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The Gears of E-Commerce
January 26, 2016
As the U.S. retail industry puts another long holiday shopping season behind it, a few changes appear to be taking place. For one thing, it appears there's a new recipe for success. Growing a business requires more than setting up a fancy website, placing inventory into a warehouse, and engaging a service to make speedy deliveries. That's in part because customer expectations have changed.
SpaceX Finds Silver Lining in Failed Sea Landing
January 20, 2016
SpaceX this week failed in its third attempt to land a rocket on an ocean platform. The company has landed a reusable rocket on land successfully, but it has stepped up its efforts to land at sea. The latest attempt, though not successful, was a step forward, SpaceX said. The Falcon 9 rocket was supposed to deliver its payload, then land on a drone ship out in the Pacific Ocean.
Gadget Ogling: Baring Souls, Soaking Up Sound, and Tracking Babes
January 19, 2016
As time advances, more responsibilities seep into our lives. We get wrapped up in our own worlds, and don't necessarily make enough time to spend with the friends and family members who've been important parts of our worlds for decades. Concepter's Soul time tracker seeks to make us more conscious of the time we spend with those who matter most to us.
What the PC Industry Could Learn From the NRA
January 18, 2016
One of the fascinating things about the NRA is that buyers of guns think the organization represents them, when in fact its mission is to represent gun sellers -- not gun buyers -- and certainly never gun buyers against gun sellers. Guns for consumers largely have been banned in most of the world, with the exception of the U.S., which uniquely has the NRA.
Sony Builds Smart Home Hub Into Ceiling Light
January 15, 2016
Sony this week announced its Multifunctional Light, a ceiling lamp that's kitted out with sensors to talk to smart things. It includes sensors for motion, illumination, temperature and humidity. There's also WiFi radio, a memory card slot, a condenser microphone, and an infrared controller for air conditioners. The lamp form factor offers convenient placement, said a Sony Electronics spokesperson.
Dronecode Project Gets More Wind Beneath Its Wings
January 14, 2016
The Linux Foundation this week announced an expansion of the Dronecode project with investments from new members and the creation of three technical working groups. The foundation launched the open source project in 2014 in an effort to create a unified platform for commercial drone technology. Twenty-seven companies have joined Dronecode since, bringing membership to 51, officials said.
Google's Self-Driving Cars Still Need Human Touch
January 14, 2016
Google's self-driving cars showed major safety improvements over the past year -- but there were dozens of incidents when test drivers had to intervene, the company said in a report recently filed with California regulators. There were 272 so-called immediate manual control disengagements due to a failure of the autonomous car technology, between September 2014 and November 2015, Google reported.
Google Sharpens Its Virtual Reality Focus
January 14, 2016
Google has confirmed the appointment of Clay Bavor as vice president of virtual reality, one of several indications that the company intends to get serious about competing in the emerging field. Diane Greene will take over Bavor's former role as vice president of product management. The news comes as Facebook's $599 Oculus Rift and HTC's yet-to-be priced Vive are being prepped for shipment.
Ford's Self-Driving Cars Brave Ice and Snow
January 11, 2016
Ford on Monday announced that it has begun conducting the automobile industry's first autonomous vehicle tests in snow and icy conditions at Mcity. The company is using Mcity -- a full-scale, 32-acre simulated real-world urban environment that was developed as part of the University of Michigan's Mobility Transformation Center -- to test vehicles in a variety of weather conditions.
Behind the Scenes at CES
January 11, 2016
CES surprised me again this year. For a show that comes too early in the year for most buyers and companies, it still stood out as having some truly amazing things. It will be remembered for showcasing the birth of personal flight vehicles, along with a Tesla-beating car, and Ford showing how it could do what Apple couldn't. I'll fill you in on some of the back stories at CES.
Gadget Ogling: Fitbit's Smartwatch, Super Home Movies, and Flying Machines
January 9, 2016
Fitbit found great success this past holiday season, and it's keeping up the momentum with its first smartwatch. The Fitbit Blaze includes a continuous heart-rate monitor, a connected GPS, and a multisport mode with a feature that recognizes the type of workout or sport and tracks it appropriately. Still, the Blaze stands out almost more for what it doesn't do.
YouTube Reveals 4K HDR and 360-Degree Video Support at CES
January 9, 2016
YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl on Thursday laid out the direction the service plans to take this year, including new partnerships with GoPro to support 360-degree video content and support for 4K HDR, or high dynamic range, video. So-called cord cutters are having an impact on streaming video services, including those of competitors such as Amazon and YouTube, he said at CES 2016.
The World According to Intel
January 8, 2016
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich earlier this week demonstrated a wide variety of new technologies and laid out the company's vision for where the industry is headed. There is a rapidly growing role for technology that is at once transformative, unprecedented and accessible," he told a CES audience. The 90-minute address offered a compelling look into Intel's view of the tech industry's future.
Oculus VR Founder Laments Failure to Communicate on Pricing
January 8, 2016
Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey on Wednesday said the company did a poor job of communicating the price of the consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset. However, similarly priced products, such as TVs and smartphones, cost less to manufacture than the Rift VR headset, he said. A bare-bones Oculus Rift kit wouldn't cost much less than the bundle's $599 price tag, Luckey noted.
HTC Shows Off Vive Pre's Room-Sensing Camera
January 6, 2016
A room-sensing camera planted on the front of the Vive Pre was the reason the release of Valve and HTC's virtual reality headset was delayed, the companies revealed Tuesday at CES 2016. The Vive VR headset was supposed to beat Oculus VR and Sony to the punch, coming out in the last quarter of last year. A last-minute "breakthrough" required more work on the Vive headset, HTC CEO Cher Wang said last month.
