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Taking DIY to the Next Level
April 26, 2016
While hobbyists, inventors and innovators have been experimenting and producing a variety of do-it-yourself projects, their world is expected to undergo a hard shift as DIY moves to the next level. 3D printing is the cornerstone of the coming shift, and its effect on our daily lives will be multiplied by several converging forces: the collaborative economy, the jobless economy and personalization.
BMW, Daimler Steer Clear of Apple Car Project
April 25, 2016
BMW and Daimler have broken off talks about forming a partnership with Apple to develop an electric car, according to news reports published last week. Discussions stalled over issues that included which company would take the lead on the project and which would have ownership of the data. Apple apparently sought to develop a vehicle that would be integrated closely with its cloud-based software.
Gadget Ogling: A 360-Degree Cam, a Leveled-Up Kindle, and a Space-Saving Home Gym
April 21, 2016
Facebook has unveiled its latest push into hardware -- an open source 360-degree camera. Bearing 17 cameras and Web-based software to render footage in 360-degrees, Facebook Surround 360 is more of a design than a commercial product. It would cost around $30,000 to build one as is, Facebook said. The idea is to allow creators to iterate on the design to create their own cameras.
Apple Snags Hotshot Engineer, Former Tesla VP, for Project Titan
April 20, 2016
Apple has hired Chris Porritt, Tesla Motors' former vice president of vehicle engineering, to work on special projects, according to news reports published Tuesday. Porritt, who left Tesla last year, is expected to take charge of Apple's electric car initiative, Project Titan. He reportedly was given the purposefully vague title of "special projects group PD administrator."
YouTube Wants You to See the World From Every Angle
April 19, 2016
YouTube on Monday announced the rollout of live-streaming 360-degree video and spatial audio, part of the company's push to boost its reach in the growing market for immersive video and virtual reality. It has provided support for 360-degree video for more than a year, but it has been working with content creators to push the technology even further, Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan said.
The HTC's Wow Factor May Trump Shortcomings for VR Fans
April 19, 2016
The HTC Vive drew accolades from a hyped-up base of gamers and virtual reality enthusiasts when it launched earlier this month. However, the Vive is proving to be an experience that is not for the faint of heart, the light of wallet, or the short of patience. HTC earlier this year unveiled the Vive to an enthusiastic audience at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Facebook Envisions Virtual Social Future
April 15, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday demonstrated at its F8 developer conference how socializing could take place in a virtual world. Two employees some 30 miles apart showed how they could share the same virtual space. Through the use of 360-degree photos, they visited London, drew together with virtual pens, and took selfies and posted them to their Facebook news feeds.
Gadget Ogling: Smarter Notes, Livelier Virtual Reality, and Bigger In-Flight Movies
April 14, 2016
We've for some time had Moleskine's Smart Notebooks, which allow you to jot down your thoughts and upload them to Evernote through an app. The new Smart Writing Set takes that idea and elevates it to a new plane, letting you quickly turn scrawled notes or doodles into digital files you can edit using a computer or any mobile app -- no smartphone camera required.
Facebook Entices VR Content Creators With Open Source Surround Cam
April 13, 2016
Facebook on Tuesday unveiled a high-quality 360-degree 3D camera suitable for creating virtual reality content. The Facebook Surround 360 system, which made its debut at the F8 developers conference, includes a production-ready camera -- which costs about $30,000 to build and looks like a flying saucer from a science fiction movie -- and software for controlling the camera and for stitching and rendering what the camera captures.
Samsung's AR Vision Includes Smart Contact Lenses
April 12, 2016
Samsung has been granted a patent for a smart contact lens, according to news reports published last week. The lens is equipped with a tiny display, a camera, an antenna, and sensors that detect movement and eye blinks. Eye blinks would provide the input, and a smartphone would be needed to process images. A user blinks to take pictures or interact with data displayed on the smart contact lens.
