#Microsoft; Holograms; #CloudStorage; #MicrosoftResearch
New York, Sep 24 (Canadian-Media): When people think of holograms, they may think of the small insignia on credit cards that appear to move as you rotate the card. Or they may think of recent rock concert spectacles featuring realistic 3-D performances by singers who are no longer alive. Whitney Houston, Roy Orbison, Tupac Shakur, Buddy Holly and Ronnie James Dio drew rave reviews from fans in 'live' performances made possible by holography even though they all have been dead for years, techxplore.com/news reports said.
Holograms consist of a series of special types of image created by laser using diffraction to project a three-dimensional image, preserving depth and parallax aspects of the original image.
Invented by a Hungarian physicist Dennis Gabor in the 1940s, the technology is now playing a key role in efforts to create new modes of storage in an era in which global digital content is growing exponentially.
In view of ever greater storage demands, Microsoft's AI research labs at Cambridge partnered with colleagues at cloud storage giant Azure to rethink storage solutions based on holography.
The initiative—Project HSD (Holographic Storage Device)—was announced at Microsoft's virtual Ignite 2020 conference this week.
The project continues on the work begun under Project Silica in 2017, at which time Microsoft explained that traditional cloud storage methods are no longer sufficient to keep up with skyrocketing storage needs.
"The demand for long-term data storage in the cloud is reaching unprecedented levels, and continues to grow into the zettabytes," Microsoft said. "Existing storage technologies do not provide a cost-effective solution for storing long-lived data. Operating at such scales in the cloud requires a fundamental re-thinking of how we build large-scale storage systems, as well as the underlying storage technologies that underpin them."
Microsoft said this week that current storage technologies are not improving at a sufficient pace and that they also "face reliability and performance challenges due to the mechanical moving parts in hard disk drives and the declining endurance of flash cells."
Advances in optical technologies such as smartphone cameras and the expansion and development of cloud storage systems open up opportunities through holographic solutions, Microsoft said.
"Growth in demand for cloud storage has highlighted the need to rethink our storage systems from the media up," Microsoft said.
Holography promises extraordinary improvements in storage capacity because for the first time, storage media will not be restricted to two surfaces of a storage disk but, rather, will take advantage of the volume of the media used.
Holographic storage uses an optical crystal to read and write data. Using the entire volume of the crystal, an enormous number of data sets can be stored. Erasing is easily accomplished through the use of UV light. Researchers say this is more efficient than flash devices, which not only are more expensive but have limited read and write capacities. It also is superior to hard drives that depend on movable parts subject to wear and tear.
"The hologram occupies a small volume inside the crystal, which we think of as a zone, and multiple pages can be recorded in the same physical volume or zone," Microsoft said. Recent software improvements achieved through AI allowing for one-to-one pixel matching, for instance, mean simpler and less expensive optics can be used to achieve even better results than before.
So far, Microsoft Research says it has attained a near doubling of density in holographic storage tests, and that it expects improved compression and faster access rates in the coming months.
The Project HSD team is composed of experts in physics, optics, machine learning and storage systems. It is part of the Optics for the Cloud group at Microsoft Research Cambridge, which is exploring storage solutions based on cloud and optic technologies.
#UN; #Nairobi; #GreenNudgets; #UNEP; #EnvironmentallyFriendlyHabits; #GreenerLifestyles
Nairobi, Sep 4 (Canadian-Media): The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today launched a new publication, “The Little Book of Green Nudges”, which aims to inspire up to 200 million students around the globe to adopt environmentally friendly habits and greener lifestyles.
Image credit: Twitter handle
The book is UNEP’s first on behavioural science and nudge theory, which focuses on human actions and how to change them, and was drafted with The Behavioural Insights Team and GRID-Arendal. It contains 40 ready-made nudges - simple measures that make it easier to make green choices – which university campuses can deploy to encourage students and staff to embrace more sustainable behaviours. Nudging can be a powerful tool at universities, especially when deployed alongside strategies like decarbonizing and divesting from fossil fuels. UNEP will be sharing insights from the publication at the World Academic Summit with leaders of some of the world’s top universities.
