Wearhaus Beam: Smart Bluetooth Earbuds With Wireless Audio Sharing Technology

Wearhaus Beam: Smart Bluetooth Earbuds With Wireless Audio Sharing Technology

After successfully launching the Wearhaus Arc in November 2014 and raising over $250,000 for the project, the team at Wearhaus are now back with a new revolutionary product: The Wearhaus Beam, a pair of smart bluetooth earbuds that feature wireless audio technology that allows you to share your music live with your friends. The earbuds can also be customized to display over over 5 million color combinations!

Other earbuds have tried, but none have gotten even close to the amount of color options we offer. With a three-color gradient and the entire color spectrum at your beck and call, there are over 5 million color combinations for you to pick, any time you want!

About the audio sharing technology:

Our patented Bluetooth technology allows multiple Wearhaus products to wirelessly sync up and listen together, no matter what audio source you use. Share your new music discoveries with your S.O., blast pump up music with your gym crew, or run on pace with your buddy.


[Wearhaus Beam: Smart Bluetooth Earbuds With Wireless Audio Sharing Technology]


Geeks are Sexy
Gadgets, General, Technology


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Wolfram Alpha Is Making It Extremely Easy for Students to Cheat

Denise Garcia knows that her students sometimes cheat, but the situation she unearthed in February seemed different. A math teacher in West Hartford, Connecticut, Garcia had accidentally included an advanced equation in a problem set for her AP Calculus class. Yet somehow a handful of students in the 15-person class solved it correctly. Those students had also shown their work, defeating the traditional litmus test for sussing out cheating in STEM classrooms.

Garcia was perplexed, until she remembered a conversation from a few years earlier. Some former students had told her about an online tool called Wolfram|Alpha that could complete complicated calculations in seconds. It provided both the answers and the steps for reaching them, making it virtually undetectable when copied as homework.

​Pippa Biddle is a writer interested in culture, complex systems, and making sense of the world.


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For years, students have turned to CliffsNotes for speedy reads of books, SparkNotes to whip up talking points for class discussions, and Wikipedia to pad their papers with historical tidbits. But today’s students have smarter tools at their disposal—namely, Wolfram|Alpha, a program that uses artificial intelligence to perfectly and untraceably solve equations. Wolfram|Alpha uses natural language processing technology, part of the AI family, to provide students with an academic shortcut that is faster than a tutor, more reliable than copying off of friends, and much easier than figuring out a solution yourself.

Since it’s release, Wolfram|Alpha has trickled through the education system, finding it’s way into the homework of college and high school students. Use of Wolfram|Alpha is difficult to trace, and in the hands of ambitious students, its perfect solutions are having unexpected consequences. It works by breaking down the pieces of a question, whether a mathematical problem or something like "What is the center of the United States?", and then cross-referencing those pieces against an enormous library of datasets that is constantly being expanded. These datasets include information on geodesic schemes, chemical compounds, human genes, historical weather measurements, and thousands of other topics that, when brought together, can be used to provide answers.

The system is constrained by the limits of its data library: It can’t interpret every question. It also can’t respond in natural language, or what a human would recognize as conversational speech. This is a stumbling block in AI in general. Even Siri, which relies heavily on Mathematica—another Wolfram Research product and the engine behind Wolfram|Alpha—can only answer questions in programmed response scripts, which are like a series of Mad Libs into which it plugs answers before spitting them out of your speaker or onto your screen.

Using Wolfram|Alpha is similar to executing a Google search, but Wolfram|Alpha delivers specific answers rather than endless pages of potentially relevant results. Anyone can go to the Wolfram|Alpha website, type a question or equation into a dialogue box, hit enter, and receive an answer. If you’re trying to solve x2 + 5x + 6 = 0, Wolfram|Alpha will give you the root plot, alternate forms, and solutions. If you are looking for a step-by-step explanation, there is a pro version available for $6.99/month with discounted options for students and educators.

