Innovation

Facebook Cancels Aquilla

In 2014, Facebook launched a high altitiude platform station (HAPS) project called Aquilla, aimed at developing a high altitute glider drone that can transmit internet to remote areas.In a recent blog post, Facebook confirms that they are no longer developing Aquilla but will contine to work with partners like Airbus on HAPS connectivity in general.

Book Review: Elon Musk - Ashlee Vance

I just finished reading Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future by Ashlee Vance. It's an easy to read biography/commentary of Elon Musk's business successes and how his life and experiences account or attribute to them. It's very interesting to read the blow by blow accounts of the many many ups and downs of all of Musk's companies and Vance does a good job of trying to get multiple views on any incident by interviewing as many people involved as possible.

Red Shark Bikes

Spanish Industrial designer Josep Rubau has launched Red Shark Bikes. The bikes are pedal powered trimaran which allow riders to pedal and travel on water. Three different versions are available, one for fun (€4,995), one for adventures with extra storage (€6,995) and for high-performance sport (€9,995) made of carbon fibre. I'm not sure if these bikes are one of the greatest convergence ideas ever, like wheels on suitcases, or not at all.

The Rise Of USSD Apps In Africa

Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) is a protocol of the GSM standard form 1997, mostly used to allow simple queries to be sent and received to and from the mobile network, like requesting your account balance. The advent of mobile internet and smartphones have largely decimated the use of USSD in developed markets. However in Africa, where there is only 18% internet penetration, there is over 80% penetration of GSM mobile phones. As a result, developers have started using USSD as a widespread delivery mechanism for apps from banking to fertility tracking.

Tricking The Eye In VR Walking

Computer scientists at Stony Brook University have developed a system to allow users of VR to explore large spaces without the need for physical spaces of the same size.The system uses eye tracking to detect when the user's eye is in saccade, when the eye rapidly darts around to take in data, which causes in the brain momentarily ignore visual signals during the motion between points in order to keep us orientated.The VR system takes advatage of these blind spots to slightly rotate the VR camera, causing the user to shift inline with their view.

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