Beijing, the reinvented toilet and Microsoft founder Bill Gates

Bill Gates: "The most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years."
APBill Gates: “The most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years.”

Instead, Gates proudly showed off a sealed jar of poo.

And it was one of the most interesting and potentially life-changing project announcements I’ve come across in a long time.

The stunt marked the launch of the Reinvent the Toilet initiative. Jar in hand, the billionaire philanthropist rammed home his dedication to the project – explaining to the room that a single stool could contain 200 trillion Rotavirus particles, 20 billion Shigella bacteria and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs.

With more than half of the world’s population living without access to safe sanitation, it’s easy to see why Gates wants the tech industry to step in.

The aim of this project is to boost the availability and affordability of off-the-grid toilets capable of removing pathogens from human waste.

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During the event, 20 new bug-killing, off-grid toilets were revealed. Each of which will be getting further investment from Gates’ charity.

Speaking on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – which has already invested $200m into clean waste and sanitation since – Gates said: “The technologies you’ll see here are the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years”.

Twenty new bug-killing, off-grid toilets were revealed
SUPPLIEDTwenty new bug-killing, off-grid toilets were revealed

The project isn’t without criticism.

With some complaining, the products on show were too expensive to be rolled out to the underdeveloped countries most in need of off-the-grid toilets. Others were frustrated that well-funded universities based in rich countries made up the majority of the 20 products on show.

Gates predicts it will be at least a decade before the reinvented toilets reached those who need it most.

NETFLIX TRICK LETS YOU CONTROL APP WITH YOUR FACE

Here’s something that caught my attention this week. Netflix showed off a new feature called EyeNav that lets users control video playback using just their eyes and facial movements.

EyeNav was demo-ed in a short (and cheesy) video where a Netflix developer controls an on-screen cursor using just his eyes. The video goes on to show the developer navigating through multiple Netflix screens and pausing a video by sticking out his tongue.

Watching this video was an eye-opening experience for me (excuse the pun).

Sadly, EyeNav isn’t an official new feature of the iOS Netflix app. And it may never be. It was developed at Netflix’s biannual Hack Day – taking advantage of Apple’s relatively new FaceID technology.

Netflix eyenav lets users control video playback using just their eyes and facial movements.
SUPPLIEDNetflix eyenav lets users control video playback using just their eyes and facial movements.

Which is a shame.

Combining Apple’s sophisticated face-detection hardware and software with app navigation isn’t really a thing right now.

I’d like to see more app developers taking advantage of this new input ability. It would be hugely beneficial to anyone struggling with motor skills.

SAMSUNG’S FOLDABLE SMARTPHONE … IT’S A BIT GIMMICKY

Last week, I brought you news that Royole launched the world’s first bendy smartphone. This week, Samsung demoed something very similar. A foldable smartphone.

The new phone, a prototype without an official name, featured a 7.3-inch screen that opens and closes just like a book. Samsung is calling the news screen the Infinity Flex Display and claim it can be folded at least 300,000 times.

The foldable phone revealed by Samsung at San Francisco conference. Samsung wants to give customers a tablet-sized screen that can fit in your pocket.
SUPPLIEDThe foldable phone revealed by Samsung at San Francisco conference. Samsung wants to give customers a tablet-sized screen that can fit in your pocket.

The thinking behind the foldable phone is pretty straightforward. Samsung wants to give customers a tablet-sized screen that can fit in your pocket.

The demo was really brief. But you can clearly see the phone being neatly folded without a break or distortion in quality. When closed, a secondary screen on the front illuminates into action, allowing users to operate the device like a regular (albeit thick) smartphone.

It all feels a bit “us too” and gimmicky, to be perfectly honest with you. I can’t see a demand for this sort of technology. And there’s definitely no appetite for an inch-thick folded phone. The technology is impressive, but that’s about it.

Which is just as well, as it seems Samsung isn’t in a position where it’s ready to release this phone to the mass market. Or even release more information about the technology. The sneak preview was, presumably, just a reaction to last week’s news from Royole.

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