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Friday Five: 5/11-5/15

Happy Friday! Here’s roundup of this week’s industry news.

Could technology have prevented Amtrak disaster? – Chicago Tribune

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If speed is to blame for Tuesday’s Amtrak derailment (the train was going 100 mph while approaching a 50 mph curve) computer technology might have prevented it. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the accident might not have happened if the track was equipped with Positive Train Control (PTC) technology. This system uses GPS, wireless on-board radio and other components to detect an upcoming crash and overrule the engineer’s action/inaction.

This smart garbage can manages your shopping list – CNET

Indiegogo’s project “GeniCan” may be the Big Brother of trash cans. This new device (which contains a bar code reader) attaches to the side of your garbage bin and scans the barcodes on items you throw away or recycle. The items are automatically added to a shopping list, which is then accessible from a smartphone app.

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Google just lost its PR boss to Uber, at a time when the two companies are increasingly becoming rivals – Business Insider

Google’s SVP of communications and policy, Rachel Whetstone, has left the search engine for Uber. This comes at an interesting time, as Uber currently uses Google Maps data to power its apps for drivers and riders. Both companies are also experimenting in the speedy-delivery space.

Facebook Begins Testing Instant Articles From News Publishers – New York Times

Facebook’s highly anticipated plan to host articles directly from news organizations started this week, with organizations like NBC News and the New York Times on board. Because readers often stay on Facebook rather than follow a link to another site, the “instant articles” will load up to 10 times faster than normal and appear directly in the app or website.

WaitChatter Helps You Learn A New Language While You Wait For IM Replies – TechCrunch

Excusez-moi? New Google Extension WaitChatter is designed to teach G-Chatter’s everywhere a new language while waiting for a reply.  According to MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, the average person spends 10 to 15 minutes per day waiting while conversing over instant messaging. Why do nothing when you could be brushing up on that high school French?

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