Although less than half of the consumers have used the first version of this piece of eyewear after the first month of purchase, Snapchat has released the second version of the Snapchat Spectacles. These sunglasses have small lenses on them, which allow for the user to take circular photos or videos. They are made to remove the hassle of having to pull out a phone and then take a picture, or if you are doing something that may not allow you to hold a phone, the Spectacles may come in handy. They can sync with your phone through Bluetooth, and you can then share the photos on Snapchat or save the picture to your phone.
These newer Spectacles add more features to the previous version. For example, unlike the older version, these Spectacles are water resistant and come in more colors. Additionally, the design is much better and the syncing is much faster. Essentially, most of the flaws of the previous version have been fixed. However, the newer version is more expensive, costing $150, $20 more than the 1st version. Previously, the process of transferring images and videos from the Spectacles to the phone took a long while, but now the download speeds are three to four times as fast. Prescription versions of the Spectacles are also available. So far, the Spectacles have not received great reviews. Whilst it has improved, people are still not impressed by several things, such as the fact that the photos first have to be imported to Snapchat. Additionally, people complain that the transfer from the Spectacles to a phone is inefficient, and in most situations it would be more convenient to just pull out your smartphone and take a picture. Some also complain that the video quality is not be as good as it should be. Overall, the Spectacles have improved yet still is lacking in some categories. Despite this, there is still huge potential, and they could become great once these problems are fixed. Until then, it seems like you should stick to using your smartphone.
As AT&T is in the process of buying entertainment company Time Warner, they have announced its plan to release a live streaming bundle for television. This bundle will include a smaller amount of channels but will be one of the cheapest options, as it will cost only $15 a month. This was announced during a court case between AT&T and the Justice Department. The Justice Department is trying to stop AT&T from buying Time Warner, as Time Warner owns creators such as HBO, CNN, and TNT. If AT&T were to buy Time Warner, they would also own these creators and would be able to air these channels only on AT&T bundles. The Justice Department argues that AT&T owning Time Warner would harm competitors, and these competitors would be forced to follow AT&T’s terms if they wanted to air the channels that AT&T owns. They also argue that it would be harmful to have too much power in one company. AT&T is specifically wanting to buy Time Warner to compete with companies such as Netflix and Amazon.
AT&T pointed to their plan to release AT&T Watch as an example as to why buying Time Warner would be beneficial for consumers. AT&T Watch would offer a low price alternative to the current DirecTV Now, which costs $35 a month. AT&T Watch will also be free for subscribers of AT&T wireless. One big catch is that AT&T Watch will not include any sports channels, and the channels it will include has yet to be announced. It is planned to be released in the next few weeks. It is interesting to see how the court case will pan out, and to see if AT&T Watch is any good. What do you think - should AT&T be allowed to buy Time Warner?
As space travel is gaining popularity, spaceflight company Virgin Galactic recently successfully landed the first rocket-powered flight. The aircraft, called Unity, reached supersonic speeds and has flown previously several times, but this is the first time it was a successful powered flight. Essentially, there is a big plane which carries the smaller Unity into the air, and then the Unity uses its own engine to fly. During this flight, the aircraft flew to a max altitude of over 80,000 feet in the sky, and accelerated to over 1430 miles per hour! Four years ago, Virgin Atlantic attempted a powered flight, but it resulted in a crash, leading to a fatality and an injury. On this recent flight, there were two people on board.
In the future, Virgin Galactic actually plans to send passengers willing to pay a hefty $250,000 up to space at around 60 miles above the Earth’s surface. Despite the big price tag, 700 customers have already signed up to be passengers. Although this flight did not quite go far into space, it is still monumental for the company as it means they can completely focus on rocket-powered flights. Virgin Galactic aims to improve access to space and possibly to help with travel within Earth. The founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson, has suggested that it is highly likely that Virgin Galactic will launch into space within the next few months. Virgin Galactic and Richard Branson have aspirations very similar to that of SpaceX and Elon Musk. Both companies are pushing the boundaries of space exploration and bringing it to everyone. It is interesting to see which company will first have passengers who paid for a flight brought to space. Additionally, we are curious to see if any other companies join the push to advance space travel, and how far companies like Virgin Galactic will push space exploration.
Just a few weeks ago, Uber halted their self-driving program in several cities after a self-driving Uber vehicle crashed into a woman, causing her death. Now, unfortunately, another death has been caused by a self-driving feature on a car. This time, it was Tesla’s Model X, which had its autopilot mode on, that crashed into a concrete barrier on a highway, leading to the fatality of the driver. This crash occurred on March 23rd and is the second crash leading to a death in America involving a Tesla car using the autopilot feature.
