Category: Tech

Have you ever wondered how many people touch the same elevator buttons you press your precious digits against?

Dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands.

In a world still reeling from the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, you can’t be too paranoid about the cleanliness of the mundane items we usually make physical contact with on a daily basis.

Things like shared items are the riskiest, since many people, often from different households, end up touching the same things repeatedly.

One company in Singapore has decided to make life a little more bearable for those who wish to minimize physical contact.

Say hello to these holographic elevator buttons being used in an office building in Kallang, right in the heart of Singapore’s Central Region.

Instead of having to physically touch the buttons to pick the floor you’re headed to, the only thing users will have to do in this elevator is hover their finger over the holographic button representing their intended floor.

The cool thing about this feature is the fact that the corresponding physical button on the elevator will also light up, indicating a ‘press’.

If you’re aching to try it out, it’s located in one of six elevators in the MapleTree Industrial New Hi-Tech Space.

It was installed on August 1 as part of a trial by a company called First Step Elevator. But here’s the kicker: a single unit can cost anywhere between US$4,362 (S$6,000) and US$6,544 (S$9,000). It depends wholly on the amount of buttons that need to be displayed.

But what if the holographic buttons fail? Well, that’s why the physical buttons are still there, in case of any emergency.

This also helps it abide by regulations set out by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).

First Step Elevator plans to introduce the holographic module to more office buildings in the future.

-mashable

Aug. 4 (UPI) — A team of artificial intelligence researchers are teaming with theater professionals in the Czech Republic to create the world’s first play written entirely by “robots.”

Researcher Rudolf Rosa of Charles University said his team is working together with Svanda Theater and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague on the project, dubbed THEaiTRE.

Rosa said the idea was suggested by entrepreneur Tomas Studenik as a means of celebrating the 100th anniversary of R.U.R., aka Rossum’s Universal Robots, a 1921 play by Karel and Josef Capek that is credited with originating the term “robot.”

“Tomas thought that this should be properly celebrated and came up with the idea of turning the story around: 100 years ago, a man wrote a theater play about robots; what if today, robots wrote a theater play about men?” Rosa told TechXplore.

He said the team is working with artificial intelligence models that were previously successful in generating pieces of text, including poetry and dialogue.

“Thanks to the approaching anniversary, our main target is clear and fixed: by January 2021, we need to have a play ready for premiere,” Rosa said.

He said the team is aiming to have a script finished in September to give the theater group time to turn it into a full-fledged production.

“Even though we are developing a general tool for theater script generation, at the moment we only really need to generate one script,” he said.

-upi

If you like tech, somewhere along the line, you’ve probably owned a Xiaomi Mi Band.

For those of you who don’t know what the heck that is, it’s a smart band that connects to your phone via Bluetooth.

You can check your phone’s notification, track your fitness, and heart rate all without pulling out your phone.

And if you live in Malaysia, we have some good news. The latest Mi Band 5 has arrived on your shores. If you’re thinking of getting an upgrade from the Mi Band 4 or previous models, this might be a worthy upgrade.

The new Mi Band 5 comes with a 1.1-inch AMOLED display, which is larger than its predecessor’s 0.95-inch display. It also has an improved magnetic charging port at the back, and unlike the Mi Band 4, you won’t have to remove it from the strap to get it charged.

Sadly, the battery lasts far shorter than the Mi Band 4, which can give you about 20 days of usage on a single charge. However, the Mi Band 5 can only last up to 14 days or 20 days in low powered mode. But it does support the same 5 ATM water resistance, which means it can be submerged underwater for up to 50 meters.

As for the watch face, you’ll be able to choose from a wide variety of faces, which allows you to control the type of information that’s being displayed. It’s also made to cater to women, as it now comes with a menstrual cycle tracking feature.

However, the global version of the Mi Band 5 doesn’t come with an NFC chip. Which means you won’t be able to make payments using the band. If you want that feature, you’ll need to get your hands on the Chinese version.

