Whenever I happen into a conversation about long term investing or what the distant future is going to look like my contribution is always the same: sound. Your future and your means of making money tomorrow by taking what may appear to be a risk on what seems like science fiction today rests upon the fact that immense power of sound has not even begun to be harnessed. Mark my words. In the future you will clean your body with sound and soldiers will kill enemies with sound and, more likely than not, your means of transport will be fueled in some ways by sound. Crazy? Ask your grandparents or even some parents if they ever imagined the following common medical practices when they were young.
The ritual of expectant parents heading to the doctor to get an ultrasound image of the baby forming in the womb of the mother has already become mundane. That use of high frequency sound waves to peer right through a pregnant woman’s belly would get that same doctor hauled up before the Catholic Church’s Inquisition if transported back in time a few centuries. You might not even be able to convince a time travel show audience of the Great Depression that it wasn’t just some kind of slick magic trick. The very idea that sound could be used to give you a picture of a growing fetus and actually let you know whether a woman was going to give birth to a boy or girl would most certainly have been considered something more suitable to a pulp science fiction story in a world where Joe McCarthy was able to convince millions that commies were lurking behind every street corner mailbox.
Acoustic Treatment of Kidney Stones
This treatment using technology that harnesses the genuinely awesome power of sound waves to non-invasively rid the body of painful kidney stones is still relatively new enough to raise eyebrows even among young people. How does it work? Remember the commercial where the opera singer hits just the right note to cause a glass to shatter? The higher the intensity of the acoustic waves that create that effect, the greater their power. Make the waves of sound powerful enough and they have the strength to literally break into pieces the acidic deposits that join together to form what are known as kidney stones. It probably won’t be too much longer before acoustic waves are used to shatter brain tumors in the brain. And we’re still in the Stone Age when it comes to harnessing sound to attack health problems located within the body.
We don’t need a time machine to convince millions that using sound in its simple form of a musical composition may be more effective at treating depression and anxiety than those fancy, newfangled pills that are all the rage. Sound therapy to treat mental health disorders still lurks out there on murky edges of questionable alternative treatments acupuncture, art therapy and crystals. What …
Liar, Liar, Your Russian Credit Application’s on Fire
COMMENTARY Coming soon to ATMs in Russia: ATMs equipped with voice-analysis equipment that can tell if you’re a filthy liar.
Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, is testing ATMs that use voice-analysis software to detect whether a credit card applicant applying via their automated machines is telling the truth. The New York Times reports that the ATM would ask questions regarding employment and other necessary details involved in a credit application. The software, created by the Speech Technology Center, would be able to assess the anxiety and nervousness involuntarily hidden in vocal responses when lying.
This is groundbreaking, and the technology sounds amazing. But will it work?
I’m reminded of the phone call I made this morning to have a pick-up scheduled through a shipping company. My call was routed straight to a voice recognition menu, where I cheerfully replied that the purpose of my call was to “schedule an express pick-up.” After a pause, the automated female voice replied, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand. Please repeat your option.” I replied, enunciating clearly, “Schedule. Express. Pick-up.” The female voice replied, “I think you want to schedule an express pick-up. Is that correct?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand. Please repeat.”
At this point, my voice was no longer cheerful. It was sharp and edged with the irritation of having had this same repetitious, clipped exchange on an almost daily basis when attempting to send out my packages. The computer picked up on what I was trying to do, though, and the female voice assured me that my pick-up was scheduled. At least, for today, my business was taken care of.
But will there be similar, stressful moments with the Russian ATMs? I foresee a well-meaning client applying for credit and having to repeat several times that he is employed with Moscow Shoe Company. The ATM will respond sharply, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Please repeat.” The client will become flustered and again say the name of his company. Becoming agitated, his voice will change, at which point the ATM may reply:
“You’re a liar. Please step away from the machine and don’t come back until you can tell the truth.”
Maybe my confidence in voice recognition and analysis software isn’t as high as it should be. Hopefully the technology developed by the Speech Technology Center and employed by Russia’s largest bank will be more dynamic than the program used by my preferred shipping company. That said, I eagerly await humorous tales from the front-lines of Russia’s most (and least) credit-worthy citizens.
Source: Andrew E. Kramer, An A.T.M. With An Ear For The Truth, The New York Times…
This report looks at the recent development of nanotechnology and its environmental impact by studying the beneficial applications of technology and the consequential risks posed by it on the environment and the public. Over the course of writing this report I discovered that not much scientific literature exists on the topic and that this is itself one of the series of problems faced by nanotechnology in its emergent phase.
