Facial recognition technology  

In 2018 we realise that Facebook is now doing facial recognition even on photos you're untagged in.

The myth of the surveillance society is nothing more than a myth. Just because there are security cameras in every street corner, it doesn't mean that it's infallible or that CCTV is delivering a safer society. When it comes to real-life situations, camera-based visual surveillance is not really accurate nor practical because you ultimately you need a human to watch the footage as they cannot rely on technology alone. For instance, during the 2011 London riots, facial recognition software contributed to just one arrest out of the 4,962 that took place. That is why visual surveillance still relies on people watching hours of footage - which is time consuming and unsustainable.

Software advances made in DNA sequence analysis could be a game changer in the field of video analysis software. These software tools and techniques, which treat video as a scene that evolves in the same way DNA does, could revolutionise automated visual surveillance.
While CCTV cameras create endless and complex video footage to analyse, automate video surveillance remains limited to tasks in relatively controlled environments. Although it is easy to detect a trespasser into somebody's property can be complete quite accurately, analysing footage of groups of people or identifying someone in particular in a public space is not as accurate since outdoor scenes vary and change so much.
The way to improve automated video analysis is by devising a software that can deal with this variability rather than treating as an inconvenience. One area that deals with large amounts of very variable data is genomics. The three billion DNA characters of the first human genome (the entire set of genetic data in a human) were sequenced in 2001, and since then, the production of this kind of genomic data has increased at an exponential rate. Given the amount of this data and the degree to which it can vary has led to vast amounts of money and resources being deployed to develop specialised software and computing facilities to handle it.
Thanks to this software, today it's possible for scientists to relatively easily access genome analysis services to study all sorts of things, including how to combat diseases and design personalised medical services, and even uncovering the mysteries of human history.
By investigating the mutations that have taken place over time, genomic analysis studies the evolution of genes. This can be compared to what visual surveillance is up against, which is the challenge of interpreting the evolution of a scene over time to spot and track moving pedestrians.
If we apply the same principles that are used in genomics to video surveillance, treating the images that make up a video as mutations, that we can solve the system's biggest challenge.
This practice is called “vide-omics” and it has already demonstrated its potential. For instance, one research group led by Jean-Christophe Nebel, associate professor in Pattern Recognition, Kingston University, has, for the first time, show that videos could be analysed even when captured by a freely moving camera. “By identifying camera motions as mutations, they can be compensated so that a scene appears as if filmed by a fixed camera,” Nebel explained.
At the same time, researchers at the University of Verona have demonstrated that image processing tasks can be encoded such a way that standard genomics tools could be exploited. “This is particularly important since such an approach reduces significantly the cost and time of software development,” Nebel said.
“Combining this with our strategy could eventually deliver the visual surveillance revolution that was promised many years ago,” he added. “If the ‘vide-omics‘ principle were to be adopted, the coming decade could deliver much smarter cameras. In which case, we had better get used to being spotted on video far more often.”

 