Ford After Dark: Self-Driving Car 'Sees' All
April 11, 2016
Ford on Monday announced that it has been testing its Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle with no headlights on remote desert roads at night. While such a task would be quite perilous for a human driver, it was an important step in developing a fully autonomous vehicle, the company said. The test vehicle relied on LiDAR technology for navigation.
Learning to Love Virtual Reality
April 11, 2016
At Nvidia's technology conference, I saw a variety of new technologies showcased. From deep learning systems -- computers that arguably are smarter than we are -- to self-driving cars that can drive better than we can, the technological advances on display made me feel just a tad inadequate. One way to get over my sudden concern over obsolescence was to check out the virtual reality showcase.
A Convoy of Autonomous Trucks Just Platooned Across Europe
April 9, 2016
A dozen trucks utilizing an autonomous driving system arrived Wednesday in Rotterdam, Netherlands, after traveling across Europe in the European Truck Platooning Challenge. The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, along with the Directorate General Rijkswaterstaat, the Netherlands Vehicle Authority and the Conference of European Directors of Roads were behind the initiative.
Salesforce's MetaMind Buy Fuels CRM's AI Arms Race
April 7, 2016
MetaMind, a startup focused on deep learning, this week announced that it has been acquired by Salesforce. The company's expertise is in natural language processing -- letting computers analyze relationships between words. "We'll be able to offer customers real AI solutions with breakthrough capabilities that further automate and personalize customer support," MetaMind CEO Richard Socher said.
Facebook AI Fills In the Photo Blanks for Blind Users
April 6, 2016
Facebook on Monday introduced automated alt text, a new tool that describes what's in an image to help visually impaired users engage more on the site. People using screen readers on iOS devices will hear a description of the items contained in a photo when they swipe past pictures on a Facebook page. The feature is available for iOS users in the U.S., the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Gadget Ogling: Food Frenzies and Rollerblade Off-Roading
April 6, 2016
Of all the kitchen gadgets I own, the rice cooker is possibly my second-most favorite after the tea kettle. Sure, I could make rice in a pot, but the dedicated rice cooker makes it much easier to attend to other details instead of watching the pot. Xiaomi's pressurized version might prove even better. It recognizes the type of rice from a barcode scan and cooks it perfectly.
Lawrence Livermore Lab Buys Brainy IBM Supercomputer
April 5, 2016
IBM last week announced that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has purchased its TrueNorth processor-based cognitive computing platform. The purchase included an end-to-end ecosystem and a multisocket host node. The lab will build a supercomputer based on the platform to see how neural networks might be used in the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration's cybersecurity program.
Oculus' Controversial ToS a Stark Reminder of Its Facebook Parentage
April 4, 2016
Oculus last week updated its terms of service to accompany the release of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, raising privacy and content ownership concerns. Software will be installed to monitor how the device is used, and the usage data will be sent back to Oculus and its parent company, Facebook, according to the terms of service. Collected data could be shared with third parties.
The Hololens Academy: How I Became a Novice Wizard
April 4, 2016
At last week's Microsoft Build conference, I attended the Hololens Academy -- a whirlwind effort to turn me into a master programmer able to create things out of thin air. It failed. Apparently it takes longer than an hour to teach someone who hasn't coded in decades to be a master programmer -- go figure. However, by the end of the class I was gleefully throwing fireballs.
Stakes High as Tesla Gets Ready to Pull the Wraps Off Model 3
March 31, 2016
Tesla fans around the world queued up to add their names to a reservation list in anticipation of Tesla Motors' planned Thursday night unveiling of its Model 3. The long-awaited new addition to the Tesla line is a more affordable sedan that targets not just early adopters, but a larger audience of luxury car owners. Company founder Elon Musk has shared key details in advance of the reveal.
Microsoft Tells Devs to Talk to the Bots
March 31, 2016
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and members of his leadership team, speaking to developers Wednesday at the Build 2016 conference, introduced their vision to infuse human speech and machine learning into the company's consumer and enterprise businesses. Nadella and Executive VP Terry Myerson introduced upgrades to Windows 10 and Cortana as well as technology called "Conversations as a Platform."
