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Walk Like a Man: The DARPA Robotics Challenge
January 26, 2015
The humanoid Atlas robot made by Google company Boston Dynamics has gotten an overhaul to be stronger, lighter and more independent, and to be able to function for one hour of mixed-mission operations. Designed by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, it stands six feet two inches tall. Its weight was trimmed from 330 to 254 pounds.
Winkelvoss Twins Plan to Tame Bitcoins
January 26, 2015
Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss on Friday announced Gemini, a regulated bitcoin exchange to be based in the United States. The Winkelvoss twins, who shot to fame when they sued Facebook and won $65 million, have assembled a team of security experts, technologists and financial engineers to build a world-class exchange from the ground up, based on security.
Microsoft's Windows Reboot Could Be Legendary
January 26, 2015
I was one of the launch analysts for Windows 95, and the launch of that product is widely held -- including by Bill Gates -- as the company's pinnacle. No launch before or since ever came close to that launch, and I remain amazed that no one, including Apple or Microsoft, has ever really attempted to duplicate that effort. Windows 10 has the potential to be even greater than Windows 95.
Gadget Ogling: A Microsoft Marvel, an Eensy Keyboard and an Ingenious Desk
January 24, 2015
Microsoft had a major surprise up its sleeve for those awaiting details about the Windows 10 launch: its holographic headset, HoloLens. Billed as a new way to interact with technology and the world around us at once, it overlays holograms onto what wearers see in front of them. They might, for instance, play a version of Minecraft that's constructed across a kitchen table and chairs.
Ford R&D Facility Rolls Into Silicon Valley
January 23, 2015
Ford Motor on Thursday announced the opening of its Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto, a 25,000 square foot facility that will help it accelerate the company's innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data. This is the latest addition to the automaker's global network of R&D centers, which include its hometown facility in Dearborn, Michigan.
The Brave New World of Windows 10
January 23, 2015
Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled a slew of new features and capabilities coming in Windows 10: the convergence of the desktop and mobile; the advent of the killer universal app; more power and features for personal digital assistant Cortana, which will be on mobile as well as desktops and laptops; improvements to maps; a new browser; a strong emphasis on gaming; and holographic computing.
Microsoft Just Handed Us Our Holographic Future
January 21, 2015
Microsoft on Wednesday announced Windows Holographic, a feature in Windows 10 that will let users create their own holograms and print them out on 3D printers. Every Windows 10 device has holographic APIs enabled, Microsoft's Alex Kipman said. Windows 10 holograms are Windows Universal Apps. Users need the Microsoft HoloLens headset, which Kipman described as "the first fully untethered computer."
Verizon Offers Connected-Car Service Even Beaters Can Use
January 21, 2015
Verizon last week unveiled a new connected-vehicle service at the Detroit auto show. Verizon Vehicle, which will go live this spring, will be compatible with nearly every vehicle made since 1996. It will be available directly to consumers regardless of their mobile carrier. Designed to enhance driver safety, Verizon Vehicle will provide diagnostic technology and live assistance with GPS accuracy.
Google Buys In on Musk's Space Internet Plans
January 21, 2015
SpaceX, the space transport services company founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, has raised $1 billion in funding from Google and Fidelity Investments. Together, they will together own almost 10 percent of SpaceX. Musk last November confirmed that SpaceX was developing advanced micro-satellites operating in large formations and would make an announcement in two to three months.
Fuel Cells, EVs, Autonomous Driving Shape Auto Industry's Future
January 19, 2015
The North American International Auto Show last week held a preview for industry insiders and the media before opening its doors to the public on the weekend. Automakers from around the world showcased more than 500 cars, ranging from futuristic concepts to vehicles that soon will be hitting the roads. The show allowed automakers to tout the latest technological advances under the hood.
Texas May Be Ground Zero for Musk's Hyperloop Dreams
January 16, 2015
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has announced plans to build a test track, most likely in Texas, for his envisioned Hyperloop high-speed transportation system. The goal is to allow experimentation with Hyperloop pods, the equivalent of train carriages. The project will be "entirely funded by Musk's companies and other interested private companies," said Frost & Sullivan's said Vishwas Shankar.
Google Pulls Down Shades on Glass' Future
January 16, 2015
Google on Thursday announced that it will shut down its Glass Explorer Program in order to refocus -- but that new versions of Glass will be forthcoming at some unspecified time. The Google Glass team will be moving out of Google X to become an independent entity reporting to Tony Fadell, cofounder and CEO of smart thermometer maker Nest, which Google acquired a year ago.
