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iSmile – The Tech Report: 27 – 31 January 2014

MONDAY

Like most things we have come to depend on, the internet can be very frustrating when it doesn’t work in the way we have come to expect.

On Saturday, hundreds of people learned this the hard way when they couldn’t use their bank cards at ATMs or till points.

I was one of those caught up in the chaos when a family member couldn’t pay for a trolley full of groceries.

Rushing to her rescue and not thinking, I eventually had my credit card swallowed by a nearby ATM that was on the blink.

Confused and dazed people abandoned trolleys loaded with shopping at till points and stared at ATMs with a mixture of anger and acceptance.

On the same day, some of Google’s services went on the blink.

Users mostly in India, Britain and the U.S. were unable to access Gmail, Google+, Calendar and Documents for roughly 30mins and in places, You Tube also appeared sluggish.

The world’s biggest search engine eventually solved the software glitch and apologised.

But the fear of an un-connected world where technology stops working must have been a brief thought for some.

Personally, I had been busy researching something called “The Internet of Things” or “IoT” when this all happened. IoT is the future of the World Wide Web; what online will be capable of in less than five years when some 50-billion objects will be connected to the internet.

So by 2020, just about everything will be able to go online – surrounding us with millions of tiny sensors that takes info from real physical objects and uploading them; so your environment can adjust itself for your comfort.

Internet guru and futurist Jonathan Strickland looks at such a living room of the future.

Now these highly advance and intuitive algorithms will of course be cloud-based and will be constantly talking to each other. Your office talks to your car, which in turns talks to your house and so on.

Scary and exciting at the same time. But first, we will need to get right the internet that we currently have.

Or we could find ourselves back in the 80s, with snail mail and having to actually physically open the fridge and talk to each other.

TUESDAY

Last year, I detailed the benefits of the electronic cigarette by featuring one of them called Twisp, which hails from the Mother City.

E-Cigarettes – as they are commonly known – are very high tech gadgets; a battery-powered stainless steel tube that’s a bit bigger than an actual cigarette, albeit a whole lot heavier.

By sucking onto the one end, you activate a process that creates a vapour, which is then inhaled.

Twisp boss Philip Bartholomeu explained to us that this is how the Twisp simulates smoking.

I’ve been spotting e-Cigarette users just about everywhere.

Needless to say, putting anything foreign into your body must somehow be harmful, but at the time I argued that the e-Cigarette reduces this harm substantially.

I also felt that restoring your taste buds and sparing others the damage of your passive smoke and the awful odour on your clothes and hands makes it worthwhile.

Already a $2-Billion global industry, you can understand why e-Cigarettes have been catching on so fast.

For me they were the perfect way to wean yourself off smoking, if you were struggling to quit, not to mention the fact that I was enjoying saving around R10 000 a year.

While all those things remain true, new information has come to light, which I am compelled to share with you.

This weekend the British government – citing possible adverse health effects – announced plans to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to children under the age of 18.

Chief medical officer Sally Davies says further research is needed as there’s too much we don’t know about the risks e-Cigarettes pose especially to children.

A wise move in my opinion and worthwhile your consideration, if you’re desperate to quit.

It’s almost a year for me now. That R10 000 a year, was really all I needed.

WEDNESDAY

It is inevitable that that relentless march of technology, will enter the world of the absurd and unbelievable.

And let’s be honest it’s usually either the Americans or the Japanese who have the money and the time to dabble here.

In today’s case, it is the latter.

A Japanese lingerie company has produced a piece of female underwear which they claim will only unlock when the wearer is really in love.

The “True Love Tester” bra apparently measures a woman’s heart rate, amongst other things, to determine whether she is REALLY in love or not, before unlocking the pesky clasp.

A Japanese human sexuality expert says it is very possible to measure our physiological changes when we fall in love.

The device’s technical designers say it was actually fairly easy to come up with measuring tools.

Of course nothing works without a smart phone and an APP these days.

So the True Love Tester incorporates the very latest for the tech savvy and amorous.

The under-garment is a bit of a playful toy, as the moods it measures are of course readily interpreted by the brain long before the blue tooth is even activated.

But nonetheless, the sexuality expert says it is something that could find a place in the heart for local women wanting to have their hearts stolen.

Fortunately, the bra is only a gimmick by lingerie brand Ravijour, which says it is not for sale, but forms part of a publicity campaign for their 10th anniversary.

THURSDAY

South Africa’s biggest mobile social network is starting the year with a bang.

With a new operating system ready to be downloaded, Mxit looks like it is ready to give cheap chat services to the world.

Last week, the company introduced MXit-7 for Android and BlackBerry users.

Then the big bosses upped and headed for India, where they have been laying the foundations for a full-scale market attack.

Mxit’s Vincent Maher spoke to us during a break in his hectic schedule on the sub-continent.

Mxit has been the communication-staple of just about every South African teen for the past few years.

Now they want India to experience what all the fuss was about and Vincent says they have a very definite strategy

That is a very big number, so it’s no surprise that it would be eyed by developers as a no-brainer market.

And he says they know exactly how to woo the locals, most of whom are aspiring to own smart phones, while still struggling with feature phones.

So it sounds like a relatively easy transition from the South African market, which has similar issues.

Vincent says they have been working hard to make sure they get the India introduction right.

And that is truly their attraction for fickle young users, who are always hunting for the next best thing. Mxit gives them speed and reliability. And Vincent says they are looking beyond India as well.

Whether you like their product or not, there’s no denying that they satisfy an obvious demand.

And watching a South African company take on the world like this, is such a pleasure … so good luck to Mxit.

FRIDAY

If you are one of the lucky few who has a ticket to become one of the first civilians in space, then you may be wondering about the training required ahead of your adventure.

An American company called Waypoint-2-Space may just be able to set your mind at ease, by offering training for the commercial spaceflight industry.

America’s Federal Aviation Administration has just approved their plan to train would-be astronauts.

And with Virgin Galactic and others on the edge of taking civilians into space, this may just become an additional requirement for well-healed space tourist.

Participants get a taste of what spaceflight is actually like.

It includes G-force training, a history of spaceflight, microgravity training and other kinds of courses needed for flying to space.

But what if you don’t just want to be a TOURIST…!?

Commander Chris Hadfield recently took a break from his duties on board the ISS to talk to a group of primary school kids from the Canadian town of Milton.

One little girl didn’t twist her words about what she wanted to be one day.

Of course that’s just the beginning, but it’s a good starting point.

Commander Chris made sure the kids understood that they could turn their space dreams into reality, without winning the lottery.

So, if you have some spare cash lying around and you reckon your future is in space, then get hold of the guys at WayPoint-2-Space.

The week-long “spaceflight fundamentals” program costs around R500 000.

They start in April and there’s only about 300 spots available.

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