Asian markets   

Asia has a longstanding history of lucrative trade routes. In the 21st century, much of the cross-frontier commerce relies on organizations utilizing the power of the internet. But its worth considering how many of Asia's key trade associations were first established, many centuries ago. A lot of these relationships persist to this day.
Innovation and good business ideas travel a great distance – and one of the fundamental drivers of this is travel. There is nothing new in this as a concept – in Asia, the routes that were most responsible for the dissemination of innovative ideas were the so-called silk roads.
The beginning of the Silk Road trade network that extended to the Roman Empire. The main route of the Silk Road traveled through China into Central Asia, Korea, India, Pakistan, Tibet, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Persia, Iraq, Turkey, Greece and the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Together with merchant caravans Buddhist monks went from India to Central Asia and China, preaching their religion. While many different kinds of merchandise traveled along the Silk Road, the name comes from the popularity of Chinese silk with the west, especially with Rome. 1271-1295. Marco Polo. The most famous of the Silk Road travelers, who, by his own account, worked for Qubilai Khan traveled the Silk Road.
Think of one of humankind's most important inventions – of all time. That would be paper. This was first created in China, during the Han dynasty, coinciding with trade becoming increasingly prevalent along the silk road. Paper was considered so revolutionary at the time, because prior to its appearance amongst the caravans plodding along the vast cross-Asian highways, written communication relied on narrow wooden strips, or cumbersome rolls of silk. But thanks to the demand for this new substance that could be satisfied with the convenience of the silk roads, the idea quickly took hold in other parts of Easy Asia.
It took longer for paper to establish itself as the writing platform of choice in the northwest of China. Apart from proving ever more popular in Buddhist temples, the surrounding towns and villages were more content to hang on to the archaic papyrus and parchment methods of writing. But with the ebb and flow of civilizations in that part of the world, the influence of the all-conquering Mongols ensured that papyrus was superseded throughout China. As the world grew increasingly open over the centuries, Chinese ingenuity began arriving in the Middle East, and then making its way to Western Europe.
Another invention that spread across the world in a westwards direction was the use of water wheels for irrigation. Attributed to ancient engineers in the Roman province of Syria, the use of pots attached to a vertical waterwheel, driven by river currents, became relied upon for lifting water from its source. The fact this could be done without the input of human or animal force made it very appealing to all manner of tradespeople.
As well as these innovations, the silk roads winding their way across the vast Asian steppes, across the Caucasian Mountains and eventually into Europe, brought with them a host of exotic foodstuffs. Oranges, grapes, spices and a tremendous range of produce began making its way across the huge distances between nations, with demand rising as products gained new audiences.
The camel caravans that once plied their trade along the silk road have long been superseded by quicker, more efficient mechanized transport. But the essential ingredients of the Asia trade sector remain unchanged. Different cultures can have their diverse demands for items satisfied. Except, with the benefit of today's technological advances, it is possible for a consumer in Europe to order services from someone in China, with a few clicks of a keyboard.

 

Cyber health checks  

Given that malware and other forms of internet sabotage have the potential to cost e-Commerce companies a vast amount of money, a timely announcement has come from IT Governance. This cyber security service is launching a specific ‘cyber health check' aimed at providing a sense of reassurance for a cross-section of small to medium-sized organisations.
This check, instigated back in 2014, will not be tailored to the size of the company under the spotlight. Instead the check will be available at a fixed-rate price. Consultancy will be offered on-site, as well as a full audit of respective computer infrastructures. Following-on from the exhaustive data checking, a report into the remote vulnerability assessment will enable managers to get an accurate snapshot of exactly how robust their organisation currently is.
A survey conducted by British Telecommunications last year demonstrated that companies in the United Kingdom were lagging some way behind their American counterparts in several crucial area of IT security. This discrepancy was most marked in respective levels of preparedness for countering threats. This attitude extrapolates to how robust any organisation is likely to be in combating the incredibly diverse range of online threats, whether that be non-malicious insider threats, or direct attacks by hackers. Perhaps the fact that the US continues to shrug off the paralysing effects of the September 11 attacks has implanted a more deep-rooted fear of malicious cyber activity.
The Founder and Executive Chairman of IT Governance, Alan Calder, stated: ‘With the proliferation of cyber attacks, the UK organizations' ability to assess the cyber risks and put relevant controls in place will be increasingly tested. Those who take the right measures, and on time, will be able to withstand an attack and those, who don't, will fail. Identifying the gaps between your targeted risk mitigation position and your current situation is a critical step for developing a business-led cyber security strategy that will ensure your future business resilience'.
If organizations are in any way under-prepared for perceived cyber threats in the current environment, they would be advised to take the appropriate action. The future of the internet, with technology such as Cloud services emerging, means that the number of potential areas to be exploited by hackers is increasing rather than shrinking.
According to security spokespeople, migration to the web, coupled with increasingly sophisticated software, will create ever more vulnerability for e-Commerce. This, in turn, will draw cyber attackers like a magnet. What may well inspire management teams to shrug off their complacency are the results of these cyber health checks. It might come as a surprise to these organizations to find that they are not currently under attack – but their defenses were breached many months ago.
 
 
10 ways BT Virus Protect helps keep your computer safe

1. VirusScan

VirusScan runs in the background of your computer, continually monitoring in-real time for viruses, Trojans, tracking cookies, adware, spyware, unwanted programs and threats from email or instant messaging.