Gadget Ogling: Honey, I Shrunk the iPhone
March 31, 2016
The iPhone SE packs almost everything from the iPhone 6s into a handset that looks almost identical to the iPhone 5. The only thing that's really missing is Force Touch. It's a smart play, trying to convince iPhone 4 and 5 owners that they can still upgrade to -- almost -- the latest model without the need to take on a device with a larger screen.
You Rang? Microsoft's Holoportation Redefines Face-to-Face Communication
March 29, 2016
Microsoft on Monday unveiled its version of a teleporter, called "holoportation," which was designed to transmit 3D models of people anywhere in the world. Holoportation compresses, transmits and reconstructs the 3D scans to Microsoft's HoloLens and other head-mounted displays. It lets headset wearers interact with remote users in 3D as if they were in the same space, according to Microsoft.
Oculus Rift Offers the Best VR Experience Yet, Reviewers Say
March 28, 2016
The first reviews of the Oculus Rift surfaced Monday, and reviewers praised the potential of the virtual reality system while pointing out some obvious concerns. The headset display is well-crafted, but drawbacks include the cost and the fact that it requires a powerful gaming system to run it, according to some reviews. "It has the potential to change the world," Devindra Hardawar wrote.
Microsoft Apologizes for Corrupted Chatbot's Nasty Comments
March 28, 2016
Microsoft last week apologized for its Tay chatbot's bad behavior. It took the machine learning system offline, only 24 hours into its short life, after Twitter trolls got it to deny the Holocaust and elicit pro-Nazi and anti-feminist remarks. "We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets from Tay, which do not represent who we are or what we stand for," said Peter Lee, corporate vice president at Microsoft Research.
The Brand New Made-in-Space Frontier
March 25, 2016
What happens when you're 220 miles above Earth on the International Space Station and you need a tool you don't have? You can print one yourself. In 2014, American astronauts for the first time printed a tool -- a ratchet wrench -- using a design file sent from NASA on the ground to the 3D printer spinning about in space. The feat was only the first step to much larger miracles in space.
Gadget Ogling: Bathroom Bots, Bedroom Bulbs, and Doorbell Detectives
March 22, 2016
Can you imagine a time before robot vacuum cleaners? The world was a messier place, certainly in the homes of those with too little impetus to pick up a broom or vacuum cleaner once in a while. Thankfully, for those of us who don't mind sweeping but are less enthused about using the mop, robotic help is on its way in a more affordable model: the Braava Jet from iRobot.
Low-Cost Bundle Beckons Gamers to PlayStation VR
March 21, 2016
Sony last week announced it would begin taking preorders for a cost-shaving virtual reality bundle. Priced at $499, the PlayStation VR bundle includes everything needed except the PlayStation 4 console. It contains a VR headset, cables, stereo headphones, a PlayStation camera, two PlayStation Move motion controllers and a pair of discs etched with VR demos.
Amazon May Let You Pay With a Wink and a Nod
March 16, 2016
Amazon has applied for a patent for selfie-based authentication for online purchases, according to a patent application published last week. Using the technology, a prospective purchaser would take a selfie, and the image would be authenticated against an image database using facial recognition software. The buyer then would perform an action to verify that the image is of a live human being.
Gadget Ogling: All-In-One Cooking, In-Car Movie Nights, and Rolling Robots
March 15, 2016
Tovala is going to change everything, apparently. It's a countertop cooking system that acts as oven, microwave, toaster, broiler and steamer. It appears to have all the convenience of ready-made meals, while providing healthier eating options than a typical TV dinner. While you can create your own dishes, Tovala offers its own meals created by professional chefs that are delivered fresh to your home.
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What do you think about Hillary Clinton's use of private email servers during her term as Secretary of State?
She broke the law and should go to jail.
She violated guidelines -- the issue is overblown.
She placed important state department information at risk.
Her servers might have been more secure than the government's.
I really don't care one way or the other.