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TikTok revealed on Thursday a new screen time control feature that allows users to set custom limits for how much time they want to spend on the app, encouraging users to take a break from continuous scrolling.

This new feature is similar to previous screen time controls, which timed out after a designated daily limit, including more than 40, 60, 90 or 120 minutes.

The new setting, however, allows users to set up a reminder through the app to “take a break” if they have had it open for an extended period of time.

“These prompts will remind people to take a break after a certain amount of uninterrupted screen time, which they can set as they choose,” said Jordan Furlong, TikTok’s product manager of digital well-being.

The company also said it will issue users between the ages of 13 and 17 “digital well-being prompts” when they have used the app for more than 100 minutes in a single day.

Furlong said that the prompts will “remind them of our screen time limit tool the next time they open the app.”

The new features will also be accompanied by a screen time dashboard, which offers daily data on how much time users have spent on the app. Users can opt for weekly notifications to review their screen time dashboard.

These changes come after mounting pressure on social media platforms to regulate “addictive” social media use among teens.

On Thursday, a family sued Meta over their daughter’s eating disorder, self-harm and thoughts of suicide due to her addictive use of Instagram.

The lawsuit follows seven other similar lawsuits filed against Meta, saying that excessive exposure to social media platforms had led to attempted or actual suicide, eating disorders, sleeplessness and other issues.

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Robot arms are replacing shelf stockers in Japan’s convenience stores

Telexistence and FamilyMart are rolling out a fleet of AI-driven robots to restock shelves in 300 convenience stores across Japan.

The robot arms are designed to replenish drinks in refrigerators and are now in mass production, Tokyo-based Telexistence said in a statement on Wednesday (Aug 10).

They’ll be installed in FamilyMart locations across major metropolitan areas later this month and help relieve store workers while also filling the void left by a shrinking workforce in the country.

Dubbed TX SCARA, standing for Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm, the machines are largely autonomous, with remote piloting as a fallback option should the artificial intelligence fail or encounter out-of-place items.

Each unit can replace one to three hours of human work per day per store, Telexistence said.

“The decline in Japan’s labor population is one of the key management issues for FamilyMart to continue stable store operations,” said Mr Tomohiro Kano, general manager at FamilyMart. “The newly created time can be reallocated to customer service and shop floor enhancement.”

FamilyMart will pay Telexistence a monthly fee for the robot’s labor, its maintenance and the support of remote workers who can pilot the arm using a virtual reality headset when needed. The bots can work without human assistance 98 per cent of the time, Telexistence said.

US tech giants Microsoft and Nvidia collaborated with Telexistence on the development and technology of the bots. The SCARA arms use Nvidia’s Jetson AI platform to process information and Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure to record and reference sales data to optimize restocking tasks.

FamilyMart has 16,000 convenience stores, known as conbini in Japan, across its domestic market, but Telexistence and Microsoft both say they want to deliver the technology on a global scale.

Telexistence will next target the more than 150,000 convenience stores across the US to expand abroad.

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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South Korea is scouting out the moon, with more missions to come

South Korea set off for the moon on Thursday (Aug 4). But it doesn’t want to stop there.

“We are also considering using the moon as an outpost for space exploration,” Kwon Hyun Joon, director-general of space and nuclear energy at South Korea’s Ministry of Science, said.

“Although we hope to explore the moon itself, we also recognize its potential to act as a base for further deep space exploration such as Mars and beyond,” he said.

South Korea’s lunar spacecraft, named Danuri, was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Florida, setting out on a roundabout but fuel-efficient path that would have it arriving at the moon in mid-December. There, it would begin an orbit at an altitude of 100km above the moon’s surface.

The main mission is scheduled to last for one year.

Originally known as the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, the mission was given the name Danuri after it became the winning entry in a naming contest. It is a portmanteau of the Korean words for “moon” and “enjoy.”

Danuri will join spacecraft from Nasa, India and China that are currently exploring Earth’s companion.

Danuri mission is intended to make meaningful scientific contributions to global efforts to explore and understand the solar system.

Kwon said the main goal of the Danuri mission was to develop basic technologies like the design of orbital trajectories, deep space navigation, a high-thrust propulsion system and a 35m antenna to communicate with distant spacecraft.

But the spacecraft’s scientific payload is sophisticated and will aid scientists in South Korea and globally in studying the moon’s magnetic field, measuring its quantities of elements and molecules like uranium, water and helium-3 and photographing the dark craters at the lunar poles, where the sun never shines.

The Korean Aerospace Research Institute, South Korea’s equivalent of Nasa, will use Danuri’s high-resolution camera to scout the lunar surface for potential sites for a robotic lander mission in 2031, Kwon said.

A second camera will measure polarised sunlight bouncing off the lunar surface, revealing details about the size of particles that make up the lunar soil.

Because constant bombardment by solar wind, radiation and micrometeorites breaks the soil apart, the size of grains found in a crater could give an estimate of its age. (Smaller grains would suggest an older crater.)

The polarised light data will also be used to map abundances of titanium on the moon, which could one day be mined for use on Earth.

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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Smart glasses, 3D holograms among new 5G innovations being tested: IMDA

Engineers at Keppel Offshore & Marine’s shipyards can now receive key information about the machinery they are using, its performance in real time, for instance, via 5G augmented reality (AR) enabled smart glasses.

This innovation, which is being trialed at the shipyards, aims to increase efficiency in maritime operations and address disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is part of the first batch of new 5G projects under the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) 5G Innovation Programme that were announced by the agency on Wednesday (Aug 3).

The programme seeks to accelerate the adoption and commercialisation of 5G solutions in Singapore.

The other new projects are an initiative involving the use of holographic displays and images to support healthcare services, known as holomedicine, at the National University Hospital (NUH), and the development of an outdoor cinematic-quality AR experience at the Marina Bay area.

These earlier projects, which are still ongoing, include the use of automated guided vehicles and rubber-tyred gantry cranes for moving cargo at Pasir Panjang Terminal.

5G networks are said to be 10 times faster than 4G, allowing a high-definition movie to be downloaded in seconds instead of minutes. They also have more bandwidth, enabling about 1,000 more devices to be connected without any transmission lag, compared with 4G.

This makes the technology potentially useful in many situations. An example would be the surveillance robots and camera technology that were deployed in August last year to assist with security at Marina at Keppel Bay.

The project at Keppel’s shipyards involves using sensors on equipment and machinery to transmit real-time data to the smart glasses.

A field engineer can use the smart glasses to view key information about a crane that his team is operating, for example, the weight of the load it is lifting and its maintenance condition.

This would reduce the frequency of periodic maintenance checks, said Liew Wing Leong, senior programme lead for yard transformation at Keppel Offshore & Marine. “We are looking at an overall reduction of 15 per cent for maintenance times,” he added.

An engineer can also use the smart glasses to capture and stream real-time data to the command centre at Keppel’s headquarters, where a team can help to rectify any issues that occur during the operation.

Other uses for the smart glasses include displaying checklists of tasks for inspection personnel, so that they need not carry documents containing those lists with them.

Liew said Keppel is looking to roll out the smart glasses for all its shipyards’ operations by the third quarter of next year.

The holomedicine project at NUH will enable the use of realistic 3D holograms for various medical operations, including helping surgeons to plan operations.

Among other things, it will also enable holographic scanned images or guides converted from CT or MRI scans to be overlaid on a patient, providing real-time guidance for surgeons during an operation.

Dr Gao Yujia, assistant group chief technology officer at the National University Health System, which operates NUH, said: “5G gives us the assurance that we will have speeds that are enough for us to support existing and future use cases.”

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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