Friday, 15 August 2014

Technology Influences Influx of New Words

This week, the online Oxford Dictionary has released its latest intake of words and there has been a huge influence from social media and the internet.

Any new words, phrases or senses are always added to the OxfordDictionaries.com website once the editors are happy with the information they have gathered from independent evidence and are sure that these additions will be widespread.

Abbreviations that are regularly used on social media websites, like Twitter and Facebook are among the new words. One of those is YOLO – a popular abbreviation that stands for You Only Live Once.

Technology, understandably, has a strong influence on the English language with a large number of the new words being entered coming from gadgets or ‘tech-savvy’ people online. Some of these include geocache, octocopter, responsive, smartwatch and, as mentioned, tech-savvy.

But, what do some of them mean?

Smartwatch – This is something we have mentioned on a number of occasions on the blog and is a piece of technology we are a fan of. The smartwatch does exactly what it says on the tin and is a computerised wearable device that is enhanced beyond timekeeping.

Octocopter – This is a multirotor or multicopter with more than two rotors and looks like a small helicopter. This remote-controlled device is often used to carry cameras to improve video or imagery. There are a number of large brands that have started using similar devices, including Google and Microsoft.

Responsive – This one is for the web world and refers to a web design approach that is aimed at crafting sites to provide a convenient and optimal viewing experience. Responsive refers to a web site that is resized, reformatted and has an adapted navigation in order to suit a wide range of devices (i.e. mobile phones and tablets).

Tech-savvy – This can apply to a large group of people and means when someone is proficient in the use of technology, especially computers and other similar devices.

Words like tech-savvy, responsive and smartwatch are all terms we are very familiar with but words like YOLO and binge-watch (to watch a number of programmes in a box-set consecutively) are quite unusual.

What do you think about the new influx of words?

Friday, 8 August 2014

Google Invests In New Glasses

As we all know, Google has been busy at work trying to perfect Google Glass but the internet super-giant is now turning its attention to other types of glasses.

Google has recently awarded a group of UK-based technology projects with large sums of money to help them develop their projects in order to change the world. In fact, there were ten groups in total, four of them were awarded £500,000 and the runners-up were awarded £200,000 each to help them progress.

There were a lot of interesting ideas among the groups and one of those top earners was the RNIB smart glasses. These glasses also bagged the People’s Choice award too, which was not an accolade that was given to them by the judges’.

The RNIB smart glasses are a wearable device that will allow people with sight loss the ability to “see” their surroundings. So, although Google Glass is going to be a helpful tool for a number of people, these smart glasses will offer so much more value to the world.

According to the MD of RNIB Solutions, Neil Heslop, 90% of those people who are registered as blind still have some degree of vision. He said, “The glasses work in a way that means the depth of the camera assesses shape, size and the positioning of those objects nearby enhancing them to make them appear brighter.”

This wasn’t the only project that appealed to Google though. Another intriguing idea was a wearable device that belonged to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and is intelligent enough to hear mosquitoes. With the aim of attaching to a wristband, this device aims to detect a number of different types of mosquitoes and will hope to prevent certain diseases.

There was another wearable that came close and that idea was formed from Android game technology and wearables. The idea is to improve the mental health of young people, which is something that often gets overlooked. This project was created by We Are What We Do and is in fact a game that helps to strengthen the emotional resilience of younger people as well as manage their stress levels.

So, although many of us just know about Google’s aim to bring us Google Glass, they are actually investing time and money in a number of more important, world-changing ideas to help society too.
Good ol’ Google!

Friday, 1 August 2014

What Is Cortana And When's It In The UK

For iPhone owners that use Siri every day and those that are familiar with Google Now, this news might not be all that exciting, but for Microsoft fans, Cortana could be the next big thing.

Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to hands free, voice operated personal assistants and helps Microsoft owners to find relevant information from the internet and also carry out tasks including informing you of any reminders you’ve set or any alarms you have pending.

Cortana has been available in the United States for some time, but for people here in the UK, we have been waiting for a bit too long. But, Microsoft had given us some hope just two weeks ago when they told us it would be released within the next fortnight and, true to their word, they have made it available to those people who want it.

Although, don’t get too excited just yet because it’s not the full version. This is the developers’ version and has been released as a test, but everyone can apply to get it. This may not be the full version but there is no doubt that we can get a better understanding of what the final version will be like.

The main reason we do not have the full version yet is because Microsoft are still trying to ensure the software understands English accents. When the full version is released Microsoft hopes it will be complete with a full English accent, but for now it is just going through some teething problems. The software has already worked out that when we say, “What are the latest football scores” it knows not to bring up the NFL results – so it’s a start!

So, having this version is great for the time being but when is the full version going to be available?

Well, O2 have recently announced that the full version will be arriving in the 4th quarter of the year, according to ExpertReviews. So, it is likely that Microsoft phone and tablets owners will have access to the full version between October and December.

For now though, the developers’ version will have to do.

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Best Apps To Download This Summer

When it comes to the summer months, we will spend less time sitting indoors and more time outside taking selfies on holiday to make our friends and relatives jealous.

But, as well as taking selfies, it is also fun to kill some time on a sunbed too, so here are some apps you should download for over the summer months.

Cinamatic
This iPhone-only app will help you put some retro fun into your summer videos and means you can add funky filters to your crazy selfies and pictures of nearby landmarks. There is a limit of 15 seconds of footage but that is definitely a good thing – no one wants to be bored by a minute-long holiday slideshow.

Secret
Many of us post updates of pretty much anything that happens in our daily life, but we only say the things that make us look good. Secret is a social network that makes whatever you say anonymous so you can post statuses about anything and people will never know it’s you. Although trying to work out the point of it is difficult, it is all part of the fun that the things on there are people’s secrets.

