In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology news:
- Automakers to provide auto braking systems
- Amazon’s Alexa to offer Fitbit updates
- High-tech scans find King Tut’s hidden rooms
- Denmark sets up a “hacker academy”
- Automakers agree to put automatic braking in cars by 2022
Transportation officials and automakers say they’ve agreed to make automatic braking standard in nearly all cars within six years — by 2022.
Mark Rosekind — who heads the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — says the voluntary agreement with 20 car manufacturers means that the important safety technology will be available more quickly than if the government had gone through the lengthy process of issuing mandatory rules.
Automatic braking systems use cameras, radar and other sensors to see objects that are in the way, and slow or stop a vehicle if the driver doesn’t react. It’s the most important safety technology currently available that’s not already required in cars.
Safety advocates have filed a petition asking the government to issue mandatory regulations. Those advocates say voluntary agreements aren’t enforceable.
- Alexa voice software to offer Fitbit progress updates
Alexa, what can you tell me about my health?
Starting Thursday, Amazon’s voice assistant will tell you how well you slept and how much more exercise you need — at least if you have a Fitbit fitness tracker and an Alexa-compatible device, such as Amazon’s Echo speaker and Fire TV streaming devices.
Alexa — Amazon.com Inc.’s answer to Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana — is part of the online retailer’s ambitions to control your living room, as people start embracing a “smart,” automated home. You can already use voice commands to ask Alexa for weather, movie listings and sports scores. Fitbit is adding several commands to Alexa’s vocabulary.
Ask about your sleep, and Alexa will tell you when you fell asleep and for how long. Ask about your daily walks, and Alexa will reply with how many more miles you need to reach your goals. Alexa might also add some encouraging words, such as “I believe in you.”
In recent weeks, Alexa has acquired such capabilities as paying Capital One credit card bills, ordering pizza from Domino’s and getting a ride through Uber. Amazon now has more than 100 third-party integrations, known as skills.
“You never know what developers are going to do,” said Rob Pulciani, director of Amazon Alexa. “They have a knack for creating experiences that we would never have thought of.”
Fitbit already works with Cortana, but not Siri or Google Now. You can do more with Cortana, such as using voice commands to log your food intake. Fitbit is keeping things simpler with Alexa because the service isn’t tied to your phone. It’s meant to give you a snapshot as you’re walking by the Echo speaker on the way to the kitchen. For advanced tasks, you still need your phone app.
To enable the functionality, you need to turn on the Fitbit “skill” in the Alexa app on your phone.
- Egypt says scan of King Tut’s burial tomb shows hidden rooms
Scans of King Tut’s burial chamber have revealed two hidden rooms,Egypt’s antiquities minister said Thursday — a discovery that could intensify speculation that the chambers contain the remains of the famed Queen Nefertiti.
Mamdouh el-Damaty told reporters that the secret chambers may contain metal or organic material, but he declined to comment on whether royal treasure or mummies could be inside. Analysis of the scans made by a Japanese team showed chambers that would be scanned again at the end of the month to get a better idea of what may lay inside, he said.
“It means a rediscovery of Tutankhamun … for Egypt it is a very big discovery, it could be the discovery of the century,” el-Damaty said. “It is very important for Egyptian history and for all of the world.”
The discovery could shine new light on one of ancient Egypt’s most turbulent times, and one prominent researcher has theorized that the Nefertiti’s remains could be inside. British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves speculates that Tutankhamun, who died at the age of 19, may have been rushed into an outer chamber of what was originally Nefertiti’s tomb, which archaeologists have yet to find.
Famed for her beauty, Nefertiti was the subject of a famous 3,300-year-old bust. Nefertiti was one of the wives of Tutankhamun’s father, the Pharaoh Akhenaten.
El-Damaty said it was too early to tell what the metal and organic material could be,saying only that he thinks the new chambers could contain the tomb of a member of Tutankhamun’s family.
The tomb lies in Luxor, in southern Egypt, which served as the Pharaonic capital in ancient times, and is home to sprawling temples and several highly decorated ancienttombs in the Valley of the Kings. The discovery of King Tut’s nearly-intact tomb by Howard Carter in 1922 sparked a renewed interest in Egyptology and yielded unprecedented Pharaonic treasures, including the boy king’s sarcophagus and iconic golden burial mask.
- Denmark’s intelligence agency creates ‘hacker academy’
Denmark’s military intelligence agency says it’s creating”a hacker academy” where to train IT specialists who, if they graduate, will be offered employment.
In a statement, the secretive Danish Defiance Intelligence Service (DDIS) says the small group who will be enrolled are “already are among the best in their field.”
DDIS said Wednesday the academy “will not teach them how to hack” but will “target their mindset and skills so that they can be used” by the agency which spies outside Denmark’s border.
The Copenhagen-based agency DDIS said the four-and-half month long school is to start in August.