The Guardian


From braille to Be My Eyes – there's a revolution happening in tech for the blind

The Guardian

I am using an app called Be My Eyes, an app that connects blind and visually impaired people to sighted volunteers via a remote video connection. In the mid-1970s Ray Kurzweil, a pioneer in optical character recognition (OCR) – software that can recognise printed text – founded Kurzweil Computer Products and programmed omni-font, the first OCR program with the ability to recognise any kind of print style. All the time, companies are finding new ways to improve accessibility and Be My Eyes isn't the only assistive technology company taking advantage of the real time human element, building technology that is based on the creation of dialogue with its users. Earlier this year, Aira helped Erich Manser, who has retinitis pigmentosa, run the Boston marathon.


Chatterbox: Monday

The Guardian

Monday 26 June 2017 02.00 EDT Last modified on Monday 26 June 2017 02.02 EDT


Inspector gadget: how smart devices are outsmarting criminals

The Guardian

Richard Dabate told police a masked intruder assaulted him and killed his wife in their Connecticut home. Detectives suspected foul play and obtained data from Bates's Amazon Echo device. Smart cars, fridges, doorbells, watches, phones, Fitbits, sneakers, televisions, gaming consoles, coffee makers, Pacemakers – a fast proliferating list – all can monitor, record and be used as evidence. "I think everyone realises – good guys, bad guys, cops, robbers – that everything is being videotaped or tracked somehow," Andy Kleinick, the head of the Los Angeles police department's cyber crimes section, and a supervisor for the secret service's LA electronic crimes task force, said in an interview.


Amazon Fire 7 tablet review: still a lot of tablet for just £50

The Guardian

It looks quite different to the traditional Android experience from Google, lacks Google apps and only has access to the Amazon App Store, not the Google Play Store. Navigating it is easy with clearly marked panes filled with either apps, games, books, video, music, magazines, audio books etc. The jewel in the crown for Fire OS 5.4 is Alexa – Amazon's voice-enabled smart digital assistant. It's the same Alexa that's found in the company's Fire TV and Echo smart speaker devices, and has access to the same information.


Chatterbox: Wednesday

The Guardian

Wednesday 21 June 2017 03.14 EDT Last modified on Wednesday 21 June 2017 03.16 EDT


Chatterbox: Monday

The Guardian

Monday 19 June 2017 02.48 EDT Last modified on Monday 19 June 2017 02.51 EDT


Uber's scandals, blunders and PR disasters: the full list

The Guardian

Uber has been rocked by a steady stream of scandals and negative publicity in recent years, including revelations of questionable spy programs, a high-stakes technology lawsuit, claims of sexual harassment and discrimination and embarrassing leaks about executive conduct. The PR disasters culminated in CEO Travis Kalanick taking an indefinite leave of absence this week and promises of bold reform that largely ignored the ride-hailing company's strained relationship with drivers. The New York Times reported that Uber for years used a tool called Greyball to systematically deceive law enforcement in cities where the company violated local laws. Uber revealed that it had fired more than 20 employees following an investigation into the sexual harassment claims and workplace culture.


Homeless, assaulted, broke: drivers left behind as Uber promises change at the top

The Guardian

The answer: Travis Kalanick, Uber's 40-year-old co-founder and chief executive, was taking a leave of absence from the taxi-hailing app he has transformed into a global behemoth valued at almost $70bn. A week before the incident, Patterson had signed a lease through Uber's vehicle loan program, known as Xchange. Unable to keep up with her bills, she ended up living out of her leased Uber vehicle for about a month until, running of options, she moved back home to Chicago, where she fell further into debt before her car was repossessed. Though the lawsuit and departure of Levandowski could hamper Uber's development of its own technology, the company has continued testing autonomous cars with pilot projects in Pittsburgh, Arizona and San Francisco, where Uber's self-driving vehicles were caught driving through red lights and initially banned by regulators.


Chatterbox: Friday

The Guardian

Friday 16 June 2017 04.19 EDT Last modified on Friday 16 June 2017 04.21 EDT


Detroit: Become Human – what happens if the androids hate us?

The Guardian

The idea for the game span out from a tech demo named Kara, produced by Quantic Dream in 2012. For E3 2017, Quantic Dream revealed a new sequence from the game in which another android character named Marcus has joined a group of rogue robots who have formed a refuge known as Jericho. In a similar style to the company's psychological thriller Heavy Rain, players have direct control over Marcus's movement, but interactions with objects are all handled through quick-time events, in which buttons must be hit in specific orders to get the right outcome. The irony of human players taking control of android characters who are rebelling against human masters will not have been lost on Cage.