Another good news for the Chromebook users is that it will come with the Adobe community suits for the Android that have now been optimized for the Chromebooks.



It can be clearly seen that Google the Chromebooks and the G-Suit for the Education are a major success for the tech giant, at the same time the company is working with hardware partners to make the devices even more attractive for the learning institutions. Rajen Sheth one of the Googles’ executive noted that the company had focused on the feedback that it was receiving from teachers. The topmost request that the company received was that teachers wanted devices that merges the advantages of the tablets and laptops with a full keyboard.



It was until the introduction of the Android apps on Chrome OS that it became more possible to have Chromebook with the touch screen because the Chrome OS was never optimized for touch. With the hybrid devices such as Asus Flip as well as the upcoming new devices from Asus and Acer, the Chrome OS makes so much sense.



One feature that was particularly noted is the Chromebook’s world facing camera. Once the user flips the keyboard on the more conventional convertible so that they can use it as a laptop, the user will get a user-facing camera. However, the devices comes with a second camera that is situated on top of the keyboard. This camera opens up a wide range of new user case of the Chromebook in schools.