TIME Guns

Air-Powered Guns Linked to Soaring Rates of Eye Injuries

Researchers attribute a 500% spike in eye injuries to the growing popularity of pressurized firearms, particularly among children

The number of children who sustained eye injuries from “airsoft” guns grew by over 500% in the two years to 2012, according to a Stanford University study.

Some 3,000 children suffered injuries to their eyes from pressurized airguns that year, more than five times as many as in 2010. “These results demonstrate that air guns can cause severe, yet preventable, eye injury among the pediatric population,” study co-author Douglas Frederick said in a statement posted to Stanford medicine’s official blog.

The guns, which use pressurized air to fire plastic pellets at speeds topping 120 meters per second, have grown in popularity as a less risky alternative to BB guns and live ammunition.

John Steele, an industry spokesperson, told the Wall Street Journal that airsoft gun makers stress the importance of parental supervision in warning labels and shooting events. “We work like crazy to try to get parents more involved in supervising their kids,” Steele said.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

TIME Transportation

Setback for Uber as South Korea Bans Private Taxis

The Uber Technologies Inc. application and logo are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and iPad Air in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Uber Technologies Inc. application and logo are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and iPad Air in this arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.

It's the first country to introduce a nationwide prohibition

In a largely symbolic move that appears to be aimed directly at Uber’s cheap UberX service, South Korea passed legislation on Friday banning unlicensed drivers from providing taxi services — becoming the first country to institute a nationwide prohibition of the practice.

According to Reuters, the bill is a blanket ban on private taxi services but lawmakers who pushed the bill did so citing UberX, a service that matches commuters with individuals using their personal cars as a taxi.

Uber already pulled UberX out of Seoul in March because of backlash from the taxi industry and local authorities. But the company still maintains a presence via UberTaxi (matching passengers with licensed drivers) and UberBLACK (which can be used by the disabled, elderly and foreigners).

[Reuters]

TIME technology

Steve Wozniak Is Getting a Wax Figure at Madame Tussauds

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, speaks onstage during the National Geographic Channel's 'American Genius' panel at the 2015 Winter Television Critics Association press tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa on Jan. 7, 2015 in Pasadena, California.
Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, speaks onstage during the National Geographic Channel's 'American Genius' panel at the 2015 Winter Television Critics Association press tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa on Jan. 7, 2015 in Pasadena, California.

And it'll be right next to Steve Jobs'

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is getting immortalized in wax. Madame Tussauds in San Francisco announced this week the inventor will be the next techie to get the wax treatment, joining the likes of Apple’s Steve Jobs and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

In a statement, Wozniak said he is “incredibly excited” to be added to the San Francisco location and equally thrilled that he’ll be placed next to his former partner.

“I remember visiting the London Museum as a kid,” Wozniak said. “I can’t wait to see my figure next to Jobs—it’ll be just like old times.”

According to Madame Tussauds, now the fun part begins. Wozniak will have to sit for 2 to 3 hours and have 250 measurements taken to ensure his figure’s accuracy. It takes about three to four months to complete the process, after which Wozniak will appear at his sculpture’s release for a side-by-side comparison.

TIME technology

How TIME Explained the Way Computers Work

The Computer Society
The Feb. 20, 1978, cover of TIME

You don't need a Turing Machine to understand it

When Alan Turing submitted his paper On Computable Numbers to the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society on this day, May 28, in 1936, he could not have guessed that it would lead not only to the computer as we know it today, but also nearly all of the gadgets and devices that are so crucial a part of our lives.

The paper demonstrated that a so-called Turing Machine could perform solvable computations, a proof that is commonly seen as one of the original stepping stones toward the existence of modern computers. Though Turing, who died in 1954, never got to see a smartphone, his paper remains the touchstone behind the technology.

For a 1978 cover story about “The Computer Society,” TIME broke down how computers work in easy(-ish)-to understand terms, thus explaining why Turing mattered so much:

In the decimal system, each digit of a number read from right to left is understood to be multiplied by a progressively higher power of 10. Thus the number 4,932 consists of 2 multiplied by 1, plus 3 multiplied by 10, plus 9 multiplied by 10 X 10, plus 4 multiplied by 10 X 10 X 10. In the binary system, each digit of a number, again read from right to left, is multiplied by a progressively higher power of 2. Thus the binary number 11010 equals 0 times 1, plus 1 times 2, plus 0 times 2 X 2, plus 1 times 2 X 2 X 2, plus 1 times 2 X 2 X 2 X 2–for a total of 26 (see chart).

