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Gadget Ogling: A Personal Padlock, a Grown-Up Desk, and an Informative Mirror
February 10, 2016
Tapplock is a padlock that unlocks when you press your finger against a sensor to let it read your print. There are other smart padlocks on the market you can unlock using your smartphone via Bluetooth, though there are a couple of points that help Tapplock stand out. First, the price for backers of the crowdfunding campaign is reasonable, at $29 for the basic version and $49 for the larger model.
The Internet of Things' Big Software Challenge
February 9, 2016
More than half of major new business processes and systems will incorporate some element of the Internet of Things by 2020, according to Gartner. That means that every piece of software that supports those business processes and systems must be redesigned to accommodate the requirements of the IoT market. Nearly every major independent software vendor is making moves to respond to the challenge.
Smart Email and the Path to Digital Immortality
February 8, 2016
I attended IBM Connect last week, where I checked out one of the most interesting new products you've likely never heard of -- IBM Verse. While there was a lot of discussion about how it better integrated social networking, what really intrigued me was the idea of putting cognitive computing inside an email client. "Cognitive computing" is the new way of saying "artificial intelligence."
Google to Put Self-Driving Cars Through Rainy-Day Paces
February 4, 2016
Google on Wednesday announced that it has chosen Kirkland, Washington, as the next location to test its self-driving cars. It picked Kirkland as the third test city to give the cars more experience driving in new environments, traffic patterns and road conditions. Google has conducted testing mainly at or near its campus in Mountain View, California. Last year it expanded to Austin, Texas.
Microsoft Acquires SwiftKey to Advance AI Goals
February 4, 2016
Microsoft on Wednesday announced an agreement to acquire SwiftKey, whose software keyboard and SDK are used on more than 300 million Android and iOS devices. SwiftKey's technology aligns with Microsoft's vision for more personal computing experiences "and directly supports our ambition to reinvent productivity by leveraging the intelligent cloud," said Microsoft's Harry Shum.
Virtual Reality May Be Coming Around Again for Nintendo
February 3, 2016
Nintendo is looking into virtual reality, 20 years after its failed Virtual Boy console, suggest reports that surfaced Tuesday. Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima reportedly described VR as "interesting technology" during an earnings call to discuss the company's Q3 financial report. With VR finally poised to break into the mainstream, it could find a way forward by returning down an old path.
MIT Team Runs Victory Lap in 1st Hyperloop Competition
February 3, 2016
A team from MIT won the best overall design award in the first round of the Hyperloop pod design contest, held last weekend at Texas A&M University. About 120 teams participated in the event. The MIT entry focused on speed, braking, stability and levitation. Powerful magnets placed over a conducting plate -- the aluminum SpaceX track -- will accomplish levitation in an actual pod.
Alphabet Leapfrogs Apple to Top of the Heap
February 3, 2016
Google's new parent, Alphabet, sent a tingle up the spine of investors on Monday after reporting fourth quarter earnings that exceeded expectations. The good news sent its share price skyward, resulting in a market valuation that surpassed Apple, which for years has been the most-favored technology firm on Wall Street. Alphabet reported adjusted earnings of $8.67 per share.
Report: Apple Has Assembled a Crack Team of VR and AR Experts
February 1, 2016
Apple reportedly has hired a team of hundreds of workers as part of a plan to develop a new set of virtual reality headsets. The report came on the heels of Oculus VR finally taking preorders on its Rift virtual reality system, which it is offering for $599. The Rift is scheduled to begin shipping on March 28. Apple reportedly also poached a number of experts in the field from other companies.
Microsoft's Project Natick: Data Centers Better Down Where It's Wetter?
February 1, 2016
Microsoft on Monday unveiled Project Natick, a research initiative aimed at developing underwater data centers that could be built near coastal cities. The project is still in its infancy, but Microsoft built one test facility last year. It was deployed 30 feet underwater off the California coast in August and was tested through December, when it was returned to the Microsoft campus.
