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Apple and Tesla focus on building solar paneled car roofs

(TECH NEWS) Tesla has been innovating alternative powers for quite a while, solar paneled car roofs are the next step in their plan to help consumers love their cars and the environment.

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Solar power is highly efficient

Solar power is in everything from phone chargers to large corporations. Alternative power is increasing in popularity for both person and professional use. While solar power is often thought to be more energy efficient, solar panels have a hard time capturing and converting sunlight into electricity.

According to researcher Sean Everett, the best efficiency rating we’ve been able to attain in regards to solar panels is around 22%; which means we’re only capturing about a quarter of the sun’s energy that hits a solar panel. So why continue to pursue solar technology? Everything improves with time.

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He observes the concept of the “edge,” especially where solar technology is concerned. Once the technology is advanced to a point where it is on the “edge” and easily accessible, rather than restricted to private consumers or federal utility companies, the technology will come into its own. It will be a true contender to the oil and gas industry and become more efficient than the 22% I mentioned above.

What does the “edge” really mean?

A bare-bones definition of the “edge,” to borrow a technology reference,  is storing the same files in multiple locations, to ensure it can be quickly and easily accessed. By storing the same file in many different locations, it will load from the nearest location to your current position and allow you faster access to the information you need. So how does this translate to solar technology? Remember those slightly inefficient solar panels? Tesla plans to change how they work.

Tesla wants to “edge” solar power for their electric cars

Tesla believes fervently in solar power. You can use sunlight to store power into batteries; those batteries can then be used to power cars, technology, and homes. Instead of using the solar power immediately, Tesla believes in storing it, so the power can be used over time. This allows consumers to use it when it’s convenient.  Tesla wants to install solar panel on the roofs of their cars, why?

As Tesla continues to innovate the electric car, the cars will need power. To store the power they need batteries and since all batteries eventually run out of power, the next logical step is charging stations. What if these stations could be solar powered? Better yet, what if you could install an extra battery that connects to the solar panels on your roof to be used when your battery runs down? This is Tesla’s strategy: use the sun to power what you need when you need it by innovating effective solar panels and batteries to get the job done.

Where the “edge” for solar technology is in how it’s stored (to make it more easily accessible and useful), the “edge” for Tesla is humans. We must install the necessary solar panels, then buy the a car, but Tesla is giving their consumers the “edge” by giving them a way to create their own power, without the need for fossil fuel.

Apple’s on the “edge” too?

Apple has a similar approach to what they consider the “edge.” They also consider humans to be at the center of the Apple experience, however, they differ from Tesla in that they want every single human to have an optimized, engaged experience with Apple’s products. Humans generate power for the device, the device keeps the human engaged, and Apple uses the information collected from the device to power the human’s continued engagement with said device (and the circle continues).

So what does this have to do with solar power? Apple devices take power to work. If you’re on the “edge” of solar technology, you’re producing your own power and lowering your costs. Freeing up more money that can be (in theory) spent elsewhere; if you’re using the sun to power your transportation, you’re free from paying for gas (again freeing up money). More money freed up is more money that can be spent elsewhere.

While the realist in me realizes it’s highly unlikely, the Romantic in me would like to think that if solar technology advances the way in which Tesla and Apple would like it to, to the point where we can “edge” power, people will use it because it’s better for the environment and easier to access. While we still have a way to go before we get to that point, continued innovation is the key to making solar power sustainable, accessible, and economical. Tesla and Apple seem to be headed in the right direction. What do you think?

#SolarPower

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Tech News

Australia wants Facebook and Google to pay media royalties

Australia seeks to require Facebook and Google to pay royalties to media companies for use of news content on their platforms.

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Australia is in the process of requiring tech giants, Facebook and Alphabet, to pay royalties to Australian media companies for using their content. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the move the day after the US Congressional antitrust hearing that put the CEOs of Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon, and Apple back in the regulatory spotlight.

In addition to the pressure from the United States investigation into market control by these companies, global leaders are calling for similar regulations. Though none have been successful, media companies in Germany, France, and Spain have pushed for legislation to force Google to pay licensing fees to use their news content. Some companies have been pushing for this for years and yet, the tech giants keep dragging out their changes, even admitting their actions are wrong.

In 2019, the Australian government instructed Facebook and Google to negotiate voluntary deals with Australian media to use their content. The Australian government says the companies failed to follow through on the directive, and therefore will be forced to intervene. They have 45 days to reach an agreement in arbitration, after which the Australian Communications and Media Authority will create legally binding terms for the companies on behalf of the Australian government.

