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Gadget Ogling: Unobtrusive Audio, Connected Flora, and a Water Jet Cleaner
July 11, 2015
Dot is billing itself as the world's smallest Bluetooth headset. That might be mere marketing claptrap, but there's no doubt it's an impressive piece of kit. It runs for six hours of playback and nine hours of call time before it needs to recharge, and it has an 80-hour standby time. When Dot does need more power, you can simply plug it into the protective case.
IBM-Led Team Pulls Off Major Chip Feat
July 9, 2015
IBM Research on Thursday announced that an alliance it leads has produced the first 7nm node test chips with functioning transistors. Big Blue's partners are GlobalFoundries, Samsung and the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute's Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, or SUNY Poly CNSE. The alliance sought to develop industry-first innovations.
Gentlemen, Start Your 3D Printers!
July 9, 2015
Local Motors this week unveiled designs for what it hopes will be the first consumer-ready 3D-printed electric cars. The company plans to build two versions of the Reload Redacted vehicle, based on a design by engineer Kevin Lo, who took first place in the Project [REDACTED] competition. Local Motors earlier this year demonstrated a concept vehicle at the Detroit Auto Show.
Apple Watch Sales Sink
July 8, 2015
After a glorious first week of sales following its introduction in April, sales have slid rapidly for the Apple Watch, according to Slice Intelligence. Sales have plummeted to fewer than 20,000 units a day, down from an average of 200,000 a day during its launch week, when it sold 1.5 million units, reported Slice, which measures online purchasing activity through an app used by consumers.
Artificial Intelligence Dreamtime
July 8, 2015
Google researchers last month reported progress in advancing the image classification and speech recognition capabilities of artificial neural networks. Image classification and speech recognition tools are based on well-known mathematical methods, but why certain models work while others don't has been hazy. To help unravel the mystery, the team developed a process dubbed "inceptionism."
GoPro Whittles Down Hero4 Action Cam
July 6, 2015
GoPro's latest action cam features something the company's fans haven't seen for eight years: a product redesign. The Hero4 Session is a 1-inch cube video camera that weighs just 2.6 ounces -- less than half the heft of an iPhone. Unlike previous GoPro models, you won't need a case to protect it from getting wet. It's designed to withstand a soaking in up to 10 meters of water.
Musk Donates $10 Million to Keep AI From Going Rogue
July 6, 2015
The Future of Life Institute on Monday announced 37 winners of grant funding provided by Elon Musk and the Open Philanthropy Project. Musk contributed $10 million toward the effort. A total of $7 million will be awarded to fund the research teams for up to three years, most starting in September. Another $4 million is available to support research grants for areas that emerge as most promising.
The Tour de France's Tech Transformation
July 3, 2015
The 102nd running of the longest sporting event in the world, the Tour de France, begins Saturday. The race first took place in 1903, and it has continued every year since, except during WWI and WWII. In the 112 years since that first race, the technology utilized by the riders has changed dramatically. Today, the racers ride bikes with frames made of advanced carbon fiber.
Faster, Cheaper Fiber Could Rev Up Internet
June 30, 2015
Researchers have found a way to significantly improve the performance of fiber networks, which could lead to benefits for both consumers and Internet service providers. Information in fiber optic cables degrades with the distance it travels. When you try to increase the speed at which the data is traveling by boosting the power in the network, degradation gets worse.
Uncle Sam Wants a Hoverbike
June 29, 2015
The United States Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has commissioned two companies to develop hoverbike technology. The Army intends to operate the hoverbike as a new class of tactical reconnaissance vehicle. "This isn't for jungles or mountains, but could be ideal for patrols over deserts, swamps, or other open areas with mixed terrain," suggested tech analyst Rob Enderle.
The Automobile as We Know It Is Dead
June 29, 2015
There's a massive number of efforts going on to kill the car as we know it. Among them are efforts to make it a tiny self-driving box that we'd likely be embarrassed to be seen in, efforts to make it highly customized and amazing, and efforts to change its fuel from gasoline to CNG, electricity or something else. There is no doubt that the car as we know it soon will be dead.
Gadget Ogling: Vertical Vinyl, Kid-Friendly Video Chats, and a Smart Pool Monitor
June 27, 2015
I enjoy music as much as anyone, though I'm no real audiophile and I have not an enormous passion for one format over another. I admire the romance of vinyl but find it unwieldy and cumbersome when digital recordings work just fine for me. The Floating Record turntable is beautiful, though, and I'm almost tempted to race to my record store to stock up on vinyl to play on one of these.
