Regulating Sports Betting Could Improve Roads, Schools, and Hospitals, Experts Say...

As more industries once operated in the shadows become more accepted and legalized for the purpose of regulation and taxation, the extra funds are often used for public good. This is especially important for road repairs paid for with tax money, as 45% of American roads are in poor, mediocre, or fair condition. After the positive effects that marijuana legalization has had on states like Colorado and Washington, people have begun to speculate if sports betting, another enormous yet illegal market, could offer even more money from taxation. According to Mlive.com, a new Michigan bill is being voted on that could legalize sports betting inside of casinos in an attempt to help the state fund the repair of their crumbling roads. “We need to come up with unconventional methods to help fund our roads,” said Rep. Robert Kosowski. Currently, only four states allow sports betting; it’s legal in Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. New Jersey has already passed legislation legalizing sports betting and have already launched a court challenge to allow for expansion. Joe Asher, CEO of the sports betting company William Hill US, said that there is already an existing illegal sports gambling market in Michigan that is worth “millions and millions” of dollars and that it only serves the criminals operating it. However, the Daily News reports that sports betting in casinos may only be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sports gambling. Fantasy sports companies, such as FanDuel and Draft Kings, are capitalizing on the love of sports fans to enter online daily fantasy competitions by simply going on the internet, picking up players for a single game, and putting down money in hopes of winning big. The question this raises for politicians and other entities, is whether...

Robotic Insects Could Be the Heroes of Tomorrow...

More often than not, thinking of insects will cause people to recoil in disgust. This is even more true for certain insects such as cockroaches. Not only do they look unpleasant, but the gossip surrounding their ability to survive an atomic bomb — a questionable rumor — and living for a week without a head, eventually only dying from dehydration, can add some extra repulsion. However, according to focusfen.net, cockroaches may have led to a new technology that could prove to be life-saving. Scientists from the Kaliningrad-based Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, developed a prototype of a miniature cockroach robot, meant to spy and find people who may be trapped in debris. They were commissioned to create this machine by an unnamed company whose requirements were for the robot to look like, act like, and be built the same size as an actual cockroach, with a budget of $22,500. “Probably that was the most difficult part — to find balance between those three requirements,” confesses the project’s head engineer, Aleksey Belousov. “For example Berkeley University has been working on their cockroach for the past four years, but they didn’t have to make it look like an insect, so it’s faster than ours. But it can’t turn at speed and it doesn’t look like a real cockroach at all. Whereas we were specifically told to create a cockroach robot on time and on budget,” continued Belousov. Their first choice to use as a model was the large South American cockroach, the Blabbers Giganteus, but they could not acquire one. Instead, they used its smaller cousin the Blabbers Craniifer, or “death head” cockroach. The official prototype was 10 centimeters long, can travel at a speed of 30 centimeters per second, which is about one-third the speed...

Google Glass to Help Treat Children With Autism in Stanford Study...

While Google Glass wasn’t the success the company wanted it to be, it’s now being used to help children with autism recognize and classify their emotions. At Stanford University, researchers Catalin Voss and Nick Haber are using both face-tracking technology and machine learning to create home treatments for individuals with autism. The project, titled the Autism Glass Project, is part of the Wall Lab in the Stanford School of Medicine. For children with autism, reading others’ emotions and understanding the needs of others can often be a difficult task. The Google Glass software used by researchers Voss and Haber uses face extraction is order to detect ‘action units’ from faces, helping individuals with autism to identify the emotions of people they interact with. For the project’s second phase, an 100-child study will be employed to see whether the system is viable as an at-home treatment. The difficulty researchers are facing is translating the device’s applications to measurable learning, meaning that the child synthesizes the knowledge when they are no longer utilizing the Google Glass device. “We didn’t want this to be a prosthesis,” Haber told Tech Crunch. In order to understand how this off-device learning would exactly work, Haber and Voss’s team employed a first phase in 2014, which involved 40 studies and was conducted in their Stanford lab. First, the team studied the interaction between the children and computer screens, then continued by allowing the children to interact with their surroundings via a game called “Capture the Smile,” developed by MIT’s Media Lab. For the game, children wear the Glass device and look for people who exhibit specific emotions. The game monitors performance and combines both video analysis and questionnaires to ultimately build what Tech Crunch calls a ‘quantitative phenotype’ of autism that...

Dangerous Animals Displaced to Residential Areas After Massive Flooding in South Carolina...

As if the torrential downpour and dozens of lost lives weren’t enough, South Carolina residents are now dealing with another potential threat on the heels of Hurricane Joaquin. According to Tech Insider, state officials have been warning citizens about exotic wildlife that has been displaced to local communities after massive flooding disrupted the ecosystem. Residents are being warned to stay alert for a host of dangerous animals that could have made their way to suburban areas from nearby swamps, including alligators and snakes. Officials say they could be lurking in the deep flood waters that have been collecting for days. South Carolinians are used to seeing an eclectic assortment of animals throughout the state, but the recent storm has brought them a little too close for comfort. There are various wildlife preserves located near Bluffton, SC with rare species like the tree frog, but nothing that carries the same level of threat as an alligator. Abby Lawson, a graduate student studying alligator population ecology at Clemson University, agreed with state officials sending out the warning, confirming her neighbors’ fears. “Given this neighborhood’s close proximity to the Ashley River, which is well within the alligator’s South Carolina distribution, it is certainly possible for an alligator to swim into an adjacent neighborhood, especially if high water levels from a hurricane or tropical depression allowed for easier access,” Lawson said. According to The Post and Courier, alligators and snakes aren’t the only critters that South Carolina residents have to worry about. The Charleston County Mosquito Control Lab says that mosquitoes continue to hatch all over the state in the aftermath of the storm as the weather hasn’t cooled down enough yet to ward them off. Mosquito control teams have been scouring areas with the most flooding to...

Facebook Ventures Dangerously Close to the eCommerce World With New Shopping Feature...

The empire of Facebook is expanding yet again. This time, it’s attempting to bridge the gap between social media and eCommerce. Or, to use the words of WIRED, it’s another step in Facebook’s plan “to become the one and only place you spend your digital life.” Facebook announced on Monday, Oct. 12 that it will be testing out a shopping feature in its mobile app over the next few weeks. In the company’s blog post, it explained that the Shopping news feed will be a “single place for people to more easily discover, share, and purchase products” — all while conveniently toggling back to view their friends’ status updates, of course. The experimental version of Facebook’s Shopping section starts with onsite “immersive ads,” which allow merchants to post whole catalogs of items with Pinterest-style picture boards. Because the ads will be located right in the mobile app — meaning that users won’t be redirected to a mobile internet browser to view the catalogs — the ads will load quickly and will be optimized for mobile devices. From the catalog pages, users will be given the option to go directly to a retailer’s website to make a purchase; payments won’t be made directly to Facebook, which means that the company is working with these online retailers instead of competing against them. The tech giant has been experimenting with business partnerships through onsite ads, according to CNN, but the new feature will be geared toward bigger name brands with larger merchandise collections. Facebook is the most widely used social media site today; add that to the fact that 80% of all internet users have made at least one online purchase before, and you’ve got a pretty good explanation for why Facebook is experimenting with eCommerce. In...