Google, Movidius to Bring Deep Learning to Mobile Devices
January 29, 2016
Movidius on Wednesday announced that it's working with Google to put deep learning on mobile devices. Google will source Movidius' latest flagship chip -- the MA2450 -- and software development environment, and will contribute to Movidius' neural network technology road map in return. That could result in mobile devices that will be able to understand images and audio swiftly and accurately.
Google's AlphaGo Defeats Human Master of Ancient Game
January 29, 2016
Research at Google on Wednesday announced that AlphaGo has become the first computer software system to beat a human at the ancient game of Go. There are more possible positions in Go than there are the number of atoms in the universe, and it has a googol more positions than chess, Google pointed out. That complexity makes it difficult for computers to play Go.
3D Printing: Innovation's New Lifeblood
January 27, 2016
To many, 3D printing is little more than a toy. A toy that mostly prints toys. To others, it's a prototyping tool good for a hands-on feel of a manifested idea but not much more. Yet for a select few, 3D printing is the heart of innovation, and each new iteration is pumping the future's lifeblood. Here are some of the innovations 3D printing is bringing to life.
Gadget Ogling: Super Strollers, Posture Prodders, and Portable Projectors
January 26, 2016
Regular readers will know that I am not a parent, so you might wonder why I'm including a self-propelling stroller in this week's cavalcade of riches. The answer is elementary: It's a smashing idea. Granted, it's maybe because I don't have a child that I think as much. Aside from pushing itself along the sidewalk, the Smartbe Intelligent Stroller can warm bottles, charge devices and play music.
DARPA Challenges Researchers to Link Human Brains With Computers
January 26, 2016
The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, last week announced a new program that aims to build a connection between the human brain and the digital world. To achieve the goals of the Neural Engineering System Design program, DARPA has invited proposals to design, build, demonstrate and validate a human-computer interface.
The Gears of E-Commerce
January 26, 2016
As the U.S. retail industry puts another long holiday shopping season behind it, a few changes appear to be taking place. For one thing, it appears there's a new recipe for success. Growing a business requires more than setting up a fancy website, placing inventory into a warehouse, and engaging a service to make speedy deliveries. That's in part because customer expectations have changed.
SpaceX Finds Silver Lining in Failed Sea Landing
January 20, 2016
SpaceX this week failed in its third attempt to land a rocket on an ocean platform. The company has landed a reusable rocket on land successfully, but it has stepped up its efforts to land at sea. The latest attempt, though not successful, was a step forward, SpaceX said. The Falcon 9 rocket was supposed to deliver its payload, then land on a drone ship out in the Pacific Ocean.
Gadget Ogling: Baring Souls, Soaking Up Sound, and Tracking Babes
January 19, 2016
As time advances, more responsibilities seep into our lives. We get wrapped up in our own worlds, and don't necessarily make enough time to spend with the friends and family members who've been important parts of our worlds for decades. Concepter's Soul time tracker seeks to make us more conscious of the time we spend with those who matter most to us.
What the PC Industry Could Learn From the NRA
January 18, 2016
One of the fascinating things about the NRA is that buyers of guns think the organization represents them, when in fact its mission is to represent gun sellers -- not gun buyers -- and certainly never gun buyers against gun sellers. Guns for consumers largely have been banned in most of the world, with the exception of the U.S., which uniquely has the NRA.
Sony Builds Smart Home Hub Into Ceiling Light
January 15, 2016
Sony this week announced its Multifunctional Light, a ceiling lamp that's kitted out with sensors to talk to smart things. It includes sensors for motion, illumination, temperature and humidity. There's also WiFi radio, a memory card slot, a condenser microphone, and an infrared controller for air conditioners. The lamp form factor offers convenient placement, said a Sony Electronics spokesperson.
