Whole Wide World

Imagine standing on top of a mountain, looking at a seemingly endless horizon in every direction, full of mountains and valleys. Imagine never seeing anything like that. Breathe deeply at the sight, then use your virtual reality wand and spin the Earth along its normal rotational axis, until you set the horizon on fire with a sunset. You can now walk the streets of the most iconic cities in the world, dive through the canyons like a hawk and float around in space, starring at the pale blue dot from the abyss. Google Earth Virtual Reality can enable you to have some pretty incredible experiences. While interactivity is limited to viewing, the app is perfect for those who just want to take it easy. Anyone who has used Google Earth mapping apps before will be familiar with the VR app — as you have to do is grab the globe and zoom in and out anywhere. After flying high above our planet, you can move around using one controller to zoom closer, while another one allows you to “grab” the planet and reorient it. With a few more taps, you can lean closer, until you are on ground level at “average adult height.” It gets even cooler than that. You can even get into some famous places, such as Seattle’s football stadium. It feels extremely real. Some buildings’ interior geometry had been rendered precisely and that really sells the “I’m here” feeling that one might expect. However, the app still needs improvements as many areas are just flat maps with rough topography, not fully constructed locations and natural features like trees are blocky masses. How good it looks depends on how much data Google has collected- 94 percent of the world’s population and 54...

Marble

Marble, for the purposes of this article, is not the metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals commonly used from sculpture and as a building material. Rather, it is a new robot delivery service that is ready to deliver food to our doorsteps. San Francisco-based startup Marble is redefining getting your food to go. The new robot delivery service is a result of a partnership between Yelp and the small startup Marble, founded in 2015 by three former Carnegie Mellon University students. Initially, the robots will be accompanied by a person walking alongside in case something goes wrong, though the rovers will be driving autonomously. Additionally, Marble robots are being observed via monitors back at company headquarters. Residents of San Francisco’s Mission and Potrero Hill neighborhoods who order food from the Yelp East 24 food delivery service will have the option of having a robot shuttle them dinner. Marble’s robots are powered by NVIDIA Jetson TX1 AI supercomputers to navigate their route while sharing busy sidewalks. Using AI and computer vision, they can detect people, cars, pets and other objects along the way as they safely cruise to their destinations. Marble’s robots map the city’s sidewalks to determine the best travel routes and improve food delivery times. According to Matt Delaney, CEO and cofounder of the San Francisco startup: “We’re starting with meals, but think our robots will be useful for everything from groceries, to pharmacy and parcel delivery in the long run.” Marble’s robots are designed to be “courteous in an urban setting.” Marble has a team that includes former employees from Google and Apple. With only 5 restaurants participating in Yelp’s Eat24 robot delivery program at the moment, Delaney expects that more will sign up in the future. The company has raised...

Space Race 2.0

It seems when the country’s most successful entrepreneurs have finished disrupting industries on Earth, they invariably look to do the same in space. The world is witnessing a new era of space exploration that’s being headlined by companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, owned by tech billionaire CEOs Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos respectively. The companies are a part of a private sector boom that has reestablished the United States as leaders of aerospace technology and exploration. SpaceX moves forward Leader of the pack, SpaceX is revolutionizing space travel in astronomical ways. CEO Elon Musk has always maintained that the fundamental breakthrough needed to transform access to space is figuring out how to reuse rockets just like airplanes, in order to lower the cost. Since 2015 SpaceX has been actively working towards that goal, recovering eight of twelve rockets launched. On March 30th the company took things one step further with the first successful launch and landing of the Falcon 9, a recycled rocket. The Falcon 9 previously had the distinction of being the first rocket to successfully land on a droneship. But even that isn’t enough for the company, as they continue to reach for the stars with their next goal to reuse the rocket within 24 hours. “We’re looking for true operational reusability, like an aircraft, an aircraft lands, goes to the gate, passengers come off, passengers go on, you refuel, and then you fly again. What we’re looking to do is exactly that..land and relaunch on the same day,” says SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. The company’s most recent milestone was on April 30th, when SpaceX launched a government spy satellite for the US National Reconnaissance Office. This marked the first time the Department of Defense used SpaceX for a mission, where...