Nanotechnology is the branch of science whose characteristic feature is that it involves working with and creating materials or structures that are measured on the nanometer scale. Until recently, nanotechnology was but a popular theme in science fiction. However, it has since expanded into a diverse and extensive field of study and research with a wide range of possible applications. Today nanotechnology has implications in a variety of fields that affect human affairs such as medicine, agriculture, engineering, materials, ethics, and law. However, as with any emerging technology, nanotechnology has set off a number of discussions on its toxicity and, hence, impact on the environment. This has led to the setting up of regulatory bodies all over the globe to supervise the research and commercial applications of nanotechnology as well as to deal with the potential risk that nanotechnology poses to our environment.
Beneficial Applications of Nanotechnology
Nonetheless, nanotechnology has proved beneficial for the sustenance of our environment in numerous ways. One such application, according to Tina Masciangioli, is the use of nanotechnology to make more efficient water purification systems. By using advanced materials for filtration nanotechnology has the potential to make a tremendous positive impact on the long-term availability and quality of water resources. It is also possible, by the use of advanced nanosensors, to detect chemical and biological contamination in the environment (including the hydrosphere) even at very minute concentrations. Moreover, there is a vast amount of ongoing research on the possibility of using nanotechnology to completely eliminate the hazardous materials that remain behind in water systems due to the chemical processes that are currently used for water purification.
For instance, nanoparticles of iron are already being used extensively for end-of-pipe management and pollution cleanup in groundwater systems. Iron is known to chemically reduce contaminants in the environment but the use of nanosized particles further enhances its reactivity. This is essentially because the nanosized particles can access difficult areas more easily. The process can be further improved by coupling iron with other metals such as palladium on the nanoscale.
Nanosized particles of zinc oxide are also used widely for the development of greener pollution treatment processes. The minute particles of zinc oxide function dually as both sensors and catalysts. First, the presence of organic pollutants is detected by looking for changes in the visible emission signals. The zinc oxide particles then oxidize the pollutants by photocatalysis and reduce them into more environmentally friendly compounds. The benefit of using nanotechnology over other methods of purification is the dual sensor functionality of the nanoparticles being used. As a consequence …
The Many Ways I Use the IPad with My Twins
Parenting twin toddlers is an adventure. A simple trip to a restaurant for a family meal can turn into a show stopping, tantrum that leaves you running for your life for the car with your dinner boxed up. Toddlers need to be entertained at this young age. They are sponges and love to learn new things. They also take to the technology of an iPad far more quickly than most adults! It is quite amazing how content twin toddlers are when a cartoon is playing or they are engaged in a learning game. I’ve eaten out more often since we purchased our iPad and it has become one of my most coveted parenting tools.
The technology around iPad’s and tablets gives parents a tool to encourage, inspire, teach and entertain their children. We have been using the tablet for a great deal of learning. We have been teaching the kids a second language since they turned three. The iPad has a number of apps that we use to reinforce what we are teaching and help build vocabulary. We also use the tablets to learn how to write letters. We have found that holding a pencil poses some dexterity problems when writing letters. However, they are able to write nearly every letter when using their fingertip.
The technology of an iPad also allows us to entertain our toddlers in a variety of ways. Our iPad is always brought with us when we dine out, have to wait for a long time at a doctor’s office or even a trip in the car. We use this as a parenting tool and reward system when out. Good behavior will result in our toddlers being able to choose a movie. It is wonderful to use the internet and online video services that allow kids to pick a variety of programs. Dinner out has never been easier. I find that using the iPad to entertain has allowed us to enjoy meals out without tantrums, fussiness or boredom.
Finally, we use the iPad and Apple technology to communicate with loved ones who live far away to make sure we are allowing our children to connect to our family. An important part of parenting for us is making sure we keep our strong family bonds. This includes using the iPad and our iPhones when one of us must travel for business to make sure we tuck our kids in at night. Facetime and Skype are easily used with the iPad and smartphones. This technology allows us to always have access to our kids and can always feel close to home.…
In recent years, call centers have developed a reputation for being the last resort when you’re reaching out to a business. Between the utility of the Internet and the call center’s notoriety for both robotic telephone operators and being put on hold, consumers typically turn to other options. In many cases, these problems arise due to lack of experience on running a call center and not having the proper tools to take care of it.
The way to creating an efficient, useful call center is with the right services. That means it should have the ability to cooperate with your existing technological infrastructure. The system should be scalable considering any business would desire to grow, and this includes on a global scale. Similarly, the system should be flexible so as to be able to integrate changes as the business evolves over time.
Frequently, what these call center companies provide is software as a service (Saas). An example of this is Echopass, which provides cloud-based contact center solutions. These services are designed for large enterprises that run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Of particular importance is that these software services are designed to save costs.
Other key factors to look for in a contact center solution geared toward the future is the ability to interact on multiple platforms. That means moving beyond traditional phone lines into the digital realm and smartphones. Having the system based in the cloud makes these solutions possible aside from being more flexible while enhancing the experience of customers.
