Overheated Electronics Are Causing Chaos Across the States...

Overheated electronics can be a serious problem, as they have the potential to cause fires and extreme home damage. Many companies often manufacture their electronics to be heat-resistant. Some add extreme cooling components to the computers, while others will add temperature market materials, which will liquefy when they reach 413 °F. One man in Dania Beach Florida is living to tell his tale about exploding electronics after his son’s overheated hoverboard caught on fire in his sister’s bedroom. Lawrence Gaalswyk was working from home when he heard sudden popping noises from the next room over. Getting up to check, he noticed a frightening orange glow coming from his son’s room. His hoverboard had overheated and exploded and shot its batteries out like projectiles into his 12-year-old sister’s bedroom. The hoverboard, which is a skateboard that runs on mechanized energy, had been plugged into its charger for a couple weeks. The fire damage caused by these specific boards cost Gaalswyk between $25,000 and $50,000 as the fire ransacked two bedrooms. Gaalswyk bought the secondhand hoverboards online. Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Spokesman Mike Jachles warns about the risks that come with buying electronics that have not been properly tested and checked for security. He tells theSun Sentinel, “If you’re buying electronics, first of all, make sure you’re buying reliable electronics that are certified and tested by an approved laboratory, like Underwriters Laboratories.It’s not worth it to buy electronics that don’t have any quality control or testing for safety.” However, electronic aficionados have come up with a way to stop the overheating of computers in order to prevent dangerous house fires. The method is a little unconventional, and it uses copper pennies. All you have to do is take a few copper pennies — made before the...

More Than Half of Organizations Facing Security Issues in the Cloud...

There are approximately 26.5 million businesses in the United States, and a good portion of them utilize the cloud for various aspects of their companies. However, over half of those businesses utilizing the cloud are experiencing security issues. Approximately 59% of organizations surveyed reported cloud security incidents related to unsolicited external sharing, and 47% reported incidents regarding access from unauthorized devices, according to the Mitigating Risks For Cloud Applications, a survey of 176 information security professionals conducted by the Cloud Security Alliance and Bitglass. In addition, the report also details that survey respondents reported that cloud data synced to lost/stolen devices, employees credential compromise, and malicious insiders were problems. However, those issues received less than a third of votes. The report honed in on the software-as-a-service segment of the cloud market, which continues to steadily grow. This comes as a result of companies realizing that SaaS apps can be more secure than on premise-based business and office productivity apps. Despite all of the security issues, though, the cloud still topped SurePayroll’s third annual favorite tech tools survey. While last year’s winner was Dropbox, the cloud beat out all of the competition by a fairly large margin for 2016. One company, however, has been claimed the title of king of cloud computing: Amazon. Amazon delivers “many times the aggregate size of all other providers in the market,” said research firm Gartner. It also dominates when it comes to holding corporate customer data, according to another report by Gartner. Fortunately, Amazon’s size has nothing to do with the security issues cloud users have been facing lately. Users are more concerned with a lack of regulation and insurance that cloud users will obey and enforce said regulations. “If you only have visibility into one application, you don’t...

Millions of Volkswagen Cars Can be Unlocked by Hackers, Researchers Say...

An estimated 15 million cars are sold over the Internet each year, but buyers should be wary of purchasing any kind of Volkswagen vehicle, as researchers have just found that hackers could unlock millions of the vehicles remotely. A homemade radio is the only hardware an attacker requires to unlock one of the many millions of vehicles that could be affected. The problem affects a range of vehicles manufactured between 1995 and 2016 — including Volkswagens and various models from Audi, Seat, and Skoda. Two separate methods of attack were tested on different models and described in a paper by researchers from the University of Birmingham and German security firm Kasper & Oswald. In both cases, it was revealed that relatively cheap, homemade equipment allows hackers to listen in on the frequency of key fobs when unlocking their cars. Those signals can then be replicated using the same equipment — meaning that it can successfully pretend to be a specific key and then unlock the hacker’s car of choice. The team of researchers recently presented their findings at a security conference in Texas. Fortunately, their research also found that it’s not possible to start a car with the crude hacking technology. However, they’re not the only ones making advances in automobile science. In 2011, President Obama announced an agreement made between 13 different vehicle manufacturers to increase the average fuel economy of cars built in 2025 to 54.5 miles per gallon, but certain factors in the economy are making that claim look like a rather ambitious one. A pair of recent government reports suggested that fuel economy could possibly have a best-case scenario of 50 miles per gallon, but no more. One way to potentially reach Obama’s lofty goal may be to reduce the...

