Africa Development Center

Two Africa Development Centers were launched by Microsoft on Friday, 17th of May 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria. The centers were launched as an extension of the existing Microsoft offices but will be stand-alone centers soon.

The Africa Development Centers were launched not to only cater for job creation but to fulfill the organization’s mission to the letter which is: To empower every person in every organization in the world to achieve better. Prior to the launch of this Development Center, there have been 6 others globally.

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The Africa Development Centers are to function as centers where innovative solutions which revolve around intelligent cloud and intelligent edge are developed. These innovative solutions can then be applied to areas such as FinTech, AgriTech, OffGrid energy and other fields that are devoid of technological infusion in the country.

To achieve this, Microsoft seeks to hire engineering talent in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and mixed reality (MR). Microsoft will be liaising with Universities to create a cloud curriculum as well as create a modern intelligent edge that is unique to Africa.

To fuel this initiative, the organization will hire about 100 full-time engineers by the end of the year, 2019 and it looks to expand the number of engineers to 500 across both the Nairobi and Lagos site by 2023.The cost of operation as regards infrastructure and recruitment for the next five years totals $100 million.

Link to application here https://microsoftadc.com/

Maker Spaces

STEM and Robotic movement have gathered a lot of momentum thus far. Individuals as well as organizations have established spaces where STEM education and Robotics can be engaged by a diverse demography. The establishment of these spaces, called maker spaces enhance involvement and innovation in tech. In these spaces, fun in learning across the scope of both areas hold topmost priority. Founders and facilitators have committed to achieve teaching in a more exciting way than the traditional learning methods associated with modern-day schooling. Some of the maker spaces involved with propelling STEM and Robotics are as follows.



STEM Café

Stem Café was launched by Bosun Tijani. It is a space where children between the ages of 5 and 18 can come around, interact, and engage STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in a lively and enjoyable manner. The Co-Creation hub co-founder recognizes that the world is sporadically turning into an environment that is drastically driven by technology hence the birth of this initiative. This center is located at Plot 10, Otunba Adedoyin Ogungbe Crescent, Providence Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos. Some of the tools used to engage the kids include: Robotics kit, 3D printers, and Computer games. They also have access to digital labs and they are made to compete healthily in coding challenges. Highly trained STEM educators are saddled with the responsibility of infusing the kids with the adequate knowledge required for STEM education. The space is open between the hours of 12pm and 6pm during the weekdays, 10am- 6pm on Saturdays, and 2pm-6pm on Sundays. Users will however be required to pay a sum of N5000 per annum.

GTbank Playcenter: Nigeria’s First Digital Playcenter for Children

GTbank also launched a digital playground for kids. This, just like STEM café is located in Lekki, Lagos state. The recently launched center exposes children between the ages of 5 and 10 to a digital experience in three areas, namely; Sketch Town, Leggo City, and Chalkboard. Sketch Town utilizes 3D paper crafting where kids can design and bring their sketches to life. Leggo City challenges the kids with developing stories about their own fictional characters through engaging Leggo games. While Chalkboard allows for creativity and diversity of expression by the kids on the wall of Playcenter. The center is free for use but only to members who have the GTbank Smart Kids Save account. The center is operational between 10am and 2pm during weekdays, and 10am and 1pm on Saturdays. The sessions last for an hour.

Alofos

Alofos is a Foundation that was established in a bid to foster participation of youths in Science and Technology. The foundation is run by a team of experts which is led by Professor O.A. Sofola. This space is located at 40, Johnson Street, off Bode Thomas, Surulere Lagos. It seeks to drive passion, spark up creativity, and promote team building among youths. Some of their more specific objectives include: Encourage debate on science and technology related issues, provide mentorship in careers related to science and technology, champion improved performance in science and technology, demystify science and technology, and make contribution to science and technology in Nigeria. Local and international programs and competition are conducted to fuel the interest of youths and some of them are: First Global Robotics Competition, and World Robotics Olympiad. Its free for children and youth to explore robotics and programming.

Brainiacs

Brainiacs is run by Musa Mohammed and is located at 78A, Isale Eko Avenue, Dolphin Estate in Ikoyi, Lagos. Brainiacs cater for individuals between the ages of 6 and 24 and impacts STEM education in them thus keeping them better equipped to build a better future.  Some of the areas in which they train the children and young adults in are: Robotics, Game Modding, Computer Programming, Application Development and Basic Electronics. This occur during private lessons that are scheduled all year round as well as organized summer camps.

