Quicket takes creepy to a new level

This new app will let you pry on social profiles of fellow passengers before you travel.

Travelling can be tricky. We have no way of knowing who will be sitting next to us. None of us wants to be sitting next to someone very odd for the whole duration of a flight, especially if it is a long one. But, stalking your fellow passengers online is way too creepy.

A new app in the market will let you pry on the social profiles of your fellow passengers even before you get on the plane. Quicket is a travel app for smartphones and tablets that makes ticket booking easier along with flight tracking and also provides detailed airport maps.

It has a ‘social check- in’ option that allows passengers to see others who have chosen seats on the plane by clicking on their avatar that has been linked to their social profiles.

The passengers who are nosy can also log in anonymously to see the avatars of the profiles of other passengers without providing any of their personal information.

Thankfully, other passengers will not be able to spy on you without your consent. Only those users who approve of the social feature will be presented on the flight. Other passengers, who are travelling with you, will be able to take a look at your profile, read information about you, and also study your photograph. Other features of the app include the ability to book tickets for yourself and your friends or colleagues, and you can choose from all the options that are available. You can also review seating options and go through the rules set down for luggage.

The app can be used by you to check – in directly and track flights. The app’s other features surely are nifty, but the ability to spy on fellow passengers is taking creepy to a whole new level altogether. While many might not be comfortable with the idea, only time can bear witness to the success of this app.

Find the original article at http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/quicket-takes-creepy-to-a-new-level/article7151771.ece

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Nothing goes undetected

Nano-sized Tess smells explosives better than a dog

All over the world, security forces depend on sophisticated equipment, trained personnel, and trained dogs in order to safeguard airports and other public places against the attacks of terrorists. A new electronic chip with nano–sized chemical sensors is about to make their job a lot easier.

This groundbreaking sensor that has been inspired by nanotechnology and devised by Professor Fernando Patolsky of Tel Aviv University’s School of Chemistry and Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and developed by a company called Tracense, can pick up the scent molecules of various explosives better than a dog.

Explosive sensors that exist today are bulky, expensive, and require expert interpretation in the findings. But the new sensor is mobile, inexpensive, and identifies explosives in real time with great accuracy. It can detect explosives in the air at a concentration as low as a few molecules per 1,000 trillion.

Using a single tiny chip that is made of hundreds of super sensitive sensors, Tess can detect ultra low traces of extremely volatile explosives in air. It can also fingerprint and differentiate materials from other non–hazardous stuff.

It can detect small molecular species in air (in real time) to concentrations of parts per quadrillion that’s four to five times more sensitive than any existing technological method and two to three times more sensitive than a dog’s nose.

It is sensitive enough to detect improvised explosives like TATP (triacetone triperoxide) that is used in suicide bombing attacks all over the world.

The clusters of nano-sized transistors that have been used in this detector are extremely sensitive to chemicals that cause changes in the electrical conductance of the sensors on surface contact.

When a single molecule of an explosive comes in touch with a sensor, it binds with it and initiates a rapid and accurate mathematical analysis of the material.

Animals are affected by a number of factors — weather, mood, working hours, state of health, the oversaturation of their olfactory systems, and other things.

Also, it is not possible for them to tell us what they smell. This makes automatic sensing systems smarter than dogs and work at least as well as, or even better than, nature.

This trace detector can identify many different types of explosives several metres from the source in real time. It has been tested on explosives like TNT, RDX, and HMX, which are used in commercial blasting and military applications. The makers have also tested it for TATP and HMTD. The last two are used extensively in homemade bombs and are very difficult to detect using existing technology.

This breakthrough has the potential of changing the way hazardous materials are detected and will provide people with more security.

When tiny amounts of explosives in the air can be detected faster, there’s hope that the world will be a lot safer.

Tracense has invested more than $10 million in research and development of Tess since 2007 and should go to the market sometime this year. Professor Patolsky, along with his team of researchers, has been conducting extensive tests on the prototype of this device.

