Rounding up IT and advanced tech-related news impacting government and industry
The Newest Wearable Tech: Tattoos
A tattoo-like skin-based sensor developed by scientists at the University of Texas at Austin can monitor biometrics, including heart, brain and muscle activity. It’s called the Graphene Electrical Tattoo, or GET, and it’s made of 2-D sheets of carbon atoms and attaches to a temporary tattoo-like device. It’s lightweight but about 200 times stronger than steel, biodegradable and transparent, allowing it to be worn for longer periods of time than other sensors.
So far, GET successfully mimicked electrocardiograms, electromyograms and electroencephalogram tests, and can monitor skin temperature and hydration. If the tattoo makes its way into the mainstream medical marketplace, it could reduce the need for large and expensive machines, like blood pressure monitors. Motherboard
Is Big Tech Becoming a Threat?
Big tech companies and their platforms are perceived as being (and pose as) neutral marketplaces, but journalist Franklin Foer says when they have their own things to sell, they opt for special advantages. For example, when Google started hosting its own user reviews of restaurants, those became more prominent on the search engine than Yelp reviews.
Foer also explains how tech companies’ algorithms are not impartial, as the systems are devised and written to give certain information above others (Facebook is loading your News Feed with videos right now, and media platforms invest to up viewership and readership, for example). There seems to be a lack of regulation to limit the influence of tech companies on citizens, resulting in citizens having to depend on these companies without even realizing it. NPR
Improving Driverless Cars with Superhuman Senses
For self-driving vehicles to perceive the world’s surroundings even better than human drivers do (to eliminate crashes), they’ll need superhuman senses. Most are already testing cameras, radars and lidar laser systems, but to detect pedestrians from hundreds of feet away, an Israeli startup is exploring heat-detecting infrared cameras.
The company AdaSky wants to offer automakers Viper, a long-distance infrared camera with a computer vision system. The cameras and sensors used today don’t work well at night, in bright sunlight, or with rain, fog and dust. Small but superreflective metal objects can also confuse current radar systems. So Viper, along with other new and evolving technologies, aims to improve that visibility – and make AVs safer. Wired
The Dangers of a Big Facial Biometric Database
Facial recognition tech is used for unlocking phones to tracking criminals, and with more tech companies relying on the concept, it has the potential to go mainstream. But what happens when the large volume of facial biometrics data is used with an imperfect system? In other words, how can this go wrong? And how can tech companies help prepare or prevent the dangers?
Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist for the Center for Democracy and Technology, says biometrics isn’t a full authentication factor because facial details can be changed and they’re easy to capture and spoof. So, an image of someone’s face can be used to gain authorized access. It could even lead to dark web services offering details about people based on facial patterns – and these are only a couple of the many concerns. Gizmodo
No, We Haven’t Given Up on Flying Cars
Companies around the world are prototyping flying cars to one day make all of our “Back to the Future” wishes come true. Most recently, Lilium, the maker of white winged pods that take off vertically, scored $90 million in investments for its electric-powered jets that could be used as urban air-taxis and ride-sharing services.
Lilium is joined in the flying car market by various other companies, too. Airbus is also hoping to improve urban transit, and Uber hired a NASA researcher for its vertical venture called Elevate, but is working with air traffic control and regulators before diving in too deep. Another, Aeromobil, plans to deliver its first models in 2020. The Guardian