Tech Review Top Stories
A startup believes people will want a photographic record of their lives, taken at 30-second intervals.
“We want to provide people with a perfect photographic memory,” says Martin Källström, CEO of Memoto. His startup is creating a tiny clip-on camera that takes a picture every 30 seconds, capturing whatever you are looking at, and then applies algorithms to the resulting mountain of images to find the most interesting ones.
A month after the release of Home, Facebook is working to answer criticisms with improvements.
Facebook Home—an app for Android smartphones that provides users with a constant stream of images, messages, and updates from friends on the social network—launched with fanfare a month ago along with the promise that additional features would be added shortly (see “The Facebook Phone Is Finally Here, but Who Wants It?”). Now, as some users level poor reviews at the app, the team behind it is focused on making those upgrades happen—and fast.
Enhancing the flow of information through the brain could be crucial to making neuroprosthetics practical.
The abilities to learn, remember, evaluate, and decide are central to who we are and how we live. Damage to or dysfunction of the brain circuitry that supports these functions can be devastating, leading to Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, PTSD, or many other disorders. Current treatments, which are drug-based or behavioral, have limited efficacy in treating these problems. There is a pressing need for something more effective.
A man had data mined himself so he can fund an app that helps others sell their own personal data.
Software developer Federico Zannier has data-mined himself, and now he’s raising money on Kickstarter to build an iPhone app and Chrome browser extension so that others can easily do the same.
Alberta will serve as a test bed for large-scale carbon capture and sequestration.
Canada is betting that carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology that is fairly well understood but unproven at the scale needed to significantly decrease greenhouse gas emissions, can reduce the environmental footprint associated with making fuel from oil sands—its fastest-growing source of greenhouse-gas emissions. (See “Alberta’s Oil Sands Heat Up.”)
Artificial retinas give the blind only the barest sense of what’s visible, but researchers are working hard to improve that.
Elias Konstantopoulos gets spotty glimpses of the world each day for about four hours, or for however long he leaves his Argus II retina prosthesis turned on. The 74-year-old Maryland resident lost his sight from a progressive retinal disease over 30 years ago, but is able to perceive some things when he turns on the bionic vision system.
To stay profitable, Tesla needs to keep cutting costs and selling more cars.
As expected, Tesla Motors, the maker of the luxury Model S electric sedan, announced today that it was profitable for the first time in its ten-year history. During the first quarter of 2013 it had profits of $11 million. Total revenues were $562 million.
A mixed-antibody treatment does not protect patients from cognitive decline.
More bad news from drugmakers trying to develop treatments for Alzheimer’s disease: Yesterday, Baxter announced that its mixed-antibody therapy failed to reduce cognitive decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. As I reported back in July 2012, the company saw positive results in a small four-patient trial of the treatment. None of these patients showed any cognitive decline, leading some experts to hope that the disease can be stopped or slowed (see “Study Suggests Alzheimer’s Disease Can be Stabilized”). But when Baxter tested its potential treatment—a complex mixture of antibodies harvested from healthy donated blood—in nearly 100-times as many Alzheimer’s patients, the company did not find a rate of decline slower than patients given a placebo.
Tests suggest that a CIA-backed quantum computing technology can be very powerful for some kinds of problems.
When I visited D-Wave last year I saw some spectacular hardware and heard of significant backing for the company (see “The CIA and Jeff Bezos Bet On Quantum Computing”). But no one was able to show me results from pitting one of D-Wave’s unusual computers directly against a conventional one to prove how much faster they could be.
The creator of the Wolfram Alpha search engine explains why he thinks your life should be measured, analyzed, and improved.
Don’t be surprised if Stephen Wolfram, the renowned complexity theorist, software company CEO, and night owl, wants to schedule a work call with you at 9 p.m. In fact, after a decade of logging every phone call he makes, Wolfram knows the exact probability he’ll be on the phone with someone at that time: 39 percent.
Dummy water-plant control systems rapidly attracted attention from hackers who tinkered with their settings—suggesting it happens to real industrial systems, too.
Just 18 hours after security researcher Kyle Wilhoit connected two dummy industrial control systems and one real one to the Internet, someone began attacking one of them, and things soon got worse. Over the course of the experiment, conducted during December 2012, a series of sophisticated attacks were mounted on the “honeypots,” which Wilhoit set up to find out how often malicious hackers target industrial infrastructure.
A Department of Defense report says that China’s military is infiltrating, and could attack, U.S. government computer networks.
For years now security companies have described that attacks originating in China routinely infiltrate and steal data from U.S. corporate networks, and that similar activity targets U.S. government systems, too. But even as politicians and government officials have begun to speak more freely about the issue (see “U.S. Power Grids, Water Plants a Hacking Target”), they have stopped short of making specific accusations about who is responsible. In April, President Obama’s national security adviser Tom Donilon talked vaguely of attacks “emanating from China.”