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AppDate: Opera enhances online privacy

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In this week’s AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Opera VPN for Android, Marvel Contest of Champions, Disk Drill 3, Wayde’s World website, and Pick ’n Pay’s Super Animals.

Opera VPN for Android

The Opera VPN (virtual private network) for Android lets users enhance their online privacy, block ad-tracking cookies, access more online content, extend the geographical reach of apps and test the security of Wi-Fi networks before they connect to them. Users don’t need to register to use the app, nor do they have to sign up for any subscriptions. All they need to do is download and install the app. The Android version of the Opera VPN app follows the iOS version that rolled out globally in May.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Marvel Contest of Champions

Superb graphics, great sound and ease of use are all ingredients that make the Marvel Champions app one of the best fighting games available. The game offers players the ability to fight others head to head, start quests or enter into story mode where they will be able to upgrade their champions. At the beginning of the game one is given two characters and, as they progress, more are added.

Platform: iOS and Android

Expect to pay: Free to play, but endless in-app purchases are available.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Disk Drill 3

Corrupt files, missing partitions or accidentally deleted documents are issues most computer users have faced at some point. There are numerous applications that claim to be able to remedy these problems, but many only do half. Disk Drill for Mac, however, easily helps out with all of these problems. A user simply installs the software, selects the partition or file that needs to be recovered, and selects the rebuild or recover option. The application is able to recover over 200 file formats and also includes an option to recover files from an Android device.

Platform: iOS

Expect to pay: The free version offers very limited recovery options, while the Pro version, which costs R1300, will recover most lost files and partitions.

Stockists: www.cleverfiles.com

 

Wayde’s World website

The Wayde’s World website, sponsored by T-Systems, is a live biography website that documents every aspect of South Africa’s Olympic 400m gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk’s life, from details of his athletics career, such as training times, obstacles and achievements, to his personal life. The site, fully connected to social media platforms, takes the viewer with Wayde on his travels and provides glimpses into what makes the star athlete tick.

Platform: Any up-to-date web browser

Expect to pay: Free to use.

Stockists: www.waydesworldsa.co.za

 

Pick ’n Pay’s Super Animals

Super Animals comprises a collection of 108 cards, each depicting interesting facts about an animal. For every R150 spent at any Pick n Pay, a shopper gets a pack of four collectible cards. The cards are divided into nine categories – fastest, toughest, deadliest, smartest, fiercest, weirdest, sneakiest, loudest and showiest – and can be stored in a glossy collector’s album. In addition to luring parents into spending more money at Pick ’n Pay stores to collect the cards, an app has been made available that lets children scan the individual barcodes of each card. Once scanned, the app uses augmented reality to bring the Super Card to life. A virtual album is also included, where the scanned cards are stored and achievements unlocked.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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