image description
Author Vadim
image description

Top Tech News: Weekly Review

The most important and interesting news on technology, developments, trends and much more.


You can now pay with bitcoin at Starbucks

Visitors of the coffee shop network Starbucks will be able to pay for goods and services with the help of cryptocurrency through a special platform Bakkt. Bakkt is developed jointly by Starbucks, ICE, Microsoft, BCG and a number of other companies.

The Bakkt platform will use Microsoft Cloud, on the basis of which an open and customizable global ecosystem for digital assets will be created.

The platform will allow consumers to store, sell, buy and spend digital assets. The first Bakkt will be used for trading and converting cryptocurrency. Thus, consumers will be able to use Bakkt to automatically exchange cryptocurrency for US dollars to pay for goods and services in the Starbucks coffee network.

Apple shares for the first time exceeded $1 trillion

It happened!

One trillion dollars (or a thousand billion dollars) is now estimated by Apple. On August 2, 2018, the company's capitalization for the first time in history exceeded the $1 trillion mark.  Apple has become the second Corporation to ever overcome the trillion-dollar threshold.

Apple's share price increased by 1.95% to $207 per share, with a capitalization of $1.01 trillion. The growth is associated with the latest success of the company. Apple held a record for itself in the June quarter, receiving revenue of $ 53.3 billion, which is 17% higher than last year.

Apple has become the second company in history to have a capitalization of more than a trillion dollars. The first was the Chinese oil and gas company PetroChina in 2007. However, the capitalization of PetroChina lasted at the level above one trillion dollars only one day - it was the day of the company's entry into the stock exchange in Shanghai.

Apple has strengthened the title of the most expensive company in the world. Apple's closest pursuers are other tech giants: Amazon ($869 billion) and Microsoft ($812 billion).

AI has learned to determine the character traits of a person by eye movements

A group of researchers has learnt to train artificial intelligence to identify the personal characteristics of a person by eye movements. The accuracy of the definition varies depending on the trait. The neural network recognized extroversion in 48.6 % of cases, 45.9% confidence and 40.3% neuroticism. With such features as openness and curiosity, AI copes somewhat worse.

50 students from the University of Flinders were selected to obtain the necessary information: 42 women and 8 men. Their personal characteristics were determined by three main tests: NEO Five-Factor Inventory, Perceptual Curiosity and Curiosity and Exploration Inventory. Then the subjects were offered to walk around the campus of the University for 10 minutes and buy the object of their choice. Eye movements were recorded using SensoMotoric Instruments and mobile phones.

All data collected was processed by the neural network. The accuracy of the definition did not exceed 50 %, but researchers consider this a good result. According to the experts who conducted the study, if more data are used for training, it will be possible to improve the result.

The work carried out allowed to expand knowledge about the connection of eye movements with the characteristics of the person. It was found, for example, that the diameter of the pupils is closely related to neuroticism.

Stanford scientists use Google Glass to treat autism

Scientists at Stanford University began using Google Glass to help children suffering from autism.

Autism is a developmental disorder of the nervous system, in which people (usually children aged 3-5 years) observed impaired social interaction, communication with peers and parents, fixation on certain objects, repetitive patterns of behaviour, and so on. This violates not only the social sphere but also physiology: inhibits the development of the central nervous system, the formation of new synapses, suffers from the development of memory, speech and the acquisition of new skills.

Within the framework of the study, Stanford experts, scientists Kathleen FOSS and Nick Haber combined facial recognition technology with machine learning. According to Engadget, the new project was named Autism Glass Project. A special program for communication determines the emotions in the face of the interlocutor, and the person in Google Glass gets a hint about what is expressed at the moment. According to psychologists, it helps in the development of social skills.

The experiment involved 14 children with autism. They had to wear glasses for a few days in normal life. As a result, 12 families from 14 at the end of the study said that children began to respond better to attempts at visual contact and even began to conduct simple dialogues, which was not observed before the study. Now experts are aimed at conducting longer studies, as well as to study how Google Glass affects the child's psyche and whether it affects at all. After all, in fact, if the system proves its effectiveness, it can become a new method of autism therapy, not based on work with a psychologist.

