TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 13

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Why do we need human pilots again?

By John Markoff in the New York Times

2. We thought education would unlock the potential of Arab women. We were half right.

By Maysa Jalbout at the Brookings Institution

3. Peru found a 1,000 year-old solution to its water crisis.

By Fred Pearce in New Scientist

4. Why Saudi Arabia might need to break the country in two to “win” its war in Yemen.

By Peter Salisbury in Vice

5. Startup accelerators are great…we think.

By Randall Kempner and Peter Roberts in the Wall Street Journal

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 10

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. China is literally building islands from almost nothing to tighten control over the South China Sea.

By Sui-Lee Wee and Ben Blanchard at Reuters

2. With drones and a recycled fishing trawler, one group is rescuing migrants making the world’s deadliest border crossing.

By Brad Wieners in Bloomberg Business

3. How can India can fix its trade imbalance? Convince Hindu temples to deposit their billion-dollar gold hoards in banks.

By Meenakshi Sharma and Krishna N. Das in Voice of America

4. Bangkok’s insane malls consume as much power as entire Thai provinces.

By Adam Pasick in Quartz

5. Biometrics — fingerprints and retina scans — have changed spycraft, and now even the bad guys are using it.

By Kate Brannen in Foreign Policy

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Amazon Gets Permission to Test Its Delivery Drones

Amazone Drone Delivery
Amazon/AP Amazon's 'Prime Air' unmanned aircraft project prototype.

The FAA allowed the company to test a newer prototype

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has once again granted Amazon permission to test drones for commercial use, this time expediting the request.

The company had previously received the go-ahead in March, but it argued since six months had passed since that request, the prototype in question had gone out date. They submitted a new request with an updated prototype, which was approved in less than a month, Reuters reports.

The FAA says Amazon can test drones for delivery as long as it limits altitude to 400 feet and speed to 100 miles per hour. Eventually, the web retailer hopes to use commercial drones to deliver packages to customers at a distance of 10 miles or more.

[Reuters]

TIME Companies

This Company’s Stock Goes Up With Demand for Police Transparency

The share price of body camera maker TASER International has ticked up since last summer

The series of controversial incidents of police brutality that have rocked the U.S. in recent months has ignited a movement for increased transparency among law enforcement officers — and the evidence can be seen in the market performance of one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of police body cameras.

The public, activists and some lawmakers have clamored for greater police accountability in the wake of a string of deaths linked to law enforcement brutality, including the death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner in July while being held in an illegal ‘chokehold’ by an NYPD officer, the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson in August, and Saturday’s shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina by a white cop during a traffic stop.

In response, many local police authorities have begun testing or using police body cameras which record their interactions with the public. And while detailed statistics on the adoption of such equipment are thin on the ground, activity on Wall Street suggests increased demand.

Though best known for its stun guns, TASER International has become the market leader among police body camera makers. Its stock price has ticked upward as it sealed agreements with high-profile police departments in Los Angeles and New York City, and analysts took note. Oppenheimer analyst Andrew Uerkwitz stated in a December research report that he believes TASER has an “opportunity for long-term growth.” Uerkwitz summarized his analysis of the Arizona-based company by stating it has a “shockingly strong story.” The chart below shows the company’s performance over the past year:

The company’s stock leapt again on Thursday on the back of a deal to provide body cameras and digital storage for the City of London police department, and it is now nearing a 52-week high. A smaller rival, Digital Ally, has also seen its share price soar over the past few days.

TASER CEO and co-founder Rick Smith says incidents like the one in South Carolina have shown the need for better availability of equipment and more transparency. “The [shooting of Walter Scott] to me feels even more impactful because we know more about it. And frankly, it’s hard to watch that video and not feel sick,” he tells TIME. “A year ago a number of agencies were questioning whether officer-worn cameras were a good idea. That is completely flipped.”

Though TASER’s overall performance may reflect a growing appetite for police body cameras, the market hasn’t yet reached anything like its full potential. President Barack Obama requested last December $263 million for a three-year investment package to increase body cameras nationwide. Meanwhile, other police departments, like the NYPD, have recently launched body camera pilot programs as they begin introducing the technology.

“Current surveys suggest a quarter of police departments are using to some extent body cameras,” ACLU senior policy analyst Jay Stanley tells TIME. “There are 17,000 police departments roughly in the U.S. I’d expect that over the next three to five years, we’ll see the number of departments using them really skyrocket, up to 70 or 80 percent.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 9

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. The truth is, California doesn’t have a water problem. We all do.

