New emoji are about to drop, but where do they come from anyway?
Emoji users: Your vocabulary is about to grow. The Unicode Consortium, a group that approves emoji, has added 112 new ones, including a melting smiley face, a coral reef, an X-ray and more skin tone and gender options, like a pregnant man and pregnant person. The new icons will start appearing on your phones later this year. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra speaks with Jeremy Burge, chief emoji officer at Emojipedia, an encyclopedia for emoji. Burge talked about how emoji get approved and what happens when companies lobby for an emoji of one of their products.
Wearable technology keeps hooking people as COVID lingers
During the pandemic, especially with gyms shut down or just less appealing, people bought a lot of wearables. Those are smart devices that you wear on your body — in your ear, on your wrist or as a patch, even — that track your activity in some way. Look at sales of smartwatches. They jumped by almost 18% in 2020, according to Gartner. The research firm also forecasts that spending on wearables will grow to more than $81 billion by the end of this year. Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra talked to Ramon Llamas, a research director at International Data Corp., about why wearables got so popular during the pandemic.
Amid massive rainfall and deadly flooding, how does tech help identify risk?
World leaders are gathering for meetings this week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Among the topics they’ll discuss is the ravages of climate change. This year, climate damage across the U.S. included devastating flooding, and while some people know they face flood risk, many do not. That’s largely because the official federal flood maps are often outdated and may not account for the effects of increasingly powerful storms. We wanted to know how technology is advancing the mapping effort. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Michael Grimm, assistant administrator for risk management at FEMA, who manages flood mapping. Grimm says the agency continuously updates its tech, like lidar.
Patent applications reveal how tech companies may further threaten privacy for people in prison
For those in prison, privacy is already hard to come by. Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is looking at patent applications from some companies that provide communication services to prisons. Some of the applications they’ve seen include ideas to incorporate ads on tablets that would be given to incarcerated people and plans for systems that would identify and disable drones suspected of bringing in contraband. Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Beryl Lipton, an investigative researcher with the EFF. Lipton says there are even ideas for robot guards that could deliver packages or electric shocks, depending on the situation.
Now we know some of what Facebook knows about how it’s hurting us
Facebook knows a lot about how it affects its users, because it’s investigated possible negative impacts. For instance, internal research showed that one of its algorithms actually encourages angrier content. Or that Instagram, which it owns, makes body image issues worse for teen girls. And even though it knows all this, it doesn’t share the information, either with Congress or its own oversight board. That’s the finding of an investigation out this week from The Wall Street Journal, called the Facebook Files. It’s a topic for “Quality Assurance.” Marketplace’s Jed Kim speaks with Jeff Horwitz, a reporter for the Journal and an author of the series.