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Gadget Ogling: Useful Smartwatches, Orbital Cameras, and an Un-Procrastinator
August 1, 2015
Dot is a smartwatch that may have life-changing implications. Rather than trying to convey information through tiny text on a small screen, Dot intends to provide visually impaired wearers with notifications through Braille. Four sets of the six dots that signify characters in the Braille system raise and lower as quickly as 100 times per second to denote four characters simultaneously.
Consumers Fret Over Health Wearables Security
July 29, 2015
Collecting health and fitness data through wearable devices is raising concerns among consumers about the security of that information. Twenty-five percent of more than 3,500 consumers who participated in a recent survey did not believe their personal health data was safe on fitness trackers or in health-tracking apps, reported Healthline -- and that number could be low.
Nintendo's Sleep Monitor Is More Than a Dream
July 28, 2015
A patent application published last week has revealed more information about Nintendo's plans to build out its hardware ecosystem with contactless sleep monitoring technology. The device will assess individuals' emotions by using array of microphones and cameras to keep track of the noises and movements they make while getting some shuteye, according to the description in the patent application.
Stephen Hawking Kicks Off $100M Hunt for Alien Intelligence
July 24, 2015
Space fever seems to be catching on. Stephen Hawking and a group of other high-profile space scientists joined with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner this week to announce a new $100 million effort to search for intelligent alien life. The funding will go to the Breakthrough Initiatives' Breakthrough Listen program. Breakthrough Initiatives is a 10-year multidisciplinary effort.
Pluto Pix Push Interest in Space Exploration
July 17, 2015
Photos transmitted from 4 billion miles away by NASA's New Horizons Pluto space probe have sparked fresh interest in space exploration. New Horizons traveled more than 3 billion miles over a nine-and-a-half year stretch to reach the Pluto system. A close-up image of a region near Pluto's equator shows mountains reaching 11,000 feet in height. The lack of craters suggests they're relatively new.
'Pac-Man' Satellite to Munch on Space Junk
July 11, 2015
There are more than 300,000 pieces of debris larger than 1 cm circulating less than 2,000km above Earth, and EPFL is working on a solution to the problem. Its CleanSpace One satellite project has passed a milestone toward its goal of launching a cleanup satellite to capture and destroy its SwissCube, which has been orbiting Earth for more than five years.
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."
ISS Cargo Lost in SpaceX Falcon Flameout
June 29, 2015
The SpaceX CRS-7 rocket failed minutes after Sunday's launch, blowing up in mid-air. Just after T+2 minutes, when the craft's altitude was 32 km, its speed was 1 km/second, and its downrange distance was 30 km, its flight path apparently began curving downward. Three explosions then occurred. "There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted.
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.
Beware the Killer Robots
June 12, 2015
Russia's advanced military combat robot -- which has drawn alarmed comparisons to Hollywood's Terminator -- will be able to run and clear an obstacle course by late this year, according to reports this week. That's just the latest news fueling the already-fiery debate over what to do about killer robots. Stuart Russell, a UC Berkeley professor, believes the issue is urgent.
Pega Healthcare CRM Promises 360-Degree View
June 9, 2015
Pega last week announced enhancements to Pegasystems Customer Service for Healthcare, an application that integrates customer service and care management to provide a 360-degree view of all customer interactions. The application provides call center agents with data across administrative, health and care management interactions with the goal of enabling them to provide better service.
Apple Music Steals WWDC's Scattershot Show
June 9, 2015
To cap off Monday's wide-ranging keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced a three-pronged music initiative -- a streaming service, a live radio broadcast station, and an app that lets artists connect with fans. "Music is such an important part of our lives and our culture," Cook said, showing off Apple's famous "one more thing" slide.
Robots Meet DARPA Challenge Despite Pratfalls
June 8, 2015
Robots from Korea and the U.S. staggered off with the top three prizes at the DARPA Robotics Challenge, held in California over the weekend. In all, robots from 23 teams participated in the challenge, which consisted of an obstacle course simulating conditions similar to those following the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. DRC-Hubo, the entry from South Korea's Team Kaist, took first prize.
