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Gadget Ogling: Apple vs. Google, a Bossy Activity Tracker, and Feeling Your Path
October 18, 2014
There was plenty of focus on the cameras at Apple's presentation, as it tries to promote the tablet as an ideal viewfinder for taking high-quality images, while adding iPhone features like time-lapse and burst mode. However, the new push of iPad photography is just encouraging even more people to look foolish by taking photos with their tablet in public. This is a plague.
Debate Simmers Over Facebook, Apple Egg-Freezing Benefit
October 16, 2014
Facebook and Apple, companies already known for their generous employee benefits, are raising the bar even more by paying for egg-freezing services for their female employees. Facebook began covering up to $20,000 in these expenses at the start of the year, and Apple will beginning covering them at the start of next. At first blush, it seems to be a typical high-tech perk.
Find My iPhone? Find Me! Lost Phone Feature Helps Rescuers Locate Crashed Car
October 16, 2014
A woman whose car rolled 500 feet down an embankment near San Jose, California, was located through the Find My iPhone feature on her smartphone after spending 19 hours in the ravine where her Chevy Cruze ended up. The OnStar feature in her car triggered two calls to police, at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Monday, but neither pinpointed the location of her car.
August Smart Lock Gets Key Exposure in Apple Stores
October 14, 2014
The August Smart Lock will become available for purchase at Apple retail stores in the U.S. starting this week, the company announced on Tuesday. Priced at $249.99, the smart device uses Bluetooth and a mobile app to create a virtual key. It has been shipping since late August in limited quantities to those who ordered it online, but it currently is backordered, with delivery expected in 90 days.
Samsung Plots Foray Into Speedy 60-GHz WiFi Market
October 14, 2014
Samsung on Sunday announced that it has resolved issues hindering the commercialization of 802.11ad standard 60-GHz WiFi technology. The company's solution maintains maximum speed by eliminating co-channel interference regardless of the number of devices on the network, using what it claims is the world's first method that allows multiple devices to connect simultaneously to a network.
DARPA's Concept Car Makes the Batmobile Look So Passť
October 13, 2014
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency last week posted a video of an advanced concept ground vehicle under development in its Ground X-Vehicle Technologies program. It's not clear whether the vehicle in question is a light armored car or a tank, but DARPA wants to give it improved survivability through the use of advanced technologies. The vehicle will rely more on speed than on armor.
When Computers Get a Right Brain
October 13, 2014
IBM is massively increasing its commitment to Watson, which was evident at last week's IBM Think Forum. IBM recognizes that if it can get a product that thinks first, then it can again take absolute control over the technology market, and every other company will be chasing it again. It is making some impressive headway, and the firm that succeeds at this will change the world.
Tesla's Dual-Motor 'D' Ready for Takeoff
October 10, 2014
Tesla Motors on Thursday unveiled the "D" that CEO Elon Musk has been teasing -- a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive, higher-tech version of its Model S electric car. The new model offers better traction, increased driving range, automated features and even higher speeds, Musk said. From the outside, you won't be able to tell it from the current Model S, however. It will share the same exterior.
Gadget Ogling: Strange Cameras, Fast Charges, Racing Robots
October 10, 2014
HTC is stepping so far out of the box with the RE Camera, it's almost as if there was never a box to begin with. Instead of making us stare through a viewfinder, this minimalist device almost demands a return to older forms of photography, while still taking advantage of modern technology. It looks like a cross between a periscope and an asthma inhaler, neither of which scream style.
HTC Breaks From Pack With Selfie Phone, Blind Cam
October 10, 2014
HTC on Thursday debuted two new products for photography fans. One offering, the RE, is an L-shaped camera that doesn't have a viewfinder. The other is a new smartphone, the Desire Eye, which boasts a 13-megapixel front-facing camera for high-resolution selfies. With RE, HTC appears to be targeting the action set that has created a lucrative market for point-of-view camera makers like GoPro.
One Way Around the Mobile Net Neutrality Conundrum
October 09, 2014
Verizon Wireless may be bitterly regretting the challenge Verizon made to the FCC's Net neutrality rules. There's little doubt competing wireless providers are. Verizon in 2010 sued the FCC over its mandate that ISPs treat all Internet data the same. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals this year agreed with Verizon and struck down the rules. Now the FCC is putting it all back on the table.
Thync Scores $13M for Foggy Brain Project
October 09, 2014
Thync on Wednesday announced it had raised US$13 million in funding from "top-tier" investors, including lead investor Khosla Ventures. Thync's product, possibly called the "Vibe," is a wearable device that purportedly uses neurosignaling to modify a user's state of mind in relation to energy, calm and focus. Thync's claims have raised some eyebrows.
