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  • User experience and the IoT: tech should be all about humans

    I remember reading about the Twittering Ferries a few years ago. This story captured my imagination and I started to explore the Internet of Things (IoT) in more detail. IoT, in essence, allows ‘Machines to speak to Machines’ (M2M), provide instruction, feedback on status, and even process artificial intelligence. The reason the Twittering Ferries intrigued me, however, was not the M2M relationship, but rather the fact that the code behind Twittering Ferries created a means where machines were now talking to people. They used social media to facilitate communication to human beings. This has been my interest point over the...

  • Arizona State University finds a way to control drones using brainwaves

    The brain is a complex processing unit which contains approximately 200-billion neutrons. These neutrons fire thousands of electrical signals per second. As complex as the brain is, we still can't telepathically move things with our minds, until today. Director of Human-Orientated Robotics and Control Lab, Panagiotis Artemiadis who's also the assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter has found a way to successfully control drones using a wireless interface. The controller uses a skull-cap connected to a computer, which is outfitted with 128 electrodes. The cap reads the brainwaves you produce when instructing parts of...

  • Weekly Round Up #70: iPhone Pro dual camera, Xbox One S launch & Pokemon Go

    Welcome to Weekly Roundup, our podcast discussing the latest tech trends, innovation, and news from the last few days. This week Hadlee Simons and Andy Walker talk all things Gear. The two discuss the rumours about an iPhone Pro with a dual camera, a Xiaomi with a dual camera, Apple dropping its 16GB storage version on its smartphones, Xbox One S launch, Pokemon Go's altruistic and selfish side-effects. What are we watching, reading, playing: Both Andy and Hadlee are still playing the same games they were last week. Hadlee has also been on a hunt for podcasts. Tweet of the Week: Melania Trump's...

  • Telkom reveals FreeMe: 6 rather attractive mobile data plans

    Telkom Mobile has announced the launch of its FreeMe mobile plan, offering six tiers of pricing. The pricing itself seems reasonable, but there are a number of surprising perks as well. All plans include free SMS messages (limited to 50 per day), zero-rated WhatsApp/Viber/BBM calls (2GB fair usage policy) and free access to over 6000 WiFi hotspots. The two most expensive plans (20GB and unlimited data) also include free calls to any network - albeit limited to only 1500 and 3000 minutes respectively. The other plans feature free on-network calls only, with a fair usage policy of 3000 minutes. Interestingly enough, the plans...

  • WWF’s new interactive map visualises South Africa’s current water crisis

    South Africa's experiencing one of its worst droughts this side of the millennium, with water levels in storage systems across the country down around 20% over last year. While crop and livestock farmers are struggling in some areas, municipalities are also facing difficulties keeping growing communities hydrated. With that said, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) this week launched its Water Risk Filter interactive data set for South Africa -- an interactive map that allows users to visualize various municipalities' water management situations and risks within South Africa. ICYMI We launched the high resolution #waterrisk maps for South Africa today. Check 'em...

  • 4 viral marketing lessons from the Pokemon Go craze

    If by now you don’t know what Pokemon Go is, you are truly out of touch with digital reality. Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm. In less than a month it has more daily users than Twitter, longer daily time usage than Facebook and more people flicking their fingers through phone screen than Tinder. The game is undoubtedly the most popular mobile phone activity at the moment. But how did Niantic, Nintendo and the Pokemon Company do it? What can we learn about going viral from Pokemon Go? I have discovered four things that have been key to Pokemon...

  • Game of Thrones meets Pokemon in epic, artistic mashup

    You're probably sick of Pokemon Go by now... aren't you? Well then, sit back for some inspired news. Massively talented Deviantart user Sketch BGI (Kaleb Raleigh) has taken the recent Pokemon craze to the next level. Drawing inspiration from Game Of Thrones' house banners, the artist has created bespoke, and rather epic-looking Pokemon for each. For House Stark, we have a wolf-based Pokemon, while Targaryen has a three-headed dragon as its monster, and Tully, a pretty badass fish. You get the point. Sketch BGI has a number of other Pokemon inspired designs, so be sure to check out their page. For now though,...

  • First Person podcast’s latest episode explores BDSM, sexual empowerment

    Human interest podcasts have really taken off since the likes of NPR's Serial captured listeners back in early 2015. But while Serial focused on a specific person's predicament for an entire season, South Africa's First Person podcast is reworking this format to a more acute and local degree. First Person podcast is the brainchild of Kagiso Media, journalist Marianne Thamm and producer Jayne Morgan. The half-an-hour weekly cast focuses on seemingly ordinary South Africans who harbour curious, tabooed and captivating secrets. And I mean captivating. The podcast's first episode is a good example. Launched late June, it tells the story of...

