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Looking Back At CES 2020

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Recently held technology trade show CES 2020 had yet another feat in showcasing the bizarre lengths that gadgets go to in co-existing with humans. From being extra hands of convenience to being downright cool inventions, summed up below is an honest review of the stage we’re at in technology now.

Of Course, Robots

Right, $17,000 robot torso Reachy and Samsung’s Bot Chef could lend a hand in the kitchen during peak hours, but can we trust them with knives? Also, if these robots wish to help out, they’re not supposed to be given the what-are-you-exactly look, right? Well, if Wall-E directors were hiring, some of these robots would never cut it – we’re looking at robot-cat-server BellaBot, Samsung’s Ballie, headless furball Petit Qoobo, and worm-pal Clicbot here. Bionic kitty MarsCat, however, is on the “aww!” side of the spectrum.

We’re Not In The Sims, Are We?

10-second brushing with FasTeesH’s electronic toothbrush Y-Brush might disprove the claim that we’re not in a virtual reality; Oral-B’s Genius X AI toothbrush, on the other hand, is keeping us at bay.

But hey, playing tunes while showering has gotten easier with the Kohler Moxie Showerhead’s built-in Bluetooth speakers. Rollbot, too, is the robot we never knew we needed during toilet emergencies with its to-the-rescue tissue rolls after you once again forget to restock.

We Have More Floating Screens Now

Bezels this year are slowly veering from the spotlight as more devices dive in the trend of bigger screens. We got Samsung’s almost entirely screen QN50TS 8K TV with nearly a 99% screen-to-body ratio. HP’s Spectre x360 15, too, is playing the same game in the laptop category with its 90% ratio.

The Future Was Foreseen

If sleep is a major problem to some, CES 2020 revealed a device that can detect heartbeat irregularities as well as sleep apnea with the Withings ScanWatch. To aid that, brain training solution URGONight headband was introduced to improve sleep quality. Problem from the past and solved by the future.

On another note, the BMW i Interaction EASE demonstrated the future of mobility with its two-seater, autonomous driving vehicle. Cars are still bulky, alright, but remember the movie Wall-E where humans were glued to hoverchairs and almost all activity were done seated? Well, Segway’s S-Pod just brought that vision to life.

TVs Have Gotten More Interesting

Surely, YouTube videos on TV is a thing most people do now and Samsung was quite observant enough, perhaps, to unveil its auto-rotating Sero TV that apparently rotates depending on the videos you’re watching. Binging TikTok compilations? The Sero TV knows. However, if you’re more into immersive displays, the Looking Glass just beamed its 8K holographic display that solves your hassle when it comes to 3D glasses.

Laptops: The Most Awe

With the world’s first laptop with built-in Tile tracker HP’s Elite Dragonfly G2; Samsung’s ultra-light Galaxy Chromebook; and the world’s first foldable PC, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, stunned for sure was the tech-savvy crowd of CES 2020.

Another entry from Lenovo, theThinkBook Plus, has an added E-ink display that gives you a glance at your priority emails and notifications, but if security is an issue, it can still be turned off. Meanwhile, the gamers can wow at the addition of the AniMe Matrix to the Asus Rog Zephyrus G14’s display.

Focused On Gaming Legacies

Sony’s PlayStation 5 made the news, yes, but other games like My Arcade’s Super Retro Champ obviously took care of their roots. On another news, Arcade1Up brought in new cabinets, like NBA Jam, limited edition Burger Time, pinball-reminiscent Attack from Mars, and Star Wars. Even Atari made a comeback with its announcement of the new VCS’ soon release.

Following the continuous improvement and innovation of technology, enthusiasts can always stay rather hopeful for what’s in store for this year and what the next ones will be launching. If this year hasn’t matched with your preferences and hopes just yet, keep in mind that it’s technology – almost nothing is impossible with it.

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Google CEO On AI: Regulation Of Artificial Intelligence Is Needed

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With the fast-advancing technology we have today, there has been much improvement in the way we things work in our daily lives. However, there has also been much controversy about how such advanced technologies like AI can be easily abused. Sundar Pichai of Google speaks up about his stand about artificial intelligence.  

Sundar Pichai, Alphabet and Google CEO said in a recent interview that there’s a need for artificial intelligence to be regulated. He emphasized the importance of having such a regulation. Pichai acknowledged that AI is useful and powerful but argues that there is a need to balance the potential harms of AI with social opportunities. As to what this “balance” should be and how tight the suggested regulation ought to be is vague.

Pichai gave examples on some areas of AI development such as health tech and self-driving cars and said that those require tailored rules. He didn’t specifically comment on the White House’s stand and the regulatory principles it proposed nor the EU’s plan on banning facial recognition for the next five years. 