Google claims the web traffic that it drives to media websites should be compensation enough for the content. A Google representative in Australia asserts that the government regulations would constitute interference into market competition – which would be the point, Google!

According to a 2019 study, an estimated 3,000 journalism jobs have been lost in the last decade. The previous generation of media companies has paid substantial advertising fees to Google and Facebook while receiving nothing in return for the use of its news content. Frydenberg asserts the regulatory measures are necessary to protect consumers and ensure a “sustainable media landscape” in the country.

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Tech News

Onboarding for customers and employees made easy

(TECH NEWS) Cohere enables live, virtual onboarding at bargain prices to help you better support and guide your users.

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onboarding made easy

Web development and site design may be straightforward, but that doesn’t mean your customers won’t get turned around when reviewing your products. Onboarding visitors is the simplest solution, but is it the easiest?

According to Cohere–a live, remote onboarding tool–the answer is a resounding yes.

Cohere claims to be able to integrate with your website using “just 2 lines of code”; after completing this integration, you can communicate with, guide, and show your product to any site visitor upon request. You’ll also be able to see what customers are doing in real time rather than relying on metrics, making it easy to catch and convert customers who are on the fence, due to uncertainty or confusion.

There isn’t a screen-share option in Cohere’s package, but what they do include is a “multiplayer” option in which your cursor will appear on a customer’s screen, thus enabling you to guide them to the correct options; you can also scroll and type for your customer, all the while talking them through the process as needed. It’s the kind of onboarding that, in a normal world, would have to take place face-to-face–completely tailored for virtual so you don’t have to.

You can even use Cohere to stage an actual demo for customers, which accomplishes two things: the ability to pare down your own demo page in favor of live options, and minimizing confusion (and, by extension, faster sales) on the behalf of the customer. It’s a win-win situation that streamlines your website efficiency while potentially increasing your sales.

Naturally, the applications for Cohere are endless. Using this tool for eCommerce or tech support is an obvious choice, but as virtual job interviews and onboarding become more and more prevalent, one could anticipate Cohere becoming the industry example for remote inservice and walkthroughs.

Hands-on help beats written instructions any day, so if companies are able to allocate the HR resources to moderate common Cohere usage, it could be a huge win for those businesses.

For those two lines of code (and a bit more), you’ll pay anywhere from $39 to $129 for the listed packages. Custom pricing is available for larger businesses, so you may have some wiggle room if you’re willing to take a shot at implementing Cohere business-wide.

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Tech News

Smart clothing could be used to track COVID-19

(TECH NEWS) In order to track and limit the spread of COVID-19 smart clothing may be the solution we need to flatten the curve–but at what cost?

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COVID tracking clothing

When most people hear the phrase “smart clothing”, they probably envision wearables like AR glasses or fitness trackers, but certainly not specially designed fabrics to indicate different variables about the people wearing them–including, potentially, whether or not someone has contracted COVID-19.

According to Politico, that’s exactly what clinical researchers are attempting to create.

The process started with Apple and Fitbit using their respective wearables to attempt to detect COVID-19 symptoms in wearers. This wouldn’t be the first time a tech company got involved with public health in this context; earlier this year, for example, Apple announced a new Watch feature that would call 911 if it detected an abnormal fall. The NBA also attempted to detect outbreaks in players by providing them with Oura Rings–another smart wearable.

While these attempts have yet to achieve widespread success, optimism toward smart clothing–especially things like undershirts–and its ability to report adequately someone’s symptoms, remains high.

The smart clothing industry has existed in the context of monitoring health for quite some time. The aforementioned tech giants have made no secret of integrating health- and wellness-centric features into their devices, and companies like Nanowear have even gone so far as to create undergarments that track things like the wearer’s heart rate.

It’s only fitting that these companies would transition to COVID assessment, containment, and prevention in the shadow of the pandemic, though they aren’t the only ones doing so. Indeed, innovators from all corners of the United States are set to participate in a “rapid testing solutions” competition–the end goal being a cheap, fast, easy-to-use wearable option to help flatten the curve. The “cheap” aspect is perhaps the most difficult; as Politico says, the majority of people have a general understanding of how to use wearable technology.

Perhaps more importantly, the potential for HIPPA violations via data access is high–and, during a period of time in which people are more suspicious of technology companies than ever, vis-a-vis data sharing, privacy could be a significant barrier to the creation, distribution, and use of otherwise crucial smart clothing.

There is no denying that the Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated, among other things, technological advancement in ways unseen by many of us alive today. Only time will tell if smart clothing–life-saving potential and all–becomes part of that trend.

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