this week

Russian censorship law bans proxies and VPNs

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that, as of November 1st, will ban technology which allows access to banned websites, which includes virtual private networks and proxies. While the law is ostensibly meant to curb extremist content, some have suggested its real intention is to prevent Russians from seeing content that might be critical of Putin.

Source: Engadget

Chinese chatbots shut down after anti-government posts

A popular Chinese messenger app has removed two chatbots, after they were found to be criticising the nation's Communist Party. The chatbots, Baby Q and Little Bing, were removed after social media users shared controversial comments, which included one response that referred to the government as "a corrupt and incompetent political regime".

Source: BBC

Automated 'sewbot' to make 800,000 Adidas t-shirts daily

Leading sportswear brand Adidas is planning to produce 800,000 T-shirts per day using a fully automated sewing bot. The technology has been developed in the USA, and will supply European sports brand Adidas with T-shirts made in the US by robots. The 'sewbot' is said to be a major breakthrough in the automation of garment assembly.

Alphabet sees salt as the answer to the problem of energy storage

Alphabet's X division is working on a energy storage system that turns electricity into streams of hot and cold air and funnels it into two tanks filled with salt, and two with antifreeze. Hot air then heats up the salt, and cold air cools the antifreeze. In reverse hot and cold air rush toward each other, creating powerful gusts that spin a turbine and spit out electricity.

Source: Bloomberg

Tim Cook: Apple's autonomous tech can be used for more than cars

Apple CEO Tim Cook has hinted that the company’s AI work is meant for more than just autonomous cars. Although, he isn't keen on revealing what else Apple is using the tech for. “[Autonomous] systems can be used in a variety of ways,” Cook said. “A vehicle is only one, but there are many different areas of it. And I don’t want to go any further with that.”

Source: The Verge

Time to think about the legality of augmented reality advertising

Legal issues associated with augmented reality are beginning to be discussed. A new app, called Skrite, lets users put messages and photos onto the sky. The tech is currently limited to smartphones but once AR evolves brands will be able to put adverts in the sky, which could see rival advertisers put adverts above competitors' locations.

Source: New Scientist

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.