Former Tech Employees Work to Curb Tech Addiction

Plus, South Australia creates the world's largest virtual power plant, and Amazon solves the problem of accidental Alexa wakes.

by / March 2018

Might as Well Face It, You’re Addicted to Tech

In February, a group of former employees at major tech companies like Facebook and Google launched a new endeavor: the Center for Humane Technology. In partnership with media watchdog group Common Sense Media, the group is working toward curbing tech addiction, which they find to be particularly problematic among children. One component of the work will be an advertising campaign called the Truth About Tech, which will target American public school students, teachers and parents alike about the risks, such as depression, associated with excessive use of tech. Source: Tech Times

Hey, Alexa?

After too many mishaps of an Amazon Echo accidentally waking at the sound of its own name on, for example, a TV commercial, the tech giant has developed a solution that will ensure its home assistant responds only to its users. Using what Amazon calls “acoustic fingerprinting,” Alexa can differentiate between uses of its name that come from an ad and its users’ voices. A patent filed for the tech describes the two ways Amazon keeps Alexa from waking accidentally: An element of a commercial will be transmitted to the Echo before it airs so it knows the false command in advance; and as a commercial plays, it could send the device a silent signal to ignore the wake word. Source: Bloomberg Technology

Virtual Power

The state of South Australia is teaming up with Tesla to create what they are calling the world’s largest virtual power plant, a network of home-based solar photovoltaic and battery systems that generate and store energy, and feed any excess energy that the home doesn’t need back into the grid. In the first phase of the rollout, 1,100 publicly owned properties will be outfitted with a 5kW solar panel system and a 13.5kWh Tesla Powerwall 2 battery. If that pilot goes well, the program will expand to include 24,000 more publicly owned homes and then 25,000 private households can opt in to the system. Homes participating in the solar power program are expected to lower their energy bills by 30 percent. Source:

Lauren Harrison Managing Editor

Lauren Harrison is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 10 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.