Study Uses DNA Database to Identify Genetic Causes of Depression...

Gene testing company 23andMe has sold more than 1 million of its at-home gene sequencing kits to date. While the $199 kits are mostly just for fun and curiosity, the growing database of customers who have willingly shared their genetic results with third-party researchers and scientists may be helping to build a better understanding of how DNA influences both our physical and mental health. A new study recently published in the journal Nature Genetics has identified 15 key DNA locations that may affect a person’s chances of developing clinical depression. The researchers were able to utilize data from more than 450,000 23andMe users to compare the gene sequences of depressed and non-depressed individuals and to track patterns and variations in DNA that may correspond with neuron development in the brain. The study is the largest of its kind, thanks to the wealth of data made available. Past attempts to pinpoint genetic variables in complicated psychological issues like depression have been marginal at best. “Everyone is recognizing that this is a numbers problem,” said lead researcher Ashley Winslow, director of neurogenetics at the Orphan Disease Center at the University of Pennsylvania and a former scientist for Pfizer. “It’s hard if not impossible to get to the numbers that we saw in the 23andMe study.” Winslow and her colleagues at UPenn teamed with researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital to comb the DNA data and identify possible areas of genetic susceptibility. While the results are unlikely to lead to any new treatments anytime soon, it does carve a path of better understanding for the mechanisms behind depression, which can be highly stigmatized in society; it’s estimated that over 80% of people with depression never seek out professional help. “We hope these findings help people understand that depression...

Dr. Google is Ready to See You — the Search Engine Giant Brings Futuristic Medical Technology Alive...

Even though a full 82% of American adults take at least one medication prescribed to them by a doctor, they may soon be turning to search engine giant Google for medical help. Googles’s parent company, Alphabet, has just announced a partnership with GlaxoSmithKline, Britain’s biggest drug company. This alliance is set to propel Google into the world of biotechnological engineering, bringing futuristic innovations to its users all in the name of science. Alphabet has also worked with Verily Life Sciences on the production of some innovative medical products. Take the smart contact lenses, for example. These contact lenses are designed to help those who suffer from diabetes. They include a wireless chip with a tiny glucose sensor in the lens. This is meant to monitor the amount of glucose in one’s tears, and it will send this information to a separate device to make the patient aware of their too high or too low levels. Then there is the “tricorder,” the Star Trek-esque device capable of diagnosing diseases within seconds. Verily has been working on this technology for the past few years, and is hoping Google’s technology can help them develop it for patient use. Even more impressive is the Liftware spoon, fitted with a vibrating unit that will help lessen the effect of tremors. Already being used in the medical field, this device’s cause is near and dear to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, as his mother suffers from Parkinson’s Disease. According to The Guardian, Brin has donated more than $50 million dollars to help fight Parkinson’s Disease. All in all, this special spoon can reduce the side effect of tremors by 76%. For Google, it seems that nothing is impossible. In a particularly unusual project, the tech company has teamed up with Calico,...

Miami Ice Cream Shop Brings in New Technology to Spice Up Their Frozen Treats...

Approximately 1.5 billion gallons of ice cream and other frozen dessert products are produced in the U.s. annually, but few of them are made like the treats in one Miami ice cream shop. At F27, there are no pre-packaged paper cartons filled with frozen treats. Instead, customers are presented with a combination of science and art as their orders are made in front of them with liquid nitrogen. “Several years ago, we were given an assignment to come up with a new business or improve a business that already existed,” said Carlouis de Palma, owner of the experimental ice cream parlor. “I’ve always been interested in finding innovative ways to create a better product, and in St. Maarten, where I’m from, ice cream is an art. This is what led me to liquid nitrogen.” After an order is placed at the counter, custom-designed machines inject liquid nitrogen into a vanilla base and freeze the product in less than 60 seconds, which eliminates the formation of large crystals and enhances the smooth, creamy texture. Customers can create their frozen confection by choosing any combination of flavors and toppings, or sticking to the ice cream parlor’s menu of custom creations. More and more customers are coming from all areas to try these creative concoctions, but not all are likely coming to see the liquid nitrogen do its work. Given the recent, intense heat, some likely just want to cool off. Florida officially tops the nation in the number of metro areas expected to see a dangerous combination of heat and humidity, according to a report released by Climate Central. “Heat is already the number one weather-related killer in the U.S. It’s not floods or hurricane or tornadoes,” said Alyson Kenward, an author of the report and...