Earlier published on The Hindu

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Brace yourself against radiation

Stemrad belt protects you from radiation exposure

People living in the vicinity of a nuclear facility live under a constant threat of leakage and exposure to radiation. The nuclear disaster that took place in the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 is the most recent example of the damage caused when almost negligent measures are taken to protect the people from radiation exposure.

This is why the Stemrad belt was created – to protect people from life threatening radiation exposure. The belt has been created for the first people to respond to nuclear disasters and it claims to shield the wearers from the effects of gamma radiation by protecting the bone marrow.

Usually, the employees of a nuclear reactor are the first people to respond to a disaster, and usually the number can be anything between ten and fifty. But, in the event of more severe disasters (like the one in Fukushima or the Chernobyl disaster in 1986), the first responders usually receive support from surrounding fire and police stations. This raises the number of people potentially exposed to radiation to hundreds.

In order to keep the public safe, these brave men and women can be exposed to high doses of alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. Normal clothing can repel alpha and beta radiation, but gamma radiation causes severe damage to the bone marrow stem cells. The body cannot produce white and red blood cells, and platelets without stem cells. This can result in severe anaemia, leukaemia, or acute radiation syndrome. These conditions require bone marrow transplants, or else the patient is likely to die.

This belt shields the pelvic area that contains 50 percent of all bone marrow with a leaden harness. This means that it cannot provide full body protection against radiation. This could be a serious drawback because some of the most affected areas of the body include the thyroid and the liver.

The 15 kilograms belt is made of differently shaped lead plates that have been layered on top of each other, with Teflon tissue in between them to allow for flexibility. The frame is covered with a fire – resistant Kevlar fabric that ensures full protection against every factor involved in a nuclear disaster. The company says that the belt protects up to five percent of the bone marrow in a person’s body. This amount is enough to regenerate a new batch within a month’s time.

The belt has a Geiger counter built in that works as a gamma radiation monitor, thus keeping the wearer aware of potential dangers through a chirping sound. It also has a cumulative dose decimetre card that displays a scale of rads a person was exposed to.

The makers have already sold the belt in many countries like Israel, Japan, and Russia, and has pending sales in Germany and in the USA. Stemrad also plans to make a protective belt for civilians that will be lighter and more economical than the regular belt. Quite recently, three noble laureates joined the advisory board of the company – Aaron Ciechanover, Roger D. Kornberg, a prominent American biochemist, and biophysicist Michael Levitt.

Find the original article at http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/brace-yourself-against-radiation/article6805589.ece

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Smart jewellery for women

Meet Ringly – a beautiful wearable technology for women, a game changer in its own right

Smart jewellery has not received its due, especially from women. There is now one manufacturer in the market who is trying to bring about a change. There is a lot of evidence that indicates that women are the predominant adopters of most technologies, or that they outnumber men as prospective buyers of wearable gadgets. But, the gadgets available in this category are not appealing enough to enable women to adopt them.

Smartwatches, fitness trackers, and smart glasses are not popular amongst women because of the way they look, their pricing, or some functions. But, Ringly changes the whole game.

Wearable technology is expected to have a higher aesthetic standard because you wear them and other people look at it all the time. Some people even tend to judge you by it. However, Ringly does not look like a gadget at all. In fact, it looks like a ring you would wear to cocktail parties, and has a large precious or semi- precious stone set in a matte gold band. The ring is made of bronze- brass alloy and is plated with three microns of 18 carat gold. The water – resistant case it comes in feels sturdy and well made; a far cry from being cheap. When the gold wears away, it just looks a little less matte and shinier.

Apart from aesthetics, Ringly does a quite a good job of being a gadget. It sends discreet notifications and vibrates as you get notifications from your iPhone or Android smartphone. The alerts are sent via Bluetooth Low Energy, and you will be notified only of the most urgent ones. It sends notifications for calls, texts, emails, and appointments, in addition to those from your choice of apps – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Uber, eBay, and Tinder. If you choose any more, you will have to bear with your finger buzzing all day. If you want, the ring will flash a small light on its side for notifications. But, you have the option of shutting it off if you do not want the lights.

