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Miss Your Office? Some Companies Are Building Virtual Replicas

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

File-transfer service WeTransfer BV opened its virtual space on May 1, almost seven weeks after closing its physical offices in New York, Los Angeles and Amsterdam as part of the global effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Graphics reminiscent of early "Tomb Raider" videogames depict a version of the company's Dutch headquarters, adapted to include pool tables, techno music and in-jokes such as a "memorial" library named for the very- much-alive chief creative officer. Staff roam around in the form of avatars such as robots and panda bears. Gordon Willoughby, the chief executive of WeTransfer, said the platform helps provide the social experience of office life in the way that Zoom calls and Slack have replaced business meetings and desk-side chats. That is particularly valuable for recent hires, he said.


Tech Workers Fear Their Jobs Will Be Automated in Wake of Coronavirus

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

The results are based on a survey of 1,000 full-time and part-time workers across a range of industries, including 223 employed in the tech sector, the firm said. The survey was conducted in April. Technology workers' fears could be a harbinger for the broader labor market in the aftermath of the pandemic, as tech company trends often spread across the corporate world over time, said KPMG tech-industry practice leader Tim Zanni. "Workers in the tech industry are closer to the technology and thus have a unique understanding, more so than other industries, of technology and its capabilities," said Mr. Zanni. He said workers at technology firms see emerging digital capabilities in early stages of development and are more likely to be thinking of the impact of these tools on their jobs.



CMU Joins Roborace Autonomous Racing Championship

CMU School of Computer Science

A student team from Carnegie Mellon University is joining the upcoming season of Roborace, an international competition involving autonomous, electrically powered vehicles. CMU's Roborace team includes students and alumni from the Language Technologies Institute (LTI) and Robotics Institute, as well as the Information Networking Institute. It will be the first U.S. team to join Roborace and anticipates competing in a Roborace event later this year. "Having the opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects such as this is what attracted me to Carnegie Mellon," said Jimmy Herman, an ex-NFL athlete now enrolled in the LTI's Master of Computational Data Science (MCDS) program. "We are pushing to innovate and create technology with impact potential beyond the racing domain," he added.


South Korean cafe hires robot barista to help with social distancing

Daily Mail - Science & tech

South Korea s top infectious disease expert says the country may need to reimpose social distancing restrictions it eased in April, with coronavirus transmissions creeping up in the populated Seoul metropolitan area and elsewhere in recent weeks. Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of South Korea s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a virus briefing on Wednesday, May 27, it s becoming increasingly difficult for health workers to track the spread of COVID-19, which has coincided with increased public activity amid warmer weather and eased attitudes on social distancing. South Korea reported 40 new cases on Wednesday, its biggest daily jump in nearly 50 days, as officials scrambled to trace hundreds of infections linked to nightspots, restaurants and a massive e-commerce warehouse near Seoul. 'We will do our best to trace contacts and implement preventive measures, but there s a limit to such efforts,' Jeong said. 'There s a need to maximise social distancing in areas where the virus is circulating, to force people to avoid public facilities and other crowded spaces.'


Deakin Uni's timely cloud prep helps 62,000 students move online during COVID-19

ZDNet

When March 1 hit and social distancing was imposed, Deakin University, like many organisations, were forced to rethink how it would help its 10,500 staff and 62,000 students, including some located overseas, work and learn online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, for the Melbourne-based university, offering online learning to students was not completely alien. Deakin University has been offering online learning through what it dubs CloudDeakin, a cloud-hosted learning management system, since 1993. Deakin University chief digital officer Craig Warren told ZDNet that while its cloud campus looks a lot different compared to how it was when it first launched, CloudDeakin is considered as the university's fifth campus, alongside its four physical campuses, where some 27,000 students from 73 different countries are enrolled to study exclusively online. "Our virtual environment has always been dear and most important to us … and has been our fastest growing campus, experiencing 7% year on year growth over the last five years," he said.


Lorex WiFi Video Doorbell review: Onboard storage is the lone bright spot on this budget-priced front-door guardian

PCWorld

Lorex is an old hand at building security cameras, and now it's moving into the smart home market, with its 1080p Wi-Fi Video Doorbell (model number LNWDB1) being the first product to reach the market. With a $130 asking price, this device is clearly aimed at the budget end of the spectrum. It doesn't have much in the way of bells and whistles, but it does have onboard storage that eliminates the need for a subscription to store video clips in the cloud, and it performed reliably enough during my review. But this is a crowded market, and you'll encounter several competitors that deliver more, including at least one that operates on battery power (Lorex's device relies on low-voltage wiring). Lorex anticipates you'll be replacing an existing wired doorbell that's mounted on a flat wall (there are no wedge options for installation on slanted surfaces or to otherwise change the camera's viewing angle), and I found the installation process to be straightforward and as expected.


Apple can solve our Face ID mask woes by stealing one of Android's best features

PCWorld

If you own an iPhone X or later and have gone out into the world recently, you probably noticed an unfortunate side effect of the new mask-wearing culture: Face ID doesn't work. It is more of a feature than a bug, but the fact of the matter is that if Apple's True Depth camera system can't scan your whole face, it won't unlock your phone. If you're wearing a mask like most stores and restaurants require, you're left typing in your passcode whenever you want to check your shopping list or pay your bill. Apple offered up a workaround with the recent iOS 13.5 update, but it's hardly a fix. Now, instead of waiting for Face ID to fail a couple times before the passcode screen pops up, you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen to quickly enter your code.


South Korean cafe uses robotic baristas to comply with social distancing

Engadget

With its COVID-19 outbreak seemingly contained, South Korea may offer the rest of the world a glimpse of what society could look like after the pandemic ends -- and it may include robotic baristas. According to Reuters, a cafe in Daejeon, South Korea, is now using robots to prepare drinks and deliver them to customers. Proponents say the robots could encourage "distancing in daily life." The barista system consists of a robotic arm that prepares 60 different beverages and wheeled bots that deliver the drinks to customers. The system can communicate with other devices, contains self-driving tech to determine the best route around people and tables and communicates with customers via voice controls.


Google adds 1440p streaming resolution for Stadia on Chrome

Engadget

Google has rolled out a 1440p streaming resolution for Stadia on Chrome so players with high-res monitors can display sub-4K images better than 1080p. They'll still have to meet all the requirements needed to play in 4K to enjoy the new feature, though, including a Stadia Pro subscription, a network speed of at least 35Mbps, a 4K TV with Chromecast Ultra or a Windows PC/Chromebook with VP9 hardware decoding and a 4K monitor. The tech giant has announced the new resolution in a post on the Stadia Community Blog, along with the service's latest and upcoming games. Jotun: Valhalla Edition, an action-exploration game based on Norse mythology, and Sundered: Eldritch Edition, a hand-drawn platformer, are now available for purchase on the Stadia store for $15 and $20, respectively. The Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath story expansion that gives you access to three new fighters -- Sheeva, Fujin and Robocop -- is now also available on Stadia for $40.