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UV light is the weapon of choice for autonomous robots designed to clean hospital rooms, public spaces, and schools.

The Unipin UV-C Robot ID2 uses UV light to disinfect indoor spaces and can clean 1000 square meters in about 100 minutes.

Image: Unipin

CES 2021 must-read coverage

The world has turned upside down enough that the robots are coming to save us, not take over the world. Vendors at CES 2021 are showing off rolling cleaning machines that can disinfect public spaces. Companies are also promoting smart devices and even product coatings to keep  germs at bay in the air and on surfaces.

Gartner analyst Jonathan Davenport said that companies have been building pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV) light technology into simple robots to disinfect surfaces for years, but COVID-19 has seen demand leap substantially. Automating the cleaning process improves consistency and complements the cleaning staff, he said.

“For example, one provider told me that 50% of high-touch services in a hospital weren’t cleaned properly with traditional chemical solutions—the housekeepers just don’t have time to thoroughly clean a room,” he said. “The disinfection robot is much better at disinfection than human cleaners, and the robot is simply wheeled into a room and allowed to perform its cleaning cycle.”

SEE: Gartner’s top tech predictions for 2021 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

UV light kills germs and bacteria. It’s harmful to human eyes also so people can get in the room when a robot is at work. 

These cleaning robots will help workers in some cases but replace them in others. Forrester’s May 2020 report “The COVID-19 crisis will accelerate enterprise automation plans” notes that recessions are often followed by jobless recoveries. This is due in part to the increasing automation of low-skill and manual jobs. The report author Leslie Joseph notes that 25% of supermarket assistant jobs in the UK were eliminated due to automation between 2011 and 2017 and predicts that the aftermath of COVID-19 will be the same.

In the short term, companies need tools and tactics to make workers and customers feel safe in shared spaces. Here’s a look at robots and other devices that can go right to work in offices, schools, and airports.

Robots armed with UV rays

The Unipin Ultraviolet Disinfection Robot can disinfect an area of 1,000 square meters in 100 minutes with a 99.99% disinfection rate, according to the company. It also uses video monitoring and face recognition. It has wireless connectivity and navigates with LIDAR. Cleaning routes can run on a programmed route or be guided by a navigator. The robot uses ultraviolet light, photocatalyst, negative ion as well as a HEPA filter mesh and a honeycomb ceramic filter element to clean the air. The device also can detect harmful gases such as formaldehyde.

Ubetech is also at CES 2021 with a cleaning robot designed for small businesses and schools. The $20,000 Adibot-S can be wheeled from room to room and the $40,000 Adibot-A is autonomous. According to the company, the bot can clean a 900 to 1,000 square foot room in 70 to 100 seconds. The robots come with an app and remote control for operation. The app keeps track of cleaning sessions and suggests cleaning times required for a given space.

The LG UV-C also uses UV light to clean spaces. The company said that the robot can clean a room in 15 to 30 minutes and can be monitored by a smartphone or tablet. The robot’s motion sensors watch a 16-foot space around it and shuts down if a person gets too close. 

The Smart Sanitizer doesn’t move but it does screen people and disinfect their hands before they enter a space. The kiosk has a temperature reader and a UV light sanitizing compartment for keys, wallets, masks, and cellphones. A hand sanitizer uses UV light and sanitizer to kill 99.9% of most illness-causing germs and bacteria, according to the company. The kiosk also tracks the number of users moving through the building and tracks temperatures as well. Companies can provide gloves and masks at the kiosk as well. 

Using enzymes to kill viruses

Another company at CES 2021 is using a new approach to cleaning air. The CleanAir Zone uses the electrical charge of harmful airborne particles to capture them inside a filtering device. This works in the same way that dust particles are drawn to a computer monitor. The system uses enzymes to kill the bacteria. The BioCAZ Solution is dissolved in water and uses oxidation to eliminate allergens, bacteria, odors, viruses, germs, cigarette smoke, and chemical fumes. It doesn’t use a filter so requires less maintenance.

The company has tested its air cleaning technology against COVID-19. According to tests run by Assured Bio Labs, the machine can clean the virus from indoor air. 

Disinfecting designs inspired by nature

A Dutch company is fighting germs on a smaller scale. Lipocoat has designed a coating that is similar to the membrane that surrounds every cell in the body. This design component makes it less likely to cause an inflammatory response from the human body. According to the company, even if the coating sheds from a medical device, the body should be able to dispose of it as it would any dead or dying cell with no side effects. This coating can be used to coat medical devices to reduce the risk of infection. LipoCoat is also self-healing if a scratch exposes the medical device to the biological environment.

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How to check if someone else accessed your Google account

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Review your recent Gmail access, browser sign-in history, and Google account activity to make sure no one other than you has used your account.

Illustration: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

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Whenever a computer is out of your direct view and control, there’s always a chance that someone other than you can gain access. A person who returns from a trip might wonder if their computer and accounts have been accessed during their absence. A person might notice odd activity in Gmail, not aware that their password has been made public (or “pwned“). Or, in some cases, a person might be surveilled by a partner, a family member, a colleague, or even an unknown party.