Automated Parking

In our lifetimes to date, the exercise of parking in a public or private multi-vehicle garage has gone something like this: drive into the garage, circle up and down ramps between stories to find an open spot, squeeze your way in and cross your fingers that you’ll remember where you parked when it’s time to leave. Engineering firms have struggled to combat the growing problem of parking shortages by efficiently using robotic car parking systems in areas where congestion, zoning or crime are problems or where land is scarce and expensive. And thanks to the miracles of modern machinery, they’ve come up with some cool solutions. To take advantage, all you have to do is follow a green arrow into a wide space on the ground floor, lock the car and simply walk away. Robotic machinery lifts, stack and packs the parked vehicles inside the garage. The cars can be squeezed into narrow spaces, as there is no longer a need for room to open doors, or for other cars to pass. Without the need for ramps and less space required for parking, the garage takes up less square feet than a non-automated garage of the same capacity. As cars no longer have to circle the lot in search for a parking spaces, CO2 emissions have also decreased significantly. The state-of-the-art, high-density system maximizes parking spaces while minimizing environmental impact, by utilizing an array of horizontal and vertical conveyance devices and software designed to enable automated and efficient storage and retrieval of cars. Additionally, the garage will keep the vehicle safe and clean, as it is completely sealed off from weather conditions, animals and even other people. The driver is the last person to touch the vehicle before the robotic system places it into...

A Smarter Vacation?

A lot of work goes into planning a vacation these days. From airline and bus tickets to hotel reservations, you’re making a lot of plans and getting a lot of emails. It can be hard to find what you need when you’re in a hurry on the road. The Google Trips App is a travel guide and a smart vacation planner that was launched last year. Recently upgraded, it helps travelers experience more and organize less. Available both on Android and iOS, the free app compiles all your essential info in one place and makes it available even offline. How it works Once you download it, you need to login using your Gmail account. In just a few minutes, it scans your email, pulling up all trip-related information from your inbox—hotel receipts, car reservations, maps, flight confirmations etc. The best part of the app is that it also works offline. Once you’ve downloaded everything onto your phone, you have access to all the necessary info no matter where you are so you don’t have to use an expensive international data plan. After signing in, the app will show you a list of upcoming and already completed trips. Tap into a future trip and discover a colorful grid with these options: Reservations This feature organizes your flights, hotel information and any rental car reservations you may have made. It puts all your reservations in one place. If you click on an upcoming flight, for example, it gives you the times plus the terminal and gate as available. For hotels and hostels, Trips also shows a map. Things to do This section is the heart of the app. It compiles user data and reviews to offer you a list of things to see in a city...

Virtual Veterans

With the help of virtual reality, aging veterans unable to travel can get up close and personal with far-flung war memorials. As the clock strikes 11:11am on Veterans Day, the sun aligns perfectly with the Anthem Veterans Memorial in Anthem Arizona. At the appointed hour, beams of light are funneled through the monument, casting a solar spotlight over The Great Seal of the United States. Surrounded by bricks inscribed with the names of over 750 servicemen, for that one moment the seal glows on the ground, gleaming up from the shadows cast by the shrine’s five marble pillars. While thousands of visitors make the trek each year to watch the transformation live, for many aging veterans the trip is not an option. Failing health and lack of finances make travel prohibitive for many seniors. Thankfully, advances in virtual reality can now help housebound adults explore the world from the comfort of their armchair. “They can be feet away from them again, in full glory, and feel like they’re there with them,” says Sarah Hill, the co-founder of Honor Everywhere, a nonprofit organization to helping veterans see the memorials erected in their honor – either in person or via virtual reality. Losing History The average age of US soldiers during the Vietnam War was 22, and so many of that war’s former combatants are currently nearing retirement age. In addition, in the last 14 years, Vietnam veterans are dying at a rate of 390 per year. For World War II era veterans the numbers are even more staggering: 500 deaths a day and with the US Department of Veterans Affairs estimating that only 620,000 of the 16 million servicemen and women were still alive in 2016.  With an average age of 92, most of the...