NASA Selects 5 Aerospace Companies For Mars Orbital Study...

NASA recently announced that is has chosen five aerospace companies to begin four-month long studies for a potential mission to Mars. The chosen companies are The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, Orbital ATK, and Space Systems/Loral. The companies are located throughout the U.S. in Colorado, California, and Virginia. According to Aerospace Technology, the mission will “continue with key capabilities including telecommunications and global high-resolution imaging in support of NASA’s journey to Mars.” “We’re excited to continue planning for the next decade of Mars exploration,” said Geoffrey Yoder, associate administrator for NASA. Considering that three out of every four trips are for leisure purposes, if NASA succeeds with its goal to establish life on Mars, it could become a trending vacation destination. Through research and the studies performed by the five chosen companies, NASA hopes to confirm whether a new Mars orbiter will provide communications and imaging capabilities or not. As of yet, they do not have access to such capabilities. Along with optical communications, there is also a possibility for the implementation of other scientific instruments to be assessed on the planet. Through the use of solar electric propulsion, the orbiter concept studies will help provide versatility in launch, mission, and orbit capabilities. These capabilities will allow for future missions to occur. Six months ago, a report was published stating recommendations for science objectives for a Mars orbiter. The report was published by the Mars Exploration Programme Analysis Group, an organization working with NASA that’s made up of members of the Mars research community. Its members offer input on the likelihood of reaching the intended objectives. The Mars Exploration Programme is being managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). No further details have been released by NASA, nor the...

Senior Centers Struggle To Talk the Birds and the Bees...

The television channels with an older audience (think Fox News, CNN, and TV Land) usually run commercials targeted to the nation’s growing senior population. And that often means commercial after commercial for prescription drugs like Cialis, Viagra, and other — ahem — male enhancement drugs. The truth is, as more seniors begin to live in retirement communities and senior centers, many older Americans are rediscovering their love life. Seniors in the City This summer, The Houston Chronicle profiled a speed dating program designed for seniors. It’s a chance for retirees looking for love to get together and find companionship, and sometimes more. While most Americans might not want to think about their grandma going out on dates with gentlemen callers, human beings are social animals, and we don’t stop craving intimacy after a certain age. “You’ll hear a family say, ‘But we fill grandma’s time,'” Kelley Kelch, leader of the Older Adult Ministry at Oak Hills Presbyterian Church, told The Houston Chronicle. “That’s great. But no one wants to talk about the other needs grandma might have.” In addition to speed dating, many seniors are even showing up on dating apps usually associated with younger generations, like Tinder and OKCupid. Celebrity Jane Fonda summed up the new attitude perfectly in an interview with an Italian talk show this July. “I’m 77,” she said. “If I never have sex again it will be sad.” Many senior centers are taking an open approach to geriatric sexuality, offering sexual education classes designed to educate seniors about safe sex, sexually transmitted diseases, and other sexual health issues. However, other senior communities are ignoring these issues, often at their own risk. While the nation’s college students grapple with controversial conversations about consent, the issue of consent takes on new...

Civic Launches New Free Service Aimed at Stopping Identity Theft Before it Happens...

The average consumer owns approximately three credit cards, but every consumer, average or not, is at the same risk for identity theft. For this reason, tech startup Civic has launched a new service aimed at avoiding identity theft before it ever happens. The fresh, new company is aiming to overtake similar protection services such as LifeLock by focusing on a broader market than just credit monitoring. At the same time, it will allow customers to respond to fraud alerts in real-time in order to prevent attempts before they even occur. Currently, most credit companies and protection services only offer monitoring services, which alert customers to fraudulent activity after the fact. This opens up a slew of opportunities for fraud to continually occur and continually bring frustration to customers. However, Civic is planning to change that by alerting users in real-time via push notifications on a smartphone, texts, or emails when their Social Security Number or credit information is being used. Unlike current monitoring services, this will allow a customer to immediately deny any transaction that looks suspicious. However, this technology may not stem the tide of fraud crimes committed right away. It’s estimated that nearly 6 million fraud and cyber crimes were committed last year, which provides a concerning figure for the public. “Together, these offences are similar in magnitude to the existing headline figures covering all other crime survey offences,” John Flatley, of the ONS, said. “However, it would be wrong to conclude that actual crime levels have doubled, since the survey previously did not cover these offences.” According to the data published in the ONS survey, online consumers are more likely to be a victim of fraud than any other type of crime. Thankfully, Civic’s program has arrived at a time when...

