Monthly Archives: August 2015

GENI and the Future of Web 2.0

The Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI) is a special internet environment developed by the National Science Foundation in 2007. The host network for the environment, called Internet2, has over 50 sites in 30+ countries, and it is used to test ideas in an environment free from the typical constraints of the publicly accessible internet.

Cutting edge technology often goes through GENI testing before hitting the market. Recently, GENI and US Ignite (a next-gen development nonprofit) partnered to release information about a low-latency fiber network in the public safety space.

Today, public safety workers have access to and work with a fraction of the capability that a low-latency fiber network could provide. A notable demonstration featured what would happen when a connected vehicle has an accident. The network provides instantaneous information to police stations regarding the accident location and vehicle information. A drone picked up additional information and relayed it to the same viewing platform. In real life, this technology could help first responders and police react faster and with better preparation than ever before.

In the future, low-latency fiber networks could improve performance across every sector of society, and that’s just one of the many testing functions GENI offers innovative enterprise and government organizations. The environment is ideal for exploring solutions to current online dilemmas and taking the steps towards the future of internet applications.

Anyone can use GENI to develop full-scale tests of networking, security, and applications. It’s available for free to researchers and for classroom use. Other applications for the site have included an US Ignite demonstration where students in Chattanooga, Tennessee were able to see and control a remote microscope in California from across the country. The low-latency fiber network technology improved the lag time from 100 milliseconds to 35 milliseconds. As a result, the network drastically improved the user experience.

CNF Wood Chips – Technology Made from Trees

Researchers may have found a solution to our electronic waste crisis. Currently, the U.S generates over 2,440,000 tons of e-waste every year, only 27% of which is recycled. This left many researchers struggling to find possible solutions. In the meantime, the junk continues to pile up. In fact, researchers on Kamilo Beach in Hawaii discovered rocks made of plastic!

Plastic takes years to break down, and it becomes ingrained in the ecosystem, melting and adhering to rocks, sand, and other debris. Of course, we do a have a bevy of recycling options available, but they simply cannot keep up. What’s more, electronics that contain chemicals leach toxic byproducts into the land as they degrade. The devices that contain these toxins include CPUs, TVs, printers, cell phones, and more.

CNF Paper Makes Electronics Biodegradable
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in conjunction with the Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory, developed a new material called cellulose nanofibril, or CNF for short. These “wood chips” include a surprising material: computer chips. Researchers believe that these CNF chips will be able to ease some of the environmental impact that e-waste has on our planet.

The new technology replaces the usual substrate on which computer chips are created. Traditionally, computer chips are built on petroleum and paper-based substrates; subsequently, transistors and other components adhere to it. The majority of the substrate is actually replaceable; so, researchers broke them down and formed biodegradable, ultra-thin, but strong CNF paper.

If not properly sealed, fungi easily biodegrade the chip substrates, which poses a new problem for the technology. Researchers continue to combat these issues, and they believe CNF paper will be suitable for almost all of our technology, including mobile devices, display screens, and much more. Experts are hopeful that with a little nudging from the government, CNF technology will quickly become the way all technology is made. They predict that biodegradable technology will surpass the numbers of its environmentally hazardous counterparts within 10 years.


New Noise-Cancelling Headphones May Be the Answer to Noise Pollution

Noise pollution is a huge problem around the world, and the detrimental effect it has on humans is no secret. People exposed to more than 70dBA on a continual basis are likely to suffer from noise-induced hearing loss and a plethora of other health problems, including stress and heart disease. Noise-cancelling headphones have been on the market for years and are relatively effective at taking the edge off of unwanted noise. But their technology remains somewhat stagnant, until recently.

Enter Doppler Labs and Hear Active Listening
Doppler Labs, known for making some of the most advanced headphones on the market, recently announced a Kickstarter campaign for a new noise-cancelling system, dubbed “Here Active Listening.” These Bluetooth earbuds will feature brand new, never-before-seen technology.

Unlike traditional noise-cancelling headphones, users of the Hear Active Listening system will actually be able to customize the ambient sounds. Using the ear buds in combination with a Smartphone app, users can control the volume of sounds, mix sounds, and even add sound effects. The system will come with a host of preset filters to cancel out specific sounds. If a user is on an airplane with a crying baby or subjected to the obnoxious screeching of a train, they can simply apply the custom-designed filter to block out that specific sound.

The way the technology works is through a series of algorithms that process external signals. The incoming sounds are analyzed and played back in fewer than 30 microseconds. Here Active Listening then uses the analysis of the sound to target and resolve specific frequencies. So, it is able to effectively modify specific pitches with tailored “cures.”

Once the company reaches its Kickstarter goal of $250,000, Doppler Labs will be a pioneer of the marketplace with this incredible new technology. That means many of us will be able to say goodbye to noise pollution forever, or at least while we’re wearing our Hear buds.


Apple CarPlay Continues to Improve But Is Yet to Be Affordable

Technology is progressing rapidly, with Apple and Google setting the pace for integration and usability. Both tech giants released phone-to-car integration within the last year, and they continue to improve the technology that allows drivers to safely use their phone in the car.

Apple CarPlay’s interface is displayed almost exactly like that of the iPhone, except located on your car’s dash. With touchscreen apps and integrated voice control, drivers don’t even have to pick up their phone or take their eyes off the road. Cars that feature CarPlay also have built-in steering wheel buttons to control features. Using CarPlay, drivers can:

• Control maps on their dashboard, including turn-by-turn navigation, traffic conditions, and ETAs. Incredibly, Carplay can also predict where you’re going by accessing addresses in your e-mail, texts, and contacts.

• Access their phones by using intelligent voice control. Siri can make phone calls and listen to voicemail. With upgrades to software, the new technology continues to refine voice command features across all platforms.

• Enlist Siri to listen to, translate, send, and read text messages. With 1.4 million annual crashes occurring as a result of texting and driving, this is an extraordinarily important feature for you, your passengers, and those who share the road with you.

• Request Siri to access your playlists and iTunes radio with voice command or at the touch of a button. With iOS 9 coming to the market this year, she will be able to quickly find exactly what you want.

Apple just announced this month that they would also open opportunities for automaker apps to be displayed on the interface. That means that drivers may be able to control everything within their car from the screen, from the AC to the interior lights.

Currently, the only car that is compatible with CarPlay is the Ferrari (which most of us can’t afford). But, as with all technology, as it becomes more commonplace, it becomes more affordable. It shouldn’t be long before we see affordable auto manufacturers releasing CarPlay compatible cars.