Discarded Electronics Are Literal Gold Mines

If you have seen any dystopian film or have read any piece at all of dystopian literature, you would know that a landscape made of metal offers intense horrors that bank on some of the deep-seated fears of today’s society.

Realistically speaking, we have been inventing ways to address the problem of metal such as recycling laptop batteries into a source of alternative energy or something as strangely innovative as making stylish backpacks out of car parts, but there is a need to push further. A trio of researchers recently took a shot at that and conducted a study which tries to answer how profitable it is to recover metals from old electronics.

In 2016 alone, the world discarded 44.7 million metric tons of unusable or simply unwanted electronics, according to the United Nations’ 2017 Global E-Waste Monitor report. That’s 4,500 Eiffel Towers-worth of phones, laptops, microwaves, and TVs. Only 20 percent of this e-waste was properly recycled that year. The rest was likely either incinerated, pumping pollution into the atmosphere, or added to a landfill somewhere, with its toxins now leaking into our soil and water supply.

It turns out, urban mining costs much less than traditional mining. The researchers from Beijing’s Tsinghua University and Sydney’s Macquarie University published their results in a scientific journal after collecting data from recycling companies in China. While the cost of recycling might vary from country to country, China’s status as the world’s biggest producer of e-waste makes light of the truth that the practice of urban mining could have a big impact on both economic and environmental matters.

[W]e already knew electronics contain precious metals in addition to all that glass and plastic. While a single smartphone might not contain all that much, consumers buy about 1.7 billion of the devices each year. In just one million of those, you’ll find roughly 75 pounds of gold, 35,000 pounds of copper, and 772 pounds of silver.

Necessary reminder though: this is no reason at all to justify our technological consumption practices. If anything, it should make us ask more conscientiously, what do I do with my smartphone once I find a new replacement that has great upgrades and loads informative online articles (like this!) much faster?

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AI Alerts Cars When You’re Texting And Driving

Distracted driving survivors have Apple Watches and shock bracelets to thank for sparing their lives. However, car accidents remain abundant — but not if researchers at the University of Waterloo have anything to say about it. A new artificial intelligence software can now alert cars when you’re texting and driving, which can prevent oncoming disasters.

This system can detect signs of distraction, which could be caused by texting or talking on the phone, reaching into the backseat, or anything else that causes a change in head and face position.

With the rise of self-driving vehicles comes the simultaneous ascent of new safety features. In other words, you can count on your car to pick up the slack.

“The car could actually take over driving if there was imminent danger, even for a short while, in order to avoid crashes.”

Majority of crashes are caused by human error. Researchers claim that autonomous vehicles can save tens of thousands of lives every year. Of course, this isn’t to hand over free passes to reckless drivers. Staying focused remains a number one priority for anyone behind the wheel.

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The Future of Selfies: Wefies and Beepies!

Almost everyone in the world probably knows what selfies are. In the period between 2015 to 2016, around 24 billion selfies have been posted on the Internet, according to Google’s servers. 24 billion! Sounds unbelievable, right? Even though we get to see our friends’ faces each day on social media — as they cook breakfast, walk their dog, sip a latte, try their hand at yoga, host a baby shower, dress up for a fancy date, dress in sweaters and a comfy hoodie, go to the bathroom, stay in bed, and every other human thing to do, really —  I’m sure it’s still an astounding fact.

The activity of taking a selfie sometimes strikes other people who dislike it as vain and unnecessary. However, history says it has long been a human fascination to look at and have oneself immortalized. Supposedly, the first photographic self-portrait ever has been taken in the 19th century by a chemist and photography enthusiast named Robert Cornelius. And long before that, hundreds and hundreds of people have already had themselves painted by artists or even by themselves throughout the centuries. Just visit an art museum, and you’ll quickly realize we are not so different from many generations before us.

Of course, the function of selfies has already evolved, especially now that we live in the digital era. Some people take selfies so that they can keep their friends updated, maybe about a significant event in their lives or just any usual day, like one that says “good morning” in the caption. Some do it to boost their confidence, especially as they have control over how they appear in the image that they’re going to show the world; they can make sure they look good so that they can feel good. Others do it to remember a moment with their family or friends, whether they’re just hanging out on a regular Saturday afternoon or meeting up for the first time in five years.

