Brilliant Ideas That Buy Us Time Before Cape Town Reaches Day Zero

In just over 100 days, researchers expect Cape Town to run out of water. The South African megacity has traditionally enjoyed abundant rains during winter and a warm, pleasant climate during summer, but after three years of drought, experts now expect the city’s water system to collapse on June 4, 2018.

Currently, Cape Town’s citizens have access to 13.2 gallons of water per day, about a quarter of what the average American uses daily and equivalent to little more than a six-minute shower. Experts predict water levels in the six dams that feed the city will fall below 13.5 percent of their capacity on June 4, effectively leaving the city dry. On that “Day Zero,” nearly four million residents could see their water rationed to 6.6 gallons per day per person.

As time runs out for Cape Town, the brightest minds in Africa and beyond are scrambling for last-ditch solutions to stave off the crisis. Here are some of the most ambitious ideas that may buy time while the city sets up desalination plants and hopes for rain.

Image Credit: Creative Commons

Proposed solution: Drag an iceberg down to Western Cape

What is it? As wild as it sounds, computer simulations have shown we could transport a mammoth clump of ice thousands of miles while retaining more than half its mass during the journey. A 2009 study by French software firm Dassault Systemes showed that it is possible to tow an iceberg with a weight of seven metric tons from the Canary Islands to the northwest coast of Africa in under five months and with a loss of only 38 percent of its mass.

With a budget of approximately $ 10 million, engineers could fit the iceberg with an insulating skirt to reduce melting and then tether it to a boat traveling at a speed of about one knot (1.1 miles per hour).

How will it help? After docking, the water would have to be distributed across the city, which would presumably add to the staggering costs of the operation. However, with Day Zero looming, the investment may be worth it. The Abu Dhabi-based National Adviser Bureau told Gulf News that the average iceberg could provide up to 20 billion gallons of fresh water. The Daily Maverick did the math: If such a wild idea were to come true, it could solve Cape Town’s water crisis for almost half a year.

Image Credit: I-Drop Water

Proposed solution: I-Drop Water

What is it? Launched in 2015, this South African nonprofit distributes water purification systems to shops and grocery stores as a way to reach the most people while keeping water affordable. The filters remove viruses, bacteria, and sediments from the water, and a central station monitors the distribution units through an embedded SIM card, so shopkeepers pay for each gallon of dirty water they purify and sell.

How will it help? In the wake of the Cape Town crisis, Swedish group Bluewater, which also produces water purifiers, teamed up with I-Drop to distribute more systems across southern Africa. The goal is to keep the price of water lower compared to single-use bottles, while also tackling the growing problem of plastic pollution in the continent’s main urban centers. When Day Zero hits Cape Town and people are left with less than seven gallons a day, recycled dirty water could provide a life-saving top up.

Image Credit: Greenchain Engineering

Proposed solution: Greenchain Engineering

What is it? The South African startup targets the entire water supply chain, providing rain harvesting systems as well as improving the management of gray water, which is not drinkable but can be used to wash dishes, run a washing machine, or take a shower. Although a lack of rain is currently Cape Town’s main problem, citizens could harvest rain from short showers from their roofs. The system filters and distributes water collected this way.

How will it help? The startup has started a conversation with the Cape Town municipality to roll out their services on a large scale. While equipping every roof with a water harvesting system may not stop Day Zero from arriving, it could help the city manage the limited resources left and potentially prevent future crises once the rain comes back.

Image Credit: Warka Water

Proposed solution: Fog catchers

What is it? They come in various forms, from a simple square sail stretched between two poles to a complex tent-like structure, but their goal is the same: capture every droplet of moisture in the air and turn it into drinkable water.

The intricate fabric of a fog catcher traps condensation, be it from post-rain humidity or morning mist, and channels it into a container. The devices are designed to meet the needs of remote communities that have to rely on erratic rains for their daily water supply, and they’ve proven so popular people now use them everywhere in the world, from South America to Africa.

How will it help? Innovator Grant Vanderwagen is piloting a simple version of fog catchers in Cape Town. Although the idea is still little more than a proof of concept, the entrepreneur told VentureBurn that a single unit could produce up to 10,000 liters (2,200 gallons) of water per month, depending on the weather.

