The Conversation

Explainer: how malware gets inside your apps

Malicious software on popular mobile platforms such as iOS and Android is at best a nuisance and at worst a security threat to individuals and businesses. Known as malware, some perpetrators use it to infect apps and get inside your smartphone. Why do they do it? Money, mostly. The recent Judy malware, for example, was reportedly found in 41 apps in the Google Play store. It seems to have made mon...[Read More]

Elon Musk releases details of plan to colonise Mars – here’s what a planetary expert thinks

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, has released new details of his vision to colonise parts of the solar system, including Mars, Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus. His gung ho plans – designed to make humans a multi-planetary species in case civilisation collapses – include launching flights to Mars as early as 2023. The details, just published in the journal New Space, ar...[Read More]

Five ways virtual reality is improving healthcare

Virtual reality is much more than just a new form of entertainment, it is increasingly being used in a wide range of medical applications, from treatments to training. Here are a few of them. 1. Pain management There is good scientific evidence that virtual reality (VR) can help relieve pain. The parts of the brain that are linked to pain – the somatosensory cortex and the insula – are less active...[Read More]

Social media is nothing like drugs, despite all the horror stories

Letting your child use social media is like giving them cocaine, alcohol and cigarettes – all at once, or so we’re told. If you have been following recent press reports about the effects of social media on young people, you may well believe this. But there is no scientific evidence to support such extreme claims. The real story is far more complex. It is very difficult to predict how social media ...[Read More]

How close are we to a real Star Trek-style medical tricorder?

Does science inspire fiction or does it work the other way around? In the case of medical technology, the long-running TV and film series Star Trek has increasingly been inspiring researchers worldwide. Two teams were recently awarded the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize for developing handheld devices that can diagnose a range of diseases and check a patient’s vital signs without invasive tests – inspi...[Read More]

Helping or hacking? Engineers and ethicists must work together on brain-computer interface technology

In the 1995 film “Batman Forever,” the Riddler used 3-D television to secretly access viewers’ most personal thoughts in his hunt for Batman’s true identity. By 2011, the metrics company Nielsen had acquired Neurofocus and had created a “consumer neuroscience” division that uses integrated conscious and unconscious data to track customer decision-making habits. What was once a nefarious scheme in ...[Read More]

In the future your ambulance could be driverless

The revolution in driverless vehicles will make many jobs obsolete. In the US alone, it is estimated that driverless vehicles will wipe out 4.1m jobs. Truck drivers, delivery drivers, taxi drivers and Uber drivers will be out of work, and sooner than you might think. But automation can be a force for good, doing jobs more cheaply, safely and efficiently. In fact, there’s one service that’s crying ...[Read More]

Indoor GPS’ could stop you getting lost – or going hungry – ever again

Gatwick Airport is hoping you’ll never get lost on the way to catch a flight again. The London airport has recently installed a wayfinding system that works like a kind of indoor GPS to direct customers around the building using their smartphones. We could soon see this “blue dot” technology being used in more and more large commercial buildings, such as shopping malls and conference centres, to h...[Read More]

A day in the life of a smart-city commuter – and why it’s not so far from reality

The alarm on your smart phone went off 10 minutes earlier than usual this morning. Parts of the city are closed off in preparation for a popular end of summer event, so congestion is expected to be worse than usual. You’ll need to catch an earlier bus to make it to work on time. The alarm time is tailored to your morning routine, which is monitored every day by your smart watch. It takes into acco...[Read More]

7 in 10 smartphone apps share your data with third-party services

Our mobile phones can reveal a lot about ourselves: where we live and work; who our family, friends and acquaintances are; how (and even what) we communicate with them; and our personal habits. With all the information stored on them, it isn’t surprising that mobile device users take steps to protect their privacy, like using PINs or passcodes to unlock their phones. The research that we and our c...[Read More]

To smiley face or not: the complexity of email etiquette

The Conversation, CC BY-SA Emails are ubiquitous in a modern, globalised workforce. However, a well-crafted email can make the sender appear approachable and competent, while a poorly constructed one is less persuasive, and leaves recipients less willing to comply with the request. Alongside making requests and providing information, emails help us build rapport in the workplace and long-term busi...[Read More]

Making flexible electronics with nanowire networks

A smartphone touchscreen is an impressive piece of technology. It displays information and responds to a user’s touch. But as many people know, it’s easy to break key elements of the transparent, electrically conductive layers that make up even the sturdiest rigid touchscreen. If flexible smartphones, e-paper and a new generation of smart watches are to succeed, they can’t use existing touchscreen...[Read More]

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