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Stepping Up the Search for ET
August 11, 2014
Atmospheric pollution may not be among mankind's proudest achievements, but it's an incontrovertible sign that we are here. Could something similar help us find civilizations on other planets? That's the premise behind one of several recently announced new approaches to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. One involves detecting pollutants like Earth's in the atmospheres of other worlds.
I Think, Therefore IBM
August 08, 2014
IBM has announced the latest version of its neurosynaptic processor -- that is, a processor whose workings are inspired by the human brain. It has 5.4 billion transistors and an on-chip network of 4,096 neurosynaptic cores. IBM claims it is the first neurosynaptic chip to achieve 1 million programmable neurons, 256 million programmable synapses, and 46 billion synaptic operations per second.
Beacons Hit the Retail Spotlight
August 07, 2014
It was just six months ago that we saw what beacon technology could do on a wide scale. For Super Bowl XLVIII, the National Football League installed wireless transmitters in Times Square and at MetLife Stadium to send simple yet specific messages to smartphones: "bathrooms to the right," "snacks to the left," and so on. The deployment was considered a bold test for the nascent technology.
Sales Forecast Dynamics
August 06, 2014
Take a look at almost any sales software on the market, and you'll find the vendor's claim that the product accelerates the sales process. It's a given. For years, we've been trying to achieve this acceleration, and we've been succeeding. The only problem with this approach is that it can't go on forever. It's a form of expecting infinite growth based on limited resources.
Navdy May Drive Into the Sunset
August 06, 2014
Navdy has announced an aftermarket car heads-up display console that lets drivers access their iOS or Android smartphone's apps without taking their eyes off the road. It projects a 6-inch transparent image within the driver's field of vision showing simplified versions of the user's smartphone apps. The device also will have its own apps.
The Connected Car, Part 1: The Future Starts Now - Will Linux Drive It?
August 05, 2014
The Age of the Connected Car is dawning. The Linux Foundation is positioning an open source Linux OS to take the front seat in steering carmakers to adopting Automotive Grade Linux, or AGL, as the engine driving all in-car electronics. Today's automobile has from 60 to 100 sensors to control everything from climate to airbags and dozens of vehicle components.
Panasonic to Help Make Tesla's Gigafactory Materialize
August 05, 2014
Tesla and Panasonic last week signed what is effectively a memorandum of understanding regarding their collaboration on Tesla's Gigafactory -- a large-scale battery manufacturing facility. The agreement sets out the responsibilities of both partners, but there will be further discussions over the details. The Gigafactory will let Tesla produce 500,000 vehicles a year.
When It Comes to Technology, Humans Are Idiots
August 04, 2014
There are a lot of things going on at the moment. Israel is tactically defending itself against Hamas -- winning the battles but losing the war, because the Israeli government can't see the big picture. The U.S. is still blaming Snowden for leaks, even though Russia clearly is able to pull damaging information pretty much anytime it wants without Snowden's help.
LittleBits Leaps to the Cloud
July 31, 2014
LittleBits, the maker of what might best be thought of as electronic Legos, last week launched cloudBit, a module that provides users with access to the Internet. LittleBits offers modules that are used, like Legos, to build gizmos with electronic capabilities. The modules are held together by magnets, and no soldering or wiring is needed. "This is serious cool," said tech analyst Jim McGregor.
Target Adds a Ripple to Image-Recognition Pool
July 31, 2014
Target last week introduced In a Snap, a new image-recognition app that lets users buy products from the pages of select magazine and printed ads. It is unlike earlier variations of such apps in that consumers don't have to scan codes or follow a link to buy a product. It is similar to -- although far more limited than -- the Firefly functionality in Amazon's recently released Fire Phone.
Bringing Retail Into the 21st Century
July 29, 2014
Let's get one thing straight: E-commerce will not kill the physical retail store. Hold on, I hear you object, the digital world has utterly disrupted our shopping habits. We rarely enter a store without having researched the big-ticket items we want to buy. Much of our holiday shopping is done with a mouse click. When we do venture into a store, we rarely do so without clutching a smartphone.
Stanford Researchers Build a Better Battery
July 29, 2014
A new way to extend battery life would allow smartphones to last three to four times longer on a single charge, Stanford University researchers have found. A team led by Yi Cui, professor of materials science and engineering, has developed pure metal anode prototypes, which differ from the lithium-ion batteries seen in most devices. "I think this is very promising," Cui said.