Dronecode Project Gets More Wind Beneath Its Wings
January 14, 2016
The Linux Foundation this week announced an expansion of the Dronecode project with investments from new members and the creation of three technical working groups. The foundation launched the open source project in 2014 in an effort to create a unified platform for commercial drone technology. Twenty-seven companies have joined Dronecode since, bringing membership to 51, officials said.
Google's Self-Driving Cars Still Need Human Touch
January 14, 2016
Google's self-driving cars showed major safety improvements over the past year -- but there were dozens of incidents when test drivers had to intervene, the company said in a report recently filed with California regulators. There were 272 so-called immediate manual control disengagements due to a failure of the autonomous car technology, between September 2014 and November 2015, Google reported.
Google Sharpens Its Virtual Reality Focus
January 14, 2016
Google has confirmed the appointment of Clay Bavor as vice president of virtual reality, one of several indications that the company intends to get serious about competing in the emerging field. Diane Greene will take over Bavor's former role as vice president of product management. The news comes as Facebook's $599 Oculus Rift and HTC's yet-to-be priced Vive are being prepped for shipment.
Ford's Self-Driving Cars Brave Ice and Snow
January 11, 2016
Ford on Monday announced that it has begun conducting the automobile industry's first autonomous vehicle tests in snow and icy conditions at Mcity. The company is using Mcity -- a full-scale, 32-acre simulated real-world urban environment that was developed as part of the University of Michigan's Mobility Transformation Center -- to test vehicles in a variety of weather conditions.
Behind the Scenes at CES
January 11, 2016
CES surprised me again this year. For a show that comes too early in the year for most buyers and companies, it still stood out as having some truly amazing things. It will be remembered for showcasing the birth of personal flight vehicles, along with a Tesla-beating car, and Ford showing how it could do what Apple couldn't. I'll fill you in on some of the back stories at CES.
Gadget Ogling: Fitbit's Smartwatch, Super Home Movies, and Flying Machines
January 9, 2016
Fitbit found great success this past holiday season, and it's keeping up the momentum with its first smartwatch. The Fitbit Blaze includes a continuous heart-rate monitor, a connected GPS, and a multisport mode with a feature that recognizes the type of workout or sport and tracks it appropriately. Still, the Blaze stands out almost more for what it doesn't do.
YouTube Reveals 4K HDR and 360-Degree Video Support at CES
January 9, 2016
YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl on Thursday laid out the direction the service plans to take this year, including new partnerships with GoPro to support 360-degree video content and support for 4K HDR, or high dynamic range, video. So-called cord cutters are having an impact on streaming video services, including those of competitors such as Amazon and YouTube, he said at CES 2016.
The World According to Intel
January 8, 2016
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich earlier this week demonstrated a wide variety of new technologies and laid out the company's vision for where the industry is headed. There is a rapidly growing role for technology that is at once transformative, unprecedented and accessible," he told a CES audience. The 90-minute address offered a compelling look into Intel's view of the tech industry's future.
Oculus VR Founder Laments Failure to Communicate on Pricing
January 8, 2016
Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey on Wednesday said the company did a poor job of communicating the price of the consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset. However, similarly priced products, such as TVs and smartphones, cost less to manufacture than the Rift VR headset, he said. A bare-bones Oculus Rift kit wouldn't cost much less than the bundle's $599 price tag, Luckey noted.
HTC Shows Off Vive Pre's Room-Sensing Camera
January 6, 2016
A room-sensing camera planted on the front of the Vive Pre was the reason the release of Valve and HTC's virtual reality headset was delayed, the companies revealed Tuesday at CES 2016. The Vive VR headset was supposed to beat Oculus VR and Sony to the punch, coming out in the last quarter of last year. A last-minute "breakthrough" required more work on the Vive headset, HTC CEO Cher Wang said last month.
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What is your reaction to the rumored
4-inch iPhone?
I'm in -- I'd love to have a smaller iPhone.
I prefer a larger iPhone, but it's good to have more options.
I expect innovation from Apple -- seems it's running out of ideas.
I'm not interested in an iPhone of any size.