Alexa Smart Speaker as Heart Monitor; Apple Cuts iPhone Mini Production; Twitter Possible Fix For Bad Image Cropping; TikTok-New Tools for ‘Unkind’ & ‘Inappropriate’ Comments

Researchers at the University of Washington have managed to turn one of Amazon’s Alexa smart speakers into a heartbeat monitor. Geekwire.com reports that they figured out a way to use machine learning algorithms to make an Alexa powered speaker into a sensitive medical device that can detect irregular heartbeats. They have also been able to get the result with a Google Home speaker. The smart speakers send out an inaudible sound that bounces of a person’s chest, and back to the device, where it can pick up uneven cardiac rhythm, which can indicate strokes or sleep apnea. Privacy advocates often raise concerns about the ability of smart speakers to listen in on people and collect personal information. This new skill does not use frequencies that have audible data, helping preserve privacy. It also works in a limited range, only monitoring someone within a couple of feet of the device.

Apple has slashed iPhone 12 Mini production due to ‘far lower’ demand for the pint-sized iPhone. According to macrumors.com, Apple is cutting production for all iPhones by about 20%….but the lion’s share of the cuts are for the Mini. Even with the cuts, Apple’s overall iPhone production and sales are running a bit ahead of last year at this time. Demand remains pretty strong for the top of line iPhone 12 models, with Apple expecting to make over 75 million iPhones in the first half of this year. Most Apple watchers think Apple will still make a Mini next year. 

Twitter has come up with a solution of sorts to its less than good image cropping…NO cropping! Theverge.com notes that the image preview in the compose box will be the final result. Twitter says this will make images ‘bigger and better.’ The platform is also testing 4K uploading on iOS and Android in order to improve how users share and others view media on it. Twitter has not said when this change might go live for everyone on the platform. 

TikTok has unveiled new features to rein in ‘unkind’ and ‘inappropriate’ comments. The features remind users about community guidelines but also allows creators to ‘filter’ their comments. You can filter all comments, which enlarges on filtering spam, by key words, and now ‘offensive comments.’ Businessinsider.com reports that besides the creator side, when users try to leave a comment the app sees a ‘unkind’ or ‘inappropriate’, it will prompt them to edit or delete their post, and will remind them of TikTok’s community guidelines. The changes were made in partnership with the Cyberbullying Research Center. 



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