The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in areas such as energy, education, communications, health, and sustainability.
Technology is transforming the way women like Devi farm. In rural India, impoverished women do most of the labor using methods passed down for millennia. About 100,000 (mostly male) government and private agricultural experts roam the country to teach farmers modern techniques. But fewer than 6 percent of farmers have ever seen one, according to the World Bank, and women are often excluded from those training sessions because they lack legal rights to their husbands’ land.
Digital Green, a nonprofit founded by Microsoft researchers, is trying to change that. The group distributes pocket cameras and tripods to local women and trains them to storyboard, act in, shoot, edit, and screen videos demonstrating farming innovations. Because the villages where the women work often lack reliable electricity, it’s all done via battery-powered projectors. Women who screen the videos keep track of attendee questions and monitor adoption of the practices to help directors improve later versions. Using the audience’s peers as actors is particularly important, says Rikin Gandhi, Digital Green’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “Viewers identify with those featured in videos based on dialect and appearance, etc., to determine whether it is someone they can trust,” he says. Villagers will tune out if they see items that aren’t common in their communities, such as a plastic bucket or a watch.
Like Google or Xerox, “GoPro” is one of those branded proper nouns that has been so successful that it has become a verb. With 6,000 or more new tagged videos uploaded to YouTube each day, GoPro-ing is now a legitimate phenomenon. The cameras are sturdy, cheap and small enough to sit in the palm of your hand; they can be attached to almost anything, from a surfboard to a tripod to a recalcitrant labrador. They are easy to use and produce remarkably high-quality video, which you can post online right away. To Hennessy’s disappointment, though, that formula was not enough to gain the pair’s films any online traction.
Emoji started in Japan as a way to add context to text correspondence. Thanks to American teens, who influence influential bloggers, the emoji characters have blossomed into a cultural phenomenon. There are emoji art exhibits, emoji poetry books, emoji social networks, and, thanks to Katy Perry, emoji music videos. You can buy a pair of designer slippers decorated with emoji characters for $340. A crowdsourced project with Kickstarter funding translated Melville’s classic novel into the new hieroglyphics under the title Emoji Dick.
Trust that there’s a business angle to this nonsense. A new class of emoji is set to be released this month by the mysterious consortium that dreams them up, and among them are symbols clearly intended for business correspondence. That includes a selection of pens, several telephones, five envelopes, two floppy disks, and a businessman who is, for some reason, levitating.
The FBI started investigating while first responders were still rushing to the scene. Within three days -- just 101 hours -- the bombers were apprehended.
FBI agents sifted through 13,000 videos and more than 120,000 photographs, drawn from surveillance cameras and onlookers' cell phones. To sort through the piles of footage, law enforcement turned to new technology that can condense an hour of video into just a minute of playback time.
The method, called video synopsis, was invented by an Israeli company called BriefCam, which counts all the right three-letter agencies as clients. (The FBI declined to comment on the specifics of the Boston investigation.)
Video synopsis works in a variety of ways, but most programs layer actions that occur at the same place at different times, making it possible, for example, to see simultaneously every person who walks in a door on a given afternoon. Other notable inquiries have also used BriefCam, like Norway's national security service after Anders Breivik bombed a children's camp there in 2011.
The American Civil Liberties Union said last year that the cameras have the "potential to be a win-win, helping protect the public against police misconduct, and at the same time helping protect police against false accusations of abuse."
The cameras themselves are only part of the expense—The cameras themselves are only part of the expense—Taser's cameras range from $399 to $599. Data-storage and management costs can be significant, according to a recent report by Dr. White, the Arizona State University professor. "The logistical and resource issues are especially challenging for those smaller police departments," he said.
The police department in Mesa, Ariz., did a side-by-side study of 50 officers wearing cameras and 50 without. The results after eight months: officers with cameras were subject of 8 citizen complaints while those without had 23.
So it was with Instagram, with a twist: By adding simple editing tools like filters, Instagram let mainstream web users become—or at least do an impression of—good photographers. Regular people were now able to manipulate their photographs to reflect ideas and feelings.
Many professional photographers were horrified. Suddenly anyone could be a photographer. What’s more, Instagram helped take jobs from the professionals. Last year the Chicago Sun-Times fired its entire staff of photographers and trained its journalists to take and edit photos on their iPhones and upload them to the appropriate social feeds. It’s not that its reporters were transformed into Margaret Bourke-Whites, but Instagram’s tools allowed them to be adequate at very, very low cost.
Today many professional photographers are finding that Instagram can be a good way to promote and complement their work. One example is David Guttenfelder, a veteran photojournalist who has traveled the world for the Associated Press, winning a World Press Photo Award seven times. In 2013, when he got access to North Korea to spend a year chronicling the lives of everyday citizens, he began publishing a portion of his work on Instagram. His feed, which now boasts 349,000 followers, became a repository for photos snapped quickly of small curiosities. Time named him the 2013 Instagram Photographer of the Year.
Good to see the FAA has given BP the first license to operate commercial drones. Curt Smith had told ne in The New Polymath in 2010 about early experiments with drones to supplement Cessnas to monitor pipelines in remote areas.
“BP's Prudhoe Bay operations rely heavily on gravel roads, which require constant maintenance. AeroVironment's Puma drones, which are hand-launched and have a 9-foot wingspan, use laser-based sensors that can pinpoint problems on the roads, identify how they should be repaired and calculate how much gravel would be needed, the companies said.
The drones also can create 3-D models of gravel pits, and then calculate how much gravel remains and identify areas that are vulnerable to flooding.”
Launched in July 2010, just months after the iPad reached retail, Flipboard effectively reinvented print periodicals for the tablet form factor, aggregating content from a vast range of publishers, news sources and social networks to create touchscreen-enabled, swipe-friendly personalized magazines bolstered by a growing arsenal of customization tools, multimedia features and sharing options. The free Flipboard app also spearheaded a revolution in digital advertising, introducing full-page, click-through ads that emphasize both design sophistication and reader relevance.
Four years after hitting Apple's App Store, Flipboard boasts more than 100 million active readers and adds 250,000 to 300,000 users every day. The company touts direct partnerships with more than 8,000 publishers.