Lastly, it comes with most of the other features on the Mi Band 4, such as GPS tracking for your runs, 24-hour heartbeat and sleep monitor, and six workout modes.

While the Mi Band 5 has already been selling in the market, this official announcement means that it will come under the Xiaomi Malaysia warranty, so you don’t need to be extra careful with the band anymore.

The Mi Band 5 retails for US$40 (RM169) and can be purchased on Xiaomi’s official Shopee or Lazada stores.

-mashable

Facebook is, by and large, a wretched hive of misinformation and villainy. Fortunately, it’s just a tiny bit less scummy now, with the site having suspended one of its largest anti-mask groups.

The Verge reports that Facebook group Unmasking America! has been removed for spreading misinformation about COVID-19. Over 9,600 members strong, the group opposed the use of face masks, spread widely debunked myths about the accessories, and loudly advocated for people to completely ignore medical professionals amidst a deadly global pandemic.

“We have clear policies against promoting harmful misinformation about COVID 19 and have removed this group while we review the others,” Facebook spokesperson Dami Oyefeso told Mashable.

Unmasking America! was removed after The Verge reached out to Facebook for comment on the group. A quick search by Mashable found numerous other anti-mask groups currently remain active on Facebook, such as NO MAS(K) with over 3,400 members and Anti-Maskers with over 1,700. The Verge notes Facebook group Million Unmasked March is still active as well, with almost 8,000 members. What’s more, it’s promoting a rally at which unmasked people will gather in large numbers — exactly what medical professionals are begging people not to do.

Misinformation surrounding the use of face masks has been rife both online and off, with anti-mask campaigners claiming they reduce your oxygen levels and infringe on people’s personal freedoms. Such arguments have been repeatedly, exhaustively countered and debunked by medical experts, yet this dangerous and inaccurate rhetoric continues to circulate.

Despite the rampant spread of misinformation on its platform, Facebook has been reluctant to remove false content altogether unless it may lead to “imminent physical harm.” In an April blog post, the website stated it is instead combating COVID-19 misinformation by having content assessed by fact-checkers and, if found false, “[reducing] its distribution and [showing] warning labels with more context.”

Fortunately, it seems Facebook is at least acknowledging that refusing to wear a mask and encouraging others to do the same may quickly lead to physical harm.

“Examples of misinformation we’ve removed include harmful claims like drinking bleach cures the virus and theories like physical distancing is ineffective in preventing the disease from spreading,” Facebook wrote in April.

-mashable

Remember all those times you wanted to tell someone you were actually an Italian ninja who fights beavers with a boomerang while sipping bubble tea? Well, on iOS, you’ll soon be able to say it in just five emoji characters.

Apple has revealed some of the new emojis it plans to bring to iOS this year, and Emojipedia has the rundown.

The full list is as follows: dodo, nesting dolls, piñata, tamale, pinched fingers, boomerang, ninja, coin, anatomical heart, beaver, transgender symbol, bubble tea, and lungs.

According to Emojipedia, there are more emoji coming to iOS this year that haven’t been previewed this year, including smiling face with tear, disguised face, and people hugging.

Apple is also adding colored face masks option to some of its Memoji.

It’s unclear when the new emoji will become available, but Engadget Japanese says we’ll likely see them on iOS 14, which launches in the fall.

-mashable

We now live in an age when everybody is concerned for their own personal health and safety.

Brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve come to realize how much we cherish personal space, while also being able to stay protected from all the various ways one could contract COVID-19.

But of course, while there are tried and tested ways to protect yourself, like wearing face masks, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, as well as social distancing, there are always ‘better’ ways to do things.

In comes the BioVYZR. a piece of protective gear that resembles the top half of an astronaut’s suit.

Designed by Toronto-based VYZR Technologies, a company that specializes in personal protective gear, the BioVYZR was crowdfunded on Indiegogo back in mid-April.

