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Lawrence Livermore Lab Buys Brainy IBM Supercomputer
April 5, 2016
IBM last week announced that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has purchased its TrueNorth processor-based cognitive computing platform. The purchase included an end-to-end ecosystem and a multisocket host node. The lab will build a supercomputer based on the platform to see how neural networks might be used in the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration's cybersecurity program.
DC Healthcare Provider Limps On After Malware Attack
April 1, 2016
Despite its computer systems being infected with malware since Monday, MedStar Health, which operates 10 hospitals and more than 250 outpatient facilities in and around Washington, D.C., has continued to provide patient care at near normal levels, according to several updates released this week. Since the malware attack occurred, MedStar Health has treated an average of 3,380 patients a day.
Microsoft Tells Devs to Talk to the Bots
March 31, 2016
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and members of his leadership team, speaking to developers Wednesday at the Build 2016 conference, introduced their vision to infuse human speech and machine learning into the company's consumer and enterprise businesses. Nadella and Executive VP Terry Myerson introduced upgrades to Windows 10 and Cortana as well as technology called "Conversations as a Platform."
Gadget Ogling: Honey, I Shrunk the iPhone
March 31, 2016
The iPhone SE packs almost everything from the iPhone 6s into a handset that looks almost identical to the iPhone 5. The only thing that's really missing is Force Touch. It's a smart play, trying to convince iPhone 4 and 5 owners that they can still upgrade to -- almost -- the latest model without the need to take on a device with a larger screen.
The Brand New Made-in-Space Frontier
March 25, 2016
What happens when you're 220 miles above Earth on the International Space Station and you need a tool you don't have? You can print one yourself. In 2014, American astronauts for the first time printed a tool -- a ratchet wrench -- using a design file sent from NASA on the ground to the 3D printer spinning about in space. The feat was only the first step to much larger miracles in space.
Apple's CareKit Gives More Power to the Patient
March 23, 2016
Perhaps worthy of more attention than it received at Apple's Loop You In event on Monday is CareKit. The open source platform will allow developers to create consumer-focused applications to help patients communicate with healthcare providers and closely monitor their own health conditions. Similar to ResearchKit, CareKit applies many of the same tools to patient care.
Scientists Track Sloshed Tweeters in Real Time
March 21, 2016
Applied machine learning techniques can identify tweeters' behaviors in real time and locate them to within 100 meters, according to a paper Rochester University computer scientists published earlier this month. The team focused on discovering patterns of alcohol use in urban and suburban settings to better understand where and how people drink.
Digital Assistants Fail Abysmally in Crisis Situations
March 16, 2016
Personal digital assistants are of little benefit for people experiencing a serious personal crisis, such as sexual assault or thoughts of suicide, according to a study published Monday. The research looked at four major personal assistants. For the most part, they were unable to recommend solutions when users expressed severe mental anguish, or reported domestic violence, sexual assault or forms of imminent danger.
IDC Offers Insurance Companies New CRM Vision
March 16, 2016
IDC Health Insights on Monday outlined best practices for customer engagement strategies to help health insurance companies adopt a semiretail approach to interacting with members or patients. Health insurers need an integrated customer engagement strategy enabling automated interactions, shared communications, and appropriate transaction and information transparency, IDC said.
Google's AlphaGo Thrashes Go Master
March 15, 2016
Google's AlphaGo on Tuesday rocked the worlds of Go and artificial intelligence when it beat 18-time international Go champion Lee Se-dol the final round of the Google DeepMind Challenge. Lee lost the first three rounds last week but came back and won the fourth game. Go "depends as much on logic, like chess, as it does on intuition," said Mike Jude of Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.
Philips Gets Biological With Home Lighting
March 14, 2016
Philips Lighting on Monday unveiled its Philips Hue white ambiance connected light bulbs. Designed to feature more natural light, the bulbs can gradually brighten in the morning to help users wake up naturally, while at night they can dim to help ease users to sleep. They also deliver a color temperature range that can be adjusted via a connected dimmer switch or through an app.
Toyota's Project Blaid Gives Visually Impaired More Freedom
March 9, 2016
Toyota on Monday introduced a concept for a piece of wearable tech that could help the visually impaired better navigate the world around them. Dubbed "Project Blaid," the mobility device would sit atop a wearer's shoulders and use cameras to sense the layout of indoor spaces. Wearers would be able to ask the device about objects and areas in a room, the company said.
Quantum Computer Leap Could Make Today's Encryption Passe
March 8, 2016
Researchers at MIT and the University of Innsbruck last week announced that they had designed and constructed the world's first scalable quantum computer, a development that could make existing encryption technology obsolete. They built the computer using five atoms in an ion trap. The researchers used laser pulses to carry out an algorithm on each atom to correctly factor the number 15.
The Technological Evolution of US Healthcare
March 7, 2016
The disease management industry, which focuses on reducing or delaying the use of expensive treatments or costly procedures, has passed its prime as a unique approach to controlling escalating costs attributed to chronic conditions. It worked on the sickest of the sick, but as patient conditions progressed and engagement levels decreased, it gradually lost its effectiveness.
Google Joins Effort to Stop Zika Virus Spread
March 7, 2016
Google last week announced it would contribute $1 million to the UN Children's Fund to support the global fight against the mosquito-borne Zika virus. A team of Google engineers has volunteered to work with UNICEF to analyze data in an effort to figure out the viral infection's path. It also will match employee donations with the goal of giving an extra $500,000.
The Salesforce Health Cloud
March 2, 2016
Salesforce is opening a can of snakes with its new Health Cloud, which became generally available this week. Having worked in the healthcare software industry for many years in the last century, I have mixed feelings about the announcement. While I'm relieved that an innovative company is taking on healthcare software at last, part of me thinks it could be a long and expensive slog.