The Google CEO emphasized the value and potential of AI while also mentioning its potential dangers. He gave examples of the misuse of deep fakes. These are computer-generated clips designed to make them look authentic. 

Nevertheless, what Pichai is clear about is to have the international community to be able to reach an agreement regarding the regulatory issues as a key step. It’s possible that he’s also suggesting the internal handling of AI by Alphabet as a guideline for this. 

The CEO said that the systems and rules that the company set in plays help in avoiding bias. The privacy and safety of the people are its priority. However, there’s room for debate on how successful Alphabet has been with this endeavor. 

Back in 2019, Google introduced an independent ethics board. However, the ethics board was shut down in just less than two weeks. It was because of the controversy regarding those who had been appointed to the board. 

Pichai added that the company won’t be deploying AI that will be supporting violations of human rights as well as mass surveillance. Unlike other competitors of Google, the company doesn’t sell software for facial recognition which has a high potential for abuse. But there are still serious concerns about Google and threats to human rights violations. 

Among the points raised by Pichai is that if the principles continue to remain just on paper, they will be meaningless. Yes, there is a need for AI to be regulated. But as important as these regulations, there should also be a regulatory body that has the power and authority to enforce them. There need to be significant consequences for those who abuse such tools. Maybe then, there will be a difference. 

Sundar Pichai will be at the World Economic Forum to speak regarding important matters such as AI regulations. The forum will be held in Switzerland this week. Pichai will be there along with Ren Zhengfei of Huawei and Satya Nadella of Microsoft. 

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Navigating The Soon-To-Release Honda E

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As part of Honda’s vision to have electric or hybrid versions of its core European models by 2022 and to have two-thirds of its vehicles electrified by 2030, the Honda E will be eyeing its urban markets with a synonymous price point to the Renault Zoe and 40 kWh Leaf. This stylish, higher-tech EV rivals other EVs with its infotainment options housed in an original Civic-inspired body, however only running with a smaller 35.5 kWh battery, which Honda defends is apt enough for urban driving while keeping the car’s weight, efficiency, and sportiness.

Honda personalized its Urban-inspired concept with more rounded head and tail lights and a higher-riding seating. It kept intact the pop-out door handles and cameras-as-mirrors in smoothing out the E’s aerodynamics.

The Honda E’s charging port is located atop the hood, covered, which you can pop with a remote or your own phone. Its trunk is spacious enough for a few grocery bags or for short weekend getaways. Its bold interior is adorned with furniture fabrics and faux wood accents, and comes with an HDMI input jack to plug in your Chromecast dongles.

“Our interior designer wanted to create a space that’s like a living room, with a sofa and TV,” Takahiro Shinya, head of dynamic performance for the Honda E, noted. “That’s to ensure that this car is not only comfortable for when you’re driving, but also when you’re charging. We wanted it to let people use it almost as a private room.”

The Honda E will be unveiled in the UK in two models: the E and the E Advance. Both come with 232-foot-pounds of torque, weigh 3,086 pounds, and are rear-wheel drive vehicles, with the base E model packing a 134-horsepower electric motor and the Advance with 152 horsepower. Comparing the E to Renault’s rival Zoe, the E weighs less yet has more torque than Zoe’s 180-foot-pounds.

The E’s dashboard has two 6-inch side screens for the mirrors, an 8.8-inch driver info display, and two 12.3-inch touch-screens at the center for the driver and the shotgun passenger.

Putting the wheels in motion

On a 60-mile trip on varying Valencia landscapes, both wet and dry, the Honda E showed exceptional performance even after quite an overwhelming glance at its infotainment systems in the beginning. The infotainment ergonomics of the Honda E allows you toggle physical buttons located on the steering wheel and dash if you choose to operate old-school instead of depending on touch displays. A classic volume knob can also be found in the middle of the console.

Entertainment wise, the E’s navigation app supports both Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay while still giving you access to various apps like Honda’s Aha radio.  Additionally, quite reminiscent of Sony’s Vision-S concept car at CES 2020, the Honda E’s screen-swapping feature between the driver and the passenger incorporates more convenience.

While the features are already impressive, the drive goes on accelerations that fit city scooting and highway driving. The E has an independent suspension with MacPherson struts on each wheel and a perfect 50:50 weight distribution that allows it to corner with minimal body lean. Also, its 14.1-feet radius gives it a very tight turning circle that can outturn the Fiat 500 and most small cars.

The E’s braking energy recovery system also lets you have maximum control. The center console’s button enables the single pedal control that brings the car to a complete stop when you lift off the gas. The side paddles then help you control the level of energy recovery, from minimal to aggressive braking.

