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Microsoft AI Beats Humans at Speech Recognition
October 20, 2016
Microsoft's Artificial Intelligence and Research Unit earlier this week reported that its speech recognition technology had surpassed the performance of human transcriptionists. The team last month published a paper describing its system's accuracy, said to be superior to that of IBM's famed Watson artificial intelligence.
Amazon Music Unlimited Rolls Gently Down the Stream
October 13, 2016
Amazon on Wednesday rolled out its Music Unlimited cut-rate subscription streaming service, available on its Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap devices for as little as $4 a month for a single device. Setting a low-entry price point "is a logical move, given that the company has invested heavily into the AI and voice recognition powering Alexa," said IHS Markit analyst Paul Erickson.
Google: There's No Hub Like Home
October 6, 2016
Google on Tuesday officially launched Google Home, its long-awaited wireless hub. Google Home is an interactive personal assistant and entertainment center that takes full advantage of the company's deep advantages in Web search, AI and machine learning. Google's vision is to place a customized version of its Google Assistant technology into the hands of every customer.
Google Plugs More AI Into G Suite Office Apps
October 3, 2016
Google last week unveiled new capabilities across its G Suite, formerly known as "Apps for Work." The company added some new apps infused with artificial intelligence to the mix. Quick Access in Google Drive on Android, for example, makes the files most relevant to a user's work accessible when Drive is opened. It cuts the time spent finding a file by about half.
Gadget Ogling: Streaming Merrily, Snapping Happily, and Listening My Way
October 1, 2016
Roku has refreshed its lineup of media players with lower prices, so bringing streaming video to every screen in your home just got a little more accessible. At the lower end, the Roku Express costs $30. The lineup includes $40, $50, $80 and $100 models with a variety of feature combinations. At $130, the Roku Ultra, pictured here, is the feature-loaded top-of-the-line option.
Snap Unveils Eye-Popping Camera Spectacles
September 27, 2016
Snap, the company formerly known as "Snapchat," on Saturday announced sunglasses that take videos through a built-in camera in the frame. Snap's Spectacles let users take 10-second videos by tapping a button on the top left-hand corner of the eyeframe. Users can tap on the record button to record two more 10-second segments, for videos of up to 30 seconds long in all.
GoPro Karma Lets New Hero5s Fly High
September 22, 2016
Pro earlier this week refreshed its product line, announcing two new action cameras, a cloud service and a drone. Its new Hero5 Black camera can capture 4K video at 30 frames a second and still photos at 12 megapixels, with RAW and WDR support. It has a 2-inch touch display, and stereo sound recording with advanced wind noise reduction. It can be voice-controlled in seven languages. The shooter will be available Oct. 2.
Nikon Gets In On the Action
September 21, 2016
Nikon has announced its new KeyMission line of shooters, marking its entry into the 360-degree and action camera business. The KeyMission 360 can corral 360-degree video in 4K UHD at 24p, as well as in the more traditional HD 1080p. It also shoots 30-megapixel stills. The unit has two f/2.0 lenses, each with a 20-megapixel CMOS sensor. The dual units eliminate blind spots.
Apple Hopes iPhone 7 Extras Will Make Up for Missing Headphone Jack
September 8, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday officially unveiled the iPhone 7 and iPhone Plus, confirming a rumor that has evoked widespread dread: The traditional headphone jacks are gone. The new iPhones are sleeker than their predecessors, though, as well as water resistant. Their biggest plus might be the advanced lenses in what Apple claims is the most sophisticated smartphone camera in the world.
That Hissing Sound Is the Last Bit of Air Leaking From Apple's Balloon
September 6, 2016
Apple used to guard details about a new iPhone more closely than Fort Knox, but that doesn't seem to be the case any more. The shift has been glaring with the iPhone 7, slated for introduction on Wednesday. It's widely believed that the new iPhone has no headphone jack. Sound is piped to the user through a set of EarPods that connect to the phone through its Lightning port or a dongle.
