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ISS Cargo Lost in SpaceX Falcon Flameout
June 29, 2015
The SpaceX CRS-7 rocket failed minutes after Sunday's launch, blowing up in mid-air. Just after T+2 minutes, when the craft's altitude was 32 km, its speed was 1 km/second, and its downrange distance was 30 km, its flight path apparently began curving downward. Three explosions then occurred. "There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted.
Hyperloop Dreams May Become Concrete
June 19, 2015
SpaceX this week announced plans to construct a mile-long Hyperloop test track next to its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, scheduled for completion by June 2016. The company concurrently announced an open competition for university students and independent engineering teams to design and build the best Hyperloop pod. Entrants will be able to test their pods on the track.
Beware the Killer Robots
June 12, 2015
Russia's advanced military combat robot -- which has drawn alarmed comparisons to Hollywood's Terminator -- will be able to run and clear an obstacle course by late this year, according to reports this week. That's just the latest news fueling the already-fiery debate over what to do about killer robots. Stuart Russell, a UC Berkeley professor, believes the issue is urgent.
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.
Robots Meet DARPA Challenge Despite Pratfalls
June 8, 2015
Robots from Korea and the U.S. staggered off with the top three prizes at the DARPA Robotics Challenge, held in California over the weekend. In all, robots from 23 teams participated in the challenge, which consisted of an obstacle course simulating conditions similar to those following the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. DRC-Hubo, the entry from South Korea's Team Kaist, took first prize.
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?
Wood Chips: Electronics May Go Back to Nature
May 29, 2015
In a significant step toward a future in which consumers can toss old gadgets onto a compost heap, researchers have proved the viability of placing computer chips on support structures made from wood. This latest advance in green technology could "be used for many things, including mobile devices, displays, solar cells and much more," said UW engineering prof Zhenqiang "Jack" Ma.
NASA's $2.25M Challenge: 3D-Print a Space Base
May 18, 2015
NASA and America Makes have challenged innovators in the additive construction market to design a habitat for deep space exploration for the first stage of the competition and to fabricate such facilities in the second phase. The organizations will award a $50,000 prize and a pair of $1.1 million purses for the winners of the multistage challenge. Registration opened for phase one on Saturday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Obama Lauds STEM Progress at White House Science Fair
March 24, 2015
President Obama on Monday announced $240 million in new pledges from private businesses, schools and foundations across the country for STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math -- education. The president also announced that a national goal set four years ago to provide 98 percent of Americans with high-speed wireless Internet has been reached ahead of schedule.
Mars One Could Turn Out to Be Mars Zero
March 20, 2015
Mars One, a Dutch nonprofit organization aiming to land the first humans on Mars and establish a space colony by 2025, appears to have run into trouble. Astrophysicist Joseph Roche, one of the 100 shortlisted candidates, was excited about the project until recently. However, his disposition has soured. At best, things are not quite what they appear to be, according to Roche.
Big Robo-Bird Trains to Be Fastest on 2 Feet
March 17, 2015
Becoming the fastest of its kind is just a byproduct of the ATRIAS robot's primary objective. Oregon State University's biped is the focus of a loftier goal: to build an entire industry on its leg locomotion mechanics. Researchers have been drawing inspiration for ATRIAS from birds, and the science will grow from there, said Jonathan W. Hurst, associate professor of mechanical engineering at OSU.

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