Robot Lawyers Could Make Going to Court a Thing of the Past...

Lawyers in Australia will have some big competition on their hands with the release of a new, innovative artificial intelligence platform. The robot will be used in legal situations like divorce, custody, employment, and debt disputes. According to ABC News Australia, using Dutch technology, National Legal Aid and RMIT University are showcasing their robot to change how court proceedings are done. The new technology could save both time and money, problems that often discourage people from pursuing legal matters. Although about 11% of custody disputes are resolved during mediation, divorces in the future can be resolved using the Internet thanks to this new technology. Similar to eBay’s online dispute resolution service, the new technology can mediate divorces, tenancy disputes, and matters of debt. In situations regarding custody, for example, the system will inquire about the age of the children involved in order to consider their developmental needs. Not only can it remember who you are, but it can also provide proposals based on previously gathered information on past resolutions when divorcing. The Dutch technology has already been purchased in both the UK and Canada. Canada uses it for debt and tenancy issues, while the Netherlands has a system in place incorporating it into family law disputes. “But the key to this is, unlike traditional modes of legal service delivery where the client’s in the back seat and the lawyer’s driving the car, here people are empowered to experience the controls themselves,” said Bevan Warner of Victoria Legal Aid in Australia. “If we think outside the square and embrace online dispute resolution, it means that access to justice becomes a real thing for many, many Australians that miss out at the moment. I saw examples of that in the UK. They’re thinking about courts as...

Pokemon Go Servers Crash as Game Launches in Canada...

Pokemon Go launched in Canada last weekend, but unfortunately, the rollout was anything but smooth. Servers crashed as hopeful Canadian players struggled to register their accounts. Though it is likely that the game’s systems were simply overloaded by the influx of players, one organization of hackers is taking responsibility for the outages. OurMine identifies as an “elite hacker group” that performs vulnerability assessments for businesses — or rather, they hack a company’s system to discover flaws and then recommend how to fix those weaknesses. An OurMine spokesperson told Fortune that they do not charge for this “service.” Before the system malfunction on Sunday that rendered the app inaccessible to users, OurMine made a statement, threatening to block the app until the proprietors (Niantic Labs and Nintendo’s Pokemon Company) reach out to the hackers for security assistance. They demanded that the app’s creators allow OurMine “to teach them how to protect it!” Neither Niantic nor the Pokemon Company has taken OurMine up on their offer of a security lesson. Yet, the attack on the game’s servers ceased Monday morning, finally allowing Canadian gamers to enjoy the app that has become a viral sensation. When asked if they will resume the attack, the OurMine spokesperson said, “We don’t know, but I think no.” This kind of attack, known as a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, occurs when hackers commandeer computer networks to flood the target’s servers with requests for connection, eventually causing the servers to freeze. This wasn’t the first time the app’s servers crashed. Just the day before the Canadian outage, Pokemon Go experienced malfunctions as it launched in 26 countries worldwide. Another hacker group called PoodleCorp took credit for this first outage, but no one has been able to verify this claim. Whether hackers were...

Microsoft Unveils New Video Service ‘Stream’ for Businesses...