While the autopilot feature is able to perform many capabilities that a human driver is able to, Tesla does remind its customers that the autopilot is not a replacement for a human driver and that you must pay attention to the road at all times. This crash could have been avoided if the driver was paying attention; according to Tesla the driver of the car had about 5 seconds of clear sight of the barrier before the crash. Additionally, the driver’s hands were not placed on the wheel for 6 seconds prior to the crash. This means that the driver was likely not paying attention to the road and depended solely on the car to drive itself to the destination. When the autopilot is turned on, and your hands are not detected on the steering wheel for a prolonged period, the car gives several warnings before stopping. In the case of this driver, throughout the drive, several warning were given to the driver to put his hands on the wheel.
While The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ruled that because Tesla’s system was working as advertised and Tesla should not be penalized, The National Transportation Safety Board has stated that Tesla does deserve some blame because, like many critics also believe, the autopilot mode convinces the user that it is better than it actually is, and is too easy to misuse. Especially since this incident is just recently after the Uber self-driving incident, it is easy to see why some people want the stop or slowing down of the advancing of self-driving technology. Tesla has addressed these concerns by pointing to a government report that shows the autopilot feature has reduced crash rates for Tesla vehicles by over 40%. The report also shows that the fatal crash rate for Tesla vehicles with autopilot capabilities is about 3.7 times better than the national average. It does seem like Tesla will get out of this situation without much blame, but the reputation of self-driving technology seems to be dropping due to this incident and prior ones. Tell us what you think in the comments below!
Source: Tesla Motors
One of the biggest social media networks, Facebook, has recently been under heavy criticism after they exposed data for over 50 million Facebook users to a company called Cambridge Analytica, who happen to be the company that worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. This all began in 2014, when researcher at Cambridge University, Aleksandr Kogan, paid people to take a psychological quiz. However, this quiz collected data on your friends, and participants did not know how much data was collected. Through this, Kogan was able to collect data on about 50 million Facebook users, and he then gave this information to Cambridge Analytica. This was only recently figured out after a Cambridge Analytica whistleblower by the name of Christopher Wylie spoke out. Wylie also claimed that the data was used to sway people towards pro-Trump during the elections.
In addition to the data possibly being used to influence the 2016 presidential election, the data may have also been used to influence the Brexit vote. Facebook has been under heavy criticism, especially after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did not respond for a while. He has recently come out with an interview saying sorry, however, after this, Facebook has fallen in stock price. Many people want Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress on how Facebook will protect the privacy and data of its users. Additionally, many celebrities have condemned Facebook and have even planned to delete their Facebook accounts. For example, Elon Musk has deleted Tesla’s and SpaceX’s Facebook accounts, one of the reasons being it’s hard to access Facebook while going to Mars. Brian Acton, Whatsapp co-founder, has also deleted his Facebook account, despite Whatsapp being a subsidiary of Facebook. Many have joined the #DeleteFacebook movement as well. While you are able to see your Facebook data that may have been exposed, and Facebook may try to contact those whose data got exposed, we will have to see in the upcoming weeks what impact this event has on the future of Facebook.
What do you think? Are you ready to 🗑️Facebook? Leave your response in the comments ⬇️
"It is an exciting evolution of the Nintendo Switch platform -- one designed to inspire curiosity, creativity and imagination in people of all ages,” as the Nintendo America CEO has stated. In just over a month, the popular and successful video game company, Nintendo, is releasing a new innovative and creative video game console accessory called the Nintendo Labo - a cardboard box. In all seriousness, despite being made out of cardboard, the Nintendo Labo is a cool way for a younger audience to be able to use their creativity to create different gadgets, called toy-cons. The Labo is planned to be released on April 20th of this year. Essentially, when you buy the labo, you get sheets of cardboard which are easily foldable and have markings that will allow you to easily form different toy-cons. Because it is designed to be paired with Nintendo’s gaming console called the Nintendo Switch, you will need the Switch to be able to have the full functionality of the Labo. The Switch will have instructions on how to build the different toy-cons. Some of these toy-cons that have been revealed so far include a mini-piano, and handles similar to that on a motorcycle, so you can use the handles in real life to steer in a racing game when playing on the Switch. After building a toy-con using the instructions on the switch, you put the Switch device into the slot of the toy-con, and the toy-con will be fully functional. The Labo starts at about $70, but there are other, separate expansion sets as well that may add to the cost.
