18/01/2014 Click


18/01/2014

Click gets behind the wheel of some pretty smart cars. Plus, take a trip to the end of the century, to a world of space elevators and robot overlords.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

OK, engine off.

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-No. Engine off.

-CAR REVS UP

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Engine off!

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RADIO STARTS PLAYING

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This week, Click gets behind the wheel of some pretty smart cars,

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but are we ready to trust them and take our hands off the wheel

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and our eyes off the road?

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If that's not futuristic enough for you, we'll also take a trip

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to the end of the century,

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to a world of space elevators and robot overlords.

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Then we head to the stars with a guide to taking space snaps

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on your smartphone.

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All that, plus the latest tech news

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and the very best of the web in Webscape.

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Welcome to Click. I'm Spencer Kelly.

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Welcome to the back roads of Nevada.

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We stayed on in Las Vegas

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after last week's Consumer Electronics Show

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to bring you something hi-tech,

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but also high-speed.

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Cars are crammed with technology,

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from intelligent engine management systems to traction control,

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to in-car entertainment systems

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capable of shattering glass, as well as your eardrums.

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But now automotive augmentation is moving beyond horsepower

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and miles per gallon.

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Vehicles are hitting the road which can download apps,

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mainly for things like entertainment

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and weather updates,

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some direct to the car,

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some with the help of a smartphone.

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As seems to be the case with just about everything

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we use these days, the goal is to make cars smarter.

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The two biggest smartphone operating systems,

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Apple's iOS and Google's Android,

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were both born in the United States

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and both are now attempting

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to embed themselves in the ultimate mobile device - the car.

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Yep, few places in the world are as car crazy as the USA,

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but this suspicious hitchhiker could probably talk vehicles

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for the entire length of Route 66.

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I've decided to pick up Marc Cieslak.

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For those of us that can't afford a chauffeur,

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which is pretty much everybody,

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the concept of a car that can drive itself

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is perhaps the ultimate expression of automotive laziness.

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From the US military to search giant Google,

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to motor manufacturers themselves,

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the development of autonomous automobiles

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has shifted into the next gear.

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But before taking to the open road,

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motor manufacturers are starting small.

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Parking aids like audible sensors and rear-facing cameras

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are commonplace in many high-end modern motors.

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Taking this a step further, a host of manufacturers

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have self-parking cars on the drawing board.

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Audi's effort combines a variety of different kit.

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This testbed car is loaded with ultrasonic sensors,

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forward-facing radar and a laser!

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More radar at the rear,

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to let it know what's going on behind it

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and at its sides.

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There's cameras in the wing mirror and in the windshield.

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All of these sensors and the data that they collect is combined

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to give the vehicle a complete picture of what's going on around it.

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These allow the car to measure its distance from other objects

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to help it park itself.

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The driver kicks off the whole process

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with a swipe of a smartphone screen.

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The development of the system is moving at a rapid pace.

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Last year, the computing kit required to process this manoeuvre

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filled the boot of a car.

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Today, it slips easily above a wheel arch.

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But self-parking is merely the hors d'oeuvre whetting our appetite

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for the main course - a car which drives itself on the open road.

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Like this example created last year by a team at Oxford University,

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and Google's autonomous auto which, by 2012,

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had clocked up over 300,000 self-driven road miles.

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Audi's making use of similar technology it uses for self-parking

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in what it's calling Piloted Driving.

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On the highway just outside Las Vegas,

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this car is driving itself.

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His hands are off the wheel completely!

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This is really, really weird!

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We've had autonomous vehicles on the programme before,

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but this particular vehicle is rather special

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because it's driving all by itself in traffic.

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Albeit with a little help from the local Highway Patrol.

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The police escort is purely a precautionary measure.

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While this car is capable of driving itself, the Piloted Driving system

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has really been designed to take some of the tedium

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out of driving in heavy traffic.

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A wide variety of different sensors are at work here.

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Radar, laser, ultrasound, all of them being brought together

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and the information processed incredibly quickly to allow

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the vehicle to know where it is and, most importantly, how to react.

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The system's so smart, it's undergone

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a Department of Motor Vehicles driving test.

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This is perhaps the first car that I've driven in

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that has its very own driving licence as well.

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While the car is happy to take care of itself,

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it does make some demands of its non-driving driver.

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My driver is simulating being asleep.

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He's closed his eyes and the car continues to drive itself.

