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Larry Page May Be Blazing a Trail for Self-Flying Cars
June 9, 2016
Google cofounder Larry Page reportedly is working with two Silicon Valley startups to develop a flying car. One is Zee.Aero, which Page personally has funded since its launch in 2010, when it set up shop next to Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California. The firm reportedly has filed a patent application for a small, all-electric vehicle that could take off and land vertically.
Snowden and the NSA Gets Curiouser and Curiouser
June 8, 2016
Edward Snowden made a greater effort than originally believed to raise his concerns within the NSA before releasing thousands of classified documents detailing programs that allowed the agency to spy on U.S. citizens. The truth is more complex than the NSA let on, according to a report based on documents secured through two years of Freedom of Information Act litigation.
New Samsung Fitness Trackers Have Music Built-In
June 8, 2016
Samsung last week unveiled its Gear Fit2 fitness band and Gear IconX earbud set. The Gear Fit2 will be available for $180 this Friday at major retailers. The IconX will hit shelves in the third quarter of this year. The Gear Fit2 has a built-in GPS and a heart rate monitor. The Gear IconX is a pair of Bluetooth earbuds that can track fitness information.
Uber Tosses Its Drivers a Few Bones
June 8, 2016
Facing growing pressure from labor unions and regulators across the U.S. and key overseas markets, Uber on Monday introduced a series of new apps and benefits for its core group of drivers. The goal is to make their working hours more productive and profitable. Among the new apps are Driver Destinations, which lets drivers restrict ride requests to their current routes.
Supreme Court Snubs Google's AdWords Appeal
June 7, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear Google's appeal of a lower court ruling in a suit alleging the company used deceptive practices in the sale and placement of advertising through its AdWords program between 2004 and 2008. Google, a unit of Alphabet, sought to overturn the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals September 2015 ruling that the lawsuit could go forward as a class action case.
Zenbo Home Robot Pours on the Charm
June 7, 2016
Asus recently unveiled a family robot that can serve as a home healthcare assistant, control connected devices in the smart home, monitor security, perform various online tasks, and function as a playmate, among other things. Asus' Zenbo made its debut at last month's Computex computer show. At the same time, Asus launched a program that provides devs with access to the Zenbo SDK.
Microsoft's Holographic Platform Opening Mixes It Up
June 6, 2016
Microsoft last week announced it would open its Windows Holographic platform to partner firms looking to develop products for the Hololens ecosystem. Microsoft already is already working with a range of partners -- including Intel, AMD, Qualcomm and others -- to build a hardware ecosystem that can support mixed-reality environments, company officials said at Computex.
Yahoo Publishes NSLs Following Freedom Act Reforms
June 6, 2016
Yahoo last week published the text of three National Security Letters it received from the FBI in 2013. The letters demand the names, addresses, length of service, and electronic communications transactional records -- existing transaction and activity logs and all email header information -- of the targets. However, they do not ask for any content -- either the subject lines or bodies of emails.
Windows Holographic: Changing Our Perception of the World
June 6, 2016
There were a lot of interesting announcements last week, ranging from cool new devices to what was basically an Amazon Echo on wheels from Asus. Such is the nature of Computex -- arguably one of the most powerful technology shows in the world. However, one of the most fascinating was Windows Holographic, which goes far beyond Hololens to redefine the world as we perceive it.
Google's Magenta AI Tickles the Ivories
June 3, 2016
The Google Brain team on Wednesday released a tune created by machine intelligence. The composition is part of Project Magenta, which seeks to boost the capabilities of machine intelligence to create art and music. Among other things, the Magenta team is developing algorithms that enable artificial intelligence systems to learn how to create compelling art and music on their own.
Facebook AI Digs Deep Into User Content
June 3, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday introduced DeepText, an artificial intelligence-fueled text analytics engine. "Text is a prevalent form of communication on Facebook," wrote Facebook software engineers Ahmad Abdulkader, Aparna Lakshmiratan and Joy Zhang in a post describing its capabilities. "Understanding the various ways text is used on Facebook can help us improve people's experiences with our products."
Uber Scores Historic $3.5B Saudi Investment
June 2, 2016
Uber has nailed down a record $3.5 billion investment from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund -- the largest-ever investment in a closely held technology firm. The investment is part of a deal that will allow Uber to expand its Middle East operations. Yasir Al Rumayyan, managing director of the fund, will take a seat on Uber's board of directors.
HP Offers Versatile PC Gaming Machines for Grown-Ups
June 2, 2016
HP last week introduced several new additions to its Omen by HP gaming hardware line: 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch laptops, a desktop PC and a 32-inch Quad HD4 display. The laptops will be available next month with a starting price of $900; the desktop and display will be available in August at HP online and at select retailers, with pricing as yet undisclosed.
No Man's Sky: Life After Launch
June 2, 2016
Persistence. It's what permeates the fabric of upcoming sci-fi odyssey No Man's Sky, and it's what will see the game well past its launch this summer. While eager to set out into a digital space that's populated with 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 unique planets, most gamers have expressed patience as developers march toward the release.
Silicon Valley Debates Thiel's Money Man Role in Gawker Suit
May 31, 2016
The digital media world was abuzz last week when news surfaced that billionaire Peter Thiel had provided financial backing for a defamation lawsuit against Gawker Media. The suit stemmed from Gawker's publication of a sex tape involving ex-WWE superstar Terry Bollea, better known as "Hulk Hogan." A Florida jury awarded Bollea $140 million in March.
The Rise of Drone Racing, Part 2
May 31, 2016
With lucrative broadcast deals and cup competitions now crowding calendars, drone racing has become one of the primary factors driving the surge in demand for consumer drones. Mountain Dew and DR1 Racing earlier this month announced a special DR1 Invitational presented by Mountain Dew. The one-hour broadcast will air on Discovery Communication's Discovery and Science channels in August.
