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Sony files ‘SmartWig’ patent

Wearable technology could soon be taken a step further after Japanese tech giant Sony announced that it has filed an application to patent the technology for a  (more…)

Google working on social media automation technology

Search giant Google has patented its plans for new software capable of gradually learning social media users’ online behavioural habits.

After learning traits over time, the technology would be able to mimic the user’s typical responses to messages and status updates from friends and family members. It is also capable of flagging potentially urgent updates to allow personal responses when appropriate.

It is thought that the idea behind the software is to make it easier for people to juggle multiple social platforms.

In the patent, Ashish Bhatia, one of Google’s software engineers, explained how the popularity of social media, as well as other forms of electronic communication, has grown substantially in the last few years, and that this has left some users unable to keep up with the messages they receive.

In an attempt to solve the problem, Google has envisioned a complex system which gathers data on all of the social media platforms the user has joined before logging what they do and how they deal with the various types of status updates, personal messages and content sent to them.

By analysing the responses, the software is able to build up a knowledge-base, allowing it to make suggestions of its own. Google hopes that these suggestions will be indistinguishable from those of a real person.

Although the program seems sophisticated, the examples given in the patent still point to a need for refinement.

For instance, upon learning that a ‘friend’ called David has started a new job, the system could suggest:

“Hey David, I am fine, You were in ABC corp for 3 years and you recently moved to XYZ corp, how do you feel about the difference, enjoying your new workplace?”

Experts have also suggested that the subtleties of human communication could catch the new system out.

Here at Pressroom, we see social media as a tool which allows businesses to interact with their customers in a ‘human’ way, and for this reason, sites like Facebook and Twitter have become invaluable. It remains to be seen how Google’s new ideas, if they come to fruition, would affect this.

Vowel disorder – a background on five important letters

They stop our words becoming unpalatable, unpronounceable mouthfuls, but how much do you know about the letters A, E, I, O and U?

For a start, very few words in our language can do without them. The longest word without a traditional vowel is ‘rhythms’, although the Y acts as a vowel here. In Welsh, Y and W both often take vowel form, making consonant clusters more common, and Slavic languages are often the least vowel friendly. For example, in the unlikely event that you want to ask someone in the Czech Republic “did you flick up?” you’ll need to get your lips around the mindboggling word “vzcvrnkls”.

In English, it’s perhaps just as well that we’re able to open our vocal tracts a bit more and embrace the transition between one consonant and the next. Indeed, vowels are so rife in our language that the Canadian experimental writer Christian Bök managed to use them as the backbone for part of his 2001 compilation ‘Eunoia’. Bök penned five short stories, each of which used only one of the five vowels. They may not be much to read in their own rights, but they make sense and you have to admire Bök’s persistence and broadness of vocabulary. I would also add that the ‘adult’ scene in Chapter U is beautifully vulgar and well worth a read if you’re not too easily offended.

Here are three things you might not know about each of the vowels:


• Believed to have first been represented in proto-Sinaitic script by a picture of an ox’s head
• Can take six different sounds in English
• The name of a British rock band who had a Top 10 hit in 2002 with ‘Nothing’, and obviously didn’t consider how easy it would be to Google them when selecting their name


• Appears in more English words than any other letter
• In Etruscan script, it appeared as a back-to-front version of the capital E we use today
• In the Iain Banks novel ‘The Wasp Factory’, troubled but highly-intelligent protagonist Frank Cauldhame states that E is his lucky number, referring to the mathematical constant equating roughly 2.7


• A very short and convenient way to avoid repeatedly referring to yourself in the third person
• The fifth most commonly used letter in English
• A letter now synonymous with a range of Apple products, such as the iPhone and iPad


• Originally represented by a drawing of a human eye, but has always been roughly round in shape
• Believed to be the most common single-letter surname, occurring commonly in Japan and Korea
• Singers Roy Orbison and Otis Redding were both nicknamed ‘The Big O’


• Used somewhat interchangeably with V in the Middle Ages, with V normally occurring at the start of a word and U in the middle
• Controversially sometimes used to shorten the word ‘you’
• A video went viral in 2007 showing that a number of people living in the United States of America struggled to think of a country beginning with ‘U’, with one answering ‘Yugoslavia’

All of this just goes to show that there’s more to these letters than part of the ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm’ rhyme.

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