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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

Google begins evolving Hangouts into Google Chat

(TECH NEWS) Google is transitioning from Hangouts, and Meet to Chat to offer what they think consumers want. No more competing with themselves.

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Google chat

What is your favorite instantaneous way to communicate with your team these days? Phone call, text, video call, group text message, email, or instant message?

It might depend on the team members and their preferences, but organizations and business owners run the gamut on IM (Instant Messaging) software: Slack, Skype for Business, MS Teams, and Google Chat to name a few. There have also been several that worked well for smaller companies and startups like HipChat by Atlassian. These are often used in addition to still meetings, conference calls, and emails but depending on the culture of the organization, they may love IM, and require it to have a wider range of capabilities that just copy (i.e. photo and file attachments, groupings, privacy settings, focused team, or group channels)

To be fair, there are varying degrees of interest by employees in instant messaging. Some love the idea that you can quickly reach out to a coworker and ask a question, and some find it bothersome and would prefer an email so they can file and sort topics easily (or if it’s really that quick, a phone call or stopping by to ask – if they are in the same space – not COVID-19 alternative working).

This begs the question, does IM allow for more remote working capabilities, and does that mean Google is on to something that they may have just hit the right time and need? The truth of email is that we are becoming less and less interested in reading long forms of copy, and want the information quickly.

Google consolidated their people working on communications tool to one team and is moving Hangouts to Google Chat as well as quickly integrating Google Meet for everyone (you can start a video meeting from within your Gmail, so think Zoom but not having to leave your email – assuming you’re on the G-suite).

If timing is everything, this could be a really smart move for them. Do you even remember Google Hangouts? This was a product launched originally as a feature of Google+, and then became a stand-alone product in 2013. It incorporated video and voice call capabilities for individuals or groups. The thing is, in 2013, I think many people were still using IM through their work email (which was dominated by Microsoft Outlook and PCs). For whatever reason, people just weren’t really using it that way. Most likely people could use it with their internal teams, but would have to use Chat for external users.

The history of Instant Messaging is kind of fun to review – starting with AOL in 1997 when they launched AIM. Now pretty much every platform has a version of the instant message, and people are extremely accustomed to short exchanges and ways to reach out quickly. People frequently use text, Twitter, iMessage, GroupMe, and Facebook Messenger among other ways to quickly reach out, break through the clutter, and hopefully hear a response back pretty quickly.

It appears that Google hopes to offer the capabilities that their users need – when they realized it seemed that business users were using Chat within their organizations, but having to use Hangouts to speak to those outside of that company. Right now, this is only for business users, but they are likely to see how to roll it out to all customers now that they’ve added the Meet capabilities.

According to Android Police, “Furthermore, it’ll soon be possible for G Suite users to message other G Suite users from outside their organization starting May 26. Anyone not in your company will have an ‘External’ label next to their name in the Google Chat UI so there’s no confusion. You’ll also be able to add any contacts to group chats so long as you designate them as ‘External.’ This will only apply to new rooms, though — any you’ve already created will have to remain internal-only rooms.”

It looks like Google is working on getting rid of Hangouts for good, and broadening Google Chat, but there could be some other products in the meantime. Will this change how you use your G-suite?

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Tech News

A look into why AI couldn’t save the world from COVID-19

(TECH NEWS) AI is only as powerful and intelligent as the teams building it, but we just don’t have the data yet. So perhaps, we just aren’t there quite yet.

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COVID-19 AI

Even in the best of times, the human race can hardly be defined by our patience in the face of uncertainty. COVID-19 has rocked our feelings of safety and security. Hospitals have struggled to keep up with demand for care, and researchers are working tirelessly to create a vaccine. Early on in the fight against this virus, some looked to artificial intelligence technology to lead the pack in finding a solution to the global health crisis, but science takes time and AI is no different.

Over two months ago, when COVID-19 was still most prevalent in China, researchers were already attempting to use AI to fight the virus’ spread. As Wired reports, researchers in Wuhan, China attempted to screen for COVID-19 by programming an AI to analyze chest CTs of patients with pneumonia.

The AI would then decipher if the patient’s pneumonia stemmed from COVID-19 or something less insidious. This plan failed for the same reason many pursuits do – a lack of time and data to pull it off.

The United Nations and the World Health Organization examined the lung CT tool, but it was deemed unfit for widespread use. The lung CT tool, and all other AI driven projects, are limited by the humans designing and operating them.

We have struggled to collect and synthesize data in relation to COVID-19, and as a result tools, like the lung CT scans, cannot hope to succeed. AI is only as powerful and intelligent as the teams building it, so perhaps, we just aren’t there quite yet. Our tenacity and optimism continue to drive AI forward, but progress can only be sped up so much.

Like all science, AI has its limitations, and we cannot expect it to be a miracle cure for all our problems. It requires data, experimentation, and testing just like any other scientific pursuit. There are many problems to unlock before AI can be a leader in the driving force for positive change, but its shortcomings do not outweigh its potential. AI couldn’t save us from COVID-19, but as researchers continue to learn from this global event, AI may still save us in the future.

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Tech News

Chrome can now group and color code your open tabs

(TECH NEWS) Do you have too many tabs, and can’t tell what’s what? Google has tab groups that make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

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google tabs group

Are you a tab collector? That’s Google’s name for people who have tabs upon tabs upon tabs open on their Google Chrome browser. And while third party apps are already available to help collectors manage tabs, Google is now stepping in with Tab Groups.

Tab Groups, try it here, allows users to color-code, group and add text or emoji labels to separate clusters of tabs in their browser.

Right-click on any tab and choose Add to New Group. A gray dot will appear to the left of the tab and outline it in the same color. Clicking on the dot lets users update the color, label and name the group. Once grouped together, the tab groups can be moved and reordered. They’re also saved when Chrome is closed and reopened.

Google said after testing Tab Groups for months, they noticed people usually arranged their tabs by topic and that appeared most common when people shopped or were working on a project.
“Others have been grouping their tabs by how urgent they are, “ASAP,” “this week” and “later.” Similarly, tab groups can help keep track of your progress on certain tasks: “haven’t started,” “in progress,” “need to follow up” and “completed.”

Of course, this new feature does nothing to dissuade users from opening too many tabs, despite research that says multitasking may change the structure of your brain and Chrome is notorious for using too much RAM. So now you can’t concentrate, and your computer is running hot and slowing down.

A solution? Use Chrome extensions such as The Great Suspender, which suspends tabs that have been inactive for a specific amount of time. Don’t worry, you can whitelist specific websites so if you always need a tab for Twitter open, it won’t be suspended.

Another tip is to focus on one task at a time using the Pomodoro Technique, breaking tasks and your workday into 25-minute bursts of productivity with five-minute breaks in between. FocusMe uses a timer and website blocker to reduce the risk of getting distracted. You’re on the internet, after all.

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