Beijing Authorities Use Technology in Pollution Battle

Some Beijing residents use smokestacks to predict smog: Smoke drifting gently upward means stagnant air where smog will accumulate. Smoke blowing away from the mountains indicates fresher winds and clear air ahead.

But the city government uses more sophisticated technology for its forecasts, including the one used to trigger the city’s first red alert for smog this week, which brought restrictions on cars, factories and other measures aimed at keeping the smog in check.

The system takes into account not only weather patterns that suspend pollutants in the air, but also industry emissions, and flows of vehicles and their emissions – which will differ depending on the day of the week and time of day. It also incorporates real-time data from air monitoring systems, satellite images – and even information that is passed around on social media, said Meng Zhang, chief meteorologist at IBM Research – China, which works with Beijing’s environmental protection bureau on the forecasting system.

It then models and predicts the effects of weather on the flow and dispersal of pollutants, and the airborne chemical reactions between weather and pollutant particles, Zhang said in an interview at anIBM research lab in Beijing. It yields high-definition pollution forecasts 72 hours in advance, as well as rougher predictions for 10 days in advance, he said.

Beijing’s current system of smog alerts triggers a scaled response with blanket restrictions for the entire city for four levels of predicted pollution.

Zhang said that the system can become increasingly granular, allowing authorities to pinpoint just the right restrictions – which factories must suspend operations and which not – at the right time to get the desired effect.

“Without this insight the government does this in a very simple way. They shut down everything around Beijing, just like how they have done for the 2008 Olympic Games” when factories were closed for a month, he said.

“But for the 2022 Winter Olympics they can do that in a smarter way so they can know what is the best window, what is the best area, to reduce the economic impact,” Zhang said.

Instagram for Android Set to Get ‘3D Touch’ Support

Instagram was one of the first apps to bring 3D Touch functionality to its iOS app, closely followed by Facebook, Dropbox, and WhatsApp. The support for 3D Touch allows users to use ‘Peek and Pop’ gestures based on the pressure applied on the screen of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. The photo-sharing app seems set to bring similar support to its Android app.

Android Police reports that Instagram will be adding the feature in its future update, which is now available to download from APK Mirror. The report adds that Instagram’s Android app version 7.13.0 enables the feature. Currently, the app version 7.12.1 is available on Google Play India. Instagram can be expected to push an app update to Google Play adding the ‘3D Touch’ feature to its Android app. In this case however, hard or soft presses will not bring up additional options – what with the paucity of Android phones with pressure sensitive displays.

The report adds that Instagram’s Android app will allow users to zoom on an image on long pressing while dragging the finger away from centre of the image will again show thumbnail view. User will be able to like or share images by moving over the buttons under a shared image. The new app version will also offer haptic feedback when hovering over buttons.

Instagram also been testing multiple account support on its Android app, specifically, on users part of its beta programme.

The photo-sharing service had last month announced that its user base in India doubled over the last year. Instagram passed the 400 million user mark in September and had also claimed that it had over 80 million pictures shared daily.

PayUbiz Launches ‘One Tap’ Technology for Payments

Payment processor PayUbiz announced the launch of its PCI-DSS complaint and patent pending ‘one tap’ technology, which enables all mobile payments being made through debit or credit card to happen by just tapping ‘once’ on the screen.

PayUbiz uses a combination of four different tech innovations to provide a seamless user experience for mobile payments, the company said in an emailed statement.

The store card feature ensures that the consumers don’t have to go through the pain of putting in the 16-digit card number repeatedly, the first factor authentication of putting the CVV each time while making an online payment is nullified by the No-CVV feature.

Furthermore, the second factor authentication of OTP gets auto read from the mobile device and submitted, leading to the completion of a seamless one tap payment experience.

Even when there is a network issue, the magic retry feature picks up the transaction from the point where it stopped, the company said.

“This is set to disrupt the way mobile payments are made in India. With this technology, e-commerce companies will be able to deliver absolute customer delight through faster and hassle free payments experience with just one tap,” said Rahul Kothari, Business Head, PayUbiz.

Consumers can presently experience the technology on apps such as PayUmoney and Twigly, some of the other apps where users will experience it in next few weeks are Peppertap, redBus, Goibibo,Grofers, Big Basket, Justdial, Xiaomi, Musafir, and nearbuy, the company said.

PayUbiz said that it services over 80 of the top 100 e-commerce companies in India, and claims an increased conversion rate of 12-15 percent percent on average over its competitors.

This Back to the Future Inspired Rechargeable Jacket Is Self-Drying

A rechargeable jacket with cooling vents, and an air amplifier to keep you dry from the inside – that’s what the SDJ-01 Kickstarter is offering. The waterproof outer lining means that you’ll stay dry, and in case some water does get in, just toggle the power switch to dry out the inner lining.

The jacket has eight pockets, including one that’s big enough to stow your tablet, and it comes with a six-foot charging cable to power up the battery – this way, the included “air amplifier” can be used to run a fan that cools you down when it’s getting a little hot, and also dries you off if some water got in.

The design is inspired by Marty McFly’s jacket from the movie Back to the Future, but is available in a number of different colours. The exhaust vents are placed around your neck, while the fans are kept at your waist level – this means that the air generated by them will travel up the length of the jacket before escaping, which should help dry it in case there are any spills.

Here’s a video explaining the project:

The project has a $12,000 target (approximately Rs. 8 lakh), and at the time of writing, it’s crossed to the $8,500 mark (approximately Rs. 5.7 lakh). It will accept funding until December 29, and if it reaches the target, then the jacket will be shipped worldwide by April 2016. You can back the project for $149 (approximately Rs. 9,900) at the early bird price or $189 (approximately Rs. 12,600) at the regular price.

About Kickstarter of the week
In this weekly column, we look at crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, to try and find the coolest new projects from the world of crowdfunding. Not everything we find here is going to be the next Oculus Rift or Pebble Smartwatch, and of course, with any crowdfunded project there’s the risk that it won’t actually ship, even after being funded.

Still, if you can afford to set a little money aside, some of these projects can be really cool, and worth backing.