Working with long strings of 1s and 0s would be cumbersome for humans–but it is a snap for a digital computer. Composed mostly of parts that are essentially on-off switches, the machines are perfectly suited for binary computation. When a switch is open, it corresponds to the binary digit 0; when it is closed, it stands for the digit 1. Indeed, the first modern digital computer completed by Bell Labs scientists in 1939 employed electromechanical switches called relays, which opened and closed like an old-fashioned Morse telegraph key. Vacuum tubes and transistors can also be used as switching devices and can be turned off and on at a much faster pace.

But how does the computer make sense out of the binary numbers represented by its open and closed switches? At the heart of the answer is the work of two other gifted Englishmen. One of them was the 19th century mathematician George Boole, who devised a system of algebra, or mathematical logic, that can reliably determine if a statement is true or false. The other was Alan Turing, who pointed out in the 1930s that, with Boolean algebra, only three logical functions are needed to process these “trues” and “falses”–or, in computer terms, 1s and 0s. The functions are called AND, OR and NOT, and their operation can readily be duplicated by simple electronic circuitry containing only a few transistors, resistors and capacitors. In computer parlance, they are called logic gates (because they pass on information only according to the rules built into them). Incredible as it may seem, such gates can, in the proper combinations, perform all the computer’s high-speed prestidigitations.

The simplest and most common combination of the gates is the half-adder, which is designed to add two 1s, a 1 and a 0, or two 0s. If other half-adders are linked to the circuit, producing a series of what computer designers call full adders, the additions can be carried over to other columns for tallying up ever higher numbers. Indeed, by using only addition, the computer can perform the three other arithmetic functions.

Read the full story from 1978, here in the TIME Vault: The Numbers Game

TIME technology

This Is the Best Amazon Prime Feature Yet

The tech giant is waving fees for Prime members using its same-day delivery and expanding the markets where the service is available, its latest volley in the e-commerce wars

Retail’s delivery wars are about to get hotter.

Amazon.com on Thursday started offering free same-day delivery in certain cities to members of its Prime subscription service. It’s the latest volley by a retailer looking to one-up rivals with ever-faster and ever-cheaper service.

The online retailer now lets Prime members in 14 metropolitan areas — including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and Philadelphia — place an order of at least $35 from an assortment of 1 million different items, as late as noon in most of those cities, and get it that day by 9 p.m. for free, eliminating the $5.99 fee members previously paid. The $9.98 basic fee and 99-cent-per-item charge for non-Prime members will remain. (Prime members pay $99 a year and get free unlimited two-day shipping.)

Amazon is also expanding the markets that will have access to same-day delivery, adding San Diego and Tampa Bay.

The move comes as Amazon looks to keep its edge over traditional retailers like Macy’s and Nordstrom, which are testing same-day delivery (for a $15 fee) and investing heavily to grab their share of the e-commerce market.

Amazon also wants to stay ahead of tech rival Google, whose recently launched Express shopping option allows some top retailers — from Target to Costco Wholesale to Walgreens — to offer same-day delivery in certain markets. Google Express costs $10 a month, or $95 a year.

Amazon has tested the patience of many investors by spending on tech at the expense of profits. But that has helped the e-commerce giant keep ahead of the competition: Macy’s, for example, only got around to piloting same-day delivery in a meaningful way in a few key markets last fall, in partnership with Deliv.

“This is an output of the investment we’ve been making over the last 10 years,” Greg Greely, vice president of Amazon Prime, told Fortune in an interview.

Amazon, which first piloted same-day delivery in 2009, right before Christmas unveiled a one-hour service in parts of Manhattan. It is also offering grocery delivery in a few metro areas.

Walmart and Target are each spending billions on tech and using their ubiquitous stores to speed delivery. Nordstrom, which is spending $1.5 billion on further building up its e-commerce firepower in the next few years, is also testing same-day delivery in a few markets. Nordstrom is also piloting something Amazon can’t do without a fleet of stores: testing curbside pickup at 20 of its luxury department stores.

 

This article originally appeared on Fortune.