Uber
This free app is for those people looking to get from A to B in a number of countries for as cheap as possible. So if you and your friends are looking to travel to one of the 38 different countries this app has maps for, you can get around for the smallest fare, which means you can save more money for food and less on the travel part.

Drivetunes
This app costs 74p but it’s an investment worthwhile if your summer holiday consists of a road trip. This app is designed for Spotify premium subscribers, which is probably the only setback, but it allows you to listen to music that picks up how fast you’re driving and picks a song accordingly. Although, this could get a little boring if you end up stuck in loads of traffic.

If you’re not going anywhere on holiday though, these apps can still be useful for you when around the UK, so you don’t have to feel too left out.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Google And Apple Get Things Rolling

The technology giants are at it again, this time both showing an interest in in-car technology.

Google has, this week, proven exactly why it is serious about moving its technology into cars by adding a new recruit to their ranks. Former CEO, Alan Mulally, has been added to Google’s board of directors which means he brings a wealth of experience to the company and can help them make the necessary steps into the car market.

Alan Mulally left as CEO of Ford after an eight-year stint at the company in June. Before that he served as CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, so he knows his stuff.

Apple have made a move into the car industry too and have set their sights on getting their CarPlay technology into Volkswagen cars by the year 2016. CarPlay was always going to be a slow rollout but we are already seeing more and more names on board.

Volkswagen was not one of those already mentioned in the list of car manufacturers but now there is a lot of talk of Apple changing that. Talks between VW and Apple are currently ongoing and if things go well there could be an announcement made at some point later this year.

Apparently though, if CarPlay is to make an appearance in new Volkswagen models we will have to wait until 2016 as it is a bit late notice for them to feature in next year’s cars. This delay is not wholly a bad thing though as Apple is continuing to update its CarPlay system so it can connect wirelessly instead of having to use the USB Lightening cable.

What both of these moves do mean though, is the race for the best in-car technology system is likely to become very interesting shortly.

Google has already made announcements about its commitment to the motor industry and its Open Automative Alliance includes Audi, Honda, Hyundai and General Motors.

Apple on the other hand, is getting to work on persuading other car manufactures besides Volkswagen, including Mercedes, Jaguar/Land Rover, Toyota and Volvo.

Friday, 11 July 2014

AI Could Match Human Intelligence in Next 30 Years

As you’re probably already fully-aware, we’re big fans of all things digital but in the next 30 years we could be relying on technology a lot more than we do today.

According to Murray Shanahan, professor of cognitive robots at Imperial College London, there is a “good chance that we can see AI matching human intelligence within the next thirty years”.

Murray is working on deep learning in Artificial Intelligence and had also suggested that the chances of us seeing human-level intelligence within AI within our lifetimes are better than 50/50.

This comes as no surprise really, when the likes of Google Now and Siri are becoming more and more intelligent every day. Google recently snapped up the British artificial intelligence company ‘DeepMind’ for £400 million, which has kept Shanahan on his toes and ensuring he keeps a close eye on what they are doing.

Google aren’t alone though, as Facebook and Yahoo are also two companies that have been working closely with AI experts. In fact, Facebook’s ‘DeepFace’ software has the ability to match faces almost as well as humans can.

Shanahan said that there has been a rapid growth and improvement in voice recognition which shows real movement in the progression of AI.

Although, he did mention that as far as learning to be adaptive like humans and animals, AI has a long way to come to be able to work on a human-level. The Imperial College London professor said that there are some missing pieces to this puzzle and that we are yet to come across what they are but once we find out what they are, the growth of AI will happen very quickly.

So Will Smith’s nightmare in the film iRobot of artificial intelligence may have finally subsided, which means there is a very strong chance that he will be able to come face to face with the real thing during his lifetime.

We already rely massively on technology, with many of us checking our phones hourly and using tablets, laptops and computers during working hours, but soon we could be using AI for everyday chores.

As Murray Shanahan suggests though, it is highly unlike to happen any time soon, but he feels a 30 years’ time-frame is a lot more achievable.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Wimbledon Turns Digital With Twitter

It’s that time of the year again when we can watch the world’s best tennis players appear at Wimbledon, one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments.

Unfortunately, the defending champion, Andy Murray is already out of the tournament after getting knocked out earlier in the week. Although this isn’t the only major talking point of the tournament, in fact, this year is set to be the most social Wimbledon ever.

Organisers of Wimbledon are turning to Twitter to help bring fans closer to the action than ever before. Last year social media went into overdrive, especially during the final which saw Andy Murray win the tournament, but this year there is a huge focus on user-generated content.

Members of the public can tweet updates, photographs and votes which will appear on the big screens at Henman Hill (or Murray Mound). There will be a whole host of match-based questions posted throughout the tournament which will prompt the public to get involved.

That’s not all – the organisers are also working with video player Grabyo which will provide video replays of different moments in the games on Twitter. We are likely to see highlights from Centre Court as well as players celebrations, impressive rallies and crowd reactions.

Wimbledon’s adoption of Twitter started on June 23rd when Andy Murray first stepped out onto Centre Court in an attempt to retain his title and the social hashtag to use was #WelcomeBackAndy. Those who got involved were in with a chance of winning one of five digital images of Andy when he won Wimbledon last year, signed and inscribed with a message from him personally.

There is an ongoing competition people can still get involved with too, which gets people to take their best ‘selfies’ and post them to Twitter on a daily basis for a chance to win some prizes and goodies from the official Wimbledon shop.

Although Andy Murray is out, Wimbledon organisers are still optimistic this will be the most social tournament to date. So, if you want to get involved, make sure you tweet the handle @Wimbledon and use a relevant hashtag, or even send in your selfie from Henman Hill.