Early this week, Microsoft launched Stream, a new video service for businesses everywhere. The program aims to give businesses that want the ability to share video internally the same kind of tools and flexibility that YouTube offers consumers, but with the additonal benefits of added security that businesses typically expect from their document management services. The service is currently available as a free preview to interested enterprises. James Phillips, Microsoft’s corporate VP of its Business Intelligence Products Group, reported that all it takes to get started with Stream is an email address. The user experience in Stream, like Vimeo and YouTube, takes cues from consumer services and includes a number of social features, including likes, comments, and recommendations. Microsoft has previously offered a video service in the form of Office 365 Video but claims to have built up from that to create a more consistent and efficient program. “Microsoft Stream builds upon the learnings success of Office 365 Video and over time the two experiences will converge with a seamless migration to ensure a consistent experience both within and outside of Office 365,” Phillips wrote in a release statement. While avoiding paper can already save organizations an average of 11.5 cents per billing statement, Microsoft’s innovations provide the opportunity to save time and money. However, the office isn’t the only place Microsoft has been making waves lately. Thanks to a new partnership between Microsoft and Boeing, Cortana is set to take to the skies. Microsoft and Boeing announced a partnership that will involve transferring the flight company’s digital offerings over to Azure, which Microsoft claims will allow the servers to get smarter. “Centralizing Boeing’s digital aviation applications on Azure will allow Boeing to analyze a large set of data provided from multiple sources,” a...

Silicon Valley Tech Executives Writes Protest Letter Against Donald Trump...

Roughly 90% of all high-level executives admit to never responding to cold calls or cold emails. That’s probably true in most places in the world, but in Silicon Valley, many executives of some of the largest companies in the world responded when they were approached about opposing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. According to The New York Times, more than 140 tech executives published a letter to Donald Trump, “An Open Letter From Technology Sector Leaders on Donald Trump’s Candidacy for President.” The letter criticized the presumptive Republican nominee because of his thoughts about the tech industry and the potential for negative effects on innovation throughout their industry and various organizations. Trump has been criticized before by those in the tech world and responded via email with: “I have great respect for Silicon Valley,” said Trump, “and all of the people in Silicon Valley.” “We believe in an including country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not,” read the Silicon Valley letter. Katie Jacobs Stanton, Color Genomics executive and organizer of the group that signed the letter, said she and other tech executives worked together the last few weeks to write the letter. “We wanted to optimize the letter and participants to show the diversity of the tech sector,” Stanton said. “From founders of the Internet to founders and CEOs of companies, from leaders of innovative social enterprises and start-ups to civil rights leaders that work on technology and social empowerment.” Posted on Medium, Silicon Valley’s letter closed out with a final statement that addressed where the industry stands. The letter was then followed by a list of the signatures of more than 140 company executives. “We stand against Donald Trump’s divisive candidacy and want a candidate who...

Why Are People So Mad About Facebook’s News Feed Update?...

Facebook is constantly tweaking the algorithms that control what Instagram and Facebook users see in their feeds, and the social media giant just announced a major change that will affect the kinds of posts users see. On Wednesday, June 29, Facebook announced that it will limit posts from Facebook pages and businesses in the News Feed, and users will instead see more posts from friends and family. In a statement, Adam Mosseri, Vice President of Product Management, News Feed, wrote that “a billion people have joined Facebook, and today they share a flood of stories every day. That’s why stories in News Feed are ranked — so that people can see what they care about first, and don’t miss important stuff from their friends.” Facebook’s messaging paints this decision as an altruistic endeavor to make their users happy, and it may well be, but the move also seems designed to boost Facebook’s advertising revenue. The digital marketing companies who rely on Facebook to generate traffic will now have to buy Facebook advertising if they want their posts to be seen. Today, 70% of social media users follow or like at least one business, even followed businesses may not have their posts seen by users anymore. According to Forbes writer Parul Guliani, it’s a “smart strategy on Facebook’s part — make media companies reliant on your platform by surfacing their content for free, and then snatch that away and make them pay for that same traffic.” Whatever it may say, Facebook is a business, and the company makes billions on advertising dollars. In fact, together, Google and Facebook hold 55% of the U.S. digital advertising market and two-thirds of the mobile market as well. With the latest News Feed change, Facebook is also poised to...

New Business Opens In Indiana Offering Unique Cryo-Sauna Services...