Self-Driving Cars Avoid Collision, as They Should
June 26, 2015
Two self-driving prototype vehicles, one operated by Google and the other operated by Delphi Automotive, earlier this week avoided a collision in Palo Alto, California. Neither car touched the other, but the incident spurred a number of rattled headlines over the so-called "near miss." In actuality, both vehicles responded as they were supposed to, the companies said in response to the media brouhaha.
Oculus Rift: This Is My Final Form
June 26, 2015
No more screendoor-effect issues or motion-induced sickness. On-board power, outside power requirements under control. With each prior iteration of its Rift headset, Oculus VR assured gamers that they hadn't yet seen the its final form. Finally, in the run-up to this year's E3 and at the show, came the invitation for everyone to "step into the Rift" and behold what the VR headset has become.
3D Printing Could Resurrect Custom Carmaking
June 25, 2015
Divergent Microfactories just introduced the world to the Blade, a 3D-printed supercar it designed as a proof of concept to spur the establishment of other microautomakers and reshape the auto industry. Divergent Microfactories envisions microautomakers emerging similar to the way microbreweries have popped up across the U.S. It wants to "democratize the auto industry."
Lexus Teases Smokin' Hoverboard
June 25, 2015
Some said it could never be done. Some said it would be at least another half century before someone could develop an actual hoverboard. However, Toyota on Wednesday announced that a division of its Lexus arm has built a prototype of a hoverboard, one that truly leverages magnetic levitation. Superconductors, cooled by liquid nitrogen, and permanent magnets give it lift.
Devialet Wants You to Experience an Emotional Sound Implosion
June 24, 2015
Capable of pushing out sound levels that approach the edge of the infrasound spectrum, Devialet's Phantom speaker system finally reached the U.S. market last week. Two versions of the speakers will be available: the 740 watt, 99 db base model, the Phantom, will sell for $1,990; the 3,000 watt, 105 dB Phantom Silver will sell for $2,390. Devialet will begin fulfilling U.S. preorders this September.
Amazon Holds Coming-Out Party for Echo's Alexa
June 23, 2015
About seven months of invitation-only exclusivity for Prime customers came to a close on Tuesday as Amazon opened up sales of Echo, its digital assistant hardware, to anyone willing to spend $180 for it. Amazon will start fulfilling new Echo orders on July 14, but shoppers can prepurchase the cylindrical tower now. The device is animated by Alexa, Amazon's digital assistant software.
3 Things That Will Change Electronic Entertainment Forever
June 22, 2015
E3 -- perhaps the biggest and most important gaming conference in the world -- took place last week. Sony and Microsoft came ready to do battle, Nintendo showed up, and we were up to our armpits in little companies doing amazing things with virtual reality. However, companies that weren't at the event likely have more to say about the future of gaming than those that had a big presence there.
Gadget Ogling: Wrist-Saving Keyboards, Resource-Saving Smartphones and New Angles on Reality
June 20, 2015
Here to save all our wrists -- or at least those of the populace with a spare $299 to spend on a computer accessory -- is a lovely, wood-finished keyboard called "Keyboardio Model 01." Taking its cue from a long history of ergonomic keyboards, the device splits an atypical keyboard in two, dedicating half the keys to each of your hands, and it's set in a gorgeous maple wood construction.
Skies May Soon Be Friendlier to Amazon Drones
June 19, 2015
Amazon on Wednesday appealed to members of Congress to approve use of its fleet of drones for package deliveries. Electrically powered drones could deliver packages to consumer homes and offices faster, more efficiently and with less environmental impact than automobiles, Paul Misener, vice president of global public policy at Amazon, suggested in testimony before the House Oversight Committee.
Hyperloop Dreams May Become Concrete
June 19, 2015
SpaceX this week announced plans to construct a mile-long Hyperloop test track next to its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, scheduled for completion by June 2016. The company concurrently announced an open competition for university students and independent engineering teams to design and build the best Hyperloop pod. Entrants will be able to test their pods on the track.
Google Takes It to the Streets
June 18, 2015
Google last week announced the formation of a new company that will develop technology to improve city life for residents, businesses and governments. Google has teamed up with Dan Doctoroff -- former Bloomberg CEO and ex-deputy mayor of economic development and rebuilding for the City of New York -- to advance the effort. Doctoroff will be CEO of Sidewalk Labs, which will be based in New York.
Amazon May Try Out Delivery-Sharing
June 17, 2015
Amazon reportedly is developing a mobile app that will be the cornerstone of an Uber-type service for neighborhood package delivery. Under the scheme, the app would allow Amazon to compensate people to deliver packages in lieu of using a commercial carrier. People would pick up packages at Amazon's partnering brick-and-mortar stores, and make deliveries on their way to another destination.

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