Round-Up: The technology you might have missed this week

Not yet ‘Back to the Future’


We’ve been waiting since 1989 when ‘Back to the Future Part II’ teased us with the Marty McFly zooming around on a hover board and this week (for a very brief moment) it looked like we were going to see the first one become a reality. It was certainly the one story from this week that we, and everyone else, wanted to be true but sadly wasn’t. All it turned out to be was a very clever viral marketing scheme from the company HUVr. The wait for the hover board continues.

Source: International Business Times

Social media takes to the skies


Facebook are heavily rumoured to be in talks to take over Titan Aerospace the maker solar-powered drones. The deal, if it goes ahead, is set to be in the region of $US60m. For Facebook their potential use for the drones could be part of the movement which is aiming to bring free internet to developing countries. In theory the movement could use the solar-powered devices to serve as airborne wireless access points.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Turn your hand into a virtual keyboard


Samsung want to turn your hand into a virtual keyboard when you’re using its much rumoured smart glasses. The patent, which has only just surfaced and is from August last year, shows the hands being able to be used as a full ‘qwerty’ keyboard or an old style mobile phone ‘abc’ keyboard. The patent, if implemented, will make it easier to send private messages when using Samsung’s glass technology.

Source: Digital Spy

The internet will fail


The year was 1995, the website was Newsweek, and the author was Clifford Stoll. His, now foolish, claim was that the internet was going to struggle. He boldly claimed that “no online database will replace your daily newspaper” and that internet shopping would never take off. To be fair Google didn’t exist at the time and the juggernaut that is the MailOnline was unimaginable.

Source: The Next Web

Drones at sea

Unmanned aerial vehicles are getting about all over the place and the Dolphin Safari has used one to film tens of dolphins and whales gathered together off the Californian coast. The animals can be seen frolicking around in groups and diving in and out of the water in the glorious weather.

Source: Dolphin Safari / YouTube

Getty-ing free pictures

Getty Images has made all of its stock photographs free for users. Just like the image above anyone is now able to embed the photos from the agency. The move has been a blessing for small blogs with low budgets but may prove to be a hindrance to the incomes of freelance photographers who get paid on each use of their photos.

Source: The Verge

To infinity and beyond


Nasa have announced that they’ve discovered 715 new planets, which is the biggest amount unveiled in one go. Before the unveiling this week there were 1,000 planets which had been identified. The planets, which orbit 305 different stars, were discovered by the Kepler space telescope which has been in space for five year.

Source: CNN

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC