Bytes: What’s new in tech
Buying with a nod
Alibaba hopes to bring shopping to virtual reality, said Sijia Jiang on Reuters. com. The Chinese e-commerce giant demonstrated new technology last week that will allow future shoppers who are browsing in virtual-reality malls to pay for real-world products “just by nodding their heads.” The service, dubbed VR Pay, means people using VR goggles will be able to make purchases without having to remove their headsets. The shopper’s identity and payment information would be verified by logging into their account in advance or possibly via voicerecognition technology. “It is very boring to have to take off your goggles for payment,” said Lin Feng, whose lab within Alibaba’s financial division developed VR Pay. “With this, you will never need to take out your phone.”
Better dating through AI
Artificial intelligence is poised to revolutionise online hookups, said Olivia Solon on Wired.com. Dating app Tinder last week introduced a new feature called Smart Photos, which employs machine-learning technology to help users select the profile picture most likely to draw interest from potential mates. The tool is part of an ever-growing movement toward “systems that can learn tasks by analysing vast amounts of data.” Similar technology recognises faces and photos in Facebook, for example. In preliminary testing, Tinder says Smart Photos led to a 12% uptick in matches. The company also says it’s using artificial intelligence to recognise patterns in user behaviour to present better matches. That way, Tinder can reduce the chance a photo of you hugging your Labrador turns up in the feed “of someone with dog allergies.”
Mercedes’s moral dilemma
Mercedes has come up with an answer to a thorny ethical question involving driverless cars, said Charlie Sorrel on FastCompany.com. When a self-driving Mercedes crashes, the vehicle will be programmed to save the driver, and not the person who gets hit, according to Christoph von Hugo, the luxury automaker’s manager of driverless car safety. “If you know you can save at least one person, at least save that one. Save the one in the car,” von Hugo told Car and Driver recently. From an engineering perspective, it’s easier to guarantee the safety of whoever is inside the car, von Hugo explains, but ultimately such ethical questions will be outweighed by the fact that autonomous vehicles will be much safer overall.