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But you hear that alarm... BEEPING

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That's the car recognising that the driver appears to be asleep.

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There are infrared cameras inside the cabin

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which are using facial recognition software

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when they recognise - because the eyes are closed -

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that the driver's dropped off, they sound an alarm and wake him up.

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So while the car will drive itself,

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you have to ensure that you're awake while you're behind the wheel.

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The engineers behind this vehicle estimate it will take

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about two years to iron out the wrinkles in the technology.

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Convincing lawmakers, however, that cars that drive themselves

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are ready for our roads may take a little bit longer.

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There goes Marc Cieslak.

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Self-driving cars are edging ever closer

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and as much as they need to understand the road ahead,

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they also need to communicate

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with each other and with cars whose drivers

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are still good old-fashioned flesh and blood.

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Here's Richard Taylor.

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Our vehicles may be smarter,

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but today, an automobile's existence

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is a somewhat solitary affair.

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Of the billions of cars plying the roads,

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not a single one talks directly to another.

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But as they become more internet connected, that's all set to change.

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Right now, in-car Wi-Fi hot spots

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serve drivers and passengers

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their infotainment fix.

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A few years down the road,

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a modified version of Wi-Fi

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could be broadcasting potentially life-saving information to vehicles

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several hundred metres away.

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This is the world of vehicle-to-vehicle communication,

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a kind of early-warning system

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that car makers are coordinating efforts around

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in order to help motorists make more informed decisions.

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Today, systems use sensors and cameras to help drivers

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avoid rear-end collisions,

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but these radar systems are limited to what they can actually

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physically see in their line of sight.

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By contrast, V2V equipped cars would broadcast 360-degree awareness

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about speed, position and direction of travel,

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including over obstacles and other vehicles.

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There are many scenarios where this could be invaluable.

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For example, when you're approaching an intersection,

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you'd get an alert letting you know

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there's a car about to cross your path.

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We're heading towards a green light here.

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What we don't know is that another driver, very irresponsibly,

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is just about to run a red and come straight across our line.

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Now, let's just see what happens.

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Ordinarily, we would have gone

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straight into the side of that vehicle,

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but with the V2V system, because it can see around us

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and through obstructions, has alerted us,

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and I felt very definite vibration,

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as well as the visual and audio cues.

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Unlike today's warning systems, V2V doesn't go further.

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For example, with automatic adaptive braking.

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It also requires a critical mass of cars to be equipped

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in order to be effective. And drivers, of course,

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need to respond effectively.

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Even then, significant challenges remain.

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Some of the major ones right now are making sure that all the systems

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talk to each other, so that different vehicles

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from different manufacturers understand the messages

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that are being sent back and forth.

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We also need to make sure that those messages are trustworthy

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while, at the same time, respecting privacy

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to make sure that the information is anonymous.

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Ah, the age-old problem of having interoperable systems.

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Brilliant! Richard Taylor there.

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'While I go for a little ego-boosting cruise in this thing,

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'let's catch up with the latest tech news.'

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American internet service providers may now be able to prioritise

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certain content on their networks,

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after a US federal appeals court

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rejected rules designed to protect

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a principle known as 'net neutrality'.

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Until now, ISPs legally

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had to provide equal internet access

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and bandwidth for all types of content,

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so they couldn't charge more to access data-heavy services

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like Netflix, for example.

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Advocates of net neutrality have said the decision

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threatens innovation and free speech on the open internet.

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Google has splashed out 3.2 billion

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on home appliances company Nest.

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It's an outfit that makes a smart thermostat

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that learns your routine and adjusts temperatures automatically.

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This gives Google a firm footing in

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the so-called Internet of Things,

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which has long been promised

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to make our homes smarter

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and more efficient.

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Choosing a tablet is no small feat these days.

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Will you go for the pencil-thin iPad,

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the productive Surface, or something

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from the smorgasbord

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of Android slabs on the market?

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Well, why not make your own instead?

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Built from scratch in under two weeks,

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the so-called PiPad

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runs on a tiny Raspberry Pi computer.

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It has six hours of battery

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and sports a Baltic birchwood body.

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Very nice!

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Michael Castor, the creator of the pad,

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doesn't plan on making another yet,

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so if you want one,

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better get your Pi out.

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If you're the type of person who's worried

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that your phone calls are being monitored

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by shadowy Big Brother types,

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prepare yourself for

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the arrival of the Blackphone.

