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Consumer Group Worries Over Safety of Google's Self-Driving Cars
May 14, 2015
Even though Google's self-driving technology was not at fault in any of 11 minor accidents involving the cars over six years of testing, Consumer Watchdog has raised an alarm over the vehicles' safety, even releasing a video that simulates a serious crash in a tech-failure scenario. The group frequently accuses Google of privacy violations and exerting undue influence on the U.S. government.
Lily Camera Gilds the Selfie
May 13, 2015
Lily is taking the selfie up a notch. The startup on Tuesday began taking preorders for a drone camera that will shoot video and stills as it flies above you. While drone cameras have been on the market for some time, the Lily offering combines the popularity of first-person video cameras, like the wildly successful GoPro line of products, with the emerging consumer flying drone market.
Smart Car 2 Transforms Itself to Tuck Into Tiny Spots
May 11, 2015
DFKI Robotics last week unveiled a prototype of the EO Smart Connecting Car 2. The tiny, two-seater electric vehicle operates much like a traditional car, but because each wheel is powered by its own motor, it can make extremely tight turns and even drive sideways. This capability could address issues that plague many big cities, notably traffic congestion and inadequate parking space.
3 SciFi Technologies That Are About to Get Amazingly Real
May 11, 2015
Lisa Su, the talented new CEO for AMD, last week gave a pitch on the future to get people excited about where AMD is going. Based on the stock performance after her talk, she and her team knocked it out of the park. They also got me thinking about some tech advancements that have been quietly percolating, which likely will form the basis for a revolutionary announcement in the next few years.
Gadget Ogling: Virtual Sensations, Radio-Wave Charges and a Bitcoin Keeper
May 9, 2015
We're edging ever closer toward a virtual reality boom, with Oculus finally promising its Rift headset will arrive in 2016. Yet what if there were a way to make VR even more immersive? Feelreal has come up with two devices -- a virtual reality mask and a helmet -- that aim to draw users almost entirely into a fictional world. The mask is an add-on, compatible with major VR headsets.
Oculus VR Promises a Rift for All in 2016
May 6, 2015
An exact date hasn't been set, but Facebook's Oculus VR has announced that the highly anticipated consumer version of its Rift headset will launch in the first quarter of 2016. Preordering will begin later this year. More details will emerge about the consumer version of the Rift in the coming weeks, the company said, including information about unannounced made-for-VR games and experiences.
EM Drive Stirs Blood of Hopeful Space Explorers
May 6, 2015
It may not be warp drive, but EM drive is perhaps even more exciting, because it has a better chance of being science fact than fiction. EM drive technology theoretically could allow a trip to the moon in four hours, to Mars in 70 days, and to Alpha Centaurii, the star system nearest to our own, in roughly 130 years. It would take thousands of years using today's space travel technologies.
'Night Terrors' Could Turn Your Home Into a Hellscape
May 6, 2015
Gamers could get the chance to count themselves among the things that go bump in the night, if Novum Analytics' Night Terrors, an augmented reality game for mobile devices, meets its Indiegogo funding target. The story itself is rudimentary, but the gameplay takes place in relatively uncharted territory. The player is alone in the dark with a smartphone.
Our Bodies, Our Security: Biometrics vs. Passwords
May 4, 2015
Text-based usernames and password pairs should be replaced with biometric credentialing, such as vein recognition and ingestible security tokens, suggests Johnathan LeBlanc, PayPal's global head of developer evangelism. Celebrities have been mortified, Sony Pictures Entertainment brought to its knees, and Home Depot sent scrambling to EuroPay Mastercard Visa's chip and pin earlier than mandated.
Holy Crap: Microsoft Is Building Tomorrowland!
May 4, 2015
One of the movies I'm really looking forward to this month is Disney's Tomorrowland. My first real job was at Disneyland, and I was so in love with the place I often would come back and work a second shift for free. Epcot, the city of tomorrow, was supposed to be Walt's final legacy but his untimely death ended that vision. That city of tomorrow never came to be.
Gadget Ogling: Wine in a Dash, Connected Bicycles, and a Wearable for Behinds
May 2, 2015
I'll admit I'm not the planet's most refined wine connoisseur, but I do enjoy a glass or two of red with my dinner. At the minute, the few bottles I have are vacuuming up space around my kitchen, so I could use a wall-mounted wine rack -- but what's the use of having a rack with no bottles once they're finished? Poppy Reserve could solve the problem of a barren wine rack.
Faulty Taptic Engine Could Make Apple Watch Rollout Sputter
May 1, 2015
A production snag in making the component that provides tactile feedback in the Apple Watch could impact its availability in coming weeks. Quality control problems with the Chinese maker of the component reportedly have forced Apple to move nearly all manufacturing of the unit to a Japanese company. Delays in the availability of the watch could occur as it ramps up production.