Image Credit: Creative Commons

Proposed solution: #defeatdayzero

What is it? While the H2O (Hack Two Day Zero) hackathon held in Cape Town on February 9 and 10 was not a solution in itself, the array of fresh ideas generated could help the city get through the crisis.

How will it help? The participants had two days to work together and come up with a prototype that addresses short and long term implications of severe drought. The winning team created Tiny Loop, a battery-operated shower to prolong showers while using less water. They now have a cash prize to use to bring their project to life, and it could help citizens maintain proper hygiene during the crisis.

Image Credit: Tiny Eco / @TinyLoopSA

The post Brilliant Ideas That Buy Us Time Before Cape Town Reaches Day Zero appeared first on Futurism.


AirPods Are Brilliant, But Might Cause Headaches

Apple unveiled the much anticipated wireless AirPods wireless headphones in December 2016, and they’ve been a popular product among customers ever since. During Christmas, they actually went out of stock for a short period. Meanwhile, Ming-Chi Kuo, analyst firm KGI Securities believes that shipments will double in 2018, increasing from 26 million to 28 million.

These are the first pair of Bluetooth headphones that the American tech giant has ever put out, and Apple fans have been hugely impressed so far. Not only do they allow you to listen to music on your iPhone, iPad or Mac wirelessly, but you can also chuck them into a protective carry case for quick charging. On just one charge, they can provide up to 5 hours of listening time. But with the case, you get up achieve up to 24 hours of juice. It also only takes 15 minutes for them to charge up.

However, despite all of these cool features, the Airpods haven’t been without criticism. When they first came to market, some people slammed Apple for overpricing the headphones. And others criticised the firm over the fact that they can easily fall out of your ear. Plus, if you lose them, you’ll have to spend more money to get a new replacement. Reports also emerged alleging that the charging case would suddenly discharge, even when the headphones weren’t being used. Apple fixed this with an update, but the point is, the Airpods haven’t always been perfect..

Do AirPods Cause Headaches?

Now, users are taking to online forums to complain that the headphones are causing headaches. Last month, one user took to the Apple Communities page to warn other people about this problem. The Airpods owner wrote that shortly after buying and using the headphones, they began experiencing “strong pressure” around the ears and head. This is something they’ve only noticed with Apple’s headphones, rather than other brands.

“I don’t have this issue while using wired headphones, but I DO have this problem if I keep an iPhone next to my head while talking. Normally, I use wired headphones and keep the phone away from my head for this very reason. I had also experienced this type of pain/pressure/headache while using bluetooth headsets in the past, but never to the intense level caused by the airpods,” they wrote.

The commenter believes that the Bluetooth technology is to blame, although there’s no indication from Apple that this may be the case. “I can only speculate (I’m sure I’ll get skewered for using that word) that this has something to do with bluetooth signal, or in the case of the phone, cellular signal, which I’ve either become hypersensitive to from years of use, or worse,” they wrote.

Since the incident, they’ve returned the AirPods to Apple, adding: “There is no way I can consciously keep using them, not to mention that the headache becomes very strong after while to the point that it can’t be ignored. I’ll add that I hardly ever get headaches normally, this is an easily identifiable cause for me.”

In the same forum thread, a different user explained that they’re having similar issues. They described similar symptoms to the person in the first comment, writing: “I have been having back of head headaches and slight nausea since beginning to use the airpods.” Initially, they didn’t think that these symptoms could be related to the headphones.

Another forum poster, under the name “janels1”, also noticed pressure when they first started using the AirPods. This soon turned into headaches. They said:  “I was anticipating the AirPods but was concerned about them fitting my ears, as I couldn’t wear the wired earpods comfortably. My solution was to just sort of place them in my ears, without trying to make them fit deeply. I loved the feeling of freedom, loved the sound, and convenience. However, I began noticing a feeling of pressure, then a lot of headaches.  The headaches seemed to slowly go away when I removed the AirPods. Then I would insert them again, and the pressure and headaches began again.”

