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Gadget Ogling: Equalized Eardrums, Holographic Pyramids and Live-Streaming Ovens
June 13, 2015
Aumeo is an attachment that's all about fine-tuning your earphones to better hear anything you listen to on your smartphone, tablet or other audio-emitting gadget. Using a smartphone app, it tests how well you can hear a number of different frequencies and provides you with a personal equalizer attuned to each of your ears. The sound fidelity supposedly is far better.
Synaptics Gives Spacebar Some New Touches
June 12, 2015
Touchpad pioneer Synaptics has touched up an unlikely area on a keyboard: the spacebar. The company last week announced the availability of its SmartBar technology, which adds gesture features to the bar. For example, text can be selected by swiping it. A double-thumb gesture can be used to zoom in and out on a document or image. SmartBar also includes gesture support for vertical scrolling.
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.
Microsoft's Surface Hub Aims to Unify the Enterprise
June 11, 2015
Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled the Surface Hub, a large-screen device meant to dramatically improve business collaboration. The interactive display marries white boards with presentations, voice with video, speakers with addressees, Android with iOS, and Windows 10 with conference rooms. The Surface Hubs will go on sale July 1 at $6,999 for the 55-inch model and $19,999 for the 84-inch version.
Gadget Ogling: A Speaker-Stuffed Tablet Case, a Soothing Wearable, and Earbuds for the Real World
June 9, 2015
Asus' new ZenPad 8.0 aims to end the scourge of tablets with terrible sound. Its interchangeable cover design gives users several functional options. One is the Audio Cover, which bumps up sound quality by tucking a 5.1 surround-sound system inside. Its six speakers, including a subwoofer, promise to significantly improve the tablet experience of watching video and listening to music.
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.
Amazon Seeks Talent for Ambitious PC Game
June 8, 2015
Amazon on Monday announced a casting call through a sponsored article in a gaming publication. The company is looking for talent to join Amazon Game Studios to help develop "an ambitious PC game project." Amazon Game Studios initially was viewed as a way to fuel Amazon's Fire lines of mobile devices, but it now appears the company is trying its hand at developing AAA video games.
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.
The Perils of Employees' Trade Secret Plundering
June 8, 2015
Sometimes before new employees leave their jobs to join your company, they copy valuable company secret information onto portable thumb drives or they send that information to their personal webmail accounts. As the new employer, you may be hiring those employees because they have valuable information -- yet you don't want to be targeted by a lawsuit, along with the employees.
The Best Unsung Features of Windows 10
June 8, 2015
There are things about working with large companies that can be really frustrating. For instance, when both Windows Vista and Windows 8 were coming to market, a number of us pointed out that things needed to be fixed before the product was released, but we were ignored, with catastrophic results. This time, however, Windows 10 is looking better than any OS I've ever reviewed.
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?
Fallout 4 Trailer Lets Waiting Fans Exhale
June 3, 2015
The last second has since ticked off the countdown timer on the teaser site, and Fallout 4's official website has gone live. Fallout 4's confirmation on Wednesday may have invoked more feelings of relief than surprise. Even before the teaser site went up, gamers looking for another loot-and-shoot role-playing game have been demanding a followup to 2010's Fallout: New Vegas.
Auto Grade Linux Steers Closer to an In-Car Infotainment Standard
June 3, 2015
Automotive Grade Linux on Monday announced the industry's first open in-vehicle infotainment, or IVI, software specification requirements. The release of AGL Requirements Specification 1.0 is a major milestone. It moves the auto industry toward adoption of a de facto platform that uses open source development methodologies to create a safe and reliable connected-car experience.
AT&T May Leave Anti-Net Neutrality Ranks
June 3, 2015
AT&T has just revealed what it would take for it to change its stance on Net neutrality: regulators' approval of its purchase of DirecTV. The company has offered to accept the rules adopted by the FCC early this year, according to reports. It was just last month that the FCC denied petitions from a slew of companies -- including AT&T -- to delay its implementation of the rules.
Doppler Labs Kickstarts 'Bionic Ear'
June 3, 2015
Doppler Labs on Tuesday launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Here Active Listening system, which takes noise-canceling technology to a new level. Unlike typical noise-canceling headphones, Here's Bluetooth earbuds allow a listener to customize ambient sound, not just block it out. Paired with a smartphone app, Here can be used to control volume, mix sounds and even add effects.
Scrappy Hound Stalks Siri and Cortana
June 2, 2015
SoundHound on Tuesday launched a private beta of Hound -- a personal assistant similar to Siri, Google Now and Cortana -- and began fielding requests for invites. SoundHound built its music ID service on voice and pattern recognition technologies. In developing Hound, SoundHound has retrofitted that technology's framework with what it calls its "Speech-to-Meaning" engine.
Feds' Photobucket Strategy Could Hobble White Hats
June 2, 2015
There's a new twist in the way feds are seeking to penalize bad actors for making and distributing software used in crimes, suggest recent arrests by Justice Department and FBI officials. "There's a more concerted campaign to go after go after those folks who are distributing in the underground," said Tom Kellermann, chief cybersecurity officer at Trend Micro.
Nintendo Scotches Android Console Rumor
June 2, 2015
Nintendo not only has embraced the idea of releasing its iconic intellectual properties for mobile devices, but also is planning to base its next videogame console on a version of the Android operating system, according to a Japanese-language business publication. The publication claimed an inside source revealed that Nintendo's next console, code named "NX," will run on Android.
Senate Ready to Rumble Over Freedom Act Amendments
June 2, 2015
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted to close debate on the USA Freedom Act, a measure that would prohibit the NSA from the indiscriminate collection Americans' phone call data. The bill already has passed in the House. However, the brawling over the bill is not quite over. The Senate has yet to address several proposed amendments to the legislation before voting on it later on Tuesday.
Google's Cardboard May Help Build Strong VR Foundation
June 1, 2015
It's a whimsical approach to virtual reality, but Google's Cardboard VR platform breaks down the barriers of entry and allows consumers to bring their own devices to the movement. "I think [Cardboard] will help with the general popularity of VR," said Marxent CEO Beck Besecker, "but I think the folks that are really going to gravitate to VR are going to want a high-quality experience."
Gadget Ogling: Casting Discs, Scent-uous Sunrises and Surfing Without Waves
May 30, 2015
Media streaming is becoming an ever-crowded market thanks to players like Chromecast, Sling, Apple TV and Roku. We can add another player to the mix with Lenovo Cast, which will become available in August. The puck-shaped accessory can stream 1080p video to your TV from your smartphone, tablet or computer. What's compelling about this is it can display just about anything you have on your smartphone.
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.
Google's I/O Steers Devs to Photos, IoT, Maps and More
May 28, 2015
Google on Thursday kicked off its I/O developers conference with the introduction of a new app for better managing, organizing and storing photos, as well as an Android spinoff for the Internet of Things, and an offline feature for Maps. The new Google Photo application allows shutterbugs to back up photos automatically from any device to a personal home site on the Net.

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