Can Apple Beat Snapchat and Instagram at Their Video Game?
September 1, 2016
Snapchat and Instagram, look out. Apple has you in its sights. The company reportedly is working on a video-sharing app with features similar to those found in Snapchat and Instagram. The app, possibly slated for release in 2017, will allow users of Apple devices to record a video, apply filters and draw on it, then share it with others on a variety of social networks.
Echo Owners May Get Their Own Kind of Music
September 1, 2016
Amazon is planning two music subscription services, according to rumors that began circulating last week. One is a $10 a month offering that is similar to Spotify and Apple Music, and the other is a $4-$5 a month cut-rate service available only on Amazon's Echo device. Amazon reportedly wants to launch both in September, but it has yet to finalize deals with major music labels and publishers.
Instagram Opens Snappy New Events Channel
August 26, 2016
Instagram last week announced a new Explore video channel that gives users an easier way to find and watch events. The channel aggregates videos from concerts, sporting events and more, and its personalization features flag events that might be a good match for users' individual interests. The new channel initially will be available only to U.S. users.
Gadget Ogling: Musical Pizza Boxes, Backup Backpacks, and Tattooing Robots
August 25, 2016
Call it a gimmick, but I'm very much into the idea of having a pizza box that doubles as a turntable. Pizza Hut partnered with Novalia to make the box, which includes pitch and volume controls, a mixer, and touch-sensitive decks. Using printed electronics, DJs can crossfade, rewind and even scratch. The box pairs with smartphones and computers using Bluetooth and works with DJ software.
Google Duo Aims to Make Video Calling Super-Easy
August 16, 2016
Google on Monday launched Google Duo, a one-on-one video calling app that runs on iOS and Android. The app will be available worldwide in the next few days, said Justin Uberti, principal software engineer at Google. Duo switches from cellular service to WiFi, and transitions from high-speed to lower speed wireless service smoothly, promising to let users continue video calls uninterrupted.
Nucleus Home Intercom Gets Alexa Advantage
August 8, 2016
The smart home of the future could be a wee bit smarter with the addition of the Alexa-powered connected intercom system Nucleus announced last week. The Nucleus intercom, which last fall made its debut without Alexa, is a tablet that connects to a home network through WiFi or Ethernet to allow family members to communicate with each other both inside and outside the home.
Alexa Takes On Smart Home Security Responsibilities
August 5, 2016
Millions of customers using Amazon's Alexa voice assistant technology now can add locks that can be controlled remotely to the growing ecosystem of smart home capabilities. August Home last week announced that Amazon's line of voice-assisted products, including the Echo, now support its smart products, allowing users to lock and unlock their doors using voice commands.
Instagram's Stories Inspired by Snapchat
August 3, 2016
Everyone has a story to tell, and Instagram on Tuesday announced Stories, a new way for users to tell theirs. Stories allows Instagram users to string together images and videos for a dynamic slide show presentation that can be shared with friends or the entire Instagram community. Rather than sharing content individually with others on the platform, a user can choose to share it through a story.
Gadget Ogling: Pretty Printers, Bargain Smartwatches, and Font Finders
July 26, 2016
Paper, designed by Ludwig Rensch, is sadly a concept for now. It holds a ream of paper to make loading the printing material easier than shuffling with a stack of loose leafs. It can scan documents and send them to your phone if you desire. It can make copies. There's a string of LEDs to show how much ink is left for each color, and there's even a handle on top .
Teal Pushes Drone Speed Limits
July 21, 2016
Teal Drones on Wednesday introduced what it billed as the world's fastest production drone. Aside from its drone's capabilities, the company is drawing attention because George Matus Jr., its founder and CEO, is an 18-year-old recent high school graduate. The drone can fly at 70 mph in all weather conditions and has reached a top speed of 85 mph. It can withstand 40 mph winds.
