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Future Tech

  • Spree adds AI-powered image search to iOS app

    Online retailer Spree has today announced an app feature that allows users to find clothing items that are similar to uploaded images. Available now on the iOS app version, the retailer says it's the first in Africa to offer the feature that employs "the latest artificial intelligence technologies". The move, Spree explains, is a bid to remain ahead of disruptive trends in the retail industry. "Searching for items with photos and images saves consumers from having to type keyword combinations, which is especially challenging on mobile devices," Spree's head of customer experience Sven Schoof, explains. "In a world where words are commonly replaced...

  • Interview: Botpress’ Justin Watson explains ‘the WordPress of bots’

    The second Botcon Africa conference took place last month in Cape Town, delivering a number of insightful talks from leaders in the field of bots, AI and more. One of the more interesting companies was Botpress, which joins the likes of Chatfuel as being an emerging bot development platform. We interviewed founder Justin Watson, covering comparisons to Wordpress, what's missing from bot development and more. During his talk at the event, Watson touched on a variety of features/functions missing from today's bot systems. "There's probably not enough integration of the graphical elements," Watson told Memeburn, adding that more graphically rich interfaces are...

  • Cape Town women ‘assaulted’ by Uber driver, ‘threatened’ by SAPS

    Update: Upon request for comment, Uber's representatives sent Memeburn the following statement. We are deeply committed to the safety of all who use the Uber app. Immediately upon hearing of any situation involving a rider or driver, Uber takes the necessary steps to investigate the allegation and is in contact with both the rider and driver to offer support. Uber has an incident response team who are trained to deal with any critical safety issues and works with the relevant stakeholders in order to resolve any incident with a matter of urgency. We are constantly developing new technologies to ensure safety before,...

  • Watch: US successfully shoots down ICBM in ambitious test

    North Korea is stepping up its nuclear weapons programme, testing ballistic missiles as it seeks to develop a reliable long-range launch carrier. But the United States is making progress in the defense department, having successfully shot down an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) this week. The live-fire test saw the USA's Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system used to detect and intercept the missile. "During the test, an ICBM-class target was launched from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Multiple sensors provided target acquisition and tracking data to the Command, Control, Battle Management and Communication (C2BMC) system. The...

  • NASA’s groundbreaking Parker Solar Probe to visit the Sun in 2025

    As ambitious as Icarus might've been, even he flew a little too close to the Sun. But in the non-fictional world, NASA is planning to do exactly the same. But, you know, replacing those wax wings with a massive heat shield. The Parker Solar Probe, a multi-billion-dollar unmanned mission to the Sun has been made concrete this week, with a timeline and mission outline. The probe, renamed in honour of astrophysicist Eugene Parker, will travel to the Sun, and try extremely hard to not burst into flames. It will be aided by a fat carbon-composite heat shield that'll allow the craft to...

  • South Africa’s nSight1 nanosatellite makes history 300km above the Earth

    South Africa's first privately-owned nanosatellite dubbed the nSight1 has been successfully launched into orbit from the International Space Station (ISS). The nSight1 began its journey to the space station on 18 April 2017 from Florida, aboard a Cygnus cargo spacecraft powered by an Atlus-5 rocket. It joined 28 other nanosatellites from 23 countries on its journey. South Africa's government news agency suggests that the satellite weighs in at just 2.5kg, and is the first privately-owned nanosatellite launched by the country. "The satellite is an important milestone, demonstrating the outcome of the capability established through the Department of Science and Technology's ongoing investment...

  • BotCon Africa 2017: 8 tips for crafting a good chatbot

    The second BotCon event took place in Cape Town this week, tackling all things chatbot, of course. The event saw talks from the likes of Facebook, Botpress and many other players in the bot/natural language/AI sectors. It's still a burgeoning field though, so best practices and other tips are relatively few and far between. However, attendees had plenty of advice nonetheless. Does your business actually need a bot though? Retro Rabbit's Riana Smit and Francois Scheffer said you should ask yourself what you want to achieve by building a bot. Do you want an additional channel of communications? Are you trying to reduce costs? The...

  • Uber, Snapchat giving custom filters to riders in African markets

    Great news for you antisocial riders who never bother chatting to your Uber drivers. The transportation company has today announced a collaboration with Snapchat, which allows riders to "personalize their riding experience" using a number of custom filters. "Riders will be able to have a little extra fun by unlocking custom Snapchat filters so they can Snap while they ride," the press release continues. These custom filters include ETA filters, a number of custom Uber ride filters and a mystery filter for an "added surprise". 'Riders will be able to have a little extra fun by unlocking custom Snapchat filters so they can...