Colorful Surface

Microsoft’s Surface lineup welcomed its newest computer, the Surface Laptop, the company’s direct answer to the MacBook. The new flagship device for Windows 10 S was designed with college students in mind. It will sell starting at $999 (upgraded versions will costs as much as $2,199) and will begin shipping on June 15. The new device doesn’t hold any records—it’s not the thinnest nor lightest out there, but its 0.6-inch thickness and 2.74-pound weight make it an easy burden to carry around. The Surface laptop doesn’t bring any novelties either, it’s a Microsoft PC with the Surface branding. The overall design makes you think more about a MacBook-style notebook rather than a Microsoft’s Surface Book—the screen is not detachable and the hinges are not supposed to be seen. In fact, the Surface Laptop feels to be geared toward Apple customers more than anyone else. It will be available in four colors—burgundy, graphite gold, platinum and cobalt blue—the burgundy and blue versions are special in a way that will immediately stand out. Out stands the cloth-like Alcantara fabric, brought from Italy and is laser cut to coat the palm rests and the space between the keys. Even though it’s not more luxurious than metal, its softness and warmth look appealing. How well will it stand the test of time? Remains to be seen. Tech-specs wise, one of the first things that catches your eye is its lack of ports (which seems to have turned into a trend lately): the headphone jack is still there, next to an USB 3.0 port and a mini DisplayPort. But that’s it, Microsoft decided that the USB-C doesn’t have a place there, nor does Thunderbolt 3. One cool thing is that it doesn’t have any visible speaker grilles or holes,...

Ransomware Rundown

Though some experts predicted the final payoff would hit one billion dollars, Friday’s ransomware attack – believed to be one of the largest ever perpetrated – ended with a fizzle over the weekend with the hackers barely pulling in $26,000 before being  temporarily stopped in their tracks by an anonymous cyber security expert. Summarizing the situation Monday morning, Jan Op Gen Oorth, senior spokesman for Europol, told the AFP, “The number of victims appears not to have gone up and so far the situation seems stable in Europe, which is a success.” “It seems that a lot of internet security guys over the weekend did their homework and ran the security software updates.” A Simple Fix According to Gizmodo the damage was mitigated, in part, due to the quick action of an “anonymous 26-year-old security researcher” named MalwareTech, who managed to temporarily slow the spread of the ransomware attack late Friday. After discovering the domain name associated with the ransomware, iuqerfsodp9ifjaposdfjhgosurijfaewrwergwe- a.com was available for purchase for just $10.69, MalwareTech bought the domain and halted the attack. “Initially someone had reported the wrong way round that we had caused the infection by registering the domain, so I had a mini freak out until I realized it was actually the other way around and we had stopped it,” MalwareTech told The Guardian. According to Matthieu Suiche, founder of cybersecurity firm Comae Technologies, MaltechWare’s registration of the domain stopped the malware from spreading throughout the US. “The kill switch is why the U.S. hasn’t been touched so far,” he told the New York Times on Saturday. “But it’s only temporary. All the attackers would have to do is create a variant of the hack with a different domain name. I would expect them to do that.” A Global Attack The flurry of ransomware attacks shut down several...

Smarter Buildings

Energy management software not only reduces waste and electricity costs, it can also provide responsive, optimized energy solutions for smarter, more efficient buildings. For owners and operators of smart buildings, energy management data can be an embarrassment of riches. The latest technologies allow for tracking of even the smallest detail, from occupancy averages to temperature adjustments of less than one degree. It’s what Matt Eggers describes as “savings by shavings,” and while the level of control can result in significantly smaller utility bills, information overload and lack of consistency can undermine even the most committed energy efficiency strategy. “You can’t expect humans to be sitting at a computer constantly responding to 10th of a degree temperature adjustments and other minutia,” Eggers declared during a recent Realcomm Webinar on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, “but energy management software can handle the task.” “Buildings are complicated, but in the future intelligent software systems will allow for really dramatic savings by optimizing building information for best performance.” Data Captured Equals Dollars Saved Many building owners and operators fail to take full advantage of the phenomenal amount of performance data available in relation to energy use and overall operations. The latest energy management software aims to make all those facts and figures easily digestible to enable the creation of individualized and effective energy efficiency benchmarks and strategies. The panelists agree we are headed into a new era of comprehensive energy data collection and management. All that information has already resulted in real, quantifiable savings, with some buildings reducing energy costs by tens of thousands of dollars. “This [energy information] results in real dollars saved,” said Rob Hamon Director, Energy and Sustainability, Boxer Property during the Realcomm webinar. “Efficiency gains accumulate as we see connections amongst the data.” “This isn’t...

