Ross Kruse

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A Message From Blocks: Why Modularity makes a lot of sense for smartwatches? After nearly two years in development, we finally launched our kickstarter campaign for the world’s first modular smartwatch, BLOCKS. We are so excited and amazed by the level of support we have got! We reached around $1,000,000 in pre-orders in just one week on kickstarter and now we are getting close to be in the 15 highest funded technology kickstarter campaigns of all time! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2106691934/blocks-the-worlds-first-modular-smartwatch But why do we think modularity is the future consumer electronics and what is the story behind BLOCKS? BLOCKS was started by us, Ali Tahmaseb and Serge Didenko. We are both bioengineers and we are both very passionate about bio-sensors and wearable technology. Two years ago, we were working on a new type of a smart wrist-band which could detect finger and wrist gestures. The goal was to control the music on your phone and manage phone calls by subtle finger taps and small wrist rotations. Approaching our friends with this idea, we realized our device needs to have many other features and sensors to appeal to more people. Ali was interested in gesture control, contactless payments and access, and cellular connectivity while Serge was more into health, sports and medical applications of this smartwatch. Other people had their own needs and requirements for an ideal smartwatch as well! Obviously, it was not possible to put all these sensors and functionalities in one device. It is not technically feasible to fit all these hardware functionalities in one device. The battery life would be short and the production cost would be very high. We wanted to optimize this and make a smartwatch which would appeal to most users. Sending out surveys to more than 1,000 people, we understood that there is no single smartwatch that can work for everyone. Each person has a unique lifestyle, with various hobbies, sports, activities, and requirements, and therefore they need to have a different type of smartwatch. We were struggling to find the features in an ideal smartwatch until … In December 2013, Ali had this idea of making our smartwatch modular. We soon became aware of Phonebloks and Dave Hakkens. We were absolutely delighted by seeing the idea of a modular smartphone and the large community that Phonebloks had gathered. Phonebloks totally made sense to us, and of course a lot of other people. We keep on changing our phones, just for incremental upgrades or because a broken part can’t be repaired. Later on, we got to talk to the people in the Project Ara team and see how Dave’s idea is becoming real. We think modularity makes a lot of sense for smartwatches as well. By spreading the technology around the wrist, we can increase the space of electronics and give more features to users. Also, we can make the watch less thick and more beautiful. The display Module (we call it the Core), already has all the standard features of any other smartwatch, like phone notifications, activity tracking and voice control. The small links in the strap of the watch, Modules, can add to the functionality of the Core. There is a wide range of possible Modules: extra battery, GPS, heart rate, payments, access cards, cellular connectivity, gesture control, body temperature, outside temperature, pressure, humidity, air quality, memory, fingerprint, and many more. Not only BLOCKS can offer more in functionality, but also it will not get obsolete and will save the planet earth! The technology for smartwatches is advancing every few months, and the users of smartwatches will need to get a new one every year just to keep up with the always evolving technology and they will end up wasting of lot of electronics. With BLOCKS, we keep what still works, like the Core, and a lot of the Modules, and then we can add the new technologies and sensors, in the form factor of new Modules. All Modules will be compatible with each other. You can add or replace new Modules when they become available. Last but not least, BLOCKS is an open

<b>A Message From Blocks:</b><p><b>Why Modularity makes a lot of sense for smartwatches?</b><p>After nearly two years in development, we finally launched our kickstarter …

When Handwriting Dies, Neural Networks Will Be The Only Calligraphers Left

At the University of Toronto, computer science researchers have taught a neural network how to write by hand.<p>In the digital age, proficiency with a keyboard is considered more important to a student’s education than legible handwriting, leading some to despair that the art of writing by hand is …

Google's New Chatbot Taught Itself to Be Creepy

Human: "What is the purpose of living?" Machine: "To live forever."<p>What happens when you take an artificial intelligence and take away all the "rules" that are standard in the field? You get conversations that look like this:<p>It's kind of creepy, but it's perhaps a more poignant, more real type of …