Fitbit Leads Surge in Wearable Sales
February 26, 2016
Wearable device makers shipped more than 27 million units globally in the fourth quarter of 2015, an increase of nearly 127 percent over the year-ago quarter, IDC reported Tuesday. Vendors shipped a total of 78.1 million units in 2015, up 171.6 percent over 2014, according to the "Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker" report. Fitbit led the growth, followed by Apple and Xiaomi.
Hollywood Hospital Succumbs to Hacker Shakedown
February 19, 2016
Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center on Wednesday announced that it paid approximately $17,000 to resume normal operations after digital extortionists knocked its computer systems offline. The Los Angeles hospital discovered its computer network infected with ransomware earlier this month. After paying the ransom, the hospital was able to bring its electronic medical record system online.
IBM Watson Forks Over $2.6B for Health Data Stash
February 19, 2016
IBM Watson Health on Thursday announced plans to acquire Truven Health Analytics for $2.6 billion. The acquisition will give the company access to about 300 million patient files, according to IBM, making it one of the world's largest holders of diverse health-related information. One of its chief objectives is to use the data to bring more value to healthcare recipients.
Fitbit's Alta Is Dressed to Kill
February 3, 2016
Fitbit has unveiled a new fitness tracker that highlights muted colors and fashion-forward design elements. The Alta, priced at $129, has a brushed, stainless steel body that supports interchangeable bands, so that it doesn't stand out for the wrong reasons. Consumers can select bands from the Classic line, available in plum, teal, black and blue for $30 each.
Google, Movidius to Bring Deep Learning to Mobile Devices
January 29, 2016
Movidius on Wednesday announced that it's working with Google to put deep learning on mobile devices. Google will source Movidius' latest flagship chip -- the MA2450 -- and software development environment, and will contribute to Movidius' neural network technology road map in return. That could result in mobile devices that will be able to understand images and audio swiftly and accurately.
3D Printing: Innovation's New Lifeblood
January 27, 2016
To many, 3D printing is little more than a toy. A toy that mostly prints toys. To others, it's a prototyping tool good for a hands-on feel of a manifested idea but not much more. Yet for a select few, 3D printing is the heart of innovation, and each new iteration is pumping the future's lifeblood. Here are some of the innovations 3D printing is bringing to life.
Gadget Ogling: Super Strollers, Posture Prodders, and Portable Projectors
January 26, 2016
Regular readers will know that I am not a parent, so you might wonder why I'm including a self-propelling stroller in this week's cavalcade of riches. The answer is elementary: It's a smashing idea. Granted, it's maybe because I don't have a child that I think as much. Aside from pushing itself along the sidewalk, the Smartbe Intelligent Stroller can warm bottles, charge devices and play music.
DARPA Challenges Researchers to Link Human Brains With Computers
January 26, 2016
The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, last week announced a new program that aims to build a connection between the human brain and the digital world. To achieve the goals of the Neural Engineering System Design program, DARPA has invited proposals to design, build, demonstrate and validate a human-computer interface.
SpaceX Finds Silver Lining in Failed Sea Landing
January 20, 2016
SpaceX this week failed in its third attempt to land a rocket on an ocean platform. The company has landed a reusable rocket on land successfully, but it has stepped up its efforts to land at sea. The latest attempt, though not successful, was a step forward, SpaceX said. The Falcon 9 rocket was supposed to deliver its payload, then land on a drone ship out in the Pacific Ocean.
Gadget Ogling: Baring Souls, Soaking Up Sound, and Tracking Babes
January 19, 2016
As time advances, more responsibilities seep into our lives. We get wrapped up in our own worlds, and don't necessarily make enough time to spend with the friends and family members who've been important parts of our worlds for decades. Concepter's Soul time tracker seeks to make us more conscious of the time we spend with those who matter most to us.
NASA Advances Mission to Protect Earth From Asteroids
January 15, 2016
NASA last week announced that it has established the Planetary Defense Coordination Office to formalize its efforts to detect and track near-Earth objects. The PDCO will supervise all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near Earth's orbit around the sun. It will issue notices of close passes and warnings of any detected potential impacts.
Researchers May Have Licked Flaming Lithium-Ion Battery Problem
January 14, 2016
Incorporating a polymer switching material into lithium-ion batteries could prevent their overheating due to a process known as "thermal runaway," according to Stanford researchers. Lithium-ion batteries consist of an anode, a cathode, a separator and a flammable electrolyte. The separator melts when a large amount of heat is generated by overcharging or shorting, ultimately resulting in a thermal runaway.
ESA Fails to Rouse Philae Lander
January 12, 2016
DLR, the German Aerospace Center, this week vainly tried to reawaken the dormant Philae robotic probe, which achieved the first-ever soft landing on a comet nucleus in 2014. The center, known as DLR, sent a command to Philae to spin up its flywheel, which had stabilized the lander during its descent onto the comet. DLR hoped that might give Philae some angular momentum to align itself with the sun.
Gadget Ogling: Fitbit's Smartwatch, Super Home Movies, and Flying Machines
January 9, 2016
Fitbit found great success this past holiday season, and it's keeping up the momentum with its first smartwatch. The Fitbit Blaze includes a continuous heart-rate monitor, a connected GPS, and a multisport mode with a feature that recognizes the type of workout or sport and tracks it appropriately. Still, the Blaze stands out almost more for what it doesn't do.
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How do you feel about technology and security?
Very insecure -- I would gladly pay extra for better security.
Very insecure -- I'm using technology less as a result.
Very insecure -- but I'm willing to make the trade-off.
Secure enough -- I take reasonable precautions.
Secure enough -- I'm not a likely target.
Very secure -- I trust tech companies to protect me.