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The mysterious device,

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which is indeed black,

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will run a security-orientated

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version of Android called Private OS.

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Those behind the phone

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claim it will allow users

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to make and receive secure phone calls,

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exchange texts, and transfer

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and store files,

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without compromising your security.

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The phone is expected to be unveiled

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at the Mobile World Congress

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in Barcelona next month.

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Last week, at CES, we looked at the gadgets

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that might be invading our lives in the next couple of years.

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What about a bit further down the line?

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Say, 70 or 80 years into the future?

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We spoke to futurologist Ian Pearson -

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yes, that really is his job title - to get his view

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on what life might be like near the end of the 21st Century.

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I'll give you a clue, it's a bit different.

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I'm Ian Pearson. I'm with a company called Futurizon

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and I'm a futurologist.

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Your day really starts when your consciousness

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starts appearing in the early morning.

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Sometimes, that's a dream, so we already know how to start

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breaking into people's dreams.

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We can detect that you're in a dream state,

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if you've got active contact lenses under your eyelids,

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so we could put video images into your dreams

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that would enhance them.

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We could link them to your girlfriend's dreams

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and we can make them much more fun.

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We could link your dreams to somebody else's dreams

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and you can interactively dream.

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Eventually, it's time for you to wake up

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and we can do that gently, you can deal with your e-mails

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and watch the morning news before you bother opening your eyes,

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because you've got the contact lenses in.

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You're not going to see the real world very much anyway.

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You're going to see a filtered, personalised view of the real world.

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In fact, that's part of what the city's going to look like.

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You might have a plain concrete building, but when you look at it,

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you're seeing a spectacular video overlay on that,

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which makes it look like a really cool building.

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You will experience it through your senses,

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it's just that your senses will be augmented.

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They'll be made an awful lot better.

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So when you're looking at someone, you're not dehumanising them.

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What you're doing is, you're adding...

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They'll have a digital bubble around them

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which tells them, what is this person's hobbies?

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What are they interested in?

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What kind of art do they like? What sort of person are they?

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So you'd see a lot more of that person, rather than a lot less.

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I see future transport very much as self-driving pods.

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We're all familiar with that concept from science fiction,

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but most pods are still streamlined.

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There's no reason why you'd make them streamlined

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because if the cars are self-driving,

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they can drive literally a millimetre apart or even in contact.

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They can meet up with the car in front.

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There's no wind resistance because there's no gap in-between the cars

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for them to get any.

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You might as well make small cubes with comfortable seats inside.

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They are totally self-driving.

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You can get in and say, take me to Number 5 Bloggs Street,

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and the car takes you there.

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You don't need to worry about where it is.

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The Sat Nav would all be voice controlled

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and it knows your diary anyway.

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So looking at the future city, we'll be using things like

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carbon nanotubes to go right up to 30 kilometres tall

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for space ports in 2075-2080.

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By 100 years from now, we might be going 500-600 kilometres tall,

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which is 1,000 times higher than the Shard.

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Those are the physics limits,

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about 500-600 kilometres tall.

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Those are ridiculously high buildings,

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that's above the Hubble telescope, for example.

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By the end of this century, we'll probably have a space elevator,

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one of Arthur C Clarke's concepts,

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where you have a big rock in space, with a big rope coming down

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to the Earth's surface.

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You use that as a high-speed lift shaft to get things into orbit.

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A lot of people, when they're thinking about the future,

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they watch science-fiction films and see a very gloomy,

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very dystopian view of the future where the machines

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all rise up against us. The good news is that engineers

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have known about this for a very long time.

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That's why we've got the sci-fi films.

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These are very understood concepts, so they're already in hand,

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we know how to defend against those scenarios.

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The future will not be us fighting against big armies of machines

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because we know, pretty much, how to keep them on our side.

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A glimpse of the future there from futurologist Ian Pearson.

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And you heard it here first - robots will not take over the world!

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Right until the point that they do.

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The desert really does look stunning at sunset.

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In fact, after dark, this is one of the best places

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to view the night sky too. No light pollution, see.

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In actual fact, did you know you can get a pretty good picture

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of the stars using just a camera phone?

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You don't have to be a rocket scientist to get a great shot.

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You just need to learn a little astrophotography.

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That's exactly what LJ Rich did

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when she boldly went and took a one-day course.

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As the great Douglas Adams once wrote, space is big...

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Really big.