So far, there have been very mixed reviews. Some laugh at the idea of paying 70 dollars for, physically, cardboard. Most notably, famous Youtuber “NigaHiga” has made a video mocking how the Labo seems to be behind its time, as this ‘video game accessory’ requires you to use cardboard to build things - and still costs $70. However, others do claim that the Labo is excellent because it encourages creativity and hands-on-experience for younger children. Despite having to build the toy-cons yourself, it is impressive and satisfying to see something, that was at first just a sheet of cardboard, ‘come to life’. Because of the mixed reviews, people are unsure what to expect, but we are sure that many are anxious to see how successful this accessory becomes.
“Our goal is to improve global health and activity rates by creating better, more social fitness experiences”, as fitness company Gixo states. Gixo is a subscription-based fitness that app can be installed on IOS or Android devices. The beauty of Gixo is that rather than having to buy a gym membership or own gym equipment, you can participate in classes anywhere you want, of which there are over 150 live classes each week that do not require any gym equipment. While you are in the live class, there will be a coach that is also connected, and will be able to guide you through audio or video. Additionally, other participants will be tuned in, and music will be playing to provide entertainment while you are working out. Because coaches can see how you do during the live exercise, they can give you feedback after the workout as well. Each class takes either 15, 25, or 40 minutes, depending on the activity. As for pricing, Gixo is very inexpensive compared to what a gym membership costs. While a high-end gym membership can cost up to $250 a month, a monthly subscription costs either $19.99 or $14.99, depending on if you are signing up for just one month, or a year. This low price point also means that one month of Gixo is less expensive than the price of one premium studio class. Not only that, but you are able to sign up for a 7 day trial for free, and be able to see if Gixo is right for you! So, not only is Gixo more convenient than going to a gym or using your own gym equipment, it is a lot more inexpensive.
Source: Gixo (app)
One of the key components to the success of Gixo is the company’s care for quality and true care for the fitness of others. The coaches who work for Gixo are all trained, group fitness experts who are fully capable of leading live classes. Rather than having a huge amount of coaches, Gixo has a handful of passionate and hardworking coaches. Also, Gixo hosts different virtual programs. For example, on May 5th, 2018, you can join a virtual 5k or 10k event in which other teammates will also be participating in at the same time. While you are doing the run, the professional coaches will be able to see your progress, encourage you, and give you tips all while your running. The best thing is that all of this can happen while you are running wherever you want! The fact that coaches are able to see your progress and give you tips shows proof of how motivated Gixo is to helping you with your fitness.
Source: Gixo (app)
While the idea and concept is excellent, because Gixo is based on the community and the people, it is important that people are using the app or like the concept of it. The good thing is, the community and most people are looking to apps such as Gixo since they are beneficial and useful for their daily lives. As a matter of fact, research by Flurry Analytics has shown that wearables and workout fitness apps have grown massive popularity in recent years; the usage rate of them has grown by over 330%. Additionally, when people are focusing on important things such as their fitness and health, they want a personalized experience that can be tailored to them. While a gym membership rarely gives that feeling, an app like Gixo is able to give the user customization on what type of workout they get, and feedback from a coach. Not only that, but because Gixo is not expensive, friends will be inclined to join your classes, making your fitness activities more enjoyable. So, overall, the community and people do like the idea and are using Gixo, which is what makes Gixo so great.
Source: Gixo (app)
Check out Gixo here: http://gixo.com/
As the prestigious transportation company, Uber, has been growing rapidly, they have decided to expand their services into health. As reported by the Community Transportation Association, every year, there are approximately 3.6 million people living in America who miss doctor appointments because of a transportation issue. The company Uber has addressed this issue after deciding to launch Uber Health on March 1st, subsequent to being in beta since last July. Uber Health is a service designed to help take patients from and to hospitals. This is important as it prevents people from being late to their appointments, especially for older people, and it can even help take people back from hospitals after operations. Uber Health is already being used in over 100 different healthcare organizations, and healthcare professionals can get a ride for their patients. Although it is similar to the normal Uber services, Uber Health has additional features that are designed to make it more useful for health situations. For example, people are able to schedule a ride immediately, or schedule for one in up to thirty days. Additionally, many elderly people do not have access to a smartphone, so Uber Health allows you to have any phone - unlike the regular Uber services.
