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Gadget Ogling: Useful Smartwatches, Orbital Cameras, and an Un-Procrastinator
August 1, 2015
Dot is a smartwatch that may have life-changing implications. Rather than trying to convey information through tiny text on a small screen, Dot intends to provide visually impaired wearers with notifications through Braille. Four sets of the six dots that signify characters in the Braille system raise and lower as quickly as 100 times per second to denote four characters simultaneously.
Consumers Fret Over Health Wearables Security
July 29, 2015
Collecting health and fitness data through wearable devices is raising concerns among consumers about the security of that information. Twenty-five percent of more than 3,500 consumers who participated in a recent survey did not believe their personal health data was safe on fitness trackers or in health-tracking apps, reported Healthline -- and that number could be low.
Nintendo's Sleep Monitor Is More Than a Dream
July 28, 2015
A patent application published last week has revealed more information about Nintendo's plans to build out its hardware ecosystem with contactless sleep monitoring technology. The device will assess individuals' emotions by using array of microphones and cameras to keep track of the noises and movements they make while getting some shuteye, according to the description in the patent application.
Pega Healthcare CRM Promises 360-Degree View
June 9, 2015
Pega last week announced enhancements to Pegasystems Customer Service for Healthcare, an application that integrates customer service and care management to provide a 360-degree view of all customer interactions. The application provides call center agents with data across administrative, health and care management interactions with the goal of enabling them to provide better service.
Apple Music Steals WWDC's Scattershot Show
June 9, 2015
To cap off Monday's wide-ranging keynote at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced a three-pronged music initiative -- a streaming service, a live radio broadcast station, and an app that lets artists connect with fans. "Music is such an important part of our lives and our culture," Cook said, showing off Apple's famous "one more thing" slide.
It's Hard to See WWDC Through My Apple TV Tears
June 4, 2015
By the time you read this, I'll have finished swearing in the privacy of my office, and likely will have entered the acceptance stage of grief. Already, realization is dawning that I was right to withhold hope that Apple would reveal a new Apple TV at its WorldWide Developers Conference on Monday. I hate it when pessimism wins. But how can I know that Apple isn't going to introduce a new Apple TV?
The Future According to Qualcomm
May 18, 2015
I was at the Qualcomm Internet of Things event in San Francisco last week during what was a major IoT event in the city. What is kind of amazing is the larger event was just a small part of the applications show that used to go on at the same time. This year it is twice the size of that older show. Companies are flocking to this IoT concept like ducks to water.
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.
Apple, IBM Bring Tech to the Rescue for Japan's Seniors
May 4, 2015
Apple and IBM last week announced an initiative with Japan Post Group to provide seniors in Japan with iPads preloaded with apps and analytics designed to improve their quality of life. Japan Post Group will launch a pilot service later this year and gradually expand it to cover 4-5 million customers by 2020. This is one of several undertakings to deal with aging in Japan.
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.
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.
Gadget Ogling: A Juicy Wristband, a Gamy Wearable and a Dorky Dongle
April 18, 2015
Asus is taking a common-sense approach to the fitness tracker game by debuting a new watch with a 10-day battery life. Thanks to its square screen, the soon-to-be-released VivoWatch resembles a smartwatch more than, say, a Fitbit. It appears to have a monochrome screen, which must help extend that all-important battery life. It has a stainless-steel build, and dust and water protection.
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.
Jawbone Gets a Charge Out of Amex
April 17, 2015
Jawbone on Wednesday announced two new, completely reworked fitness bands. The $99 UP2, which launched Wednesday, tracks activities and monitors the quality of sleep, doing so for up to seven days on a single charge. The $199 UP4 smartband, scheduled for release this summer, complements its biometrics-tracking with a mobile payment capability powered by American Express.
Compliance Mindset Can Lead to Epic Security Fail
March 30, 2015
The recent data breach at Premera Blue Cross -- in which the personal information of some 11 million customers was compromised -- raises questions about how effective government regulators are at ensuring that healthcare providers adequately protect their patients' data. There have been abundant warnings that compliance with government regulations alone would not be adequate.