Dallas Cowboys become the first NFL team to go all-in on VR

When an old-school coach like Mike "Da Bears" Ditka gets behind virtual reality as a football training device, you know there's something there. And now, the Dallas Cowboys are the first NFL team to adopt VR tech from a Stanford-based company called StriVR Labs, according to <i>ESPN.</i> The franchise …

'Highly creative' professionals won't lose their jobs to robots, study finds

Many people are in “robot overlord denial,” according to a recent online poll run by jobs board Monster.com. They think computers could not replace …

Look inside a Google project so odd, it's literally called 'Project Loon'

Google is trying to solve a really hard problem: How do you bring internet access to millions of people in locations too remote to get cable or even a cell tower?<p>Answer: Connect them to the internet via giant balloons that drift across the sky.<p>They call the idea Project Loon. Google has been …

If a robot kills someone, who is to blame?

If you are looking for signs of the coming robot apocalypse, look no further than the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. Here, along the most fortified border in the world, more than just human soldiers are keeping watch.<p>Meet the SGR-A1, a sentry robot deployed by South Korea and …

This company was 13 years early to virtual reality — and it's getting ready to try again

Second Life, the original virtual reality, may not be the media sensation it once was back in the heady days of 2003.<p>Back then, the world was ooh-ing and aah-ing at virtual real estate millionaires who were appearing on the cover of magazines like Businessweek, buying and selling land and goods in …

Virtual Reality

Why Artificial Intelligence Will Not Obliterate Humanity

It's not smart enough to turn sinister<p>Elon Musk is terrified of artificial intelligence (AI). The founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors predicts it’ll soon be "potentially more dangerous than nukes," and recently he gave $10 million toward research to "keep AI beneficial." Stephen Hawking has likewise …

Artificial Intelligence

Google will fly a crazy, plane-like, 84-foot wind turbine next month

Astro Teller tells the crowd at SXSW that the 28-foot versions didn't crash<p>Google plans to fly an 84-foot wind turbine next month, according to Google X's Astro Teller, who spoke at SXSW today.<p>Google's wind turbines don't look like the ones you might see along the US coastline. They're more like …

Artificial Intelligence in Social Media: What AI Knows About You, and What You Need to Know

Share<p>For the 1964 World Fair, science fiction author Isaac Asimov wrote an article for the New York Times, envisioning what the exhibits at the event …

Artificial Intelligence

Why the Talking "Smart" Barbie Terrifies Parents

Some child advocates are clamoring for Mattel to halt production of a new "smart" Barbie that can have conversations with your kid. The Barbie's …

Why the $10,000 Watch is essential to Apple’s plan

It’s taken all week, but I finally think I have a pretty good idea why Apple is selling a crazy-expensive, super-exclusive gold watch.<p>Initially, the very idea that Apple would make something for the one percent seemed abhorrent. What makes Apple great is that it sells affordable luxury to the …

Smartwatches

MySpace – what went wrong: ‘The site was a massive spaghetti-ball mess’

Former VP of online marketing Sean Percival on corporate interference, Punch The Monkey, and a failed attempt to buy Spotify: ‘They sure as hell were not selling to us...’<p>In 2015, Sean Percival is a partner at Silicon Valley seed accelerator 500 Startups, but from 2009 to 2011, he was working at …

MySpace

Can You Answer These Questions That Facebook Thinks Any Good AI Should?

For decades, the Turing Test has been used as a yardstick by which to measure the abilities of artificial intelligence. But now a team of Facebook …

Here’s Why People Trust Human Judgment Over Algorithms

You’d think after years of using Google Maps we’d trust that it knows what it’s doing. Still, we think, “Maybe taking the backroads would be faster.”<p>That’s an example of what researchers call “algorithm aversion”: even when an algorithm consistently beats human judgment, people prefer to go with …

Machine Learning

What Clever Robots Mean for Jobs

Experts rethink belief that tech always lifts employment as machines take on skills once thought uniquely human<p>CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Economist Erik Brynjolfsson had long dismissed fears that automation would soon devour jobs that required the uniquely human skills of judgment and dexterity.<p>Many of his …