Naked Labs has released a mirror that shows the most hidden things

Many people would be interested to know what a startup with an intriguing name Naked Labs is doing. The company produces mirrors and scales. Their task is to display the most detailed information about the bodies of their customers. It is for this reason that Naked Labs has turned a mirror into a 3D scanner.

To use the development of the company you need to stand on a platform that will measure your weight while rotating you around its axis in front of the mirror. The mirror at this moment will create a three-dimensional model of your body. As a result, you will get very detailed information on your smartphone.

It is possible to know not only your weight but also body mass index, fat mass, muscle mass, health status, progress data and even information such as the volume of your left bicep or leg length.

It was worth Naked Labs to show its product, as the company immediately attracted 14 million dollars of investment from a variety of venture funds. It's all about the broad potential of the technology. Mirror from Naked Labs can be used not only to improve their physical shape. Development can be useful for choosing products in online clothing stores, for example.

The data obtained with the help of a smart mirror can be useful for every company that is somehow related to your body. If you look very far, you can imagine the services of making the most suitable furniture to order or automatic adjustment of seats and mirrors in the car based on the data obtained from the mirror.

At the moment, the mirror from Naked Labs costs $1395. In the future, the company hopes to make it more accessible and put in every gym and medical facility.

Created a neural network that simulates the structure of the brain

Despite the fact that the term "neural network" can be applied to both the anatomical structure and the computer system, these neural networks have more differences than similarities. And first of all, this is due to the extremely complex structure of the neural plexus of the brain. But everything can change thanks to the development of scientists from the National Institute of standards and technology. Their invention can become a new stage in the development of neural network technology.

The fact is that the human brain consists of hundreds of millions of neurons, each of which is connected to tens of thousands of other neurons. This complex structure in a rather simplified form is taken as the basis for the construction of artificial neural networks, with the only difference that the existing electronics cannot cope with such a complex routing and the number of connections between the elements of the neural network has to be reduced in tens and hundreds of times, which affects performance. Of course, now there are projects aimed at emulation of the brain, but they also run into the power limit of existing technologies.

The development team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology of the United States offers a slightly different approach. Scientists want to use light instead of electricity as a means of transmitting a signal. For this purpose, a special chip was developed that distributes optical signals on a miniature grid in different directions. Thanks to the use of a new type of signal, it was possible to overcome the problem of connecting the elements of the neural network, vertically stacking two layers of photonic structures. They limit light to lines to direct optical signals in much the same way that wires transmit an electrical pulse. This approach allows you to create complex routing schemes necessary to simulate the neural structures of the brain, as well as to increase both the speed of signal transmission and the number of connections between network elements. In addition, the system is very scalable and easy to expand in the future. And if "normal" neural networks are making progress in self-learning and pattern recognition, it is difficult to imagine what structure will be able to do, simulating the brain.

Hiroshi Ishiguro presented his new creation - Android Ibuki

Hiroshi Ishiguro showed his new creation - humanoid robot Ibuki, able to move on four wheels. Ishiguro is known for its developments in the field of androids and "sinister valley". First of all, he wants robots to be among people, and the latest development continues this vision.

The growth of the Android is 120 centimetres, weight - 37 kilograms. It was modelled after a 10-year-old, so it looks less intimidating than other robots. The frame of the robot is made of materials such as carbon and plastic, and the face and hands are covered with "skin" of latex. Moving forward on four wheels, with a special joint at the waist, the Android simulates the natural movements of the human body with a slight wiggle. His body contains a total of 47 engines allowing him to smile, hold things with his hands with five fingers, swing his hands.

The plans of engineers are to add more functions for natural communication, including recognition, dialogue, expression of emotions and two legs. One day Ibuki will be able to walk with people and share experiences with them.