Amazon’s High-Tech Safety Vest Aims to Save Workers from Bots

Plus France fines Google $57 million for violating Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation laws, and Microsoft expands its Code Jumper software to teach visually impaired students basic coding skills.

by / March 2019

Safety First

Following stories like the December 2018 incident in which an Amazon robot sprayed two dozen workers with bear spray, the e-commerce giant is taking steps to protect warehouse employees from their AI counterparts. The Robotic Test Vest, designed by Amazon engineers, is a worker safety wearable that alerts worker-bots to a human’s presence when they enter an area to repair or otherwise work around the bot. The idea is that the bot will work together with the human to avoid collisions. The vest has been rolled out to more than 25 sites. Source: TechCrunch 

Jumping In

In the push to get more kids involved in STEM education, Microsoft has expanded its software that teaches visually impaired students basic coding skills. Launched in the UK in 2017 under the name Project Torino, and now called Code Jumper, the project is expanding to the U.S. Microsoft gave all the technology and research that went into the software to the nonprofit American Printing House for the Blind, who will also work to bring Code Jumper not only to the U.S. but also to Canada, Australia and India by the end of 2019. Rather than the drag-and-drop tools students often use to learn to code, Code Jumper has kids physically connect plastic pods together with their hands to create programs, a big leap forward for tech education accessibility. Source: Engadget 

$57M

In January, privacy regulators in France fined Google $56.8 million for not getting proper user consent before showing targeted ads online and for making their privacy disclosures too difficult to access, violating the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws that went into effect across Europe last year. Google claims it gets consumer consent, but French watchdog group CNIL found the company’s process to be unsatisfactory. Among other issues, the group wrote, “the information communicated is not clear enough so that the user can understand that the legal basis of processing operations for the ads personalization is the consent, and not the legitimate interest of the company.” This was France’s first enforcement of GDPR regulations. Source: Gizmodo

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.