This Hearing Aid Can Translate For You—and Track Steps Too

This item is excerpted from this Wired.com article: www.wired.com.

“While other high-end hearing aids have included similar technology in recent years, Starkey Hearing Technologies’ new Livio AI hearing aids also count your steps and track how much time you spend talking to people rather than in isolation. They can detect when the wearer has fallen, and with an impending software update will be able to notify a loved one or 911. They can even listen to another language and whisper a near real-time translation in your ear, Star Trek style. While some or all of these features have been available in consumer devices known as “hearables,” they’ve never before been packed into a hearing aid—a government-approved medical device that has to be small, comfortable, and include batteries that last for days rather than hours.”

Measuring Magnets with Mils

The Casio fx-260 Solar scientific calculator is a handy little device. I recently found one on ebay that’s even handier; it has a magnetic strip on its case so you can stick it on a magnetic surface. The ebay description said it was a “30 mil magnet”; not knowing what that was, I had to look it up. Discountmagnets.com‘s page provided a good description of magnetic sheeting and included some prices. Other companies’ websites from the Google search may also be helpful.

Magnetic sheeting seems to be something it could be fun to use and experiment with. You can find it on Amazon, and on ebay.

Bitcoin’s energy usage

This is excerpted from this early 2018 Guardian article: Bitcoin’s energy usage is huge – we can’t afford to ignore it: www.theguardian.com.

“Bitcoin’s electricity usage is enormous. In November [2017], the power consumed by the entire bitcoin network was estimated to be higher than that of the Republic of Ireland. Since then, its demands have only grown. It’s now on pace to use just over 42TWh of electricity in a year, placing it ahead of New Zealand and Hungary and just behind Peru, according to estimates from Digiconomist. That’s commensurate with CO2 emissions of 20 megatonnes – or roughly 1m transatlantic flights.

In simplified terms, bitcoin mining is a competition to waste the most electricity possible by doing pointless arithmetic quintillions of times a second. The more electricity you burn, and the faster your computer, the higher your chance of winning the competition. The prize? 12.5 bitcoin – still worth over $100,000 – plus all the transaction fees paid in the past 10 minutes, which according analysts’ estimates is another $2,500 or so.”

Also see: “Here’s the Short History of Bitcoin – As Told Through the Five Different Groups Who Bought It“: www.alternet.org.

IEEE Blockchain Initiative Helps to Advance the Decentralized Ledger

This item is excerpted from this IEEE Institute article: theinstitute.ieee.org.

Also see: Boning Up on Blockchain Technology: theinstitute.ieee.org.

Blockchain has become a buzzword in the past couple of years, but many people still don’t know what the technology can do. Best known as the foundation of cryptocurrency transactions, the decentralized ledger has the potential to replace existing databases, providing more transparency and security. It could be adopted by nearly every industry including energy, finance, health care, manufacturing, real estate, and transportation.

To help advance the technology, IEEE launched its Blockchain Initiative in January [2018], and dozens of activities are underway. They include standards development and e-learning courses, as well as conferences. Groups have been formed worldwide to focus on blockchain applications based on local needs.

The initiative’s efforts are in collaboration with the IEEE Computer Society, the IEEE Reliability Society, and the IEEE Standards Association. Nearly 200 volunteers are involved.

“This is a grassroots effort that gives technical communities the ability to advance blockchain, and inform one another about aspects of the technology they haven’t thought about,” says Tim Kostyk, who is overseeing the initiative. He is the senior program director of IEEE Future Directions, the organization’s R&D arm. “The more people who are involved, the more the technology benefits.”

BEYOND THE HYPE

One of the biggest advantages of a blockchain system over current databases, Kostyk says, is that it provides provenance: proof of ownership. “Blockchain allows for traceability in which users can see who had their hands on a product or service and at what point in time,” he says.

A blockchain database records every transaction and makes that record visible to all participants. Moreover, each transaction is blocked by the transaction that comes after it, making it nearly impossible to delete or edit previous records.

The health care industry could benefit from adopting the technology for medical records to help ensure a medical professional was not negligent. Doctors would record detailed information about medications prescribed, vaccines given, exams conducted, and surgeries performed. That information would be locked in a permanent ledger, not only providing the ability for patient records to be accessed by different medical providers but also making it nearly impossible for information to be deleted or edited—protecting against false malpractice allegations. IEEE is holding workshops and developing standards to advance blockchain technology for medical records.”