Connect with us


Blind Man Invents ‘Smart Cane’ That Uses Google Maps & Sensors To Identify Surroundings



Blind Man Invents ‘Smart Cane’ That Uses Google Maps & Sensors To Identify Surroundings
Photo Credit: WeWalk

This electronic walking stick is revolutionizing the way that blind people can navigate the world.

As a means of protecting people from low-hanging objects and obstacles above chest level, the WeWalk smart cane uses ultrasonic sensors to warn the user of nearby hindrances through vibrations in the handle.

The cane can be paired with a smartphone’s Bluetooth system for easy control. Since it is also integrated with Voice Assistant and Google Maps software, it can use built-in speakers to inform the user of nearby stores and infrastructural details that they may not be able to see.

WeWalk CEO and co-founder Kursat Ceylan, who is also blind, told CNN that he helped to develop the cane out of a desire to use modern technology as a tool for the visually impaired.

 “In these days we are talking about flying cars, but these people have been using just a plain stick,” he told the news outlet.

“As a blind person, when I am at the Metro station I don’t know which is my exit … I don’t know which bus is approaching … [or] which stores are around me. That kind of information can be provided with the WeWalk.”

The WeWalk is currently being sold for $500 a pop. As the Turkish tech start up gains more traction, the developers hope to eventually pair it with ridesharing apps and transportation services to further improve its navigational abilities.

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we’d be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all!

Alternative News

“Scariest Thing You’ll Read All Day”: Report Sounds Alarm Over Brain-Reading Technology & Neurocapitalism



Report Sounds Alarm Over Brain-Reading Technology & Neurocapitalism
Photo Credit:

Vox report that swiftly sparked alarm across the internet Friday outlined how, “in the era of neurocapitalism, your brain needs new rights,” following recent revelations that Facebook and Elon Musk’s Neuralink are developing technologies to read people’s minds.

“Mark Zuckerberg’s company is funding research on brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) that can pick up thoughts directly from your neurons and translate them into words. The researchers say they’ve already built an algorithm that can decode words from brain activity in real time.

And Musk’s company has created flexible “threads” that can be implanted into a brain and could one day allow you to control your smartphone or computer with just your thoughts. Musk wants to start testing in humans by the end of next year.”

Samuel interviewed neuroethicist Marcello Ienca, a researcher at ETH Zurich who published a paper in 2017 detailing four human rights for the neurotechnology age that he believes need to be protected by law. Ienca told Samuel, “I’m very concerned about the commercialization of brain data in the consumer market.”

“And I’m not talking about a farfetched future. We already have consumer neurotech, with people trading their brain data for services from private companies,” he said, pointing to video games that use brain activity and wearable devices that monitor human activities such as sleep. “I’m tempted to call it neurocapitalism.”

The Vox report broke down the four rights that, according to Ienca, policymakers need to urgently safeguard with new legislation:

  1. The right to cognitive liberty: You should have the right to freely decide you want to use a given neurotechnology or to refuse it.
  2. The right to mental privacy: You should have the right to seclude your brain data or to publicly share it.
  3. The right to mental integrity: You should have the right not to be harmed physically or psychologically by neurotechnology.
  4. The right to psychological continuity: You should have the right to be protected from alterations to your sense of self that you did not authorize.

“Brain data is the ultimate refuge of privacy. When that goes, everything goes,” Ienca said. “And once brain data is collected on a large scale, it’s going to be very hard to reverse the process.”

Samuel’s report generated concerned commentary on Twitter, with readers calling the piece “the scariest thing you’ll read all dayand declaring, I do not want to live in this future.”

Tech reporter Benjamin Powers tweeted, “So how long until this is co-opted for national security purposes?”

Ienca, in his interview with Samuel, noted that the Defense Department’s advanced research agency is assessing how neurotechnologies could be used on soldiers. As he explained, “there is already military-funded research to see if we can monitor decreases in attention levels and concentration, with hybrid BCIs that can ‘read’ deficits in attention levels and ‘write’ to the brain to increase alertness through neuromodulation. There are DARPA-funded projects that attempt to do so.”

Such technologies raise concerns about abuse not only by governments but also by corporations.

Journalist Noah Kulwin compared brain-reading tech to self-driving cars, suggesting that the former “can’t possibly work as presently marketed,” and given that governments aren’t prepared with human rights protections, companies will be empowered to “do a bunch of unregulated experimentation.”

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we’d be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all!

About the Author

Jessica Corbett is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow her on Twitter: @corbett_jessica.

Continue Reading


Facial Recognition: 10 Reasons You Should Be Worried About The Technology



Photo Credit:

Facial recognition technology is spreading fast. Already widespread in China, software that identifies people by comparing images of their faces against a database of records is now being adopted across much of the rest of the world. It’s common among police forces but has also been used at airportsrailway stations and shopping centres.

The rapid growth of this technology has triggered a much-needed debate. Activists, politicians, academics and even police forces are expressing serious concerns over the impact facial recognition could have on a political culture based on rights and democracy.


