30/08/2014 Click


30/08/2014

Gadgets, games and computer industry news. Including building the ultimate dance anthem, smartphones helping people with autism cope with anxiety, and food labelling developments.


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Transcript


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MUSIC PLAYS THROUGH EARPHONES

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All right. Don't bore us. Get to the chorus!

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Now!

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This week on Click, we're using data from the dancefloor

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to build the ultimate dance anthem, live.

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Should be right up my street.

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We take a look at the smartphone tech

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that's helping people with autism cope with anxiety.

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And we have some fresh developments in food labelling

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that should stop you munching on mush. Plus we'll bring you

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some very random moments from your past, in Webscape.

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Welcome to Click. I'm Spencer Kelly.

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And welcome to the London Science Museum.

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We're here because Click and this other famous institution

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are teaming up for a unique experiment. Come on.

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We talk a lot on this programme about data analysis

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and crowdsourcing and its myriad applications.

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But we did want to have a play ourselves.

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So we're putting on our own democratic dance event in this room.

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Now, that over there is LJ Rich. You probably recognise her

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from all the music hacking she's done for us over the years.

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She's been very busy over the last few weeks

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trying to use the power of coding

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to scientifically create the ultimate dance anthem.

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LJ, hit it.

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DANCE MUSIC PLAYS

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Who knows more when it comes to music -

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the composer,

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the performer,

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the audience?

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It's a question I've been obsessed with for a while.

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Dance music's all about making people feel good,

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and if the audience could control the music,

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maybe we'd learn something.

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Perhaps we could use that data to make the ultimate floorfiller.

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That data could help to compose some epic tunes

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that I think people would universally enjoy.

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I blogged about my quest,

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and thus the Democratic Dance Music experiment was born.

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Time to enlist some fellow hackers on my musical journey.

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The Dance For Science Alliance.

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First up, my crude analysis of commercial dance tracks

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with a wide appeal. Yep, spreadsheets!

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The most popular tracks were slower than I thought -

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between 125 and 129 beats per minute.

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I also collected data on the kinds of sounds and song structures

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common to the most popular tracks.

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Among other things, these songs all have a theme...

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a build...

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and a drop.

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So I composed some tunes based on my analysis.

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These tunes go to Adam.

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His programme will play a specific piece of each track.

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Which piece depends on commands sent by Rob's machine.

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Now, Rob's computer should let dancers

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press a button on their mobile screen to control the music.

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When 80% of the audience press a button on their phone screen,

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a command goes to Adam's machine to trigger the drop,

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or introduce the bass, in more formal language.

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Emi is working on a generative visual display

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based on the output from Adam's computer.

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It's a mammoth undertaking.

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It's going to be amazing.

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But there's a lot that could go wrong.

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A few weeks in, and we're checking out the space.

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Turns out the Science Museum has a rather spiffing sound system.

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Techies David and John hook us up

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while we each work on our respective areas.

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And before we know it, the event is upon us.

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Word has got out about our little experiment,

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and attendance is nearly a third higher than usual.

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There's clearly something about my idea that, er, strikes a chord.

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You have a sort of narrow band

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in which you want to keep your listeners.

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When people know that the drop is going to happen,

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that will be more pleasurable than when they don't know.

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Raising their level of arousal

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and then subsequently bringing them back down

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to a kind of warm homely feeling

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where they feel that their expectations have been confirmed.

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And expectations are high.

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A month's solid work, and we still haven't had a chance

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to fully test our six-computered, eight-handed hack.

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It's 40 minutes to go.

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We are trying to finish all of the coding,

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all of the cutting up of the pieces and everything

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before the public come in and start experimenting with us.

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Er...I'm actually terrified,

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and I'm also really super-excited at the same time.

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Just have to hope everything's working!

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Time to load our audience.

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We're asking them to connect to our network

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and keep a finger pressed on their smartphone screen.

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We'll track the motion sensor on their phone,

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and from that derive the "wiggle index".

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'People will be able to control the music

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'when the drop button becomes available.

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'But...oh, no.'

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I think we've actually got more than eight people participating.

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'I sense a tiny problem with our system.'

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Oh, er, the wifi is being broadcast from a laptop,

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and when people are trying to join, everyone's kicking each other off,

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and it seems to be capping out at about eight.

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It even kicked off our laptop here that's running on the screens.

