Tech We’d Like To See: The Universal Translator

Originally conceived by science fiction writer Murray Leinster and utilized in his 1945 novella ‘First Contact’, the universal translator is a device that translates any language into a language known to the device’s user.

 

Most people reading this article will be infinitely more familiar with the universal translator as featured in ‘Star Trek’ and its various incarnations. Star Trek’s version of the translator is actually an extremely effective plot device, allowing aliens from anywhere in the universe to speak perfect English, even if they have never met a Human being a day in their lives (and thus allowing the writers of ‘Star Trek’ the freedom to not have to explain why each alien race speaks English so well in every other episode). In reality, alien linguistics would likely be so alien that they could take generations to decipher and even prove to be impossible for Human vocal chords to mimic.

 

On a more ‘down to earth’ level, a universal translator would decode any/all languages spoken on earth instantly (or near-instantly), allowing a person speaking Mandarin Chinese to freely converse with a person speaking Hindi with no miscommunications whatsoever.

 

Why we want it:

 

Such technology could really benefit the Human race in its quest for world peace.

 

In much the same way that the Internet has made it harder for various politically motivated factions to create propaganda about those they wish to invade (because now we can simply ask them if the stories are true or not), a universal translator would help people to reach a shared understanding.

 

Nothing would ever be lost in translation and everything would be clearly and effectively understood.

 

The downside, of course, is that people would not have to learn another language in order to communicate with other people, this, I feel, really would be a shame, as a culture’s views, experiences and legacy are often enshrined in its language, meaning that learning another language really is a window into a larger world with many different points of view.

 

When can we expect it?

 

You can see a crap version of this technology if you use ‘Google Translate’, but that’s only useful if you’re decoding simple phrases and words.

 

Early versions of the universal translator as seen in ‘Star Trek’ (and other series), do actually exist. American troops in Iraq employed the TRANSTAC program, (which automatically translated Arabic-English), before replacing it with the BOLT program (Broad Operational Language Translation), which serves as the current version of the US army translator.

 

However, the translator that allows us to freely chat in two distinct languages (and still be understood) has yet to be invented. In my estimation, the technology could one day exist and we’ll probably see its true prototype within the next 50 years, as such an invention will likely become a necessity of business by the mid 21st Century.

 

If I had to pick someone who was likely to invent it, I’d go with Google. It is in their best interests to come up with it first.

 

Cool Factor: 4/5

Google Glass Gets Ray Ban Treatment

The design firm behind Ray Ban and Oakley eyewear has teamed up with Google in order to make their upcoming ‘Google Glass’ product look as fashionable as possible.

Italian eyewear designers Luxottica, the firm that owns popular brands Ray Ban and Oakley, are looking to create a stylish new collection that combines “high end technology with avant garde design”. They hope this will place them – and new partners Google – firmly at the top of the anticipated “smart eyewear market”.

Luxottica Chief Executive Andrea Guerra says that Google Glass has the potential to “give birth to a new generation of revolutionary devices”.

Google Glass, first announced in 2011, is an augmented reality (AR) headset device that superficially resembles a pair of eyeglasses (although prescriptions will be available as well). The lens includes a small screen above the right eye that allows the user access to applications, the Internet and other functions. It can be operated via voice commands, or by using the small touchpad on the side of the device.

Glass is presently only available via application to Google’s ‘Explorer Program’, an initiative which the project’s website describes as being “for people who want to get involved early and help shape the future of Glass”. At present, it is only available to US residents and it costs $1,500 (roughly £900) to partake. To date, Google has sold more than 10,000 units to these ‘Explorers’.

Last week, the search engine giants unveiled a new version of their Android operating system, specifically made for Glass.

Google Glass’ ability to take photographs and record video has given rise to concerns about privacy. Copyright protection issues were also raised after one Glass user was ordered to leave a cinema.

Critics have also attacked the high pricing and the potential dangers caused by distraction whilst driving or walking down the street. After motorist Cecelia Abadie was issued a ticket for driving, Google began lobbying against proposed anti-Glass legislation, which would make it illegal to use the device whilst driving.

However, Guerra and her colleagues obviously have high hopes for Google Glass. “We believe that a strategic partnership with a leading player like Google is the ideal platform for developing a new way forward in our industry and answering the evolving needs of consumers on a global scale,” She said.

No pricing information for the new glasses has been disclosed at the time of writing. 

SOURCES

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26730791

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/25/ray-ban-maker-to-work-with-google-on-google-glass-eyewear

I Can See Clearly Now…Plasma Telly gets a great reception

The plasma TV is fast turning into one of those ‘every home should have one’ things. These days, almost every friend I visit has some variation on the LCD television against their wall or tucked in the corner of the living room somewhere.

