Big Tech &
Messenger Rooms are Facebook’s answer to Zoom and Houseparty for the pandemic (5 minute read)
Facebook has announced Messenger Rooms, a tool for starting virtual hangouts with up to 50 people. WhatsApp video call capabilities have doubled from four people to eight. New video call features have been added to Facebook Dating, and new live-streaming features have been added to both Facebook and Instagram. Rooms will come later to Instagram Direct, WhatsApp, and Portal. Guests can join rooms regardless of whether they have a Facebook account. Rooms are not end-to-end encrypted, unlike WhatsApp video calls. Moderators will be able to kick people out of Rooms at any time.
The pandemic is bringing us closer to our robot takeout future (5 minute read)
Starship is a startup that uses six-wheeled, microwave-sized robots to deliver food in campuses across the US. With a simple app, Starship now has hundreds of robots in service delivering food to real customers. The robots run at a low cost, do not require tips, and are more popular than ever as they start to displace human-driven food deliveries. For Starship to work in a city, it must create a map, get approval from city officials, sign up with commercial partners, and make sure it has enough back-end resources to support each robot. This makes its rapid growth particularly impressive as it continues to deploy robots around the world.
Brain implant and signal decoder have done the impossible and reversed paralysis (3 minute read)
Scientists at Battelle Memorial Institute have developed a brain implant that was able to restore both movement and touch in a patient with paralysis caused by a brain injury. The patient that received the implant was able to do things like swipe a credit card and play Guitar Hero again. The device is able to tap into faint brain signals for touch and then amplify these signals. It also reads brain activity and translates signals into movements.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Boston Dynamics is open-sourcing its robot tech to help hospitals fight coronavirus (2 minute read)
Boston Dynamics' Spot robot is being used for telemedicine, allowing health workers to communicate with patients remotely. This applications' hardware and software design is being open-sourced for developers and robot-makers to develop solutions for fighting the coronavirus. Boston Dynamics is also exploring ways to measure body temperature, respiratory rate, pulse rate, and oxygen saturation remotely via Spot. A disinfectant technology may be mounted on the back of Spot later in the project to remotely sanitize patients and surfaces.
Bashtop (GitHub Repo)
Bashtop is a resource monitor written in Bash that shows usage and stats for processor, memory, disks, network, and processes. It has a game inspired menu system with a fast and responsive UI, the ability to filter processes, easy switching between sorting options, an auto scaling graph for network usage, and the ability to send SIGTERM, SIGKILL, and SIGINT to selected processes. Bashtop has theme support.
Social distancing in 100 square feet: Hong Kong's cage homes are almost impossible to self-isolate in (6 minute read)
Hong Kong's 'cage homes' are rooms that are often smaller than 100 square feet, with space only for a bed and some clothes. Bathrooms are mostly communal and there are usually no kitchens. Rooms are usually divided by makeshift or removable walls. It is difficult to practice social distancing. Nine in 10 people in Hong Kong live in an area smaller than 70 square meters, and yet they pay some of the highest rent and property prices in the world. As many public places are closed due to the pandemic, people who live in cage homes are suffering as they have nowhere to escape their tiny spaces. Landlords are quick to kick out tenants who are unable to pay rent, despite job losses. Hong Kong has recorded fewer than 1,050 infections and 4 deaths from COVID-19 since January.
USGS releases first complete geologic map of the Moon (1 minute read)
The United States Geological Survey has published the first complete geologic map of the Moon at a scale of 1:5,000,000. The map is color-coded with in order to quickly identify geological features. It was created using a mix of Apollo-era maps and data from recent satellite missions.