Las Vegas now drawing 100% power from renewable energy

Las Vegas has moved on to 100% renewable energy for which they have spent the better part of a decade. The city partnered with NVEnergy the past year to run government buildings, community center lights, parks, and the city hall.

The city met its goal after Bouldar Solar 1 went online, a large scale project near Bouldar City. The city is powering more than 100 facilities with renewable energy. Along with solar energy the city will also tap into the Hoover Damn by the end of 2017.

Las Vegas began in 2008 with sustainable energy programs that implemented solar array installations and energy saving measures. The city’s energy savings from renewable sources is estimated at roughly $5 million annually.

Waymos autonomous minivan

Chrysler has finished 100 autonomous Pacifica minivans to join Googles Waymo fleet in 2017. The minivans use Waymos self driving rigs of hardware and software, as a partnership between Waymo and Fiat Chrysler.

The prototypes are being tested in Waymo facilities in California and FCA’s facilities in Michigan and Arizona.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in a statement “With this great new minivan on the road in our test markets, we’ll learn how people of all ages, shapes, and group sizes experience our fully self-driving technology.”

The autonomous Pacifica minivans should be seen next year in California, Arizona, Texas, and Washington.

Facebook fights back Fake News

Facebook rolled out its new tools today to help prevent misinformation and combat fake news. The tools will help make it easier to report fake news shared in the News Feed. The company is also working with four independent organizers to fact check and assess accuracy of stories.

Facebook is working with ABC News, FactCheck.org, Politifact, and Snopes, of which all are members of the Poynter International Fact Checking Network. The organizations will have access to a dashboard of fake stories that is populated by Facebook. The articles are checked then marked as disputed. Users will see a banner under articles that reads “Disputed by 3rd Party Fact Checkers” if at least 2 organizations mark a story as disputed. Links to debunk stories will also be posted and be penalized by Facebook to lower its placement in the News Feed.

Facebook will also monitor comments that repeatedly state stories are being fake and will notify users when they share stories that are fake. Facebook employees will also flag personal posts that represent themselves to be news.

“We believe in giving people a voice and that we cannot become arbiters of truth ourselves, so we’re approaching this problem carefully,” said Adam Mosseri, who leads product management for the News Feed, in a blog post. “We’ve focused our efforts on the worst of the worst, on the clear hoaxes spread by spammers for their own gain, and on engaging both our community and third party organizations.”

Apple investing 30% stake in wind power in China

Apple has bought a 30% stake of Goldwind, based in China, for wind energy that will produce 285 megawatts of power. Apple invested in four subsidiaries located in different provinces where the power will come from: Henan, Shandong, Shanxi, and Yunnan provinces in China.

Goldwind, one of the largest wind turbine makers based in Xinjian, made the announcement last week. Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, told local chinese media that the investments in wind turbines will collectively yield 285 megawatts of clean energy. The company hopes to direct the power toward manufacturers connected to Apple’s supply chain.

Apple has been progressively moving towards alternative forms of energy by heavily investing in solar and wind. Apple previously invested in a 40 megawatt solar power project in Sichuan, including three other solar projects to generate 170 megawatts of power.

Microsoft to allow third party devices and apps to integrate Cortana

Microsoft is opening up Cortana to third party device makers and developers with a Cortana Skills kit and Cortana Devices SDK.

Cortana’s Skills Kit will let developers build apps that are able to use voice commands via Cortana to enable features. The Devices SDK allows third party hardware makers build devices with Cortana on board.

Currently the Skills Kit preview is available for a few partners privately such as Expedia, TalkLocal, and Capitol One. Microsoft is working wit Harman Kardon on a new device with Cortana integration, which looks a lot like the Amazon Echo.

SyncThink uses VR to find concussions faster

SyncThink, founded by Dr. Jamshid Ghajar from Stanford Concussion and Brain Performance center, will use virtual reality to discover concussions earlier.

SyncThink uses a DK2 Oculus Rift develop kit with eye-tracking sensors that allow quick and portable access to athletes to discover early brain trauma.

SyncThink specializes in neurotechnology and received FDA clearance to use the EYE-SYNC on March 22nd, 2016. EYE-SYNC analyzes eye movement and reportedly can assess abnormal eye movement in under 60 seconds.

The headsets are being used in the Stanford University Athletic programs. The company also announced that Indiana University will be using the EYE-SYNC technology to study sub concussive head impacts.

NASA and KAIST developing tiny spacecraft that could travel one-fifth the speed of light

NASA is working with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) to develop tiny spacecraft made from a single silicon chip that may offer faster interstellar travel.

It is suggested that using a single silicon chip could allow for the spacecraft to travel at one-fifth of the speed of light and could reach the nearest star within 20 years. This is 10 times faster than conventional methods.

NASA’s Dong-IL Moon will be presenting the technology on Wednesday at the International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco.

Currently the team is working on finding ways to combat degradation during the trip. The chip could suffer from temperature swings and intense radiation. This will also be discussed during the meeting on Wednesday.

If successful these tiny spacecrafts could be sent out in many directions to help map and gather data on various stars, planets, and systems nearby.

Michigan prepping for the future of self driving vehicles with new law

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill that creates regulations for testing, using, and selling autonomous vehicles within the state of Michigan.

This law is important because it takes into consideration that the country is accepting autonomous vehicles.

Gov. Snyder said the legislation is key to the future of research and development of automotive technology in the state. Snyder signed the bill at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn. It also allows companies to operate self driving ride-sharing vehicles.

The law will introduce the Michigan Council of Future Mobility which will make recommendations no statewide policy and regulate connected vehicle networks and oversee traffic data generated by the networks.

The law is a package of four bills, Senate Bills 995,996,997, and 998. The main bill allows self driving vehicles to operate in Michigan, it allows automated trucks to travel together, and allows networks of self driving cars that are allows to pick up passengers when called for.

 

Google, HTC, Oculus, Samsung, Sony create the Global VR Association

Google, HTC, Oculus, Samsung, Sony have come together to create the GVRA, Global Virtual Reality Association.

The virtual reality market has gained much traction in the past few years, with several major companies developing their own or buying out VR startups. Currently the market is valued ar $5.2 billion and expected to reach $162 billion by 2020, according to the IDC.

Having mainly been rivals in the VR/AR domain, the companies have come together to promote the further development and adoption of the technology around the world. The GVRA aims to bring together experts to focus on the best practices for the technology. Currently there are many different standards and many apps are only available for certain platforms and headsets.

In their official statement the organization states:

GVRA’s mission is to promote responsible development and adoption of VR globally with best practices, dialogue across stakeholders, and research. GVRA will be a resource for industry, consumers, and policymakers interested in VR.

 

Google open sources Embedding Projector

Google announced that it will open source its data visualization tool, Embedding Projector. It will be used to help researchers visualize data without using TensorFlow.

Embedding Projector helps researchers create a model that can be considered close to a four dimensional model. Since humans, as of now, can’t visualize the fourth dimension, this tool will help using data and vectors.

For a four dimensional model researchers can create a char in PowerPoint using the X and Y axis measurements but as more it gets more complex it gets harder to visualize in the fourth dimension, this is where Google’s Embedding Projector comes in.