Weekly IT Digest #5: Google vs Shakespeare and Traffic Jams vs Internet of Things
May 13th, 2016
More and more countries are using the Internet of Things technology to solve the problems on the roads, AdBlock Plus developers don’t simply fight ads, but also offer a way to monetize online media, and Google’s AI algorithms will write romance novels. Read about these and many other things in our Grossum weekly digest of IT news.
On the heels of Danish Aarhus we wrote about earlier, Agency for Traffic Management and Urban Development in the Philippines are working on getting access to the real-time road traffic data with the purpose to manage the transport flow on the streets of Manila and Cebu in the nearest future. The World Bank, the Philippine Department of Transportation, and GrabHitch company have launched a project, the main goal of which is to solve the problem of congestion and road safety. A set of open-source instruments will be created, which, with the help of GrabHitch tools, will convert GPS data into traffic statistic, including the speed, traffic flow, and delays on the roads. This stats will be converted into OpenTraffic format and then transferred to another application in which the data will be visualized. These actions will help to improve the reaction of the city authorities to the road accidents and emergencies.
Even elevator manufacturers use Internet of Things in the work now. Is there anyone who hasn’t heard the name “Otis”? It’s one of the world’s largest manufacturers of escalators, elevators, and moving walkways. Last week, Otis announced its readiness to use internet of things technologies in their elevators and escalators. The main goal in using IoT is getting a more detailed stats on the lifts’ usage and improving their safety, in particular, to monitor breakdowns in near real-time mode.
WISP minicomputer, working on airwaves, can become the basis for many IoT devices. WISP developers decided to simplify the computer to the maximum, getting rid even of the battery. Instead, WISP (Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform) can receive radio waves, for example, from RFID-sensors, and convert them into electricity. This means that WISP doesn’t need anything other than radio waves to work, which can be found practically everywhere. In other words, it literally gets the energy from the air. Developers believe that WISP can be used to run the sensors located in the IoT-devices and to transfer data from those devices. Using it would be much cheaper than traditional Internet of Things Bluetooth sensors with low power consumption. You can also write programs for the WISP over the air, which makes it even more attractive as a foundation for the IoT-networks.
The struggle between ad-blocking tools and web publishers continues. Opera developers have included a built-in ad-blocking tool into their desktop and Android versions of the browser last week. The developers of the popular AdBlock Plus, in conjunction with Flattr company, decided to create an alternative way of monetizing online media. They have launched a service called Flattr Plus that will allow paying web publishers for their content with minimum effort from users’ side (they subscribe for ad-free web and set up an amount of money they want to spend per month). In other words, Flattr Plus will operate as a payment gateway that, for only 10%, will allocate the finances among the most-visited websites. To determine who gets the money, Flattr Plus uses several metrics, including website traffic among other. It will also take into account the length of time the user spent on the website and number of interactions with the site. This way, the project’s authors want to create an alternative to ads monetization. At the same time, it is still unknown whether web publishers will join Flattr Plus, especially considering the content distribution tool Facebook introduced recently called Instant Articles.
Talking about Facebook, they are testing business accounts in Instagram. Such accounts would provide a lot of opportunities to companies to do business in Instagram, for example, buyers will be able to get map directions to the store. Another planned feature for future is client's ability to send a private message to the sellers directly from Instagram interface and seller’s ability to specify the business category in their profiles. It looks like Facebook is viewing Instagram as a business tool, something the social network has been for some time already. Let’s wait for the payment gateway connection and analytics?
IBM has opened access to its 5-qubit quantum computer. Access is possible via the IBM Quantum Experience, a quantum computing cloud service. The company invites all who wish to connect to the cloud to use the computing power of a quantum computer via the cloud and, most importantly, learn how to program on a quantum computer. To get started, users have to apply on the IBM Quantum Experience website and after the approval, one can work with the quantum computer through the IBM Cloud service. The peculiarity of quantum computers is that they use qubits for its calculations - bits that are in superposition. Unlike traditional bit with a value of zero or one, a qubit can be equal to either zero or one at the same time prior to direct measurement.
Another popular service decided to engage in e-commerce. The Snapchat mobile app got an instant-buy button. The ads, placed by the sellers, lead to the advertiser’s page with an order form and more information about the product. Initially, Snapchat has been positioned as a secure mobile messenger with a special feature of message removal after a specific period of time. Probably its creators decided it’s time to make money on their app. Last year, CTA (Call-to-Action) buttons function appeared on YouTube as well as Instagram’s “Buy Now.”
If not Shakespeare and Goethe, Google wants to replace Danielle Steele and Jane Austen: artificial intelligence wants to learn how to write love stories and romance novels. To do this, Google’s AI algorithms will read and analyze classic romance novels, 2,800 of the best ones. The bigger and more global goals of this activity the developers are setting before the AI algorithms are to learn how to understand the language better, feel its nuances, capture the different meanings of words, phrases, and concepts. After the first version of an AI love romance, developers want to improve the algorithms and release new iterations. The question remains - will an AI novel ever contest for a Nobel prize in Literature?
If you’re tired of classes, objects, encapsulation, and inheritance and if traditional variable names cause boredom, you can learn to program in a language called Emojicode - the happiest of programming languages. This high-level language is open-source and consists of emoticons and emoji. The creators state that using Emojicode, you can create fast, cross-platform applications. All the names of types, methods, classes, and operators are replaced by Emojis (as well as other characters for variables’ names). Documentation for Emojicode and its SDK is available on GitHub.