Techaways – The week best bits in 4 bites

The Future is Now

Source: Drone Racing League

Drone racing looks straight up like something out of a sci-fi movie or futuristic video game, and the Drone Racing League (DRL) is all over it, telling us The Future is Now. There have been drone racing events all over the world including at Mardi Gras, Las Vegas, Australia, and Dubai. The World Drone Prix in Dubai offered a prize pot of a cool $1,000,000, with the winning team taking home a whopping $250,000. Not bad for flying your little robot around a fancy obstacle course.

The thing is, drone racing is so much more than buzzing drones and remote controls. The action is fast (reaching speeds of up to 100mph), with neon lights marking out the courses, and races taking place across all three dimensions. The race that took place at the Miami Dolphins’ Stadium saw racers flying not just in the stands and around the field but up over the roof and through the stadium’s many tunnels. The sky literally is the limit for Drone Racing and to top it off, all of the incredible action can be viewed from the first person perspective of the drones themselves, which is exactly how the pilots see the action. Oh yeah, Drone racing also has crashes! Lots and lots of crashes!

 Medieval Wi-Fi

Source: Courtesy of WiSpire

From the Future is Now to the Future is Yesterday. The UK has been faced with a very British problem for a while now. Brits living in rural areas and small villages have been living with little, or sometimes even zero, broadband connection to the internet. In an advanced economy, this is nothing short of a scandal and the powers that be have finally come up with a solution to the problem. A very British solution.

The British government has struck up a deal with the Church of England that’ll see rural churches being hooked up using fiber optic cables and then fitted with wireless transmitters, cell towers, aerials, and satellite dishes. With over 10,000 rural Anglican churches in England, the scheme has the potential to connect up to a million homes that currently have no access to fast broadband.

If this story wasn’t British enough, the Church of England is being advised to work with organizations like Historic England, and The Bat Conservation Trust to ensure that the laying of the fiber optic cables doesn’t affect the surroundings of all the churches. Other considerations being taken into account include the wellbeing of nested Swifts and the root systems of trees around the churches. One thing not taken into account, however, is whether God will take this opportunity to spam internet users with pop-up ads for an eternity in paradise.

“Human Uber”

Source:  Peter Marquez / VICE

You might need a pop-up ad from God to convince that there still is a god after reading this. A Japanese researcher has developed a new piece of tech called the ChameleonMask, which is, “a mask-shaped display that shows a remote user’s live face, and a voice channel transmits a remote user’s voice.” The ChameleonMask allows you to have somebody else do whatever it is you can’t be bothered doing yourself, and the service is already being called the “Human Uber.” Is this the end of genuine human companionship as we know it?

No needle, no problem

Source: The Verge

Lead: You’ll soon be able to scratch that DJing itch without an expensive or temperamental needle.

DJing was once derided by fans who couldn’t see the attraction in people playing other people’s music. But since the dawn of disco and through the ascendancy of Hip-Hop, House, Techno, and whatever the latest and greatest forward thinking minimal music genre will be, DJs have become the kings and queens of the party. Everybody wants to be a DJ.

Being a DJ used to mean carting round boxes of records with you everywhere. Then things went digital, which meant a USB pen and a pair of headphones was enough unless you wanted to scratch that is, which requires the record player needle to feel the musical grooves of the record and be dragged back and forth across them. There was a technical solution for that, however, with timecode vinyl allowing the needles to pick up how long a record had been playing and then transmit the data to a laptop that would blast out the music at the corresponding moment.

Needles can be expensive and temperamental, raising problems for DJs. Problems that a brand new device aims to solve. The Phase, which will cost around $300, is a pair of sensors that are placed on the turntables. The sensors send information about their movements to a receiver that then works similarly to the software playing timecode vinyl. With early demos showing no lag and impressive responses, even to complicated movements, The Phase could be about to make scratch DJing cheaper, and easier while also addressing some key industry issues for pro DJs.

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