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April 13th, 2018 by


This week in tech news, the Germans invent robots to take all their bottled-up anger out on. YouTube is teaching your children all about human sacrifice and cannibalism. We check out a camera so excessive it’s almost nauseating.

Also, we finally get around to mentioning Spotify’s much anticipated SA launch. We know it was a month ago, but it’s still good news.

These days, we need all of that we can get.

A New Home For Music

Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service with 160 million users, finally landed in South Africa about a month ago. The Stockholm-based company is now available in 65 markets.

South African users of similar sites such as 8tracks or Audiomack would have discovered that the painstakingly-crafted playlists they had been putting together had suddenly been torn to shreds. This is due to licensing laws and copyright ownership of the songs.

So long, Non-Stop Untz Untz Summer Mix Vol 3, we had some good times.

We’re lucky enough to have a large number of streaming services available here in SA, such as Google Play Music or Apple Music, but none of them really match the clout of Spotify. That’s partly because Spotify isn’t just for listeners, but for artists as well.

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The premium service in SA costs a very affordable R59.99 / month, including one month’s free trial. That’s not a bad price, considering you’re supporting the musicians and that your playlists won’t be eviscerated in a series of strongly-worded ‘DMCA Takedown Request’ emails.

Of course, there’s also a free version, but expect to be harassed by an ad every five minutes. The premium service is worth way more than the paltry R59.99 and is a simple must for any diehard music fans in the digital age.

The company is expecting massive growth over the coming year, and will soon be rolling out an updated free version.

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BotBoxer – The Tech That Turns You Into A Fighting Machine

A regular punching bag might give you a bit of a workout – but does it make you a better fighter? Your boxing opponent isn’t just going to stand around and let you beat him up. He bobs, he weaves, he gets in a cheap shot when the ref isn’t looking.

German company, SkyTec Interactive, have infused tech with martial arts in order to fix that problem.  They have created the BotBoxer a high tech training machine for combat sports designed to be your personal sparring partner.

The BotBoxer is a punching bag that reacts just the way a real boxer would. Well, not exactly. It doesn’t hit back. But it is equipped with high speed sensors and systems and motion recognition tech which allow it spot and predict your incoming punches – and react accordingly.

The folks over at SkyTec claim that the pricey $24 900 BotBoxer is capable of reacting faster than a world champion boxer. Best of luck trying to put this bag down. It will require users to adjust, improvise, and increase power and velocity in order to outsmart the system.

Close enough to actual boxing.

The system is adjustable, so don’t be disheartened if you’re too slow to land a punch. Just tweak the reaction time, range of motion, frequency of errors and recovery time. Just like a human being, its endurance also wanes as the fight drags on.

But, can it fend off a five-brandies-deep angry Boksburger?

YouTube For Kids, But Not Very Child-Friendly

YouTube Kids is made for curious little minds. The website urges our children to ‘dive into a world of discovery, learning, and fun’ – and yet they may be exposed to far more than they should be.

Earlier last month, Business Insider reported that the YouTube Kids app has been suggesting conspiracy theory videos to children. The app is meant to filter out unsuitable content, but time and time again something inappropriate seems to slip through.

These included nonsensical flat-earth theories and videos by prominent conspiracy theorist, David Icke. Some of the topics range from Freemason’s engaging in human sacrifice, claims that the world is ruled by reptile-human hybrids, that the moon is a man-made satellite and that JFK was executed by the US government.

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YouTube Kids is a separate app from regular YouTube, where children are encouraged to learn through reading and watching educational, fun videos. It was specifically designed for parents to allow their children to browse YouTube safely. Free from harmful or unsuitable content.

In a statement, YouTube said that no system is perfect and sometimes it will miss the mark. YouTube has already taken down a number of inappropriate videos and will continue to work to improve the YouTube Kids app experience.

This includes rolling out a human-curated version of the app.

It has to be said that with all the weird content making the rounds on YouTube these days, it’s pretty easy to trick the system or get away with something for quite a while before getting flagged and shut down.

Take videos of traditional children’s characters, such as Minnie Mouse, for example. Videos of Minnie being eviscerated by an escalator or Peppa Pig being tricked into eating bacon may fly under the radar long enough to do proper damage.

 

The Excessive Light L16 Camera

The small photography company, Light, has made a camera with 16 lenses, and it’s here to trigger your trypophobia without mercy.

It looks absolutely gross, but there’s no doubt that it’s a work of engineering genius and may very well be the camera of the future.

Or, just a total gimmick.

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Am I the only one that thinks it looks like a spider?

The L16 is made up of, well, 16 lenses – essentially 16 cameras – in a single compact camera the same size as a smartphone. At the touch of a button, 10 of these 16 cameras fire away at different focal lengths and angles. The captured images are then put together to form one 52MP image, in which the depth of field and focus can be adjusted after the image is taken.

The DSLR market is probably still safe for now, though.

“Basic laws of physics dictate that a large 24x36mm sensor and a 2kg piece of glass will still beat the Light L16 in almost every test. What it does offer, though, is incredible flexibility,” says Haje Jan Kamps of TechCrunch.

Other features allow for 35 – 100mm optical zoom, which is pretty great for such a small camera, as well as touch screen and modified android software.

In an in-depth article by The Verge, the L16 shows up great for street photography but poorer in low light. The desktop software is termed a chore and the camera performance too sluggish for any high-speed photography. The technology, though, remains fascinating. It could pave the way for braver, better ideas in the future.

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