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If you can't get online, don't worry - we're sorting it out.

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OK. We've done our first session.

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Our wifi fell over, predictably enough.

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I mean, when you're working with so many different things

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and there's not enough time to get those redundancies checked out,

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things are bound to go wrong.

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But the show must go on.

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It's not my first time on one of these stages,

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and we're actually 80% working.

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I have a contingency plan - manual measurement.

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So, essentially, we're now doing what DJs do -

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reading signals from the crowd - albeit more overtly.

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Everything else works, the visuals look great,

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and the crowd seem to like the music.

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Every time we do a project that's something that's never been done,

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we realise halfway through, "There's a reason

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"why no-one's ever done this - because it's so difficult."

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But, er...people are still really getting into it

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and we're getting usable data, which is what we were after,

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so I'm pretty pleased.

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On the night, maybe we couldn't do the actual mobile phone things,

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but we've still got some useful research.

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And we're going to try it again.

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'Much of that useful research

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'is how to make this work better for next time.

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'Essentially, we beta-tested in public.

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'We are optimistic that we can find the elusive wiggle index,

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'so we're planning on giving the Dance For Science Alliance

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'another outing. After all, we can't keep this guy waiting forever.'

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LJ Rich. And a few technical glitches are to be expected,

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of course, when you are that close to the cutting edge of science.

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Don't worry - LJ and her team of hackers will be back soon,

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so watch this space. Actually, coding and tech development

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can sometimes be more about the journey than the destination.

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Talking of which...

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this super-smooth video of a New York walk

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has been created using Instagram's new app Hyperlapse.

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It is really hard to keep a camera dead steady as it is,

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but over a journey of a number of minutes it's even harder.

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Well, Hyperlapse uses some pretty clever processing

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to produce a much more watchable result.

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Once you've recorded your journey,

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you can decide how fast you want the final video to run.

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Now, the app itself looks pretty simple,

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but what's going on behind the scenes inside your smartphone

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is actually quite impressive.

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When video footage shakes, if you think about it,

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the middle part of the picture stays pretty similar.

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So by zooming in a bit and twisting a bit when you need to

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and then getting rid of all those wobbly edges,

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you can create smooth, albeit slightly lower resolution, video.

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Now, this kind of technology has been available on computers

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for a while. That's why Click looks so fantastically smooth every week.

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The smartphone version, though, has an extra trick up its sleeve,

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by mixing in data from the phone's built-in gyroscope

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as well as analysing the video footage.

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And because you're speeding the video up,

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the app can throw away frames which would make the end result shaky,

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giving those videos a ghostly smoothness.

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This is not a video sharing app.

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This is actually a creative tool that you can use with Instagram

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or with other social networks.

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The idea was that it was a fantastic creative tool

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that was created as a hack in our office.

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Engineers just started playing with our technology,

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and found a really good method of using it.

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You've previously needed really high-powered technology,

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not a smartphone, to do this, and this was the test

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that came alongside the video compression technology

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that we already had in Instagram. And when you link the two together,

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you've got this really fantastic creative tool.

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And that's how this was born.

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It looks like Instagram is trying to steal a march on Apple's iOS 8,

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due out this autumn, which also touts a timelapse feature.

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Microsoft has also demo-ed a similar technology a few weeks ago,

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and it says it's working on putting it in an app for Windows phones.

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Instagram does plan to release an Android version of its app,

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but until then, you will have to have an iPhone

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to create your Hyperlapses.

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Very cool, and we'd love to see

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what you can do with this kind of feature.

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So tweet us @bbcclick

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or email your results to [email protected]

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Next up, a look at this week's tech news.

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A safety advisor at Facebook is going to call on the company

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to introduce safeguards to prevent users coming across gruesome images.

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Users have complained about violent images from a part of Syria

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controlled by the jihadist group Islamic State.

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Facebook initially refused to delete the images,

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saying they didn't contravene its guidelines,

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but later blocked the material after being contacted by the BBC.

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Google has shown off delivery drones it's been developing

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in secret for two years.

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Project Wing could rival Amazon's delivery drone plans,

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announced last year.

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Google says the longer-term goal is to use the drones

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to drop disaster relief into isolated areas.

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Project Wing came out of Google's

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clandestine research centre Google X,

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where its autonomous car was also developed.

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And you can finally achieve that perfect dog point-of-view video

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with the Fetch, from GoPro.

