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The Maker Faire Gets the Obama Bump
June 19, 2014
Hopeful tinkerers and entrepreneurs gathered Wednesday on the White House lawn to showcase their innovative ideas at the Maker Faire. The Maker Faire brings together students, educators, artists, engineers and innovators who have an invention or an idea about how to make something. Billed as "The Greatest Show (and Tell) On Earth," the Maker Faire got its start in the Bay Area.
Bright and Shiny Fire Phone: Amazon Delivers
June 18, 2014
Despite entering the smartphone world late, Amazon managed to double down with a user-focused infusion of technical innovation to deliver a compelling new device: the Amazon Fire Phone. The most head-turning feature is its ability to track your face and create a three-dimensional effect on the home screen and in apps, which makes it seem as if you're peering into a lavishly illustrated diorama.
Spire Breath Tracker Helps Users Chillax
June 18, 2014
Spire on Tuesday kicked off preorders for its namesake new wearable device dedicated to promoting health by monitoring the wearer's breathing. Billed as "the first wearable that tracks both physical movement and state of mind," Spire is the first activity tracker to measure breathing patterns, the company said, thereby offering new insights into periods of tension, relaxation and focus.
If Amazon Builds It, Will They Come?
June 17, 2014
Amazon is poised to reveal its very first smartphone, and the rumor mill is in full swing. It's expected to include a 3D display, utilizing sensors or retina-tracking technology in four front-facing cameras to detect eye positioning and movement in order to project a 3D image without the need for 3D glasses. It reportedly will be available exclusively from AT&T.
Nest Offers Discounted, Wave-Less Smoke Alarm
June 17, 2014
Google's Nest subsidiary has returned its Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm to the market, less than one month after recalling 440,000 units because of a defect. The device has been discounted to $99 from $130. The Protect was recalled because of a software glitch that could prevent it from properly sounding an alert. Nest issued a temporary software update to disable its Wave feature.
Tesla's Patent Giveaway Fuels Electric Car Enthusiasm
June 17, 2014
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk threw the automotive industry into a tizzy last week, when he announced that he was throwing open the company's patents. Some hailed the move as yet more proof of the abysmal state of the United States patent system; others opined that it would give the electric car industry a boost; others just penned paeans of praise to Musk. But there were cynical reactions as well.
Flying Drone Buddies Can Capture Your Amazing Exploits
June 17, 2014
There are two new crowdfunded projects that are building self-flying drones to follow you around and video your awesomeness. Geared for adventure sports like skiing, biking or motorcycle riding, these two drones will follow you at high-speed, capturing high-flying jumps and steep dives from angles previously available only to professional filmmakers with powerful cameras and helicopters.
Rumor: Amazon's About to Spring a 3D Smartphone
June 16, 2014
Amazon reportedly is adding an important new tributary to its river of products this week: a smartphone line. The company has a media event scheduled for Wednesday and expectations are high that it's about to reveal its first mobile device. "Amazon has already seen some success in the tablet space as well as the home entertainment space," said Frost & Sullivan analyst Todd Day.
How Can a 'Tech President' Be So Tech-Backward?
June 16, 2014
Like a lot of people in tech, I was really excited to see President Obama get elected. It seemed like he got technology, and he used it brilliantly in two campaigns. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to use it well in actually running the government. From the Affordable Health Care Act to the Veterans Administration, the Obama presidency has been a tale of dumb and dumber when it comes to tech.
Wearable Tech's Steep Learning Curve
June 13, 2014
Google may be feared and secretly envied throughout tech circles for its industry-disruption track record, but in at least one respect, companies are grateful for Google's propensity to plow the road. The Google Glass experiment has provided some very public lessons about what consumers are willing to accept in wearable tech and what they positively will not stand for -- at least at this point.
Europe's Cab Drivers Rally Against Uber
June 11, 2014
Cab drivers throughout Europe clogged city streets as they protested the rise of Uber in their locales. Thousands of drivers blocked roads and participated in rallies to decry the service, which links users to drivers through a smartphone application. Residents in London, Paris, Berlin, Lisbon, Milan and Madrid all faced a day when regular cabs were not making pickups due to the drivers' strike.
Salesforce Tries On Wearable Tech for Size
June 10, 2014
Salesforce.com is moving aggressively to carve out its own place in a hot emerging technology niche: wearable computing. With its new initiative, Salesforce Wear, it appears to be following its usual MO of co-opting technology in the consumer world and repositioning it for the enterprise. However, unlike social networking, wearable technology is still an iffy proposition among consumers.
Honeywell's Lyric May Disturb Google's Nest
June 10, 2014
Honeywell has launched its Lyric smart thermostat, a device widely seen as a challenge to Google's Nest product. Like Nest, the Lyric can be controlled by a smartphone app; however, it uses geolocation to turn home heating and cooling systems on or off when the consumer's smartphone is within a specified distance. Apart from that, the two devices generally appear to have fairly similar features.
Apple Sinks Its Teeth Into Bitcoin
June 05, 2014
Apple this week updated its App Store Review Guidelines with a change that signals a loosening of its restrictive policies against bitcoin and other digital currencies. The change now allows apps to "facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions."
Tech Has Big Role to Play in Climate Change Battle
June 05, 2014
The Obama administration once again has trained its spotlight on climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency this week announced a plan to cut carbon pollution, a leading cause of climate change, by an average of 30 percent nationwide by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Power plants account for 40 percent of carbon pollution, the biggest driver of climate change.
Full HD 360-Degree Camera Screams Past Kickstarter Goal
June 04, 2014
A small French team claims to have created the world's first full HD 360-degree camera -- the 360cam by Giroptic. The 360cam is currently one of the hottest Kickstarter projects, blasting past its modest $150,000 goal to rack up nearly $800,000 in crowd-based funding with 29 days to go. The 360cam is a small, portable pear-shaped device that has three 185-degree fisheye lenses mounted on the top.
Google to Spread the Web With $1B Worth of Satellites
June 02, 2014
Google's eye on the sky seems wider than ever. The company reportedly is planning to spend at least $1 billion on a project to bring Internet access to remote areas through satellites. It is not yet clear whether the plan would augment or replace Project Loon -- Google's proposal to connect remote regions to the Internet through high-altitude balloons.
Can Apple Do for Smart Homes What It Did for Smartphones?
June 02, 2014
Apple is rumored to be launching a smart home platform at its developer conference this week. The smart home market is actually in a place that's rather similar to where MP3 players were when Apple launched the iPod, and the iPhone is basically an iPod with phone capability. The smart home effort is in part about music and video distribution, and iPhones are commonly used as remote controls.
Google Puts Cute Little Rides on the Road
May 30, 2014
Google this week unveiled a prototype that it will test on California roads to learn more about how to make safe and efficient autonomous cars a mainstream reality. For about four years, Google has been developing self-driving technology that could make the roads safer, and its newly revealed prototype is the latest step in the project. The tiny vehicle is reminiscent of a Smart car.
Next on the Open Source Horizon: 3D Printing
May 28, 2014
3D printing is not yet a mainstream business activity, but the technology has progressed to the point where users can print three-dimensional objects and manufacture their own prototypes and replacement parts with relative ease. Three-dimensional printing is much more than a hobby industry today. Home users can download design files from websites and print a variety of products for their own use.

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