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Handsome American soldier behind his computer -talking on the phone

Watson supercomputer has a new and very important job, one that's a lot different from beating Jeopardy champions or whipping up BBQ sauce recipes: helping vets return to normal life. IBM has recently formed a partnership with the USAA (the financial services firm for soldiers and their families) to create an app that can answer ex-soldiers' questions about finances and the like. For instance, a vet could ask Watson how he can get a job, what his benefits are, what his insurance covers or what the GI Bill entails. Even though Watson's been wearing many hats for years, this is the first time anyone developed a consumer app based on the supercomputer. This app pulls data from more than 3,000 documents that deal with military transitions, in hopes of making things easier for the 155,000 soldiers who retire from service every year.

[Image credit: Getty/Mie Ahmt]

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Taking a payment on a Square Reader attached to an iPhone

Consumers have been automating apps with IFTTT (If This Then That) for awhile by, say, backing up Instagram photos to Dropbox whenever they snap a photo. Now, businesses will be able to take advantage of IFTTT directly from the Square mobile payment app. For instance, rather than just yelling "Booyah!," a company can send out a company-wide congratulatory email after closing a huge deal. Similarly, a text alert can be issued to team members to follow up a customer refund -- all of which can be pre-programmed into IFTTT. It'll also work with services like Google Drive, Twitter and SMS, to name just a few. Hopefully companies won't abuse it -- we'd hate to see a tweet after buying a particularly sensitive item.

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It may sound blindingly obvious to avoid flying a UAV around America's foremost military academy. But not all drone no-fly zones are as obvious as West Point, which is why Mapbox has just issued an interactive US map showing where all of them are. Included are things like national defense bases, airports, nuclear power plants and recent additions like national parks. As Wired pointed out, many clearly off-limit zones like Lawrence Livermore's Berkley lab still aren't listed, but if you notice one you can add it to an open-source page on GitHub. Meanwhile, all commercial drone flights are still banned, unless noted otherwise by the FAA. For hobbyists, however, they sky's the limit -- just stay out of the red zones.

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One of the best uses for wearable technology is to help you get around without being hunched over your smartphone. Google Glass and smartwatches do this, but you're still staring at a screen instead of enjoying the scenery. That's all set to change thanks to an Indian company that wants to put navigation equipment in your shoes. The Lechal interactive haptic footwear hooks up to your smartphone and when you reach a junction, vibrates the left (or right) foot depending on which turn you need to make. The gear is expected to launch in September, and you'll be able to choose between full shoes or just insoles that'll fit inside your regular pair of kicks. You can register your interest on Ducere's website right now, and can expect to pay $150 for a pair -- hopefully a portion of which will go to the creators of Red Dwarf, who came up with a similar idea 26 years ago.

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When it came to life on Mars, NASA might have struck out, but it's got a good feeling about Europa. The agency is working on a probe designed to scan its vast oceans for signs of alien life, but there's a problem, namely the thick layer of ice that covers the moon's surface.That's where VALKYRIE comes in, a torpedo-shaped robot that'll suck up water, warm it and fire it back into the ice to quickly and easily drill through the layer. Once the hardware reaches its destination, it'll release a swarm of smaller 'bots that'll map the geography and hunt for alien microbes. There's still a few issues to work out with the gear, like the fact that it can't properly change course while tunneling, which would be pretty essential if it were to come across a rock or other blockage. Then again, given that we won't be ready to launch a mission to Jupiter's moon until the early 2020's, NASA's got some time to fix the problems.

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Why yes, here's yet another fitness band from China! Just two days after Xiaomi's $13 Mi Band, ZTE will no doubt have a hard time getting attention for its awkwardly named Grand Band. The company's second smart wearable device reminds us of the Nike+ FuelBand with its dot-matrix LED screen plus the positioning of its sole button, but it uses an adjustable snap-on strap instead of the latter's fixed-size type. As you'd expect, the 14mm-thick, shower-friendly band packs all the common features: pedometer (with distance and calorie calculator), sleep monitor and smart alarm. Better yet, it's compatible with all Bluetooth 4.0 host devices running on iOS or Android 4.3 and above. The Grand Band will be launched in China first next month, and as a "reasonable, affordable premium" product, ZTE hinted that it'll be priced somewhere around the common 800 yuan ($130) to 1,000 yuan ($160) tier. Hmm, looks like we'll stick with Xiaomi's cheaper and slimmer device -- only if we can even get hold of one. Hands-on video after the break.

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Google New Laptop

Last month Google said that it was tired of mashed-together bug fixes for OpenSSL and decided to create its own fork called BoringSSL. It has now implemented that variant in the latest Chromium build, the open-source software that eventually arrives in Chrome. OpenSSL is software used for secure connections -- created largely by volunteers -- and an overlooked code problem recently caused the infamous Heartbleed bug. When BoringSSL was first announced, there was some grumbling from the security community about yet another flavor of SSL. But Google said that with over 70 patches now in OpenSSL, it was becoming much too unwieldy to implement in Chrome. It added that it wasn't trying to replace OpenSSL and would continue to send any of its own bug fixes to that group. It'll likely be implemented in the next version of Chrome, but you'll be able try the beta soon here, if you're feeling lucky.

[Image credit: AP/Mark Lennihan]

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We're not sure how many of the new Oculus Rift VR kits have shipped out to developers already, but it looks like a healthy amount are in San Diego right now. That's where Comic-Con is happening this week and, following the X-Men VR demo we already heard about, Legendary Pictures and Oculus have teamed up for Pacific Rim: Jaeger Pilot. It lets attendees take control of the 250-foot tall Jaeger "Gipsy Danger" (no drift connection necessary) and do battle in a virtual reality combat simulator against the kaiju Knifehead (the first one you see in the movie). The whole experience is built in Unreal Engine 4 using the same assets Industrial Light & Magic worked with for the movie. Sure, you've seen the movie, and maybe even in IMAX 3D, but we're pretty sure even Guillermo del Toro's directing tricks can't add up to feeling like you're there, fighting an 8,700 ton monster off the coast of Alaska. It's all in Legendary's booth #3920 for all four days the show is open, from Thursday through Sunday. Don't have a ticket? There's a video preview embedded after the break, but it can't compare to diving into a VR world with Oculus -- maybe we'll be able to enjoy it at home by April 2017 when Pacific Rim 2 arrives.

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Crossbar's resistive RAM

You may think that the 3GB of memory in your new smartphone is hot stuff, but that pales in comparison with what Rice University has in store. Its scientists have detailed a form of resistive RAM (RRAM) that can be made using regular equipment at room temperatures, making it practical for everyday gadgets. The trick is the use of porous silicon oxide where metals (such as gold or platinum) fill the gaps. Using the silicon material doesn't just give manufacturers something familiar to work with; it requires much less power than previous techniques, can last through 100 times as many uses and isn't fazed by heat. It's also far denser than earlier RRAM, storing nine bits per cell where even conventional flash storage stops at three. The result should be an easy-to-make RAM chip with the kind of capacity that you'd normally expect from much larger permanent storage, like an SSD -- as the company Crossbar hinted when it first discussed this approach, you could stuff 1TB into a component the size of a postage stamp.

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