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Gadget Ogling: Playful Projectors, Star Wars Sounds, and Spotify-to-Go
March 1, 2016
Sony's Xperia Projector Concept turns any surface into an interactive display. One can, for instance, check the latest temperature, play games, edit documents, or make video calls. It is a self-contained system, and it does not need to connect to a smartphone or a computer to operate. It seems that Sony has designs on turning this into a portable device as well.
Microsoft Invites Devs to Tinker With HoloLens
February 29, 2016
Microsoft on Monday announced that its HoloLens Development Edition was available for preorder, with units set to ship to developers beginning March 30. The company early last year introduced the holographic computer technology as a feature for Windows 10. It later announced a partnership with Volvo that would allow the application to be applied to the automobile sales floor.
Superhot Warps Time
February 26, 2016
Three years of thought went into the think-between-steps shooter game Superhot, which was released Thursday. Born of a week-long first-person-shooter game jam, Superhot's concept caught the attention of the Kickstarter crowd, raising $250,000. The indie title is available on Windows, Linux and OS X. It will arrive on Xbox One next month. It's a novel approach to the FPS genre.
Atlas Robot Turns the Other Cheek
February 25, 2016
Google-owned Boston Dynamics on Tuesday gave the world a look at the latest version of Atlas, a bipedal robot that someday could threaten manual laborers' livelihoods. Boston Dynamics certainly didn't say or imply that the fast-progressing Atlas robot would force humans out of their jobs. The clandestine group merely demonstrated the latest build of the bot, and gave it a cringeworthy battering.
Facebook Uses AI to Map Population Density
February 23, 2016
Facebook has been using artificial intelligence to sharpen its focus on the roughly 10 percent of the world that has been overlooked by the Internet revolution, the company announced Sunday at the Mobile World Congress. The work has been led by the Connectivity Lab, Facebook's research and development wing, which is tasked with making the breakthroughs needed to connect the world to the Internet.
Dell's Embedded PCs Take the IoT to the Mainstream
February 23, 2016
Dell on Tuesday announced the release of its first purpose-built industrial PC products for the mainstream market: the Embedded Box PC 3000 Series and 5000 Series. The products are a response to the growing embedded computing market and the lack of reliable devices, Dell said. The embedded systems market is expected to reach $23.1 billion in 2019, according to a Technavio study.
Samsung Raises Curtain on Galaxy S7 Models
February 23, 2016
Samsung on Sunday introduced two new models of its flagship Galaxy smartphone line at the annual gala for the mobile world, the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Spain. Both phones have similar features, but one, the Galaxy S7 Edge, has a 5.5-inch display, the same size as the iPhone 6s Plus. The units have curved screens that support quad HD resolution, as well as a slight curve on the back.
Gadget Ogling: Tweeted Cocktails, Dimensional Doodles, and Crazy Cubes
February 18, 2016
Sometimes you'll stumble upon a delectable tweet -- a melange of words, pictures, videos or GIFs that looks good enough to eat. But is it good enough to drink? Data Cocktail is a system that hunts for the latest five tweets that include keywords related to available ingredients, and then will mix a drink based on them. The machine also will print the "recipe" for the crowdsourced drink.
Leap Motion Unleashes Orion
February 18, 2016
Leap Motion on Tuesday introduced Orion -- a faster, more precise, more capable and more reliable hand tracking system than its predecessor. Orion is purpose built for virtual reality, and it represents a stark shift in how Leap Motion tech tracks hands and fingers, according to the company. "Orion starts tracking faster and with lower latency," the company said.
Google's Virtual Reality Tinkering May Get More Real
February 17, 2016
Google reportedly is developing a standalone virtual reality headset that will be several steps removed from its Cardboard VR. Instead of relying on a user's smartphone and a lens-fitted cardboard headset, it will have all the necessary components built in. It also won't have to rely on a PC or a console for processing power as do Sony's PlayStation VR, HTC's Vive and Oculus VR's Rift headsets.
Mattel's 3D Printer Will Let Kids Do More Than Play With Toys
February 16, 2016
Mattel last week announced that it is giving its ThingMaker a high-tech makeover by equipping it with 3D capabilities. Using the 1960s iteration, children could create small toys, such as dragons and flowers, by pouring liquid plastic into molds, which were heated and cooled. The updated ThingMaker was designed in partnership with Autodesk, which created the 3D app that works with the printer.
Unity and SteamVR Unite for Native Vive Support
February 16, 2016
Unity Technologies last week announced that the Unity Platform has been retooled to offer native support for SteamVR, the software foundation for HTC Vive. The move will save effort and resources, whether developers build made-for-VR titles or merely build virtual reality support into traditional games. In addition, Valve introduced an advanced rendering plug-in developed for Unity.
AT&T Jumps Into the 5G Race
February 13, 2016
AT&T on Friday announced plans to start testing 5G technology, with a possible limited commercial rollout before the end of 2016. 5G offers the promise of besting the speeds of today's fastest wireless networks by a factor of 10 to 100, through the use of millimeter waves, network function virtualization, and software-defined networking. AT&T is collaborating with Ericsson and Intel on the effort.
Amazon Opens Lumberyard to Game Devs
February 11, 2016
Amazon on Tuesday announced that it has widened its footprint in the game industry, complementing its development studio with the Lumberyard 3D game engine. Based on core components of Crytek's CryEngine, Lumberyard will support development for PCs and consoles (Xbox One and PlayStation 4). Amazon plans to add support for mobile devices and virtual reality gear soon.
Feds Put AI in the Driver's Seat
February 11, 2016
The artificial intelligence component of Google's Level 4 autonomous cars can be considered the driver, whether or not the cars are occupied by humans, the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said in a letter released Tuesday. Level 4 full self-driving automation vehicles perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip.
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.
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What do you think about Hillary Clinton's use of private email servers during her term as Secretary of State?
She broke the law and should go to jail.
She violated guidelines -- the issue is overblown.
She placed important state department information at risk.
Her servers might have been more secure than the government's.
I really don't care one way or the other.