Roboglobal

Roboglobal Educational consulting is located in Surulere, Lagos and It is run by Remi Willoughby who is a Highly skilled, certified, and experienced educator with a broad perspective on learning. Over 30 years of successful teaching, curriculum designing, and implementing educational robotics in the classroom. Presenter of several professional developments to educators in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Some of the equipment used are: VEX IQ, VEX EDR, Bee bot, REV robots, mBot. She is ready to leverage the years of positive classroom experiences in corporate training.

Evidently, there is a huge sensitization to STEM, Robotics and other related fields. The only thing to do is to key into such development so as not to be left behind by technology.

Facebook Developers Conference (F8)

F8 is a conference that is held mostly-annually. The conference is targeted at developers who build around the website, and entrepreneurs who execute services on the website. F8 was formerly an 8-hour hackathon where developers and programmers interact on a diversity of projects and that is where the name F8 came from. This year’s F8 which held between April 30th and May 1st was hosted in San Jose, CA in Silicon Valley.

The traditional layout of the event comprises; a keynote speech from the founder –Mark Zuckerberg, an introduction of new features to the Facebook family of apps, breakout sessions, exhibition of the latest technology, and announcements.

The founder began with his keynote and described the theme of this conference as “The future is private”. The keynote concentrated “on building a privacy-focused social platform”. Before now, Facebook had been under the spotlight for supposedly intruding on the privacy of its users hence the introduction of new features to help curb that ideology and help users connect better.

During the keynote, updates to Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook’s core service were announced. We also got more news about the Oculus Quest and Rift S Virtual Reality headsets. Facebook assured that based on some modifications, private interaction, encryption, reduced permanence, safety, interoperability, and secure data storage, the services will be delivered better. Details of the announcements are:

  • Messenger

Messenger will have end to end encryption to support the privacy vision. It will also have a second tab that is dedicated to just close friends and family, and the feeds will be personalized. A link of close friends can be created across Messenger, Facebook and Instagram. Users will also be able to watch videos within messenger together with their close network of friends. The aim of the organization is to make messenger the fastest private communication app. It is also proposed to function, requiring less battery and less storage.

  • WhatsApp

WhatsApp is introducing a business product catalogue. On this catalogue, pictures and videos of business materials will be featured.

  • Facebook

Facebook will have a new design called FB5. It will adopt a simpler and fresher display; it is already available on the mobile app and will be coming on desktop in a few months. It also has the dark mode, to enable protection for the eyes. It has the ability to save the spot of the feed which was last viewed on the homepage such that when activity is resumed on that page, users can pick up from where they left off.  There were several other modifications on Facebook. Such as:

  • Group Tab has been modified to serve the purpose of suggesting groups of interest to users.
  • Health Support Communities has a feature that lets users ask admins to post on their behalf, of course anonymously.
  • Profession-wise, Job groups will posses a template that will grant them access to apply for jobs through Facebook when employers post openings.
  • Gaming Groups will get a chat feature so users can interact.
  • It will also engage E- Commerce, Buyers will be able to check out items for sale and can pay for the item while still remaining on the site.
  • Facebook Dating will also be launched. There will be a dating profile in which likes and interests will be on. This is different from the main profile. Activities on the dating profile are only visible to those who have opted in for Facebook dating.
  • Secret Crush lets you create a private list of friends that you might be interested in and it notifies that there is a match if users appear on each other’s crush list.
  • Meet New Friends helps users find more connection with people who are in shared communities such as schools, institutions and work place. In general, it is making connection easier.
  • Facebook Icon will also be updated. To a livelier version.
  • Instagram

Instagram camera will be redesigned, it will be simpler to use and will possess a create mode feature which will allow a variety of content shared, other than videos and pictures. There will be Private Like Accounts – this is for the reason of disengaging online bullying through number of likes. Users can see liked pictures but cannot see the number of likes except they asked for it.  These are still being experimented.

The company wants to lead the movement against online bullying. If there is an aggressive comment about to be put out, Instagram will “nudge”. There is also the Away Mode that lets the user opt out of Instagram when in a sensitive moment such as going through a divorce, breakup, grieving of a loved one etc.

  • VR: Oculus Rift S and Oculus quest.

