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Future Tech

  • 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...

  • Award-winning Oculus Story Studio is shutting down

    Oculus Story Studio, the Facebook-owned company's first foray into virtual reality filmmaking, is shutting down. Launched two years ago, the Story Studio aimed to accelerate the growth of virtual reality movies for traditional filmmakers. Critically, it did just that, with the likes of Dear Angelica -- a story of a teenage girl told through a multi-dimensional series of paintings. It was billed by many as the work that virtual reality movies needed. Its previous project, the Elijah Wood-narrated Henry, also won the Emmy Award in 2016 for Outstanding Original Interactive Program. But Oculus believes virtual reality movies no longer need its Studio....

  • California wants to tax spaceflight, based on distance

    Florida is widely seen as the state of choice for spaceflight in the USA, but California also plays host to its fair share of launches. Now, the state is investigating taxes on spaceflight, being based on distance travelled. According to the San Francisco Chronicle (via Ars Technica), California's Franchise Tax Board is seeking public comments on its space tax proposal. But what does the proposal entail? It would see taxes being applied to any company operating in the state that generates at least half its cash from space transportation. The taxes would kick in when flights travel above the Karman line...

  • Cassini’s latest fly-by captures Saturn’s creepy but fascinating surface

    NASA has this week published new images of Saturn's surface taken by its Cassini spacecraft in April. The decade-old craft, embarking on the first stage of it final mission, dipped between the planet's cloudbase and its ring network. Tracking with its wide-angle camera across Saturn's surface, Cassini captured the odd lines and blotches on the gas giant from its north pole to equator. According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the craft captured over an hour of footage. Cassini flew within 7000km of Saturn's cloudbase, capturing the angular lines of its 'hexagon', and its creepy north pole And judging by that footage, Saturn...

  • Samsung’s Bixby disses Apple’s Siri in voice assistant rap battle

    Samsung just couldn't resist taking a swipe at Apple's Siri using its own smart voice assistant, could it? Bixby, which launched this weekend in South Korea on the Samsung Galaxy S8, hides a rather innocuous diss within a command. Asking Bixby to "please rap" or "beatbox", the voice assistant drops rhymes that would put Pitbull out of work. But more interesting still is the message hidden within one particular rap. Users on the Samsung subreddit noticed that when the first letters of a rap's lines are read vertically, it spells out the sentence "I am better than Siri". That's rude, Samsung. Also, dope...

  • Apple’s Siri saves three men from drowning off Florida coast

    Apple's Siri, the voice assistant that commands many of the company's devices, reportedly saved three boatmen from drowning this weekend. The men, according to a Fox 4 news report published Monday, were around six kilometres off the coast of Florida when they encountered choppy water. The conditions soon overwhelmed the little boat, forcing the men to don life jackets as the vessel took on water. This is where Siri comes into play. Police suggest that the fishermen were unable to use the device's screen because of cold hands, but the "Hey Siri" voice command was still available as on option. Boaters that ran into...

  • Where’s the dust? Cassini non-discovery puzzles NASA

    NASA's Cassini space probe has started its Grand Finale, diving between Saturn's rings before crashing into the gas giant later this year. However, the first plunge has perplexed scientists, who were expecting to encounter a ton of cosmic dust. Instead, the probe found a low level of dust, the space agency explained. "The region between the rings and Saturn is 'the big empty,' apparently," said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Cassini will stay the course, while the scientists work on the mystery of why the dust level is much lower than expected." Prior to the...

  • 5 everyday things that didn’t need a smart version [Native]

    The internet of things (IoT) promises all manner of connected devices, but there are some things that don't need to be connected to the internet or slapped with a chip. Yep, for every connected TV, printer, light bulb or refrigerator, there are gadgets or appliances that don't need to be smart in the first place. Here are a few noteworthy examples. Smart water pitcher Because even the simple act of consuming water needs to have the "smart" label attached to it. Yes, the Brita smart water pitcher exists. According to Engadget, the pitcher is equipped with WiFi and automatically orders more filters from...