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The harness securely holds a GoPro camera on a dog's back or chest

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if they weigh between 15 and 120 lbs.

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No fur is pinched, and it has padded adjustment points.

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But please do note, it's not designed for cats,

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so no cat videos, please.

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We've all been in situations which make us nervous,

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but for a person living with autism,

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noisy, busy environments can cause overwhelming anxiety.

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But researchers at the University of Lancaster

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have been working on a device which may just help,

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and Victoria Gill has been to meet them.

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Just mopping the cup, son.

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'Like one in every hundred people in the UK,

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'Valerie lives with autism.

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'She was diagnosed 15 years ago at age 37,

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'so it was only at that point she realised what it was

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'that affected how she made sense of the world.'

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'Having autism can make my life difficult.

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'I sometimes do not understand what people are saying to me.'

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I don't know where we're all going to sit, though.

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'When I am going somewhere new

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'or doing something I have never done before,

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'I start to think about it too much and start to get worried.

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'Going out in the community can be difficult for me.'

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A trip to the shops is something a lot of us just take in our stride,

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but for many people who live with autism, the unpredictability

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of a high street like this can be a source of huge anxiety.

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So what if there was something that many of us keep with us all the time,

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that could alleviate this social stress?

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Researchers at Lancaster University have combined what looks like

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a stress ball, a pressure-sensitive squeezable game controller,

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with a smartphone app to develop a prototype piece of technology

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that could help people escape episodes of crippling social anxiety.

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The squeezy ball is connected via Bluetooth to the smartphone.

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And the smartphone can be put away in your handbag or your pocket,

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and then whenever you pick this up and start using it

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or start playing with it when you're getting anxious,

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the smartphone is recording that information and how you've used it.

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As well as measuring what's making the user anxious,

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the app can respond, posting to a social network

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or sending a message to a friend asking for help.

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It can also be set to send a distraction -

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a favourite song or online video,

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to take someone away from whatever's making them so uneasy.

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Every individual with autism is different.

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But for Val, even for a trip to the supermarket

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she needs the company of her support worker.

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Now, which sort of soap? Do you think that one would be good?

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'Technology like this could help her use her phone

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'to gain much more independence.'

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If this technology did come into play and Val was able to use it,

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it would be help her to gain ownership over what she does.

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Rather than having to have me physically there,

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she wouldn't need that, because she'd have prompts on her phone,

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and then if she was to become anxious

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she'd then be able to, you know, use the technology

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and have either a song that she likes come on

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or a shopping list come up on the phone.

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And it might be squeezy balls, or it might be, like I say, a ring,

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-that you could play with.

-Yeah.

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'The researchers worked with a small group of people with autism

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'to help them develop their prototype.

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'Later versions could be tailored to different objects

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'or even different fidgeting habits - whatever each individual

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'tends to do with their hands when they become anxious.

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'Val's diagnosis was the first big step

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'to a better and more independent life.

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'Technology like this could give her another tool

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'to help her make sense of a world that can sometimes be frightening.'

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Since I've been diagnosed with autism,

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my life has changed for the better.

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I've learned to cope.

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I've learned to cope with situations.

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I've learned to think for myself.

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Victoria Gill. It's amazing how the best ideas

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are often the simplest, isn't it?

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I have another one here which I'd like to demonstrate to you

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through the medium of pre-packaged ham.

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Now, we're all used to seeing these use-by dates on the packaging, here,

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but this package of ham also has use-by bumps.

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When the meat is still edible,

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this bit up here feels smooth,

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but when it starts to go off, like this one has,

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this starts to feel bumpy.

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Now, this has been entered for the James Dyson design award.

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It's already won an award for inclusive design.

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The inventor is Solveiga Pakstaite. Hi, Solveiga.

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-Hi.

-Now, this idea of accessibility and inclusivity

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was the inspiration behind these bumpy labels, wasn't it?

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I realised that blind people don't have any access

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to expiry information on their food.

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So I wanted to create a tactile solution that they could access,

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but because retailers wouldn't find it enough to change something

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just for a minority of people, I needed to add added value,

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so that's when I thought...

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What's another problem that we have?

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It's food waste, and how can I reduce that?

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I've used a natural substance, gelatine,

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er, which when you first set it, it's a solid.

