Tech Universe: Monday 05 March

By Miraz Jordan

A London bus stop ad is getting attention for making a point that women in many places are still being denied choices due to poverty and discrimination. Photo / Thinkstock
A London bus stop ad is getting attention for making a point that women in many places are still being denied choices due to poverty and discrimination. Photo / Thinkstock

NO SHOW ZONE: There's an ad showing at a bus stop in Oxford Street, London. But it's not showing to everyone, only those who match certain criteria. An HD camera and facial recognition software determine whether a man or woman is standing in front of the screen. Women see a video while men are directed to a website and denied the choice to view the full content. The ad's making a point — that women in many places are denied choices due to poverty and discrimination. Presumably shoulder-surfing is a quick way round with this stunt, but the implications in general are very interesting. Plan UK for details.

MARVIN SHOPPING CART: As if supermarket shopping isn't annoying enough the prototype Kinect-enabled shopping cart from Whole Foods could drive you crazy. OK, it's a nice idea: the cart knows your shopping list, follows you around and chats away with advice and feedback. Your role is to take items from the shelf and pass them across the scanner in the cart.

But somehow the whole approach just feels wrong. "Are you sure you want to buy that chocolate?" GeekWire shares the info. Check out the video here.

ROCKS ON THE SOLES: Kevlar socks? You'd normally associate kevlar with bulletproof vests, but these socks are designed to replace shoes. The Swiss Protection Sock combines kevlar, polyester, spandex and cotton, and the soles are laminated. The makers claim the socks can protect your feet from rocks, glass and even broken porcelain. They may not cut, but the pointy bits still jab hard. Go to Dvice for more.

PAINLESS LIGHT: A team of researchers from several universities may have found a way to replace a dentist's injections with pulses of light. A molecule called QAQ doesn't easily pass through cell membranes. And that means it could be very selective as a local anaesthetic. Once in place a pulse of light can cause it to block specific pain receptors in nerves. And that means a dentist could block pain from just one tooth without making the whole side of your face numb. For more information go to ArsTechnica.

TREES FROM SPACE: Our New Zealand forests are reasonably tall,
according to a new map produced by NASA. The accurate, high-resolution map of the height of Earth's forests was created using 2.5 million carefully screened, globally distributed laser pulse measurements from space, or LIDAR. In fact, although JPL determined that forests tend to be taller in tropical regions Australia and New Zealand are exceptional because of stands of tall Eucalypts. The eyes in the sky know all. Visit JPL. Here's the map.

- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz

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