  • #SAAStrike: 32 flights grounded as SAA trends once again

    If you're travelling to or from South Africa today on a South African Airways (SAA) flight, you're one of the lucky few it seems. The majority of the national airline's in-flight staff are on strike today, demanding more money to spend on food when flying abroad. According to reports, SAA and the association that represents the SAA cabin workers, SACCA, were not able to come to an agreement Tuesday night. The impact of this is widespread. 32 flights have been cancelled today -- one international, three regional and 28 due to depart and land within South Africa's borders. As a result, passengers have...

  • [Update] Uber passengers ‘threatened’ at Centurion Gautrain station

    Update, 11.40am: In light of the incidents in Sandton and Centurion and a request for comment, Uber South Africa explains that it is "engaging with all relevant stakeholders and are taking all of the necessary steps to ensure riders" are safe around Johannesburg. Read the full statement below. We take any situation where driver safety is compromised extremely seriously. Driver-partners have access to a 24/7 emergency line in the event they feel unsafe in any way. Threats and intimidation against those who want to use Uber to boost their income is unacceptable. Violence only underlines why people are increasingly choosing safe, reliable...

  • Twitter mourns victims of Bronkhorstspruit taxi crash

    A crash near Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng has today claimed the lives of at least 20, most of whom were children. The incident, which involved a collision between a truck and a taxi, took place Friday afternoon It was first reported by ER24 EMS via its Twitter account, and quickly spread to major news outlets across South Africa. - Fatalities on the R25 collision has risen to 17 children. @ewnupdates @eNCA @_ArriveAlive @JacaNews @SABCNewsroom pic.twitter.com/AumRsLrjFC — ER24 EMS (Pty) Ltd. (@ER24EMS) April 21, 2017 "Approximately 13 children had been killed and several other injured this afternoon when a taxi and truck collided head-od on...

  • Through Neuralink, this is what Elon Musk wants to do to your brain

    Last month, Elon Musk revealed Neuralink, his next venture that involves merging the brain and AI. And now he's letting us know exactly how. Musk, who is taking on the role of CEO, contacted Wait But Why, a self-proclaimed procrastination website, to flesh out the idea -- starting with the history of the brain from the very first nerve and ending at Musk's ideal future. Essentially, Musk sees human communication as a limiting experience. When we want to tell someone about an emotion or concept in our brain, that idea has to be shaped into the mould of language, pushed out and into someone...

  • #BusStrike: slew of commuters left stranded across South Africa

    If you logged in to Twitter or Facebook this morning, you probably would've noticed the hashtag #BusStrike trending across South Africa. Employees of the country's larger bus operators are partaking in strike action today, that is until demands for a 12% wage increase are met. The strike has left a number of commuters across the country's urban and rural hubs stranded or searching for alternative transport, as a slew of popular services were suspended. This includes Cape Town's MyCiti and Johannesburg's Rea Vaya. The #BusStrike affects a number of services across South Africa, including Cape Town and Johannesburg's inner city networks As a...

  • This is what happens when a pelican strikes a Mango Boeing 737 mid-air

    What happens when a large bird strikes a commercial passenger plane? That's the question pilots and passengers onboard a Mango flight from Cape Town International answered this weekend. According to reports, a Mango-operated Boeing 737 passenger plane struck a pelican shortly after departure from the Western Cape's largest airport. The impact left a massive dent in the plane's left-hand side horizontal stabiliser. The stabiliser (part of the tail section) is largely employed to provide stability and tail lift as the plane travels through the air. #birdstrike on @FlyMangoSA flight out of @capetownint this afternoon. Poor pelican didn't make it pic.twitter.com/jGYKjWPRks — Derek Smith...

  • Uber banned in Italy due to ‘unfair competition’

    Uber has been deemed "unfair competition" and is barred from operating in Italy, a Rome judge ruled Friday. The company is not able to use its Black, Lux, Suv, X , XL, Select, and Van cars in the country, nor is it allowed to advertise its services. Conflict between Uber and Italian taxi services turned legal in 2015, when locals argued that they are unable to compete with the app. "This is the fourth ruling by an Italian judge that ascertains Uber’s unfair competition," lawyers for Italy's top taxi association said in a statement to Corriere della Sera. " the latest battle in a legal war that began...