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I'm going to add, it's also very photogenic.

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It's a familiar situation - there you are on a beautiful clear night,

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and there are millions of stars.

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If only there was some way of recording that forever!

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Mark Thompson is an astronomer by trade.

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Predictably, he's got a lot of kit dedicated to astrophotography -

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taking pictures of the stars.

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-Hello.

-Hi, how are you doing?

-Good, thanks. How are you?

-Good.

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So, Mark, I've taken a few shots with this compact camera.

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To be honest, the results aren't that great,

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so I'm hoping you're going to be able to help.

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You've got to get the basics right.

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We need a dark sky and we need it to be clear.

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Thankfully, we've got both of these.

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Something else you're going to need is a tripod.

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You can get it for ten quid and they hold a camera really steady.

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With something like that,

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you can start to get some wonderful pictures.

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'So, get a tripod, wrap up warm, and you'll be happy to know,

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'it's actually easy to take some good-looking pictures straightaway.'

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With objects like the moon, which are quite bright,

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you can stick the camera on a tripod and point and click,

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it's as simple as that.

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You can even add a bit of foreground to make it look quite dramatic.

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'To take your own photograph of the moon, put the camera in manual mode

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'and try the following settings.

0:17:350:17:38

'Set your aperture, or F-stop, wide. F-4 is a good start.

0:17:380:17:41

'Set your exposure to something like 1/250th of a second.

0:17:420:17:47

'And try the ISO, or sensitivity of the camera, at around 400.'

0:17:470:17:51

To get a bit closer to the stars, you could pick up a telescope like this

0:17:550:17:58

for under £200.

0:17:580:18:00

With a steady hand and a bit of patience,

0:18:020:18:04

there are some pretty good shots to be had, even with your mobile phone.

0:18:040:18:08

Once you've found the moon through the telescope,

0:18:090:18:12

line up the smartphone just so.

0:18:120:18:14

It might be a bit fiddly.

0:18:140:18:15

Press the screen to help your screen focus and snap away.

0:18:150:18:19

'If you have a DSLR camera, you can buy an adapter.'

0:18:190:18:22

We're just turning the telescope into a whopping great zoom lens.

0:18:220:18:26

Just push the button.

0:18:260:18:27

-There we go.

-And hopefully... Look at that!

-It's the moon, right there.

0:18:300:18:34

It's not just the moon you can capture.

0:18:350:18:37

These images were all taken by members of the public,

0:18:370:18:39

using a DSLR attached to a telescope.

0:18:390:18:42

These pictures were taken with a DSLR, or a compact camera,

0:18:460:18:49

but getting into astrophotography can be done

0:18:490:18:52

without spending too much on kit.

0:18:520:18:54

In fact, a simple webcam can produce some truly astonishing results.

0:18:540:18:59

One of the problems of taking pictures from the Earth is that

0:18:590:19:02

we're looking through the atmosphere,

0:19:020:19:03

which makes the picture jump around quite a lot.

0:19:030:19:06

Webcams allow you to take video footage,

0:19:060:19:08

so we can take all the individual frames of that video,

0:19:080:19:11

add them all together with free software,

0:19:110:19:13

-and come out with a wonderfully sharp picture.

-Brilliant!

0:19:130:19:15

Well, free software, that sounds like something

0:19:150:19:18

I could easily get my head around! Let's see if I can get this to work.

0:19:180:19:21

The technique is called image stacking.

0:19:230:19:25

I'm using a programme called RegiStax on a Windows machine.

0:19:250:19:28

There are others programmes available,

0:19:280:19:30

like DeepSkyStacker and StarStaX.

0:19:300:19:32

The software analyses each frame of video

0:19:320:19:35

and the resulting combined image is pretty good.

0:19:350:19:39

It's even possible in this image to see Jupiter's Great Red Spot,

0:19:400:19:44

a massive storm, three times the size of the Earth.

0:19:440:19:48

Astrophotography is not just the preserve of NASA or Jodrell Bank.

0:19:480:19:53

By combining a few simple pieces of technology,

0:19:530:19:56

we can all take some beautiful pictures of the night sky.

0:19:560:19:59

Why not give it a try?

0:19:590:20:01

LJ Rich, with Stargazing LIVE's Mark Thompson.

0:20:040:20:07

And if you're interested, there are many more videos to help you

0:20:070:20:10

hone your astrophotography skills, at the website...

