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LittleBits Leaps to the Cloud
July 31, 2014
LittleBits, the maker of what might best be thought of as electronic Legos, last week launched cloudBit, a module that provides users with access to the Internet. LittleBits offers modules that are used, like Legos, to build gizmos with electronic capabilities. The modules are held together by magnets, and no soldering or wiring is needed. "This is serious cool," said tech analyst Jim McGregor.
Target Adds a Ripple to Image-Recognition Pool
July 31, 2014
Target last week introduced In a Snap, a new image-recognition app that lets users buy products from the pages of select magazine and printed ads. It is unlike earlier variations of such apps in that consumers don't have to scan codes or follow a link to buy a product. It is similar to -- although far more limited than -- the Firefly functionality in Amazon's recently released Fire Phone.
Bringing Retail Into the 21st Century
July 29, 2014
Let's get one thing straight: E-commerce will not kill the physical retail store. Hold on, I hear you object, the digital world has utterly disrupted our shopping habits. We rarely enter a store without having researched the big-ticket items we want to buy. Much of our holiday shopping is done with a mouse click. When we do venture into a store, we rarely do so without clutching a smartphone.
Stanford Researchers Build a Better Battery
July 29, 2014
A new way to extend battery life would allow smartphones to last three to four times longer on a single charge, Stanford University researchers have found. A team led by Yi Cui, professor of materials science and engineering, has developed pure metal anode prototypes, which differ from the lithium-ion batteries seen in most devices. "I think this is very promising," Cui said.
The Skully Augmented Motorcycle Helmet Would Make Iron Man Jealous
July 28, 2014
Skully had its coming-out party last week, and while the name unfortunately sounds like the nickname for any number of comic book villains -- from Skeletor to the Red Skull -- it is actually a firm that makes a pretty incredible high-technology motorcycle helmet, with technology similar to Google Glass. Motorcycles have lagged cars in technology for some time.
Google to Search for the Meaning of Health
July 25, 2014
Google is seeking 175 volunteers from whom it will collect bodily samples in an effort to create their biochemical fingerprints and establish the baseline for a healthy body. The Baseline study, to be run by Google X labs, will seek to connect traditional clinical observations of health, such as diet -- or habits, such as smoking -- with molecular-level changes.
Patent Tips Apple's iWatch Hand
July 24, 2014
A patent awarded to Apple may be a tip-off of what it's planning for the smartwatch widely expected this fall. The patent for something Apple referenced in its application as "iTime" is for an electronic wristband that contains a recessed area for a device, such as a watch body. The iTime could feed and display information gathered from sensors in the band on a pop-in electronic device.
GoTenna Makes Wireless 'Magic'
July 22, 2014
Startup GoTenna has launched its eponymously named device, which lets users communicate without the need for a cell tower. "This is an interesting concept," said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. "It's like a walkie-talkie on steroids." The device uses BlueTooth LE to pair with a user's smartphone. It can exchange text messages only with another GoTenna.
Siri May Be Starting a Hope Chest
July 18, 2014
It may not be a marriage made in heaven, but the cloud is pretty close. Just hours after IBM and Apple announced their strategic partnership, speculation began to spread about two of their most well-known products: What if Siri and Watson were to hook up? Siri is Apple's voice-enabled digital personal assistant. Watson is IBM's AI software, perhaps best known for winning Jeopardy!
Social Robot Jibo Melts Crowdfunders' Hearts
July 18, 2014
A crowdfunding campaign for Jibo, a little robot designed to become one of the family, kicked off Wednesday on Indiegogo, and it already has raised more than $577,000 -- nearly six times its $100,000 target. The voice-controlled robot with a friendly face is a do-it-all personal assistant. It can take pictures, provide information from the Web or apps, order food, display e-books and much more.
Google, Novartis Team on 'Invisible' Health Monitor
July 16, 2014
Novartis' Alcon eye care division has entered an in-license agreement governing all ocular medical uses for Google's smart contact lenses, it announced Tuesday. Google unveiled a prototype of its glucose-monitoring lens in January. Novartis is aiming to expand its healthcare horizons. There are 382 million diabetics around the world today and that number is expected to grow to 582 million by 2035.
Bet You Wish You'd Installed a Blender in a Cooler Lid
July 16, 2014
The hottest crowdsourced hit of the summer is the Coolest Cooler, an unassuming party cooler that features a built-in ice-crushing blender, a removable waterproof Bluetooth speaker, a USB charger, an LED lid light, a gear tie down, super wide wheels for dragging it over sand, a bottle opener, a divider to help keep your margarita ice separate from your sandwiches, and a knife built into the lid.
Amazon Floats Drone Exemption Proposal to FAA
July 14, 2014
Amazon is ramping up its drone delivery project and is hoping approval to conduct outdoor testing on its own property. The company has petitioned the FAA for an exemption from rules barring it from testing the devices. Amazon last year revealed it was working on a project that would allow it to deliver small packages to consumers within 30 minutes of ordering via the unmanned aerial vehicles.
Augmented Reality Future: How to Train Your Dragons on Vacation
July 14, 2014
Microsoft just announced the release of the Dragons Adventure World Explorer. It is actually very cool and well-timed, because it should keep little tykes engaged and quiet during a long car trip. It also should get developers excited about creating more games that could turn the family vacation experience into a bloodbath of adventure for boys and a 4H-like experience for girls, but with dragons!
LG's Flexible OLED Screen Is Totally Tubular
July 14, 2014
The competition to offer transparent and flexible OLED screens heated up last week, with LG's unveiling of two 18-inch OLED displays. One is flexible and the other transparent. "Up to now, nobody has come up with an 18-inch flexible OLED display, although both LG and Samsung offer smartphones with flexible displays of less than six inches," said IHS research director Sweta Dash.
Microwave Will Count the Calories in Food You Nuke
July 10, 2014
While the ever-expanding class of wearable fitness devices out there can tell users how many calories they've burned while undertaking any particular activity, realistic estimates of calories taken in have been few and far between. Enter a new microwave oven currently in the works at GE Global Research that will tell users just how much energy is included in the meal they're about to consume.
Tim Cook's New Apple World Order
July 10, 2014
Apple is shaking out to become a very different sort of Apple, one suddenly more inclusive than ever before. The question for the rest of this year is if all this inclusion will really lead to innovation. For Tim Cook, this idea seems to have a whole new meaning for Apple -- the notion may be trickling into the very way that Apple is now approaching its entire business.
LG G Watch Rides In on 1st Android Wear Wave
July 08, 2014
LG has launched its Android Wear-powered G Watch around the world. It can be ordered from Google Play and purchased at retailers in the United States, Canada, France, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Japan and South Korea. In 15 other countries -- including Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Singapore and New Zealand -- the device will be available only from retailers.
Tiny Spectrometer Tells You Exactly What You're Eating
July 08, 2014
For all those who have wondered about the ingredients in their lunchtime burrito, Consumer Physics is gearing up to release a handheld device designed to provide the answer. Dubbed "SCiO," the device is a tiny spectrometer that can scan food, medicines and plants to determine their molecular composition. SCiO can deliver nutrient values and evaluate ripeness and spoilage levels.
Rumor: Microsoft's Smart Band Will Play Well With Others
July 03, 2014
Microsoft is said to be preparing the launch of a wearable fitness device that will be compatible with the iOS and Android platforms, as well as Windows Phone. While the device likely will display the time, along with notifications from the user's smartphone, the form factor is expected to be a wristband rather than a smartwatch. The band reportedly will function mainly as a fitness tracker.

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