It features anti-fogging “windows” and a built-in hospital-grade air-purifying device that’ll let you stay protected from the coronavirus in sheer comfort.

And it’ll cost you US$250.

According to VYZR Technologies co-founder Yezin Al-Qaysi, haute hazmat suits like the BioVYZR are just what people need in order to feel safe again while flying.

And apparently, the concept has really taken off. Since its launch on Indiegogo, roughly 50,000 suits have been pre-ordered, totaling up to US$400,000 raised for the company.

Those early adopters can expect to receive their suits in the mail by the end of July.

Al-Qaysi also believes that people living in the ‘new normal’ have a right to expect certain levels of safety when going about their daily routines. One such necessity, he feels, is a Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR).

“We’ve taken a product usually limited to health care and industrial settings that’s typically priced around US$1,800 and adapted it to be accessible to the public,” says Al-Qaysi.

The BioVYZR weighs less than three pounds and is easy to pack away when not in use.

Made of a smart combination of silicone, neoprene, and vinyl, the BioVYZR is worn with a chest harness, which is currently only available in general adult and general child sizes.

The suit itself sits on your shoulders, but due to its lightweight construction, it won’t bother you at all.

Though the suit is tightly sealed, you won’t have to worry about the shield fogging up. And according to Al-Qaysi, temperatures will only rise by 1 or 2 degrees when wearing the suit.

But there is one thing to note: Due to the sheer size of the suit, you’ll find that you’ve grown an extra four-to-five inches. Tall people might find this a little awkward.

Powering the suit’s PAPR is a set of lithium-ion batteries which can last up to 12 hours on a single charge.

While commercial airliners don’t allow lithium-ion batteries in checked luggage, most do allow them onboard as carry-ons instead.

The suit will also dampen external noise, which makes nightmarish long-haul journeys with wailing and crying babies a little more bearable.

Plus, if anyone sees you in that suit, its size will block out even the most awkward of small-talking seat neighbors.

But of course, it’s safe to say that BioVYZR isn’t for everyone.

While the benefits of BioVYZR are loud and clear, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should drop a hot US$250 on something that you won’t necessarily be using all the time.

After all, despite how easy it may be to stow away, it’s still a rather large contraption when in use.

It’s not exactly a subtle piece of gear.

But if you’re a severe germaphobe with the cash to spare, the BioVYZR might be a worthwhile investment.

-mashable

A few weeks after Apple announced it would start developing its own silicon chip for Mac computers, we have a solid lead on what the first computer to use it might be.

TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a research note on Friday that a new 13.3-inch Macbook Pro will debut Apple’s original silicon chips. According to Kuo’s note, spotted by MacRumors, it will enter production in a matter of months, presumably in time for a late 2020 or early 2021 launch. Aside from new chips, it’ll closely resemble the most recent Macbook Pro model.

Beyond that, Kuo predicts a new Macbook Air with the same chip in either late 2020 or early 2021. He also predicted new 16-inch and 14.1-inch Macbook Pros with mini-LED displays for late 2021 releases.

None of this is horribly surprising, obviously, as Apple releases new laptops on a regular basis. This is potentially fascinating because we could have two otherwise identical Macbook Pro models on the market later in 2020, one with an older Intel chip, and one with a new Apple chip. Apple claims its new custom silicon chips will enable better battery life due to more efficient power consumption, among other performance enhancements.

Given how expensive new Macbook Pros tend to be, get excited to either break the bank or just wait until a few years from now until you can get one refurbished.

-mashable

FACEBOOK antara laman media sosial yang popular dalam kalangan pengguna selain Instagram dan juga Twitter.

Kira Facebook ni abang sulunglah sebelum lahirnya Instagram, Twitter dan paling hangat kini TikTok.

Terbaharu, pengguna laman sosial Facebook kini berpeluang untuk menikmati kemas kini terbaru menerusi aplikasi berkenaan.