0:20:100:20:13

OK, next up, it's Kate Russell, with Webscape.

0:20:150:20:19

# There's a note

0:20:210:20:24

# Underneath your front door... #

0:20:240:20:27

From celestial stars to pop stars now.

0:20:270:20:30

A good music video can really bring a track to life.

0:20:300:20:33

And with technology making

0:20:330:20:34

the creative process so much more accessible,

0:20:340:20:37

pretty much anyone can have a go.

0:20:370:20:40

Genero.tv lets you play the role of music video maker

0:20:400:20:44

by pitching your idea to bands willing to pay

0:20:440:20:47

anything from 1,000 and upwards, if they like what you create.

0:20:470:20:51

# ..And I never will... #

0:20:530:20:56

From stop motion animation to arthouse film

0:20:560:20:59

and everything in-between.

0:20:590:21:01

Just browse through the projects on offer, download the track

0:21:010:21:05

and get stuck in.

0:21:050:21:07

Even if you're not interested in becoming a film-maker,

0:21:070:21:10

this is a great place to explore and discover new music.

0:21:100:21:14

Bands can also sign up to set a budget and a brief.

0:21:140:21:17

This has to be about the most affordable way

0:21:170:21:20

to get a stunning accompaniment for your music.

0:21:200:21:23

# ..For me. #

0:21:250:21:27

A good understanding of money has never been more important,

0:21:350:21:39

but it can be a tough subject for us adults to grasp, let alone our kids.

0:21:390:21:44

# Money, money, money, money

0:21:440:21:47

# Money... #

0:21:470:21:49

A UK bank has launched a new programme aimed at making

0:21:490:21:52

this learning process a lot more fun.

0:21:520:21:54

Kids aged seven to 11 can sign up for the Pocket Money programme

0:21:540:21:59

to access games, quizzes and fun features

0:21:590:22:02

that hardly feel like learning to be smart about money.

0:22:020:22:06

You don't need to be a customer of the bank, or based in the UK,

0:22:060:22:10

although currencies and other regional aspects

0:22:100:22:13

are skewed towards a UK audience.

0:22:130:22:15

The lessons are fun and engaging for everyone though,

0:22:150:22:19

equipping children with a valuable life skill that they'll benefit from

0:22:190:22:23

well into adulthood.

0:22:230:22:25

There is also a portal for teachers,

0:22:260:22:29

helping you devise fun and engaging lesson plans

0:22:290:22:32

for your primary-age students.

0:22:320:22:34

All the material is free to download and use in class,

0:22:340:22:37

so it's good for your own budget,

0:22:370:22:39

as well as helping your pupils

0:22:390:22:41

learn about theirs.

0:22:410:22:42

# Red, red wine... #

0:22:460:22:50

Another thing we adults tend to worry about,

0:22:500:22:53

which wine goes best with fish?

0:22:530:22:55

Vivino is free for iOS and Android, with older versions still available

0:22:550:23:00

for Windows Phone and BlackBerry handsets.

0:23:000:23:03

It lets you photograph the label of any bottle,

0:23:030:23:05

which it then scans and searches the database for information

0:23:050:23:09

already in the system.

0:23:090:23:11

# ..It's up to you... #

0:23:120:23:15

Once scanned, you can store a record of the bottle in your phone's memory,

0:23:150:23:19

perfect for those times when your own memory isn't working quite so well

0:23:190:23:23

after discovering a particularly quaffable vintage of Pinot Noir.

0:23:230:23:27

Next time you're looking for a tasty tipple,

0:23:270:23:30

all the notes are right in your hands. Perfect!

0:23:300:23:33

Whatever your favoured tipple, always remember to drink responsibly.

0:23:330:23:37

Thanks, Kate. Kate's links are available at our website...

0:23:400:23:46

If you'd like to get in touch about anything you've seen today,

0:23:460:23:48

please do on the e-mail address.

0:23:480:23:51

We live on Twitter, Google Plus and Facebook too.

0:23:510:23:54

That's it from the deserts of Nevada.

0:23:540:23:56

It's time for me to get back to the car...

0:23:560:23:58

..which I parked...

0:24:000:24:02

by a bush.

0:24:020:24:04

Over here, I think.

0:24:040:24:06

Click gets behind the wheel of some pretty smart cars. Plus, take a trip to the end of the century, to a world of space elevators and robot overlords. And a guide to taking space snaps with your camera or phone.


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