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The Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts just got a high-tech installation to help keep their students from getting lost around campus: a three-dimensional map that talks. Its miniature Monopoly-like buildings and other elements (which were 3D printed, by the way) are coated in conductive paint, so they can recognize when they're being touched. If someone does, the map will announce the building's or any other structure's name along with directions on how to get there. Some areas feature sound effects, as well -- a fountain gurgles, for instance, while a bell tower rings. Plus, it has a three-button menu that one can use to browse a spoken list of locations.

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While some high profile Google projects (*cough Glass*) have been withering on the vine, Project Loon is a bright spot and even has a carrier partner. Mountain View says it can now autofill the internet-enabling, weather-tracking balloons in five minutes and launch up to 20 a day. They also last up to ten times longer than early versions, letting them stay in the stratosphere for over 100 days. Google chalked up the improvements to better quality control, like having workers wear fluffy socks (!) when walking on the skin to reduce wear. The search giant added that it can hit a target spot within a mile over a 6,000 mile journey to give better WiFi coverage to users. To see how much things have changed, check the recent balloon launch (above) against a 2013 launch (below).

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"Who would win in a fight?" is the lighthearted crux of the Super Smash Bros. series, and it's impressive how extensive that conversation has become. Pitting beloved video game characters in unlikely rivalries seems as amusing as it did during the series' 1999 debut, especially when it involves a mix of iconic faces and left-field picks. With fresh contenders, several new competition types and a lite resemblance of Pokémon training in the form of Amiibos, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a meaty talking point that proves the "Who's the best?" debate is still well worth having.

Smash's bouts remain layered –- newcomers can focus on throwing basic attacks by combining button presses with tilts of the joystick, learning deep-cut mastery of evasions and timing in-air knockouts as they add matches to their career. Whatever nuances your play style adopts, everyone's victory involves launching opponents from shared platforms, heaping damage on them to make banishing them to the oblivion beyond the screen's edges more feasible.

Click here for the full review!

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samsung-smart-tv-amazon-internet-video

Amazon is set to launch a free, ad-supported video service separate from its $99 Prime Instant Video offering, according to the New York Post. In case you're having deja vu, the WSJ reported exactly the same thing back in March and Amazon firmly denied it. However, the Post confidently said that the offering is now a definite "go." One of its sources for the rumor is a potential advertiser, which said Amazon would unveil the service in order to increase its video share against arch-rival Netflix -- and ultimately tempt users into Prime memberships.

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In this Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, photo, Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc., stands next to a server array of antennas as he holds an antenna between his fingers, in New York.  Aereo is one of several startups created to deliver traditional media over the Internet without licensing agreements. Past efforts have typically been rejected by courts as copyright violations. In Aereo’s case, the judge accepted the company’s legal reasoning, but with reluctance. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

When a company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it means that it's mere moments away from being torn to pieces by its creditors. That particular regulation also provides room for a turnaround, but given that the Supreme Court has essentially made its business model illegal, it's not looking good for Aereo. In a letter posted to the TV-streaming service's website, CEO Chet Kanojia tells former users that the challenges the company faced were "too difficult to overcome." In what can only be described as a farewell note, the CEO adds that he's hired restructuring expert Lawton Bloom, presumably to help sell off everything that isn't nailed down to pay off debt. So, farewell then Aereo, you tried to make watching TV easier and for that, you'll always have a place in our hearts.

[Image Credit: Bebeto Matthews / AP Photo]

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Wondering what that smell near the Civic Center is, San Francisco resident? As far as serious interactive maps go, Human Wasteland is one of the strangest we've seen. Created by civil-engineer-turned-web-developer Jennifer Wong, the project plots human excrement "incidents" reported by the public to SF311. Her project won a hacking contest put on by real estate site Zillow, an ironic honor considering the city's contentious housing issues. The highest concentration of crap is at a downtown alley next to the financial district, right in a high-traffic area frequented by tourists.

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drone, mistletoe

You're on a date at TGI Friday's, casually sipping your discount cocktail, trying to ignore the disappointed look on your partner's face as they attempt to cut into their overcooked steak. As if this situation wasn't awkward enough, the smooth sounds of the Billboard 100 playlist are interrupted by a high-pitched whining. A lone quadrocopter hovers above, dangling a collection of stale mistletoe leaves. Looking to make the best of a bad situation, you lean in for a kiss. Before you know it, it's profiteroles for one.

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bananas on and old vintage...

We've seen many people use food as 3D printer feed in the past, such as chocolates, candies and even ice cream. But can you imagine 3D printing anything using bananas? Sounds hard, if not, well, bananas -- but 3Digital Cooks' founder Luis Rodriguez Alcalde isn't one to shy away from a good challenge. So, for his latest project, he explored how to print out solid objects using banana mush and his self-designed extruder for 3D printers called PLYUMP. As you can imagine, pureed banana can't hold shape on its own, so Alcalde had to use potato starch as a thickener. His first attempt ended up lumpy and brownish, and honestly, quite terrifying to look at.

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Canadian flag in map

In addition to making excellent poutine and maple syrup, our friendly neighbors to the north are also pretty adept at prepping students for the future we live in too. The International Computer Literacy Study recently looked at 60,000 eighth graders from Ontario and assessed their proficiencies at copying and saving a document in addition to modifying info and using a handful of applications simultaneously. The CBC says this is the first international test of its kind, and that the Canucks scored 547 out of 600 in computer literacy -- much higher than the average score of 500. What's more, it's in a "statistical tie" with Australia and the Czech Republic for the top spot. If the CEO of the Education Quality and Accountability Office is to be believed, this is a direct result of Ontario's investments in putting technology in the classroom. Maybe SimCity can move into the Great White North's classroom and train up the next set of civil engineers, too.

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Well hello there, I'm Augustus Q. Moneybags, inventor of the word "Funtrepreneur" and thrillionaire owner of Military Industrial Complex LLC. Now, I may be an internationally loved businessman, y'see, but that doesn't mean I'm too good at calculatin' those ol' numbers, y'see. Now, however, I don't have to, since I've been using this software from the nerds over at investment bank Fidelity that runs on those Oculus Rift doohickeys. Strap it onto your face and you're magically transported to a world of skyscrapers, each one representin' a stock in your portfolio, y'see.

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