Round-Up: the technology you missed this week

Going green

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More than one fifth of the world’s energy came from renewable energy sources last year.

The figures came from the Renewables 2014 Global Status report which said the percentage would increase in coming years.

Source: Wall Street Journal


The terminators are coming

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Elon Musk has revealed his fears of a robot uprising as the quality of artificial intelligence keeps improving.

He said that robots offer many scary outcomes if they are not controlled and could be dangerous.

Source: Mashable 


Image courtesy of Stephen Bowler via Wikipedia/Creative Commons Licence  


A bus that charges in 15 seconds

Electric transport is becoming more and more popular as it becomes more reliable and these buses are able to charge up, at a stop, in the time it takes for those riding the bus to get on.

The charge is enough to get the bus to the next stop as officials in Switzerland try to work out the best way to utilise electric vehicles.

Source: CNET


House building robots

3D printing buildings has been a hot topic among those in the artictecutre technology world for some time now and many dismiss it is something that will not happen.

However, a research group has now created a series of minirobots that can work together to 3D print large objects that could one day include buildings.

Source: EnGadget


Printing with light

Sticking with 3D printing researchers from MIT and Lawrence Livermore have created a material that can carry 160,000 times its own weight.

To create it they made 3D lattice moulds and then covered them with metal then removed the lattice material to leave the ultra-strong metal in place.

Source: Gizmodo


Factor reviews: Withings Pulse O2

Fitness and health trackers often claim to be able to help you improve your life, but many fail to provide adequate tools to allow you to make changes.

The Withings Pulse O2 – from here on known just as Pulse – is not one of these fitness trackers.

It collects so much data about your life that it is possible to see what you are doing down to each half an hour of the day and night.

The Pulse isn’t just an activity tracker that records your steps and sleep. It also keeps note of elevation, distance, calories, your pulse and blood oxygen saturation.

And thanks to the screen on the front, you’re easily able to see your progress and how you are doing whenever you want.

The added bonus of the screen is the clock that is included. Just by looking at the time on the Pulse you see how many steps you have completed each day and how close you are to your goal.

Checking the time also subconsciously makes you think about your stats and your health, ensuring you don’t forget about the tracker.

To wear on the wrist the Pulse, which retails at €119.95, is comfortable and has 10 options for size.

The belt clip, which comes with the Pulse, is strong and will not fall off your waist even if you are running. You don’t have to tell it you are going for a run as it will recognise you are moving more intensely.

When it is worn on the wrist it is probably the closet device that doesn’t show notifications to a smart watch.

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The Pulse is a fantastic piece of wearable technology for those who are very health conscious, or want to be.

The range of tracking options it provides is well above many of its competitors, and they are all displayed in easy-to-interpret graphs on the mobile app or the web.

The web version has a fantastic view of your activity, broken down by each half hour of the day and night. It allows you to see the times you are most active and also when you sleep the deepest.

This view lets the user see how many steps they have taken at every point of the day and it is easy to pick up the times when you aren’t moving around enough.

It also excels in the level of detail you are given. When you have been in bed you are told how long it took you to get to sleep. When you have been active it is possible to learn not only how long you were active for but whether the activity was soft, moderate or intense.

For those who are concerned about their general health, the ability to take your heart rate gives a great insight into what times of the day are your most and least active.

The mobile app also can send you reminders about when to go to bed, weigh yourself, not to skip breakfast and many more.

The reminders are meant to help you improve aspects of your life by creating new habits – much like other purpose-built apps such as Lift.

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One thing that I would like to improve about the Pulse is its water resistance. While being able to operate fine when caught in the rain it cannot be worn in the shower or swimming – which means it is easy to forget to put on again.

Surprisingly, the battery life of the Pulse is better than some of the other fitness trackers that don’t have screens.

On one charge the Pulse lasted almost an entire seven days before it started to warn that it had fewer than 20% of its battery remaining.

In terms of aesthetics, some people have recoiled when they’ve seen the Pulse on my wrist and others think it is an impressive device, which blends in as a watch.

When combined with other products from Withings, such as smart scales and blood pressure monitors, the Pulse will become an even more powerful tool for you to keep track of your health.

For those who really want to make themselves healthier using technology as an aid, the Withings Pulse 02 holds the key to obtaining data about yourself.

Factor’s verdict:

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5/5: MUST-HAVE PURCHASE


Images courtesy of Withings