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Tech News 2Night 123
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Tonight! Brazil is using mainstream mobile apps for some surprising purposes. Facebook has a new trick for competing with YouTube. And a major mobile payment service is changing its name -- we'll tell you why. Stick around!
Tech News 2Night is Next!
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This is Tech News 2Night Episode #123, for MONDAY JULY 7, 2014
This episode of Tech News 2Night is brought to you by Personal Capital. With Personal Capital, you’ll finally have all your financial life in one place and get a clear view of everything you own. BEST OF ALL IT’S FREE. To sign up go to personalcapital.com/tn2.
I'm Mike Elgan, Let's get right our top story...
Forbes's mobile writer Parmy Olson wrote a fascinating piece today on Brazil’s use of two popular mobile apps to track the movement of World Cup fans through the city of Rio de Janeiro.
She joins us now to talk about it. Welcome, Parmy.
Q: So what are the apps they’re using and how are they using them?
Q: What benefits do they expect from monitoring all this data?
Q: Waze tracks drivers and Moovit tracks people who walk or use public transportation. What about bicycle riders?
Q: Is this a model for all cities? Will we see a global trend in the use of consumer apps for urban transportation planning, for example?
and coming up -- if you don't like bees, wait until you meet the robot version!
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And now straight to the Tech Feed.
Facebook started testing over the weekend a new interface for mobile videos. If you watch a friend’s video on Facebook using the mobile Facebook app, you might now be offered a “carousel” of additional “suggested videos.” The feature test was discovered by a VentureBeat writer who also confirmed it with the company. The article speculated that the new interface could be used to offer videos ads in the future. Facebook announced the acquisition last week of LiveRail, a company that specializes in making relevant video ad suggestions. Another possible use for the interface is to get people to spend more time on Facebook watching videos, enabling Facebook to compete with YouTube and eventually gain a foothold on the new generation of Internet-centric set-top boxes.
A company called Isis is one of the leading mobile payment players. The company is a joint venture between the major US mobile carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon and exists to promote NFC-based payments using smartphones. Unfortunately, ISIS is also the name of the Sunni militant group currently taking over Iraq. ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham -- al-Sham being a reference to Syria. So Isis, the mobile payment company, announced today that it will change its name in the coming months.
We’ve reported in the past that NASA might take Google’s Project Tango phones into space. Today we learned that it’s going to happen as early as this week! The phones are scheduled to be part of a cargo launch on Friday. Project Tango phones use special software and hardware to rapidly map 3D spaces in real time. They’ll be used by NASA to as robot eyes for the agency’s SPHERES robots, which are soccer-ball sized robots that navigate in zero Gs using tiny blasts of Co2. The Project Tango-enhanced SPHERES robots will be ejected into space to gather data on the space station’s exterior -- a job that used to require a risky EVA mission by human astronauts.
[Kicker!] And finally,
Tiny flying robot insects are not only terrifying, they’re also impractical. Last year, Harvard researchers created what they called RoboBees -- bee-sized robots that could hover in mid-air. The trouble is that they had to be tethered because they couldn’t carry all the weight required for their motors, sensors and batteries. But scientists are still making progress. Those same researchers told Business Insider today that within ten years, robot bees will not only be able to fly long distances untethered, they’ll even be able to pollinate fields of crops -- which might be necessary if bees keep dying off from pesticides and other causes. Personally, I think it’s a terrible idea -- unless, of course, they could be engineered to make honey, too.
[good bye] That's it for this edition of Tech News 2Night.
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Don't miss our morning news program, Tech News Today, tomorrow and every weekday at 10am Pacific, 1 pm Eastern. I'm Mike Elgan, thanks for watching.