By Steven Johnson in Matter

2. Uber isn’t selling rides. It’s selling data.

By Ron Hirson in Forbes

3. A blind scientist wants to reinvent how the vision-impaired ‘watch’ movies.

By Chris Colin in California Sunday

4. Cute little details may make an app “delightful,” but they’re crowding out thoughtful design.

By John Pavlus in Co.Design

5. These giant robot traffic signals/red-light cameras are actually making the streets of Kinshasa safer.

By Mark Hay in Good

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Skype Can Now Live-Translate Even More Languages

Skype Translator
Microsoft

The Skype team takes two more whacks at the Tower of Babel

The latest release of Skype Translator, Microsoft’s live-translation service, can now translate spoken conversations in Mandarin and Italian. The update doubles the program’s spoken languages since December, when the service first launched with service in English and Spanish.

Mandarin, in particular, posed a knotty challenge for the team. “With approximately 10,000 characters and multiple tones, this is one of the most difficult languages for a native English speaker to master,” wrote Microsoft’s Yasmin Khan in an announcement of the update.

English speakers who want to bypass Mandarin and Italian lessons can download a preview version of Skype Translator for free.

The program itself is still in training mode, but breakthroughs in machine learning have dramatically improved its conversation skills in recent years. It’s a learning curve Microsoft’s professional translators have witnessed first hand.

“There were things not translated,” said one translator in an early demonstration of the program for TIME, “but now he’s a teenager and knows a lot of words.”

Read More: Microsoft Is Getting Close to Perfecting a Universal Communicator

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 8

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Mountaintop removal coal mining has made the air and water in Appalachia carcinogenic.

By Jeff Biggers in Al Jazeera America

2. Police officers are far more likely to commit intimate partner violence.

By Leigh Goodmark in Fusion

3. Why the “Internet of Things” might mean the end of privacy.

By Danny Bradbury in the Guardian

4. Don’t worry. If we wipe out all of the planet’s crops, we have a backup plan.

By Chris Mooney in the Washington Post

5. Here’s how a slum in Ghana’s capital is preparing young women for careers.

By Thomas Page at CNN Voices

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Gadgets

Amazon Just Gave You One More Reason to Stay in Bed

Amazon's Echo smart speaker can now control your lights

Ever been too lazy to get out of bed and switch off your lights? Amazon’s Echo smart speaker might be for you.

Amazon announced Wednesday you can now use the Siri-like speaker to control the lights and switches in your house.

“You can now use Echo to switch on the lamp before getting out of bed, turn on the fan or heater while reading in your favorite chair, or dim the lights from the couch to watch a movie — all without lifting a finger… or even raising your voice,” reads Amazon’s release.

Echo can be linked up to your lights and switches through smart home products by two supported brands: WeMo and Hue. Supported devices include WeMo’s Switch, Insight Switch and Light Switch, and Hue’s A19, Lux, BR30, Bloom and LightStrip, according to Amazon.

Echo, which was released last November to invite-only customers, can already answer commands and questions like “play music by Bruno Mars” or “will it rain?” thanks to a Wi-Fi connection. The new light switch control is just one of many new features Amazon has added to the device since its release: It has also learned how to use Pandora, list sports scores and report on traffic conditions.

Read next: Amazon Just Unveiled the Future of Shopping and It’s Awesome

TIME career

These Uncommon Habits Will Help You Work Smarter

man-cloud-head
Getty Images

Make time for mania

Answer by Nicolas Cole on Quora.

I’m going to list a few of my uncommon work habits:

1. Prep Before Bed

I know that whatever I focus on right before I go to sleep, I’m going to be thinking about as soon as I wake up—usually.

To make the most of my morning, I make sure to prep myself the night before. As soon as I wake up, I know where I’m going to start, I know what project I’m diving into, I know which problem I’m going to be tackling first. If you can set these firmly in your mind before you go to bed, you’ll wake up with far more energy and drive to tackle them—because they’ve been marinating in your subconscious.

2. The Coffee Game

Whenever I have to get a lot done, and I mean a LOT, I reward myself with coffee. Coffee coffee coffee. But only if I can move with the momentum.