The Little Book of Green Nudges contains evidence-based guidance on implementing nudges, centered around techniques such as resetting default options, changing the framing of choices, and harnessing social influence. It also includes case studies of nudging interventions rolled out at universities from Thailand to Kenya, Finland and Colombia.
Examples of nudges recommended in the book include:
“Universities are the source of so much knowledge that students will continue to utilise throughout their lives – instilling sustainable habits and values should be a key part of this education, with the potential to shift to cleaner, greener societal behaviours,” UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said. “Changing behaviour is critical if we are to stay within our planetary boundaries. We invite higher education institutions across the world to join us in employing nudges on their campuses.”
David Halpern, Chief Executive of The Behavioural Insights Team, said: “Behavioural science research has shown how effective major life events such as starting university are for establishing new routines and habits which can often last a lifetime. It’s been really exciting to work with UNEP and GRID-Arendal on creating this series of easily achievable but powerful behaviour change ideas that will help students and their places of learning deliver major changes to their environmental and sustainability impacts both now and far into the future.”
“At Yale we have seen first-hand how powerful nudges can be. As highlighted in our case study, we were able to improve our recycling rates through some simple measures. We are sure that The Little Book of Green Nudges will be useful to universities all across the world who are looking for creative ways to enhance sustainability on their campuses,” said Lindsay Crum, Senior Manager, Data Analysis & Program Management at Yale University, which is one of the pilot universities.
With COVID-19 forcing a major rethink in higher education, redesigning processes and routines to make their campuses safer, this is a strategic time to make them more sustainable too by incorporating green nudges in their schools. Nudges have been shown to be particularly successful when they are introduced at timely moments of change.
Adopting green nudges could also make universities more desirable to prospective students who are looking to attend institutions that share their values. A recent survey found that 86 per cent of first-year students in the UK want their higher education institutions to actively incorporate and promote sustainable development.
GRID-Arendal Managing Director Peter Harris said: “Nudges are an important tool in our toolbox to help us cut carbon emissions, curb waste and encourage adoption of more sustainable diets and modes of travel. Seemingly small shifts can have dramatic impacts.”
#Newfoundland&Labrador; #CovidAlertApp, #ContactTracing
Newfoundland & Labrador, Sep 3 (Canadian-Media): Details of how the free COVID Alert App works were unveiled morning of Sep 3 morning by the the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the second Canadian province to sign up for the the federal government's exposure notification system, media reports said.
Covid Alert App. Image credit: Twitter handle
The app has been in operation in Ontario since the end of July.
When phones with this app are in contact at a distance closer than two metres for more than 15 minutes, that contact is logged via Bluetooth as a "digital handshake," a code of random numbers and letters in which no personal information is collected or stored.
When a person tests positive for COVID-19, another code, called a key, is given to the person by the public health officials to enter into the app, which then triggers an exposure alert to all phones with which it has logged contact over the last 14 days and alerts them that they might have been exposed to COVID-19, and gives them instructions on how to get tested.
All aspects to the program from downloading the app to entering a positive test code into it are voluntary, and code itself expires in 24 hours.
Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province's chief medical officer of health, stressed the app notifies of possible exposure to a case and is notified that a COVID-19 test is recommended.
"It's not going to replace contact tracing and that traditional expertise from public health, but it certainly is another tool that we can use," said Fitzgerald, the province's chief medical officer of health, adding contact tracing will continue for every positive case and added, "What we have to remember is that we're preparing for the future as well...this app will be useful," she said.
She added it will be useful for people who go to bars or nightclubs where they may be close to others they don't know
The app was previously inaccessible to seniors and people in lower socio-economic brackets as COVID Alert works on Apple and Android phones made in the last five years, using relatively new operating systems.
NL's Premier Andrew Furey said Sep 3 the province is working with community organizations to figure out best ways to eliminate those barriers.
"The more people who download the app, the better," he said.
In late August, Quebec decided against using the app, citing lack of public support due to privacy concerns as one reason.
Officials Thursday stressed the app does not collect or store personal information. The federal privacy commissioner was also consulted on the app's development.
"It's been subject to a lot of scrutiny. And we're confident that this app does not involve the collection of personal information by the government or by a company," Michael Harvey, the province's information and privacy commissioner said Sep 3.
The app is available through Apple and Google's app stores.