TIME technology

General Motors Just Got Into Bed With Apple in a Big Way

The Hyundai Sonata has become the first car to integrate Google Android Auto. On its heels, Apple prepares to roll out its own in-car platform.

The next platform battle has begun and it’s being waged inside the car.

This week, GM’s Chevrolet and Hyundai announced plans to add technologies that will deliver smartphone functionality to the dashboard of new cars. On Wednesday, Chevrolet said it would offer both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility in 14 models, including the 2016 Cruze compact car that will debut June 24. A day earlier, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata became the first car to include Google’s new in-car voice-enabled software Android Auto.

Both platforms have the same mission to integrate the smartphone with the vehicle’s dashboard. Android Auto connects to Android smartphones, while CarPlay works with the iPhone. And they work about the same way. Once users plug their smartphone into the car’s USB port, the phone’s maps and navigation, music and selected apps are integrated onto the central screen. Both have similar features with a few notable differences—CarPlay users can only use Apple maps.

Applications in both platforms can be controlled by voice, steering wheel controls, and touchscreen and they’ll also will offer third-party audio apps, including iHeartRadio and Spotify. Google and Apple have even partnered with many of the same automakers, including Audi, GM, Kia and Ford.

Apple and Google’s battle over the connected car has been building up for a couple of years now. Apple introduced iOS in the Car—the in-car standard that would eventually be renamed CarPlay—during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013.

In January 2014, Google along with partners Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and Nvidia, formed the Open Automotive Alliance, a coalition aimed at bringing the Android platform to the car. Several months later, Google unveiled Android Auto at its annual I/O developer conference.

The fight to become the dominant in-car platform presents a challenge for Google and Apple. Both companies want to further entrench themselves in consumers’ lives, possibly through exclusive partnerships with automakers. But it’s in the best interest of automakers to offer both platforms to its customers.

With the exception of a few automakers such as Tesla Motors, the digital console of the car where drivers control A/C, music, and navigation can have a decidedly old-school feel when compared to the functionality and look of a smartphone. The touchscreen in many cars can be finicky and hard to use, forcing many drivers to use their smartphone for navigation or music.

CarPlay and Android Auto allow drivers to bypass the dashboards found in most cars—a capability that will become increasingly important as car-sharing grows. Drivers can instantly access their own music and navigational settings in a strange car by connecting to the Android Auto or CarPlay platforms.

The platforms can also help keep drivers eyes on the road—or at least out of their laps. Some 660,000 drivers, at any given daylight moment across America, are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, according to the latest figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

At least initially, the connected car field will be dominated by MirrorLink, appearing in 1.1 million cars this year, according to an IHS Automotive report released last month. Apple CarPlay will be in 861,000 new cars and Google’s Android Auto will be in 643,000 new cars this year. Apple and Google will quickly surpass MirrorLink, appearing in 37 million and 31 million cars by 2020, respectively.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.

TIME technology

The Teenage Pilot Who Could Have Caused a Global Crisis

Mathias Rust
Sovfot / UIG / Getty Images Mathias Rust, a west german teenager who landed a Cessna sports plane in Red Square on May 28, 1987, on trial for invading Soviet air space.

Mathias Rust caused a stir with a Cold War stunt

It’s been a rough couple of months for drone enthusiasts in the U.S. capital. In January, a drone manufacturer decided to disable its devices within the boundaries of downtown Washington, D.C., after a remote-controlled drone crashed on the White House lawn. And yet, earlier this month, another man was arrested for trying to use a drone too near President Obama’s residence.

This drone dilemma may seem like a singularly modern problem—after all, the world is only just confronting how to maintain safety and privacy in a world where anyone can operate one of the aircraft. And yet, these ill-fated aviators have a precursor who predates the availability of recreational drones.

His name is Mathias Rust, and it was on May 28, 1987, that he landed a plane in Moscow’s Red Square. His story, as reported by TIME the following week, sounds like the Cold War, pre-drone version of the stories that have come out of Washington in recent months:

Tourists and Muscovites strolling through Red Square that evening looked up to see a small single-engine plane coming in low from the south. It circled the great plaza, barely clearing the red brick walls of the Kremlin and buzzing the Lenin Mausoleum before finally touching down. At about 7:30 p.m. the little craft came to rest on the cobblestones behind onion-domed St. Basil’s Cathedral. Bystanders scattered. Police gaped in astonishment. Official black sedans sped to the spot.