For example, I might start with a small cup right as I’m sitting down to work, but I will only allow myself refills as long as I feel I am making steady progress. By gamifying my love for coffee, I’m motivating myself to work harder and more efficiently in a desire to drink more coffee. And of course, the more coffee I drink, the more focused I become. More focus, more productivity.

This might be less of a work habit and more of an addiction but it works well for me.

3. Make Time For Mania

You aren’t going to be able to do multiple big projects back to back to back. You’re just not. It’s one thing to demand 7 hours of focus on the same project, but the difficulty usually arises when you have to go in and out of different problems, different projects, different clients, etc.

Make time between each project to clear your head—in my case, I thoroughly enjoy running around my apartment debating (sometimes with myself) the ramifications for having pancakes for dinner for the third night in a row. I often times get my roommates involved, encouraging them to debate me on the topic (as loudly as possible). Maybe we decide to make fruit smoothies. Maybe it’s snowing outside and snowballs must be thrown at the window. I don’t know. Just go do something random and pointless and fun and I promise you when you sit back down at your desk you’ll feel like you gave yourself a nice break and it’s time to get back to work.

4. Tell Yourself You Have Way More Time Than You Actually Do

There have been many times when I’ve been so busy I didn’t have a free hour to call my own, and I felt like I was on vacation. And there have been times when I haven’t really been all that busy and I’ve felt like I was being enlisted in the coal mines and I wouldn’t see my family for the next 20 years.

It’s all state of mind.

The more you tell yourself “I’m so busy, I don’t have any time,” the more you trap yourself in that mindset. Conversely, the more you tell yourself “Sure, I can make time for that,” the more time you actually have. And if you feel like you have no time, you get stressed and your work suffers and/or takes longer.

Trust me, you always have more time than you think you have. The hard part is remembering that.

5. Work Smarter By Hiring Smarter

I feel like this is the most obvious one, but one that is often forgotten. If you want to get something done faster or better, then ENLIST THE HELP OF SOMEONE BETTER THAN YOU.

If it takes you 3 hours to do X, and you value your time at $Y, then find someone who can do X in less than 3 hours at a $Y rate below yours.

The single best way to work smarter instead of harder is to value your time and delegate/outsource anything and everything that you don’t absolutely have to do yourself, that can be done by someone else—especially someone better at it than you.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What are some uncommon ways to work smarter instead of harder?

More from Quora:

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Rwanda

Inside the Tech Revolution That Could Be Rwanda’s Future

Rwanda hopes a technological revolution will help transform it into a middle-income country

Correction appended: April 10, 2015.

Twenty-one years ago Tuesday, a genocide began in Rwanda that would claim as many as 1 million lives over the next 100 days. Today, the small East African nation has progressed remarkably from a history plagued with corruption, ethnic divisions and underdevelopment.

Under President Paul Kagame, who some credit for helping end the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has taken a number of steps to turn itself around. Provincial boundaries were redrawn, infrastructure was strengthened, a transitional justice system convicted the worst Génocidaires — even a new flag was unveiled to promote national unity and reconciliation. While some accuse Kagame of using his country’s history as a means of controlling its modern politics, there’s no doubting his country’s economic success.

But as Rwanda heals its past, the nation is also forging ahead — aggressively. A government initiative is underway to expand technology and connectivity, with the goal of transforming the agrarian economy into a highly digitized, middle-income country by 2020. With its population projected to reach 16 million by 2020, from 8 million in 2000, the country is looking beyond state funds and international aid to develop its economy: “While both of these must contribute, the backbone of the process should be a middle class of Rwandan entrepreneurs,” according the plan, called Vision 2020.

Vision 2020 is bold, but it’s working. And many outside Africa — and inside — are marveling at how an economy long-dominated by subsistence farming is becoming a high-tech hub — and one of the 20 fastest-growing countries in the world.

The Rwandan five hundred francs bill features students on laptops, representing the one laptop a child movement.
Cassandra GiraldoThe Rwandan five hundred francs bill features students on laptops, representing the one laptop a child movement.

“It’s apparent if you walk around [the capital city, Kigali]. They have currency with kids on their laptops. Everyone has a cell phone, and these cell phone companies have their advertisements painted all over the country, even if you drive into the rural parks,” says New York-based photographer Cassandra Giraldo, who took the images in this story during her February trip to Rwanda under the International Women’s Media Foundation’s African Great Lakes Reporting Fellowship. “It’s a very different narrative that we don’t see coming out of East Africa or Africa as a continent.”

