Today's Top 10 comes from Louise Taylor, commercial senior associate at Simpson Grierson, with an interest in emerging technologies.
As always, we welcome your additions in the comments below or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Spectacles, hearing aids and prosthetic limbs are early examples of how we have been augmenting the human experience. While in those examples the augmentation allows the wearer to have a 'normal' human experience, the rapid rise of augmented technology now has unprecedented potential for new day-to-day human experiences.
Take Neil Harbisson, for example, who wears an antenna that allows him to 'hear colour'.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Elon Musk thinks we will become like pets to Artificial Intelligence unless we add a digital layer of intelligence to our brains. Sounds kooky, but nanotechnologists have already been working on a way to blur the distinction between electronic circuits and neural circuits.
Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed a device called "EQ-Radio" that can detect emotions remotely. The device is 87% accurate at detecting whether a person is excited, happy, angry or sad—all without on-body sensors or facial-recognition software. The researchers are hoping this will be the next step in developing computers that can understand us better at an emotional level and improve robot-human interactions.
Meet Chip Candroid, a 170cm tall humanoid robot which can recognise human emotion, speaks nine language and give hugs. Chip is owned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which has partnered with shopping centre owner Stockland, and a social robotics team at the University of Technology Sydney, to conduct robotics and AI experiments. The research will look at opportunities and limitations in human-robot interaction, including the extent to which people are willing to engage with robots.
Social robots are already being developed for use in trade shows and there are predictions that these smart machines will have the potential to take over even sophisticated, traditionally 'human' tasks and roles. Social robots…taking over the world one hug at a time…
5. Robots can queue for you
Hate queuing? Get a robot to do it for you.
One hundred robots queued up outside tech stores in Auckland to hold the place of Apple customers wanting to get their hands on a new iPhone 7. Each robot, manufactured by Chinese company Ubtech, was paired with a Spark customer, who was able to control its actions using a smartphone app. Unfortunately the robots are exclusive to Spark customers and are not available for sale in New Zealand. Surely there is a massive untapped robot-queuing market out there?
Volvo, together with the New Zealand Traffic Institute, New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and the Ministry of Transport are set to conduct the first autonomous vehicle tests in New Zealand in November. The vehicle will be tested in Tauranga to assess how an autonomous vehicle will handle New Zealand's unique road conditions.
In March, the Ministry of Transport released new guidelines aimed at encouraging international companies to trial their driverless vehicles and technology here. The MoT have highlighted that one of the key benefits of testing cars in NZ is that there is no explicit requirement in NZ law for a driver to be present in a car. The autonomous vehicle industry have got to be loving that loophole.
The Government has signed a contract authorising Rocket Lab to use Mahia Peninsula as a launch site. Rocket Lab is developing its rocket technology to maximise fuel efficiency and minimise cost of rocket launches. This means that today's smaller satellites can be launched more frequently, in a more cost effective way, and with a minimal ecological footprint. See here for more.
8. Space…the final frontier
China has switched on the world's largest radio telescope to search for signals from stars, galaxies and possibly extra-terrestrial life.
If they receive any ET signals, they should take heed of Stephen Hawking's warnings against seeking contact with alien civilisations. The astrophysicist has reiterated warnings from 2010 that alien life forms could be rapacious marauders in search of planets and resources to plunder. Just like humans will probably do if we find any planets out there worth pillaging.
9. Snapchat's shot at wearables
Snapchat (now renamed Snap, Inc) is entering the wearables market by launching sunglasses with a built-in camera. The device will go on sale later this year for US$130, and will record up to 30 seconds of video at a time. Other glass-wearables have, in recent times, been hampered by the price tag and public perception, so it will be interesting to see whether the relatively modest cost and cooler look will appeal to a mass market of life loggers.
10. IoT attack
A recent DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack has highlighted the risk from IoT [internet of things] devices with inadequate security. Krebs on Security, a security research site, was taken offline by a massive DDOS attack launched by bombarding the site with 'junk data' from IoT consumer devices such as door locks, home routers and web cams. Commentators suggest that inadequate security combined with low consumer technical skill and constant connectivity mean that IoT devices can be hacked into for nefarious purposes.