TLDR 2021-01-22

Google closes Loon 🎈, Samsung's 100x camera zoom πŸ“·, AI-assisted IVF πŸ‘Ά

Big Tech & Startups

Pebble founder launches Beeper, a universal chat app that works with iMessage and others (4 minute read)

Beeper is a new app that can connect with 15 different messaging services. It is based on a protocol called Matrix, which offers an API that allows developers to connect with other chat networks using a bridge. Beeper is open-sourced, so users can avoid paying Beeper's $10 per month fee and run the bridges on their own servers if they choose. It works with iMessage, but that requires a few extra steps to set up. Beeper works across all major operating systems.

Alphabet is shutting down Loon, its internet balloon company (1 minute read)

Alphabet is shutting down Loon. Loon provided internet from floating balloons, but the project turned out to be riskier than Alphabet had hoped. The company had a commercial service in Kenya and it also provided internet services to areas affected by natural disasters. Loon is working to place employees in other roles within Alphabet's other companies. It has pledged $10 million to support efforts in Kenya dedicated to connectivity, internet, entrepreneurship, and education.
Science & Futuristic Technology

Designing customized β€œbrains” for robots (4 minute read)

Modern robots can move quickly, but computing speeds haven't caught up yet. Gathering environment data and calculating plans takes up a lot of computing power. A team of researchers has developed a system called robomorphic computing, which creates customized hardware designs to best serve a particular robot's computing needs. The custom hardware performs significantly better than off-the-shelf CPU and GPU units. The team is now working on automating the process.

This startup says its AI can better spot a healthy embryo β€” and improve IVF success (4 minute read)

An Israeli startup called Embryonics is using AI to improve the odds of success during in vitro fertilization. The company will use the software to analyze which embryos are most likely to survive, as well as for improving hormonal stimulation. Every woman who goes through IVF or fertility preservation has to be injected with hormones for up to two weeks to induce the ovaries to produce numerous eggs. The process at the moment requires a lot of trial and error, which the company hopes to remove with the use of AI. It is still in the very early stages of research, so it is unknown whether the project will succeed.
Programming, Design & Data Science

Rust for Windows (GitHub Repo)

This crate lets developers call any Windows API as if they were just using another Rust module. It provides a natural and idiomatic way for Rust developers to call Windows APIs.

Predicting Hard Drive Failure with Machine Learning (24 minute read)

What if you could predict when a hard drive would fail? This article explores the possibility of using machine learning to predict hard drive failures. While machine learning can make sense of patterns in data and use that to make predictions, it can't come up with inferences that aren't supported by the data. It's unlikely that using hard drive monitoring stats is enough to accurately predict hard drive failure.

Signal CEO Moxie Marlinspike explains his vision for the app β€” and what he sees as the biggest threats to privacy (5 minute read)

Secure chat app Signal saw a huge spike in growth last year. People are attracted to the app as it makes private communication simple and accessible. Encryption is important as we will never be able to build secure computers, so it is the best way to protect our data. Consumers are now more aware of how technologies are not serving them anymore. The amount of data collected by companies is concerning, and governments are unlikely to try to intervene and regulate the tech industry.

Galaxy S21 Ultra's camera comes with 100x zoom. Here's what photos look like (4 minute read)

The Samsung S21 Ultra's camera can achieve a huge 30x zoom. It has four lenses on the back: a standard zoom, an ultrawide lens, a 3x optical zoom, and a 10x optical zoom. The main camera has a 108-megapixel resolution. This article contains a gallery of images shot with the S21 Ultra. While the results at 30x aren't great, the shots taken at 10x optical zoom look good enough to share. The phone was able to take shots that would've been impossible on rival flagship phones.
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