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CVS, Rite Aid Kick Apple Pay to the Curb
October 27, 2014
Consumers who had been using Apple Pay at CVS and Rite Aid received a rude shock over the weekend when the chains turned off the technology at their stores. Apple Pay enables mobile payments using the latest iPhone models or Apple Watch. The technology underlying it -- near field communications -- allows transactions to be performed on a point-of-sale terminal with a tap or wave of a phone.
Fitbit Tosses 3 More Bands Into the Activity-Tracking Melee
October 27, 2014
Fitbit on Monday announced three new fitness and activity-tracking wearables: the Fitbit Charge, Charge HR and Surge. The Charge HR and Surge will be available early next year. The Charge is available now on Fitbit's site and is coming soon to retailers nationwide. Prices are high -- $130 for the Charge, $150 for the Charge HR, and $250 for the Surge, a fitness super watch with eight sensors.
Detroit's Stupid Plan to Kill Tesla
October 27, 2014
In watching the illicit attempts of dealers and U.S. auto companies to try to kill Tesla, I have to think they are all wrongheaded. I don't drive a Tesla, but this kind of thing makes me really mad because it is so incredibly stupid. Tesla is as much an idea as it is a company -- and an idea that should be flowing through the car industry anyway, because the world is changing.
Gadget Ogling: Up In The Air, Big Reads and Ghastly Wearables
October 25, 2014
This week in Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, a peek at newly announced gadgets that caught my eye, we're going back to the future. Yes, there's an actual hoverboard on the agenda, alongside a larger Nook tablet, a high-end Kindle, smart luggage, and the tipping point for wearable tech. As always, there are ratings for each item, which are based on how interested I am in using them.
Robots Gearing Up to Join Ebola Front Lines
October 24, 2014
The White House and roboticists have set Nov. 7 to get together in a workshop to explore ways of using robots to help in the battle against Ebola. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will cohost the workshop on safety robotics for Ebola workers, with Texas A&M University's Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue, or CRASAR.
Smart Nightlight Calls Your iPhone When Smoke, CO Alarms Start Wailing
October 22, 2014
Leeo on Tuesday introduced the Smart Alert Nightlight, a $99 gadget that can detect when the alarm sounds from a smoke or carbon monoxide detector and send alerts to an iPhone. About the size and shape of a coaster, the Smart Alert Nightlight plugs into a wall outlet where it does double duty as illuminator and monitor. When it hears an alarm, it uses its WiFi connection to send a push notification.
The Next-Gen TV Cable Dilemma
October 22, 2014
Television manufacturers are moving toward ultra high definition -- also known as "4K" -- which offers four times the resolution of HD. It also offers greater depth of color and faster frame rate. That means more information must travel through the cable from the video source to the TV. The current de facto cable, HDMI, or high-definition multimedia interface, solves some of the old problems.
Google Takes a Flyer on Magic Leap
October 21, 2014
Magic Leap on Tuesday announced that Google was the lead investor in a $542 million round of funding for its secret endeavors. Also participating were Qualcomm, Legendary Entertainment, KKR, Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Andreessen Horowitz and Obvious Ventures. Details are scarce about Magic Leap's forthcoming products, but they are likely proprietary wearable technology.
$10K Will Get You a Clunky, Slow Hoverboard That's Nothing Like Marty McFly's
October 21, 2014
The designers behind the Hendo Hoverboard on Tuesday took to the crowdfunding site Kickstarter to help launch a prototype and bring it to actual production. The funding period for this project will run from Tuesday through Dec. 15. The team has set a Kickstarter goal of $250,000 and already raised in excess of $100,000 in the opening hours. Early investors can get on board -- literally.
Kickstarter Puts Kibosh on Tor-Based Router Funding
October 21, 2014
Kickstarter on Friday suspended a crowdfunding campaign for Anonabox, a portable networking device designed specifically to run Tor. The campaign for the privacy-minded router, which launched earlier last week, was wildly successful. In just a few days, it reportedly garnered more than $600,000 in pledged funds from thousands of backers. The Kickstarter goal for the $45 device was just $7,500.
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.

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