I first heard about Wolfram|Alpha in my parents’ kitchen. My father had come home from his job at a private school in Dobbs Ferry, New York. He dropped his bag on the floor, and asked me what I thought about Wolfram|Alpha. Earlier that day he had been confronted by STEM teachers who were frustrated with their students’ use of the tool. It was, they said, blatant cheating. My father had left the office unsure of how to proceed. Should the school crack down on Wolfram|Alpha? Or did the school need to catch up to this new beat in education?

I’d never heard of it, but a quick post to Facebook revealed that many of my friends had—especially those studying math. Some had used it to get through college calculus, while a few were still using it at their jobs as engineers or quantitative analysts. The rise of Wolfram|Alpha had completely passed over my humanities-minded head, just as, for millions of minds, it had become ubiquitous. Turning to the tech for answers was, they said, normal. At the same time, all made it clear that they didn’t want their use of Wolfram|Alpha to be made public.

Though Wolfram|Alpha was designed to be an educational asset — a way to explore an equation from within— academia has found itself at a loss over how to respond. What some call cheating, others have heralded as a massive step forward in how we learn, what we teach, and what education is even good for. They say that Wolfram|Alpha is the future. Unsurprisingly, its creator agrees.

Stephen Wolfram, the mind behind Wolfram|Alpha, can’t do long division and didn’t learn his times tables until he’d hit 40. Indeed, the inspiration for Wolfram|Alpha, which he released in 2009, started with Wolfram’s own struggles as a math student. Growing up, Wolfram’s obsession was physics. By 12, he’d written a dictionary on physics, by his early teens he’d churned out three (as yet unpublished) books, and by 15 he was publishing scientific papers.

Despite his wunderkind science abilities, math was a constant stumbling block. He could come up with concepts, but executing calculations was hard. His solution was to get his hands on a computer. By programming it to solve equations and find patterns in data, he could leave the math to the machine and focus his brain on the science. It worked. In 1981, Wolfram became the youngest person to ever receive a MacArthur Fellowship. He was only 21.

Yet the tool that helped Wolfram build his reputation with physics ended up pulling him away from science. Wolfram became obsessed with complex systems and how computers could be used to study them. Five years after receiving his MacArthur Fellowship, Wolfram began developing Mathematica, and in 1988 Wolfram Research announced the release of its flagship product.

Wolfram never planned for his tool to become highbrow CliffsNotes, but he’s not too concerned about it, either. “Mechanical math,” Wolfram argues, “is a very low level of precise thinking.” Instead, Wolfram believes that we should be emphasizing computational thinking—something he describes as “trying to formulate your thoughts so that you can explain them to a sufficiently smart computer.” This has also been called computer-based math. Essentially, knowing algebra in today’s technology-saturated world won’t get you very far, but knowing how to ask a computer to do your algebra will. If students are making this shift, in his mind, they’re just ahead of the curve.

Alan Joyce, the director of content development for Wolfram Alpha, says that cheating is “absolutely the wrong way to look at what we do.” But the staff understands what might make teachers uncomfortable. Historically, education had to emphasize hand calculations, says John Dixon, a program manager at Wolfram Research. That’s because there wasn’t tech to fall back on and, when tech did start to appear, it wasn’t reliable. Only recently can computers calculate things automatically and precisely, and it’ll take some time for curriculums, and the teachers that are beholden to them, to catch up. Wolfram Research, Dixon says, wants to engage with teachers like Garcia, who are frustrated by the tool, to help them understand how it can help their students.

Indeed, the people who are directing the tool’s development view it as an educational equalizer that can give students who don’t have at-home homework helpers—like tutors or highly educated and accessible parents—access to what amounts to a personal tutor. It also has enormous potential within the classroom. A "show steps" button, which reveals the path to an answer, allows teachers to break down the components of a problem, rather than getting bogged down in mechanics. The "problem generator" can pull from real datasets to create relevant examples. “When you start to show educators the potential,” Dixon says, “you can see points where their eyes light up.”