Elon Musk Unveils Tesla's World-Changing Powerwall
May 1, 2015
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk on Thursday announced the company's plan to develop residential and business battery systems, including the Powerwall Home Battery and business-oriented Powerpack. These systems are being developed to work in conjunction with solar panels to store energy for use at a later time. They also can draw power from the grid when demand for electricity is low.
Patent Holders: Google Wants Your IP!
April 28, 2015
Google on Monday announced it will open an experimental portal to purchase patents from their holders between May 8 and May 22. The move is widely seen as an attempt to shut off patent trolls. Patent holders have to set the price at which they're willing to sell their IP, and they will be told by June 26 whether Google wants to buy. Payments will be made through ACH by late August.
Gadget Ogling: Pretty 3D Printing, an Eye-Catching Engagement Ring Box and a Sturdy Smartphone
April 28, 2015
3D printing is fascinating. It still seems wild to me that you can download schematics for anything and have a plastic version of a physical object in your home a short while later. However, not many printers can switch up the color or the types of filaments you use in your creation. The Pallette could change that, with a peripheral to brighten up that mono-colored trinket you're ready to print.
We'll Soon Live in an Imaginary World
April 20, 2015
Virtual and augmented reality and holographic image technologies are coming at us with the speed of a freight train, and it won't be long until we'll no longer be able to distinguish between what is real and what isn't. There are some initiatives going on behind the scenes, as well as some breakthroughs, that shortly will make our experience of the world very different from what it is now.
Riding in Driverless Cars Could Be Sickening
April 17, 2015
Self-driving vehicles could increase the likelihood of motion sickness in some riders, suggests a UMTRI study released last week. Motion sickness, also known as "kinetosis," is a condition marked by symptoms of nausea, dizziness and other physical discomfort. Some factors that contribute to motion sickness could be elevated in self-driving vehicles, the researchers noted.
New Smart Drone Breaks $1K Barrier
April 14, 2015
A new aerial drone from 3D Robotics packs two computers and an array of powerful features for $999. The computers -- one on the craft and one in the controller -- have enabled it to make some radical breakthroughs in autonomous flight and camera control, according to 3DR. Built on 1-GHz Cortex A9 ARM chips running Linux, the computers allow operators to preprogram the drone's flight path.
Analysts Puzzle Over Apple Watch Preorder Figures
April 13, 2015
A million Apple Watch preorders in one day sounds good, but few industry observers are willing to go out on a limb and predict it will be a smash success -- especially with looming supply constraints. Fulfillment times for online preorders reportedly range from four to six weeks after it officially goes on sale. That could be a tactic to keep demand high -- or a hedge against demand falling off.
Apple's Storm Clouds
April 13, 2015
An Apple shop recently dumped Apple for Dell following a surprising revelation. Over most of the last two decades, the only time I've seen a move like this was when some change in IT forced it, and a lot of staffers subsequently would quit. This move was largely user-driven. Then, last week, one of Apple's biggest fans actually panned an Apple product, effectively calling it pretty but stupid.
Gadget Ogling: Capacious Cases, Dumb Domestic Drones, Smarty-Pants Cups
April 11, 2015
When it comes to adding extending your smartphone or tablet battery life during the day, Mophie's been trying to make life easier a little longer than most, with time to iterate on its battery pack cases. The company's going a little further now, as it expands its Space line of cases that house not only batteries, but external storage for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and iPad mini.
Devs Rev Up for a Weekend of Galactic Problem-Solving
April 9, 2015
More than 10,000 software and hardware developers, scientists and space fans will spend this weekend huddling in rooms in 136 cities around the world to participate in NASA's International Space Apps Challenge -- a hackathon for space wonks. Using IBM's Bluemix, they will develop apps, software, hardware, data visualization and platform solutions to help explore space and to improve life on Earth.
Early Reviews Give Apple Watch One and a Half Thumbs Up
April 8, 2015
The prelaunch reviews of the Apple Watch are out, and though they're generally favorable, they include a few niggling complaints. A select group of reviewers were loaned an Apple Watch for a week. Overall, their consensus is that it's a fine device for tracking health and fitness, it's great for making digital payments, and it has excellent battery life.
Flexible Aluminum-Ion Battery Recharges in 60 Seconds
April 8, 2015
Researchers have been attempting to develop an aluminum-ion battery for decades -- and a Stanford team on Tuesday revealed its breakthrough that could lead to the adoption of fast-charging, long-lasting batteries in the near future. The turning point occurred when the researchers were trying out materials to serve as a cathode, and they began experimenting with graphite.

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