If it identifies a threat, it deals with it before it can do any damage, or lets you know if you need to take further action.

2. SiteAdvisor

Some websites include spyware, spam and online scams. SiteAdvisor checks for threatening websites and warns you before you interact with them.

3. Personal Firewall

Virus Protect has a built in-firewall which protects your network, acting as a virtual gateway for incoming traffic, letting in safe traffic and blocking incoming threats including hackers.

4. Parental controls

Protect your children from online dangers with Virus Protect's Parental Controls. Turn on age-appropriate searches, set web browsing limits and filter inappropriate websites. You can also chose to restrict access to specific websites and block access based on keywords.

5. Clean-up tools

Keep your home PC running at optimum performance with Virus Protect's health tools, including automated file, browser and browser history clean-up and disc defragmentation.

6. Spyware protection

Spyware is software that gets information from your computer without your knowledge and can make changes to your computer, slowing it down in the process. Virus Plus protects, detects and removes spyware and adware, as well as blocking tracking cookies.

7. Stealth mode

This mode allows you to use the internet anonymously, so your machine can't be seen by hackers.

8. Vulnerability Scanner

Companies like Microsoft, Google and Adobe continually releases software updates for their software often containing crucial security updates, so it's important to keep your machine up to date. Vulnerability Scanner installs the latest Windows updates, and those from other programs.

9. McAfee SystemGuards

McAfee SystemGuards monitor your computer for tell-tale signals of viruses, spyware and hacking activity.

10. McAfee Security Centre

Use this to review your computer's security status, check for updates and fix security issues.

 How to get Virus Protect:
1. Visit My BT and log in or sign up
2. Scroll down to My Extras, look for the BT Virus Protect panel and click Get Started.
3. Follow instructions to activate Virus Protect and begin the download.
4. Download and install it, look for the McAfee icon in your system tray, which means you are protected.

McAfee are one of many well-known security companies that produce apps for anti-virus/malware. We suggest it might be a good idea to have a few different security apps available from companies including Trend micro, Avast, Kaspersky.

 

Deep sea exploration news  
When it comes to boldly going where no man has gone before, to paraphrase the somewhat sexist statement from television's Star Trek series, one thing is for sure. The deepest points in the ocean of our planet are far more mysterious and impenetrable than some of the locations in outer space. This is a fact – we know more about what the surface of the planet Mars looks like than we do what lies at the foot of the Pacific Ocean.
Uncovering the foreboding undersea world has captivated the imagination of humankind for centuries. The difference is that technology has advanced to a stage that we can now send vessels to depths that were unimaginable until fairly recently. The deepest portion of the ocean is the Challenger Deep, lying at the base of the Mariana Trench. This is a mind-boggling 11 kilometers beneath the surface. In March 2012, the movie director James Cameron (perhaps most widely known for his blockbuster Titanic) entered a self-designed submersible, called the Deepsea Challenger. This was kitted out for exploration and research, allowing Cameron to take samples as well as thoroughly documenting his dive in high-resolution 3D film.
Cameron's CV might well be headed ‘movie director', but he is the veteran of 72 submersible operations to date. 51 of these were accomplished in the Russian craft Mir. The latter vessels were used for dives to 4,900 meters during his research for the Titanic. In his most recent exploration, to the uncharted depths of the Challenger Deep, his craft was a claustrophobic vessel made primarily of specialized glass foam. This material had to be robust enough to withstand the tremendous pressures at that depth. As Cameron slipped through the waters, he sampled material for scientific research, as well as making a feature-length documentary.
This was a particularly tricky assignment because sunlight does not penetrate to these depths, and the pressure exerted by the sheer weight of water is equivalent to a thousand times what is experienced above the surface. Nevertheless, the research vessel filmed previously unseen aquatic life-forms, as well as scooping up samples of rocks, minerals and animals. As well as being of vital importance to natural historians, the rock samples help geologists to understand the forces that cause earthquakes and tsunamis. The dive also provided answers to questions about the very origins of life on earth.
Facts amongst Star Wars fiction  