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You set it over these bumps,

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and at first you can't feel the bumps because it's rigid,

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and gelatine, because it's a protein and it's a natural substance,

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it decays at the same rate as the food inside the package,

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and then it has the property of when it expires,

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it turns back into a liquid, which then enables you

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to run your finger over and feel the bumps underneath,

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indicating that the food inside the package is also off.

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Different food goes off at different speeds, so how do these things know

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whether they're attached to something that goes off in two days

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or something that goes off in two weeks?

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You can use the exact same formulation,

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you just need to increase the concentration of the gelatine.

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So the higher it is, the longer the formulation will last.

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So I guess the point is that if there's a printed use-by date,

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that commits to a certain date, that doesn't take into account

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how the food's been stored - whether it's been stored in a fridge

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or in a warm cupboard.

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Absolutely, and that's not the only problem.

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We don't know if retailers are actually being honest

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with the way that they transport and store the food

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before it even hits our fridge.

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For all we know, a lorry could unload a crate of meat

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and it might not go straight into the fridge, as it should,

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and we're trusting this date that says it's still safe to eat,

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when in fact it might not be.

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OK, Solveiga, thank you very much for your time and very best of luck.

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Now, when it comes to labelling our fruit and veg,

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things could be changing already.

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Lara Lewington has been given exclusive access

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to a project which is trialling laser food labelling on fruit,

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which could soon come to around 100 UK branches of Marks & Spencer.

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A grape and citrus packing plant.

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Every year, 1,500 tonnes of fruit are checked, packed

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and given their obligatory labels here

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before being sent on their way to the shops.

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But hidden away at the back is this laser machine

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that could change food labelling as we know it.

0:18:090:18:13

Only a couple of months ago, the EU gave the go-ahead for this technology

0:18:130:18:17

which uses safe iron oxides and hydroxides

0:18:170:18:21

to label fruit and vegetables.

0:18:210:18:23

But now we're there - logos, barcodes, prices,

0:18:230:18:27

use-by dates, and even food traceability information

0:18:270:18:31

could be permanently tattooed on our produce.

0:18:310:18:35

Yes, there have been laser labelling systems around before.

0:18:350:18:39

What the difference between those systems and this system is

0:18:390:18:42

is that this system doesn't damage the fruit in any way whatsoever.

0:18:420:18:46

What it does is remove a tiny amount of pigment from the fruit surface.

0:18:460:18:51

So it doesn't compromise the surface of the fruit

0:18:510:18:53

or the interior in any way at all.

0:18:530:18:55

Or speed up the ageing process.

0:18:550:18:59

Hmm. I don't think I've ever really thought about

0:18:590:19:01

the stickers on oranges before.

0:19:010:19:03

But once you learn that Marks & Spencer in one year alone

0:19:030:19:07

produce seven tonnes of labelling for their oranges,

0:19:070:19:11

you start to see how this could be the future.

0:19:110:19:14

There's a lot of environmental benefits to this, because currently

0:19:140:19:17

paper labels have to be applied to loose products for identification.

0:19:170:19:21

Those labels have to be produced in factories

0:19:210:19:23

and then shipped around the UK and around the world

0:19:230:19:26

to be applied to the products.

0:19:260:19:28

With this technology, it's sent by modem to a machine,

0:19:280:19:31

so there's no stock of labels, designs can be changed easily,

0:19:310:19:35

the carbon footprint is much lower.

0:19:350:19:37

It's a fraction of what it is currently.

0:19:370:19:39

We're going to do the trial first on oranges but we're also looking at

0:19:390:19:42

other products, and one of the products we're excited to look at

0:19:420:19:45

is pumpkins for Halloween.

0:19:450:19:46

Because with pumpkins we can actually etch the image of a face

0:19:460:19:49

on to the side of the fruit to make it easy for customers to cut out

0:19:490:19:53

the shape of the Halloween face.

0:19:530:19:55

So there are options aplenty. But what will the public make of it?

0:19:550:20:00

I think it's better like this.

0:20:000:20:02

It's clear and it's not going to fall off like a sticker would.

0:20:020:20:05

I don't mind that, because that can't come off,

0:20:050:20:08

so I don't mind that at all.

0:20:080:20:10

Personally I think that's a lot clearer. It's an improvement.

0:20:100:20:13

If it was a fruit that you were biting into,

0:20:130:20:15

if you saw that, would you have reservations?