A few people have attempted to give a reason for the problem, with one commenting: “While you are out looking for people with headaches, be sure to search for blind tests of non-ionizing radiation, such as Bluetooth and WiFi. If you go for the simplest explanation of your issue it is the shape of your ear and the pressure of the phone upon it and the fit of the IEMs. The other explanation, sensitivity to BT and WiFi and cell signals even, has been extensively tested and rejected.”

Expert Opinion

Apple hasn’t really spoken about the claims, but experts have warned about potential side effects caused by the Airpods in the past. In September 2016, Dr Joel Moskowitz – who works at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health – claimed that the AirPods could cause harmful radiation. He warned that you’re essentially “putting a microwave-emitting device next to your brain”.

At the time, the professor asked:  “Although we don’t know the long-term risks from using Bluetooth devices, why would anyone insert microwave-emitting devices in their ears near their brain when there are safer ways to use a cell phone.” A spokesperson for the tech giant hit back by saying: “Apple products are always designed and tested to meet or exceed all safety requirements.”

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Brilliant turns your light switches into connected-home hubs

Brilliant plugs directly into your home's existing light switch ports and it controls a slew of smart home devices, including lights, the Ring doorbell, Nest thermostat, Sonos speakers, Amazon Alexa and more. This is a control panel built for everyda…
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The Brilliant ‘Particle Mace’ May Get Updated for 64-Bit and the Developer is Seeking Out Beta Testers

Over the past decade I’ve grown to love a lot of iPhone games, but there’s a handful of games that I love on a whole different level, like I SUPER DUPER LOVE them. Andy Wallace’s Particle Mace [$ 2.99] is one of those games. Released in early 2015, Particle Mace on first blush looks like your typical retro-inspired top-down space shooter. Except… you can’t shoot. After finding your ship’s weapons nonfunctional, you improvise by tying a bunch of garbage to an array of bungie-like cords to your ship. You defeat enemies and smash asteroids by zipping around and using your momentum to sling that makeshift weapon (let’s just call it oh I don’t know a PARTICLE MACE) into them, and it is honestly one of the most unique and satisfying gameplay mechanics I’ve ever used. Here’s the trailer for Particle Mace so you can see what I’m very poorly attempting to explain in action.

So anyway, yeah, I love Particle Mace. Unfortunately, due to not being updated since close to when it released, it wasn’t 64-bit ready and therefore was a victim of the dreaded 32-Bit Appocalypse that hit when iOS 11 released back in September. I made peace with losing a bunch of my older 32-bit games, but Particle Mace was one of the harder pills to swallow. After not receiving any updates for so long, and not seeing much action from the developer in our forums, I sort of assumed it was dead for good. I didn’t delete it from my phone or anything, JUST IN CASE, but I highly doubted we’d see a 64-bit update. But what’s this? A glimmer of hope? Developer Andy Wallace took to Twitter to say he was investigating updating the game for 64-bit, and asked if owners of iOS devices in various shapes and sizes wouldn’t mind helping out with it.

I haven’t replied to the tweet myself just yet, so let me take this opportunity to say – Hi Andy! I have an iPhone X and would love to help test the Particle Mace update! If you’re interested in testing too, hit him up on Twitter. If you’re one of those holdout types who haven’t updated to iOS 11 just yet and you missed out on Particle Mace when it released, I (obviously) highly recommend you check it out as it’s still available in the App Store for non-iOS 11 folks. We gave it 5 stars in our review, I gushed over it during one of our TA Plays videos, and I picked it for my personal Best Games of 2015 list. I understand how difficult and costly/time-consuming updating older games can be for small indie devs like this, so if the update isn’t in the cards it’s not in the cards, but hopefully this glimmer of hope will result in an iOS 11-compatible update for Particle Mace and I can once again enjoy one of my very favorite iPhone games.


Brilliant Space Shooter ‘Starborn Anarkist’ Updated with 64-Bit Support

It’s always a happy day when one of my favorite older games gets a 64-bit update and is saved from the doom of the Appocalypse. Today’s example of this is ZeMind Game Studio’s unique space shooter Starborn Anarkist [Free]. Initially released in December of 2013, Starborn Anarkist isn’t your typical dual-stick space shooter, of which you can find many on the App Store already. Its main hook is the ability to build and customize your ship using a variety of ship blueprints and parts that you’ll drag onto a grid and connect in the game’s garage. I can’t stress enough just how much fun it is to try out wacky ship designs and see what works, and the collecting and unlocking of new parts and blueprints is one of the most engaging forms of progression I’ve seen in a mobile game. It’s very possible to create a total clunker ship that barely functions right, but that’s part of the fun, and with randomly generated enemies and an endless nature Starborn Anarkist is one of those games that I’m always guaranteed to have a good time with when I fire it up.