With the help of the accompanying smartphone app, you can set four different patterns of vibrations and five different colors for the light.

Charging Ringly is quite simple. It comes with a ring box that doubles up as a charging dock. You just have to keep the ring on it, and it will charge the gadget to run for another two to three days. The ring’s compact design makes it difficult to house a big power cell, and hence the battery life cannot be longer.

It definitely looks chic and fashionable, and as far as wearable technology is concerned, it remains one the nicest looking things in the market. You can pre-order one now for anything between $190 and $260. Go through https://ringly.com to know more.

Courtesy: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/smart-jewellery-for-women/article6760598.ece

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A business mentor – a friend, philosopher, and guide

The energy that young entrepreneurs have is their greatest asset. We are surrounded by innovations, products, services, and applications that are being and have been developed by the youth of the society. An early start means they do not have much to lose. Their unmatched energies let them dedicate long hours, every day, to a project they believe in.

Young entrepreneurs, however, do not have the wisdom that comes with experience, and this makes it very easy for them to lose track of the bigger picture. It does not take much to get their adrenaline pumping. One idea, and it’s on. They rush into an idea, and start thinking about ways to get in off the ground. They, however, cannot figure out ways to take their work to the next level. This is primarily due to their inexperience and lack of understanding of how start-ups work.

This is why every entrepreneur needs a business mentor.

A mentor will give a budding entrepreneur advice in key areas of the business that he (the entrepreneur) is unaware of. Business mentors are usually entrepreneurs who have been running a successful business for quite some time, and are thus capable of instilling good sense in the younger generation. Mentors are more like role models that help their protégés and guide them through troubled waters, instead of being people whom the youth looks up to and never interacts.

Most mentors believe that young entrepreneurs should do something that they are intensely passionate about. They should delve into things that never fail to excite them, for it is only those who are excited about their work that make a difference.

The youth should appreciate the treasure of knowledge the mentors are sharing. For a mentor – protégé relationship to work, there has to be respect, practical thinking, and accountability.

It is the protégé’s responsibility to tell his mentor of the clear goals he has set for his business, for only then will the latter be able to figure out a way of getting there. The protégé should also constantly create and be productive, while furnishing regular progress reports, and take majority of the decisions for his business instead of depending completely on his mentor.

Looking for someone to guide you is not easy. Not all experienced entrepreneurs will want to mentor you. They will have a lot on their plates, and they might be hard pressed for time. Also, a lot of successful entrepreneurs have never had mentors. So, they are really not sure about how to help you out. But that should not deter you from looking for the one person whose goals match yours.

Once you have identified a list of people who can mentor you, all you have to do is establish communication. An email, a phone call, or a hand written letter is enough for an introduction. Instead of beating around the bush, they would appreciate it if you get to the point and ask them your question. You might be lucky and have a beautiful relationship that is mutually beneficial!

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Get nostalgic with Timehop

A time capsule of your presence online

If you have ever had the wish to take a look at what you posted exactly one year ago (or two or three, for that matter), Timehop is the app for you. In order to use this app, you will have to create an account. It also has an option called Facebook Connect for those who do not want to go through the whole process of signing up. You will then have to link up your other social media accounts – Flickr, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram. If you wish, you can link your camera roll to show the photos that you have taken in the past. This option, however, does not work well if you frequently delete photos to create space.

Its interface is clean and simple. Every year is colour coded. This way you will be able to see how long ago something was posted. It keeps everything separated. As a result, it is not a whole mess of stuff. It labels everything clearly so that you don’t miss out anything of your past.The posts in this app show you the platform on which you has originally posted and can fetch all the details and captions that you had posted with it. The headers for every year show what day of the week it was, and the weather (if available). This seems like a nice touch. It might seem embarrassing to look back at your timeline, but that is the point of a time capsule.