Self-Driving Taxis

Once found only in science fiction, self-driving cars are about to show up on a street near you. Goldman Sachs estimates that the market for advanced driver assistance and autonomous vehicles is expected to grow from roughly $3 billion in 2015 to $96 billion in 2025 and balloon to $290 billion in 2035. When two giants meet and start planning together, the world expects great things. One such collaboration, between Daimler — the world’s largest maker of premium cars, and Bosch — the world’s largest automotive supplier, is poised to bring a major change to the auto industry. The two companies are teaming up to develop self-driving cars and speed up the normalization of “robo-taxis.” The fully automated vehicle is planned to be ready for use in urban markets in the early 2020s, the companies say. The autonomous driving system will be designed for city driving. The expectation is that self-driving taxis will improve traffic flows in cities and road safety. The development alliance is on a mission to create a system for fully automated Level 4 and driverless Level 5 vehicles. The Society of Automotive Engineers has defined five levels of driving automation: Level 4 means the car assumes all of the driving in many conditions — it could drive fully autonomously in specific geographic locations, such as a certain route in a city center, or in certain weather conditions. Level 5 is reached when the vehicle can operate in all conditions, without requiring any human intervention at any time. Daimler, through its passenger car brand Mercedes-Benz, has been working on autonomous vehicles for years. At the same time, the company keeps a close eye on the growing group of people who would rather use public transportation and car-sharing than own a car....

Bright Ideas

Energy efficiency remains a largely untapped resource for commercial buildings.  The challenges involved in finding, interpreting and benefiting from data about energy consumption, which represents one of a building manager’s biggest budget items, were the focus of a recent webinar hosted by Realcomm. The instructors for “Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Technology Helping to Set New Benchmarks,” including Yardi Energy’s Matt Eggers, addressed the complexities of determining how much heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) a building needs at any given moment, taking into account occupancy levels, tenant comfort, weather and other factors.  Manually attempting to monitor and react to thousands of constantly changing HVAC data points isn’t feasible for even the best building engineers, according to Eggers, vice president of energy management for Yardi. Additional hurdles to devising a viable building (or portfolio) energy consumption strategy, the instructors noted, include high expectations from tenants and stakeholders; extreme, often unmanageable volumes of data; specialized skills needed for energy management; and diminishing returns after the easy fixes have been made. That’s where dedicated HVAC software platforms come in.  Intelligent optimization systems continuously monitor HVAC performance in real time to allow temperature adjustments—sometimes by a tenth of a degree—that optimize energy performance without compromising building occupants’ comfort, Eggers noted.  This strategy employs “more power tools, not hand tools,” he said, which means automating monitoring and adjustments, a vastly more efficient approach than manually tracking rooms and office space occupancy, water leaks and other malfunctions—not to mention determining the proper fraction of a degree adjustment. Platforms from expert software providers also eliminate the need for specialized maintenance and programming skills.  The ultimate outcome of intelligent HVAC control, he said, is to “continuously optimize energy to keep comfort where you want it.” Building owners and operators who traditionally value...

Grid-Sized Storage

Late last month, Southern California Edison switched on its newest substations, an 80MWh lithium-ion battery storage facility that will manage peak demand and improve grid reliability. Just off Interstate 15, nestled in the heart of California’s Riverside County, one of the world’s biggest energy storage projects recently roared to life. Part of a collaboration between Tesla and Southern California Edison (SCE), the installation at the Mira Loma substation will be used to manage peak energy demand and stabilize the grid. “Upon completion, this system will be the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world,” declares a Tesla blog post announcing the project. “When fully charged, this system will hold enough energy to power more than 2,500 households for a day or charge 1,000 Tesla vehicles.” Managing Peak Energy The Mira Loma project is one of the first to use Tesla’s new Powerpack 2 for utility-scale energy storage. With an 80 MWh capacity, the 400 Powerpacks will allow SCE to manage energy use during peak hours. The Powerpacks will be charged with electricity generated during off-peak hours and then supplement demand during periods of peak demand. This process will not only save energy; it will allow SCE to maintain grid reliability, deliver better power quality to customers and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. “The system will charge using electricity from the grid during off-peak hours and then deliver electricity during peak hours to help maintain the reliable operation of Southern California Edison’s electrical infrastructure which feeds more than 15 million residents,” explains the Tesla statement. “By doing so, the Tesla Powerpack system will reduce the need for electricity generated by natural gas and further the advancement of a resilient and modern grid.” Future Expansion Larger utility-scale energy storage projects are already in the works...