Career Development

Farmers Eye Drones For The Future

Drone, drone on the range<p>Even though humans have been farming for thousands of years, there’s always a new trick to learn or a new technology to try. In modern times, these tricks often come attached to small flying aircraft, a fact evidenced by the continued and growing presence of drones at …

Aerial Photography

A Lightbulb-Shaped Projector Could Power The Smart Home Of The Future

The creators of Beam, a smart projector that fits into a light socket, are onto something.<p>Beam, a lightbulb-shaped gadget, promises projects your smartphone screen onto any surface you want. Launched on Kickstarter this month, the $350 projector screws into any lightbulb socket, so you can set it …

Marissa Mayer says Yahoo has transformed into mobile-first company

For Yahoo these days, it's all about mobile.<p>At its first-ever mobile developers conference Thursday, the Sunnyvale, Calif., tech company shared some impressive stats about the growth of its app business. In the last two years, Yahoo has increased its internal mobile apps team to 500 people from 50; …

Apps

A Year Later, $19 Billion For WhatsApp Doesn’t Sound So Crazy

Messaging is the center of mobile. Snapchat is raising at around a $20 billion valuation. And no one cares who owns apps. On February 19, 2014, we didn’t know any of these things for sure. So when Facebook announced it would pay $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp — an app most American pundits had …

Driverless Car Race From Paris To Beijing 'Would Be Close To Impossible'

But hey, Sony, an autonomous driving expert thinks the movie concept is cool<p>Whenever a radical new technology promises to change our way of life, it's only a matter of time before Hollywood finds a way to turn it into a comedic farce. Case in point: cars that drive you to your destination.<p>This …

Autonomous Cars

How To Save A Hacked Power Grid? Machine Learning

A hacked or failed device in a power plant can cause millions of dollars in damage and even death. Machine learning comes to the rescue.<p>A few years ago, I found myself in a room full of electrical engineers discussing the smart grid. One thing was strikingly absent at this event: screens. The vast …

Google warns of US government 'hacking any facility' in the world

Google says increasing the FBI’s powers set out in search warrants would raise ‘monumental’ legal concerns that should be decided by Congress<p>Google is boldly opposing an attempt by the US Justice Department to expand federal powers to search and seize digital data, warning that the changes would …

Surveillance

Machine Learning Goes Mainstream I: InboxVudu Prioritizes Your Email

Machine learning is moving out of the backend shadows and into mainstream applications that ordinary consumers will use on a daily basis. These applications will recognize the intent behind written and spoken language and quickly classify the content of images and video. It would be a leap to say …

How a 25-year-old dev made 600 apps without being able to code

John Hayward-Mayhew is one of the most prolific iOS developers ever to peddle a blackjack game. Over the past four years, the 25-year-old entrepreneur flooded the App Store with an astonishing 600 separate apps — everything from endless runners such as <i>Dangerous Caveman Bum Runner</i> to dentistry games …

App Store

Artificial intelligence and nanotechnology 'threaten civilisation'

Technologies join nuclear war, ecological catastrophe, super-volcanoes and asteroid impacts in Global Challenges Foundation’s risk report<p>Artificial intelligence and nanotechnology have been named alongside nuclear war, ecological catastrophe and super-volcano eruptions as “risks that threaten human …

Singularity

Why Apple's design geniuses are obsessed with making 'inevitable' products

For head designer Jony Ive and his team, it's essential.<p>"So much of what we try to do is get to a point where <b>the solution seems inevitable,</b>" Ive told the design magazine Icon in 2003. "You know, you think 'of course it's that way, why would it be any other way?' It looks so obvious, but that sense …

Product Design

Native Americans still battling Facebook over 'real name' policy

Despite policy changes following its dispute with drag queens, Facebook is still banning individuals who run afoul of its "real name" policy. It recently suspended Native American Dana Lone Hill and wouldn't reinstate her even after she provided the requested ID. It was only after the media got …