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Daily news roundup for Monday, August 10, 2015

David Briggs / Point Reyes Light
Pat Healy explored the world through a virtual reality headset on Saturday. The device is paired with a program developed by Marshall resident Frank Werblin to help people with macular degeneration.

Here's what's happening in the Bay Area, as curated by KALW news:

California drought hasn't killed summer vacations // San Jose Mercury News

“Unexpected summer storms in the Sierra, highly orchestrated water diversions, and Californians' resourcefulness and sunny dispositions have kept the classic American vacation afloat -- just as summer winds down and the first school bells are about to ring.”


BART Riders Racially Profile via Smartphone App// East Bay Express

“Last August, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system launched a mobile security app called BART Watch, which allows riders to send alerts, including text messages and photos, directly to BART police from their cellphones. Through a California Public Records Act request, the Express obtained a month's worth of alerts, approximately 763 individual messages sent to the BART police, and analyzed the contents. The data shows that BART riders report Blacks for both alleged crimes and non-crimes at disproportionate rates compared to other racial or ethnic groups, and that people perceived as being homeless are also being targeted with a high number of complaints, often for sleeping, smelling bad, and other non-crimes.

"‘There are much better ways we could be spending resources than developing apps like this,’ said [executive director of the Ella Baker Center, Zachary] Norris. 'Some people don't have enough to eat, or enough money to make it from their second to third job, but what we see with this app is people complaining about others sleeping on the BART train.’”


Marshall man makes vision app // Point Reyes Light

“A new smartphone app that helps people with low-vision underwent a successful litmus test in West Marin last week.  If the app—designed by a former professor who lives in Marshall—secures federal approval, it could provide millions with a relatively affordable option to remedy failing eyesight.

"The headset is part ski goggles, part baseball catcher’s mask, and it’s coated with sleek white plastic. The wearer views the world through the medium of a mobile app, activated via a Samsung smart phone clipped lengthwise across binocular-style lenses. Once the phone’s built-in camera captures images, an internal processor projects a virtual-reality replica of sights magnified and clarified.”


Robots deployed to protect and serve// Palo Alto Online

“Standing at 5 feet tall and weighing 300 pounds, Knightscope K5 looks like it came straight out of the sci-fi film Stars Wars. But the crime-fighting robot is actually a new breed of security guards roaming Silicon Valley, including at Palo Alto's Stanford Shopping Center as part of a pilot program that ended in June.

"The robots are deployed at different places, including corporate campuses, shopping and data centers, large sporting venues and big-box stores, [Knightscope vice president of marketing and sales Stacy Dean] Stephens said, but the robots are not meant to replace human security guards. They enhance the way security is done today by assisting officers and improving response times, he said.”


Pacifica: Pedro Point Headlands to get $1.5 million restoration// San Mateo County Times

“The [Pacific Land] trust received a $1.1 million grant earlier this year from the California Department of Parks and Recreation to restore the old bike paths to a natural state. This week the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted to chip in $350,000 for the new trails.

"Once the work is complete, the owners of the headlands, the city of Pacifica and the California Coastal Conservancy intend to transfer the land to the county to be operated as a park. The county board is expected to vote as soon as this fall on whether to take over the headlands, which rise more than 600 feet above the ocean and offer views that extend as far north as the Marin Headlands.”


Better living habits promoted at American Canyon Health Expo// Napa Valley Register

“From heart rate tests to natural remedies, chiropractic to cooking demonstrations and even free bicycle repairs, a smorgasbord of healthy living practices were on display Sunday afternoon during the fourth annual American Canyon Health Expo. More than 420 visitors converged on American Canyon High School to partake of the wellness, exercise and diet lessons of the event, which is organized by New Life Community Adventist Church.

"For the Health Expo’s planners, the various booths were focused on one main goal: to give Napa County residents a better chance to duck high rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other lifestyle-related maladies.”

Crosscurrents KALW archives