Gadget Ogling: Purely Personal Air, Transparent Audio, and Wah-Pedaling Shoes
July 18, 2016
I was diagnosed with mild asthma as a kid. I don't take any medication, yet knowing that illness lives in my respiratory system means I try to be especially conscious of what I'm breathing. Air quality is difficult to control, so a personal air purifier is something that fundamentally interests me. Wynd filters allergens, dust, smoke and other pollutants.
Apple Patents Tech to Foil Concert Pirates
July 16, 2016
A patent for an infrared system that could be used to shut off iPhone cameras and microphones at live performances is one of dozens recently awarded to Apple. The system could assist the music and movie industries by automatically disabling camera functions at movies or concerts. It could have other applications as well -- for example, turning an iOS device into a museum or city tour guide.
Nest Cam Braves the Great Outdoors
July 15, 2016
Nest has introduced an outdoor surveillance camera to complement its indoor Nest Cam. The Nest Cam Outdoor will go on sale this fall for $199. It is easy to mount on any outdoor surface, according to the company, and even has a magnetic base for attaching to gutters. The camera, which resembles a unit of track lighting, can capture 1080p video and has live-streaming and two-way audio capabilities.
Music Industry Boos Google's Antipiracy Performance
July 13, 2016
Google on Wednesday released an update of its online antipiracy efforts. YouTube has generated more than $2 billion to content copyright holders by monetizing user-uploaded content through its Content ID rights management system, Google said, adding that more than 90 percent of all Content ID claims result in monetization. YouTube also paid out more than $3 billion to the music industry.
Twitter to Carry Live Convention Coverage on the Web
July 11, 2016
Twitter will stream CBS News' live coverage of the Republication and Democratic National Conventions, the companies announced Monday. Twitter and CBS previously partnered on one of each party's presidential primary debates. In both instances, CBS' coverage included real-time metrics and curated tweets, and questions Twitter users submitted during the broadcasts were put to the candidates.
Facebook Live Video of Shooting Aftermath Triggers Anger, Anguish, Questions
July 8, 2016
Americans have expressed outrage at Wednesday's police shooting of Philando Castile, an African-American man, which happened in St. Paul, Minnesota, during a traffic stop for a broken tail light. Castile was shot in front of his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and their 4-year-old daughter, who were in the car. Reynolds used Facebook Live to stream video of the aftermath of the shooting.
Nothing Ghostly About Devialet's Phantom Gold Sound
June 30, 2016
Devialet, the French company that has built a reputation in the audio market for high-end wireless speakers, on Tuesday announced its newest addition: the $3,000 Phantom Gold. The Phantom Gold looks something like a futuristic Faberge egg, and it's priced like one, too. That said, it has some ear-pleasing and ear-splitting specs. Devialet has given it a power boost to 4,500 watts.
BitTorrent Dips Toes Into Ad Stream
June 24, 2016
BitTorrent on Thursday announced a revamp of its Bundle offering as a pilot project, giving it a new name, "BitTorrent Now." Heavily used by independent musicians and filmmakers, as well as the BBC and other organizations, the service now accepts ads. BitTorrent Now's first streaming app is available for Android. Apps for iOS and Apple TV are in the works.
Headphone Jack-less iPhone 7 Rumor Gains Ground
June 22, 2016
The rumor that Apple will get rid of the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 resurfaced Tuesday. Apple is expected to launch the new iPhone later this year. The iPhone's Lightning connector reportedly will do double duty as its charging port and headphone connector. The result will be a thinner device and better water resistance. If true, the move "is right in terms of timing," said analyst Jeff Orr.
Twitter Applies '140' Rule to Video Seconds
June 22, 2016
Twitter on Tuesday launched enhanced video services that will allow users to post longer videos -- up to 140 seconds. It also announced a new platform for celebrities and public figures to share their stories. Because sports, news, music and other videos increasingly are the type of content that goes viral on Twitter, the company decided to expand content parameters.
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How worried are you about lithium-ion batteries?
Very. Someone is going to be killed.
Very. They should be better regulated.
Somewhat. I'm wary of new products that use them.
Not much. The risk level is statistically very low.
Not at all. I face much greater risks every day.