Smart Tattoos

Everyday technology  devices have now become so small that that can be embedded into fabrics, worn as accessories or be attached directly to the user’s body on skin. Your next tattoo could be also functional besides aesthetic. Such “epidermal electronics” are promising, they expand the sensing modalities of current mobile and wearable devices by sitting directly on skin, which facilitates direct access to users’ biomedical signals. Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have created a series of smart temporary tattoos that can control devices through touch. The team, together with Microsoft Research, designed the DuoSkin transfers to look like the gold and silver flash tattoos that are popular mostly at music festivals. DuoSkin is made from gold metal leaf, which is a conductive material that can interact with an electronic circuit that respond to touch. Pretty cool, right? Researches devised three different ways in which the DuoSkin can be used, including as input devices that can turn your skin into a trackpad, or a capacitive virtual control knob for adjusting volume on your connected device. First, they used it as an input device, specifically as a controller for a music player. They created design stencils of traditional use interfaces like buttons, sliders and 2D trackpads. They also tried it as an input display that changes pigments, which change to one of its two states when heated beyond body temperature. Another function of these smart accessories is the interface as a wireless communication device that uses near field communication (NFC) tags, which means data can be sent from the tattoo to mobile phones with NFC capabilities. The team from MIT’s Media Lab, led by PhD student Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao together with Microsoft Research also made them possible to be worn as jewelries and tried embedding LED...

Snapdragon 835

Back in November, Qualcomm was announcing the Snapdragon 835, a brand-new top-end, tiny chip that will be the heart of the most powerful smartphones to be launched this year. Its arrival will replace the Snapdragon 821 as the company’s flagship chip. The 835 is Qualcomm’s first 10nm chip. Let’s just sit here for a moment and understand what it means. A chip incorporates a circuit and transistors. Think about the transistors as of tiny electronic switches that allow computer systems to get things done. The more transistors you have, the more things you can get done simultaneously. In short, the more transistors you have on a chip, the more powerful the chip is. 10nm reflects a physical distance, but it is a hard size to imagine—1,000 times smaller than a strand of hair or about the size of a few dozen water molecules. What this distance describes is called in technical terms “device half-pitch” and it stands for the distance between a feature on one transistor and the same feature on the transistor next to it. In other words, it describes how far apart the transistors are, or how densely they are packed together. In addition, the device is 35 percent smaller and uses 25 percent less power than previous designs. Currently, Samsung and Taiwan’s TSMC are able to manufacture 10nm chips, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep packing transistors more densely. Rumors say that the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Microsoft Surface Phone will carry the chip. LG G6, HTC 11 and OnePlus 4 might house it too. However, since Samsung also produces its own processors, the Exynos series, chances are that at least some of their S8 units will feature Samsung’s own custom-built Exynos chips. Qualcomm confirmed that the Snapdragon 835...

