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CES Insanity in 2016: The Cannabis Defense
January 4, 2016
CES is probably the best example that folks who work around tech are just a tad insane. While no big product has yet emerged, there will be a ton of crazy stuff to see. Yes, there will be robots, smartwatches, tablets, PCs, smart appliances, exoskeletons, body monitors, head thumpers, drones, self-driving cars, augmented reality, virtual reality, holographics, 3D printers, and a ton of junk.
Gadget Ogling: Streaming Socks, a High-Powered Hoverboard, and a Vigilant Vacuum
December 29, 2015
Finally, a pair of socks I would not be ever-so-slightly disappointed to find among my gifts on Christmas morning. Netflix has released some designs for socks that can stop streaming the show or movie you're streaming if you should nod off. The socks detect when you've stopped moving for a long period and hit the pause button. If you're still awake, you can wiggle your big toe to halt the action.
Looking Ahead to 2016
December 28, 2015
Next week is CES, and I am so looking forward to coming home from that show. It used to be a lot of fun, but it covers such a massive amount of space that just getting around takes up much of the time. Given that most folks do prebriefings if they are smart, and that most of the really cool stuff is behind closed doors and not on the show floor, every year I question the intelligence of going.
2015: Looking Back at an Amazing Year
December 21, 2015
I'm kind of surprised it took us so long to figure out that an iPod-like product with a Siri-like voice interface would be a massive hit in the home. As I write this, the numbers suggest the breakout product this holiday is the Amazon Echo. It once again showcases that if you create something that is plug-and-play easy and does at least one thing folks want to do well, it will be a hit.
Gadget Ogling: Long-Lasting Smartphones, Burglar-Busting Drones, and Ski-Obsessed Sensors
December 19, 2015
If the dream for many in the modern world is to have a smartphone that never needs a charge, Oukitel's K10000 is a pretty good runner-up. The smartphone is named for its 10,000mAh battery. When subjected to "normal" use, it's good for 10 to 15 days between charges. Given that many smartphones will need some extra juice after around 10 hours of typical use, that seems a tall order.
California's Proposed Rules Could Stop Google Car in Its Tracks
December 18, 2015
The California Department of Motor Vehicles on Thursday proposed rules for autonomous vehicles, and Google isn't happy about one of the provisions. The new rules for autonomous autos were presented for public commentary. The DMV has invited the public to weigh in on the proposal in two workshops, one in Sacramento and the other in Los Angeles, early next year.
Musk and Friends Launch OpenAI
December 16, 2015
The aim of OpenAI is to use artificial intelligence to benefit society. The fledgling project has drawn $1 billion in funding from some of high tech's most recognizable names to help it achieve that goal. Investors include SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, Y Combinator founding partner Jessica Livingston and President Sam Altman and AWS.
AI Programmed to Learn at Human Speed
December 15, 2015
Researchers have created a computational model that enables artificial intelligence to learn the way humans do, according to an article published last week. The model gives AI the ability to recognize handwritten alphabetical characters as fast as humans can. Researchers reversed engineered the way people address problems and built an AI algorithm for that approach.
Bad Batteries May Cause Hoverboard Craze to Flame Out
December 14, 2015
Amazon has pulled some of this holiday season's most popular gifts from its website amid safety concerns, according to reports that surfaced Monday. It apparently stopped selling several brands of electric self-balancing scooters -- aka "hoverboards" -- including the Swagway. The move comes on the heels of last week's news that several airlines no longer would allow the devices on flights.
The Trouble With Hoverboards and Lithium-Ion Batteries
December 14, 2015
As I'm writing this, a few more hoverboards have caught fire, and they now are banned on most domestic airlines, suggesting that shipping these things fast could be a problem. Australia even has put out a specific warning on hoverboards. The biggest problem is that a lithium ion fire in a large battery pack like this could burn down your house, and that would be an ugly end to holiday festivities.
Gadget Ogling: Unappetizing Apple Juice, a Fistful of Virtual Reality, and Considerate Drones
December 12, 2015
After years of seeing third-party companies release battery pack cases for its iPhone line, Apple finally has entered the market itself. The Smart Battery Case aims to protect your iPhone and provide it with extra power when you need it. A full charge on the phone and the battery case delivers up to 25 hours of talk time, and up to 18 hours of LTE Internet use.
Less Poking Around? Google Seeks Patent on Needle-Free Blood Drawing Tech
December 12, 2015
Google has filed for a patent on needle-free blood-drawing technology, described in a USPTO application published last week. Application 20150342509 suggests four potential implementations of the technology, including its use in a device that has an evacuated negative-pressure barrel with a membrane sealing an aperture at the far end containing an accelerator barrel.
4-Inch iPhone With Apple Pay May Be Coming Soon
December 7, 2015
Apple will launch an iPhone with a 4-inch display and support for Apple Pay in early 2016, according to a research note from an analyst with a good track record of predicting Apple products. The new iPhone model will have an A9 processor -- the same processor found in the latest iPhone models -- and a metal casing offered in several colors, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said.
Gadget Ogling: Custom Kicks, Heartbeat Tricks, and Office Picks
December 5, 2015
I'm hardly the most stylish gent around town, but even I would consider wearing a pair of sneakers I could adorn to my liking at any time through their customizable display. ShiftWear's sneakers allow you to choose from myriad colorful or even animated designs through an app. Since the display is E-Ink-based, battery consumption is low, and a charge lasts around 30 days.
Porsche Is on an All-Electric Mission
December 4, 2015
Porsche on Friday revealed plans to produce its first 100 percent electrically powered sports car under its Mission E project by the end of the decade. The Mission E concept car debuted at the Frankfurt International Motor Show earlier this year. The four-door vehicle utilizes a system power output that exceeds 440 kW and can accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in about 3.5 seconds, Porsche said.