The other big part of Starborn Anarkist is that it’s an inertia-based space shooter, similar to something like Asteroids. This was probably the most polarizing aspect of the game when it came out as it takes some real practice to get a handle on the game’s physics and be able to control your ship well. It’s not that easy to grasp right away, but once you do get the hang of things it’s an absolute blast, as noted in our original review. Also, about seven months after its release, Starborn Anarkist received a pretty beefy update adding in new content and fixes. While today’s update doesn’t seem to add anything new, I’m just thrilled that I can at least play one of my favorite iOS games again, so whether you’re an existing fan like me or you’re just now hearing about this one I’d highly suggest giving Starborn Anarkist a look if you’re into fun and unique space shooters, and there’s a discussion thread in our forums with 4 years worth of impressions for you to check out too.


Brilliant Short Film Combines Nixon’s “Apollo 11 Failure Speech” With Humanity’s Future on Mars

The lone survivor of the first mission to Mars uses his last moments to pass the torch of inspiration.

Making of Others Will Follow:
Andrew Finch – Director / Writer / Cine / VFX / Sets / Props / Costumes / Edit / Sound / Score

Greg Cotten – Co-Cinematographer

Starring: Bruce Greenwood (voice) Winston Tao Erica Sabol Damian Chey
“Secret” by Clark Courtesy Warp Records / Kobalt Music Group Ltd.

The post Brilliant Short Film Combines Nixon’s “Apollo 11 Failure Speech” With Humanity’s Future on Mars appeared first on Futurism.


USA and Japan’s giant robot battle was a slow, brilliant mess

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Smart home automation startup Brilliant Tech closes $21M Series A

Brilliant Tech, a smart lighting and home automation company raised a $ 21M Series A round led by August Capital. Other investors that participated in the round include Miramar Ventures, The Box Group, and the Stanford-StartX Fund.

The Brilliant Control

Brilliant’s flagship product is a smart home control that comes in sizes of 1-4 switches. It operates as a ‘control hub’ for smart home devices via its elegant interface. It neatly integrates with smart home products like Nest thermostat, Sonos, Philips Hue, Ring, SmartThings, Wink bulbs, and Honeywell allowing users to control all devices/services through a single touchscreen gadget. The device is a 720×1280 resolution, 5-inch touchscreen having motion and voice control functionality.

The primary use case of the product is to replace traditional light switches with Brilliant’s touch-based smart light switch/panel, however, the product extends beyond this use case. It also operates as a ‘control’ or ‘hub’ to manage other popular smart home devices.

Control your Sonos, Nest, and other smart home devices directly from your wall

Brilliant’s main competitors are Lutron and Belkin, though Brilliant Control can be used to manage several 3rd party smart home devices also. Another key factor that differentiates the product is that if a user buys more than one Brilliant panel, it can operate as a video/voice intercom also. To make it convenient for users to control multiple lights through a single interface, Brilliant has added a functionality called ‘scenes’. Each scene may be a combination of different light settings, such as date night, an away mode, or a custom setting.

“Ambient computing is the next big technology trend, and the home will be the battleground. Support from investors of this caliber is a validation that a great experience is critical in the smart home of the future,” Aaron Emigh, CEO and Co-founder Brilliant Tech.

Brilliant Tech has been well-received by investors as this was the biggest Series A for a smart home product. The investors see Brilliant’s potential of becoming a single interface to control multiple smart home gadgets, from security cameras to thermostats and smart lights to music systems.

Brilliant Tech appears to be a relevant addition to an ever growing number of home automation products. The Postscapes Connected Products Framework can be used by upstart smart home companies as well as IoT analysts trying to navigate the complex network of interactions between technical components, user actions, and product service models.

Postscapes: Tracking the Internet of Things