For every teacher who’s converted to Dixon’s camp, there are multitudes of students who have been there for a while. As Alexander Feiner, an aspiring engineer and high school freshman told me, Wolfram|Alpha is a study aid, not a way of avoiding work — something that Dixon insists is the norm when it comes to out-of-classroom student use.

Still, the prevailing notion that Wolfram|Alpha is a form of cheating doesn’t appear to be dissipating. Much of this comes down to what homework is. If the purpose of homework is build greater understanding of concepts as presented in class, Joyce is adamant that teachers should view Wolfram|Alpha as an asset. It’s not that Wolfram Alpha has helped students “‘get through’ a math class by doing their homework for them,” he says, “but that we helped them actually understand what they were doing” in the first place. Dixon believes that Wolfram|Alpha can build confidence in students who don’t see themselves as having mathematical minds. Homework isn’t really about learning to do a calculation, but rather about learning to find and understand an answer regardless of how the calculation is executed.

That’s the route down which education appears to be headed. Once upon a time, education was all about packing as much information as possible into a human brain. Information was limited and expensive, and the smartest people were effectively the deepest and most organized filing cabinets. Today, it’s the opposite.“The notion of education as a transfer of information from experts to novices—and asking the novices to repeat that information, regurgitate it on command as proof that they have learned it—is completely disconnected from the reality of 2017,” says David Helfand, a Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University.

The technology isn’t going anywhere: Like copying out of the back of a book or splitting a problem set among friends, students aren’t likely to stop using Wolfram|Alpha just because a teacher says so. Even Garcia can see a future where Wolfram|Alpha fits in. “I think, in an ideal world, teachers, myself included, need to do a better job of incorporating technology…and finding ways of using it in productive ways,” she says.

Just as robotics has transformed manufacturing, tools like Wolfram|Alpha are forcing us to rethink an educational system by challenging it to rise to the new technological standard. Either we reshape our schools to embrace tools like Wolfram|Alpha, or we risk becoming living artifacts in a rapidly progressing world.

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Volvo’s parent company acquires flying car startup

Geely — the Chinese company who owns Volvo — has just acquired the startup behind the world’s most promising flying car. Known for the impressive vertical takeoff and landing vehicle called the "Transition", Terrafugia is the company that’s come the closest to making flying cars a reality. Now, thanks to Geely’s deep pockets, it looks like we could soon be seeing winged Volvos soaring over the freeway.

While there are other companies out there experimenting with the futuristic hybrid vehicle, Terrafugia is arguably the first to make a truly convincing prototype. Offering a far more sleek and polished vehicle than any of its competitors, Terrafugia’s Transition boasted a cruising range of 400 miles and a top speed of 100 MPH. As well as being fitted with a full-vehicle parachute to bring the car back onto roads, the Transition also uses advanced autonomous flight tech in order to stop its pilots from crashing.

More crucially for Geely though, the Transition is one of the few hybrid vehicles to be approved by the General Aviation Administration, allowing the transforming car to be certified as a Light Sport Aircraft. This means that Terrafugia can create a road and air-legal vehicle that weighs up to 1,800 pounds – making the startup a valuable purchase for the China-based company.

With AI that can read minds, increasingly convincing virtual reality and flying cars all within our reach, the science fiction of the 90s is starting to look a lot like reality.

Source: Clean Technica

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Digitize yourself with the Copypod 3D

Copying yourself digitally is not easy. Ideally, you want multiple photos taken from every angle at the same moment with all-around, soft illumination. A company called People’s Industrial Design Office in Beijing, China has created something called the Copypod 3D that can do all that for you in one neat package. It’s based on the "Hoberman sphere," a type of geodesic dome that can fold down to a much smaller size thanks to its scissor-like joints.

"Objects are surrounded by a spherical array of over one hundred fixed focal length DSLR cameras," the architectural and design firm explains. "With minimal adjustment, the 3D Copypod can contract to scan small objects and expand large enough to scan a group of people." Furthermore, the folding panels are lit from the inside "to ensure a shadowless photography environment."

