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Gadget Ogling: Seeing E-Ink Everywhere, Breathing Easy and Brewing Beer
December 06, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, and set aside that last leftover-turkey sandwich for a short while as we explore the murky landscape of freshly announced gadgets. On the menu in our post-Thanksgiving edition are a pair of e-ink smart devices, wearables with a health focus, an intelligent home brewing kit, a kitschy kitchen product, and perhaps the most useless item we've included in this column to date.
Hawking Sounds Alarm Over AI's End Game
December 05, 2014
Artificial intelligence eventually could bring about mankind's demise, according to renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. "Once humans develop [full] artificial intelligence, it would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate," he said. "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."
Amazon Gears Up Its Well-Oiled Holiday Machine
December 02, 2014
Amazon on Monday announced its deployment of 15,000 robots as part of the highly automated systems in place at all 10 of its eighth-generation fulfillment centers across the United States. The systems reportedly have cut cycle times from an hour or more to less than 15 minutes and eliminated the need for aisles. This lets Amazon store 50 percent more items per square foot.
Intel Gives Google Glass a Big Break
December 01, 2014
Google reportedly has teamed up with Intel to target the corporate market with its Glass eyewear, and it will use an Intel processor in the next iteration of the device instead of the Texas Instruments chip it now uses. The partnership makes sense, given that Glass has failed to make much headway in the consumer market. "It's a major coup for Google to get Intel," said tech analyst Ronald Gruia.
What If Jaguar and Tesla Merged?
December 01, 2014
OK, I know you are just back from Thanksgiving vacation, if you are in the U.S., and you likely are still stewing about what your drunk uncle said during dinner. So, since you probably are in the mood, I thought I'd toss out an idea that has been percolating in my brain that I plan to annoy folks with at my Thanksgiving dinner: What if Jaguar and Tesla merged?
Musk Hints at Tesla, BMW Tie-Up
November 24, 2014
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk reportedly has engaged in talks with BMW to partner on the production of electric batteries, as well as other technologies for electric vehicles. Musk reportedly said that the companies might collaborate to develop advanced batteries and lightweight components including carbon fiber body parts in an interview published Sunday.
A View of the Future: Demo 2014
November 24, 2014
I attended Demo in Silicon Valley last week and, as always, it showcased things likely to mature in the market 12 to 14 months into the future. The presenters are small companies, hand-selected because they offer something unique and forward-looking. This year there was a showcase of products that could redefine home automation, drones, emergency rooms, and even how you buy clothing.
Gadget Ogling: Dueling Tablets, a Smart Scale, and Slooow Games
November 22, 2014
Welcome to our weekly look at the latest, greatest, and poorest gadgets to be revealed to the world. Hark as yours truly extols the virtues and horrors of two wildly different tablets, a smart kitchen scale, and video games requiring patience, among other objects. It's not like the planet needs another well-known consumer gadget maker whipping up Android tablets, and yet here we are.
Will Apple's Next iPhone Capture DSLR Quality With 2 Lenses?
November 20, 2014
The Apple rumor mill never stops spinning, and even though the iPhone 6 is barely here and the next version ages away, the most interesting rumor is the chance that the next iPhone will make a huge leap forward with its camera -- possibly using two lenses to produce DSLR-quality images. The rumor comes from John Gruber of Daring Fireball via an episode of The Talk Show podcast.
IBM Begins New Email Chapter With Intelligent Verse
November 19, 2014
IBM on Tuesday introduced Verse, its entry into the reinventing email derby. Verse, which will be available in both an enterprise and freemium edition, integrates the many ways people communicate with each other every day -- email, meetings, calendars, file sharing, instant messaging, social media, video chats and more -- into a single collaboration environment.
Google Glass May Be Saved by Obscurity
November 19, 2014
Whatever happened to Google Glass? In the early days, people got punched in bars, bounced from movie theaters, and pulled over in cars for wearing them, and some establishments outright banned "glassholes" from their premises. Google claimed the white "Cotton" beta model sold out when it held a one-day sale of Google Glass Explorer for United States residents at $1,500 a pop in April.
Toyota's Mirai Aims to Kick Fuel-Cell Tech Into High Gear
November 17, 2014
Toyota on Monday officially unveiled its fuel cell sedan in an Internet video, in advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show Nov. 21-30. The new sedan, dubbed "Mirai" -- which means "future" in Japanese -- can travel up to 300 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, refuel in less than five minutes, and emit only water vapor. Toyota also will help establish 12 new hydrogen fueling stations in five states.