There is a temptation to view the most popular science fiction movie franchise of all time as ‘hokum' – escapist nonsense that introduces the viewer to fabulous worlds and wacky characters. But, believe it or not, a lot of the fiction portrayed in the Star Wars films (all six of them, with more in the pipeline) is actually grounded in fact. So what aspects of these blockbusters can be termed ‘science fact'?
One of the most exhilarating sequences in the Star Wars movies was the speeder bike scene in Return of the Jedi, the third film in the series. This involved what looked like a cross between motorcycles and hovercraft racing across a deeply-forested landscape, zig-zagging between trees. For a lot of adolescent fans, the closest they came to emulating the action was to furiously pedal their bikes along woodland trails, making the appropriate sound effects with their excitable mouths. However, a New York-based development company called Aerofex are currently involved in research into what they call ‘low altitude tandem duct vehicles'. The best way to think of these is scaled-down Hawker Harrier jump jets – the world-renowned Royal Air Force fighter jets that can take-off and land vertically. These craft would be ideal for navigating across inaccessible regions, such as the Australian Outback, or East Africa, and would be suited to flying doctors. At a present price tag of up to $100,000, the casual movie fan might have to wait awhile before purchasing one to keep in the garage.
The staple of the battle scenes in every Star Wars feature has been laser guns. Emitting piercing bolts or light, they mow down the dreaded Imperial storm troopers at a fearsome raye. The US Navy has been testing laser cannons mounted on warships, known as the ‘Laser Weapon System (LWS)'. One advantage of this potentially-destructive future artillery is cost. Laser beams cost a fraction of the price of missiles, the latter costing several hundred thousand dollars per weapon, putting the soldiers aiming said devices under considerable pressure!
Unlike the movie versions of laser firefights, where bolts of light streak across the screen accompanied by striking sound effects, the reality is somewhat more staid. Because lasers travels at the speed of light, the beams fired from these LWS arsenals are invisible to the naked eye. They are also silent.
As for the potential for a weapon with the capability of destroying an entire planet – hopefully that doomsday scenario remains in the realm of science fiction for some considerable time!

 

Evolutions in phone design  

The mobile phone in your pocket is already a museum piece. Well, seriously, it may well be perfectly snazzy-looking and contemporary for the time being. But as we speak there are design engineers all over the world who are actively involved in ensuring your model will be superseded within the next six months or so! So what are the current design trends currently being drafted?
Where most users of smart phones such as iPhones or samsung s8 or LG g6 these days are offered the straightforward choice of black or white for their shells, there is every likelihood that you might have a transparent option in the not-too-distant future. See-through or 'window' phones will give the user the appearance of clutching a small rectangle of frosted glass. As well as looking fantastic, current weather conditions will be reflected on the screen. You can use your finger as a stylus, or blow at the screen to switch between various modes.
3D
Just as three-dimensional technology has already infiltrated cinema and television screens, this is another way forward for mobile phones. Using hologram-creation technology, three-dimensional images will be projected from the phone screen. This will give the like of Google Maps a whole new range of user-friendly possibilities.
Dexterity
Currently your mobile phone is most probably a small, neat rectangle that fits squarely into a pocket. Increasingly innovative designs will be employed, with some phones becoming 'leaf-shaped', with built-in plastic stems. This will allow the phone to be wrapped around a wrist, arm or neck for safekeeping.
Solar panels
Not only will you be able to power-up you phone for free, you'll be able to keep an eye on your phone to a far greater extent than if it was battling to get noticed amongst the papers, coffee cups and post-it reminders on your cluttered desk!

 

Football and goal line technology  

With the recent diplomatic crisis news, hopefully there will be no disruptions to the FIFA World Cup 2022 taking place in Qatar with total of 64 games will be played to decide the winner.

The use of so-called goal line technology has been sparking furious debate in footballing circles for a number of years. There have been a number of high profile incidents and international matches where the use of technology could have eradicated refereeing decisions since proved to be erroneous.