Virtual Traffic Lights Could Revolutionize City Driving
January 15, 2015
The average American worker spends almost half an hour commuting each day, but virtual traffic lights could cut that almost in half. If traditional traffic lights were replaced with virtual ones, the results could include not only a reduction of up to 40 percent in urban workers' commute times, but also lower carbon emissions, less congestion and fewer accidents.
Google's Project Ara Smartphone Puzzle Is Coming Together
January 14, 2015
Google on Wednesday shed fresh light on Project Ara, its modular Android smartphone initiative, including plans to pilot the project in Puerto Rico through food truck-style stores. Project Ara will offer a smartphone endoskeleton; users will be able to add the functionality they want piece by piece, rather than being confined by the hardware configurations determined by operators and providers.
Auto Insurance? Just Google It
January 12, 2015
Google reportedly is gearing up to launch a shopping and comparison site for auto insurance in the United States. The company has been operating such a site in the UK, dubbed "Google Compare," for the past two years. Although it apparently has been beset by delays, an entity called "Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc." now is licensed to do business in 26 states.
The Secret Stories of CES
January 12, 2015
By this time, you likely are getting a bit sick out of folks talking about wild new products that won't be on the market for weeks or months while you are paying your Christmas bills. So rather than tell you about a slew of new products, I'll focus on the back stories that didn't seem to get much coverage at CES -- what now is the largest technology show in the U.S.
Researchers Turn Computer Into Poker Shark
January 09, 2015
A computer program dubbed "Cepheus" has solved the game of poker, researchers at the University of Alberta announced. The Computer Poker Research Group, which created Cepheus, claims it not only can play heads-up limit Texas hold'em poker, but also beat human opponents. Games such as poker and chess have been used as test beds by researchers developing new concepts in artificial intelligence.
Self-Driving Concept Cars Impress at CES
January 08, 2015
CEO Mark Fields on Wednesday took the stage at the International CES 2015 in Las Vegas and said that Ford Motor is focusing on bringing autonomous automobiles to the masses. Although Ford may not be the first company to produce a self-driving car, it could be the first to deliver one outside of the luxury category, Fields said in his keynote address.
Virtual Reality Makes Leaps and Bounds at CES 2015
January 07, 2015
Samsung this week unveiled its Milk VR platform for its Gear VR headset at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas, but it was far from alone in ramping up the virtual reality action at the show. HP introduced the Zvr Virtual Reality Display, and Razer rolled out its Android-based OSVR. Not to be outdone by these upstart efforts, Oculus gave a peak at its Rift controller.
Sony's New Walkman Aims Sky High
January 06, 2015
Sony on Monday debuted a new Walkman at CES that's as notable for its hefty price as for its high-end features. Listed at $1,119.99, the new Walkman NW-ZX2 is several hundred dollars more than last year's Walkman NW-ZX1. In return, it promises "high-resolution audio like never before," thanks to Sony's new S-Master HX digital amplifier and DSEE HX technology.
We Are the World: Samsung's Vision for IoT
January 06, 2015
The world needs one open ecosystem to enable the Internet of Things, and Samsung is prepared to lead the way, said CEO BK Yoon at the 2015 International CES. Serving up the classic depiction of IoT -- always-on, always-connected devices working together -- Yoon said the technology for linking smart radios, smart TVs, smartphones and smart homes will be available later this year.
Gogoro: The Little Electric Scooter That Could?
January 06, 2015
Gogoro on Monday took to the stage at CES to unveil a zero-emissions electric scooter. The Smartscooter is designed to be powered by batteries available via subscription from a network of vending machines in urban areas around the world. The Gogoro Smartscooter is quipped with 30 onboard sensors, cloud connectivity and an integrated mobile app to aid performance and find battery vending machines.
CES: Oh, the Amazing Things You Will See
January 05, 2015
Writing a CES teaser is a bit difficult because I actually know a great deal about what will be announced, but I can't share the details because I'm bound by a variety of ironclad NDAs. However, I can comment in general about the product categories you are going to see opened up at the show, and I have to say you'd better lock up your wallet because much of this is cool and you'll likely want it.
The Halting Progress of Mind-Controlled Robot Tech
December 30, 2014
new mind-controlled robotic arm in a project run by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Earlier this year, demonstrated her ability to use her thoughts to move the robot hand into different positions while controlling the wrist and arm. Mastering four distinct movements gave Scheuermann control of the hand in 10 dimensions. However, the school recently closed down the project.

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