As of right now, the current healthcare organizations pay for the rides. Although it does help to get patients to hospitals, Uber Health is not a replacement for using ambulance rides, when in an emergency. This is because Uber Health does not employ medical professionals, but instead, regular drivers. The last thing we would want would be a nonprofessional being involved in a serious emergency incident! Essentially, Uber Health works by having someone at your hospital, which is partnered with Uber Health, to schedule a ride for you. You will then have text messages or calls that will remind you when and where you will be picked up. Your doctor will have the information of the ride and will give you a paper noting the driver’s license of the car so you will be able to know what car is supposed to pick you up. The concept is simple, yet the service is undeniably great, and as an anonymous patient from San Diego sums up his situation, “My health crisis was a lot to manage. Knowing I had reliable and comfortable transportation to and from my oncology appointments was one less burden on a very long list.”
“HomePod takes the listening experience to a whole new level. And that’s just the beginning” as Apple states. Released on February 8th, the HomePod, released by Apple, is a new competitor in the smart speaker industry. The Homepod aims to be an excellent speaker for Apple products, and it uses Apple Music and Siri to learn your taste in music. Additionally, the HomePod can be used as a home assistant to answer questions and do assigned tasks, similar to Amazon Echo and Google Home. Since the HomePod is voice sensitive, you are able to talk aloud and the HomePod will listen to the command. To use the HomePod, you must have an Apple device, and you must be subscribed to Apple Music in order to be able to listen to songs outside of the songs you have purchased. If you do not have Apple Music, the musical capabilities of the HomePod is limited, as the only other options you have is to listen to the live radio, play songs that you have purchased from Itunes, or use your phone to control the songs that are playing. Even with these drawbacks, the Apple HomePod has a hefty price tag, starting at $349 on the Apple site.
With Google and Amazon already having successful smart speakers on the market, consumers wonder what makes the HomePod stand out. One of the most valuable features of the HomePod is its high performance for music. The HomePod is the superior speaker, with spatial awareness to make give the most optimal sound. Inside of the HomePod are seven tweeters, which means the sound quality will be consistent no matter which direction you are located relative to the speaker. In addition to this, an algorithm analyzes the music and is able to make adjustments. Meanwhile, although they are able to play music, the Google Home and Amazon Echo are more focused to being home assistants. The HomePod does use Siri as its home assistant, which does not have as many capabilities as its competitors. The HomePod is able to provide answers to some questions, and activate some smart appliances. However, for example, the HomePod is not able to call an Uber, which the Echo is able to do. The Google Home goes for $39 for the mini version, $129 for the normal version, and $399 for the “max” version. Amazon also has a similar approach of having several different models; the Echo Dot costs $49, the Echo is $99, and the Echo Plus is $145. Amazon also has the Echo Spot and Echo Show, for $130 and $230. Apple only has one model of the HomePod at the moment.
After being released, the Amazon HomePod has been receiving mixed reviews. Most are impressed by the sound quality of the HomePod, but feel that Siri is lackluster compared to other home assistants. This, paired with the very high price point, leaves many feeling that it is not worth it - and it is probably better to get a different smart speaker. Those who are supportive of the HomePod claim that it is an excellent smart speaker because of its superb sound quality, and is a great choice for people who often listen to music. Overall, the HomePod has been a different smart speaker, receiving mixed reviews - but let us know what you think of it!
SpaceX, manufacturer and launcher of advanced spacecrafts, just successfully launched the most powerful rocket into space since the Saturn V, whose first flight was in 1967. This rocket, named the Falcon Heavy, launched on February 6th, and SpaceX claims that the Falcon Heavy can carry about 64 metric tons into space. However, it costs a whopping 90-million dollars to purchase a launch for the Falcon Heavy. One of the most interesting features about the Falcon Heavy is that it is made to be a reusable rocket. This means that all parts of the flight must go well, and there must be features that allow it to land properly, have specific launch systems, have re-entry heat shields, and have other features. The good thing about having these rockets reusable is that it eliminates the cost and time to build a new rocket.
An interesting factor in this first orbit for the Falcon Heavy is that Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, sent his Tesla Roadster on the orbit, - with a mannequin sitting inside of it. This is to test the SpaceX’s ability to carry payload. Additionally, sending the car into space allows SpaceX to tell their customers how much the payload and gear will move around. It was planned that the Tesla Roadster on the demo flight would orbit past Mars. This demo flight was considered a success, but two things did not go to plan. First, one of the center cores missed its landing and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. Second, one of the engine’s burn was stronger than anticipated, so rather than the Roadster orbiting Mars, it extends past that and is orbiting near the asteroid belt.
The Falcon Heavy is actually made of two different stages. The first stage, at the bottom of the rocket, is made of 3 cores, totaling to 27 different engines. During takeoff, these engines produce a total of 5.13 million pounds of thrust, and this is what allows the Falcon Heavy to launch even with so much weight. The upper, or second stage, includes a single engine that delivers the rocket’s payload to orbit once the main engines have been cut off.