 

The advantages of plasma television are numerous, aside from improved picture, which is a given, plasma TV is also easier to attach modern peripherals to and is entirely digital of course. It even takes up far less space in the room than the bulkier models. It is utterly modern, and it looks as swish as swish can look.

 

On an LCD television, I watched ‘Evil Dead’ and it was like Bruce Campbell was coming right at me! The picture quality is simply outstanding. Everything is so clear, it’s like you’ve been watching TV with cataracts your entire life. A plasma TV says something about you, it says that you are the kind of devil-may-care rogue who isn’t satisfied with merely watching ‘Evil Dead’. Oh no, not you. You want to be splattered with dog food and karo syrup too! (nerd joke).

Of course, if you hook it up with a Blu Ray player and 5.1 surround sound, then you’re really setting a dangerous precedent. You might think your plasma tv is real life and mistake your Blu Ray collection for actual memories. Imagine, if you will, texting your best mate thus: ‘Can’t come over 2nite m8, got to blow up the Death Star then raid the lost ark.’ Though, knowing my friends, they would probably think the second one was a rude euphemism, and it’s doubtful that ‘Death star’ is on predictive text.

 

Work days would fly by, rent and phone bills would go unpaid, but what could you do? You were at Woodstock…Your girl/boyfriend would shack up with your best mate/sibling (whichever sounds worst) and sooner or later the police would kick down your door and find you in your dressing gown swinging a flashlight around and calling yourself ‘Obi Wan’. But you know what? There’s every chance that you won’t end up being a plasma TV casualty. In fact, there’s every chance you will simply vastly improve your home entertainment system. However, I’m still not responsible if you stick cutlery between your fingers, gel up your hair and make people call you ‘Wolverine.’

CCFC award the ipotty as 2013’s worst toy

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) has officially selected the ‘iPotty’ (from CTA Digital) as the worst toy of 2013.

In case you’re wondering, the iPotty consists of a basic potty setup, but with the added innovation of a stand for holding an iPad (apparently an aid to toilet training). I’m also assuming that there is an app. There’s always an app.

Once the infant is placed on the potty, the iPad can be rotated 360 degrees around the seat on its stand, meaning that the device can be switched between vertical and horizontal views. The iPotty even has a protective touchscreen for use in case of…Well, you get the idea. Continue reading CCFC award the ipotty as 2013’s worst toy

Entertaining, Gaming And The Letter ‘X’

The aim of this site is to keep you updated on the latest releases, innovations and general news from the black-and-green neon world of the Xbox.

 

Here at best xbox game, we love the damn things. Can’t get enough of them, in fact. But the console itself is nothing without the rocket fuel that takes your imagination into the stratosphere with each new adventure. By which, of course, we mean the games.

  Continue reading Entertaining, Gaming And The Letter ‘X’

Yahoo! Becomes ‘Yikes!’ as Recycled Accounts Relay Sensitive Information to the Wrong People

Yahoo!’s policy of recycling inactive email accounts has backfired on them, as new account owners are receiving personal emails that aren’t meant for them. 

The policy, active since June, means that Yahoo IDs and addresses are reassigned to a new user if left inactive for a year or more. But obviously both Yahoo! and some of its users got more than they bargained for. Continue reading Yahoo! Becomes ‘Yikes!’ as Recycled Accounts Relay Sensitive Information to the Wrong People

Say “CHEESE!” Digital Camera and etc…

One of the first things of any practical application I learned as a child was how to put film in a camera. This is hardly unusual for somebody of my generation (I’m 25 now) but it is highly unusual for anyone of the current crop of whipper-snappers about to come into their own.

The digital camera has replaced the film camera. No more needs to be said on that count. This does not mean, however, that film is dead. Far from it, it has its proponents, just like everything else. CD replaced vinyl in mainstream music consumption, yet music fans continue to listen to vinyl (Many people I know I have both) indeed, where would Hip Hop be without it? We have digital films, yet there are still artists that specialize in Super-8 and swear by it. Continue reading Say “CHEESE!” Digital Camera and etc…

Tech We’d Like to See: Androids

Essentially, an android is a Human-like robot designed to mimic the appearance, mannerisms and body language of a flesh and blood person. However, even that definition is a flimsy one, as science fiction writers have come up with numerous weird and wonderful ways to create many new types of androids (at least on the page).