To secure an account, you might first change your password, enable two-factor authentication, or even enroll in Google’s Advanced Protection Program. Those steps will help you secure your account. However, in cases where people are unsafe because of domestic abuse, these steps will likely not be encouraged by an abuser–help is available.

The following steps can help you figure out if someone, other than you, is accessing your Gmail or Google account.

SEE: Google Sheets: Tips and tricks (TechRepublic download) 

Did someone access my Gmail account?

In a desktop web browser, Gmail allows you to review recent email access activity. Select Details in the lower-right area below displayed emails, below Last Account Activity (Figure A). 

Figure A

GIF showing selection of DETAILS (in lower right, below displayed emails), which then reveals recent Gmail account access activity (type of activity, IP address, and date/time)

If your Gmail account has been accessed in other locations or on other devices, you may display recent activity while signed in to Gmail from a desktop-class web browser.

The system will show you information about the most recent 10 times your Gmail account has been accessed, along with the access type (browser, POP, mobile, etc.), location (IP address), and the date and time of access. This can help you identify if any of this access is from an unexpected device, place, or time. 

Note: If you use a virtual private network or a hosted desktop, the location data may reflect information related to your service provider, instead of your physical address.

In a few cases, I’ve had clients concerned about access in an expected location, but at an unexpected time. Sometimes, this was simply because they’d left a computer on, with their browser or mail client open: The system could be configured to auto-check mail periodically. In one case, access occurred after a power outage. They’d configure the system to automatically power on after an outage, so it signed in and downloaded new mail shortly after power was restored.

Did someone access my browser?

In the Chrome browser–and on any Chromebook or Chrome OS device–press Ctrl+H to display browser history. Alternatively, type chrome://history in the omnibox, or select the three-vertical dot menu in the upper-right, then choose History | History. On macOS, press Command+Y. You may scroll through all available sites visited. Review these to see if any sites displayed are unexpected.

Additionally, you may enter search terms in the box displayed above the historical URLs listed. For example, search for “sign in,” or copy and paste this link into your browser omnibox: chrome://history/?q=sign%20in to display most site login pages (Figure B). Again, review the results for any sites you don’t expect. You might search for “gmail.com” as well.

Figure B

Screenshot of Chrome history, with search active to show only items with

Use Ctrl+H (or on macOS, Command+Y) to display your browser history. You also may search history for terms, such as “login” or “sign in,” as shown.

Did someone access my Google account?

Go to https://myactivity.google.com/ to access your Google account history across all devices and Google services, such as YouTube, Google Maps, Google Play, and more (Figure C). Depending on your security settings, you may need to re-authenticate when you attempt to access this information. Again, review any recorded data to make sure it corresponds with your usage.

Figure C

Screenshot of

The My Google Activity page displays any recorded access of web sites, apps, location, and YouTube.

Similarly, go to https://myaccount.google.com/device-activity to review a list of devices to which you’ve signed in with your Google account (Figure D). You may select the three-vertical dots in the upper-right of any displayed devices, then choose Sign Out to prevent any future access without re-authentication on a device. 

Figure D

Screenshot shows

You also may review the devices Where You’re Signed In to your Google account. Select the three-dot menu in the upper-right corner of the box for each device to Sign Out of any device.

Go through Google’s Security Checkup (https://myaccount.google.com/security-checkup) for a step-by-step review of every item Google’s system identifies as a potential security issue (Figure E).

Figure E

Screenshot of Security Checkup screen, with all items indicated as checked and green to indicated completion.

Google’s Security Checkup helps you review the security of your account, step-by-step.

Use Google Workspace (formerly G Suite)? Ask an administrator for help.

If you use Gmail and Google Workspace as part of an organization (e.g., work or school), an administrator may be able to do additional review of your account access data. To do this, the administrator will need to sign in to the admin console at https://admin.google.com. From the Admin console, they might go to https://admin.google.com/ac/, select your account, then review security settings as well as connected apps and devices. Next, they might review all login information by going to the login report at https://admin.google.com/ac/reporting/audit/login, then filtering for your account (Figure F). Since this information is centrally logged by the system, access records will remain, even if the person accessing your account attempts to cover their tracks (e.g., by locally deleting browser history).

Figure F

GIF that alternates between two images: one a list of account sign ins for the author's Google Workspace email account address, the other that indicates the security and connected apps linked to the author's account.

For organizational accounts, a Google Workspace administrator may review account settings (e.g., security, apps, and devices) and audit logs (e.g., account sign ins), as displayed in these two alternating screenshots.

What’s your experience?

If you’ve wondered whether someone else has accessed your Google account, what steps have you taken? What did you learn when you completed the above access review of your Google account? Let me know any additional steps you suggest, either in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).   

