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Can an app improve your mood?

This week's Question: Smartwatches allow users to track exercise, heart rate, and other health factors, but what about mood? The design studio Ustwo has a new app that aims for a more approachable model of delivering psychological therapy. The technology, called Moodnotes, acts as a basic journaling app. The user responds to Moodnotes prompts, such as "How are you?" and "What's happening at the moment?" The entries are archived and shown in a "Moodtrends" chart, which potentially reveals thinking patterns. If a thought pattern is determined to be affecting a user’s mood, the technology encourages the person to rethink a situation. What do you think? Can an app improve your mood?  

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Will Google Glass make a comeback in the workplace?

This week's Question: According to The Wall Street Journal, Google has been distributing a new version of its smart eyewear, Google Glass, to companies, engineered specifically for professionals in workplaces like health care, manufacturing, and energy. The new version will have improved battery life, a faster processer, and a hinge that attaches the device to an existing pair of glasses. When first introduced on a limited basis in 2013, the device raised privacy concerns, even causing some establishments to enact "No Glass" policies. What do you think? Will Google Glass make a comeback in the workplace?  

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Is long-term Mars living possible?

This week's Question: A recent study created by the Arizona-based Paragon Space Development Corporation says its life support system could help humans survive on Mars. The proposed Environmental Control and Life Support System, the company says, could extract water from Mars’ rocky material and convert some of the water to breathable oxygen. The habitat would be built by autonomous rovers. The study was commissioned by Mars One, a Dutch company that proposes to send colonists on a one-way trip to Mars. What do you think? Is long-term Mars living possible?

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Will robots be suitable emotional companions?

This week's Question: In June, Softbank sold its first 1,000 Pepper robots in less than a minute. Using cameras, touch sensors, an accelerometer, and other sensors in its neural network, Pepper has the ability to read (and develop its own) emotions. According to the company's Web site, the social companion is able to converse, recognize emotions, and move autonomously. Softbank recently announced that the technology will be available for sale beginning August 1st, at the rate of 1,000 per month. What do you think? Will robots be suitable emotional companions?

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Will robo-cabs lower gas emissions?

This week's Question: In last week's Nature Climate Change journal, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers reported that, by 2030, traveling by driverless electric taxi could lower greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 90% compared with the same length ride in a privately owned gas-powered car today. Almost half of the savings is attributable to “right-sizing,” where the size of the taxi deployed is tailored to each trip’s occupancy needs. According to a report by the Rand Corp., all manufacturers working on cars that can drive themselves plan to release vehicles with semi-autonomous features by 2017. What do you think? Will robo-cabs lower gas emissions?

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Will remote-controlled passenger flights take off in the next 5 years?

This week's Question: Last month, the Manassas, VA-based Aurora Flight Sciences Corp. tested its 4100-pound twin-propeller experimental airplane. The Centaur flew without a pilot and within airspace also being used by commercial aircraft. John Langford, the CEO of Aurora, is very optimistic about the test flight and the future of Centaur and other unmanned aircraft. Langford recently told CNN: “I’m a huge believer that the unmanned airplane revolution will make aviation safer for everybody. That isn’t to say there won’t be accidents, but the overall level of safety will go up as the robotic stuff is introduced.” Merging large unmanned aircraft into commercial airspace will require adjustments to aircraft and operator certification, air traffic control, and the FAA's air traffic system. Langford believes that planes like Centaur will be able to fly with FAA approval in 5 to 7 years. What do you think? Will remote-controlled passenger flights take off in the next 5 years?

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Will seaplanes take flight?

This week's Question: As global air traffic increases and airports expand, researchers from Imperial College London's Department of Aeronautics have developed a design concept for a medium to long-range seaplane. The proposed design, the Imperial College team says, may reduce the pressure on inland airports, lower noise pollution, and the halt the need for extensive infrastructure. The design has a V-shape hull, inspired by the flying boat aircraft the 1940s. The hull provides buoyancy and navigability as the plane lands and take off from the water. The team says their concept seaplane design would have the capacity to carry up to 2000 passengers at a time. In an interview with CNN, Dr. Errikos Levis, a researcher in the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial College London, said he doesn't believe seaplanes would replace land planes or match their current fuel efficiency, and it would take a decade for the design to become a reality. What do you think? Will seaplanes take flight?

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