Calico is a new project from Google, and a mysterious, but wonderful project from the Mountain View-based giant. Google explains Calico as "a new company focused on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases."
No one knows what Calico will be doing exactly, but it's interesting to note that Calico's CEO, Art Levinson, is a chairman over at Apple - Google's main competitor. Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, has had a say in Google's press release, where he said: "For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking."
Cook praised Google's choice in Levinson, who is also the chairman and former CEO of biotech company Genentech, as well as the director of its parent company, Hoffman-Le Roche. Google's CEO, Larry Page, took to his Google+ page where he said: "OK ... so you're probably thinking wow! That's a lot different from what Google does today. But as we explained in our first letter to shareholders, there's tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people's lives."
Today, Netflix launched a new feature that allows family members to set up user profiles so that everyone sees their own recommendations and favorites. This allows you to see your horror flicks without seeing the Disney shows your kids want to watch. Netflix used to have a similar feature but removed it in 2008.
The newly revised profiles are designed to sharpen the way Netflix makes recommendations by better excluding content you may not want to see. "The more people watch, the more they retain" the service, Chief Executive Reed Hastings said. Netflix says that the new profiles are much more simple and easy to maintain than the previous iteration.
"With a feature like profiles where consumers invest a lot, you can't take it away," Said Neil Hunt, Netflix's chief product officer. "We didn't want to introduce something that we might have to change or take away. Our intent is to make the family experience great, we've not been too worried with the phenomenon of account sharing,"
If one daily dose of 3D printing was not enough for you, scientist at Cornell University have successfully printed lifelike human ears that can be used to treat birth defects such as microtia. Other possible uses are for accident victims or those who lost an ear to cancer.
The "product" that is almost perfectly identical to a human ear, was printed using gel made from living cells, a type of collagen that is gathered from rat tails as well as cartilage cells taken from cow ears. The whole process is rather quick too in terms of forming a living organ.
Associate professor Lawrence Bonassar said:
"It takes half a day to design the mold, a day or so to print it, 30 minutes to inject the gel, and we can remove the ear 15 minutes later. We trim the ear and then let it culture for several days in nourishing cell culture media before it is implanted."
While some hard-core Star Wars fans might be upset by Disney's announcement, others will certainly be pleased. Disney has confirmed that there will be at least two spinoffs that focus on individual Star Wars characters. These movies will be in addition to the upcoming episodes, the first of which--Episode VII--will be directed by J.J. Abrams.
Lucasfilm is officially announcing new spinoff films that will expand the mythos and depths of the Star Wars universe in previously unexplored ways. One of the standalone films will be written by Lawrence Kasdan, screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and co-writer of Return of the Jedi while the other will be penned by Simon Kinberg, writer of Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The movies will be separate from the upcoming Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, on which Kasdan and Kinberg are also consulting, and are expected to be released sometime after Episode VII. Each standalone film will focus on a specific character, and two spinoff films are currently confirmed.
Basically, Disney is trying to make as much money as possible from their $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm. Nothing has been said about which characters these spinoffs will focus on, though rumors suggest that Yoda or Jabba the Hutt could be the potential stars.
If you're a Star Wars fan, how do you feel about Disney's spinoff plans?
Dyson's latest and greatest invention is an update to their Airblade line of hand dryers, the Airblade Tap. Dyson's Airblade Tap integrates the drying functionality directly into the faucet itself, thanks to some great size reductions in the technology required to integrate the drying functionality into the faucet. Sir James Dyson, founder of Dyson said:
In washrooms using conventional taps, you'll need to move to a separate hand drying area, dripping water on the floors as you go. With the Dyson Airblade Tap hand dryer, water isn't dripped on the floor because you don't need to leave the sink with wet hands.
Dyson's Airblade Tap sports a smaller 1600W motor that is capable of drying hands in under 12 seconds as it's capable of pushing air out at an incredible 420mph. The hand dryer also cleans the air before blowing it onto your hands, with Dyson stating that it makes it much more convenient to use than regular hand dryers. The included HEPA filters reportedly pick up 99.9% of bacteria and viruses in the bathroom air, too.
Thanksgiving is fast approaching which means many of us will be traveling to make our way back home to celebrate and be thankful for all we have this year and to all fall into a food coma when all is said and done. Overindulging during the holidays will ruin all of your hard work at the gym, which is why a scale is such an important item to have in your weight-loss arsenal. Sure - you can make a trip to your local drug store to pick up any scale that catches your eye, or you can take a gander at Wahoo Fitness' Balance Smartphone Scale as it has way more bells and whistles than any regular scale.