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New computational method detects disrupted pathways in cancer

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Cancer is a notoriously complex disease, in part because it may be caused by mutations among hundreds or even thousands of genes. In addition, most cancers exhibit an extraordinary amount of variation among genetic mutations, even between patients with the same types of cancers.

Consequently, cancer researchers have chosen to study interactions among groups of genes in certain biological pathways that are disrupted.

When genes in certain pathways are frequently mutated or disrupted, that pathway may play a critical role in the initiation or development of cancer. But unravelling the molecular mechanisms underlying those disruptions is extremely complex.

Nw, University at Buffalo researchers have developed a new, statistically more powerful method called FDRnet that can more effectively detect key functional pathways in cancer using genomics data generated by next-generation sequencing technology.

Published in Nature Computational Science, the new method has the potential to give biologists more precise data with which to zero in on therapeutic targets.

“Using the new method, we can find biological pathways in which genes are significantly mutated or disrupted,” explained Yijun Sun, PhD, associate professor of bioinformatics in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB and the corresponding author. “It addresses some key challenges in molecular pathway analysis in cancer studies. Once the tumor biologists obtain this information, they can use it to verify our findings, and from there develop new cancer treatments,” he said.

“By overcoming the limitations of existing approaches, FDRnet can facilitate the detection of key functional pathways in cancer and other genetic diseases,” said Sun.

When Sun and his co-authors tested FDRnet on simulation data and on breast cancer and B-cell lymphoma data, they found that FDRnet was able to detect which subnetworks or pathways are significantly perturbed in these cancers, potentially leading tumour biologists to identify new therapeutic targets.

Source: State University of New York at Buffalo




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Tom & Jerry Release Date in India Set for February 19, a Week Before the US

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Tom & Jerry will now release February 19 in cinemas in India, a full week earlier than originally announced. Warner Bros. India revealed the new release date on Thursday via its social media channels. That puts the Indian release date a week prior to the US, where Tom & Jerry releases February 26 on (US-exclusive streaming service) HBO Max and in cinemas. In India, the hybrid live-action/ animated Tom and Jerry movie will be available in English (the original language), in addition to three local-language dubs: Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.

The 42 Most Anticipated Movies of 2021, Including Tom & Jerry

However, India won’t be the first market to catch the big-screen return of the iconic cat and mouse duo. Tom & Jerry premieres February 10 in Netherlands, followed by Brazil and Singapore on February 11. India is among the next wave of markets on February 19, alongside Iceland and Lithuania. Russia and Slovakia will follow on February 25, before Tom & Jerry arrives in the US on February 26. Argentina, Czechia, Croatia, and Portugal follow on March 4, with Spain and France release set for March 5. In the UK, Ireland, and Japan, Tom & Jerry is due March 19.

Of course, whether any of this goes according to plan depends on how the COVID-19 situation fares locally. For instance, around 65 percent of theatres remain closed in the US (including the major metropolitan hubs of New York and Los Angeles). Theatres are indefinitely shut across the UK where a third stringent nationwide lockdown is in effect. That is also the case in France, at least until the end of January. In Spain, cinemas are operating at 30–50 percent capacity. But while Americans have the option to watch Tom & Jerry at home (on HBO Max), others do not.

Tom & Jerry Hindi trailer

Tom & Jerry Tamil trailer

Tom & Jerry Telugu trailer

Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) is the human lead as event planner Kayla opposite Tom and Jerry in the new movie, alongside the likes of Michael Peña (Ant-Man and the Wasp) the hotel’s deputy general manager Terrance, Rob Delaney (Catastrophe) as the hotel manager Mr. DuBros, Ken Jeong (Community) as the hotel chef Jackie, Colin Jost (Saturday Night Live) as wedding groom Ben, and Pallavi Sharda (Besharam) as the bride Preeta.

William Hanna, Mel Blanc, and June Foray provide vocal effects for Tom and Jerry through archival audio recordings. Hanna is the co-creator of Tom and Jerry along with Joseph Barbera. Tim Story (Ride Along) is directing Tom & Jerry off a script by Kevin Costello (Brigsby Bear). Tom & Jerry is a production of Warner Animation Group, Turner Entertainment Company, and The Story Company.

Watch the First Trailer for the Tom & Jerry Movie

Here’s the official synopsis of Tom & Jerry, from Warner Bros.:

One of the most beloved rivalries in history is reignited when Jerry moves into New York City’s finest hotel on the eve of “the wedding of the century,” forcing the event’s desperate planner to hire Tom to get rid of him, in director Tim Story’s “Tom & Jerry.” The ensuing cat and mouse battle threatens to destroy her career, the wedding and possibly the hotel itself. But soon, an even bigger problem arises: a diabolically ambitious staffer conspiring against all three of them. An eye-popping blend of classic animation and live action, Tom and Jerry’s new big-screen adventure stakes new ground for the iconic characters and forces them to do the unthinkable… work together to save the day.

Tom & Jerry is out February 19 in India in English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.

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