The rapid adoption of mobile technology in particular has been vital in paving the way for a new generation of Rwandan entrepreneurs. In the early 2000s, Rwanda’s government kicked off Vision 2020 by linking the country to an international network of undersea cables and global wireless networks. The use of mobile phones has skyrocketed in Rwanda since then, so much that Nsengimana even launched the country’s first high-speed 4G LTE network last November:

One such entrepreneur working to drive Rwandan progress is social entrepreneur Aphrodice Mutagana. Mutagana, 30, is the founder of FOYO, a mobile pharmaceutical directory that provides education to Africans relating to medicine, including dosage information, drug-food interactions and side effects. Mutagana’s interest in healthcare has also led him to launch the Incike Initiative, a mobile crowdfunding app that raises funds for elderly survivors of the genocide, some of whom are the only remaining members of their families.

Last year, Mutagana raised 1.7 million Rwandan francs ($2,500), an amount he hopes to top in this year’s campaign, which launched this week and is timed to coincide with the national commemoration of the genocide from April to July. “We decided to dream big,” Mutagana says. “Technology is affecting everything, and now you can contribute in ways you didn’t have 20 years ago.”

Aphrodice Mutangana, 30, working at the kLab co-working space in Kigali.
Cassandra GiraldoAphrodice Mutangana, 30, working at the kLab co-working space in Kigali.

Like many Rwandan entrepreneurs, Mutagana frequently works at kLab, an open space for IT entrepreneurs to collaborate. kLab, which stands for “knowledge lab,” is designed to help students, new graduates and other innovators to turn their ideas into viable business models under experienced mentors and tech workshops. Other co-working spaces, like “The Office“, have given other entrepreneurs the tools to launch their ideas, including Clarisse Iribagiza, 26, CEO of software development company HeHe Labs.

With HeHe Labs, which was started in 2010 after development in an MIT-run startup incubator, Igibagiza offers a Code Club fellowship to recently graduated high school students, who serve as leaders and mentors in schools around Kigali. Her interest in inspiring Rwanda’s youth has also led her to actively encourage young girls to consider careers in technology, including having partnered with Nike to design the mobile software Girl Hub, which allows girls to use their mobile phones to provide feedback to weekly radio shows. “We want to create homegrown solutions and to focus on the now,” says Iribagiza.

Cassandra GiraldoHeHe Ltd. coding fellows Honoré Yves, 18, left and Yannick Kabayiza, 18, right at after school program at S.O.S. Kagugu Tecnhical High School.

As entrepreneurships emerge in Rwanda, the push for greater technological growth has also enticed multinational businesses, investors and institutions to establish a foothold in the country. Carnegie Mellon University, for example, opened a Rwandan campus in 2012 to attract students interested in the country’s efforts to boost its tech sector. Smaller companies like laptop and smartphone maker Gira ICT have partnered with manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, HP and Lenovo to offer customers a monthly payment system to boost affordability. Meanwhile, Rwandan partnerships with Microsoft and Intel have launched a number of educational initiatives in Rwandan schools to ensure a new generation is equipped with the skills to continue the technology initiative.

Still, some companies and investors treat Rwanda with caution. A high cost of credit has led to businesses paying upwards of 20% of interest on their loans to banks, despite the ease with which many entrepreneurs describe launching their companies. Additionally, some see Rwanda’s steady GDP growth — about 8% last year — as being possible only due to the country’s historic poverty. In fact, Rwanda is still classified as low-income country with a ways to go until it reaches a middle-class designation, according to the World Bank.

But in a small landlocked country lacking in natural resources, technology is one of the few domestic resources that Rwanda may be able to mobilize in order to decrease its high dependency on foreign aid. Even more visible changes may lay ahead with the last stage of Vision 2020, which uses the new infrastructure and technology to improve education, communities and the private sector.

“Not only are they reducing the cost of making technology accessible, they’re also creating jobs,” says IDC Sub-Saharan Africa analyst Mark Walker, who is based in South Africa. “Rwanda is neither mineral-rich nor oil-rich, and to that end, technology is a great enabler.”

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly identified who was responsible for launching the Vision 2020 program. It was initiated by the Rwandan government.

Inventing Rwanda
Cassandra GiraldoThe land of a thousand hills. Rwanda is attempting to turn an agrarian society into a knowledge-based economy and instilling a sense of national identity and unity in Rwandans.

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