So what are the pros and cons of introducing goal line technology? Those in favour point to the way that tennis has adopted this technology, vastly improving the flow of matches during top tournaments. Those archive clips of Wimbledon players (most noticeably the likes of Americans John McEnroe or Jimmy Connors) furiously arguing with umpires or line judges about where or not a ball delivered at over 100 kilometers-per-hour had actually skiffed the line, now seem so quaint and amusing. The fact is, knowing that the Hawkeye system will bleep the moment a ball has gone out of play enables the players, and the spectators, to simply relax and get on with enjoying the sport. Slow motion replays allow referees to guarantee pin-point accuracy in decision-making. The level of trust between officials and audience is greatly enhanced.
Hawkeye was introduced by the International Tennis Federation in 2003. However, when the same technology was tabled before FIFA, the world football administration authority, five years later, it was dismissed out of hand. Apparently football's top officials were unimpressed following tests of video replay and the Hawkeye motion analysis system, when applied to their own sport. The main sticking point was the degree of accuracy that technology could offer. FIFA remained to be convinced that neither video replays nor Hawkeye analysis would lead to accurate decisions in 100% of instances. Another bugbear for footballs officials was the fact that technology, while having the potential to eliminate a lot of refereeing shortcomings, would also greatly slow down games.
Those in favour of introducing technology point to the fact that bad referee decisions undermine the sport completely. Not only do the officials look foolish in the eyes of thousands of spectators (or millions where the games are being televised), players tend to react badly too, swamping the match officials, so that the game tends to grind to a halt in any case.
Football's rule books were cobbled together in a different era. So the task for its ruling bodies is maintaining a precision balancing act between what tradition demands, and the need to move with the times. As in any other walk in life, when deliberate brake are imposed on natural evolution, then the outcome is always negative. By embracing new technology football will continue to prosper as the world's most popular spectator sport. Television audiences are saturated with video replay. Managers now have access to it in their dugouts. Fans in the stadium can access it in their hand-held devices. Why should the referee alone be denied it?
Improve your laptop for gaming  
As more and more of us switch from computers to laptops, one of the key questions asked by customers is ‘how can I improve my laptop for gaming?'
One of the first points to note is that advances in technology mean you don't need to have a dedicated gaming laptop to enjoy playing computer games. Serious gamers will still benefit from taking on-board all the appropriate technology that is available, especially if their taste is at the more cutting-edge side of the market. However, nowadays even notebooks are perfectly capable of providing excellent gaming platforms.
As far as technological advancements go, there have been many factors which have led to this improvable in the gaming potential of even the cheapest laptops. Foremost amongst these are the improvements that have been made to processors, such as the Core 2 Duo. This is now available in budget machines, while the Atom processor is now available in dual-core spins. All these innovations help to propel gamers through multi-threaded games at an excellent pace.
As well as advances in processors, memory capabilities have come forward in leaps and bounds. A capacity that would previously have been unheard of for laptops, such as 1GB, is now available as standard. Not only that, it is also easy to upgrade any laptop's memory to 2GB or even more yourself.
The most noticeable area where there have been advances in the technology affecting gaming PCs has been through improvements to graphics. Intel's Graphics Media Accelerator was once the frequent target of complaints by gamers – but this has come on immensely. It can now be utilized for playing games that once would have required computers causing many thousands of dollars.
In order to get computer games performing at reasonable speeds, you really need to select lower quality settings. The one point to note is that there are the occasional games out there that demand DX10 hardware. Even this isn't necessarily as limiting as it first appears. Intel offers support for the DX10 API with the GMA X3100, 4500 and HD ranges. For compatibility reasons, most games offer a DX9 codepath in any case. In addition, all the Intel chips support the revision of Microsoft's API. And while DX11 hardware has been available for a while, there are no DX11-only titles on the shelves, and few under development.
Your machine's desktop display is the biggest barrier to a favorable gaming experience. Best to drop this as low as it will go, until your reach the ideal minimum of 30fps. Experimenting with settings will eventually produce the optimum combination.

