Hashtag Trending Feb. 16 – FTC robocall investigation compliance; Virgin Galactic wants to sell more space flights; Google Chrome OS Flex

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FTC sets harsh rules around robocall compliance, Virgin Galactic opens up its space flight to the public, and Google releases Chrome OS Flex.

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That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Wednesday, February 16th, and I’m your host, Samira Balsara.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said that it will take legal action against VoIP providers if they don’t comply with robocall investigations. This marks another major move to combat the rampant robocall plague. Samuel Levine, director of FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, warned companies that don’t respond fully to investigation requests will need to answer a district court judge. Essentially, release the info or be sued. Despite various actions to curb them, robocalls remain a major threat to consumers. The FTC said it received over 2 million complaints about illegal robocalls in October 2020 alone.

Virgin Galactic wants the general public to try out its new spaceflight system. The company announced that flights have opened to the public since Feb. 16 for an eye-watering price of $450,000 per ticket. For the luxurious fee, riders would spend 90-minutes at the edge of space, several minutes of weightlessness and a gorgeous view of the earth. The passengers would also receive several days of astronaut training, reported Engadget. The company wants to launch its first commercial flight with 1,000 customers on board later this year. 

Google is bringing Chrome OS to PCs and Macs, according to a Google blog post. In the post, Google described the operating system as cloud-first, which is a hallmark feature of the Chrome OS. The OS can be installed via USB or over a network, and the user’s settings and policies would sync automatically. This isn’t just a virtual machine running inside Windows or Mac OS; Chrome OS flex would fully replace the operating system already installed. Google described that it’s ideal for older devices and special use cases such as kiosks and digital signage. Chrome OS Flex is currently in its testing phase.

One engineering student in India has created an AI model to translate American sign language to English in real-time. Priyanjali Gupta, the young engineer behind the project, said she drew motivation from her mom, who pushed her to put her skills to good use. Her solution is based on the Tensorflow object detection API using a pre-trained model. She said the dataset is made manually by capturing images from the webcam using a Python program. For now, the model is trained on single frames. Gupta said she’s working on capturing signs in videos, which requires multi-frame capture.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash briefings or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. Also, catch the next episode of Hashtag Tendances, our weekly Hashtag Trending episode in French, which drops early every Thursday morning. If you have a suggestion or a tip, drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thank you for listening, I’m Samira Balsara.

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Samira Balsara
Samira Balsara
Samira is a writer for IT World Canada. She is currently pursuing a journalism degree at Toronto Metropolitan University (formally known as Ryerson) and hopes to become a news anchor or write journalistic profiles. You can email her at [email protected]

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