As someone who researches the future of human rights, I share these concerns.

Here are ten reasons why we should worry about the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces.

1. It Puts Us On A Path Towards Automated Blanket Surveillance

CCTV is already widespread around the world, but for governments to use footage against you they have to find specific clips of you doing something they can claim as evidence. Facial recognition technology brings monitoring to new levels. It enables the automated and indiscriminate live surveillance of people as they go about their daily business, giving authorities the chance to track your every move.

2. It Operates Without A Clear Legal Or Regulatory Framework

Most countries have no specific legislation that regulates the use of facial recognition technology, although some lawmakers are trying to change this. This legal limbo opens the door to abuse, such as obtaining our images without our knowledge or consent and using them in ways we would not approve of.

3. It Violates The Principles Of Necessity And Proportionality

A commonly stated human rights principle, recognised by organisations from the UN to the London Policing Ethics Panel, is that surveillance should be necessary and proportionate. This means surveillance should be restricted to the pursuit of serious crime instead of enabling the unjustified interference into our liberty and fundamental rights. Facial recognition technology is at odds with these principles. It is a technology of control that is symptomatic of the state’s mistrust of its citizens.

4. It Violates Our Right To Privacy

The right to privacy matters, even in public spaces. It protects the expression of our identity without uncalled-for intrusion from the state or from private companies. Facial recognition technology’s indiscriminate and large-scale recording, storing and analysing of our images undermines this right because it means we can no longer do anything in public without the state knowing about it.

5. It Has A Chilling Effect On Our Democratic Political Culture

Blanket surveillance can deter individuals from attending public events. It can stifle participation in political protests and campaigns for change. And it can discourage nonconformist behaviour. This chilling effect is a serious infringement on the right to freedom of assembly, association, and expression.

6. It Denies Citizens The Opportunity For Consent

There is a lack of detailed and specific information as to how facial recognition is actually used. This means that we are not given the opportunity to consent to the recording, analysing and storing of our images in databases. By denying us the opportunity to consent, we are denied choice and control over the use of our own images.

7. It Is Often Inaccurate

Facial recognition technology promises accurate identification. But numerous studies have highlighted how the algorithms trained on racially biased data sets misidentify people of colour, especially women of colour. Such algorithmic bias is particularly worrying if it results in unlawful arrests, or if it leads public agencies and private companies to discriminate against women and people from minority ethnic backgrounds.

8. It Can Lead To Automation Bias

If the people using facial recognition software mistakenly believe that the technology is infallible, it can lead to bad decisions. This “automation bias” must be avoided. Machine-generated outcomes should not determine how state agencies or private corporations treat individuals. Trained human operators must exercise meaningful control and take decisions based in law.

9. It Implies There Are Secret Government Watch Lists

The databases that contain our facial images should ring alarm bells. They imply that private companies and law enforcement agencies are sharing our images to build watch lists of potential suspects without our knowledge or consent. This is a serious threat to our individual rights and civil liberties. The security of these databases, and their vulnerability to the actions of hackers, is also cause for concern.

10. It Can Be Used To Target Already Vulnerable Groups

Facial recognition technology can be used for blanket surveillance. But it can also be deployed selectively, for example to identify migrants and refugees. The sale of facial recognition software to agencies such as the controversial US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which has been heavily criticised for its tactics in dealing with migrants, should worry anyone who cares for human rights. And the use of handheld mobile devices with a facial recognition app by police forces raises the spectre of enhanced racial profiling at the street level.

Debate sorely needed!

With so many concerns about facial recognition technology, we desperately need a more prominent conversation on its impact on our rights and civil liberties. Without proper regulation of these systems, we risk creating dystopian police states in what were once free, democratic countries.

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we’d be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all!

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Continue Reading

Alternative News

Mission Success Declared As Solar Sail Propels Itself From Earth Using Only Sunbeams



Mission Success Declared as Solar Sail Propels Itself From Earth Using Only Sunbeams
Photo Credit:

Back in 1976, the late Carl Sagan sat down on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to talk about a new form of space propulsion called solar sailing. Four decades later, and The Planetary Society has officially demonstrated this “tremendously exciting prospect” in practice.

Drawing on ten years of hard work and 7 million dollars in crowd funding, the non-profit Society’s LightSail 2 has become the first small spacecraft to raise its orbit solely on the power of sunlight.

“We’re thrilled to announce mission success for LightSail 2,” says Bruce Betts, LightSail program manager and the Society’s chief scientist.

“Our criteria was to demonstrate controlled solar sailing in a CubeSat by changing the spacecraft’s orbit using only the light pressure of the Sun, something that’s never been done before.”

The LightSail 2 spacecraft has been up in orbit for over a month, and last week, it opened its sails for the first time. In the eight days or so since, the spacecraft has raised its orbit by 1.7 kilometres, pushed along solely by the Sun’s photons, which ‘bounce off’ its reflective sails.