There are many reasons to take selfies, but I guess one thing that’s common among them is that they all have to do with memories. As humans, we have an urge to preserve our memories so that we can look back on them any time we want. We want a memory of that time we looked so poised, graceful and ready to take on the world with a little black dress. We want a memory of that time we finished a great hike. We want a memory of that time we made funny faces with our cute nephews. We already know this as we make our online presence felt. But I wonder, is this all there is to selfies? What other purpose could it have?

BeepBeep Nation is an app that seeks to create a more meaningful world by enhancing face-to-face human interaction, albeit facilitating it digitally. It provides a platform for people who need help to seek it among others and then other people to reach out and offer a hand. Aside from enabling people to exercise kindness, it also encourages them to broaden their network of peers and share their lives with more people.

Amazingly, the BeepBeep Nation app has an answer to my question about the future of selfies: wefies and Beepies. The term “wefie” has already been used to refer to a selfie taken with a group of people. Meanwhile, a Beepie is a group picture taken through the BeepBeep Nation app between people who request for help (requestors) and people who provided the help (helpers) during their friendly meetup. By simply clicking on the camera icon in the app, you can easily initiate the process of taking a Beepie with your requestor or helper.

Through the Beepie, BeepBeep Nation redefines what selfies could be in the world of kindness that it seeks to create.

Not only can this feature ensure your personal safety when meeting someone unfamiliar through the app and thus build trust in the BeepBeep Nation community, it can also serve the usual functions of a selfie, but better. Because what greater moment to preserve in our memories than when we choose to help others and share our kindness with them? We never know, we might end up creating a good and lasting friendship with our requestor or helper, and your Beepie will always be a significant first in your relationship. Exciting, I know.

If you’re ready to take on the challenge of sharing your kindness, making the world a better place, and creating exciting friendships (plus taking fantastic selfies with your new friends!), the BeepBeep Nation app is set to launch soon. Its fuel, the EMINENT token, is now available for sale! To get started on BeepBeep Nation, make sure to check it out now.

 

 

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Smart Pedestrian Crossing Makes Roads Safer

Road accidents are among the leading causes of death worldwide and many are looking to change this statistic. With the ability to phone emergency services, an Apple Watch makes a great driving companion. So does Steer, a wearable that monitors your drowsiness. On the other side of drunk and lazy drivers are distracted pedestrians. This high-tech zebra crossing in south London is tackling the issue, making roads safer for everyone.

Dubbed the “Starling Crossing” by designers from UK technology company Umbrellium, it aims to update the traditional British zebra crossing with the help of a neural network and tracking cameras, which can calculate the trajectory of anyone walking across its surface.

Here’s the thing — looking down at our iPhones while crossing the street? We’ve all done it. To avoid accidents, Starling Crossing alerts walkers when a car is nearby the pedestrian crossing using LED lights.

“We’re trying to update it for the 21st century with a crossing that deals with the fact that people are on mobile phones and they might not be looking up, vehicles might be coming more often, there might be pedestrians suddenly coming out at the end of a film . . . This is trying to perform very much like a traditional crossing with the difference that it responds in real time.” [says Umbrellium founder Usman Haque.]

In the midst of a tech savvy society, this may be what we need. Of course, people can decide looking both ways at a pedestrian crossing is a much simpler solution, but we cannot take enough precautionary measures to ensure road safety. Plus, well, tech is always here to help.

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Can You Build The World’s Best New Phone App?

“There’s an app for that,” must be the expression of the century — after all, it’s true. You can spy on your partner, keep track of the places you’ve taken a dump, and seek cuddle buddies. Some apps demonstrate explosive popularity but only remain on the hot list for weeks, if not days (looking at you, Pokemon Go). So how exactly do you craft the next best phone app and remain trending?

Think about what people want. What is everyone’s latest obsession? Which apps have endured the test of time? Games such as Candy Crush maintain a steady amount of users and rake in a lot of credit. Consider how and why. You’ll soon figure that the answer is simple. Anyone can play it. Its features are addicting. It’s free but also tricks you into spending an occasional buck for that extra life. Here is where market research may come in handy.

But before getting your hands dirty, consider your audience. Do you want to build an app that caters primarily to millennials? Or do you want a few Gen X heads to turn? Making an “app for everyone” may seem like the way to go, but it isn’t always the easiest.

When brainstorming, play to your strengths. Sure, you can make an app for pretty much anything. But why not create something you are already well-versed in? After all, a physical therapist working on an app for 15-minute exercises does make a lot of sense.

