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Performance Matters: 9 Key Consumer Insights
Apple Springs Bevy of New Products at Watch Event
March 9, 2015
The Apple Watch wasn't the only new product to take the stage at Apple's Monday media event -- Apple also introduced an all-new sleek MacBook. In addition, Apple nabbed the chance to be the exclusive launch partner for HBO's new streaming subscription service. Among the event highlights: Apple Watch will be available for preorder April 10, sale April 24; and Apple Watch Edition starts at $10,000.
Gadget Ogling: A Lovely Sky Snapper, a Grotesque Power Pack and Wafer-Thin Speakers
March 4, 2015
There's a new Nikon camera that actually won't work for parents eager to flash their cash at a kid's birthday party with an expensive DSLR when a camera phone would work just fine. The D810A has an infrared filter that probably will result in distorted colors when used for everyday purposes. So you might not want to use it for that cute shot of a butterfly nestling on a poppy.
DeepMind AI Exterminates Space Invaders, Pac-Man
February 27, 2015
Researchers at Google's DeepMind subsidiary in England have developed an artificial agent they call a "deep Q-network" that learned to play 49 classic Atari 2600 arcade games by just diving in. The DQN algorithm performed at more than 75 percent of the level of a professional player in more than half the games. It achieved the maximum attainable scores in certain games, such as Breakout.
Anthem Mega-Breach Jeopardizes 80 Million Consumers
February 5, 2015
Hackers broke into the databases of Anthem Inc., the second-largest health insurer in the U.S., and stole up to 80 million customers' personal information. The data includes current and former customers' names, birthdays, medical IDs, social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, Anthem president and CEO Joseph Swedish wrote in a note sent to customers.
Gadget Ogling: A Touchless Thermometer, Flashing Audio, and a Mesmerizing Mattress Cover
January 31, 2015
JoyWing's Wishbone is a fancier thermometer than what you or I will have seen on any trip to the doctor. It's a smartphone attachment that gives temperature readouts within a couple of seconds without even having to touch the person or material it's examining, thanks to an infrared sensor. It's inexpensive, at $26-35 for those pledging to the crowdfunding drive.
SpaceX Video Stirs Excitement for Falcon Heavy
January 29, 2015
SpaceX on Thursday released a computer-generated animation demonstrating how the three Falcon 9 cores of its Falcon Heavy rocket, scheduled for launch later this year, would return to Earth. The boosters would land vertically at a selected site. The Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket in the world, being able to lift more than 53 metric tons, or 117,000 pounds, into low earth orbit.
Google Buys In on Musk's Space Internet Plans
January 21, 2015
SpaceX, the space transport services company founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, has raised $1 billion in funding from Google and Fidelity Investments. Together, they will together own almost 10 percent of SpaceX. Musk last November confirmed that SpaceX was developing advanced micro-satellites operating in large formations and would make an announcement in two to three months.
Sid Meier's Starships on the Horizon
January 20, 2015
2K Games and Firaxis have announced Sid Meier's Starships, an interstellar strategy game of exploration and conquest. It will arrive later this year for the PC, Mac and iPad. Assuming the role of a fleet commander, players will be tasked with leading their starships across the universe to save planets from eradication, build an empire, and bring peace and order to the galaxy.
Texas May Be Ground Zero for Musk's Hyperloop Dreams
January 16, 2015
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has announced plans to build a test track, most likely in Texas, for his envisioned Hyperloop high-speed transportation system. The goal is to allow experimentation with Hyperloop pods, the equivalent of train carriages. The project will be "entirely funded by Musk's companies and other interested private companies," said Frost & Sullivan's said Vishwas Shankar.
Gadget Ogling: A Swank Walkman, a Brainy Grill, and Oh, So Much More From CES
January 10, 2015
Welcome to the year's first edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that offers infallible opinions on the latest gadget announcements. The mammoth CES trade show took place this week, and though it offered far too many new items to conceivably cram into a single column, we'll look at some of the most notable and notorious, including Sony's latest Walkman, a smart grill and more.