You can see the images in full screen with just a tap and see any Foursquare check-ins on a map. You will also be able to see all your Facebook and Twitter updates and the links are click-able. You can share any moment with others by tapping the Share button. You can send it across via email, SMS, Twitter, or Facebook. You can also share these moments on Timehop so that your friends (who are using the app) can see it.

Coutesy: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/gadgets/get-nostalgic-with-timehop/article6719291.ece

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The brains behind drones

A closer look at Airware, which makes the drones work

Technology is growing, and growing fast. A few years back, it would have been impossible to imagine that there would be robots flying in the sky that would be controlled by people on the ground!

The Iron Man movies gave a glimpse of what the future can be like with drones. They can be used for a number of purposes, including defending a country.

Airware does not make drones, and neither does it plan to. It fact, it makes the brains that make the drones work. If you want to order something from Airware, you will get a logic board that handles things like auto pilot and wireless communication, in addition to all the actuators and sensors you would want in a drone.

Drones seem quite spooky. When regular folks hear “drone” or “unmanned aircraft”, they first think of the highly controversial use, which is also quite terrifying, by the military powers of the world. This is quite sad, though. For, like most technology, drones are not inherently lethal. They are also not the killing machines they are projected to be. Drones have a number of uses that are perfectly innocent, and none of these involve shooting you from the sky or getting a lot like Big Brother. In fact, all of these require a robot soaring a few thousand feet above the ground.

In Kenya, people are building drones powered by Airware in an attempt to monitor the declining population of Northern White Rhinos to oppose poaching. In the slopes, the companies are working to build drones that will help them look for skiers who are lost. There are other teams that are working on building drones that will monitor their existing infrastructure for damaged power lines or gas lines by using high resolution infrared cameras. Drones are also being built to take care of delivering vaccines urgently and in researching air quality in various regions.

This distinction is important because Airware has no intention of working with the military forces of countries. They do want to move forward, but CEO Jonathan Downey claims that not a single of their dozens of clients and customers are focused on military.

The company wants to bridge the gap between military drone work, which is massively funded, and the nascent DIY drone community, also called the “personal Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” community.

Downey discovered his love for drones while studying at MIT, and the company came into existence in 2011. He, along with a few friends, entered a competition for building drones, and were quite surprised at the limitation and black – box – like structure of the all the drone technology that was available.

After a few years, that included a stint at Boeing, Downey entered the arena of building drones full time, and also raised a small seed capital to set things in motion. By the end of 2012, the money had run dry. The company managed to enter Y Combinator’s Winter 2013 class, just as the FAA was opening up to commercial drones in the US airspace, by a twist of fate and impeccable timing. After four months and a big demo at YC, they managed to raise the whopping amount of $10.7 million!

Courtesy: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/the-brains-behind-drones/article6719290.ece

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How to keep your sanity as a business owner

As small business owners, the stress is bound to be great, especially as you have to think about almost everything. Every entrepreneur has his or her own breaking point. It could be something like being too swamped with work and not getting enough time for spending quality time with your family. You can’t always prevent situations from cropping up and grinding your nerves, but you can have your own ways to deal with it.

Here are a few strategies that can help.

Do a maximum of five major tasks in a day
If you try to do more than five big things in a day, you are bound feel overwhelmed, which will not help your productivity in any way.

So, if you have a never – ending to – do list, you will always feel as if you are just not getting anything done. But, if you do just five things and try to get them done by 11 am, you will be surprised by how much more you can get done when you prioritise work.

Don’t try to control everything
Trying to control everything is a recipe for everything going haywire. Instead, focus only on three things:

  • Who you are for your customers

  • What you are committed to

  • Delivering on what your customers can count on you for

One you put all your energy into these three things, you will have a whole lot of customers who are happy and profitable, and they will choose you regardless of the price they have to cough up.

Jot everything down
It is quite important to jot down stuff – without using any technology, just the good ol’ pen and paper. All you have to do is buy a white legal pad, and make a note of everything that you have to do. The moment you finish a task, draw a line across it. It feels extremely good to physically cross something off.

