The Fraunhofer Institute has announced the termination of licensing and patents related to the MP3 format. (123RF)

The Fraunhofer Institute recently announced the termination of licensing and patents related to the MP3 format.

Smart heart

The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) recently released the results of a study conducted with heartrate measurement app Cardiogram. More than 6 000 participants used an Apple Watch together with Cardiogram to monitor their heart rates.

Aki Anastasiou Aki Anastasiou
Carried out in conjunction with a smart algorithm designed to detect abnormal heart rhythms, the results showed the Apple Watch was 97% accurate in predicting atrial fibrillation. An irregular heart beat can lead to a stroke or even heart failure if left unchecked. Further research analysing data received from devices such as the Apple Watch and the Fitbit is also encouraging.

The Health e Heart study, conducted by UCSF, is showing promising signs in predicting heart disease by simply measuring behavioural patterns like sleep, diet and our heart rates.

Big data, big memory

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) introduced the world’s largest single-memory computer. According to HPE, this computer has been built for the big data era and will use a new approach called ‘memory driven computing’ with the aim of processing hyperfast memory. The prototype is made up of 160TB of shared memory spread across 40 physical nodes. The current configuration is capable of simultaneously working with the data held in approximately 160 million books. It’s never been possible before to hold and manipulate whole data sets of this size in a single-memory system.

Minority Report. Modern Reality

The movie Minority Report starring Tom Cruise was released 15 years ago. Watching it back in 2002 it was difficult then to believe that today, some of those far-fetched technologies would start to become real. Thanks to big data, smart algorithms and artificial intelligence, crime is now becoming easier to predict.

ShotSpotter uses the data collected from acoustic sensors across a city area to geo-locate and track gunshots to determine when and where the next crime will happen. The information is processed and shared in seconds with law enforcement officers. The algorithm can then start to determine trends and where the likelihood that a crime will be committed next.

ShotSpotter has been deployed in more than 90 cities worldwide and a significant reduction in gunshots rates has already been observed. The technology is also being tested in the Kruger National Park to help rangers counter rhino poachers and they’ve already had early successes catching poachers.

In-flighting the Olympic flame

The Olympic Games of 2020, to be held in Japan, is going to be spectacular. The Japanese are going to pull off a futuristic tech extravaganza, starting with lighting the Olympic flame with a flying car. That’s the vision Toyota has together with a flying car startup project called Cart!vator and a team from Tokushima University. The vehicle called Skydrive is just over two metres long and it's hoped it will be able to fly at 100km/h.

WannaCry? Wanna hope it’s not just the start

The recent WannaCry ransomware attack has been a big wake-up call for most businesses. Truth be told, we got away lightly, as it has the potential to wreak even greater havoc globally. An estimated 200 000 computers were infected in more than 150 countries, and the potential cost is approximately $4 billion mostly made up of lost work hours. It could have been avoided, say the experts, if organisations were up to date with their patches.


Anyone who grew up in the in the '80s and '90s witnessed the impact technology had on the music industry. If the words LPs, tapes and CDs bring back memories of favourite artists, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Undoubtedly the MP3 revolutionised how and where we listened to music. The audio coding format, developed by the Fraunhofer Institute, was ten times smaller than that used on compact discs. When the iPod came along and we could store thousands of songs on a device the size of a cassette case, the death of the CD was imminent. Now, more than two decades after its introduction, the MP3 has been retired because the newer AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) format offers a much higher audio quality. The Fraunhofer Institute recently announced the termination of licensing and patents related to the MP3 format. #RIPMP3 (1993 – 2017) survived by the AAC and MPEG-H.

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