Wikipedia Uses AI to Assist Human Editors
December 4, 2015
The Wikimedia Foundation this week rolled out a service designed to improve the quality of Wikipedia articles. The Objective Revision Evaluation Service uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help Wikipedia editors identify damaging articles more quickly and assign quality scores more rapidly. ORES lets editors peer into incoming content to identify potentially damaging edits.
Forces That Will Reshape the IT Landscape in 2016
December 4, 2015
There may be no better way to capture the state of the technology industry than to borrow Charles Dickens' famous opening from A Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." It never has been a better time to launch offerings via the cloud, but the availability of low-cost computing power and open source software have created unprecedented competitive challenges.
At $60K, Nokia's Ozo VR Camera Is Priced Right for Pro Filmmakers
December 3, 2015
Nokia this week revealed its Ozo virtual reality camera system. Priced at $60,000, it will ship in the first quarter of 2016. While its price may be too high for many YouTube content creators, it's low enough for studios that previously may have been hesitant to embrace VR because of the cost of equipment. Before the Ozo, experimenting with VR came at a high cost, Nokia said.
Gadget Ogling: Zippy 3D Printing, Custom-Molded Earphones, and Fast-Food Buttons
November 30, 2015
One of the current issues with 3D printing is that it can take some time to create physical versions of large or complex designs. Nexa3D's NX1 prints objects as much as 100 times faster than competitors, with printing speeds of about a centimeter in height every minute, according to the company. It uses light on a certain type of resin to speed up the process.
How Technology Could Prevent Another Paris-Like Attack
November 30, 2015
What I find fascinating is that with all of the focus members of the intelligence community place on violating our privacy, they still aren't able to stop attacks like the one in Paris. Currently they are complaining that it is our fault for implementing encryption that blocks their often-illegal views into citizens' personal lives. I think that even if encryption didn't exist, they still would be ineffective.
UHD TV - What's the Damage?
November 25, 2015
TV manufacturers could have a very good holiday season. Sales of Ultra High Definition TV sets will exceed 330 million units by the end of 2019, according to Parks Associates. However, while the price of those sets has fallen sharply, a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council contended that UHD models use 30 percent more energy than their HD predecessors.
Is This VR's Mainstream Moment?
November 24, 2015
Samsung last week began fulfilling orders for its Oculus-power Gear VR headset, giving U.S. consumers their first taste of Oculus VR's brand of virtual reality. International preorders have opened as well. It won't be until early next year that Oculus VR begins shipping its full-featured Oculus Rift headset, but as a Gear VR collaborator, it has been touting Samsung's mobile-driven headset.
Gadget Ogling: A Dumb Watch Dock, a Smart VR Phone Case, and a Fantastic Fireball Thrower
November 21, 2015
No longer leaving it up to third-party companies to create charging docks for its Apple Watch, Apple has released its own official dock. It allows Watch owners to rest the smartwatch in nightstand mode -- a feature introduced in the latest version of the operating system that essentially turns the Watch into a bedside clock -- without tangling it up with the standard magnetic charger.
Microsoft HoloLens, Volvo to Pioneer Augmented Car Showroom Experience
November 20, 2015
Microsoft HoloLens on Thursday announced a partnership with Volvo Cars to develop a new holographic technology that could change the way consumers experience auto showrooms. The tech would let potential buyers stay put in the physical world while experiencing an automobile in an entirely new way, suggested Scott Erickson, senior director of Microsoft HoloLens.
NASA Awards Space Robot R&D Projects to MIT, Northeastern
November 20, 2015
NASA on Tuesday announced it has awarded one R5 humanoid robot each to MIT and Northeastern University to conduct research on adapting them for use in space. The universities were selected from U.S. entries in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Robotics Challenge held in June. Each team will receive up to $250,000 a year for two years. They also will get technical support from NASA.
Huawei's Fast-Charging Batteries Could Solve Power Users' Problems
November 19, 2015
Huawei Technologies last week unveiled lithium-ion batteries that recharge in minutes rather than hours. The batteries, developed by Huawei's Watt Lab, recharge 10 times faster than their competitors and can reach 50 percent capacity in two to five minutes, the company said. Huawei demonstrated two models at the 56th Battery Symposium in Japan last week.
Drone, Ferris Wheel Altercation a Worrying Sign of the Times
November 17, 2015
A drone crashed into the 175-foot-tall Seattle Great Wheel last week, triggering a police investigation. The Great Wheel is a ferris wheel near the downtown Seattle waterfront. No damage or injuries were reported in the crash. "I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often," commented Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
Gadget Ogling: Comfy Earbuds, Barking Bots, and USB Killers
November 14, 2015
If you're a human being who listens to music using earbuds, chances are you've run into some issues along the way in keeping the infernal things nestled into your ear canal. Manufacturers have tried to find solutions, such as offering different-sized rubber molds, but we're still hewing to a few-sizes-fit-all model. Enter Revols, a company that might have the answer.
Ford to Test Autonomous Vehicles at Mcity
November 14, 2015
Ford on Friday announced that it will be the first automaker to test its autonomous vehicles at Mcity, a full-scale simulated urban environment that was developed as part of the University of Michigan's Mobility Transformation Center. The site will allow Ford to test its autonomous vehicle fleet close to its headquarters, taking advantage of the diverse roads and neighborhoods Mcity offers.
Deep Learning App Targets Malware
November 10, 2015
Here's the problem with most programs aimed at killing malicious software: They need someone to tell them something's malicious. What if, however, the programs had the smarts to identify bad code on their own? That's what a company called Deep Instinct says its security solution, launched last week, can do. The offering works its magic with a technology called "deep learning."
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