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No Fuel? No Problem - Solar Plane Completes 2nd Leg in Round-the-World Trip
March 11, 2015
Fueled solely by the sun, the Solar Impulse 2 has completed the second leg of its historic journey around the world, landing in Ahmedabad, India. A decade-old dream is actualizing for the team. The solar plane began its historic flight in Abu Dhabi on Monday and landed early Tuesday at Muscat, Oman. The second leg took 15 hours, with the Solar Impulse 2 arriving late Tuesday night in Ahmedabad.
What Mobile World Congress Delivered Besides Same-Old Smartphones
March 10, 2015
The latest handsets and tablets received their share of headlines at this year's MWC, but their mindshare shrank considerably. Sony unveiled its Xperia Z4 tablet, possibly its last hurrah in the mobile space. Meanwhile, Samsung's Galaxy S6 smartphone stole the spotlight. However, with more than 2,000 tech organizations promoting their wares and services, MWC 2015 offered a fresh set of promises.
Gadget Ogling: Slick, Dull and Outlandish Smartphones, a Powerful Shield and Invisibility Glasses
March 10, 2015
Samsung is trying something a little different while simultaneously positioning its S6 and S6 edge as the market's dominant Android smartphones. Sure, they're faster, smarter, brighter, stronger and more powerful than previous models -- as you might expect in a flagship refresh -- and that's all terribly pedestrian. Still, I love the edge concept. I'm glad to see Samsung continue and expand it.
How Deep Can Watson Drill?
March 10, 2015
IBM last week announced the acquisition of AlchemyAPI, which uses deep learning to perform natural language processing. NLP consists of semantic text analysis, including sentiment analysis. IBM "has some of these capabilities already, and we continue to explore ways to expand and amplify them through our growing developer community," said IBM Watson VP Steve Gold.
Apple Springs Bevy of New Products at Watch Event
March 09, 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.
Get Ready for Self-Driving Autos to Wreak Disruption
March 09, 2015
Autonomous vehicles are on a roll, suggests a new report from McKinsey & Co. Acceptance will increase substantially by 2050, accounting for as much of 20 percent of new car sales. The shift to self-driving technologies could reduce auto accidents by as much as 90 percent, the report suggests. In addition, self-driving vehicles could free up commuters' time in the car.
Get Ready - It's About to Be Apple Watch All the Time
March 07, 2015
The Apple Watch, representing Apple's first major new device category in more than four years, is about to be unleashed upon the world -- no doubt shortly after Apple reveals pricing and availability details on Monday. Careful what you wish for. All the hype is going to get worse -- much worse. Brace yourself. The rest of this year is going to be Apple Watch, Apple Watch, Apple Watch.
Precision Laser Weapon Scorches Mile-Away Truck Engine
March 06, 2015
Lockheed Martin this week conducted a test of its ATHENA laser system. The successful demonstration attests to just how far directed energy weapons technology has come. Boring clean through the engine of a truck mounted on a platform more than a mile away, ATHENA decommissioned the running vehicle in a matter of seconds. The technology is now ready for wider adoption.
Gadget Ogling: A Lovely Sky Snapper, a Grotesque Power Pack and Wafer-Thin Speakers
March 04, 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.
Mobile World Congress 2015, or Why Your Smartphone Is Crap
March 02, 2015
Don't you just love big industry events like Mobile World Congress? I mean, you've had whole weeks to enjoy the new phone you got last quarter, and now you'll hear about a bunch of incredibly wonderful stuff that will make that new phone look like your grandmother's favorite car -- you know, the one she fell in love with in the 1960s. Unfortunately, I'm not going to make things better.
Gadget Ogling: Scooting Around, Scratching Wood, Knocking on Doors
February 28, 2015
Even for someone endlessly in awe of our ability to traverse continents in just a few hours, traveling is increasingly a chore. Anything I can add to trips to make them even a touch more enjoyable is nothing to sniff at. A suitcase with a built-in, motorized scooter may be just what I need to freshen up journeys. Warning: It's carry-on size, but it's far beyond typical carry-on luggage weight.
The Apple Watch Mystery Won't Be Solved March 9
February 27, 2015
The fog shrouding the Apple Watch won't be lifted on March 9. Apple's invite to its media event displays the tease "Spring Forward," which likely refers to the shift in daylight savings time -- and time itself. Sure, we'll learn more about the Apple Watch's functionality, but the mystery is whether most of us new buyers suddenly will turn into watch wearers for longer than a few months.
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.