0:20:150:20:17

Well, I wouldn't, but there's possibly people who would have.

0:20:170:20:20

No, I wouldn't like that on an apple.

0:20:200:20:22

And why is that, even if you knew it was safe?

0:20:220:20:25

I think it's just cos it's an apple, I don't know!

0:20:250:20:28

No, I think I would eat it with an apple. I would, yeah.

0:20:280:20:31

You might have two packets of apples in your house.

0:20:310:20:34

'With reactions looking encouraging,

0:20:340:20:36

'this could be a realistic taste of the future.

0:20:360:20:39

'Even if not everyone wants it on their apples.'

0:20:390:20:43

Lara Lewington, lasering fruit.

0:20:440:20:47

Back here at the Science Museum, this is Babbage's Difference Engine.

0:20:470:20:51

It was designed in the late 1840s

0:20:510:20:53

and it's essentially one of the first mechanical calculators.

0:20:530:20:57

This is actually Difference Engine number two.

0:20:570:20:59

If you're wondering what the difference is between two and one,

0:20:590:21:02

apparently it's one.

0:21:020:21:05

Now, I might be getting a little overexcited about this,

0:21:050:21:07

but I'm not alone in that. There's a fair amount of geek blood

0:21:070:21:10

flowing through Kate Russell's veins and she's up next, in Webscape.

0:21:100:21:14

# There's a place and time

0:21:160:21:19

# In the back of my mind... #

0:21:190:21:22

Some dates you always remember,

0:21:220:21:24

like birthdays and hopefully your anniversary.

0:21:240:21:27

But that doesn't make the other 364 days of the year any less special.

0:21:270:21:33

Timehop is a fun free app for iOS and Android

0:21:330:21:37

that reminds you of random things you were doing each day in the past

0:21:370:21:41

by showing you something

0:21:410:21:42

you posted on your social media accounts on that day.

0:21:420:21:45

# There's a place and time... #

0:21:450:21:48

The amount of noise the world makes on social media

0:21:480:21:51

has grown to such an extent it almost defies comprehension.

0:21:510:21:55

Collectively on the web,

0:21:550:21:57

we create as much information in two days now

0:21:570:22:00

as was made from the dawn of civilisation up to 2003.

0:22:000:22:05

So this glance into the past could prove a valuable link

0:22:050:22:10

to those long-forgotten memories.

0:22:100:22:12

You can connect your account with several social channels

0:22:140:22:17

like Facebook, Instagram and Foursquare,

0:22:170:22:20

and then get ready for a daily dose of nostalgia.

0:22:200:22:23

Listening to the chatter online, you might wonder what it all means.

0:22:290:22:33

Test your tech jargon know-how with this quick quiz

0:22:330:22:37

and let us know how you stack up.

0:22:370:22:40

# Get my geek on Get my, get my geek on

0:22:400:22:43

# Get my geek on Get my, get my geek on... #

0:22:430:22:46

It seems there is a neverending supply of quizzes and tests

0:22:460:22:50

to amuse yourself online, from What Computer Am I?

0:22:500:22:54

to What Rodent Are You?

0:22:540:22:56

to Which Hot Dog Represents Your Inner Self?

0:22:560:23:00

If all that seems like a colossal waste of time,

0:23:000:23:04

why not try doing nothing instead?

0:23:040:23:07

To help you, this quirky website asks you to sit and be peaceful

0:23:090:23:14

for two minutes.

0:23:140:23:16

No mouse, no keyboard,

0:23:160:23:18

just sit there.

0:23:180:23:20

The big question is, can you do it?

0:23:200:23:23

1:58, 1:59...two minutes!

0:23:280:23:32

Did I miss anything?

0:23:320:23:34

Anyway, that's it from Click at the London Science Museum.

0:23:340:23:37

Hope you enjoyed the programme, and if you'd like to get in touch

0:23:370:23:40

about anything you've seen, please feel free to email us.

0:23:400:23:43

We are [email protected]

0:23:430:23:45

and for more from us throughout the week, you know where we live -

0:23:450:23:48

on twitter, @bbcclick, and on the web, bbc.co.uk/click.

0:23:480:23:53

Thank you very much for watching, and we will see you next time.

0:23:530:23:56

Building the ultimate dance anthem, smartphone tech helping people with autism cope with anxiety, and fresh developments in food labelling.


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