 

Innovations in Asia  

As well as being at the forefront of expanding economies, Asia has long been respected as a hub for innovative business ideas. A lot of this is down to Asian customers being more receptive to ideas that are more innovative, and perhaps ‘quirkier' than those their conservative western counterparts would willingly take on-board.
Take the concept of the vending machine. Sure, in the UK they are fairly ubiquitous. You'll find one at your local gymnasium dispensing cool drinks. There'll be one at the railway station offering a range of chocolate bars or crisps. But they are not exactly the type of invention to inspire their customers with any sense of reverence. This is not the case in the Far East. In Singapore, vending machines can dispense a whole lot more than packets of crisps or fairly insipid coffee. You'll be able to order a carton of mashed potato smothered in piping hot, delicious gravy.
Korea is another burgeoning Asian economic power that treats its retailers with due respect. The Emart supermarket here has built-in three-dimensional QR (machine-readable) codes that will only work when the sun has arrived at a certain point overhead. The idea behind this simple but devilishly effective marketing ploy has been to ensure that sales are inspired at certain times of the day – previously it had been noted that sales tended to slump over lunch time.
These QR codes are one noticeable aspect of how innovation is being harnessed in Far Eastern markets. Mobile phones are another important tool. The technology is also filtering over to the west, with the Canadian grocery firm Sobey's using QR codes to provide information on products, such as point of origin. This helps customers in many ways – by hovering over items with their phones they can be taken to web pages with further data. This can also allow interactivity, or transactions to take place.
There are other incentives being offered to customers that make their shopping experience as pleasant as possible. In Sweden, the retailer ICA are allow about field communication. Shoppers buying their lunch at ICA can adopt contactless payment systems. Anyone taking regular advantage of this is rewarded with a free lunch.
Technology is increasingly being used in-store for the benefit of both retailers and customers. In Thailand, Tesco are growing lettuces in water, making for fresher food, and eye-catching displays. This is so much more appealing than the sight of rows of uninteresting green vegetables lined up on a supermarket shelf, slowly wilting beneath the bright lights.
Another revolutionary idea likely to pave the way for future Asian shopping experiences is ‘smart trolleys'. These will scan products the moment they are placed inside, allowing customers to keep a close eye on their goods and budget accordingly, as well as flagging up the fact they are still within the amount they originally wished to spend – so it is too early to stop!

 

How robots are set to evolve  

Seeing as we just saw a whole ton of different Robots at CES 2017 including Laundroid, Aristotle by Nabi, Emotech Olly, Ewaybot MoRo, Black & Decker Smartech Robot Vac, Ubtech's Lynx robot and many more. SkyLabs team and been talking robot ideas ever since. When most of us hear the word ‘robots', what probably immediately springs to mind are image from hundreds of science fiction movies, from Star Wars to Blade Runner. The fact is, far from being the stuff of futuristic fantasy, robots are all around us today. And their presence is only set to continue expanding.
Of course, the conventional notion is of a synthetic human or android, an artificially-engineered person who will walk around just like the flesh and blood variety. But robots come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, depending on the tasks they have been designed to accomplish.
At their most basic level, robots are already installed in offices throughout the World. Think of the vast plants churning out cars. Practically every part of the production process is now in the hands of robotic components – machines that have been specifically pre-programmed to handle feats of precision engineering. Although the figures are difficult to collate with 100% accuracy, there may be upwards of one million fully functional industrial robots that are an integral part of plants across the globe.
At the lower end of the scale, there are some half a million cleaning robots working in offices in various sectors in many countries. While these won't exactly resemble C3PO with a duster and cloth, they will come in a diverse range of designs. Each of these will be designed to cope with everything from desk areas and rest rooms to robots that will deal with areas containing sensitive equipment, such as telecommunications or server stores.
You only have to consider the boom in sales figures of toy robots in the previous decade. This is one area where robots are predicted to truly explode in functionality and popularity over the next 20 years or so. Entertainment robots will enter more and more households, allowing robotics will make the leap from a mainly service tool - for cleaning or working on factory production lines - and into domestic environments.
The nature of robot design will be greatly influenced, allowing the look of robots to become more streamlined, tending towards the classical image of synthetic humans rather than simple machines. Robotics will begin looking into dealing with practical considerations, such as facial features, color schemes, and dimensions, as well as fluidity of movement, robustness, and how the units are powered. One of our current favs is Asimo from Honda.
  
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