Aki's eye

The ‘Greek Geek’ highlights some of the stories from the world of tech that caught his attention.

Cybercrime pays

THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM’S GLOBAL RISK REPORT has put cybersecurity among its top five threats to impact global stability. In 2017, for example the WannaCry attack affected 300 000 computers in 150 countries and cost affected business in excess of $300 million.

There’s no doubt that cybersecurity is big business, but where is the money being made? Bromium recently released a detailed report on the cybercrime profits generated by criminals. Conservative estimates in The Web of Profit research show cybercriminal revenues worldwide of at least $1.5 trillion – equal to the GDP of Russia. In fact, if cybercrime was a country it would have the 13th highest GDP in the world. This $1.5 trillion figure includes:

 $860 billion – Illicit/illegal online markets

• $500 billion – Theft of trade secrets/IP

• $160 billion – Data trading

• $1.6 billion – Crimeware as a Service

• $1 billion – Ransomware

 Feel the world 

FORD RECENTLY ANNOUNCED A PROTOTYPE to help blind or partially sighted passengers visualise a car journey. Ford’s ‘Feel the view’ technology takes pictures that are turned into high-contrast monochrome images. They’re then reproduced on the vehicle glass using special LEDs.

By touching the image, different shades of grey vibrate with a range of 255 intensities, allowing passengers to touch the scene and rebuild in their mind the landscape in front of them.

Took the words out of my mouth

GOOGLE USES ITS ANNUAL I/O CONFERENCE to map out what it’s working on for all its platforms. One technology area that stood out for me this year was around artificial intelligence and in particular its Google Assistant technology using Google Duplex.

This allows users to give Google Assistant the instruction to make a telephone call on their behalf for the arduous tasks in life, such as scheduling an appointment for a haircut or an even booking a car in for service.

The technology uses an artificial voice and can actually understand the nuances of conversation. Google has been working on Google’s Duplex technology for many years and combines natural language, deep learning and text to speech together with Google Assistant.

Forgotten foods

WHILE I TRY AND KEEP AN EYE ON WHAT I EAT as part of a healthy lifestyle, it can be difficult to track sometimes. A team at Tufts University School of Engineering has developed technology with miniature sensors that can be mounted directly on a tooth to monitor intake of glucose, salt and alcohol. Although in prototype phase, it can communicate wirelessly to share the information with a mobile device in real-time. At 2mm x 2mm the tiny sensor is not even obtrusive.

There’s a central ‘bioresponsive’ layer that reads and absorbs the nutrients while the other layers act like tiny antennas to transmit and receive the radio waves.

Digitally disrupting traffic jams

IT MIGHT PUT ME OUT OF WORK reading the traffic reports, but Stanford Graduate School of Business economics professor Michael Ostrovsky has released a research paper focused on how to help kill the traffic jam. Ostrovsky’s paper says traffic jams are ripe for disruption and cites the integration of a few key technologies as ‘driving’ the change.

His paper advocates the combination of autonomous cars, time-sensitive tolls that can be charged for each road segment without slowing down cars, and carpooling technology for seamlessly matching cars with multiple passengers. The advances that have been made with GPS, mobile and the massive data we have at our disposal, allow for toll pricing to be better optimised. Although carpooling isn’t new, it accounts for around nine percent of commutes in the US.

Smartphone apps, like Waze, Carpool and Scoop, automate the process of finding people more accurately matching ones daily commute and all the other transportation variables. These apps now make it much easier to work out fuel costs and make it seamless for passengers to reimburse drivers for travel costs.

On a recent trip to the US, I opted on a car sharing Uber ride and was amazed at how efficient and cheap it was. We picked up two other passengers on route and my extra time spent commuting was not more than ten minutes on a 35 minute journey. Ostrovsky’s proposal of optimising these variables in commuting, crunching the data and using smart algorithms to make traffic flow better, really does have the potential to kill traffic.

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