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Azure Machine Learning Aims to Convert Data to Information
February 19, 2015
Microsoft has announced new data services running on its Azure cloud in a bid to bring big data to the mainstream. Those services include the HDInsight Apache Hadoop-based service; Storm on HDInsight, which lets users use Hadoop and Storm to create distributed, real-time data processing solutions in Azure; and Azure Machine Learning, a managed cloud service for advanced analytics.
Apple Awarded Patent for Hybrid VR Headset
February 18, 2015
Apple has been awarded a patent for a virtual reality headset that can use an iPhone or iPod as a display. Patent number 8,957,835 was awarded by the USPTO to Apple for a "head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display." The abstract describes a device similar to the Gear VR, which weds a Samsung Note smartphone to a headpiece designed by Oculus.
Gadget Ogling: An On-the-Go Digital Safe, a Portable Power Plant and a Gimmicky Ghost Buster
February 18, 2015
Welcome to a new edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, your weekly guide to the best and worst of gadgets that have just rolled off the production line for the first time or have the proverbial ink still drying on their press releases. On our conveyor belt this week are a gas-powered portable charger, a clever key fob, a flash drive for secret keepers and a pocket ghost detector.
Sony Gets Glassy-Eyed
February 17, 2015
Sony's SmartEyeglass Developer Edition SED-E1 will be available generally next month in the United States, the UK, Germany and Japan. The smart glasses -- Sony's first -- also will be released in March to business customers in France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden. Sony's SmartEyeglass, priced at $840, resembles a regular pair of eyeglasses with a sporty black frame design.
Revived View-Master Is a Virtual Reality
February 13, 2015
Remember the View-Master? You slotted a disc of slides called a 'reel' into the top, clicked the lever on the right, and were thrilled by the scenes before your eyes. Google and Mattel now are teaming up to revive and modernize the View-Master. Mattel on Friday announced a new version that works with Google Cardboard and Android smartphones. Mattel will offer the new View-Master and a sample experience reel this fall, for US$30.
Why Tim Cook Would Build an Apple Car
February 13, 2015
According to Business Insider, an unsolicited Apple employee emailed to say that a group at Apple is working on a project that would "give Tesla a run for its money." For this to be true, it means that an Apple employee either broke Apple's strict rules for secrecy in some obvious way that makes Business Insider believe the email actually came from an Apple employee, or that it was some sort of vague and intentional leak from Apple, sent straight to Business Insider.
3D-Printed 'Urban Concept' Car Assembled by Singapore Students
February 06, 2015
Students at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University have built the island republic's first 3D-printed concept car. The NTU Venture 8 (NV8) is built on a carbon fiber single-shell chassis. Its 150 3D parts were made out of lightweight plastic that were created on printers at the university, 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys, and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology.
Virtual Reality a Sports Training Game Changer
February 06, 2015
Quite a bit of buzz broke out recently in sports circles when the Stanford quarterback was caught on ESPN sporting an Oculus virtual reality (VR) face mask. Not that VR is totally new, but fans want more out of their athletes and the sight of such a souped-up technical edge on the field was a novel thrill. But that thrill won't be novel for long as VR is headed for mainstream use in all sports.
'Smart Spaces' Project Seeks to Light Up Networks
February 05, 2015
Dartmouth University researchers are shining a new light on using "smart spaces" in ambient room lighting to transmit both data and human gestures. This technology enables so-called smart spaces to separate shadows from light in real time. Thus, the light spectrum is able to carry high-speed data wirelessly without interruption between smart devices.
A Personal Power Plant in the Palm of Your Hand
February 04, 2015
The problem with most portable battery-based chargers is that you still need to plug them into a wall socket to gain a charge. While some inventors have turned to solar, or even wind power, for off-the-grid power sources, solar and wind power take time and require Mother Nature to provide sun or wind. Enter Kraftwerk, a fuel-based hand-held portable generator that has launched as a Kickstarter project.
Understanding New Lighting Technology
February 04, 2015
It is in the darkest time of the year with the arrival of winter that perhaps we most appreciate our light bulbs. It isn't just the lights on the holiday decorations that provide that festive glow, but really the fact that the light bulb makes our daily modern life possible. The light bulb is taken for granted, and until recently it hadn't really evolved much in more than a century.