Out of the plane, a blue-and-white Cessna Skyhawk 172, stepped Mathias Rust, 19, a computer operator and amateur pilot from Hamburg, West Germany. While the authorities debated what to do with him, Rust coolly signed autographs for the crowd, adding the words HAMBURG-MOSCOW. Shortly afterward he was taken away by police. Said a 24-year-old Muscovite who saw the pilot step from his craft: ”People did not know what had happened. Something this unusual does not happen every day.”

But, while drone landings at the White House have so far been perceived as stunts or mistakes, Rust’s flight had larger implications.

Until that day, the world thought that Russia’s tightly guarded airspace was effectively impregnable. That a teenager was able to fly hundreds of miles from Helsinki to Moscow without encountering that defense revealed that the Soviet military did not have as tight a hold on air security as had been believed. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Iron Curtain, Rust’s West German compatriots worried that his stunt, which seemed funny at first, might imperil the fragile relationships at the heart of the Cold War.

Rust himself said that he decided to undertake the flight in order to speak to Russians—but that summer he got more than he bargained for, when he was charged with crimes including “malicious hooliganism” and eventually sentenced to four years in a labor camp, of which he served about one.

“Rust again told reporters that his flight across 500 miles of tightly defended Soviet airspace had been part of a campaign for improved East-West relations. ”It was worth my freedom, my liberty,'” TIME noted on the occasion of his early release. “He admitted, however, that it was ‘not responsible’ and that he would not do it again.”

Read the full story from 1987, here in the TIME Vault: Welcome to Moscow

TIME

Mercedes is Partnering with this Chinese Tech Giant on Cars

Newest Innovations In Consumer Technology On Display At 2015 International CES
David Becker—Getty Images A Mercedes-Benz F 015 autonomous driving automobile is displayed at the Mercedes-Benz press event at the 2015 International CES on Jan. 5, 2015 in Las Vegas.

Mercedes-Benz welcomes technology from "China's Google" onto its car dashboards

German automobile manufacturer Daimler announced a partnership Monday with Chinese search giant Baidu [fortune-stock symbol=”BIDU”].

The companies plan to work together to integrate software from Baidu, sometimes referred to as “China’s Google,” into the dashboard of Chinese Mercedes-Benz cars, Reuters reports

The partnership could make it easier for drivers to use the web while in the car by connecting through their smartphones. “The Mercedes-Benz cars will include Baidu software that allows users to access content from their smartphones via their dashboards, such as music and Internet services,” Reuters reports. “The companies did not say when the first cars including the Baidu application would be produced.”

Interest in connected cars has surged lately, and the competition between companies to develop autonomous vehicles has intensified. For instance, Nokia is auctioning its maps business, a critical technology for companies hoping to push into self-driving cars. Multiple bidders have emerged, including a $3 billion offer by Uber.

Reuters describes the connected car revolution as a “three-way race.”

It has become a three-way race between German carmakers Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen’s Audi on the one hand, competing with a consortium including Uber and Baidu, and a third group including China’s Tencent and Navinfo, people familiar with the process have told Reuters.

More news about autonomous autos and connected cars can be found on Fortune.com.

MONEY snapchat

Snapchat’s Secret to Video Ads Is Deceptively Simple

Snapchat Raising Money That Could Value Company At Up To $19 Billion
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Vertical ads a the secret to Snapchat's success

A simple tweak to video advertising has made a big difference

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel has a simple plan to turn his company into a money-making machine: video ads.

And not just any video ads. A Bloomberg profile on the mercurial executive reveals the secret to Snapchat’s success is to play advertisements in portrait mode so smartphone users don’t have to flip their screen to view them. Snapchat tells potential investors its users are nine times more likely to view ads displayed in this format, Bloomberg reports.

Snapchat, which inserts its advertisements into various media channels—11 media brands, such as CNN, ESPN, and People magazine have signed up so far—as well as other “stories” on the service, claims over 60% of smartphone users age 13 to 34 are watching more than 2 billion videos each day in total; nearly half as many as competitor Facebook, which boasts 10 times as many users.

However, despite Snapchat’s success, it’s not all easy going for Spiegal. Bloomberg notes the company has cut its ad rates significantly, down from $100 per 1,000 views to just $20.

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