Sometimes an android is built by an alien race and thus resembles its creators. Sometimes an android is mostly robotic, but has some recognizably Human traits and sometimes an android is a bioorganic machine that is ‘grown’ rather than built (making it very similar to the legendary homunculus creatures of ancient myth, or even the Golem of Jewish folklore).  Continue reading Tech We’d Like to See: Androids

Radio Navigation Systems

The radio can be a significant resource of the baby. The classical features provided with this product, furthermore for the transmission of voices and texts, will be the cogent reasons for the elevated usage. Mobile phones aren’t mere communication products as well as the leisure uses are lots of. When you are idle and want to entertain, it may be perfect to experience a device in the pocket for everybody the main reason.

They’re broadly proven to become the best choice. In spite that it absolutely was initially made to have the ability to exchange voices over distances, it’s become device to provide entertainment and competes while using computer in your house. It’s portable little also.In occasions of emergency like getting twisted in crowded places, your delay might be communicated effectively through text messages. Waiting is not anymore a monotony along with your mobile phone in the palm. It’s very amusing using the qualities supplied by the walkie talkies models. Checking mails, browsing internet, hearing music, taking photographs, watching tv might be completed from you throughout an insipid travel. Hence mobiles allow us just like a communication device that works many tasks. Continue reading Radio Navigation Systems

Putting Down The Poison: Is The Computer Mouse Dead?

In the era of touch-screens, styluses and those weird little Nokia plectrum dealies (what is up with those exactly?) we have to ask questions about the future of the humble mouse. Is he now considered vermin? Do we cast him aside, banishing him to the world of grammar phones, 8-track tapes and pet rocks?

 

The other night, I watched Star Trek IV (yeah, the one with the whales) and apart from the fact that it had aged considerably better than the vast majority of mid 80’s movies, I noticed one thing in particular. Mr. Scott, when faced with a 20th Century computer, had no idea what a mouse was. At first, he considers it to be some sort of audio device and talks into it.  Have we always considered the mouse a means to an end? A necessary device that will be outmoded by progress? Considering this, I thought about more science fiction (increasingly where we draw our designs for contemporary technology from) and realized that appearances by any sort of hand-held computer interfaces were limited almost exclusively to communications devices and those wrist-things (even then they talked into them more than they pushed buttons) So, are the little mouse’s days numbered? Continue reading Putting Down The Poison: Is The Computer Mouse Dead?

TECH NEWS: Tycoon Unveils ‘Hyperloop’ Transport Project

American entrepreneur Elon Musk, founder of website Paypal.com (as well as many other companies/ventures), has this month unveiled a potentially revolutionary form of travel.

The ‘Hyperloop’ would hypothetically connect the US cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco by transporting commuters at near supersonic speeds. By using a system of magnets and fans, the Hyperloop would be able to travel between the sprawling cities in about 30 minutes. Continue reading TECH NEWS: Tycoon Unveils ‘Hyperloop’ Transport Project

imagine a planet without hard drives

We live increasingly virtual lives. As I type this, my external hard drives are home to a library of music, books in PDF form, several movies and my every photo I’ve taken in the last five years.

 

Once upon a time, floppy discs were adequate enough to store all data, which could be retrieved as and when needed. Now, however, with computers enhancing so much of our daily lives, the storage capacity required is simply too much. Continue reading imagine a planet without hard drives

Are PS4 games improving or is it just me?

Where do the latest Playstation 4 games sit on the Pantheon of the PS4? Let’s have a look-see.

 

A couple weeks ago, I turned on.

“Well, with a little trepidation I’ve finally done it” the update read “I’ve bought my own detached house. It has all appliances I could need and a beautiful thatched roof”

I was surprised and impressed by this news, Bob is only a little older than me. I didn’t know he’d had that much success, however. Quite what (or who) he’d pulled off to suddenly get this kind of money. Worked. We had fun.  He moved away and we didn’t really talk until I randomly met him on a train some years later. We still shared common ground. I was about to post a long message congratulating Bob on his newfound success when I noticed the final two words to his status. Yes, Bob has the perfect place and yes, it has appliances and a thatched roof…On Skyrim. I groaned and joined the legion of talking heads telling him what a nerd. Continue reading Are PS4 games improving or is it just me?

BREAKING NEWS: “Time Travel is Possible, Says Noted Physicist”

Physics Professor Brian Cox has determined that time travel is theoretically possible and that time machines could one day be a reality.

The British professor, who is also a TV Presenter and pop musician (having some success with the Northern Irish band D:Ream in the 1990’s), used Dr. Who’s famous TARDIS as a broad example of the type of time machine that he believes to be theoretically possible as well as scientifically sound. Continue reading BREAKING NEWS: “Time Travel is Possible, Says Noted Physicist”