Dilaporkan, pihak Facebook telah mengemas kini reka bentuk antaramuka laman Facebook.com dengan menjadikannya lebih mudah dan pantas diakses penggunanya.

Antara penambahbaikan yang dibuat termasuklah akses tetapan pilihan dark mode, tiga akses mudah kepada Event, Feed dan Group serta iklan Facebook.

Facebook juga memaklumkan bahawa reka bentuk baru antaramuka Facebook.com kini sudah ditawarkan untuk semua pengguna di seluruh dunia. Jadi, korang boleh aktifkan sahaja mode tersebut sama ada menggunakan smart phone atau desktop. Dua-dua kini dah boleh.

Paparannya pun not bad. Menarik dan cantik kena dengan era terkini la. Nampak muda sikit walaupun Facebook kini dah berusia.

Selain itu, Facebook juga mengalu-alukan maklum balas daripada korang sebagai pengguna yang boleh dibuat menerusi ciri Give Feedback.

Namun jika korang lebih suka dengan interface yang lama, korang boleh sahaja klik pada tetapan pilihan Switch to Classic Facebook pada bila-bila masa. Paparan Classic seperti sebelum ini akan berubah dengan serta merta.

Jika korang mengubah kepada paparan lama jangan lupa tinggalkan maklum balas, mungkin pihak Facebook akan memperbaiki kelemahan yang dimiliki melalui maklum balas korang.

Selamat mencuba!

-sinarplus

Samsung is skipping IFA this year.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, IFA 2020 is scheduled to be the first major tech event this year to actually host a large number of people in a physical venue.

IFA 2020, which is scheduled for Sept. 4-9, won’t be as big as it normally is, given Berlin’s ban of all events with more than 5,000 participants. But the event’s organizers do plan to bring industry participants and the media together in a smaller setting, with attendance limited to 1,000 people per day.

Samsung, however, won’t be a part of that setting. In a statement to TechCrunch, the company confirmed it will not be a part of IFA 2020 (though it does want to partner with IFA in the future).

“We have taken the exciting decision to share our latest news and announcements at our own digital event in early September,” Samsung told the outlet.

There’s no word on what that event will be about, though Samsung is widely expected to launch new foldable phones around that time.

Samsung typically has a massive presence at IFA, but it also rarely launches major products at the show, instead opting for an event of its own anyways, so this isn’t a radical change from the norm. Still, Samsung skipping IFA 2020 is a fairly big blow to the show.

There’s still two full months until September, but the overall situation regarding the pandemic isn’t great; many European countries, including Germany, have seen an uptick in new cases in the past month. Now that Samsung has said no to IFA, it’s quite possible that other tech companies will follow.

-mashable

On Friday, Microsoft announced that it was permanently closing all of its physical retail stores. The software giant says that it will focus its efforts on its online storefront at Microsoft.com.

Microsoft has operated physical retail stores for about a decade. At its peak, the company had 116 locations around the world, including 106 in the United States. Microsoft says that there will be no layoffs as a result of the decision.

The company says it will continue to operate its Microsoft Experience Centers in New York City, London, Sydney, and at its Redmond, Washington, campus. These locations, however, will not sell products.

“Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location,” said Microsoft Corporate VP David Porter in a statement. Porter detailed the shift in strategy in a post published on LinkedIn.

All Microsoft Stores have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic since March 16. Microsoft noted in its statement that its retail employees have been working with customers from the company’s corporate locations or remotely since the pandemic began.

Even as some other electronics retailers like Best Buy and Apple started to reopen their retail locations over the past month, Microsoft’s retail locations remained shuttered. This did not go unnoticed. The Verge reached out to Microsoft to inquire about its stores reopening just 10 days ago. The company provided a statement at the time that said it was “prioritizing the health and safety of its employees and customers.”

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has shifted strategy on its physical retail locations. About a year ago, the company closed down its specialty kiosks, which were typically found in malls. The decision to close these small spots was made, according to the company, to focus on its full-scale Microsoft Stores.

-mashable

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