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PCs May Not Be Ready for VR's Breakout Year
January 5, 2016
Will 2016 be a breakaway year for virtual reality technology? Exhibitors at CES 2016 this week seem to think so. More than three dozen of them will be flogging their VR wares at the show, more than double the number from last year. "2016 will be the year of VR," said Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner. "That's pretty clear with all the hardware that's going to be coming on the market."
Human Computation May Be Key to Solving World's Wicked Problems
January 5, 2016
Combining human and computer intelligence could help solve the world's most vexing problems, researchers envisioned in an article published Monday in the journal Science. Researchers from Cornell University and the Human Computation Institute want more humans to help out in accelerating research and finding solutions to life's most difficult problems, such as cancer, HIV and climate change.
Zuckerberg Resolves to Invent, Encourages Girls to Invent Too
January 5, 2016
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's 2016 resolution to challenge himself outside his work is to build a simple artificial intelligence assistant to run his home and help him do a better job juggling his business responsibilities. "You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in 'Iron Man,'" he suggested. Zuckerberg first will explore the available technology, then train it to understand his voice to control everything in his home.
FTC Debates Cybersecurity Injury Standard
January 5, 2016
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is engaged in an internal struggle over how it should assess the effect on consumers when businesses fail to provide proper e-commerce security. The outcome of the debate will have a significant impact on the FTC's ability to initiate cybersecurity violation cases. The legal issue could spill over to federal courts or even Congress for resolution.
The Future of Deliveries Will Be Driverless
January 5, 2016
Thanks to Google, self-driving passenger cars have gained a lot of media attention, but the immediate future of driverless vehicles may lie in home deliveries. Starship Technologies in 2016 will launch two pilot projects -- one in the UK and one in the U.S. -- to test a driverless vehicle designed to make short-distance deliveries. The vehicle can carry loads equivalent to two bags of groceries.
GM Deal Buoys Lyft
January 4, 2016
General Motors has agreed to invest $500 million in Lyft, and the companies will work together to develop an integrated network of autonomous vehicles, they said in a joint announcement on Monday. As part of the agreement, GM will become a preferred provider of short-term vehicles to Lyft customers, and it will provide them with its OnStar vehicle location services.
Gadget Ogling: A Smart Home Hub, a Tiny Drone, and a Whispering Camera
January 4, 2016
LG's SmartThinq Hub seeks to bring together all of your connected appliances and smart sensors under one roof. As extras, it sprinkles on top music streaming, through radio stations or whatever you happen to play on your smartphone -- and reminders, through its 3.5-inch display. The hub can monitor and control robot vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, ovens and air conditioners, among other things.
Hats Off to Chapeau Linux's Better Fedora Concept
January 4, 2016
The Chapeau project's latest version arrived last month and is a good choice for enterprise users who want something a step above the traditional Fedora distro. An iconic Linux distro, Fedora is a very popular choice in enterprise shops, but it's less than ideal for home and SMB use without an IT staff to make it work. That is where Chapeau 23 comes to the rescue.
Home Broadband Use Falls as Consumers Go Mobile
January 4, 2016
A recent Pew Research Center study found that adoption of traditional high-speed Internet in the U.S. has fallen to 67 percent, the lowest level since 2012. More consumers were using mobile phones, the study found. Thirteen percent of respondents said they were smartphone-only customers, compared with 8 percent in 2013. Fifteen percent said they have cut the cord on cable and satellite TV.
CES Insanity in 2016: The Cannabis Defense
January 4, 2016
CES is probably the best example that folks who work around tech are just a tad insane. While no big product has yet emerged, there will be a ton of crazy stuff to see. Yes, there will be robots, smartwatches, tablets, PCs, smart appliances, exoskeletons, body monitors, head thumpers, drones, self-driving cars, augmented reality, virtual reality, holographics, 3D printers, and a ton of junk.
Security Execs Sweat Insider Threats
December 31, 2015
Insider threats are becoming increasingly worrisome to corporate security executives. That is one of the findings in a survey of C-level businesspeople Nuix released last week. "The insider threat seems to be a bigger concern this year than it was in previous years," said Nuix's Keith Lowry. "People are recognizing that it is a significant weakness that has yet to be fully addressed."
Smart Homes Meet Connected Cars: X Marks the Spot
December 29, 2015
Several factors have contributed to the sudden expansion of connected car services available or coming to the market, notably the expansion of mobile broadband networks, high penetration of smartphones, and automakers' re-evaluation of connected services as a competitive advantage. Crossover between connected car and smart home ecosystems offers a unique opportunity for the ecosystem players.
Gadget Ogling: Streaming Socks, a High-Powered Hoverboard, and a Vigilant Vacuum
December 29, 2015
Finally, a pair of socks I would not be ever-so-slightly disappointed to find among my gifts on Christmas morning. Netflix has released some designs for socks that can stop streaming the show or movie you're streaming if you should nod off. The socks detect when you've stopped moving for a long period and hit the pause button. If you're still awake, you can wiggle your big toe to halt the action.
Looking Ahead to 2016
December 28, 2015
Next week is CES, and I am so looking forward to coming home from that show. It used to be a lot of fun, but it covers such a massive amount of space that just getting around takes up much of the time. Given that most folks do prebriefings if they are smart, and that most of the really cool stuff is behind closed doors and not on the show floor, every year I question the intelligence of going.
Move Over, FedEx - Here Comes Amazon
December 26, 2015
Amazon has been negotiating a lease for 20 Boeing 767 jets as it executes on plans to start its own air cargo business, according to recent reports. It launched a pilot of the service in Wilmington, Ohio, where Air Transport Services Group, or ATSG, has been managing airfreight on Amazon's behalf. ATSG reportedly moved into the Wilmington Air Park under contract with an unnamed company.
