Apple knows the smartphone market is becoming more crowded and homogenous, and the company wants to make its iPhones stand out. According to a Bloombergreport, Apple is experimenting with two new features that could make it into future iPhone models: touchless gesture controls and curved screens. Those familiar with the plans claim that if Apple continues to develop these new technologies for the iPhone, they likely will not make their debut for another two or three years.
Gesture control would allow users to complete some tasks on the handset by moving their finger near the screen without actually touching it. Proximity of the finger to the screen would be the key, as the technology being developed is reportedly being built into the screen itself.
Samsung offered similar gesture controls, dubbed Air Gestures, on its Galaxy S4 smartphone years ago. Air Gestures allowed users to move their hand near the top of the handset to accept calls, scroll through webpages, and more. However, Samsung’s feature used a motion sensor on the phone’s bezel rather than technology built into the display panel.
Apple is now facing questions about how it slows down older iPhones in China. The Xinhua state news agency reported yesterday that the Shanghai Consumer Council has written to Apple asking it to explain the performance hit and any remedies it is offering to consumers. Read More Mobile – TechCrunch
First used as an alternative to crude methods like alcohol in the 19th century, anesthetics have become a critical part of medical systems around the world. Currently, anesthetics are tested on animals, which is ethically questionable and can produce ineffective results. But one new study could forever change how we test these drugs. Researchers recently found that plants respond to anesthetics the same way to that humans and animals do.
This research explored these effects in Mimosa leaves, pea tendrils, Venus flytraps, and sundew traps. When Venus flytraps were exposed to anesthetics, they stopped generating electrical signals; even when trigger hairs were touched, their traps stayed open. Similarly, pea tendrils were stuck into a spiraled shape upon exposure, and they completely stopped all autonomous movement. In all of these plant species, the anesthetic caused the plant to lose both autonomous and touch-based movement.
This study has furthered our understanding of how exactly anesthetic affects living organisms and their functionality. Practically speaking, this could push scientists to test anesthetics in plants over animal models. This could be more cost-effective, easier to control, and more easily accessible.
To observe and measure the effects of anesthesia in the plants tested, researchers used three main tools: a single-lens reflex camera to capture plant organ movement throughout the anesthetic progression, confocal microscopy to analyze the movement of materials between cells, and a surface silver chrlodie electrode to record electrical signals. The results have been published in Annals of Botany.
Importantly, the anesthetics used in this study had no structural similarities, showing that the plants’ reactions were not coincidental or circumstantial. Rather, the study showed that anesthetics which work on humans and animals have the same effects in plants. The researchers themselves write that, because of this finding, “Plants emerge as ideal model objects to study general questions related to anaesthesia (sic), as well as to serve as a suitable test system for human anaesthesia.”
A researcher tests the effect of anesthetic on the plant Mimosa pudica, which normally closes its leaves when touched. (Video Credit: Yokawa et al)
This could make a huge difference in our understanding of anesthesia and testing methods going forward. While animal models have traditionally been seen as reliable and satisfactory for testing, there is a growing body of research which shows the glaring flaws in these experiments. Aside from any moral objections that some may have to the practice, animal models range from producing ineffective and inadequate data to being dangerously misleading. This is most obvious in looking at 20th-century smoking studies that, using animal models, misled the public about the true dangers of smoking cigarettes.
This new finding is at the very least fascinating and, at the most, a possible door opening to improved testing methods. Whether other plant-based testing will become possible is yet to be determined, but this study very concretely shows the parallel effects of anesthesia in animals, humans, and plants. It is even within the realm of possibility that because of these new testing models, improved anesthetics will be developed.
Twitter plans to do a better job of responding to users’ reports of abuse by “investing heavily” in improving its review process, according to an internal email leaked by Wired. The company also plans to toughen its rules around violence, hate speech, and abuse in a new attempt to make its platform safer for users. The leaked email doesn’t divulge final rules or full explanations (the phrase “more details to come” appears three times), but it offers the gist of what Twitter intends to do.
A lot of what’s happening here is Twitter broadening existing rules so that hate or abuse that previously slipped by might now be banned. Twitter says it will now ban tweets that “glorify violence,” instead of only banning tweets that make or promote…
In the wake of natural disasters, it seems like an unofficial race begins between all the US carriers. Which among them will be the first to provide free calls or credits? With the double-whammy of Hurricane Maria and the earthquake in Mexico, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon have all released statements about how customers in affected areas can continue to access service. To make things easy, we’ve put all the statements from each of the carriers together here.