The Skully Augmented Motorcycle Helmet Would Make Iron Man Jealous
July 28, 2014
Skully had its coming-out party last week, and while the name unfortunately sounds like the nickname for any number of comic book villains -- from Skeletor to the Red Skull -- it is actually a firm that makes a pretty incredible high-technology motorcycle helmet, with technology similar to Google Glass. Motorcycles have lagged cars in technology for some time.
Google to Search for the Meaning of Health
July 25, 2014
Google is seeking 175 volunteers from whom it will collect bodily samples in an effort to create their biochemical fingerprints and establish the baseline for a healthy body. The Baseline study, to be run by Google X labs, will seek to connect traditional clinical observations of health, such as diet -- or habits, such as smoking -- with molecular-level changes.
Patent Tips Apple's iWatch Hand
July 24, 2014
A patent awarded to Apple may be a tip-off of what it's planning for the smartwatch widely expected this fall. The patent for something Apple referenced in its application as "iTime" is for an electronic wristband that contains a recessed area for a device, such as a watch body. The iTime could feed and display information gathered from sensors in the band on a pop-in electronic device.
GoTenna Makes Wireless 'Magic'
July 22, 2014
Startup GoTenna has launched its eponymously named device, which lets users communicate without the need for a cell tower. "This is an interesting concept," said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. "It's like a walkie-talkie on steroids." The device uses BlueTooth LE to pair with a user's smartphone. It can exchange text messages only with another GoTenna.
Siri May Be Starting a Hope Chest
July 18, 2014
It may not be a marriage made in heaven, but the cloud is pretty close. Just hours after IBM and Apple announced their strategic partnership, speculation began to spread about two of their most well-known products: What if Siri and Watson were to hook up? Siri is Apple's voice-enabled digital personal assistant. Watson is IBM's AI software, perhaps best known for winning Jeopardy!
Social Robot Jibo Melts Crowdfunders' Hearts
July 18, 2014
A crowdfunding campaign for Jibo, a little robot designed to become one of the family, kicked off Wednesday on Indiegogo, and it already has raised more than $577,000 -- nearly six times its $100,000 target. The voice-controlled robot with a friendly face is a do-it-all personal assistant. It can take pictures, provide information from the Web or apps, order food, display e-books and much more.
Google, Novartis Team on 'Invisible' Health Monitor
July 16, 2014
Novartis' Alcon eye care division has entered an in-license agreement governing all ocular medical uses for Google's smart contact lenses, it announced Tuesday. Google unveiled a prototype of its glucose-monitoring lens in January. Novartis is aiming to expand its healthcare horizons. There are 382 million diabetics around the world today and that number is expected to grow to 582 million by 2035.
Bet You Wish You'd Installed a Blender in a Cooler Lid
July 16, 2014
The hottest crowdsourced hit of the summer is the Coolest Cooler, an unassuming party cooler that features a built-in ice-crushing blender, a removable waterproof Bluetooth speaker, a USB charger, an LED lid light, a gear tie down, super wide wheels for dragging it over sand, a bottle opener, a divider to help keep your margarita ice separate from your sandwiches, and a knife built into the lid.
Amazon Floats Drone Exemption Proposal to FAA
July 14, 2014
Amazon is ramping up its drone delivery project and is hoping approval to conduct outdoor testing on its own property. The company has petitioned the FAA for an exemption from rules barring it from testing the devices. Amazon last year revealed it was working on a project that would allow it to deliver small packages to consumers within 30 minutes of ordering via the unmanned aerial vehicles.
Augmented Reality Future: How to Train Your Dragons on Vacation
July 14, 2014
Microsoft just announced the release of the Dragons Adventure World Explorer. It is actually very cool and well-timed, because it should keep little tykes engaged and quiet during a long car trip. It also should get developers excited about creating more games that could turn the family vacation experience into a bloodbath of adventure for boys and a 4H-like experience for girls, but with dragons!
LG's Flexible OLED Screen Is Totally Tubular
July 14, 2014
The competition to offer transparent and flexible OLED screens heated up last week, with LG's unveiling of two 18-inch OLED displays. One is flexible and the other transparent. "Up to now, nobody has come up with an 18-inch flexible OLED display, although both LG and Samsung offer smartphones with flexible displays of less than six inches," said IHS research director Sweta Dash.
Microwave Will Count the Calories in Food You Nuke
July 10, 2014
While the ever-expanding class of wearable fitness devices out there can tell users how many calories they've burned while undertaking any particular activity, realistic estimates of calories taken in have been few and far between. Enter a new microwave oven currently in the works at GE Global Research that will tell users just how much energy is included in the meal they're about to consume.

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