This also allows the system to be updated easily so there’s little concern for the system going out of date. Also, in the event of an emergency, the contact center can be recovered much more easily because it isn’t generated locally. The call center of the future operates on these principles and is of incredible use to both the IT professional running the system and the business professional opting to employ this system rather than what has traditionally been in use.
A call center is a great way to keep in touch with your customers, but the current state of contact centers need to be more focused on the future. Cloud-based SaaS centers are more scalable for the future and put you in closer contact with your customers because the important thing is the business itself and making the customer happy. With an efficient system in place, you don’t have to think about the contact center and can be confident customers are being assisted.…
New Technology Street Sign Draws a Lot of Attention
A technology company called simply Breakfast, has created one of the most innovative and crowd pleasing billboards ever, and has installed it in a storefront window in Manhattan, drawing crowds, who have responded like never before. EndGadget says the sign was created for television network TNT to advertise a new television show called “Perceptions” staring Eric McCormack, best known as Will in the popular sitcom Will and Grace. TechInvestorNews, says the new billboard ups the ante for all other organizations who advertise via signs. It can be seen in action in a video posted on YouTube.
The genius of the sign, says EndGadget is that it takes advantage of a natural narcissistic bent inherent in most everyone. To take advantage of that the sign makers hooked up sensors (Microsoft Kinect devices) that are able to record movement. That movement is then translated to mimicking movement on the sign, erasing words in the process that are constantly being redrawn. The result is similar to looking in a mirror except that the image that is shown back to the person in front of the sign is drawn using digital black and white dots.
TechInvestorNews says that the engineers at Breakfast took advantage of existing technology and applied some of their own to allow the dots to switch between black and white quickly enough so that there wouldn’t be any delay, or ghosting. The result is a board that mimics movement in real time, in a splashy fun, and exciting way.
In the video, the people behind the creation of the sign explain that it took a lot of work to figure out how to get the sign to respond just right and that moving it from their facility to the Manhattan site was a challenge all by itself, requiring custom-made boxes and a lot of finger crossing. Thus far, the work appears to have paid off as the sign is a hit both on the streets of New York and on the Internet where both official videos and those taken by people passing by have gone viral. Also of note in the video are some clues behind how the sign works. An entire bank of circuit boards sits behind the screen, each for a designated part of the screen. A single processor then works like an orchestra conductor handing off different parts to the different processors as they become necessary. The end result is a seamless display that will likely become a fixture of modern electronic advertising.…
I am generally a pretty “connected” person. I didn’t grow up that way – had there been more than the six channels on TV at the time, or even the prevalence of kids programming that exists today, I might have spent even more of my time in front of the boob tube than I did. Had anything like Playstation or Wii existed when I was a kid, it is very likely I would never have left my own house. Phones were attached to walls – and were really only good for talking on anyway. Arcades existed to play games, but they were always smoky dives populated with big, loud, scary teenagers, so it was rare that I could eschew “real” activity for the virtual as a child.
Sure, digital activities did take up increasingly more and more of my life – even with six TV channels there were enough cartoons and sitcoms that I was able to glue myself to the screen for hours on end. Pong, Atari and the Commodore 64 changed my life as I entered my tweens, bringing simplistic yet distracting games right into my home. As I moved on to true teenager status I found myself in those same smoky, dingy arcades (and Laundromats and the backs of bodegas) pouring quarters into the machines that could offer real graphic excitement and social game play (even if that social aspect was merely trying to guess whose initials those were next to the Top Score).
With my kids now, everything is different. And while my wife and I tried to control how our kids would be exposed to certain entertainment technologies, even those have changed since we brought our first son into the world a little over seven years ago. Smartphones, iPads and Nintendo DS systems all allow our kids access to things that we had thought would only be accessed through our computer, or Playstation, just a few years back.
Of course the kids want to play games – the world is a game to kids, and even the most serious activities can become some game in their own minds. This drive on their part certainly makes certain parenting things easier, or harder. Discipline, for example, is quite simple – “no iPad for a week” is a standard enough punishment, and after the kids have to forgo all of the iterations of Angry Birds for a few days they do seem a bit more contrite. Reward, too, is easy enough – a new game for the DS or even renting a movie at Blockbuster can be a real motivator for these two little video-addicts.
I can be pretty confident taking my kids places, knowing that if they start to get bored I can sit them down with my phone and let them amuse themselves for a while – if not playing games then watching YouTube videos, making their own little movies (almost always comprised of them as superheroes, fighting imaginary bad guys) or even doing a video …
In the middle of the 1990s, the newest trend in consumer electronics was the personal computer; though this was just barely 20 years ago, the computers of that age are now considered bulky, unsightly and beyond useless. Slowly, as time moves on, the latest fad in consumer electronics moves with it. In the late 90s, it was the graphical version of the Windows operating system, then the laptop personal computer. Then it was the first cellular phones, which in the early years of the new millennium became small enough to fit into your pocket, although they still lacked color screens. Then of course came the camera and smartphone and the mobile device revolution; suddenly the most popular luxury was to have access to the internet ‘anywhere’ via cellular data, be it on a mobile device or personal computer. And finally, as we roll up into the present, suddenly it seems like everybody is interested in making and owning tablet computers.