Oculus Rift S which also part of Facebook Technologies is an improvement on the original headset which has better optics and better tracking than the previous model. Oculus Quest is an all in one headset which does not possess cables and makes it easy for mobility. This is made possible by Oculus’ tracker. Both headsets will be shipped within a month and they are available for pre order.

To support the next age of computing, Spark AR studio was proposed which is going to be supported on pc and mac. Portal is also going to be launched internationally.

The announcements of these changes were met with warm welcome and participants looked forward to the experience.

Royole Foldable Smartphones

The evolution of mobile phone screens has transcended what we could have predicted or seen through a crystal ball, from the first “smartphone” launched by IBM in 1992 to the game changing flexible screen display mobile phone “FlexPai” in 2019. Predictions for the future of technology are endless but one thing is sure; the best is yet to come.

Leading the pack of companies bringing the future to the present is Royole Corporation. Founded in 2012, by Stanford engineering graduates, Royole is an American-based Chinese company that is a leading innovator and manufacturer of next-generation human-machine interface technologies and products, including advanced flexible displays, flexible sensors, and smart devices.

It’s worth noting that Royole have brought ground-breaking disruptions and racked up a lot of “world firsts” in the process. In 2014, they created the world’s thinnest full-colour AMOLED flexible displays and flexible sensors; in 2015, they debuted a foldable 3D mobile theatre and in 2016 it was the world’s first curved car dashboard. Fast-forward to 2017 when they introduced the first smart writing pad, and now their latest innovation -the foldable smartphone with a fully flexible display which was showcased at the recently-concluded CES 2019.

Royole Corporation showcased its full line of industry-leading fully flexible display and flexible sensor technologies at CES 2019. These advanced technologies are part of the company’s Flexible+ platform, and are ideal for numerous applications in a variety of product categories, including Consumer Electronics, Sports & Fashion, Office & Education, Smart Home, and Robotics.

“Royole’s Flexible+ technologies have squarely put us in a leadership position in today’s ever-evolving consumer technology industry,” stated the company’s Senior Director of Marketing, Michael Williams. “We are currently working with over 220 business partners worldwide to implement flexible displays and sensors in a variety of products that will reshape the world of consumer technologies. The total number of improved consumer experiences is restricted only by our imaginations, and that is the very essence of the Royole Flexible+ platform.”

Flexible+ Platform
Royole’s Flexible+ platform has forever changed the way humans interact with the world around them and the ways they view entertainment and information content. The company’s next-gen flexible display and flexible sensor technologies can be easily integrated into a variety of products and applications, an astounding array of which was demonstrated at CES 2019. 

Flexible Display Technology
With curved displays currently the talk of the tech world, Royole has developed – and is mass producing – the next generation of fully flexible displays. Royole’s patented flexible displays are thin, lightweight, and bendable, creating unique functionality and new applications. They feature high-resolution and high-colour saturation for stunning image clarity and quality.

The company has accumulated scores of intellectual property rights and key technical experience covering all aspects of display manufacturing including materials, processing, devices, circuits, electronic systems and module development. This has enabled Royole to introduce the world’s thinnest (0.01 mm) full-color flexible display in 2014.

FlexPai Smartphone
Royole officially launched the world’s first commercial foldable smartphone with a flexible display, FlexPai, a combination of smartphone and tablet on October 31, 2018 in Beijing. Disrupting consumers’ traditional concept of a smartphone, FlexPai can be used either folded or unfolded, giving it the portability of a smartphone plus the screen size of a high-definition tablet. The device can be bent freely from 0 to 180 degrees and supports more than 200,000 bends. FlexPai’s screen cannot be cracked or easily scratched, ending the era of broken smartphone screens. When unfolded, FlexPai supports split-screen mode and multi-tasking; supports drag-and-drop across applications, enabling it to share features just as a computer does; automatically adjusts screen sizes; and provides enjoyable video-watching and gaming experiences.

Flexible Sensor Technology
Royole has also developed and mass produced flexible sensor technology that delivers high-precision, linearity, and sensitivity. Royole sensors are fully compatible with flexible and traditional applications and deliver a bending radius of just 1~3mm that is operational even after 200,000 bends. 

In conclusion, the future of Royole’s flexible technology is not limited to mobile phones; in December 2018 they signed a strategic memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Airbus China Innovation Centre (ACIC). The two parties will collaborate to develop applications that implement flexible electronic technologies in various environments and investigate the possibilities for commercial cooperation. No doubt, more players will venture into this industry and take on daring innovations. Interesting times are here indeed!