The side cameras give a clearer view while also reducing blind spots. The problem, however, is if the electronics malfunction, you’re left with a blank, unusable screen – far worse than a broken mirror. The rearview mirror, on the other hand, is backed by a physical, regular mirror other than its rear-mounted camera.

The Honda E’s intelligent driving system is powered by Honda’s sensing tech that uses radar and high resolution wide-angle cameras, that in the event of a far lean to an edge, the road departure mitigation system lets the steering wheel nudge the vehicle back into place. Akin to the Civic and other recent Honda models, the automatic braking also minimizes collisions with pedestrians and cars with its adaptive cruise control, road sign detection, lane keep assist, automatic high beams and more. Being the high-tech car that it is, the E also has a Parking Pilot that lets you select a desired vacancy and automatically parks into parallel, diagonal, lined, or parking garage spaces. If it goes amiss, the brake can stop and resume the process.

On the tradeoff, the Honda E only has the WLTP electric range at 137 miles on a single charge, down to a 20 percent battery life after the 60-mile cross-country trip. It, however, supports up to 100 kW chargers, with such juicing the E from zero to 80 percent in 30 minutes, and more common fast chargers, such as a 50 kW, taking merely a couple minutes longer.

The Verdict

Although the Honda E sadly falls short in terms of range and battery size as compared to its Renault Zoe competitor with a 50 kWh battery (and a 242-mile WLPT range), Shinya believes that urban buyers won’t find the range as a huge factor that matters for commutes.

The Honda E will sell at a base price of £26,160 ($34,200) with the E Advance starting at £28,660 ($37,500), including the £3,500 government rebate. It arguably is more expensive than the Renault Zoe at £25,670 or around $33,600 (including a £3,500 rebate) but cheaper than the 40 kWh Leaf at £26,345 ($34,400).

Shinya defended when talking about the E’s design, “We needed to provide buyers with a vehicle that, at a glance, is something different,” he said. “We don’t want you to feel like you just have a different motor, but that you have bought something which is completely new, completely ‘next-generation’.”

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New Medical Bed Inspired By Star Trek Makes X-Rays More Affordable

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Do you know that X-ray scans are not easily available for two-thirds of people on the planet? This is the reality for many according to the World Health Organization It’s because the machines themselves are very expensive. Also, conventional x-ray machines need a lot of energy to function. Millions of dollars are needed to keep patients safe. There are many people who suffer diseases that could have been preventable and treatable if only they were detected earlier. 

One company wants to change that by developing a piece of new medical equipment for early disease detection. Recently, Nanox introduced a new medical bed called Nanox.Arc. It is an X-ray machine that makes you recall the biobed from Star Trek. This new medical equipment is said to be more affordable at just five-digit figures. Nanox is a medical imaging company based in Israel. 

The X-ray machines use analog techniques and bulky, rotating tubes are necessary for it to work. With Nanox, the technology is advanced with its digital system. The components it uses are also much smaller and more cost-efficient. The only moving part of this new machine is the gantry which holds the X-ray ring for scanning various parts of the body. 

The business model that the company employs is also different. They’re not asking customers outright to buy the machines. Instead, Nanox is offering the machines on a “pay-per-scan” basis. The company also offers AI-based cloud services and analysis to hospitals and clinics. This may mean recurring costs but if compared to purchasing the machine, it would be much more affordable. 

Nanox has not yet announced when the new Star Trek-inspired scanner will become available. However, the company hopes to provide about 15,000 units soon. As to how soon that will be, it’s still indefinite for now. 

The company has received extra funding of $26 million from Foxconn which is an electronics company based in Taiwan. Other funds also came from SK Telecom, Fujifilm and a number of private investors.

The funds are said to be used to support further development and commercialization, as well as the deployment of this revolutionary medical equipment. The Nanox System is comprised of the Nanox.Arc and the Nanox.Cloud which is the software that is to be used for providing medical imaging services end-to-end. 

The services that Nanox will be providing include radiologist matching, image repository, offline and online diagnostics annotation and review, billing, reporting, and connectivity to diagnostic assistive AI systems. 

With the Nanox System, there is hope for improvement in the affordability and accessibility of medical services for early detection of diseases. The company envisions deploying the machines worldwide. Nanox plans to collaborate with clinic chains, hospitals, and governments as a way to enter into the global market. 

The goal of the company is clear. It wants to be able to provide everyone with an X-ray scan annually as a way to prevent medical issues. Ideally, the scanner can spot problems like cancer early enough so that people will be able to get effective treatments. 

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