Source: Digital Trends
The main goal that SpaceX has is to support flying people to Mars or to the Moon. In fact, SpaceX has lined up many different future plans and launches. Their goal is to launch a cargo mission to Mars in 2022, and then send a crew and cargo in 2024. From this, SpaceX hopes to be able to start building a Mars base. Additionally, SpaceX plans to launch the Falcon Heavy again in three to six months - and even launch astronauts on the company’s other rockets, the Dragon and Falcon 9. Although the Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket, SpaceX plans to use what is called the BFR in the future. This rocket is still being developed, but this is the rocket that SpaceX wants to help with sending people to Mars. It is also a possibility that the BFR could be used for Earth to Earth transportation, as long distance trips could be completed in half an hour. The BFR could also be used for moon missions, satellites, or for space station missions. It is exciting to see space exploration hitting new milestones, it we cannot wait to see what this push to reach Mars will result in.
After much anticipation, Amazon, one of the biggest companies, recently opened a store called “Amazon Go” to the public on January 22nd. Amazon Go was officially opened on December 5th in 2016, but this was only available for Amazon employees. Amazon Go sells mainly grocery items, but unlike any other store, Amazon Go is cashier-less. Using technology similar to that found in self-driving cars, such as computer vision and machine learning algorithms, people are able to take whatever items they want, and sensors detect which items have been taken, and by who. People who do shop at Amazon Go have to install the app on their phones, which adds items to the consumer’s online cart. You are allowed to enter the store only if you have the Amazon Go application on your phone, as there are small gates at the entrance where you are able to scan your phone with the app open, which opens the gate for you. Cameras are placed throughout the stores, and weight sensors on the shelves are able to detect when items have been taken. When you leave the store, a few minutes later, the items you took will be added to your Amazon account. Although this is a cashier-less store, there are still workers in the store, such as employees in sections with alcoholic beverages to check IDs before a customer is able to take any beverage. Additionally, there are workers there to assist customers.
Although the store is mostly successful, there have a been a few cases where people have taken items from the store, but were not charged for anything. Amazon Go vice president responded to these reports and said that there is no feature on the app for customers to say they did not get charged - because Amazon believes these incidents won’t happen often. Surprisingly, there seems to be no answer to why some people are not charged. For example, a New York Times reporter attempted to hide an item he took so that cameras would not detect it, but he was still charged. At the same time, a CNBC reporter shopped at Amazon Go on the first day and did not get a charged for an item despite not attempting to steal. Even though Amazon claims this does not happen often, people could have a chance of taking something expensive and not getting charged. One of the reasons why Amazon Go has built up much interest is because it is extremely convenient for customers because it removes the whole process of checking out items. Amazon plans to slowly implement more Amazon Go stores throughout America in the next few years. It is also a possibility for Amazon Go to implement this type of technology in the Whole Foods markets, after their huge purchase of the Whole Food grocery chain in 2017.
It will no doubt be exciting to see more stores opened soon, but these types of stores also do not provide as many jobs as normal stores, as cashiers won’t be needed. In fact, if Amazon Go does eventually become widespread, there could be about 3.5 million cashier jobs threatened. Despite this, it is cool to see Amazon pushing the boundaries of machine learning even more, and as machine learning is getting more and more important in technology, it is exciting to see what more can be achieved. It is equally interesting to see how these mechanized devices change the daily lives of people.
Congratulations to this year's STEAM Awards recipients.
Anderson Wang - Action Taker Award
Cassandra Sweet - Most Valuable Player
Daphne Ih - Leadership Award
Justin Ongchin - Most Improved
Olivia Ih - Risk Taker Award
Tom Hocquet - Team Impact Award
Thank you for your continued devotion to STEAM Team and your help in making this program a success. Here's to an awesome 2018 of making a difference with an awesome team!
Also, the team would like to introduce the official mascot of STEAM Team: Caspar Miles! He's an English Golden Retriever and is very talented. Although he can't teach himself, he makes sure to cheer on the teachers as they do so.
Check out this awesome infographic on Electrical Engineering by Ohio University.
This is a great resource for you to look at the evolution of electrical engineering inventions and the future of advanced technology. Check it out to understand how electrical engineering has helped create a more connected world.
Last week, Shilpa Rao attended Dockercon 2017 in Austin, Texas. She volunteered with the software company Portworx, where she helped with the Portworx booth and advertised their product. She also found the opportunity to learn about the tech industry by exploring various company booths and learning about new products and how they work.
The latest STEAM Team updates. Also check our social media pages for updates and more information (see bottom of site).