What’s new in tech
5G is not ready for prime time
I tested 5G wireless service in several cities across America, and it’s not ready for you, said Joanna Stern in The Wall Street Journal. I’ll admit I was amazed “the first time I saw a speed test hit 1,800 megabits per second on Verizon’s network in downtown Denver,” which is 52 times the average 4G download speed. But I noticed a difference only when downloading something; “emailing, web browsing, Instagramming, streaming video—none of that felt any different.” Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T are deploying their high-frequency waves in just small pockets of a few cities—and I could get the signal only when I was outdoors. As soon as I stepped inside, “the 5G signal vanished.” In Atlanta, it was 90 degrees when I visited, and oddly my phone could run just one or two download tests before it would overheat and switch to 4G.
Google Glass for autistic kids
Remember Google Glass? The computerized glasses unveiled in 2013 never lived up to the hype as a consumer product, said Cade Metz in The New York Times, but it is now getting an “afterlife as a device to teach autistic children.” A clinical trial from Stanford University, conducted over two years with 71 children, revealed that the “children who used the software in their homes showed a significant gain on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, a standard tool for tracking the behavior of those on the autism spectrum.” The glasses let a child look at a family member making faces—happy, sad, surprised, angry, bored—and try to identify the emotion. The glasses can help him make sure he is looking directly at a face and can tell him if he is right or wrong.
Microsoft’s voting security push
Microsoft is rolling out free software designed to improve the security of voting machines, said Ken Dilanian in NBCNews.com. The open-source software, called ElectionGuard, uses “an encrypted tracking code to allow a voter to verify that his or her vote has been recorded and not tampered with.” Microsoft hopes to have it in wide use by 2020. Security experts have grown increasingly concerned that anachronistic voting systems are being left vulnerable to hackers. Microsoft had already launched a free cybersecurity program, AccountGuard, to be used by political campaigns to detect attacks. Since September, “the company said, it has made 781 notifications of nation-state attacks targeting organizations participating in AccountGuard.”