Most everyone has heard of saunas and their mind-body healing and relaxation benefits, but Konnie Komarovsky has opened a new business in Carmel, IN, that offers a variety of services, including a chilly take on the traditionally steamy sauna. According to CurrentinCarmel.com, the name of the business is A Better You Wellness. Komarovsky, the owner, is a former coach who’s spent time helping athletes develop and recover their bodies. To help them take this to the next level, Komarovsky decided to open this new venture. The facility offers services such as sensory deprivation float sessions, infrared saunas, and a cryo-sauna. That last one is something you may not have ever heard of before. There were approximately 21 million households in the U.S. that owned a spa, pool, or hot tub in spring of 2014, but chances are not many of them were of the cryo variety. Cryo-saunas use cryogenic cold temperatures instead of the traditional hot steam to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. The process is as futuristic sounding as the name suggests. The person receiving cryogenic sauna treatment enters a chamber that is subsequently filled with liquid nitrogen gas. This liquid gas can reach temperatures as cold as negative 240 degrees. The whole procedure only lasts two or three minutes. The process was originally developed to treat arthritis, but now, in addition to treating pain and inflammation, it can also help tighten skin and collagen production. If a full-body experience sounds like a little too much for some people, visitors to A Better You Wellness can also receive locally administered cryo-therapy, which sort of like an extreme version of icing. “It’s a new version of a wellness facility,” Komarovsky said. “What you can accomplish with 30 minutes of icing, we can accomplish in...

Russian AI Brings the Dead to Life...

In today’s world of incredibly quick technological advances, software developers create applications like video games, operating systems, web functionality tools, device drivers, business productivity software, and many other tools and programs that simply make life a little easier. But what about life after death? One Russian software developer has used 21st-century technology to virtually bring her loved one back from the dead. Eugenia Kuyda, co-founder of app company Luka, has developed a chatbot, or “high-end conversational AI”, that is based on a real human being who has passed away. Kuyda collected text messages, social media conversations, and all sorts of additional information about the deceased and grafted it all onto an AI platform. She can now interact with Roman Mazurenko, the man she considers to be her “soul mate,” who died in a road traffic accident last year. Luka unveiled the Roman chatbot at Symposium Stockholm, Sweden’s tech trade show. However, she has made it clear that Roman is nothing but a tribute or memorial that is unlikely to generate any sort of new business or niche in the tech industry. The Roman bot was created for companionship. “We would love to build a friend for people,” Kuyda said. “I don’t necessarily know what the end product is going to be, but if I could, I would build everyone a friend that knows you very, very well and who can make you feel better about yourself, make better choices, and be more connected to your friends.” Luka is in the midst of a new project, beta-testing a bot that is based on one’s own personality. The AI alter ego is designed to understand your personality based on information you supply, eventually offering you coaching and companionship. She expects to release this digital doppelganger chatbot...

U.S. Drug Overdoses Reaches All Time High, Can Be Prevented With Life-Saving Drug...

The United States has reached a record number of drug overdose deaths. According to a report released by the United Nations last week, the U.S. reached a record high amount of drug overdoses in 2014. In that year alone, almost one million people over the age of 12 reported using heroin, representing an increase of 145% since 2007. The U.N.’s drug report states that since 2004, almost half a million people have died from drug overdoses, and 61% of those deaths were related to prescription opioid and heroin use. This number of fatalities has increased five times since 2000. As reported on Epoch Times, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director Yury Fedotov believes heroin is an epidemic. He says, “Heroin continues to be the drug that kills the most people and this resurgence must be addressed urgently.” The report says that nine out of 10 people who use heroin combine it with some other illicit drug. The highest rate is among cocaine users, which amounts to a whopping 91.5 for every 1,000 users. Those who reported using non-prescription opioids follow in second place. Additionally the spike in opioid abuse, especially heroin use, is the highest among those aged 18 to 25. In order to fight this epidemic, there has been a nationwide push of for expanded Naloxone access to help curb deaths related to opioids. Naloxone is a drug that reverses the respiratory depression characteristic of opioid overdose. And because Naloxone is not a controlled substance, it does not have potential for abuse. Even though the drug has endorsements from the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Psychiatric Association, due to limited funding this drug is not available to those who need it the most. Doctors...

Nissan Announces New Ethanol-Based Fuel Cell Vehicle Technology...