The Copypod 3D allows users to construct digital models using the photo data, which can be used to make high resolution 3D prints, the company says. People’s Industrial didn’t specify what kind of software it used to stitch the photos and convert them to a model, but given the number of cameras, it should be able to produce very accurate and high-res results.

The Hoberman sphere is a pretty ingenious take on the geodesic dome. It’s built from six interlocking hoops (called "great circles") with numerous hinged scissor joints, and can be opened by spreading the joints apart, much like a folding chair. One model, at the AHHAA Center in Tartu, Estonia, is built from aluminum, weighs 750 pounds and can expand up to 19 feet via a motorized system (check out the video of it in action here.)

The People’s Industrial Design Office turned the concept into a nifty circular lightbox by attaching cameras to the interior and translucent panels on the outside. The stunning design resembles some kind of alien igloo on the exterior, with a fascinatingly complex skeleton on the inside. That allows the cameras to move apart uniformly if you have a larger mise en scene. "With the snap of a camera, even subjects in motion can be captured in high quality and full color," the team says.

Source: People’s Architecture

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You don’t need a headset to see these ‘holograms’

Genuine, Princess Leia-type color holograms are still pretty rare. Most of what we think of as holograms are actually Pepper’s Ghost, Tupac-style illusions that trick your brain by using 2D images to simulate 3D. To make that work even better, a French artist named Joanie Lemercier has taken that notion and added motion tracking. That way, the "no-logram" can change perspective as you move around it, fooling your brain into thinking the objects are truly 3D.

Lemercier says he’s been obsessed with mid-air projections since he first saw the original Star Wars, and was also inspired by Tom Cruise’s user interface in Minority Report. The tech works much like something we saw at Theoriz in Lyon, France, but that system is projected on walls and floors, and tracks a camera rather than the viewer.

Instead, Lemercier projects the image onto a transparent screen, and then tracks the individual viewer to make the image match his perspective, as shown in the video above. "I use common tracking technologies (depth sensor and image analysis) to allow interaction between the user/audience and the projections," Lemercier says on his website. Since he doesn’t want to mislead people about it, he calls the system a "no-logram" rather than a hologram.

As for the images themselves, his works "explore geometric patterns, repetitive shapes in nature and … the structure of the universe at various scales," he says. "The volumetric projects are a great medium to question the nature of reality, and how technology can modify our perception of the world we live in."

Lemercier is working on a new technique, projecting the images onto high-pressure gas and fine water particles, "to create true volumetric impressions." He aims to develop an interactive installation to show in festivals and build a "permanent installation in a public space."

Via: Prosthetic Knowledge

Source: Joanie Lemercier (Vimeo)

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The first self-driving grocery delivery van

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I stand on a curb in Greenwich, admiring some reasonably attractive new-build homes. Everything is a bit too clean, a little like Disneyland. Young professionals mill around. In the distance, I can hear the hum of the Thames Clipper river bus service that goes up and down the river. And then, out of frickin’ nowhere, a van stealthily crawls around a nearby corner. The vehicle is electric and completely silent, and it’s heading straight towards me. A bit like the Speed episode of Father Ted.

As the van gets closer I can see there’s someone in the front seat: a guy in a high-vis jacket. A couple of seconds later, I can see there’s a giant nerdy grin on his face and his hands aren’t on the steering wheel. The van slowly trundles forward and eventually stops in front of me. The man hops out of the cab, clearly enjoying the baffled look on my face.

“You ordered some groceries?”


“Okay, just push the button here, and the door will open.”

I push a button on the side of the van, one of eight doors pops open, and I lift out a box of groceries. In the box there’s the muesli, dried mango pieces, and a few other bits that I ordered via the Ocado website a few days ago. Then the milk float gangster squeezes himself back into the vehicle, taps the screen of an iPad attached to the dashboard, and rolls towards the next autonomous grocery delivery.

Ocado and Oxbotica

I had just experienced the UK’s (and possibly the world’s) first grocery delivery via autonomous van. The van, called the CargoPod, was developed by Oxbotica—an autonomous systems startup spun off from Oxford University with some useful patents. The trial was part of GATEway (the Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project. Earlier in 2017, Starship Technologies also chose the borough of Greenwich for a trial of its small autonomous delivery robots.

