Researchers at a public university in Sweden are creating a 3-D, virtual reality model of the Milky Way. They say their work could change how surgeons separated by oceans collaborate on medical examinations. VOA's Arash Arabasadi reports.
Carlos Ghosn says traditional car companies face many challenges in an era of automation and electrification.
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BBC Click's Omar Mehtab looks at some of the best technology news stories of the week.
Hailing "great economic success" during the first 18 months of his administration, U.S. President Donald Trump is calling for more companies to be like Taiwan's electronics component manufacturer Foxconn and invest in the United States.
At a groundbreaking event for the foreign company's latest and largest investment in the upper Midwestern state of Wisconsin, Trump described the planned $10 billion manufacturing facility "as the eighth wonder of the world."
That may be a generous exaggeration, but the plant is one of the largest foreign direct investment projects ever in the United States.
"We are demanding from foreign countries, friend and foe, fair and reciprocal trade," Trump said, as he defended his confrontational trade policies and hailed further direct investment in the United States by manufacturers from other countries.
Trump hailed Foxconn's decision to increase its investment in Wisconsin, while criticizing a plan by an iconic American company in the same state to move some production overseas in response to retaliatory tariffs planned by European companies in response to the president's punitive import taxes.
"Harley-Davidson, please build those beautiful motorcycles in the USA," Trump said. "Don't get cute with us."
The president added: "Your customers won't be happy if you don't."
Trump defended tariffs he has imposed on foreign steel and aluminum, proclaiming that "business is through the roof" in the United States as a result.
The primary focus of Trump's remarks on Thursday was Foxconn's decision to build flat-screen, liquid crystal display panels in Racine County, Wisconsin.
The maker of components for and assembler of Apple iPhones was offered what is described as the largest financial incentive ever for a foreign company by a U.S. state.
Wisconsin is giving Foxconn $3 billion in tax credits and other incentives. In exchange, the state expects to see the facility create thousands of jobs.
Trump spoke in front of a giant video display that said "USA Open for Business" after touring an existing Foxconn facility at the Wisconsin Valley Science and Technology Park.
Foxconn's founder and chairman Terry Gou told the audience that during each of his several previous meetings with the president, Trump always emphasized "jobs, jobs, jobs."
Added Gou, "He truly cares about improving the lives of the American people."
The new plant, which will take two years to build and employ 10,000 construction workers, will include a 1.8 million square meter campus situated on 1,200 hectares. Foxconn has promised that the LCD facility will eventually employ up to 13,000 people.
Not everyone in the state is overjoyed about what is being billed as a transformational project for Wisconsin's economy, better known for dairy products than high technology.
The state's legislative bureau predicts it will be a quarter of a century before Wisconsin receives enough tax revenue to match its initial investment. And others are raising concern about its environmental impact.
"Building the Foxconn factory complex on prime farmland in rural Wisconsin constitutes a textbook example of unsustainable development," said David Petering, distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Petering told VOA News the facility will be a "major source of a variety of harmful air pollutants that will put nearby residents at risk and contribute to climate change. In addition, it will need to break the Great Lakes Compact law to get millions of gallons of water from Lake Michigan."
Users on social media complain the streaming service is editing and censoring speech in captions.
Melting glaciers and rising seas in Greenland; raging fires in Northern California; a relentless drought in Somalia and the disappearing Amazon forests. Famine, Feast, Fire and Ice are the four installments in a virtual reality (VR) documentary on climate change by filmmakers Eric Strauss and Danfung Dennis.
The series, showcased at AFI Docs, the American Film Institute’s Documentary festival in Washington, D.C., offers a 360-degree view of destructive phenomena brought by climate change on our planet. It immerses viewers into the extremes of Earth’s changing climate.
Eric Strauss told VOA he hopes that when someone watches the series as it drives home this idea that there is no hiding from global warming. “This is coming for all of us, regardless of where we live or what our income is; it’s going to affect everyone."
Ken Jacobson, AFI’s Virtual Reality Programmer, says viewers - who watch the film wearing virtual reality headsets - react in many different ways to this all immersive experience.
“Some people have a very visceral reaction where they jump, where they kind of yelp because they are very surprised by what they see, while other people, I think, are very reflective and can even be sad, depending on the content,” he said.
One of these viewers is James Willard, a film and TV production student at George Mason University. He describes his experience of watching the installment Feast, about the deforestation of the Amazon rainforests to make space for industrial-sized cattle ranches to satisfy the global appetite for beef.
“You are completely immersed in this whole situation,” he says, “You are facing these animals eye-to-eye and watching as they are marching towards their death.”
The film needs no dialogue. A few sentences set up the topic. “It is actually stripping away a lot of the information, putting you in environments that you then experience for yourself,” says Eric Strauss, “You are much more of a protagonist in some way in this type of stories than you would be in a traditional form of cinema.”
Another viewer, Patricia, has just watched Famine, the episode that looks at the extreme drought in Somalia. “It makes it even more powerful because you feel like you are there. I think, it’s a great medium to spread the word on critical subjects,” she says.
That's what Strauss wants to hear. “That is the goal; to effect change, to effect positive change.”