Once you’ve established a general sense of what your app is going to be, it’s time for the nitty gritty. Give your app multiple functions. But focus, of course, is important. You can’t throw together a photo editing app that also allows you to order a pizza. Figure out what makes the most sense and deliver real value.

An app that can do a lot of things may seem the way to go, but not with a complex design. Make your app user-friendly. Windows loyalists may often tease Mac users for being technological dummies. But the truth of the matter is, Mac will almost always remain on top for the simple fact that it is easy to use.

A seamless beginning doesn’t always make for smooth-sailing in the long run. Keep track of bugs and when the going gets tough, communicate with your users. Just because something seems like a good idea, doesn’t mean that it is. Take customer feedback seriously. What might make sense to you may be someone else’s worst nightmare. Troubleshoot with grace, like a virtual ballerina.

Most importantly, stay current. In order to remain relevant, keep up with the times. Upgrade your app to suit prevailing trends. Mermaid hair and rompers for men may eventually go out of style, but you don’t have to. Adjust to change, even when it means taking risks. Nothing ever comes easy to those who play it safe.

App-making is treacherous business, even for experienced entrepreneurs. But with consistent batting practice, any smartphone user could hit a home run.

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New U.K. Water Fountains To Help Cut Plastic Waste

Each year, an astounding number of plastic products brim over from landfills and into oceans. To reduce this ever-rising amount, companies are dumpster-diving for bottles, up-cycling them into boats and furniture. Although proper disposal remains a primary issue, encouraging a zero-waste lifestyle is just as pressing. To prevent greater damage caused by plastic bottles, Water U.K. is installing refill stations across England.

“This country has some of the best drinking water in the world and we want everyone to benefit from it.” [said Water U.K. chief executive Michael Roberts.]

Users can pinpoint refill stations on a smartphone app. In Bristol alone, the app will ping you to 200 individual fountains. If bottle-users went for a single refill per week for an entire year, the city could shrink waste by 22.3 million bottles.

“This scheme will do that by making it easier for people to refill their bottles wherever they work, rest, shop or play.”

If you’re on a mission to stay healthy, remember that keeping plastic out of oceans is also part of the job.

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Algorithm Edits Phone Photos Before You Take Them

Since the birth of the smartphone, Google, Apple, and Android have been working to make newer models appropriate for… well, everything. Not only are they a source of entertainment — they are becoming equally health-centered. But smartphones cater to everyone, including amateur and professional photographers. This new algorithm edits phone photos before you even take them.

Machine learning networks were set to work on a database of 5,000 sample images improved by five professional photographers, teaching the software how to tweak a picture to get it looking its best.

Because of resolution issues, the algorithm processes in low-quality, later scaling up results without ruining the image. Using this mechanism, the app uses only a hundredth of the phone’s memory. Like most sterling apps, it also comes with additional features.

As well as brightening dark spots and balancing contrast, for example, the algorithms could even mimic the style of a particular photographer.

Does this mean my work has the potential to exhibit at the MET? While the app makes photography seem easy, let’s not forget that snapping a great picture also takes a level of skill.

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Pixel Buds Can Translate Conversations

When Translate One2One launched back in June, it was the latest translation technology of its kind. Not to be undermined, Google recently launched a translation device of its own, in the form of Pixel Buds.

The translation software allows users to both listen to and speak in foreign languages using their smartphone. For listening services, holding down the earbud will translate another language into the user’s chosen language.

The gadget supports 40 languages and hosts a slew of additional features. As Google does, the Buds will retail for £159 (approximately $210) — or perhaps you’d prefer to sell an organ.

“With Pixel Buds, we’re excited to put all the power of the Google Assistant into a pair of headphones you can take with you everywhere,” said Google product manager Adam Champy, “so you can easily control your tunes, get walking directions to the nearest coffee spot or have a conversation with someone from another country without ever pulling out your phone.”

Alongside the release of Pixel Buds is the Pixel 2, which is a state-of-the-art smartphone. If you also choose to invest in the Google Lens smart camera, you may be the proud new owner of a pocket-sized cyborg.

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Too Much Tech: How To Kick Smartphone Addiction

Being unable to part with your smartphone seems like it belongs on an episode of My Strange Addiction.

However, spending too much time playing Candy Crush is about as real as it gets. In fact, statistics (yes, those exist) show that 11% of people in Western countries suffer from some form of technology addiction.

On average, people spend about 5 hours on their phone a day, which seems reasonable, except it’s not. People sleep 8 to 10 hours a day, which means of the 14 or so hours we spend awake, we dedicate around 35% to our phones.