Gadget Ogling: A Homier Google, Flicking Lamps, and Busy Earbuds
May 27, 2016
Taking a page or 10 out of Amazon Echo's book, Home is a blend of a smart speaker and a personal assistant, which you control using your voice. It can handle the types of queries Google Now and its successor, Google Assistant, can take on -- from simple questions like what's on your schedule for the day to more complex ones about the history of your favorite sports team.
Coalition Wants FCC to Look Into Data Cap Exemptions
May 27, 2016
A coalition of technology companies and advocacy groups earlier this week wrote to the Federal Communications Commission, urging it to open a public investigation into zero-rating practices, in which mobile providers allow some video or music providers to be excluded from data caps. The group called on the FCC to examine the zero-rating practices to determine whether they harm competition.
Facebook Tweaks Trending Topics Out of Abundance of Caution
May 26, 2016
Facebook this week said it would make several procedural changes to its Trending Topics feature to quell concerns that the results could be steered in a particular political direction, even though it has found no evidence of bias. The company will retrain workers in the Trending Topics department and institute additional oversight and control to make sure trending stories are selected fairly.
Tiny HopperGo Neatly Stashes Loads of Mobile Entertainment
May 26, 2016
Dish Network continues to change the way we view recorded TV. It made location-shifting as easy as time-shifting via its Sling technology, and its Hopper let users transfer recordings to a mobile device. Now it has introduced another option for taking recorded content anywhere: the HopperGO, a compact DVR hard disk drive that lets users transfer content from a set-top box to the portable unit.
OnePlus Offers Free Headsets to Lure Crowd to VR Smartphone Launch
May 25, 2016
The 30,000 virtual reality headsets OnePlus announced it would give away as part the unveiling of its OnePlus 3 smartphone were snapped up Monday, the day they became available. OnePlus has set up a VR space called "The Loop" in which it will unveil the OnePlus 3. The Loop can be accessed only by users of the OnePlus Loop VR headsets, made by AntVR.
Oculus Riles Users Over Piracy Block That Fails Anyway
May 25, 2016
It took a hacker just a day to come up with a workaround for the platform update Oculus released last week, which blocked users from running the company's games on rival virtual reality systems. Version 1.4 of the Oculus App blocked a hack from LibreVR called "Revive" that allowed users to play Oculus games on rival systems, including the HTC Vive and Valve.
Versatile iBot Wheelchair to Make a Comeback
May 24, 2016
Toyota and DEKA Research and Development last week announced an agreement that will revive development of the iBot, a wheelchair that can climb stairs. The companies revealed their pact to develop mobility solutions for the disabled community at the annual convention of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. One of the first initiatives under the agreement will be to resurrect the iBot.
The Rise of Drone Racing, Part 1
May 24, 2016
Tearing through open spaces and timing each turn to burst out of them, a seeming continuum of drones weaves through a set of obstacles lap after lap, until the stutter of a pilot's joystick breaks the cadence of this competitive concert and destroys the illusion. It's the drama -- anticipating and reacting to those human moments -- that has propelled drone racing to the spotlight.
Google's New Custom Chip May Not Live Up to the Hype
May 23, 2016
Google last week announced the Tensor Processing Unit, a custom application-specific integrated circuit, at Google I/O. TPU was built for machine learning applications and has been running in Google's data centers for more than a year. Google's AlphaGo software, which thrashed an 18-time international Go champion in a match earlier this year, ran on servers using TPUs.
Vendors Gain Congressional Support on IT Pricing
May 23, 2016
Selling information technology to the U.S. government is never easy, and it's even harder when a vendor cannot highlight the qualitative differences it believes separates its competencies from other providers competing for the same work. Yet a major contracting tool federal agencies use in seeking IT products and services tends to smother those differences in skills and competencies.
Hyperloop Dreams Are Getting Real
May 21, 2016
The Hyperloop -- the high-speed transportation concept Elon Musk has promoted heavily -- is edging closer to becoming a reality. Russia plans to develop a Hyperloop network for freight transportation, the country's transport minister announced Friday. MIT last week unveiled its Hyperloop Pod, a prototype of its award-winning design concept intended for human travelers.
Google Patents Tech to Limit Injuries in Vehicle-Pedestrian Accidents
May 20, 2016
The United States Patent and Trademark Office earlier this week granted Google a patent for "Adhesive Vehicle Front End For Mitigation of Secondary Pedestrian Impact." The patent application, filed a year and a half ago, credits Google employees Alex Khaykin and Daniel Lynn Larner as the inventors of the new technology. This latest patent grant is for "a system for protecting a colliding object from a secondary impact."
Google Challenges Right to Be Forgotten in French High Court
May 20, 2016
Google on Thursday filed an appeal with France's supreme administrative court over an order from a privacy regulator requiring it to scrub certain search results around the world under a law called "the right to be forgotten." The March order from the CNIL requires Google and other search engines to delist the information of Europeans that shows up in searches for their name.
Gadget Ogling: Speedy Tortillas, Racing Robots, and Real-Time 3D
May 20, 2016
Flatev is a pod-based system for instant tortillas in the mold of a Keurig coffee maker. Insert a pod of fresh dough -- you have several choices, all organic -- then adjust settings for type of dough and desired crispiness, and 90 seconds later you'll have a fresh, warm tortilla. There's a heated drawer to keep your tortillas warm while you make as many as you need.
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Live streaming video...
is the next big thing.
is a passing fad.
will dramatically improve citizen journalism.
will feed a lot more disturbing imagery to the Web.
doesn't interest me.