The big-hitter, though, is Ocado, the world’s largest online-only supermarket, which is using the GATEway trials to keep its finger in as many autonomous pies as possible. Ocado, like many big companies, knows that autonomous systems will disrupt its business—but the tech is moving so quickly that it’s almost impossible to know exactly how or when that disruption will occur, which is pretty scary if your business is based on producing or moving stuff around efficiently.

Ocado has already invested heavily in autonomous tech for its warehouses to increase efficiency and throughput. Electric autonomous last-mile delivery vehicles could be the next logical step, to replace or augment its thousands of diesel-powered delivery vans.


The computer inside the dashboard. Sadly a PR person took me aside afterwards and threatened bodily harm unless I pixelated this image.

Enlarge /

The computer inside the dashboard. Sadly a PR person took me aside afterwards and threatened bodily harm unless I pixelated this image.

Sebastian Anthony

The delivery van itself, the CargoPod, was very rapidly constructed from an off-the-shelf electric vehicle drivetrain and wheelbase. Oxbotica equipped the CargoPod with two lidar sensors above the wing mirrors, three cameras above the front bumper, three cameras at the back, and inside the dashboard there’s a fairly standard Intel Core i7 computer that integrates the sensor data and performs all of the self-driving stuff. The computer runs Ubuntu, and on top of that is Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomous driving software.

I wasn’t allowed to poke around too much, but Selenium appeared to be controlled by an iPad wired directly into the PC via USB. I think the iPad was functioning as the primary monitor for the computer, rather than running some kind of app. Whenever the van stopped to make a delivery, Selenium switched into manual mode, and wouldn’t return to autonomous mode until the delivery guy tapped a button on the screen.

Because the autonomous driving software isn’t perfect, the CargoPod has a steering wheel, pedals, and a big red emergency stop button. The guy in a high-vis jacket is actually a safety driver: it’s his job to grab the wheel or slam on the brakes if something goes wrong. He said there had been a couple of incidents where he had to intervene, mostly when obstacles moved in quickly from the side—for example, a pedestrian walking along the pavement parallel to the van who then decides to cross the street.


Drone-captured footage of the Ocado/Oxbotica CargoPod trial in Greenwich.

A screenshot of the Caesium (I guess Oxbotica likes elemental names?) admin interface for the CargoPod trial.

Enlarge /

A screenshot of the Caesium (I guess Oxbotica likes elemental names?) admin interface for the CargoPod trial.


During this GATEway trial, the CargoPod collects groceries from a temporary Ocado warehouse, and then follows a number of set routes around the new Royal Arsenal Riverside development in Woolwich. The autonomous van has a manifest that contains a list of the orders it’s carrying, and each order has an associated set of GPS coordinates. When the CargoPod route passes one of those locations, it stops.

I was allowed to sit in the CargoPod, but sadly couldn’t touch the iPad or sit in the van while it was actually moving.

Automation: One size doesn’t fit all

Autonomous last-mile deliveries will obviously be awesome for a large swathe of society. You’ll be able to order and receive items very quickly and cheaply; instead of next-hour delivery services like Amazon Prime Now being the expensive, luxury exception, they’ll be the norm. Restaurants and shops might retain the services of a few autonomous delivery bots that service the local area, rather than using third-party services like Deliveroo.

But for lots of people, autonomous deliveries may be more of a hindrance. What if you live on the second or third floor of a building and need some help carrying the groceries up the stairs? What if you sprain your arm between ordering online and the groceries being delivered? What if your eggs are broken or there’s a missing item?

None of these problems are insoluble—let’s have another robot that carries the bags to your kitchen!—but I can imagine it’ll be awfully tempting for big companies to roll out autonomous tech willy-nilly before it has been fully solved.

Now read our in-depth feature on how robotics and automation will change the world

This post originated on Ars Technica UK

Listing image by Sebastian Anthony

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