Kicking your smartphone addiction isn’t as harrowing as it sounds and can actually be gratifying.

What keeps us glued to our screens is an endless stream of notifications. Message? Tweet? FaceBook status? Instagram like? Every few seconds is a tap on the shoulder.

To make things easier, turn off your notifications. While not receiving an alert regarding how many people have reacted to your new profile picture may be stressful, trust me — you’ll live. In fact, it may eventually feel liberating.

If you’re the type of person who needs a constant reality check, keep track of how much time you spend on your phone a day. 

Various apps can monitor your usage and even tell you when you need a break. Use these apps to set goals for yourself. Do you want to reduce an hour of screen time? More? Be realistic but not too lenient.

If you’re a busybody, try out a manual to do list. Sure, iPhones make it a lot easier to figure out what you’re supposed to do and when, but jotting down tasks allows you to focus.

The most effective form of note-taking is handwritten, because muscle memory allows you to more successfully absorb information. With just a pad and pen, you won’t be subjecting yourself to any potential distractions.

After a long day at work or school, catching up on current events may seem like a rewarding and logical activity. While it can be, you can change things up by reading the newspaper. Who knows? Perhaps it may even inspire you to read a book — you know, where real stories are told.

On weekends, being able to spend the entire day alternating between social media and games may seem like a sensible bonus. Not if it’s making you inactive.

Try something new. Start out small. Check out a coffee shop you don’t normally frequent. Go to the library (while they’re still relevant). If you have one, walk your dog at a park on the other end of town. Do something refreshing and, if you must, document it on your phone (but not the whole time!).

Lastly, be more social. You may be outgoing, but spending 3 hours looking at photos of baby goats with your friends isn’t really bonding. Explore the great outdoors or simply go see a movie — yes, with your phone on silent mode.

Tacky as it may sound, life is too short to spend all of it on a 4.7-inch screen. Or 5.5, if you’ve got a Plus.

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How Technology Isn’t Killing Us

I remember when 3D glasses and Game Boys were the future. Little did I know that the likes of Snapchat and Alexa would steal the technological spotlight. Most science fiction in film and literature see an ugly demise. More often than not, technology is evil, and if you’ve ever seen an episode of “Black Mirror”, you’d agree. While we place so much blame on smartphones and the Internet, we fail to realize that in some ways, they’re actually useful.

We owe our improved communication to SEs and Galaxy Notes. After all, snail mail is pretty much a thing of the past. People may perceive our constant tapping away as social isolation when, in fact, we are involving ourselves with others–just in another medium. Yes, social media is part of a vicious universe, but with it, we are able to build connections. 

Businesses now have platforms like Facebook and Twitter to thank for their growing successes. Spreading the word has never been easier. Through online advertising and connectivity, brands become more efficient and productive. Not to mention they manage to save an enormous amount of time and money. Promoting through billboards and magazines seem to be almost primitive–definitely a thing of the past.

The Internet is home to everything viral. Fake news is sometimes part of that sphere. However, with such easy access to information, fact-checking technology is always available. Details that previously would’ve required a trip to the library are now just a Google search away. While the facts we learn may be seemingly futile, everything has value to some extent.

Technology has also piloted improvements in healthcare and travel. Everything is convenient. With new features such as online travel agents and virtual therapy, most of our needs are attended to much quicker. Our movements become fleeting and gratification is met in the blink of an eye. We may grow impatient, but with technology evolving as fast as it is, virtually nothing will have to wait.

Additionally, online classes educate us anywhere at any time. We can now learn remotely, outside the four walls of a classroom. Even Ivy Leagues are jumping on the bandwagon, offering courses that are accessible through your laptop or smartphone. Perhaps the question is not, “what are parents feeding their kids that make them so smart?” but “what is on our kids’ smartphones that make them geniuses?” To be perfectly honest, it makes much more sense.

Of course, technology, whether we like to think so or not, also boosts creativity and imagination. Because the Internet makes sharing ideas so simple, we can create jobs in the comfort of our own homes. Design a bestselling app and you’re pretty much financially set for life. Fund-me websites also make concepts reality. With so many people willing to donate to different prototypes, bringing ideas to fruition is not that difficult. In fact, we, not the government, may be funding majority of our future.

We may have doubts about technology taking over the world (or the universe). We may see ourselves at the hands of robots and machines. But the human mind is powerful and together with technology, can pretty much conquer anything.

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