The Balance Smartphone Scale doesn't just weigh you, but it can be used to track your weight and BMI over time and send it to your iOS devices instantly to Wahoo's Wellness application or other fitness apps that support the scale. With support of up to 16 different users, there's no way anyone in your household won't be able to keep track of their fitness. The scale will also store up to 130 weight readings for when you can't sync the data to your iOS device.
Technology has done wonderful things for us, if you went back 200 years and thought we'd be here with smart devices, or even 30 years ago and told me quad-core processors would rule your smartphone, I wouldn't believe you. But, it hasn't really extended our lifespan all that much, yes health technology has improved, but not in the pure leaps and bounds that consumer-based electronics have.
Well, a Russian billionaire wants to change that, who plans on making immortality a reality by 2045. Dmitry Itskov, a 31-year-old billionaire, has planned "The 2045 Initiative", and only needs a few billion to make it happen. Itskov's project has multiple phases, each bringing mankind closer to the dream of living forever. The first step in his plan is to create robotic humans that are controlled remotely. This step has a goal of 2020, or earlier.
By 2025, "Avatar B" happens, which is where the human brain is transferred into a robotic skeleton so that life can be enjoyed after death. By 2035 "Avatar C" begins, where the brain will be constructed separately, and your own personality will be "transferred" into the robot when you're ready to stop living life as a weak human being. By 2045, the fourth and final stage, "Avatar D" begins and gives us the option to walk around in holographic avatars, for eternity.
Qualcomm have an interesting new competition, named the Tricorder X PRIZE. It is jointly organised with the X PRIZE Foundation, who is famous for its Ansari X PRIZE award of $10 million for its first private suborbital space flight. Qualcomm is offering up $10 million to those who could take the concept of a highly-portable health-monitoring device, the Star Trek Tricorder, and make it real.
Peter Diamandis, chair and chief executive of the X PRIZE Foundation says:
There is a dire need to improve access to healthcare globally and provide consumers with an opportunity to be active participants in their own health. The Qualcomm Tricorder X PRIZE will incent the creation of technologies that can empower the consumer with the ability to decide when, where and how to seek health information and care.
Want to get in on the $10 million prize? All you have to do is be the team that most accurately diagnoses a set of 15 diseases across a sample of 30 consumers in three days. Bonus points are award for providing the information in a useful manner alongside logging of health metrics including blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature. Qualcomm have big plans for the future device, where they would make it available for untrained personnel to self-diagnose ailments.
If only this was approved to grubby gamers across the world. Well, it's starting with a company called Vioguard, which was started by two Microsoft Hardware veterans and their business partners. Vioguard have received U.S. Food & Drug Administration approval for use of its self-sanitizing computer keyboard in both hospitals and other healthcare settings.
Where this is different to the old "pick it up and shake it all about", Vioguard's keyboard can be retracted automatically into an enclosure to be bathed in germicidal ultraviolet light from two 25-watt fluorescent lamps. The enclosure also doubles as a monitor stand (how convenient), and the mechanism for retracting and ejecting the keyboard works hands-free via sensors.
Vioguard states that the technique has been proven effective in killing a minimum of 99.99-percent of harmful bacteria and viruses, inclusive of the flu, MRSA and other nasty bugs that can spread through hospitals. The intent of this new keyboard is to provide healthcare facilities an alternative to manually cleaning a keyboard.
The keyboard has been on sale for consumer use, at a cost of $900 on Amazon. Vioguard announced that the FDA approval for medical use this morning and says it's seeking partners to help bring the keyboard to the market.
Stressed? Want to know if you are while you're gaming, well, according to a series of patents that Sony have filed recently, they might be adding biometric sensors to PlayStation 3 controllers and to a handheld resembling the PlayStation Vita.
Will gaming change if it [the game] knows how you feel? Well, think about it... if a game can detect you're stressed by holding the controller down - it might tone down the AI, difficulty, etc. If it's a horror game, it might amp it up, making you more scared and making you hold the controller ever so tightly.
The sensors in the patents would measure the moisture of your skin, heart rhythm, and muscle tension. This really could change everything, again, and is something I expected from Apple (snicker), but if Sony incorporates this into the PlayStation 4, it really could change the way games are not only played, but made. It would change everything, from background music and facial expressions to running speed and weapon accuracy.
The possibilities of something like this are quite endless.