Newsletter | Monday, October 24th 2016
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Fun fact: Adding /4 to the end of Facebook’s URL will take you to Mark Zuckerberg’s profile.
Otto, the self-driving vehicle company owned by Uber, announced its prototype had successfully hauled 51,7444 cans of Budweiser from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, in a 120-mile journey (here’s a video to see for yourself). To be clear, there was still a professional driver in the truck. His purpose was to activate the system’s autonomous drive mode and navigate the vehicle onto Interstate 25. Though once on the highway, the driver was able to lazily kick back (maybe even catch a few Z’s). From there, he let the truck do the rest of the work.
So, how do these “self-driving” trucks actually work?
To “see” the road, the system uses a high-precision camera that sits above the windshield. A radar connects to the bumper, allowing it to follow other vehicles and maintain an appropriate distance between them. Three LIDAR laser detection units, mounted in the cab and on the trailer, detect things like lane lines, speed limit signs, and stop signs. The data from all five sensors is fed and processed into an array of computers that control the movement. Its speed, steering, transmission and brakes are all monitored.
The march toward a future of self-driving trucks continues even on the other side of the planet…in Singapore. Singapore’s Land Transport Authority plans to conduct a trial using a pair of hybrid buses to shuttle passengers. They’d travel between Nanyang Technical University and CleanTech Park, which are about one mile apart. While the distance may not seem as impressive as Otto’s 150 mile trek, the pilot project represents a relatively new shift in thinking around autonomous vehicles: a driverless future is coming – but it won’t start with self-driving cars.
How do you feel about computerized bugs crawling up and down your body?
…a tad creepy?
A cross-university team of researchers from MIT and Stanford developed miniature robots that move freely on clothing called Rovables. These robots are stay in place by magnetic wheels and can climb vertically across a garment. They can move for up to 45 minutes before needing to re-charge. While these clothing-clinging creatures may seem a bit strange, the potential use cases for them are rather exciting: Imagine a fleet of robots rolling up your sleeve when riding a bicycle, or a health monitor crawling to your wrist to take your pulse. Maybe these robots could sync with your alarm and tap your shoulder when you have to wake up?
If diamonds are forever, could data be too?
Diamonds can be harnessed to store data for the long term, according to a paper publish last Wednesday in Science Advances. To put this into perspective, a tiny diamond (about half the size of a grain of rice and thinner than a sheet of paper) can hold 100x more information than a DVD.
Tiny, atomic-sized imperfections inside diamonds, known as nitrogen vacancy centers, leave empty spaces perfect for stashing data. The researchers from City College of New York used lasers to encode and read data on these tiny spaces, which they treated like magnets that either repel or absorb an electron. They encoded images of Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger on a diamond by adding and removing electrons with green and red lasers (see image below).
When storing data in hard drives, the material it’s made of eventually degrades after 5 or 10 years, and the data stored becomes lost. The appeal of storing data in diamonds is that diamonds last forever, and therefore so would your data. Just imagine your diamond engagement ring could one day hold your wedding photos…but to Schrödinger, you wouldn’t know unless you checked.
Will we soon see ads on each others t-shirts?
While Apple is keeping whatever augmented reality (AR) plans it has hush-hush, we do know that the company has recently been granted a patent for a “wearable display having an array of LEDs on a conformable silicon substrate.” The image below accompanied the patent, showing a shirt with a flexible display as well as a bracelet.
Some speculate there could be a tie-in with the Apple Watch. Perhaps a t-shirt that acts as an accompany wearable that can talk to your watch or fitness tracker.
Granted Apple files for lots of patents, and many are for inventions that never come to fruition. With that said, it’s always good to keep an eye out.
What will the future of email be like?
(Image above shows a shopping cart inside an email where “buy now” button takes the user directly to online payment)
In this Medium Post, Entrepreneur David Bailey provides some examples of Startups that are ahead of the curve, like Baby2Body that build an entire service for pregnant women entirely through email based on their child’s due date.
The future of email is definitely a hot topic, and the technologies that are powering changes in conversational interfaces (messaging bots) could be applied to the email space. Massimo Arrigoni shares how emails can go from no-reply@… to yes-reply@…if we shift our mindset from chatbots to emailbots. Curious to hear your thoughts on the future of email?
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