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Meet Liam Nikuro, Japan’s First Virtual Male Influencer

1sec Inc., a Japanese technology company that specializes in blending the digital world with our reality, has created Japan’s first virtual male influencer, a young music producer named Liam Nikuro.

If you thought making it as an Instagram influencer these days was hard, we have some bad new for you: it’s about to get even harder, with perfect-looking virtual models entering the fray. Following the success of digital social media stars like Miquela and Imma, a Japanese tech start-up set out to create the Asian country’s first virtual male model. The result of their hard work is Liam Nikuro, a young heart-throb “from Los Angeles” who reportedly works in some of the coolest and most profitable industries of our time – music, fashion, and entertainment.

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12-Year-Old Boy Invents Rain-Detecting Clothes Drying Rack After Being Scolded by His Mother

A 12-year-old by from Nanning, China recently won first prize at a regional science and innovation contest for creating an automatic clothes drying rack that retracts whenever it detects rain and extends again when the sky clears. The ingenious contraption impressed a lot of people, but it was the inspiration behind it that really got people talking.

Lu Jiezhen, a sixth-grade student at North-East Women’s Education Center in, Nanning, China’s Guangdong Province, came up with the idea for the automatic rain-detecting drying rack after being yelled at by his mother. One day, she had to leave the house and asked him to look after the clothes she had hung out to dry, reminding him that he was to take them inside in case it started to rain. Needless to say, the 12-year-old started playing around the house and forgot to pick up the clothes when the rain inevitably came. When his mother returned, she found the clothes soaking wet, and scolded him for disobeying her. But instead of finding excuses, Lu started thinking about a solution that would make his forgetfulness irrelevant in the future.

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Russian Startup Plans to Launch Giant Ad Billboards in Low-Earth Orbit

Imagine looking up to gaze at the moon on a clear summer night only to see the sky full of glowing advertising billboards. That’s the future envisioned by a Russian start-up which plans to launch billboard advertisements into low-Earth orbit as early as 2021.

Russian company StartRocket announced plans to introduce orbital advertising billboards made up of a grid of tissue box-sized satellites called CubeSats. These tiny satellites will orbit 400-500 kilometers above the Earth and use reflective Mylar sails around 30 feet in diameter to catch and reflect sunlight, creating a pixelated matrix. The ads would only be visible at night but could be seen from just about anywhere on the planet. The company already has a CubeSat prototype, and could start testing its sky advertisements next year.

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Chinese Schools Track Students with GPS-Enabled “Smart Uniforms”

Eleven schools in the Chinese province of Guizhou have introduced micro-chipped uniforms that track and monitor the students even beyond school grounds.

Developed by local company Guizhou Guanyu Technology, the smart school uniforms feature two microchips embedded into the shoulder pads which allow both the school and the children’s parents to monitor their activity at all times. A GPS system tracks their movements and an alarm informs both teachers and parents whenever a student leaves the classroom or school grounds without permission, or if he falls asleep during classes. The smart uniforms also allow students’ parents to monitor their purchases at school and set spending limits via a mobile app.

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China Unveils Disturbingly Realistic AI News Anchors

China’s state news agency Xinhua unveiled two very realistic looking AI news anchors that can “tirelessly” report the news 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from anywhere in the world.

We’ve known that robots and artificial intelligence were coming for our jobs, but somehow I never thought news anchors would be among the first to be replaced. However, if the two AI broadcasters who made their debut last week during China’s annual World Internet Conference are anything to go by, the future of human news anchors looks very bleak. The newest additions to Xinhua’s team of broadcasters not only look disturbingly realistic, but they can also move their mouths to match the audio, blink, nod their head in emphasis, or raise their eyebrows. But their most important quality is that they can work 24/7, both on the agency’s website and on social media platforms, greatly “reducing news production costs and improving efficiency”.

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This Religious Pokemon GO-Like App Lets You Catch Biblical Characters Instead of Pokemon

Follow JC Go! is a religious take on the popular mobile game Pokemon Go. Instead of using augmented reality to roam around in the real world and catch virtual Pokemon, you get to catch saints and other religious figures.

Developed by Fundación Ramón Pané, a Catholic organization with headquarters in Miami and Honduras, Follow JC Go! is an augmented reality video game that combines technology and evangelization to teach players of all ages about the Catholic faith. It features the same principles as the immensely popular Pokemon GO app, allowing users to roam around real-life locations and use the camera of their smartphones to find and catch virtual characters. Only instead of Pokemon like the adorable Pikachu, players will be looking for saints and other religious figures.

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Chinese City to Launch “Artificial Moon” Bright Enough to Replace Streetlights

The chairman of a private space contractor in Chengdu, China, recently revealed plans to launch an “artificial moon” satellite up to eight times as bright as the real moon and capable of replacing traditional streetlights.

The ambitious project was announced at a national mass innovation and entrepreneurship event held in Chengdu, a city of 14 million people in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan. Wu Chunfeng, the chairman of the private space contractor Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co (Casc) revealed plans to launch an illumination satellite referred to as an “artificial moon” that would be eight times as bright as Earth’s natural satellite and capable of an area with a diameter of 10-80km.

The innovative satellite “designed to complement the moon at night” has apparently been in the works since for years, but thanks to the rapid advancement of technology it should be ready for launch in 2020. While the exact details of the satellite have yet to be revealed, some media outlets report that it will have a coating that can reflect light from the sun with solar panel-like wings which can be adjusted to allow the light to focus on precise locations.