There will always be more going on in your office than you can keep track of. So, having a notepad on your desk will help you keep those five big tasks in the front of your mind.

Take some time off
Taking some time off, even if it is half a day, can do wonders for our productivity and stress levels. Entrepreneurs push themselves to the limit because they think the business will not sustain if they are out of the office. But, if you take off early on Friday, you will feel rejuvenated and all ready to tackle every challenge on Monday.

You might not be able to take vacations often, but getting off work early on Fridays is certainly doable.

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Figuring out the next step

Most people think that start – ups are all about the one great, revolutionary product idea. Once the moment of epiphany hits, the result is pretty much predictable. The problem with this thought process is that it disregards the years of hard work and toil endured by entrepreneurs, and that a large number of start – ups change over time – often dramatically.

Entrepreneurs find it difficult to subscribe to this view, and, in response, say things like, “ideas do not matter” or “execution is everything”.

If a reality – check is to be done, then ideas do matter. However, they are not in the narrow sense in which such ideas are generally defined. A good start – up plan is not a pipe dream, that entrepreneurs watch as it builds. A good start – up idea is, in fact, well – developed, planned for many years, and include contemplations for various paths according to how the world changes.

Wear the shoes of the creators of Netflix in 1997. Your first thoughts would be about the kind of response you would get from content providers, distribution channels, and competitors. You would also wonder about how long it would take for technology to develop enough to enable you to distribute content online instead of by mail.

You can also consider the quandaries of the makers of Dropbox in 2007. There had been many cloud storage companies that did not last. They would be wondering about the mistakes made by their predecessors and the effect mobile platforms might have.

When you are just starting, it is not possible to map the entire course of events. However, the following places can help you get a general idea and plan accordingly.

History
If someone has tried out your idea before (most good ones have been tried), you should try to see where they went wrong and what they did right. Most of these reasons are stored in the brains of those who had executed it, and this makes working in “stealth mode” a very bad idea. You will gain far more by learning about the possible scenarios than the risks you will run of having your idea stolen.

Theories
Check out the blogs written by entrepreneurs and investors. These places contain a wealth of historical data on technology start – ups. These people have observed and sifted through data to develop various theories that generalise the data they received.

Analogy
Another good place to look for the direction in which to turn is similar businesses. They will give you knowledge that no other place will. Look at their beginnings, their strategies, and learn about them. You can then utilise something similar in your venture.

You should also think about competition. Other start – ups are just a distraction. Chances are high that your and their paths will not merge. But, if you see many who are trying to do something similar, then rest assured that you might be on to something good. You should be, in fact, worrying about the years you could waste if you go down the wrong path.

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Sell Magic

Startups that create technology are not actually in the business of technology. They are, in fact, in the business of creating magic. By magic, I don’t mean that they befuddle people with card tricks or by pulling a rabbit or a dove out of their hats. They create magic that awes and surprises. They are in the business of providing people with a magical experience.

Most of a business’s customers don’t understand the technology that goes behind creating the products. They don’t need to, and they don’t care. What they care about is the way the product works. The love a simple interface. For example, when you look at Google’s interface, it is just a box for you to type in and some buttons and tabs here and there. But, behind the simple and classy interface lies tons and tons and tons and tons of code, which, when looked at, will blow your mind.

But, as long as the search engine’s working, and working seamlessly and perfectly, people will flock to it. Your product has to be like that. It has to delight and astound, and yet, remain as simple as ABC. Simplicity is magical. If your product is not simple, does not awe your customers, does not make them feel magical, and have an astounding design, you will be in trouble.

For very few people are interested in technology for the sake of technology. Most people are interested in what technology can do for them, and how it can blow their shoes off. By selling only your technology, you will just end up with a bunch of people who have been irritated and confused by your technology.

People like to see results. They want products that will delight them. They prefer start-ups that are easy to communicate with and respond to their queries almost immediately. Apart from looking for value for their money, people now want technology to fit into their lives without any hassle.

They do seem to want a lot, and it does seem like they want magic. So, that’s what you’ve got to sell – magic.

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