(The Planetary Society)

Following Japan’s IKAROS solar sail, which was launched in 2010, LightSail 2 is only the second-ever successful attempt at solar flying. Yet unlike IKAROS, it can use this new form of propulsion to actually change its orbit.

According to project manager Dave Spencer, LightSail 2 is being controlled autonomously by an on-board algorithm. By twisting the spacecraft 90 degrees every 50 minutes, this software can alter the craft’s orientation, so that it gets enough energy from the Sun no matter where it is. IKAROS, in comparison, could only turn about four or five degrees.

This impressive algorithm is still being updated and tweaked. One of the biggest challenges so far has been refining the spacecraft’s momentum, which is controlled by a spinning wheel.

This momentum wheel is used to change the craft’s orientation so that it turns the thrust from solar sailing on and off. When the wheel starts approaching maximum speed, which it does a couple times per day, it needs to be slowed down.

This is currently done using electromagnetic torque rods, which orient the spacecraft using Earth’s magnetic field. Unfortunately, this temporarily takes the spacecraft out of its proper orientation for solar sailing, so scientists are still trying to figure out how to reduce these saturation points as much as possible. A software patch for this very issue was uploaded today.

“We are learning a lot from LightSail 2 right now,” said Bill Nye, the CEO of The Planetary Society, during a recent press conference.

“In other words, although we’ve declared mission success, and we did this thing that we have been hoping to do for – depending on how you reckon – 42 years, LightSail 2 will fly for almost another year… We are going to learn a lot about controlling the spacecraft and the performance of the sails in the next few months.”

(The Planetary Society)

It’s hard to predict exactly how much further the spacecraft will be able to raise its orbit. Prelaunch simulations predicted that as solar propulsion adds up, it would increase the craft’s orbit by about half a kilometre per day.

In the end, this wasn’t too far off the mark; in fact, the spacecraft increased by around 900 metres (2,950 ft) just the other day.

But just as there’s a lower limit to the spacecraft’s orbit, there’s also an upper limit.

“The atmospheric density at those altitudes is really poorly modelled and highly variable, and so we don’t really know at what point atmospheric drag is going to overcome our ability to continue orbit raising,” explained Spencer in the press briefing.

“So we’ll keep doing this as long as we can.”

The applications for this technology are limitless, and scientists have proposed using it in the search for alien life, monitoring weather on the Sun and as a warning system for incoming asteroids.

There’s even a dream that if a material can be found that tolerates high heat and radiation, a solar-sailing spacecraft could creep really close to the Sun, receiving a huge thrust that would ultimately allow it to travel much farther and at much higher speeds.

“This technology enables us to take things to extraordinary destinations in the Solar System and maybe even beyond, in a way that was never possible before,” Nye said in the briefing, “because you don’t need fuel, you don’t need all the systems to control fuel, manage fuel and buy fuel.”

NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, which is set to launch sometime in mid 2020, is probably the earliest application for this new technology. The bold mission plans to use a solar sail and a 6U CubeSat, or miniaturised spacecraft, to gather data on nearby asteroids that hold potential for future human missions.

“Some of the very early concepts for solar sailing missions had large spacecraft’s and enormous sails,” Spencer explained in the briefing.

“But what’s really interesting is that in the last decade or so, it’s been the CubeSat revolution where the technology has gotten so small that has allowed solar sailing to really take the forefront and be developed as a source of in space propulsion for these tiny spacecraft.”

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we’d be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all!

This article was written by Carly Cassella for Science Alert where it was originally published and has been republished under Creative Commons.

Continue Reading


Scientists Create Contact Lenses That Zoom In When You Blink Twice



Scientists Create Contact Lenses That Zoom In When You Blink Twice
Photo Credit: Unilad

It is absolutely the stuff of science fiction: a contact lens that zooms on your command.

But scientists at the University of California San Diego have gone ahead and made it a reality. They’ve created a contact lens, controlled by eye movements, that can zoom in if you blink twice.

How is this possible? In the simplest of terms, the scientists measured the electrooculographic signals generated when eyes make specific movements (up, down, left, right, blink, double blink) and created a soft biomimetic lens that responds directly to those electric impulses. The lens created was able to change its focal length depending on the signals generated.

Image source: Unilad

Therefore the lens could literally zoom in the blink of an eye.

Incredibly, the lens works regardless of whether the user can see or not. It’s not about the sight, it’s about the electricity produced by specific movements.

Why create this? Why the hell not. The researchers believe this innovation could be used in “visual prostheses, adjustable glasses, and remotely operated robotics in the future,” but I’m waiting for them to turn up on CSI Miami. Could you imagine the crimes Ice-T could solve on Law and Order wearing these things?

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to see more like this one, we’d be humbled if you would help us spread the word and share it with your friends and family. Join us in our quest to promote free, useful information to all!

Continue Reading

Trending Now

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Censorship is hiding us from you.

Get breaking conscious news articles sent directly to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!