Researchers Turn Computer Into Poker Shark
January 9, 2015
A computer program dubbed "Cepheus" has solved the game of poker, researchers at the University of Alberta announced. The Computer Poker Research Group, which created Cepheus, claims it not only can play heads-up limit Texas hold'em poker, but also beat human opponents. Games such as poker and chess have been used as test beds by researchers developing new concepts in artificial intelligence.
Kepler-438b and 442b: Are These the Planets We're Looking For?
January 8, 2015
Astronomers have discovered eight new potentially habitable planets beyond our solar system, including two that are the most similar to Earth of any discovered so far. First identified by NASA's Kepler mission, all eight of the planets are located in their distant suns' "habitable zone," or the region where liquid water might exist on the surface of an orbiting planet.
SpaceX Seeks to Defy Odds With Ocean-Platform Rocket Landing
January 2, 2015
SpaceX next week will try for the first time to land the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket on a custom-built ocean platform in the Atlantic Ocean. The experiment originally was scheduled to take place in mid-December but was postponed to Jan. 6.The Falcon 9 first stage is some 14 stories tall and will be traveling at a speed of nearly a mile per second.
The Halting Progress of Mind-Controlled Robot Tech
December 30, 2014
new mind-controlled robotic arm in a project run by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Earlier this year, demonstrated her ability to use her thoughts to move the robot hand into different positions while controlling the wrist and arm. Mastering four distinct movements gave Scheuermann control of the hand in 10 dimensions. However, the school recently closed down the project.
Fraud-Proofing Credit Cards Through Quantum Physics
December 26, 2014
Researchers at the University of Twente and the Eindhoven University of Technology have come up with what they claim is an unprecedentedly secure way to authenticate credit cards, IDs, biometrics, and parties involved in quantum cryptography. The method -- quantum-secure authentication of optical keys -- basically consists of sending a beam of light at cards treated with a special paint.
Gadget Ogling: Budget Fitness Tracking, Focused Writing and Red-Hot Wearables
December 22, 2014
Gather around, friends, for another edition of the column that holds up just-announced gadgets to scrutiny, Gadget Dreams and Nightmares. In the stocking for our pre-holidays edition are a smartphone-controlled lock, an inexpensive fitness tracker, a red-hot wearable and much more. While I've looked before at smartphone-enabled door locks, Sony's take on the idea, the Qrio, stands out.
2014's Top Google Play Picks: Fitness, Netflix, Frozen and More
December 12, 2014
Health and fitness was the fastest-growing category of apps on Google Play this year, according to a report Google published on Thursday. MyFitnessPal was the most-downloaded app within that category, while Duolingo led the education category. Facebook was top among social apps named in the report, which listed the most popular apps, games, movies, music, news and books in 2014 on Google Play.
Gadget Ogling: Seeing E-Ink Everywhere, Breathing Easy and Brewing Beer
December 6, 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.
Orion's Test Flight Triumph Fuels Mars Hopes
December 5, 2014
NASA's Orion spacecraft on Friday successfully completed its first test flight, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean west of Baja California at 8:29 a.m. PST after orbiting the Earth twice in roughly four and a half hours. Orion traveled some 60,000 miles during the mission and journeyed 3,600 miles into space -- 15 times more distant than the International Space Station.
Hawking Sounds Alarm Over AI's End Game
December 5, 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."
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.
Rosetta Plants 1st Human Kiss on a Comet
November 12, 2014
The ESA's Rosetta mission on Wednesday achieved a first for humankind by successfully landing its Philae probe on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Now, the lander's fate hangs in the balance following a tense descent and the apparent failure of several key anchoring systems. "We are extremely relieved to be safely on the surface of the comet," said Stephan Ulamec, Philae Lander Manager.
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.

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Does technology create more jobs than it destroys?
Yes - The jobs new technologies create outnumber those lost due to machines replacing humans.
No- Companies fixated on cost-cutting are building workforces of robots and computers instead of people.
Performance Matters: 9 Key Consumer Insights