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Modern Scarecrows Use Lasers to Keep Hungry Birds At Bay

We are always looking for new and innovative ways to harness technology, and the industry of farming is no exception. A blueberry farm in Oregon was having big problems with birds stealing up to 25% of their crops and this year, they addressed the problem using a somewhat unconventional new technology.

At the start of the blueberry growing season, the farm installed 6 Agrilaser Autonomics—automated laser guns which are mounted on a pedestal. These laser guns shoot a steady green laser beam across the bushes. The birds seem to mistake the laser for an incoming predator, and will immediately flee whenever the laser comes close to them.

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‘Human Uber’ Lets Users Attend Events Using Another Person’s Body

If you’ve been looking for something to help you leave the house even less than you currently do, you’re probably going to love “Human Uber” a tech concept that allows people to be present anywhere using another person’s body.

Japanese researcher Jun Rekimoto presented his idea, called ChameleonMask, at MIT Tech Review’s EmTech in Singapore this week. Although he described it as “human uber,” his intriguing concept is more accurately described as mobile FaceTime, although even that is too much of a simplification considering that the technology aims to allow someone else to live your life for you.

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Japanese Inn Teams Up with Car Maker Nissan to Create Self-Driving Slippers for Its Guests

Japan has long been known for both its strong traditions and being on the cutting edge of technology, and  this new inn combining the classic Japanese surroundings with high-tech, self-driving slippers and furniture is a perfect reflection of this.

Nissan Motor Co. developed a system in which slippers park themselves at the entrance of the traditional inn, called ‘ProPilot Park Ryokan,’ waiting for guests to use them upon arrival. When guests have finished using them, the slippers will drive themselves back to their original position. Each slipper features two tiny wheels, a motor, and sensors to drive it across the lobby’s wooden floor using a simplified form of Nissan’s ProPilot Park technology.

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This Man Has Managed to Remain Anonymous on the Internet for the Past 25 Years

Jonathan Hirshon, a public relations professional, has managed the rather astonishing feat of staying completely anonymous online for the past 25 years. Although he is a pro at building publicity for his clients, he is dead-set against images of himself appearing online.

This is no small feat in a world of social media where major tech companies are pushing facial recognition technologies, and people are always photographing the world around them on their phones. It is easy to pop up in the background of a photo taken in a public place, but Hirshon is vigilant. He has been successful in his efforts as a google search of his name doesn’t turn up a single picture of his face. So far, he has been successful in his quest to remain anonymous, as a google search of his name doesn’t turn up a single picture of his face.

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Double Bionic Hands Aim to Prove That Four Hands Are Better Than Two

Bionic limbs used to be restricted to the realm of fiction, but the technology, first released in 1993, has been making massive leaps in the past few years. Now, one Italian Robotics company called Youbionic has taken the next significant leap forward by releasing a 3D printed and customizable bionic appendage consisting of two robotic hands.

The 3D printed device, designed by Federico Ciccarese, is made from nylon dust and consists of an Arduino micro-controller, actuators, and three electrodes that are activated by nerve impulses in the same way that muscles move when neurons send signals from our brains.

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Chinese App Allows Celebrities to Sell Their Time by the Second, Fans to Buy It and Investors to Trade It

A new Chinese app called Miao A or “Seconds” allows celebrities and socialites to sell their time to fans, by the second. The unusual service has recently come under scrutiny, however, as investors are also able to buy and trade celebrity time, causing the app to operate as an illegal stock exchange.

The Beijing-based app describes itself as the first time-trading platform that helps fans get access to their favorite celebs. The company buys time in bulk from stars or their agents and then sells it in one-second packets to the public. The platform charges a 3% service fee on all exchanges, and all transactions managed through the Chinese online payment platform NetEase. An average month sees an exchange of 300 to 400 million yuan ($45-60 million) worth of celebrities’ time.

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This Hipster Bar Only Lets in Genuine Hipsters

You probably didn’t even know there was such a thing as a hipster-only bar, did you? Well, there is (sort of) and if you plan on getting in, you better grow a beard, put on some glasses and wear those checkered shirts hipsters love so much.

The Hipster Bar isn’t technically a bar, but an art project thought up by English artist Max Dovey, who created a software that relies on artificial intelligence and face recognition technology to tell hipsters apart from regular folks. He has been touring the UK for the last two years, turning regular watering holes into pop-up hipster bars by having patrons pass his hipster test in order to gain entry. According to 28-year-old Dovey, his machine will only grant you entry if you register as over 90% hipster.

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You Can Now Replace Your Pet with a Tail-Wagging Robot Pillow

If you sometimes feel the need to stroke a pet, but don’t actually want the responsibilities that come with owning a pet, this tail-wagging robot pillow is probably just what you’ve been waiting for.

Developed by Japanese company Yukai Engineering Co, Qoobo is a two-pound robotic pillow that sits on your lap and wags its fluffy tail when you pet it. That’s all it does, but then again, that’s all the interaction some people want. Whether they are allergic to cats and dogs, live in an apartment that doesn’t allow real pets, or just hate things like meowing, barking and having their furniture scratched, some people just want to stroke their pet and see them wagging their tail. And that’s where Qoobo comes in.

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