AI’s Winning Bluff

Artificial Intelligence has reached a significant milestone: beating professional players at the heads-up no-limit Texas hold’em version of poker. Such advancements make the future use of AI in real estate promising, though limited. DeepStack, the program developed by computer scientists at the University of Alberta, in partnership with a team from the Czech Technical University in Prague, is the first system to beat professional players at this game, according to The Globe and Mail. Researchers chose poker because it is an imperfect information game. Unlike games such as chess—where the state of the game can be assessed by looking at a board– poker players cannot know all the data relevant to the game. They must consider elements that are not visible, like other players’ cards. Michael Bowling, leader of the University of Alberta’s research group, explained that since the same type of “reasoning” is involved when solving real-world problems, poker becomes a relevant factor to relate to when developing AI programs. The Game Started a Decade Ago Scientists have been working at this project for 20 years, constantly improving the system that is based on deep learning programming, which mimics the way the human brain acquires expertise. This segment of the story started in 2008, when the Alberta group developed an algorithm that could defeat top human players at the heads-up limit version of the game, in which all bets are of fixed size. The no-limit version of the game is more complicated. The amount players decide to bet is only limited to the number of chips in their possession. A winning strategy often involves betting high when the opponent believes—incorrectly—that his or her hand is the stronger one. In other words, bluffing is at the core of the game. So how did DeepStack...

Electric Planes

Electricity powers motorcycles, cars and boats, but how about planes? In recent years, research has been dedicated applying such technology to the aviation industry. Even though the price of oil per barrel has dropped lately, we still pay a hefty price for carbon-based fuels, and our planet absorbs ever-increasing levels of pollution. In 2011, the e-Genius, a two-seater aircraft built by the engineers at the University of Stuttgart, climbed more than 20,000 feet in under two minutes and reached speeds of 142 miles per hour. It flew uninterrupted for 300 miles. The aircraft burned no fuel and has zero emissions, because it was equipped with an all-electric motor powered by a single battery. Another fantastic component was the cost: during a 62-mile stretch of its historic flight, the plane used about 25 kilowatts of electricity for a total energy cost of just over $3. NASA has been investing heavily in electric planes, too—the agency has been focusing on designing and building the X-Series, a line of environmentally-friendly airplanes. Test pilots and engineers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. are “flying” a simulator designed to mirror exactly the specifications of the X-57 Maxwell, which will be NASA’s first piloted X-plane in two decades. The X-57 will be the first NASA X-plane to feature a fully distributed electric propulsion system, which researchers will use to demonstrate an increase in cruise energy efficiency, as well as reductions in carbon emission and aircraft noise. That is expected in early 2018. NASA isn’t the only one interested in the Tesla of the skies. Wright Electric, a U.S. startup, announced on their blog the “Wright One,” an electric 150-seater concept that runs on batteries and can handle flights under 300 miles. These short trips make up to...

Pocket EKG

Ruthless and unbiased, heart disease kills 610,000 people per year in the United States, amounting to one out of every four deaths in the country. A leading cause of death across both genders, the CDC estimates that over half of the nation’s deaths can be attributed to heart disease. Doctors say early detection is key, by the time significant warning signs like chest pain and shortness of breath are detectable, it might already be too late. Unfortunately, for many Americans, a trip to the doctor’s office can be complicated and costly. But what if an EKG could fit inside your wallet? A new mobile EKG device can monitor cardiac health and track the early warning signs of hearth disease and stroke. Mobile Monitoring AliveCor, the makers behind Kardia, a mobile, pocket-sized EKG monitor, believe they’ve found a solution. A little smaller than a business card, the Kardia comes outfitted with two metal plates designed to receive basic information about the user’s heart, including heart rate, blood pressure and – most importantly – atrial fibrillation. Users simply place their fingers on the device and wait for the data to be transmitted to Kardia’s mobile app. The focus on atrial fibrillation is significant because changes in this particular data set are often an early warning signs of stroke. Most hospital-grade EKGs measure 12 different aspects of the heartbeat, but focusing on atrial fibrillation, AliveCor was able to shrink their mobile electrocardiogram down to a gadget that easily fits in the palm of your hand. “[It is] the most common arrhythmia, the one that we need to detect, doesn’t need all 12 EKG leads,” AliveCor CEO Vic Gundotra tells Wired. “And it’s not invasive at all, it’s just like brushing your teeth every day.” Comprehensive Reports The Kardia...