Look, Ma! No Hands... Crunch!
October 08, 2014
Those wonderful hands-free communications capabilities now available in automobiles may carry the promise of making driving safer, but they're not fulfilling it, according to two studies conducted jointly by the University of Utah and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. And forget about using your iPhone's Siri in the car, even hands-free -- it might endanger your life.
Pinning Down the Matter/Antimatter Particle Just Got Easier
October 08, 2014
Researchers led by Princeton University physics professor Ali Yazdani have developed an easier way to spot the much-sought-after Majorana fermion. "Theorists have proposed that Majorana can emerge at the edge of some superconductors as quasi-particles, and manipulating them can be used to test their properties as well as building interesting quantum systems that could be useful," Yazdani said.
GT Files for Chap 11 After Apple's Sapphire Interest Wanes
October 07, 2014
GT Advanced Technologies and seven of its direct and indirect subsidiaries on Monday announced they had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. GT, which makes sapphire components used in the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, expects the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Hampshire to authorize the company to conduct business as usual while it attempts to resolve its current financial issues.
Microsoft's RoomAlive Gaming Jumps Out of the Box
October 06, 2014
Microsoft Research on Sunday demonstrated RoomAlive, a new technology that can transform any room into an immersive and interactive gaming display. Based on a scalable multiprojector system that adapts gaming content to the physical space, RoomAlive allows users to touch, shoot, stomp, dodge and steer projected content that becomes seamlessly integrated with their environment.
Dell OEM: The Magic Is in the Mystery
October 06, 2014
I had a chance last week to talk with the most secretive group inside Dell. They are kind of like the Q Division in the James Bond movies. These folks are pretty much unique in the industry, in that they build PCs and servers that are highly customized for firms that then place them into unusual solutions. This is the kind of machine that might go into a unique military vehicle.
Gadget Ogling: Jump Starts, Wearable Drones, Smarter Yoga and Safer Food
October 03, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, to a new installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares. On the docket this time around are a motivational wearable device, a smart yoga mat, a golfer-focused smartwatch, a drone with a difference, and a way to stop food from going bad. As always, these aren't reviews -- the ratings denote only my interest in actually using them.
The One Apple Watch Thing That Really Matters
October 03, 2014
While the cellphone nearly killed the wristwatch, the Apple Watch gizmo actually will revive it. In fact, I think the attention that the Apple Watch will bring to our wrists will spark sales of traditional watches. Why? I believe there is a latent desire to have a wristwatch -- to have the convenience of the time on your wrist without the need to pull out your smartphone.
Google's Augmented Reality 'Ingress' Gives Players New Creative Outlets
October 01, 2014
Google's Niantic Labs last week announced a new Missions feature that can incorporate user-generated content in its Ingress augmented reality game. Now available to Android users, Missions challenges players to visit a series of places, complete a game action such as hacking or capturing a portal, or use clues to solve a puzzle in order to advance, said Niantic Labs head John Hanke.
Tech Advances Will Give Aging Baby Boomers More Independence
October 01, 2014
The U.S. is facing a retirement wave; 76 million Baby Boomers are beginning to hit the 65-year-old mark. By 2025, the number of people between 65 and 85 will account for 16.6 percent of the population. In the U.S., the elderly prefer aging in their own home, but it can be risky. Connectivity and technology advances are enabling more sophisticated devices and tools to help consumers and caretakers.
Amazon Cranks Up IoT Innovation Machine
September 30, 2014
Amazon is ramping up its innovative hardware product testing and beefing up marketing strategies to give its nearly quarter billion customers better ways to buy its wares using Internet-connected devices. Amazon will boost staffing at its Silicon Valley hardware unit, Lab126, by at least 27 percent over the next five years, according to reports that surfaced last week.
Gadget Ogling: Smart Wine, Wooly Sound and a Clever Light Bulb
September 27, 2014
I give LG a little flak for constantly releasing new smartphones, but here's one with a twist. LG is pegging the Wine Smart as its first flip-style smartphone. Yes, the compact style is back, only this time its fuel is Android, instead of whatever arcane OS manufacturers might dream up. I suspect this is more about style than function, outside of a dedicated button for opening an IM app.
The Sky Is Droning
September 26, 2014
The FAA on Thursday gave the green light for six aerial photo and video production companies to begin using unmanned aircraft systems, also known as "drones." To incorporate the devices in film and TV production, the companies will be required to hold private pilot certificates, keep their drones within line of sight at all times, and restrict flights to a so-called sterile area.

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