  • Your company thinking about bots? Check out BotCon Africa

    Who says that Africa isn't on the cutting edge of technology? The continent has earned a reputation for world-leading expertise in mobile money and related sectors, but Africans are also stepping up to the bot challenge. In fact, the second annual BotCon Africa event takes place on 25 May, featuring a pretty high profile list of speakers. Probably the most high-profile speaker on the list is research engineer Martin Raison of Facebook AI Research, with a keynote talk titled "teaching machines to interact with people". Raison originally worked at Wit.ai, a natural language processing platform, before it was bought by the...

  • Uber’s ‘route-based pricing’ system is charging riders more for popular routes

    Uber is charging riders in 14 US cities more for taking popular routes, reports from Bloomberg and Business Insider have found. The majority of UberX's trips are priced on mileage, time and general demand in the area, but some guinea pigs in areas with its carpooling service UberPOOL have found they are being charged more for specific routes. Uber has confirmed this silent test, dubbed 'route-based pricing', claiming that it's separating time-sensitive users (those who use UberX) and price-sensitive users (UberPOOL riders). Whereas the former willingly choose to pay higher rates for private rides directly to their destination, the latter are more concerned with cheaper...

  • Exoskeletons are fast becoming more fact than fiction for US soldiers

    Think exoskeletons in the military and you probably think of sci-fi movies and video games, granting characters almost super-human abilities in the process. But military colossus Lockheed-Martin is actually making the technology a reality, in a sense. The company has revealed the FORTIS Knee Stress Release Device (K-SRD), which hopes to make a soldier's life a little bit easier. So what does it actually do? "It boosts leg capacity for physically demanding tasks that require repetitive or continuous kneeling or squatting, or lifting, dragging, carrying or climbing with heavy loads," read a release on the contractor's website. It's more than just a mechanical...

  • 5 cool Facebook Messenger chatbots for tech news

    Chatbots saw a massive resurgence last year, as Google, Microsoft and Facebook all jumped on the bandwagon. Facebook has been actively encouraging chatbot development with its Messenger platform, recently making it easier for users to find relevant bots. A few tech publications have taken to adopting bots on Messenger too, but which ones are worth using? We've got a few picks for you. Digg One of the original social news websites, Digg pretty much lost its place to reddit several years ago. But the website has re-emerged in recent times, delivering some pretty interesting content in the process. The Digg chatbot is pretty...

  • Is artificial intelligence making the data analyst redundant?

    It is all too apparent that every industry is being radically impacted upon and even deeply disrupted by, digitalisation, while existing and familiar roles are being transformed, making way for new opportunities to emerge. One such role that is being challenged to prove its worth, is the analyst, in no small part due to Big Data, analytics, and the most exciting, cutting edge development at the moment, artificial intelligence. This convergence of forces begs the question: Are analysts no longer needed? Arguing in the affirmative is the fact that machines can process data at speeds that far surpass human capability, and...

  • Watch live: astronauts repair the ISS during historic 200th spacewalk

    Two NASA astronauts are about to embark on the 200th spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS). Peggy Whitson and Jack Fisher are the two lucky Americans who will venture out into the vacuous void to repair a few problems on the ISS's exterior and swap out a few parts. LIVE NOW: @AstroPeggy and @Astro2Fish prepare to venture outside @Space_Station for 6.5 hour #spacewalk. Watch: https://t.co/mzKW5uDsTi pic.twitter.com/4jldGpDMNK — NASA (@NASA) May 12, 2017 For Fisher, it will be his first ever time walking through space, but for 57-year-old Whitson, it's just another day at the office. She broke the record for most days...

  • Climate changers: these are the 5 Singularity U Global Impact Challenge finalists

    Singularity University's Global Impact Challenge (GIC) Southern Africa edition, a competition that encourages innovators, scientists and entrepreneurs from the continent to formulate solutions to some of the world's biggest problems, is nearing its final phase. Final pitches addressing the GIC judges will take place on Wednesday 10 May, and will see five individuals and teams punting their change-making, climate change-beating technologies, innovations and developments. But who are these five finalists? And what makes them, and their innovations, stand out? We take a look at these possible GIC Southern Africa winners in more detail below. Jonathan Lun: mining asteroids for asteroid-sourced rocket fuel Not many...