Nvidia Launches a New Mobile Device Age
November 17, 2014
There was an announcement last week that I think is far bigger than folks realize: Nvidia announced a free Netflix-like streaming gaming service for its Shield products. I think this is a precursor to an event that is similar to what cable did to TVs years ago, and that it will change not only how we use these devices, but also what we use them for.
Gadget Ogling: A Creepy Echo, Clever Home Connections, Bizarre Smartphones and Flexible 3D Printing
November 15, 2014
Echo, Amazon's newest attempt at a smart personal assistant, is set to take pride of place in your home. The black tower is voice-activated and can play music, as well as provide information and news updates. It's from Amazon, so it also can update your shopping list. It's always on, so it's continually listening to you, wherever you are in a room. That's just more than a little unsettling.
Bankrupt Sapphire Supplier Blasts Apple in Court Document
November 12, 2014
GT Advanced Technologies, in a document made public last Friday, alleged that it "incurred losses ... due to Apple's inordinate control over GTAT's liquidity, operations ..., and decision making." The U.S. Bankruptcy Court of New Hampshire unsealed the document, in which GTAT CEO Daniel W. Squiller accuses Apple of using a "bait and switch" strategy in its dealings with the company.
Are Tiny Internet Satellites Twinkling in Musk's Eyes?
November 10, 2014
Elon Musk, CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla Motors, soon may be venturing into new territory: the Internet satellite sector. Musk reportedly is working with ex-Googler Greg Wyler, founder of WorldVu Satellites, on a $1 billion project to develop a fleet of 700 relatively small and inexpensive models that can be used to provide Internet access around the globe.
Dell: Using Technology to Change the World
November 10, 2014
I was at Dell World last week, and it is kind of amazing how far the company has come since it went private. Interestingly, much of the big tent content was less about Dell's technology and more about how technology was being used to change the world. This was kind of a scary event in some cases, because we are far from ready for some of the changes.
Gadget Ogling: Garish Walkie-Talkies, Slick Cameras and Mini 3D Printing
November 08, 2014
Welcome to another installment of every tech-loving optimist's and misanthrope's favorite look at the week's most wondrous and pitiful new gadgets. Ahead, for your delight and dismay, are studies of a wearable walkie-talkie-type communication device, a 360-degree action camera, a tiny 3D printer, a smart camera attachment, and a clever mobile roaming solution.
Foodini: Presto Chango, Your Dinner Is Printed
November 07, 2014
Natural Machines this week took to the stage at the Web Summit in Dublin to demonstrate Foodini, a 3D printer that can be used to create pizza, pasta, burgers and a wide range of other savory and sweet foods. Users begin by choosing the recipe they want to print, either from the Internet-connected device's onboard touchscreen or from their own PC or mobile device.
Amazon's Echo Plays Hard to Get
November 07, 2014
Amazon on Thursday announced Echo, a speaker with a built-in voice-activated personal digital assistant. Think of a cylindrical Bose SoundLink Mini married to Siri, Cortana or Google Voice -- or heck, living in sin with all three. Echo can conduct Web searches, add items to your to-do list, let you play streaming music, and give you news and weather reports, among other things.
The Apple Effect: The Leaders Shall Become Followers
November 07, 2014
Google Wallet reportedly has experienced a sudden surge: Weekly transactions are up 50 percent, and the number of new users has nearly doubled in a month. Obviously, the primary explanation for this sudden leap is Apple's entry into the mobile payments world. It introduced Apple Pay in September and rolled it out officially October 20. Google Wallet has been available since 2011.
New Jawbone Fitness Trackers Stretch High and Low
November 06, 2014
Jawbone has announced two new fitness trackers: the high-end Up3 wristband and the entry-level Up Move clip device. Using a multisensor platform, the $179.99 Up3 captures detailed information about the wearer's heart rate, sleep stages and physical activity over the course of the day. It also connects with the Up App to deliver Smart Coach, an intelligent system that tracks the user's progress.
NTSB Gives Last Press Briefing on SpaceShipTwo Crash Investigation
November 04, 2014
Christopher Hart, acting chairman of the United States National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash last week of Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, on Monday delivered his final press briefing on the initial stage of the investigation. Hart clarified on Monday that it was not known whether Alsbury or copilot Peter Siebold had moved the feathering lever.
Take a Nano Pill and Call Google in the Morning?
November 03, 2014
Google is in the early stages of developing a nanoparticle-covered pill to detect cancer and other serious health problems such as heart disease, according to Andrew Conrad, head of the life sciences team at Google X, who revealed the project last week. The pill would work in tandem with a wearable magnetic device worn by the patient; the device would guide the pill to different parts of the body.

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