Buzzwords: Monopoly, virtual catwalk, Bitcoin emissions and 3D-printed guns
Image credit: Hasbro
From a voice-controlled banker in a board game classic to a ‘virtual catwalk’, here are stories that make words like ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘virtual reality’ trend.
Voice bot controls the game
It’s very rare for many activities to turn the polite discourse of a family gathering into a raging fest, but perhaps a game of Monopoly does the trick? Metaphorical tables being turned (or even literally, if individuals are incredibly engrossed in it) as they let out their frustrations over a board game.
To avoid the potential of tables being flipped, its creator, Hasbro, has released (in the US) the latest edition of the properties game, which consists of an intelligent, voice-activated top hat that handles all financial transactions, giving players an outlet for their frustrations without hurting anyone’s feelings.
Called Monopoly Voice Banking, the latest edition includes its own smart assistant that doesn’t need access to a players Wi-Fi. Although voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are already capable of keeping scores of board games, this still requires players to have access to a smartphone or smart speaker, limiting their accessibility.
The iconic Uncle Pennybags himself is the voice of the virtual assistant – although Hasbro has decided to simply call him Mr Monopoly (Boo!), and all the financial transactions are handled by him electronically to help prevent cheating.
Well this would be no fun to play... and fans of the iconic board game are, just like me, not best pleased with the changes. One raging user wrote on Twitter that “Monopoly without cheat is not fun!”, and I agree with random Twitter user.
The beauty of the ever-so-frustrating game was that you had the ability to cheat and annoy your family members and friends, and that’s what made it worth playing. But now it has all been digitalised, it’s just not going to be the same anymore. No fun, Hasbro, no fun.
Asos turns to AR
To all of you who like to do your clothes shopping online, this may be of interest. Online fashion and cosmetic retailer Asos has launched an augmented-reality (AR) experience within its app. ‘Virtual Catwalk’ enables users to see 100 new-in products at the click of a smartphone.
With technology courtesy of London-based AR firm HoloMe, users can use their smartphone camera at any suitable flat surface and click the ‘AR’ button on the product page, allowing them to see a model in the clothes they are perusing.
Currently the feature is only available on iOS 11.3 devices, but Asos hopes to expand it to Androids in the foreseeable future. I don’t shop at Asos, nor have I used this feature; the only hope I have for it is its ability for shoppers to see the clothes on different sized models – small or large – to give shoppers a better sense of how an outfit might look on their own body shape.
Bitcoin and CO2 emissions
So, according to a study by researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the use of the cryptocurrency bitcoin causes around 22 megatonnes in CO2 emissions annually – it is even being compared to the total emissions of cities such as Hamburg and Las Vegas. Geez, that’s a lot.
You wouldn’t have possibly thought that a virtual currency would leave a significant carbon footprint initially, surely? Although virtual, the energy consumption associated with the use of bitcoin is very real, according to the researchers.
Bitcoin’s dependence on blockchain – to confirm transactions such as transferring funds – was sort of a dead giveaway to this revelation by TUM, seeing as this validation process uses vast amounts of electricity.
To estimate the electricity consumption, the study used IP addresses and hardware data from recent IPO filings, with the study pointing to the potential drawbacks of blockchain technology that should be considered by policymakers.
First UK conviction for making a gun with 3D printer
I’ve gone rather dark with my final Buzzwords subject but, in what is thought to be a UK legal first, a man was convicted of making a gun using a 3D printer on 19 June.
In October 2017, police found components for the weapon during a drugs raid of Tendai Muswere’s house in central London. The 26-year-old man claimed that he was printing the firearms for a ‘dystopian’ university film project, but didn’t make it clear to police as to why he included the component parts necessary to make a lethal barrelled weapon.
What a scary world we live in. It seems that you can literally make anything with a 3D printer nowadays, and now you have the odd people who decide to produce firearms. I feel like 3D-printers shouldn’t be purchased by just anyone, especially if they intend to print objects that could be a potential harm to others, like in this case with Muswere.
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