Forget Google Glass, this year produced some truly strange technological inventions. from mobile 'mind control’ to tactile touchscreens. In this brave new world of Google robots, Amazon Drones and Sony’s smart wigs, we celebrate the weirdest news of 2013 (NOTE: No donkeys were harmed in the making of this list).
For a moment this week, a US man became the world's richest person - with a wealth one thousand times greater than the GDP of the whole planet, after PayPal mistakenly credited him with $92 quadrillion (£60 quadrillion). The online money-transfer firm admitted that they credited Chris Reynolds, 56, of Pennsylvania, with $92,233,720,368,547,800 briefly before correcting their error.
Trying to stay true to its mantra of ‘Don’t be Evil’, Google has assured web users that no animals were harmed in the making of its maps, after a picture surfaced on the web showing a donkey lying on the side of a road next to a Streetview car. The search engine giant was forced to issue the denial saying the animal was simply enjoying a dust bath.
It may sound like a science fiction movie, but Amazon plans to deliver packages to customer’s homes within 30 minutes using flying drones- but the service won’t be ready for another 5 years.
Sony has filed a patent for a SmartWig that can can help wearers navigate roads, collect information such as blood pressure and even vibrates on the user’s head to give them messages. The Japanese electronics giant said the wig could also include special fibres that move, changing its shape but claim it looks natural. It has been used by employees who gave presentations wearing it and switched slides by tapping their sideburns
Social media monitoring provider Spotter has developed a tool it claims will identify sarcasm in online comments. The company claimed that its analytics tool was 80% accurate in identifying sarcastic comments online as it generates reputation reports based on social and traditional media material; for instance if Air France was two hours late and someone tweeted “thanks for getting us to Heathrow two hours late”, the company said the tool would identify the sarcasm inherent in the tweet.
Don't fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.— (@HVSVN) September 2, 2013
In what could signal a new trend in customer relations, a disgruntled passenger has paid to promote a tweet complaining about British Airways. UK businessman Hasan Syed was unhappy with the way the airline was dealing with his father's lost baggage. However, rather than using a regular tweet from his account, Syed paid for a promoted 140-character message that read "Don't fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous."
Google has bought Boston Dynamics, a firm that makes robots for the US military that can run faster than Usain Bolt. The move marks Google’s eighth robotics firm purchase in just 6 months, as the internet giant looks to expand into the real world with augmented reality glasses, self-driving cars and now even cyborgs.
The new Xbox One console will track everything you watch on TV and reward you for watching the ads, using the Kinect sensor technology to ensure you’re not cheating, according to a new patent application made by Microsoft. The application called 'Awards and Achievements Across TV Ecosystem' was submitted to the US Patent and Trademark office earlier this month. The patent did not state which platform the reward system would operate through but it is believed that the new Xbox One and 360 consoles are the likeliest targets. It details plans for Microsoft to reward viewers for watching adverts, TV shows or series, with virtual scores, or physical awards such as coupons and products - although it is expected the plans will be opt-in, and not turned on by default.
BMW has used its Facebook page to showcase it’s most outlandish car design yet - based on the ideas of a 4-year-old boy- generating plenty of social media buzz in the process. The 3D concept has been published here, and comes as a response to forum post on a motoring website.
Google has launched a ‘digital wills’ service, letting users choose what happens to their data after they die. The tool lets consumers to decide if digital information stored on services such as Gmail, YouTube and Google Drive is passed on to a next of kin or ‘wiped with approval’ if they become inactive online for any other reason. Dubbed "data-after-death", the official Google facility is formally known as inactive account manager and lets users tell the company what to do with email messages and other data if their account becomes inactive.
Watch this video from BBC click explaining how the technology works below:
Tesco is trialing new technology that will scan customer’s faces at petrol stations to sell targeted adverts shown on screens near the till.
In a PR move, a Washington dive bar has become the first establishment to ban Google's Glass, citing privacy concerns for patrons, ahead of the launch of the augmented reality eyewear later this year. The 5 Point, a Seattle bar, posted a notice on its Facebook page last week that if someone wants to get a pint from its rather secretive establishment, they’ll have to remove the $1,500 glasses. "For the record, The 5 Point is the first Seattle business to ban in advance Google Glasses," the post reads. "And ass-kickings will be encouraged for violators."
Following the eye-controlled features on its latest smartphones, Samsung is now reportedly working on a mind-controlled tablet. The South Korean tech giant and US researchers are working together to create a technology that would allow people to launch an application and make selections on a Galaxy tablet by concentrating on a blinking icon. According to a report in the MIT Technology Review, users need to wear a cap studded with EEG-monitoring electrodes.
Microsoft is working on a touchscreen that lets users manipulate and even ‘feel’ 3D objects, using haptic technology which could have many future applications for the likes of web browsing, gaming, design and medical research.
Watch this video from the Independent illustrating how the technology works below:
Google’s self-driving cars, currently being tested in the US and soon in the UK, could be turned into a futuristic taxi service, according to new reports. According to technology blog site Jessica Lessin, Google is planning on running self-driving cer services that can pick passengers up on-demand. The blog site reported that it is not known whether Google will run the proposed cab company.
Japanesse telco NTT Docomo has unveiled a pair of glasses that can translate written text into another language, continuing the upcoming trend for wearable technology ahead of Google Glass launch later this year.
View this demonstration video from Engadget below:
Twitter users are spontaneously forming tribe-like communities of like-minded people who even share their own distinct languages, according to new research. The study, from Scientists from Royal Holloway, University of London, and Princeton University in New Jersey found that using certain types language in Tweets attracts users into communities with a common character, occupation or interest. The scientists analysed 75 million tweets from 189,000 Twitter users to find words that were used a lot by one group but relatively rarely by everyone else.
April Fools' day has become a big event on the internet, as the web is flooded with pranks (and companies try to get a bit of free publicity). We've rounded-up some of the best spoofs to hit the web this year- including YouTube 'shutting down', Twitter charging for vowels and Sony's tech for pets.