Ford Wants Smart Cars and Homes to Talk to Each Other
January 6, 2016
One of the highlights of Ford's Tuesday CES event was its announcement of plans to connect its Sync smart car technology with smart home applications from Amazon and Wink. The integrations will give consumers remote control of things like home security and lights from their vehicles, along with the ability to unlock car doors and turn on the ignition from their living rooms.
PCs May Not Be Ready for VR's Breakout Year
January 5, 2016
Will 2016 be a breakaway year for virtual reality technology? Exhibitors at CES 2016 this week seem to think so. More than three dozen of them will be flogging their VR wares at the show, more than double the number from last year. "2016 will be the year of VR," said Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner. "That's pretty clear with all the hardware that's going to be coming on the market."
Human Computation May Be Key to Solving World's Wicked Problems
January 5, 2016
Combining human and computer intelligence could help solve the world's most vexing problems, researchers envisioned in an article published Monday in the journal Science. Researchers from Cornell University and the Human Computation Institute want more humans to help out in accelerating research and finding solutions to life's most difficult problems, such as cancer, HIV and climate change.
Zuckerberg Resolves to Invent, Encourages Girls to Invent Too
January 5, 2016
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's 2016 resolution to challenge himself outside his work is to build a simple artificial intelligence assistant to run his home and help him do a better job juggling his business responsibilities. "You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in 'Iron Man,'" he suggested. Zuckerberg first will explore the available technology, then train it to understand his voice to control everything in his home.
The Future of Deliveries Will Be Driverless
January 5, 2016
Thanks to Google, self-driving passenger cars have gained a lot of media attention, but the immediate future of driverless vehicles may lie in home deliveries. Starship Technologies in 2016 will launch two pilot projects -- one in the UK and one in the U.S. -- to test a driverless vehicle designed to make short-distance deliveries. The vehicle can carry loads equivalent to two bags of groceries.
GM Deal Buoys Lyft
January 4, 2016
General Motors has agreed to invest $500 million in Lyft, and the companies will work together to develop an integrated network of autonomous vehicles, they said in a joint announcement on Monday. As part of the agreement, GM will become a preferred provider of short-term vehicles to Lyft customers, and it will provide them with its OnStar vehicle location services.
Gadget Ogling: A Smart Home Hub, a Tiny Drone, and a Whispering Camera
January 4, 2016
LG's SmartThinq Hub seeks to bring together all of your connected appliances and smart sensors under one roof. As extras, it sprinkles on top music streaming, through radio stations or whatever you happen to play on your smartphone -- and reminders, through its 3.5-inch display. The hub can monitor and control robot vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, ovens and air conditioners, among other things.
CES Insanity in 2016: The Cannabis Defense
January 4, 2016
CES is probably the best example that folks who work around tech are just a tad insane. While no big product has yet emerged, there will be a ton of crazy stuff to see. Yes, there will be robots, smartwatches, tablets, PCs, smart appliances, exoskeletons, body monitors, head thumpers, drones, self-driving cars, augmented reality, virtual reality, holographics, 3D printers, and a ton of junk.
Gadget Ogling: Streaming Socks, a High-Powered Hoverboard, and a Vigilant Vacuum
December 29, 2015
Finally, a pair of socks I would not be ever-so-slightly disappointed to find among my gifts on Christmas morning. Netflix has released some designs for socks that can stop streaming the show or movie you're streaming if you should nod off. The socks detect when you've stopped moving for a long period and hit the pause button. If you're still awake, you can wiggle your big toe to halt the action.
Looking Ahead to 2016
December 28, 2015
Next week is CES, and I am so looking forward to coming home from that show. It used to be a lot of fun, but it covers such a massive amount of space that just getting around takes up much of the time. Given that most folks do prebriefings if they are smart, and that most of the really cool stuff is behind closed doors and not on the show floor, every year I question the intelligence of going.
2015: Looking Back at an Amazing Year
December 21, 2015
I'm kind of surprised it took us so long to figure out that an iPod-like product with a Siri-like voice interface would be a massive hit in the home. As I write this, the numbers suggest the breakout product this holiday is the Amazon Echo. It once again showcases that if you create something that is plug-and-play easy and does at least one thing folks want to do well, it will be a hit.
Gadget Ogling: Long-Lasting Smartphones, Burglar-Busting Drones, and Ski-Obsessed Sensors
December 19, 2015
If the dream for many in the modern world is to have a smartphone that never needs a charge, Oukitel's K10000 is a pretty good runner-up. The smartphone is named for its 10,000mAh battery. When subjected to "normal" use, it's good for 10 to 15 days between charges. Given that many smartphones will need some extra juice after around 10 hours of typical use, that seems a tall order.
California's Proposed Rules Could Stop Google Car in Its Tracks
December 18, 2015
The California Department of Motor Vehicles on Thursday proposed rules for autonomous vehicles, and Google isn't happy about one of the provisions. The new rules for autonomous autos were presented for public commentary. The DMV has invited the public to weigh in on the proposal in two workshops, one in Sacramento and the other in Los Angeles, early next year.
Musk and Friends Launch OpenAI
December 16, 2015
The aim of OpenAI is to use artificial intelligence to benefit society. The fledgling project has drawn $1 billion in funding from some of high tech's most recognizable names to help it achieve that goal. Investors include SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, Y Combinator founding partner Jessica Livingston and President Sam Altman and AWS.
AI Programmed to Learn at Human Speed
December 15, 2015
Researchers have created a computational model that enables artificial intelligence to learn the way humans do, according to an article published last week. The model gives AI the ability to recognize handwritten alphabetical characters as fast as humans can. Researchers reversed engineered the way people address problems and built an AI algorithm for that approach.
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