Navigating New Tech For Pet Care, Wildfire Containment, and Much More
Emerging Tech Roundup — August 18
The Quantious team’s top picks for timely trending news in the tech world.
This week in tech: California Turns to AI to Help Spot Wildfires, The Space Industry Starts a Green Revolution, Mixlab Adds to Veterinary Pharmacy Footprint Following $10M Series A Extension, Microsoft to Share New Office Default Theme and Font, Opera’s AI Browser Assistant Launches on iOS App, Scientists Recreate an Iconic Pink Floyd Song by Scanning Listeners’ Brains, and Google Reportedly Builds A.I. That Offers Life Advice.
California Turns to AI to Help Spot Wildfires
(Reuters, August 11)
Cal Fire, in collaboration with the University of California San Diego, has introduced the Alert California AI initiative, utilizing AI and cameras to identify wildfires. Since its launch in July, the program has successfully detected an early-stage wildfire, rapidly contained within 45 minutes in Cleveland National Forest near San Diego. By employing AI to identify anomalies in over 1,000 rotating cameras, the system automatically alerts emergency services, potentially setting a precedent for other regions grappling with escalating wildfires due to climate change.
The Space Industry is Starting a Green Revolution
(Tech Crunch, August 13)
Researchers delved into the potential consequences of rocket launch pollution, merging launch data with computer simulations. The study highlighted the use of standard rocket fuel RP-1, a refined form of kerosene that emits CO2 and black carbon into the atmosphere. Despite the global space industry showing early signs of a green revolution aimed at mitigating these impacts, the study emphasizes the need for the space launch industry to further address environmental concerns.
Mixlab Adds to Veterinary Pharmacy Footprint Following $10M Series A Extension
(Tech Crunch, August 14)
Mixlab, a company specializing in pharmacy solutions for pets, has secured an additional $10 million in funding to address the growing demand for technology-infused pet care. Vanterra Ventures led the investment round, and Mixlab’s total funding now amounts to $40 million. The company’s technology facilitates digital prescription management for veterinarians, offers proactive communication to pet owners about prescription statuses, and provides free next-day delivery across all 50 states in the US, catering to the expanding global pet care industry projected to reach $368 billion by 2030.
Microsoft’s New Office Default Theme and Font Arrives in September
(The Verge, August 14)
Microsoft is introducing a new default theme next month for Microsoft 365, featuring the fresh Aptos font, updated color palette, styles, and line weights. Aptos will replace Calibri after 15 years as the default font for Office applications like Word and Outlook. Notably, the color palette is being revamped for better contrast in Office documents, while default styles are also being revamped for improved readability, professionalism, and navigation.
Opera’s AI Browser Assistant is Now Available in Its iOS App
(Engadget, August 16)
Opera has brought its Aria AI assistant to iOS after successfully launching on desktop platforms in collaboration with OpenAI. Aria, which has garnered over a million users on desktop and Android, is designed to provide context-aware responses to questions and information related to active web pages. Leveraging OpenAI’s GPT API and Opera’s Composer architecture, Aria offers features like text or code generation and product inquiries, and users can opt-in for its services through their Opera accounts on both desktop and mobile platforms.
Scientists Recreate an Iconic Pink Floyd Song by Scanning Listeners’ Brains
(Engadget, August 16)
Researchers have achieved a remarkable feat by using brain activity alone to recreate Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1.” Through a technique called stimulus reconstruction, individuals with pharmacoresistant epilepsy, who had implanted electrodes, listened to the song while their brain activity was recorded across various auditory regions. Using AI analysis, the scientists managed to replicate the song’s lyrics and sounds, although the initial output was slightly muffled, indicating a promising avenue for future improvements in sound quality.
Google Reportedly Building A.I. That Offers Life Advice
(CNBC, August 16)
Google’s AI unit, DeepMind, is utilizing generative AI to create 21 distinct tools for life advice, planning, and tutoring, with more than 100 Ph.D.-level experts working on the project. The tools are being developed to offer practical advice on various topics. Google has partnered with Scale AI to test the tools, which are not intended for therapeutic purposes, reflecting the ongoing debate surrounding the responsible introduction of AI tools for advice and augmentation.