It's Hard to See WWDC Through My Apple TV Tears
June 4, 2015
By the time you read this, I'll have finished swearing in the privacy of my office, and likely will have entered the acceptance stage of grief. Already, realization is dawning that I was right to withhold hope that Apple would reveal a new Apple TV at its WorldWide Developers Conference on Monday. I hate it when pessimism wins. But how can I know that Apple isn't going to introduce a new Apple TV?
Wood Chips: Electronics May Go Back to Nature
May 29, 2015
In a significant step toward a future in which consumers can toss old gadgets onto a compost heap, researchers have proved the viability of placing computer chips on support structures made from wood. This latest advance in green technology could "be used for many things, including mobile devices, displays, solar cells and much more," said UW engineering prof Zhenqiang "Jack" Ma.
NASA's $2.25M Challenge: 3D-Print a Space Base
May 18, 2015
NASA and America Makes have challenged innovators in the additive construction market to design a habitat for deep space exploration for the first stage of the competition and to fabricate such facilities in the second phase. The organizations will award a $50,000 prize and a pair of $1.1 million purses for the winners of the multistage challenge. Registration opened for phase one on Saturday.
The Future According to Qualcomm
May 18, 2015
I was at the Qualcomm Internet of Things event in San Francisco last week during what was a major IoT event in the city. What is kind of amazing is the larger event was just a small part of the applications show that used to go on at the same time. This year it is twice the size of that older show. Companies are flocking to this IoT concept like ducks to water.
3 SciFi Technologies That Are About to Get Amazingly Real
May 11, 2015
Lisa Su, the talented new CEO for AMD, last week gave a pitch on the future to get people excited about where AMD is going. Based on the stock performance after her talk, she and her team knocked it out of the park. They also got me thinking about some tech advancements that have been quietly percolating, which likely will form the basis for a revolutionary announcement in the next few years.
EM Drive Stirs Blood of Hopeful Space Explorers
May 6, 2015
It may not be warp drive, but EM drive is perhaps even more exciting, because it has a better chance of being science fact than fiction. EM drive technology theoretically could allow a trip to the moon in four hours, to Mars in 70 days, and to Alpha Centaurii, the star system nearest to our own, in roughly 130 years. It would take thousands of years using today's space travel technologies.
Apple, IBM Bring Tech to the Rescue for Japan's Seniors
May 4, 2015
Apple and IBM last week announced an initiative with Japan Post Group to provide seniors in Japan with iPads preloaded with apps and analytics designed to improve their quality of life. Japan Post Group will launch a pilot service later this year and gradually expand it to cover 4-5 million customers by 2020. This is one of several undertakings to deal with aging in Japan.
Gadget Ogling: Wine in a Dash, Connected Bicycles, and a Wearable for Behinds
May 2, 2015
I'll admit I'm not the planet's most refined wine connoisseur, but I do enjoy a glass or two of red with my dinner. At the minute, the few bottles I have are vacuuming up space around my kitchen, so I could use a wall-mounted wine rack -- but what's the use of having a rack with no bottles once they're finished? Poppy Reserve could solve the problem of a barren wine rack.
We'll Soon Live in an Imaginary World
April 20, 2015
Virtual and augmented reality and holographic image technologies are coming at us with the speed of a freight train, and it won't be long until we'll no longer be able to distinguish between what is real and what isn't. There are some initiatives going on behind the scenes, as well as some breakthroughs, that shortly will make our experience of the world very different from what it is now.
Gadget Ogling: A Juicy Wristband, a Gamy Wearable and a Dorky Dongle
April 18, 2015
Asus is taking a common-sense approach to the fitness tracker game by debuting a new watch with a 10-day battery life. Thanks to its square screen, the soon-to-be-released VivoWatch resembles a smartwatch more than, say, a Fitbit. It appears to have a monochrome screen, which must help extend that all-important battery life. It has a stainless-steel build, and dust and water protection.
Riding in Driverless Cars Could Be Sickening
April 17, 2015
Self-driving vehicles could increase the likelihood of motion sickness in some riders, suggests a UMTRI study released last week. Motion sickness, also known as "kinetosis," is a condition marked by symptoms of nausea, dizziness and other physical discomfort. Some factors that contribute to motion sickness could be elevated in self-driving vehicles, the researchers noted.

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Is Microsoft starting to get cool again?
Yes - thanks to Satya Nadella's vision.
Yes - but only in certain areas, like AI and VR.
Maybe - it doesn't seem as stodgy as before.
No - it never was.