  • Facebook Messenger now has one billion monthly users worldwide

    Facebook Messenger has hit the one-billion monthly active user milestone, just two months after reaching 900-million monthly active users. The announcement sees two Facebook-owned apps (the other being WhatsApp) achieve this user milestone. Facebook has revealed that more than 17-billion photos are shared every month via Messenger, more than 22-million animated GIFs are sent a day, and during Mother's Day, users sent about 300-million flower stickers. Facebook has been investing heavily on Messenger not only as a messaging platform between friends, but between users and businesses. The company claims that over one-billion messages are now shared between users and companies every...

  • Liverpool to livestream friendly football match on YouTube in 360 degrees

    Liverpool might not've had a stellar campaign in the last Premier League football season, but the club is at least spending time on new technologies to entertain its fans. In its latest exploits, the club will broadcast its friendly match tonight against Huddersfield Town in full 360 degrees on YouTube. Accoring to a press release, the camera "will allow users to control the view of the camera from the halfway line and look around the field of view or behind at the fans." It'll also be accompanied by commentary from LFCTV. Related: 7 gorgeous 360 degree videos that will ignite your wanderlust "We...

  • Neymar vs Mark Zuckerberg: it’s the Facebook Messenger keepy-uppy challenge

    Don't look now folks, but celebrities are now challenging one other to something that doesn't involve ice water -- the Keepy Uppy Challenge. Based on a game on Facebook Messenger (inspired by the recent Euro 2016 Championships), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently challenged actual Brazilian and Barcelona footballer Neymar to a game of digital keepy-uppy. Neymar, this week, accepted. In real life, the winner would be a foregone conclusion, but on Facebook Messenger, Mark Zuckerberg is a bit of a Keepy Uppy master. Neymar posted his attempt to Instagram this week, and the video has since garnered over 1.2-million views. Aceitei o desafio...

  • Mere mortals can now apply for a verified Twitter account

    Twitter has announced that anyone can now apply to have their Twitter account verified. Prior to this, users had to be famous and wield influence in specific fields to have this honour bestowed on them. There was also no way to apply for verification. While users can now apply, Twitter does not guarantee approval. The account, according to the company, will only be verified if it is determined to be of public interest. To request an account to be verified, users need to fill out a form and provide a verified phone number, confirmed email address, bio, profile photo, header photo,...

  • Netflix sees drop in user growth, a sign of things to come?

    Streaming colossus Netflix has announced its earnings for the second quarter of 2016, revealing user growth below expectations. In a letter to shareholders, the company confirmed that it wasn't growing as fast as it wanted to. "We grew by 1.7 million members in Q2 finishing with over 83 million members. This is below our forecast of 2.5 million net new members and our prior year Q2 net additions of 3.3 million," the company wrote. Netflix largely blamed the loss on moving so-called grandfathered users (subscribers who were still on older, cheaper price plans) to the updated plans. "We think some members perceived the news...

  • So much yes: ever see someone do a ‘backflip quadruple tailwhip’?

    I remember playing games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX and laughing at the absurdity of some tricks. "Yeah, right. Like a 720 double backflip is remotely possible!" I'd say. Well, the inaugural Nitro World Games event saw a ton of ridiculous tricks being pulled off, including a backflip quadruple tailwhip by Kurtis Downs. For the uninitiated, this means a backflip (of course) and during said backflip, the bike's rotated around the handlebars four times. All this in mid-air. Back flip 4 whip! Other ridiculous tricks include a double frontflip on a dirt bike and some ridiculous stuff on BMX bikes...

  • MomConnect Facebook Messenger chatbot launches at Durban AIDS conference

    At this week's 21st International AIDS Conference held in Durban, the Praekelt Foundation introduced a new Facebook Messenger chatbot integrated with the SA Department of Health's MomConnect service. The bot will allow an inexpensive way for mothers, nurses and child-health workers to access vital information at a seemingly lower rate than sending in an SMS. Praekelt Foundation was founded in 2007 and makes use of simplistic technologies to provide information to citizens of low-income countries. According to World Wide Worx, a quarter of South Africans currently use Facebook, this meant that 13-million South Africans currently use the site while 77% access...