$35 Raspberry Pi 2 Faster, Runs Windows 10
February 02, 2015
The Pi Foundation on Monday announced that it has released the latest version of its "entry-level PC." The Raspberry Pi 2 is now available for US$35, the same price as the previous Model B+. This build-it-yourself computer features an 800MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU, which will offer six times the performance of the previous system. It also includes double the memory with 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM.
Dish Network Gives Super Bowl Commercials Their Due
January 29, 2015
Dish Network has announced that subscribers to its satellite TV service can enable Reverse AutoHop for this Sunday's Super Bowl. This feature will enable viewers with the Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR to watch the commercials alone without having to fast-forward through the game. To utilize Reverse AutoHop, customers need only have the PrimeTime Anytime feature enabled for NBC prior to kickoff.
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.
Oculus VR's Story Studio to Create Cinematic Virtual Reality Experiences
January 27, 2015
Oculus VR on Monday unveiled a new project at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Oculus Story Studio will produce movies in virtual reality. It presented its first example of the genre on Monday evening -- a 4-minute experience called Lost. Oculus, which was founded in 2012, was acquired last year by Facebook for a reported $2.2 billion.
Walk Like a Man: The DARPA Robotics Challenge
January 26, 2015
The humanoid Atlas robot made by Google company Boston Dynamics has gotten an overhaul to be stronger, lighter and more independent, and to be able to function for one hour of mixed-mission operations. Designed by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, it stands six feet two inches tall. Its weight was trimmed from 330 to 254 pounds.
Winkelvoss Twins Plan to Tame Bitcoins
January 26, 2015
Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss on Friday announced Gemini, a regulated bitcoin exchange to be based in the United States. The Winkelvoss twins, who shot to fame when they sued Facebook and won $65 million, have assembled a team of security experts, technologists and financial engineers to build a world-class exchange from the ground up, based on security.
Microsoft's Windows Reboot Could Be Legendary
January 26, 2015
I was one of the launch analysts for Windows 95, and the launch of that product is widely held -- including by Bill Gates -- as the company's pinnacle. No launch before or since ever came close to that launch, and I remain amazed that no one, including Apple or Microsoft, has ever really attempted to duplicate that effort. Windows 10 has the potential to be even greater than Windows 95.
Gadget Ogling: A Microsoft Marvel, an Eensy Keyboard and an Ingenious Desk
January 24, 2015
Microsoft had a major surprise up its sleeve for those awaiting details about the Windows 10 launch: its holographic headset, HoloLens. Billed as a new way to interact with technology and the world around us at once, it overlays holograms onto what wearers see in front of them. They might, for instance, play a version of Minecraft that's constructed across a kitchen table and chairs.
Ford R&D Facility Rolls Into Silicon Valley
January 23, 2015
Ford Motor on Thursday announced the opening of its Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto, a 25,000 square foot facility that will help it accelerate the company's innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data. This is the latest addition to the automaker's global network of R&D centers, which include its hometown facility in Dearborn, Michigan.
The Brave New World of Windows 10
January 23, 2015
Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled a slew of new features and capabilities coming in Windows 10: the convergence of the desktop and mobile; the advent of the killer universal app; more power and features for personal digital assistant Cortana, which will be on mobile as well as desktops and laptops; improvements to maps; a new browser; a strong emphasis on gaming; and holographic computing.
Microsoft Just Handed Us Our Holographic Future
January 21, 2015
Microsoft on Wednesday announced Windows Holographic, a feature in Windows 10 that will let users create their own holograms and print them out on 3D printers. Every Windows 10 device has holographic APIs enabled, Microsoft's Alex Kipman said. Windows 10 holograms are Windows Universal Apps. Users need the Microsoft HoloLens headset, which Kipman described as "the first fully untethered computer."
Verizon Offers Connected-Car Service Even Beaters Can Use
January 21, 2015
Verizon last week unveiled a new connected-vehicle service at the Detroit auto show. Verizon Vehicle, which will go live this spring, will be compatible with nearly every vehicle made since 1996. It will be available directly to consumers regardless of their mobile carrier. Designed to enhance driver safety, Verizon Vehicle will provide diagnostic technology and live assistance with GPS accuracy.
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.

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