Volvo Talks Up Its Self-Driving Cars
February 25, 2015
Volvo last week revealed the latest developments in its Drive Me project, showing off a complete system that could make it possible to integrate self-driving cars into regular traffic with drivers behind the wheel. Volvo is making progress toward its goal of releasing 100 self-driving vehicles to consumers on selected roads around Gothenburg -- Sweden's second largest city -- by 2017.
Valve To Put Steam Behind VR Efforts With New Headset
February 25, 2015
Valve on Monday announced that it's getting into the virtual reality hardware business. In a terse tease posted to the Web, the company trumpeted its intentions to reveal its SteamVR hardware system next week at the 2015 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Valve also announced that it is looking for developers and publishers to create content for its new VR hardware system.
Open Source vs. Proprietary Firms on the IoT Battleground
February 25, 2015
A battle is brewing over control of the Internet of Things marketplace. Consumers see only convenience and extensions to their always-on mobile devices. Product makers see a pathway to streaming data that can be monetized from buyers' connections. Will history repeat itself, as open source begins to take on the current, yet unsustainable, walled-garden core of the IoT?
Google Pads Its Wallet
February 24, 2015
Google on Monday announced a two-pronged thrust to beef up its efforts in the mobile wallet arena. It has struck agreements with Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile to preinstall the Google Wallet app, including its tap-and-pay functionality, on Android phones the carriers will offer later this year in the United States. The devices must run KitKat or later.
Pebble Makes Big Ripples on Kickstarter
February 24, 2015
The money is pouring into Pebble's Kickstarter campaign for its new smartwatch, Pebble Time. Within hours, upwards of 27,000 supporters had pledged more than $5.6 million. The project's goal was to raise a mere $500,000. The strength of the response highlights the enthusiastic fan base Pebble has built. "Pebble Time appears to be yet another blockbuster," said tech analyst Ryan Martin.
Apple to Sink $1.9B in Green Data Centers in Europe
February 24, 2015
Apple on Monday announced a plan to build two new data centers in Europe -- one in Ireland and the other in Denmark. Apple plans to spend $1.9 billion on the project -- its largest European investment to date. The new facilities will power its online services including the iTunes Store, App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri. The project will create hundreds of new jobs.
How Apple Will Sell a Watch That No One Really Needs
February 24, 2015
There has been a lot of discussion lately of where and how Apple will sell the Apple Watch -- through high-end luxury department stores in Paris, for example, or through special new displays inside of Apple Stores, guided into existence by fashion genius Angela Ahrendts. Finding new ways to present the watch is important, but how will Apple actually trigger a buy decision?
The Apple/Tesla Dream Team
February 23, 2015
We've seen a lot of speculation this week on the Apple car -- everything from Apple building its own car from scratch to its buying or merging with Tesla. Like many, I think the best path would be an Apple/Tesla combination, but since I doubt Tim would want to work for Musk or Musk for Tim, the only real option would be an office of the CEO for both firms.
Gadget Ogling: Jewelry Gets Inky, Toys Get Brilliant, Remotes Get Beautiful
February 21, 2015
L!ber8's Tago Arc is aimed at the fashion conscious or those who like to use their jewelry to tell the world a little more about themselves. It has an e-ink screen, which is controlled using an NFC-enabled smartphone -- sorry, iPhone owners -- to let wearers switch up the design on the fly. Ordinary users can purchase a variety of looks, while budding Stella McCartneys can create their own.
LoopPay Deal Rolls Samsung Into Mobile Pay Arena
February 19, 2015
Samsung has purchased mobile payments firm LoopPay to create its own digital wallet. LoopPay's contactless magnetic secure transmission technology works with magnetic stripe readers. "The one major advantage LoopPay/Samsung has over NFC and Google/Apple Pay is that currently it does not require a separate terminal to accept payments," noted Copper Mobile's Andrew Stern.
Solving for the Customer
February 19, 2015
You'd probably take umbrage at the notion of a weak human, and rightly so, because in business you have to be able to play with the team you have, not the one you wish for. So for business purposes, let's think in terms of empowered humans, since we always want to empower our employees to do great things -- at least we should.

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Are you looking forward to self-driving cars?
You bet -- I'd love to have a built-in chauffeur.
Yes -- self-driving cars will save lives.
Kind of -- I'd like some self-driving features, like parking.
No -- self-driving cars are too dangerous.
No -- I don't want to give up another freedom.
Absolutely not -- I saw Terminator and I'm not letting some robot take me for a ride!
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