TLDR Daily Update 2021-04-01

Siri's new voices 🗣️, Microsoft's military AR 🥽, Covid vaccine for animals 🐕

Big Tech & Startups

Apple adds two brand new Siri voices and will no longer default to a female or male voice in iOS (3 minute read)

Siri will no longer default to a female voice in English. Users can choose from two new voices in the latest beta version of iOS. The new voices offer more diversity in speech sound and patterns. They use source talent recordings that are run through Apple's Neural text-to-speech engine, making them sound natural and smooth. Siri supports 21 languages in 36 countries, and users can select a personal preference of voice in 16 languages.

Microsoft wins U.S. Army contract for augmented-reality headsets, worth up to $21.9 billion over 10 years (2 minute read)

Microsoft has won a contract with the Pentagon to build more than 120,000 custom HoloLens headsets for the US Army. The deal could be worth up to $21.88 billion over 10 years. Microsoft's HoloLens enables people to see holograms overlaid on top of their environments and interact with them. An earlier prototype made for the Army displayed a map and compass and had thermal imaging to reveal people in the dark. Some Microsoft employees are against the project, saying that they did not sign up to develop weapons.
Science & Futuristic Technology

Russia registers world's first Covid-19 vaccine for animals (2 minute read)

Russia has registered the world's first coronavirus vaccine for animals. Carnivak-Cov is a sorbate inactivated vaccine for carnivorous animals, such as dogs, cats, foxes, and minks. Its effects are estimated to last at least six months. It can prevent further mutations of the virus. Last year, Denmark culled 17 million minks over concerns the animals were spreading a mutated form of the virus. Russia was the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine in humans, but its early rollout was criticized globally.

Environmental DNA: study provides first evidence that human DNA can be collected from the air (3 minute read)

Animal DNA, including human DNA, can be collected from the air. Environmental DNA (eDNA) has been used to monitor fish populations in water, but a new study has found that it appears in the air as well. The finding could open up some interesting applications in archaeology, medicine, criminal forensics, and many other industries. Scientists are still determining how far eDNA can travel and how much needs to be in the air for it to be detectable.
Programming, Design & Data Science

Using GPU to Improve JavaScript Performance (8 minute read)

GPU.js is a JavaScript acceleration library that can be used for general-purpose computations on GPUs using JavaScript. It can fall back onto the regular JavaScript engine if there is no GPU on the device. This article is an introduction on how to use GPU.js. It includes examples and benchmarking results.

INPUT (Website)

INPUT is a system for making fonts designed for code. It offers monospaced and proportional fonts, with a large range of widths, weights, and styles for richer code formatting. An interactive preview is available.

Police bust 'world's biggest' video-game-cheat operation (2 minute read)

Gaming giant Tencent and the Chinese police worked together to shut down a video-game-cheat operation that made roughly $76 million in revenue from subscription fees. The gang made and sold cheats to popular games to users in hundreds of regions. $46 million in assets were seized, and 10 people were arrested. Large money prizes are at stake in gaming tournaments around the world, so authorities have intensified crackdown efforts in recent years.

What can ants, bees, and other social insects teach us about aging? (11 minute read)

Despite being almost genetically identical, individuals from colonies of social insects can have totally different life spans depending on their jobs. They can change roles, resulting in a change in their youthful traits. These insects could help scientists unravel the secrets of aging. Aging is a progressive loss of function and performance with time. It is likely an outcome of natural selection. Genes that affect the individual after reproducing are not selected against and accumulate.

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