Spectrum: Prepare to Make Purchases with a Selfie, Army Airdrop System Eliminates Enemy GPS-Jamming Concern

Plus, 5 million+ jobs will be replaced by robots by 2020.

by / April 7, 2016

GRIN BEFORE PIN: Paying with your smartphone is about to go a step further — prepare to pay with a selfie. MasterCard has plans to roll out biometrics-based payment authorization using phones’ cameras and fingerprint scanners. A digital check will trigger a pop-up on a user’s cellphone when shopping online, checking against the individual’s physical characteristics before completing the transaction. A pilot project found that 77 percent of the 750 participants wanted to continue using biometrics to complete purchases instead of a PIN or password. Source: Gizmag


Air Force and Army personnel use a K-loader to load the Joint Precision Air Drop system bundles onto a C-130J Hercules, Bagram AF, in Afghanistan. Photo by U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Tyler Placie

ROBO DROP: The U.S. Army is working to replace GPS-directed equipment drops with a system that guides packages toward a target based on visual cues. The new Joint Precision Airdrop system, JPADS for short, eliminates concerns about enemies jamming GPS signals, instead relying on an aerial guidance unit that’s made up of a computer, ground-facing camera and motors that steer the package to its destination. The ultimate goal is to be able to drop cargo from 25,000 feet and up to 20 miles from its intended site. Source: Engadget

5 MILLION+ JOBS will be replaced by robots by 2020. Based on a survey of 15 countries that together represent 65 percent of the workforce worldwide, the World Economic Forum says that administrative and office jobs are the likeliest to be replaced by automation. Another interesting stat: 65 percent of children starting elementary school this year will work in job types that don’t yet exist.

BRIGHT IDEA: Boston now has detailed information about the energy usage of its 92,000 buildings, thanks to work from MIT. Researchers in the university’s Sustainable Design Lab and Lincoln Laboratory developed a citywide urban building energy model, which gives insight into when buildings consume electricity and heating fuel. The tool will help inform the city’s energy-efficiency policy and plan for long-term goals. “Community energy solutions such as targeted energy efficiency, district energy, microgrids, local energy generation and energy storage represent an opportunity to fundamentally change the way our energy system works,” said Austin Blackmon, chief of energy, environment and open space for Boston, “but to get there we need a better understanding of the existing system and a way to identify the most promising solutions.” 

Elaine Pittman Former Managing Editor

Elaine Pittman worked for Government Technology from 2008 to 2017.