Tech Review Top Stories
Breaking its own restrictions, Google will show developers how to build any kind of app for Google Glass.
Google has set plenty of restrictions on the functionality of apps for Glass, the head-mounted display it is now shipping out to early adopters. At the company’s annual developer conference, I/O, which kicks off today, it will show app creators how to break those rules.
A new line of research examines what happens in an office where the positions of the cubicles and walls—even the coffee pot—are all determined by data.
Can we use data about people to alter physical reality, even in real time, and improve their performance at work or in life? That is the question being asked by a developing field called augmented social reality.
An International Energy Agency report says investments in oil technology will lead to a worldwide supply boom.
High oil prices were supposed to make biofuels and other oil alternatives more competitive. If only oil would stay above $80 a barrel (or $70 or $60), biofuels companies often say, then they’d have a market. Their technology for turning weeds into alcohol or pond scum into crude oil could really take off.
Advanced genetic engineering is already changing vaccine development and could make inroads into other branches of medicine.
Synthetic biology is breathing new life into the old-fashioned world of vaccine production, raising hopes that manufacturers could release vaccines much more quickly when outbreaks occur.
How will a mass influx of robots affect human employment?
In the book Race Against the Machine, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee of MIT’s Sloan School of Management present a chart showing U.S. productivity, GDP, employment, and income from 1953 to 2011. The chart looks as you would expect from 1953 until the mid-1980s, with every one of the measures rising together: employees work more productively, companies make more money, and more hires occur as the middle class swells.
New prediction models can allow utilities to rely more heavily on wind and save millions.
The utility with the most wind power capacity in the United States, Xcel Energy, is relying more on this power source and saving millions of dollars thanks to new forecasting models similar to those used to predict climate change.
A year after launch, a startup program is helping U.S. companies reach China—and vice versa.
When Jon Bonanno, chief commercial officer of the clean-tech startup Empower Micro Systems, got up to face a small, packed room in Santa Clara, California, last week, it wasn’t like the polished “demo days” run by the highest-profile Silicon Valley startup accelerators. There was no stage, not even a screen for the projector. The sound system buzzed with painful feedback. The 100 or so guests stood or sat in folding chairs under bright fluorescent lights in a space adjoining a large startup workplace that contained a distinct no-no of Silicon Valley office culture: cubicles.
Composite and 3-D-printed components will mean jet engines that use 15 percent less fuel.
A new generation of engines being developed by the world’s largest jet engine maker, CFM (a partnership between GE and Snecma of France), will allow aircraft to use about 15 percent less fuel—enough to save about $1 million per year per airplane and significantly reduce carbon emissions.
Researchers use phone records to build a mobility model of the Los Angeles and New York City regions with new privacy guarantees.
Researchers at AT&T, Rutgers University, Princeton, and Loyola University have devised a way to mine cell-phone data without revealing your identity, potentially showing a route to avoiding privacy pitfalls that have so far confined global cell-phone data-mining work to research labs.
Micro-display LED tech could light up the next generation of face-wearable gadgets.
A tiny head-mounted display, like the one in Google Glass, will only be useful if you can see on-screen alerts and information clearly. And that’s tricky to achieve, especially without draining battery life—as Google notes, it can be hard to use Glass’s projected display in bright sunlight.
Apps that proactively help people with their lives represent a significant departure from earlier approaches to software.
A new type of mobile app is departing from a long-standing practice in computing. Typically, computers have just dumbly waited for their human operators to ask for help. But now applications based on machine learning software can speak up with timely information even without being directly asked for it. They might automatically pull up a boarding pass for your flight just as you arrive at the airport, or tell you that current traffic conditions require you to leave for your next meeting within 10 minutes.
The best of the rest from the Physics arXiv preprint server
We’ve hit 400 ppm of carbon dioxide, but we won’t know what that means for decades.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Scripps Institution of Oceanography say that the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere hit the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million yesterday, up from about 280, the level it was at for thousands of years before the Industrial Revolution.
Researchers attach “viral hitmen” to surfaces to demonstrate a possible antibacterial defense for catheters and other medical devices.
Medical implants like catheters and pacemakers can be a hotspot for bacteria, which grow in hard-to-treat films on the surface of such devices. Scientists and engineers are taking different approaches to changing the surface of implants so bacteria can’t take hold. For example, some groups are developing polymer films with structures that prevent bacterial growth (see “Pillowy Antibacterial Polymers”), while others are developing coatings that slowly release antibiotic compounds over time (see “Safer Joint Replacements” and “Innovators Under 35, 2007: Christopher Loose”). And now, researchers from Clemson University in South Carolina and the University of Southern Mississippi have described how a layer of bacteria-killing viruses could help prevent bacterial infections.