VR films are becoming more accessible as the technology evolves, and are often viewed on smart phone applications. But VR Programmer Ken Jacobson says watching them through a virtual reality headset is the best way to experience them.
But can VR films ever replace traditional 2D or even 3D films?
“I think it is going to add another aspect on how we are going to watch movies,” says student James Willard. “Virtual reality can be very dangerous because you are completely immersing yourself within the story to the point where you don’t see anything else. At least in the movie theater you are fully aware that this is a screen in front of you, but if you look to your sides you don’t have another screen there completely immersing you within that story. And with virtual reality that’s exactly what it does. For some people, it will be okay to take off the goggles and go on with their lives, but for others it may be too much. I don’t think it will completely take over.”
Eric Strauss agrees that VR will not overtake traditional cinema, but he says virtual reality can allow viewers to relate deeply with socially conscious stories.
“The technology creates a situation where you truly feel transported to that location because you are not just witnessing something or watching it on a screen. You are occupying the space. And that creates an emotional connection where you can’t really turn away. I mean, there is no getting away from what you’ve allowed yourself to be teleported to and hopefully that will create a visceral, emotional response in viewers and what they are seeing will prompt them to want to get involved.”
Shares in healthcare companies slide as the online retail giant expands into the sector.
Your Amazon packages, which usually show up in a UPS truck, an unmarked vehicle or in the hands of a mail carrier, may soon be delivered from an Amazon van.
The online retailer has been looking for a while to find a way to have more control over how its packages are delivered. With its new program rolling out Thursday, contractors around the country can launch businesses that deliver Amazon packages. The move gives Amazon more ways to ship its packages to shoppers without having to rely on UPS, FedEx and other package delivery services.
With these vans on the road, Amazon said more shoppers would be able to track their packages on a map, contact the driver or change where a package is left — all of which it can't do if the package is in the back of a UPS or FedEx truck.
Amazon has beefed up its delivery network in other ways: It has a fleet of cargo planes it calls "Prime Air," announced last year that it was building an air cargo hub in Kentucky and pays people as much as $25 an hour to deliver packages with their cars through Amazon Flex.
Recently, the company has come under fire from President Donald Trump who tweeted that Amazon should pay the U.S. Postal Service more for shipping its packages. Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations, said the new program is not a response to Trump, but a way to make sure that the company can deliver its growing number of orders. "This is really about meeting growth for our future," Clark said.
Through the program , Amazon said it can cost as little as $10,000 for someone to start the delivery business. Contractors that participate in the program will be able to lease blue vans with the Amazon logo stamped on it, buy Amazon uniforms for drivers and get support from Amazon to grow their business.
Contractors don't have to lease the vans, but if they do, those vehicles can only be used to deliver Amazon packages, the company said. The contractor will be responsible for hiring delivery people, and Amazon would be the customer, paying the business to pick up packages from its 75 U.S. delivery centers and dropping them off at shoppers' doorsteps. An Amazon representative declined to give details on how much it will pay for the deliveries.
Olaoluwa Abimbola, who was part of Amazon's test of the program, said that the amount of packages Amazon needs delivered keeps his business busy. He's hired 40 workers in five months.
"We don't have to go make sales speeches," Abimbola said. "There's constant work, every day. All we have to do is show up."
Consumer watchdog the Norwegian Consumer Council says the firms give users "an illusion of control".
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Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd on Wednesday settled a seven-year patent dispute over Apple's allegations that Samsung violated its patents by "slavishly" copying the design of the iPhone.
Terms of the settlement, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, were not available.
In May, a U.S. jury awarded Apple $539 million, after Samsung had previously paid Apple $399 million to compensate for patent infringement. Samsung would need to make an additional payment to Apple of nearly $140 million if the verdict was upheld.
How much, if anything, Samsung must now pay Apple under Wednesday's settlement could not immediately be learned. An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the terms of the settlement but said Apple "cares deeply about design" and that "this case has always been about more than money." A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment.
Apple and Samsung are rivals for the title of world’s largest smartphone maker, and the dollar sums involved in the decision are unlikely to have an impact on either's bottom line. But the case has had a lasting impact on U.S. patent law.
After a loss at trial, Samsung appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In December 2016, the court sided unanimously with Samsung's argument that a patent violator does not have to hand over the entire profit it made from stolen designs if those designs covered only certain portions of a product but not the entire object.
But when the case went back to lower court for trial this year, the jury sided with Apple's argument that, in this specific case, Samsung's profits were attributable to the design elements that violated Apple's patents.
Michael Risch, a professor of patent law at Villanova University, said that because of the recent verdict the settlement likely called for Samsung to make an additional payment to Apple.
But he said there was no clear winner in the dispute, which involved hefty legal fees for both companies. While Apple scored a major public relations victory with an initial $1 billion verdict in 2012, Samsung also obtained rulings in its favor and avoided an injunction that would have blocked it from selling phones in the U.S. market, Risch said.
With parents often playing catch-up with the fast pace of technology, it's often difficult to really know what their children are doing on their electronic devices. VOA’s Mariama Diallo reports.
Many older victims of fraud are too embarrassed to tell anyone that they have been cheated.
Hotel booking sites must review the way they rank and display rooms, a competition watchdog says.
The two firms have reached a final settlement in a patent dispute that has been in court since 2011.