2017 Tech News
by Alex Cosper, Monday, May 22, 2017

So much tech news gets buried in mainstream media except in tech publications that specifically cater to tech audiences. While much of the news centers around press releases about well known brands and the latest versions of existing gadgets, there's still plenty of innovative new inventions to explore.

One of the most amazing new inventions, which has been under development for several years but first successfully tested on May 10, 2017, is the Airlander 10. It's the world's biggest aircraft, stretching 302 feet, as reported by LiveScience.com. It's part plane, part helicopter and part airship. The aircraft runs on helium and 4 V8 diesel engines. It can move at 90 mph and can hang in the air at 20,000 feet for up to five days. The aircraft was manufactured by Hybrid Air Vehicles and was first tested in 2012 under the U.S. Army's Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle program. The company says that the Airlander 10 can someday be used for search and rescue missions.

Meanwhile, closer to earth is Tesla, the electric car company preparing to release its first "affordable" electric car, the Model 3 during 2017 at a base price of $35,000. It follows the successful early adopter models S and X, both of which retail at over twice as much. The Model 3 is expected to have a driving range of 215 miles before recharging. Early demos are scheduled for July with a wider availability by September. In February 2017 Consumer Reports named Tesla as the number one American car brand.

While Tesla has begun rolling out its Powerwall 2.0 solar batteries that store 13.5 kWh of electric power at $5,500, Mercedes-Benz is introducing a competing solar battery. Teaming up with Vivint Solar, Mercedes-Benz will release batteries that can store up to 20 kWh in 2.5 kWh stacked modules at a price range from $5,000 to $13,000, depending on number of modules, as reported by ExtremeTech.com. Like Tesla, Mercedes-Benz is working on developing solar batteries that power both the home and car.

Speaking of electric cars, Tesla may face competition beyond the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt faster than the public imagined. Volvo announced on July 5, 2017 that it would begin phasing out gas-powered engines starting in 2019. That's when it will begin to focus more on pure electric and hybrid vehicles. In September Mazda announced that it would only be selling electric and hybrid cars by 2030. In June the IEA reported that electric vehicles on the road hit a record of 2 million worldwide.

On the traditional tech side - computers and gadgets - there has been plenty of hype and duplication but not much in terms of new functionality, at least as far as popular products. Artificial intelligence is easing into business and consumer systems in subtle ways, but it's still very much in its long-term infancy. Machine learning is part of this development and is being pitched by managed services providers and IT experts as the next wave of robust security. Combined with 24/7 malware monitoring software, machine learning is a technology that can identify cyber threats before they happen.

On the consumer side, AI has advanced in the past few years in terms of voice-activated virtual assistants that answer questions. Leading pioneers include Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Facebook's M, Microsoft's Cortana and Google's Assistant. Voice recognition has come a long way since it was first introduced by IBM at the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle.

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