Gadget Ogling: Shooting Flames, Flowing Time, and Locked-Up Temptation
March 28, 2015
Someway, somehow, it's apparently legal to own the XM42 flamethrower in the United States, unless you happen to live in California or Maryland. I can't fathom any circumstance under which a weapon -- let's not mince words here -- capable of shooting flames 25 feet should be available for anyone to pick up if they have $700 lying around to back Ion Productions' crowdfunding campaign.
Apple's Researchkit Could Be Gold Mine for Hackers
March 13, 2015
Apple earlier this week announced ResearchKit, an open source framework that will let medical and health researchers gather data through iPhone apps. ResearchKit will be released in April. Apps to monitor asthma patients and for studies on breast cancer survivors, cardiovascular health and Parkinson's Disease, already have been developed using ResearchKit.
Apple Springs Bevy of New Products at Watch Event
March 9, 2015
The Apple Watch wasn't the only new product to take the stage at Apple's Monday media event -- Apple also introduced an all-new sleek MacBook. In addition, Apple nabbed the chance to be the exclusive launch partner for HBO's new streaming subscription service. Among the event highlights: Apple Watch will be available for preorder April 10, sale April 24; and Apple Watch Edition starts at $10,000.
Gadget Ogling: A Lovely Sky Snapper, a Grotesque Power Pack and Wafer-Thin Speakers
March 4, 2015
There's a new Nikon camera that actually won't work for parents eager to flash their cash at a kid's birthday party with an expensive DSLR when a camera phone would work just fine. The D810A has an infrared filter that probably will result in distorted colors when used for everyday purposes. So you might not want to use it for that cute shot of a butterfly nestling on a poppy.
DeepMind AI Exterminates Space Invaders, Pac-Man
February 27, 2015
Researchers at Google's DeepMind subsidiary in England have developed an artificial agent they call a "deep Q-network" that learned to play 49 classic Atari 2600 arcade games by just diving in. The DQN algorithm performed at more than 75 percent of the level of a professional player in more than half the games. It achieved the maximum attainable scores in certain games, such as Breakout.
Anthem Mega-Breach Jeopardizes 80 Million Consumers
February 5, 2015
Hackers broke into the databases of Anthem Inc., the second-largest health insurer in the U.S., and stole up to 80 million customers' personal information. The data includes current and former customers' names, birthdays, medical IDs, social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, Anthem president and CEO Joseph Swedish wrote in a note sent to customers.
Gadget Ogling: A Touchless Thermometer, Flashing Audio, and a Mesmerizing Mattress Cover
January 31, 2015
JoyWing's Wishbone is a fancier thermometer than what you or I will have seen on any trip to the doctor. It's a smartphone attachment that gives temperature readouts within a couple of seconds without even having to touch the person or material it's examining, thanks to an infrared sensor. It's inexpensive, at $26-35 for those pledging to the crowdfunding drive.
Gadget Ogling: A Swank Walkman, a Brainy Grill, and Oh, So Much More From CES
January 10, 2015
Welcome to the year's first edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that offers infallible opinions on the latest gadget announcements. The mammoth CES trade show took place this week, and though it offered far too many new items to conceivably cram into a single column, we'll look at some of the most notable and notorious, including Sony's latest Walkman, a smart grill and more.
Researchers Turn Computer Into Poker Shark
January 9, 2015
A computer program dubbed "Cepheus" has solved the game of poker, researchers at the University of Alberta announced. The Computer Poker Research Group, which created Cepheus, claims it not only can play heads-up limit Texas hold'em poker, but also beat human opponents. Games such as poker and chess have been used as test beds by researchers developing new concepts in artificial intelligence.

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Is Microsoft starting to get cool again?
Yes - thanks to Satya Nadella's vision.
Yes - but only in certain areas, like AI and VR.
Maybe - it doesn't seem as stodgy as before.
No - it never was.