10 Things on an Apple Fan's 2016 Wish List
December 22, 2015
When your favorite consumer tech company is also the best consumer tech company in the world, and said tech company is generally a magnet for hyperbole and blind customer loyalty -- while also producing more products at higher levels of quality than ever before -- what's left to really wish for? Plenty, it turns out. I'm not talking about a new Apple car or even any special new product category.
Video Game Downloads May Eclipse Physical Format Sales
December 21, 2015
Sales of video games via downloads may surpass physical copies for the first time this holiday season. However, games in physical formats continue to dominate sales overall. "New physical software represented 67 percent of spending for the 12 months ending September 2015, with digital downloads and DLC representing the remaining 33 percent," said Liam Callahan, games industry analyst at NPD Group.
2015: Looking Back at an Amazing Year
December 21, 2015
I'm kind of surprised it took us so long to figure out that an iPod-like product with a Siri-like voice interface would be a massive hit in the home. As I write this, the numbers suggest the breakout product this holiday is the Amazon Echo. It once again showcases that if you create something that is plug-and-play easy and does at least one thing folks want to do well, it will be a hit.
Gadget Ogling: Long-Lasting Smartphones, Burglar-Busting Drones, and Ski-Obsessed Sensors
December 19, 2015
If the dream for many in the modern world is to have a smartphone that never needs a charge, Oukitel's K10000 is a pretty good runner-up. The smartphone is named for its 10,000mAh battery. When subjected to "normal" use, it's good for 10 to 15 days between charges. Given that many smartphones will need some extra juice after around 10 hours of typical use, that seems a tall order.
California's Proposed Rules Could Stop Google Car in Its Tracks
December 18, 2015
The California Department of Motor Vehicles on Thursday proposed rules for autonomous vehicles, and Google isn't happy about one of the provisions. The new rules for autonomous autos were presented for public commentary. The DMV has invited the public to weigh in on the proposal in two workshops, one in Sacramento and the other in Los Angeles, early next year.
Congress Passes Budget Bill With Controversial Cybersecurity Provision
December 18, 2015
Congress on Friday passed an omnibus budget bill that included the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA. The Senate earlier this year passed CIS, which many conservative and liberal politicians, high-tech firms, and privacy and civil liberty advocates oppose. The latest version includes amendments that will allow corporations to share customers' information with the government.
WhatsApp Brouhaha Breaks Out in Brazil
December 17, 2015
A Brazilian judge on Thursday lifted the ban a different judge had imposed on WhatsApp hours earlier, according to reports. It did not seem reasonable to affect millions of users to penalize Facebook, WhatsApp's owner, for failing to cooperate with judicial rulings, the judge reportedly said, suggesting that the imposition of a larger fine would have been more appropriate.
Three Charged in Hacking Case That Spammed 60M
December 17, 2015
Federal prosecutors in New Jersey on Tuesday charged three men in a $2 million identity theft scheme to hack corporate computer systems and blast spam messages to more than 60 million people. The defendants face up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines on wire fraud charges, and up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines on email and computer conspiracy charges.
Musk and Friends Launch OpenAI
December 16, 2015
The aim of OpenAI is to use artificial intelligence to benefit society. The fledgling project has drawn $1 billion in funding from some of high tech's most recognizable names to help it achieve that goal. Investors include SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, Y Combinator founding partner Jessica Livingston and President Sam Altman and AWS.
Seattle Lets Ride-Sharing Drivers Unionize
December 16, 2015
The Seattle City Council this week approved an ordinance that will allow drivers for Uber and Lyft to form unions, becoming the first U.S. city to pass such legislation. The City Council voted 9-0 in favor of the ordinance, which doesn't require the mayor's signature to pass. Drivers for Uber and other ride-sharing networks are classified as independent contractors, like taxi drivers.
Star Citizen's Second Alpha Hurtles Past $100M Landmark
December 16, 2015
Racking in more than 200 times its original asking price, the crowdfunded space simulator Star Citizen recently reached a landmark 100 million in backer dollars. At the same time, developer Cloud Imperium released version 2.0 of the game's Alpha build. It's billed as the biggest Star Citizen update yet. The update puts to use the Star Citizen's multi-crew component.
Samsung's S7 May Fall Just Shy of Innovation
December 15, 2015
Samsung's forthcoming Galaxy S7 smartphone will have several new features, including a pressure-sensitive display like the one available on the iPhone 6s, according to a report published Monday. The S7 also will have a USB Type-C port, which will make for faster charging; a camera optimized for low-light photography; and possibly a retina scanner and an external memory card slot in some versions.
AI Programmed to Learn at Human Speed
December 15, 2015
Researchers have created a computational model that enables artificial intelligence to learn the way humans do, according to an article published last week. The model gives AI the ability to recognize handwritten alphabetical characters as fast as humans can. Researchers reversed engineered the way people address problems and built an AI algorithm for that approach.
Bad Batteries May Cause Hoverboard Craze to Flame Out
December 14, 2015
Amazon has pulled some of this holiday season's most popular gifts from its website amid safety concerns, according to reports that surfaced Monday. It apparently stopped selling several brands of electric self-balancing scooters -- aka "hoverboards" -- including the Swagway. The move comes on the heels of last week's news that several airlines no longer would allow the devices on flights.
The Trouble With Hoverboards and Lithium-Ion Batteries
December 14, 2015
As I'm writing this, a few more hoverboards have caught fire, and they now are banned on most domestic airlines, suggesting that shipping these things fast could be a problem. Australia even has put out a specific warning on hoverboards. The biggest problem is that a lithium ion fire in a large battery pack like this could burn down your house, and that would be an ugly end to holiday festivities.
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