Best Smartwatches

The battle for the prized piece of real estate on your wrist is heating up. Choosing the smartwatch that’s right for you isn’t easy and they aren’t for everyone. For some, a more basic fitness tracker or watch might suffice. But if you want something more versatile, smartwatches deliver smartphone notifications, fitness features, apps and more to your wrist, allowing you to leave your phone in your pocket. Best overall: Appel Watch Series 2 The Apple Watch Series 2 is the company’s second-generation of smartwatch and iPhone companion. Apple is making a big play for sports watch owners adding GPS track runs and cycling session sans iPhone and it’s now fully waterproof up to 50 meters and offers swim tracking in the pool and in open water. Apple also introduces a Breathe app to help you relax. We all need that, right? And where to put that it has the best band selections for all fashion lovers out there. From ultra-comfy silicone options co-developed with Nike, through thousands of third-party options, all the way to decidedly haute couture offerings crafted by Hermès, the Apple Watch Series 2 comes with better selection of wristbands than any fitness tracker out there. This enables you to switch between sporting a utilitarian health tracker and a high-fashion accessory without losing track of your activity. Features: GPS, Swimming friendly, Apple Pay, two-day battery, heart-rate monitor. Unisex. Price: from $369 Best for fitness tracking: Garmin Vivoactive HR While the Apple watch and the LG Watch Sport are both capable of sport tracking, the Garmin Vivoactive HR features beside a dedicated GPS mode for running, cycling and swimming like Apple Watch and LG Watch Sport does, it also gives you data on golf and indoor gym work. The Vivoactive HR reports metrics into Garmin...

Floating Solar

Floatovoltaics is the name given to the floating solar plants that have started to pop up all over the globe—Japan, the UK, Brazil, the U.S. and Australia. This type of system is relatively new, but seems to gain popularity. It’s easy to understand why, the floatovoltaics preserve land, while minimizing the aesthetic impact. Kyocera TCL Solar LLC is one of the pioneers of the technology; they state that the floating system is not only typhoon-proof (due to their sturdy, high-density polyethylene and array design), but also superior to their land-based counterparts because of the cooling effect of the water, which enables them to work more efficiently. Kyocera’s word is to be listened to as they are the developers behind the largest floating solar power plant in the world—in a joint venture with Century Tokyo Leasing Corp. In 2016, the company started developing a 13.7-megawatt floating solar power plant on the Yamakura Dam reservoir, managed by the Public Enterprises Agency of Chiba Prefecture in Japan for industrial water services. The system will consist of approximately 51,000 Kyocera modules installed over a fresh water surface area of almost 2 million square feet. The project is expected to generate an estimated 16,170-megawatt-hours per year, enough to power almost 5,000 typical households, while offsetting about 8,170 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The planned launch date for the solar plant on the Yamakura Dam is spring of 2018. Japan was somewhat forced to find new surfaces on which to install photovoltaic panels mostly due to the decrease in tracts of land suitable for utility-scale solar power plants. Other countries and regions view solar power as the solution to the drought that’s been drying up their hydroelectric plans. In 2015, Brazil announced that it will build an overwhelming 350-megawatt...

Travel Tech

For many international business travelers, crossing a border means more than just a stamp in their passport. It also means making sure cell phones and laptops stay secure. Whether it’s an intrusion from foreign hackers or the evermore-invasive surveillance of customs officials, protecting sensitive data – both personal and business – has never been more complicated. As a result, more and more jet-setting corporate employees are making sure to secure their devices before their trip and while on the move. “Although mobile devices can facilitate connecting back to headquarters and maintaining workflow, the risk for exploitation of these devices and the information accessed can greatly increase on overseas travel,” warns the US Department of State Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). Before Departure The OSAC’s best practices guide for traveling with mobile devices suggests several steps business travelers should take before stepping out the front door. As a matter of course, all nonessential devices should simply be left at home. Data can also be kept local through a backup on an external hard drive or a secure cloud-based service. For travelling devices, it’s important to make sure all software and apps are up-to-date. That means upgrading passwords with stronger variables and initiating file encryption with tools provided by BitLocker, TrueCrypt or Apple Firevault. Bluetooth and GPS should also be disabled and available firewalls enacted. During Travel Once you’re on the road, there are plenty of ways for your device to be compromised. In addition to maintaining physical control whenever possible, the best way to protect your device in transit is to power down before entering customs. As an added step, Wired recommends disabling any biometric access – like Apple’s TouchID – and sticking to PIN accessibility. It’s good practice to disable automatic Wi-Fi connections and use a...