iTraq - The New Age Luggage Tracker

For all those globe-trotters out there, worrying about the whereabouts of luggage on an important business trip, this gadget is for you. The new iTraq device is a tag that's about the size of a credit card, helping you to locate your missing things anywhere in the world.

The iTraq goes further than existing location tags, which mainly use Bluetooth or GPS. Instead it uses cellular radio technology components from GeoTraq, which combines the plus points of both. The result is a power-efficient system that keeps its range for miles, according to a report in Popular Science.

"The device itself doesn't know where it is, it wakes up, scans, transmits data, and goes to sleep again. On our server, we can read this information from the device and understand what towers it scanned and where it is," the iTraq co-founder Roman Isakov told Popular Science. The iTraq also checks in at intervals that you can specify, and you can change the schedule depending on the time of day. The less frequently the device checks in, the longer the battery will last.

The device is not ideal to track anything in real time, more for an assurance that items such as keys, suitcases and larger items such as bikes are where they should be. The other downside is that although the device uses cellular location, it's less precise than GPS, so although you can check to see if your keys are at home, it isn't specific enough to find out where in the house your keys may be. The location technology also relies on how many cell towers it can detect- great if you live in a busy city, less so in a rural location.

The arrival of iTraq should set the wheels in motion for more specific tracking devices in the future, which will benefit those that are prone to losing other items. Lost keys will hopefully be a thing of the past.

 

iTraq is based in Redmond, Washington, and is a manufacturer of the world's first Cell I-D specific personal location device. Recently it has been announced that GeoTraq, Inc. has received a purchase order for 30,000 Cell-ID modules from iTraq.


In Future, Phones To Become Scanners As Well

There doesn't seem to be an end to what smartphones can achieve now, with the latest news revealing that a new electronic chip to be installed could turn the already not-so-humble smartphone into a 3D scanner as well.

According to news from the Caltech website, the company has managed to create a 3D imager that can be installed in phones, allowing the user to take a snapshot of a physical object and have it translated into a 3D printed object from their 3D printer. The article from the firm notes that the first step of printing anything in 3D is to procure an accurate 3D scan; and the new chip is capable of gathering information accurate to within microns of the original object.

Generally speaking an image needs to measure the height, width and depth of the object that requires printing, but the technology for producing such data has until now been relatively large and very expensive. A new nanophotonic coherent imager (NCI) that has entered the market is a modern, cheap and small alternative to such tech. It uses a silicon chip smaller than a millimetre square to produce images as accurate as the larger 3D imaging devices.

The magic from the chip comes from the use of LIDAR sensors, which are essentially a form of laser-based radar, to help determine the distance and size of an object. It measures laser light as it reflects off the object.

Ali Hajimiri, in whose laboratory work on the chip was undertaken, said: "By having an array of tiny LIDARs on our coherent imager, we can simultaneously image different parts of an object or a scene without the need for any mechanical movements within the imager."

 

Whilst the chip is currently only capable of capturing detail of 16 pixels, researchers are confident that this can be improved upon and even scaled up to hundreds of thousands of pixels.

Every click, swipe, "like," buy, comment, deposit, jog and search produces information that creates a unique virtual identity - something we call

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Are Robots Becoming Sentient?

Sentience is arguably the one thing holding back Artificial Intelligence (AI). Whilst researchers and engineers can now create robots with what feels like an infinite range of skills and capabilities, the ability to feel emotion is one thing that hasn't yet been conquered. But this looks set to change, an article on the Fast Company website notes, as researchers at Clemson University are looking to create robots capable of feeling regret.

The researcher in question, Dr Sophie Wang, has made a system whereby a robot completes repetitive tasks, with the final product that needs completing to be displayed on a screen. The person in charge is able to communicate to the robot a sense of how much they trust it, thus allowing the robot to figure out the best way in which to split-up the different tasks allocated to it. This way the robot is then able to take on more work from the person.

With such a system, the robot is able to help the person out when they begin to tire or slow down, showing some form of sensitivity to the emotional state of the person it is working with.

Dr Wang is also employing mathematical formulas to help robots feel regret. This system can be used in the real world if, for example, a robot's on-board camera wrongly identifies the shape of an object and picks it up despite it not fulfilling the brief. The robot would calculate beforehand how much 'regret' it would feel by picking up a wrongly shaped object and if the risk of picking it up is worth it - similar, the article notes, to how the human brain works.

 

It is not yet obvious how this will affect robots in the workplace, but it could mark the beginning of robots truly being considered a colleague and contemporary.