Japanese automaker Nissan announced earlier this month plans to introduce new ethanol-based fuel cell technologies, or e-bio fuel cells, in some of their vehicles by the year 2020. Unlike existing fuel cell vehicles from the likes of Toyota and Honda, Nissan’s new technology uses ethanol, an alcohol derived from plants like corn and sugarcane, instead of pressurized hydrogen to power an internal electric car battery. Fuel cell systems provide an alternative to gasoline, whereby hydrogen and oxygen react in the fuel cell to produce electricity that powers the vehicle. But whereas Toyota and Honda’s fuel cells require consumers to periodically recharge at specially-made hydrogen fueling stations, which are not yet readily available throughout many parts of Japan or the United States, Nissan’s new technology will be the first of its kind to generate hydrogen within the car. Ethanol is already commonly used as an additive to traditional gasoline in the United States and fully powers many vehicles in countries such as Brazil. Existing fueling infrastructure could therefore be used to service Nissan’s fuel cell vehicles. “The cost and energy required to produce hydrogen can be very high, and it also requires significant investment in [fueling and storing] infrastructure,” Nissan Executive Vice President Hideyuki Sakamoto said at a press conference. “Compared with that, ethanol is very easy to procure, it is safer to store and lower cost. These are its merits.” The Tokyo-based company said it hopes to have a fleet of vehicles equipped with e-bio fuel cells in time for the city’s hosting of the 2020 Summer Olympics. The technology should allow cars to drive up to 800km, or nearly 500 miles, between fueling. In addition to regular consumer cars, Nissan hopes to target larger vehicles for electric conversion such as delivery vans or...

Restaurants Using Mobile Apps and Payment Services to Increase Sales...

As consumers increasingly veer towards the use of mobile phones and apps to make everyday purchases, restaurants and food delivery services are hoping to cash in on the trend with streamlined options for food orders and payments. A new study from the Application Resource Center suggests that chain restaurants with the best mobile app designs are more likely to garner higher sales per order. A Taco Bell customer who orders through the restaurant’s app, for example, is likely to spend 20% more than one waiting in line at the drive-thru or retail counter. The ARC ranked the 55 top restaurant apps in terms of design quality, usability, and customer engagement. “The brands that supported loyalty programs, digital coupons, mobile payments — those tended to score considerably higher than the rest,” said Ben Gray, a Digital Experience Analyst with ARC parent company, Applause. Among the top-ranked brands were Taco Bell, Domino’s, Starbucks, and Pizza Hut. Mobile app purchases accounted for 21% of Starbucks’ total transactions in the first quarter of 2016, and 50% of all internet users today say their phone is their principal browsing device. “I think that’s the future of this industry,” Gray said. It’s not just big chains that can benefit from the mobile trend, either. Food takeout and delivery website GrubHub, which recently merged with similar platform Seamless, announced earlier this month that it would be adding Apple Pay to its list of payment options for food orders. “We’re always looking for ways to make it easier for our diners to find and order the type of food they want, when they want it, from their favorite local restaurants,” said Sudev Balakrishnan, senior vice president of product for Grubhub, in a press release. “We’re thrilled to bring the ease of use...

Microsoft Dips Into the Cannabis Industry...

Computer software behemoth Microsoft announced last week that it will begin a new partnership with Kind Financial, a Los Angeles-based startup focused on providing regulation software for the burgeoning marijuana industry. Kind Financial provides “seed to sale” tracking of cannabis for producers, distributors, and government officials to help streamline compliance with state regulations. “It’s software that enables regulators, in real time, to know where and how much marijuana is being grown, sold or produced,” founder and chief executive of Kind, David Dinenberg, explained to the Los Angeles Times. “We’re providing real-time inventory all over their state and information on how much sales tax or other tax they should be collecting.” Since fall 2015, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, with Pennsylvania and Ohio having since joined their ranks. Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in four states: Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and the home state of Microsoft’s own headquarters, Washington. Five more states, including California, will vote on recreational legalization this upcoming fall. The partnership with Microsoft not only gives Kind Financial access to the corporation’s sales departments and Washington lobbyists, it lends them a much-needed air of respectability in the still-murky waters of the marijuana trade industry. “Every business that works in the cannabis space, we all clamor for legitimacy,” Dinenberg said. “I would like to think that this is the first of many dominoes to fall.” As for Microsoft, Kind’s software will become a component of their Azure Government cloud-computing program, part of the company’s increasing efforts to diversify beyond personal desktop applications. “This is an entirely new field for us,” Kimberly Nelson, the executive director of state and local government solutions at Microsoft, told the New York Times. “We do think there will be...