LG’s child-tracking wristband is a dangerous step towards normalising surveillance

LG’s new child-tracking Android wristband promises increased safety for its young wearers and peace of mind for their parents, but it could be more suited to Big Brother.

The device, called Kizon, uses location services and wi-fi to map a child’s location. This information is reported to an Android app that parents can use to track their child’s every move.

While this tracking system might seem sufficiently overbearing to some people, Kizon’s surveillance does not stop there.

The watch is equipped with a single button that the child can use to call a parent or answer incoming calls from parent-approved numbers. However, if little Johnny doesn’t answer his mother’s call within ten seconds, the device automatically connects the caller to a built-in microphone, enabling the parent to listen in on the child’s conversations and activities.

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Kizon’s battery lasts 36 hours between charges and notifies parents when it dips below 25% battery, allowing them to remind their son or daughter to recharge the device before it runs out of power.

The Kizon wristband comes in pink, blue or green and is decorated with hearts or automobiles, giving it the appearance of a fun, kid-friendly accessory. But will children appreciate, or even benefit from, the lack of privacy that Kizon entails?

For some kids, continuous surveillance from parents could cause dependency or paranoia. Perhaps worse, children could become accustomed to constantly being watched. The idea of a generation of young people who are not bothered by this kind of tracking and eavesdropping is unsettling.

Parents who equip their children with Kizon will undoubtedly have the best of intentions, and the device could be helpful in some situations. Children will be able to play and explore outside the home without their parents worrying about their location, which may give them more freedom.

However, widespread use of Kizon-like devices could result in the implementation of similar surveillance technology for other aspects of society.

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Indeed, Kizon is also being marketed for the elderly as a way for caretakers to monitor their health and whereabouts remotely. Again, this application could be beneficial to users, allowing the elderly to receive quick help or treatment in crisis situations. But with the oldest and the youngest in our society set for such tracking, the spread of surveillance does not seem so unlikely, and more dubious applications could develop.

The initial use of Kizon certainly does not spell doom for our society, but disguised in its pink hearts and blue automobiles is the potential for the dystopian future we read about and guard ourselves against.

Kizon will be available for purchase in the US and Europe in September. Snatch one up if child surveillance appeals to you.


Steve “Woz” Wozniak to advise hologram emoji company that he calls “groundbreaking”

Apple’s co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak has found himself a new gig; Woz has joined the hologram emoji company, Mojiit, as an adviser.

In his role as advisor to Mojiit, the legendary entrepreneur and engineer will help assemble a world-class engineering team in addition to bringing investors and partnerships to the newly launched startup. Wozniak will also serve as mentor to Mojiit founder, Jeremy Greene.

“I’m thrilled to join Mojiit as an advisor,” said Wozniak. “Jeremy is a natural leader, the company is groundbreaking, it’s going to change the ecommerce space, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Created in 2017, Mojiit is the latest startup technology venture from Greene. The company’s tech essentially enables users to project and share 3D hologram emojis via smartphones.

The platform turns users into emojis by scanning their face, which can then be sent to loved ones and friends. Once a Mojiit message is received, it will map the area where it is received and place the Mojiit hologram there in real time, so it works in a similar way to Pokemon Go.

“Steve is one of the best and brilliant engineers in the entire world. But outside of that, he’s a wonderful man,” said Greene. “There isn’t anyone I’d want to be in business with more than this guy. He’s a legend. Who better to learn from than the guy who created the computer?”

Image courtesy of Nichollas Harrison. Featured image courtesy of Mojiit

In addition to consumer use, businesses of all kinds can tap into hologram emojis with Mojiit’s technology.

Mojiit investors already  include NFL alum Ed Reed, and the company was able to raise a total of $1 million in its seed round of funding.

Alongside the appointment of Woz, Entourage and Ballers producer Rob Weiss recently joined the company as a creative director.

“It’s exciting to expand beyond television and film to digital platforms,” said Weiss. “Hologram technology brings incredible opportunity to entertainment and media. I’m thrilled to be leading creative at Mojiit.”

Nanoengineers send antibiotic-delivering micromotors into the body to treat cancer-causing infection

Nanoengineers have demonstrated for the first time how “micromotors” that measure half the width of a human hair can be used to transport antibiotics through the body.

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego tested the micromotors in mice with Helicobacter pylori infections, which can also be found in about two-thirds of the world’s population and while many people will never notice any signs of its presence it can cause peptic ulcers and stomach cancer.

The mice received the micromotors – packed with a clinical dose of the antibiotic clarithromycin – orally once a day for five consecutive days.

Afterwards, nanoengineers evaluated the bacterial count in each mouse stomach and found that treatment with the micromotors was slightly more effective than when the same dose of antibiotic was given in combination with proton pump inhibitors, which also suppress gastric acid production.

Micromotors administered to the mice swam rapidly throughout the stomach while neutralising gastric acid, which can be destructive to orally administered drugs such as antibiotics and protein-based pharmaceuticals.

Because gastric acid is so destructive to traditional antibiotics drugs used to treat bacterial infections, ulcers and other diseases in the stomach are normally taken with additional substances, called proton pump inhibitors.

But when taken over longer periods or in high doses, proton pump inhibitors can cause adverse side effects including headaches, diarrhea and fatigue. In more serious cases, they can cause anxiety or depression.

The micromotors, however, have a built-in mechanism that neutralises gastric acid and effectively deliver their drug payloads in the stomach without requiring the use of proton pump inhibitors.

“It’s a one-step treatment with these micromotors, combining acid neutralisation with therapeutic action,” said Berta Esteban-Fernández de Ávila, a postdoctoral scholar in Wang’s research group at UC San Diego and a co-first author of the paper.

The nanoengineers say that while the present results are promising, this work is still at an early stage.

To test their work, the team is planning future studies to into the therapeutic performance of the micromotors in animals and humans, and will compare it with other standard therapies used to combat stomach diseases.

UC San Diego nanoengineers also plan to test different drug combinations with the micromotors to treat multiple diseases in the stomach or in different sections of the gastrointestinal tract.

Overall, the researchers say that this work opens the door to the use of synthetic motors as active delivery platforms in the treatment of diseases.

Image and video courtesy of the Laboratory for Nanobioelectronics at UC San Diego.