T-Mobile, in a recent blog post, announced that customers in Puerto Rico would get free calls and texts to the US until the 24th as a result of Hurricane Maria, as well as unlimited data should their plan not include it.
There’s a lot of words out there about the “Google Manifesto,” the controversial memo about gender diversity that (re)ignited a battle over ideological diversity. Jason Hirschhorn has curated a must-read collection from a variety of sources, as the culture wars spread to Google. [Redef]
More allegations of sexual harassment will emerge from Silicon Valley, the head of venture capital industry’s official trade group told Recode in an interview. Bobby Franklin, head of the Washington, D.C.-based National Venture Capital Association, was candid about the size of the problem in Silicon Valley, and predicted that more incidents will surface soon. [Theodore Schleifer / Recode]
Bitcoin, Wall Street’s latest obsession, is having a boom moment: Just a week ago it was trading at $ 3,000 for the first time; as of Sunday, it was trading at more than $ 4,100. The amount recently raised via initial coin offerings (ICO) have now — at least temporarily — topped the amount raised via early-stage venture capital. [Fitz Tepper / TechCrunch]
You’ll need a half-day to read the New Yorker’s very, very, very long profile of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. You’ll be rewarded with an up-close look at Assange’s strange life inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been holed up since 2012. But you won’t get a satisfying explanation of WikiLeaks’ connection to Russian e-mail hackers. Except that Assange seems offended that the Russians are getting undue credit for the emails. [Raffi Khachatourian / New Yorker]
On the latest Recode Decode podcast, Taggart Matthiesen, director of product at Lyft, predicts that Lyft will slowly evolve into a hybrid transportation service, with users getting paired with either a human driver or an autonomous vehicle — whichever is faster.
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Not real news: As part of its ongoing efforts to fact-check claims in suspected false news stories, the Associated Press has started weekly a roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue headlines of the week. [AP]
In normal usage, the Arke is controlled using an array of sensors that respond to the wearer’s natural movements. However, as the user gets used to the exoskeleton, they typically use a tablet to issue instructions. Since this could be too much multitasking, some might find voice commands to be more intuitive.
In the wake of last week’s massive Petya ransomware attack in Eastern Europe, researchers are reaching consensus that the incident was a politically-motivated cyberattack. According to CNBC, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) recently put out a statement claiming that the attack was like done by a state actor or a group with state approval. The development means that the cyberattack could be viewed as an act of war, triggering Article 5 of the Washington Treaty and compelling NATO allies to respond.
“As important government systems have been targeted, then in case the operation is attributed to a state this could count as a violation of sovereignty,” wrote Tomáš Minárik, a researcher at the CCD COE law…
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi vowed today that his country will not only stick with the 2015 Paris Accord, but will go “above and beyond” its goals aimed at fighting climate change, selling only electric cars throughout the country within 13 years, for example. Attending a news conference today with French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr. Modi made his remarks as he described the accord as part of “our duty to protect Mother Earth.”
The agreement commits 195 countries including the U.S. — every country in the world except war-torn Syria and Nicaragua, who argued the agreement was not strong enough — to ensure that global temperatures remain “well below” 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, and “endeavor to limit” them to 1.5ºC. India’s commitment is critical to the agreement’s success, as it is currently the world’s fourth-biggest producer of carbon emissions, after China, the U.S., and the EU.
On Friday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said his country would cooperate with European leaders who “worry about global uncertainty,” in the wake of the decision. At the same conference, EU Council President Donald Tusk referred to a joint statement from the EU and China promising to “step up” efforts to fight climate change, including the raising of $ 100 billion annually by 2020 to support reducing emissions in poorer countries: “China and Europe have demonstrated solidarity with future generations and responsibility for the whole planet.”
Mr. Modi’s views appear to be in tandem with those of other world leaders, along with much of the U.S. at the state and local levels, as well as corporate America. After his meeting with Mr. Macron, Mr. Modi indicated that India and France had “worked shoulder to shoulder” on the Paris accord, and emphasized in the same press conference that both nations see it as critically important for all nations. “The Paris agreement is the common heritage of the world. It is a gift that this generation can give.”