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Technology is trending across every industry imaginable, from health and wellness to space and even fast food. And just when you think you’ve caught up on the latest developments, a surprising new discovery catapults into the spotlight and changes the game. How can busy tech enthusiasts keep up with the constant stream of innovation?

If you’re struggling to keep up with all the latest tech news and digital breakthroughs, you’re not alone. Check out this list of “must read” trending tech news stories to stay up to speed on the cutting edge.

 

  1. NASA is setting its sights on deep space

 

NASA spent billions of dollars over the last few years to build a rocket that, until recently, had no destination. But despite swirling questions, it recently tested a rocket in the sands of Utah that would be one of the safety features of the Space Launch System (SLS), nicknamed the Rocket to Nowhere.

While many conversations shifted in and out of the NASA ether about the purpose and destination of the costly craft, its scientists have finally laid a plan and destination: to the moon, Europa, and beyond. The SLS will lead several missions into space over the next few years—and issue in a whole new chapter of space exploration and human understanding of outer space.

In preparation for its 2018 launch into deep space, NASA contracted multiple companies over the last 6 years to develop parts for the SLS. Back in June, Orbital ATK tested the 17-foot launch abort motor for the rocket—a critical safety unit to transfer astronauts off the SLS if something should go wrong during its space tour.

During the first mission, named EM-1 (Exploration 1), the SLS will launch into space carrying the Orion spacecraft, which will be sent toward the moon. Orion’s 3-week data-gathering mission will not be manned, and will explore thousands of miles beyond the moon—further than any craft has ever gone. The exploratory mission will evaluate how technology fares in deep space, and how stable the habitat is, in anticipation of eventually sending astronauts out there. Four years later, SLS will launch again, and head to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.

As crews head into space on the second SLS mission, they’ll make Europa’s orbit a staging area for future long-distance travel. Through 2029, they’ll continue building the infrastructure to enable outer-space travel. A 4-person crew will spend a year around Europa gathering data and information on space living, while another crew will shuttle over to Mars for the great and much-anticipated reveal.

 

  1. Popular news site shifts toward modernity. Have you Reddit?

 

The internet’s “front page” is slated for some major changes, thanks to a recent round of funding aiming to help Reddit up its UX game.

Since the platform’s launch, the team at Reddit has been busy aggregating news to keep the public informed. But despite keeping up with the latest news, Reddit’s look and feel has been stuck in the past.

Reddit’s recent $200 million round of venture funding will be dedicated to bringing its website to a new level. That means improving tech and aesthetic aspects, honing in on trends like video, enhancing the customer experience, and hiring a team to help accomplish these goals.

Because a majority of Reddit’s 300 million monthly visitors access the website through their computers, the company’s big push is aimed at optimizing the desktop site. They’ll also tap into trending content by enabling users to upload videos. The savvy move could enable them to start generating revenue through video ads, which has the potential to increase their $1.8 billion valuation.

 

  1. How Instagram is changing the face of mental health

 

Researchers at Harvard University and University of Vermont may have just discovered a useful application for social media beyond enhancing one’s “cool factor.” With AI and machine learning seeping into industries everywhere, the research teams have been exploring how AI could eventually improve mental health screenings and diagnoses.

In a sample study of 166 clinically depressed and undiagnosed individuals, the researchers utilized machine learning tools to see if patterns and distinctions in Instagram posts could accurately diagnose depression. Their findings enabled them to construct a model that quite accurately predicted depression in both depressed, and undiagnosed individuals.

The study, published in EPJ Data Science Journal, showed consistent patterns—color choices, filter and enhancement use, and image quality—among healthy individual, and depressed individuals. Those with diagnosed and undiagnosed depression tended to use darker colors and filters tinted in blues and grays. Their images were often blurred or consisted of only them. The healthy sample group used brighter colors, images and enhancements, and, if they posted facial photos at all, usually had multiple people in the image.

Although the sample study was small, the results were promising. As researchers continue to explore the capabilities of AI, they remain hopeful that this growing technology will pave the way for a healthier, safer future.

Innovators around the globe have been harnessing the ideas of the future to launch them in real-time.

