News

By 2020, will the majority of consumers use mobile phones instead of cash?

Consumers can currently pay for products with mobile apps, and many tools are available to turn smartphones into mobile cash registers. Sixty-five percent of respondents to a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey say that by 2020 most people will have fully adopted the "mobile wallet."

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Will augmented-reality technology catch on?

On Wednesday, Google previewed an initiative called Project Glass. The company created wrap-around glasses with a clear display that sits above the eye. The wearable-computing technology streams information to the lenses and allows the wearer to send and receive messages through voice commands. A built-in camera can take pictures and record video. A video released weeks ago by the search giant showed a man using the “Google Glasses”: moving through New York City, communicating with friends, navigating with maps, and snapping pictures.

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Will 'swap shops' boost electric vehicle ownership?

Some electric car companies have begun to change their ownership models. The French automaker Renault, for example, has reduced its prices under a model that has drivers buy the car, but rent the battery separately. The idea of renting out an electric battery separately has inspired an Israeli company, called Better Place, to start building battery swap stations. Although it will cost consumers more per year, the drivers are guaranteed a good battery all the time. They can automatically get a replacement and avoid the need to recharge, in about the same time it takes to fill up with a tank of gas. The company is building a network of such stations in Israel, Denmark, and later this year in Australia.

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

In the near future, will we see a widespread commercial use of autonomous vehicles?

Last week, Google released a video that demonstrated the potential of its self-driving car. The video showed a legally blind man, who after taking the driver seat of one of Google's robotic cars, maneuvered from his home, through neighborhoods, and into a commercial center (including a local Taco Bell!). The car, which features radar, lasers, and cameras, allowed the man to take a ride without touching the steering wheel or pedals.

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Would you enjoy a 'digital detox?'

 A recent event called the "Day of Unplugging" kicked off last week, challenging people to go without their cell phones and technology for 24 hours. The "digital detox" idea encourages everyone to step away from their computers and smartphones. Some people are opposed to the idea and see no need to unplug from anything, while others find the event to be a good way to go outside, nurture one's health, and appreciate the silence.

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Will we ever accept computers as human?

Ray Kurzweil, an inventor and futurist, said to more than 3,000 attendees at the South by Southwest Interactive conference last week: "We are a human-machine civilization. Everybody has been enhanced with computer technology," noting how smartphones and other mobile devices and technologies have become a part of who we are. He added, "If we can convince people that computers have complexity of thought and nuance ... we'll come to accept them as human."

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

When it comes to finding the truth, can technology surpass humans?

In a study of 40 videotaped conversations, an automated system developed by University at Buffalo researchers correctly identified whether interview subjects were lying or telling the truth 82.5 percent of the time. The automated system tracks eye movement. The system employs a statistical technique to model how people moved their eyes in two distinct situations: during regular conversation and while fielding a question designed to prompt a lie. Though the study’s sample size was too small for the research to be statistically significant, the findings, according to the research team, suggest that computers may be able to learn enough about a person's behavior in a short time to perform a task that challenges even experienced investigators.

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>