Of course, it makes sense that the technology world isn’t static. Moore’s law means that, for the time being, even the most advanced technology we have right now will be just as out dated in two years as current two-year-old technology is now. So it may make sense that different fads pass in and out of the consumer electronics market as new technologies are developed. When cell phones first were developed, they became popular because we were first able to make them, right? And isn’t the same true about tablets now; they are just beginning to become popular because the technology to make them is just being developed? Contrary to popular belief, neither of these statements is true.
What is considered the latest technology in terms of popularity is rarely the cutting edge or the most advanced technology available. On the contrary, the most recent example, tablet computers, are actually a step backwards technologically, although in the public eye they are usually considered new and trendy. This is important to keep in mind trying to keep track of what the real advancements in the computing world have been, and when trying to objectively assess how good a price is for a specific piece of hardware, despite what may be popular or unpopular at the time.…
Technology is the backbone of businesses throughout the United States and the world. Computers, software, wireless devices and Internet-based tools such as cloud-based storage and virtual meeting applications are helping businesses move at lightning speed. Technology helps small businesses compete with large businesses by making them able to respond to changes in the marketplace at a much quicker rate. In addition, technology can increase employee productivity and efficiency, which can greatly benefit the bottom line of any business.
What can technology do for your business?
As mentioned above, technology offers several key operational benefits. But that’s just the start. Technology can help your small business remain up-to-date and be perceived as forward thinking. Your customers and vendors will appreciate the technological advances you add to your company because it will ultimately benefit them. Things such as order fulfillment and tracking, shipping, turnaround time and communication can be greatly enhanced and improved with the right technology equipment. This helps provide a positive brand experience for today’s most demanding customers and vendor partners.
Technology eliminates barriers
Remember the days when you had to catch a plane in order to make client presentations or meet with companies who might want to sell your product or service? Well, thanks to today’s advances in web-based technology, it is now possible to conduct important meetings without ever leaving your office. Real-time webinar meetings pack the same power as in-person meetings, and they allow you to save time and money in the process. If you’re a small business owner, this is great news, especially if you can’t afford to be out of the office for a few days.
Technology helps reduce business expenses
Technology equipment that is available in every business sector is designed to reduce errors and increase speed and efficiency, and it all adds up to a reduction in business expenses. Here are some of the many other technologies that can help improve your efficiency while preserving your working capital:
• Email Communications
• Computer Hardware
• On-Site Data Storage Equipment
• Web-Based Storage (Cloud-Based Storage)
• Accounting Software
• Sales Management Software
• Inventory Software
• Business Software
• Office Imaging Equipment
Technology will continue to evolve and present even greater opportunities for businesses to achieve short and long-term success. Business owners that embrace these advances are better poised for growth and increased market share.…
For consumers concerned with vehicle safety, 2012 is a great year.
One topic that is becoming increasingly important in the United States, is reducing the danger associated with distracted driving by integrating new and improved technology.
Several key features are being introduced in 2012, many of which are becoming industry standards, that were aimed directly at keeping the driver focused on operating the vehicle instead of performing other tasks that contribute to distraction on the road.
Technology is at the forefront of helping to solve this issue both in the United States and throughout the world.
Among the specific points of interest are voice-recognition systems, lane-drifting prevention measures, and warning systems that give fatigued or distracted drivers an alert when there is a potential collision.
Effectively, the goal is to make drivers better behind the wheel.
Manufacturers such as Kia don’t believe that safety should be compromised because of price and is offering its primary safety features standard on all models in 2012. There also seems to be an awareness that the more drivers take their eyes off the road, the greater the danger of an accident.
One of the remedies is the use of features that put critical information directly in front of the driver without sacrificing visibility. BMW is using a head-up display, or HUD, in order to ensure that drivers are not diverting their attention away from the driving task. The HUD displays information such as vehicle speed, weather conditions, and navigation information. This is the same technology seen in military aircraft.
Dodge has integrated some of the features of its navigation system, namely turn-by-turn directions, into the primary control panel of the vehicle to avoid the need to look to the side and downward, away from the road.
With the consensus that change is needed in the industry, it is clear that companies are proactive with respect to sharing the important message of driving safety. There are clearly preventable accidents that technology may be able to stop from happening if these features are utilized and become more widespread.
The 2012 Washington Auto Show was a great forum for progress, and the future looks promising for even more advances in automobile safety moving forward.…