  1. Are burger tokens the next blockchain craze?

 

Digital currency has been lauded as the next financial wave. Cryptocurrency is quickly finding its way around the globe, lauded by governments eager to create a new national currency. And then, there’s Burger King.

Bitcoin and Ethereum have been growing fast, recently reaching record-high valuations. But despite their growing popularity, cryptocurrency had a particularly difficult time being adopted in Russia, where there has been talk of prosecuting users as criminals. Despite the past love-hate relationship with digital currency, Russian cryptocurrency fans and burger lovers have cause to rejoice.

The fast food giant’s Russian chain has entered the blockchain with the creation of its own Waves-powered token called the WhopperCoin (WC). The token is being awarded as a customer loyalty program to anyone who purchases the company’s signature burger, the Whopper. Tokens are deposited directly into the customer’s virtual wallet, and can be traded, sold and exchanged like any other token—or saved up for a free Whopper, if you can manage to accrue 1700 tokens.

Ivan Shestov, head of external communications at Burger King Russia, declared that with the advent of the WhopperCoin, whopper eating just became the key to a sound financial future.

It’s yet to be seen whether the ICO and blockchain wave is here to stay. But for Burger King Russia, and anyone invested in the blockchain, digital currencies are an opportunity to capture the pulse of this emerging tech craze.

 

  1. The city of the future looks a whole lot like Oslo

 

Innovators around the globe have been harnessing the ideas of the future to launch them in real-time. But innovation requires real-world testing to ensure the technology can move beyond hypotheses and become reality.

These 10 cities are testing grounds for some of the top up-and-coming technologies in the world.

 But innovation requires real-world testing to ensure the technology can move beyond hypotheses and become reality

TECHNOLOGY HITS THE ROAD

 

  • Oslo, Norway

The capital city is encouraging a cleaner ecosystem by nearly eliminating street parking in the city center, encouraging bikers to take to the streets. Their effort to ban motorized vehicles will continue over the next few years with the implementation of pedestrian-only zones, and increasingly stricter regulations against gas-emitting vehicles. 

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Autonomous driving is taking a turn for the better in the city that’s home to auto giants—and serious about researching, testing and welcoming self-driving vehicles into society.

  • Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

As autonomous vehicles hit the streets, smart roads are quickly becoming the future. The expansive city has set up sensors at many intersections throughout town to gather data in citizens’ interests, like monitoring traffic conditions and air quality.

  • Washington, D.C., U.S.

The machines have arrived, as six-wheeled robots roll through town delivering food. Sure, for now they are remote controlled—but it’s only a matter of time before they’ll be programmed to make the delivery on their own. 

  • Singapore

Self-driving taxis are circulating through Singapore. But until the technology is fully ironed out, a test driver still comes with it.

  • San Francisco, California, U.S.

Self-driving vehicles, electric vehicles and wheeled robots have taken to the streets and sidewalks of this neighbor to the north of Silicon Valley.

 

TECHNOLOGY STREAMLINES PRODUCT ACQUISITION

 

  • Reykjavik, Iceland

Drone deliveries have been on tech radars for some time. But it’s really happening in Iceland’s biggest city, where FlyTrex and online store Aha have partnered to test out the real applications of delivery by drone.

  • Seattle, Washington, U.S.

As Amazon expands its empire, its hometown provides fertile testing grounds for future-forward endeavors like AmazonFresh Pickup and their cashier-less grocery store.

 

TECHNOLOGY FIGHTS CRIME

 

  • Dubai, Arab Emirates

Body cams have been showing up in law enforcement for a while now, but Dubai just too AI to a whole new level with its human-like robotic police officer. Armed with cameras and a touchscreen, it provides an instant alert system where users can log issues—as the robot simultaneously keeps an “eye” on surrounding situations.

  • Moscow, Russia

The government is cracking down on crime in every form by placing 146,000 cameras around the capital city. With “eyes” everywhere, officials hope to clean up the city by ticketing violators and more.

 

Tech innovation is quickly opening the door to a future we have only imagined. If you’re having trouble keeping up in today’s infobese world, check back often for our curated tech news and the best of what’s trending.