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For its crazy 2020 asteroid capture mission and other projects, NASA is developing next-gen "Hall effect thrusters" to corral an asteroid and put it into the moon's orbit. At the same time, the European Space Agency (ESA) is trying to improve its own Hall thrusters to power future missions. If you're wondering what the heck they are, Hall effect motors are a type of ion thruster that produce a tiny 0.7 pounds of force, or the weight of 54 US quarters, according to NASA. However, they're much more efficient than standard rockets, and if run long enough, can power a spaceship to speeds as high as 112,000 mph. So how do they actually work?

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Dual is more than a retro-styled space shooter. It's even more than a mobile game, and if developer Sebastian Gosztyla has his way, it's more than a video game, period. He wants Dual to be a catalyst for physical interaction. Dual is a two-player, cross-platform competition designed to get players moving in the real world, even as they sling reams of geometrical bullets from their mobile screens and onto friends' in real time.

"It requires people to be aware of both screens in order to get a full picture of everything," Gosztyla says. "This makes the players' bodies become part of the experience. They become aware of their proximity and movements to each other, and create rules about how to play. I have seen people hide screens, get a little physical, use their height as an advantage or just turn around and ignore the other screen altogether."

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Japan Sony Olympus

Kaz Hirai's plans to save Sony have run from integrating its many disparate business units through to just selling off everything, even the stuff that's nailed down. Now, the company is getting rid of half of its stake in Olympus in the hope of raising some extra cash for "growth investments." Sony took a $645 million stake in the one-time rival back in 2012 as an attempt to get in on Olympus' lucrative medical imaging business -- which was spun off into a joint venture. Sony may no longer be Olympus' biggest shareholder, but the pair will still collaborate on healthcare and imaging devices. Someone should tell Hirai that he'd better spend this money wisely -- he's running out of things to sell.

[Image Credit: Koji Sasahara/Associated Press]

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White House seen through the gate

US authorities can't officially punish hackers in many countries, but they now have a way to hit those digital criminals where it hurts the most: their bank accounts. President Obama has signed an executive order that lets the Secretary of the Treasury impose sanctions on both foreign cyberattackers and those that knowingly support their activities, whether they're individuals or groups. If the Attorney General and Secretary of State deem these intruders to be major economic or security threats, the Treasury can freeze their assets and make it tougher to carry out (or profit from) their operations.

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If at all possible, we like to keep our router and hub count down to a nice round number of "one." That's the idea behind a pair of new models from Almond which eliminate the need to have both a smarthome hub and router by combing them into one device. The Almond+ and Almond 2015 both support ZigBee home automation, letting you program security camera, lights or lawn sprinkler automation on the built-in touchscreens. They both also function as full-featured routers, with high-powered amplifiers and extender/bridge/access point functionality in case the main router can't reach a corner of your sprawling mansion.

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Powers is the first series to come from Sony PlayStation's original programming push, a partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment, and it's not rated "E" for everyone. With comic books as its source material, the racy superhero cop drama from creator Brian Michael Bendis is a custom fit for the PlayStation user base, especially users that pony up $50/year for Sony's PlayStation Plus subscription service. And it's that particular demographic the PlayStation group is keen to pursue with any future projects. "We are a gaming company, so we want to do what's best for gaming and for our gamers," says PlayStation VP of Platform Marketing John Koller. "We're going to make a decision here after we see how Powers does. But whatever we do, it'll be very centered on the gamer and the gaming audience and what caters best to them."

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Alex Garland is no stranger to science fiction. As the writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, he's given us his own unique spin on the zombie apocalypse and a last-ditch effort to save the Earth (by nuking the sun!). Now, with his directorial debut, Ex Machina, Garland is taking on artificial intelligence -- and in the process, he shows the limits of the Turing test, the most common method for determining if something is truly sentient. The film centers on a young programmer who's sent to his genius CEO's isolated compound to test his latest invention: an artificially intelligent robot. Things, as you can imagine, don't go as planned.

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Verizon Reports Drop In Fourth Quarter Earnings

Hey there Verizon subscribers, remember that whole "supercookie" ordeal from not too long ago? Well, it looks like it's time to put that mess behind us because the ability to wholly opt out of said tracking system is finally available, according to The New York Times. That's right, the undeletable, unique identifier header is basically a thing of the past once you either opt out on Big Red's website or call 1-866-211-0874. Seems pretty good, right? It is, but it's a half-measure -- this sort of thing should be opt-in, not the other way around. Privacy advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are pushing Verizon to reverse that, or, hopefully, discontinue the supercookie program altogether. Given how big our digital footprints can get, having an automatic way to shrink them even just a little would probably come as welcome news for practically anyone.

[Image credit: Getty Images]

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Tidal windmilled its way into music streaming relevance this week when it relaunched under the stewardship of its new owner, Jay Z. Apart from strong celebrity endorsement, Tidal's main selling point is a $20 premium tier offering lossless (non compressed) audio/music. To convince you over to that pricier package, Tidal has a test: listen to five songs, switch between the regular and high quality versions, and pick which one you think warrants the extra $10 a month. The prize? Two weeks free trial to Tidal. The problem is... you can get a 30 day trial just by signing up?

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Earlier this year culture critic Anita Sarkeesian outlined her plan for the coming months, and those included new episodes of her YouTube series Tropes vs. Women in Games. Some would take a different approach, though, including a look at positive depictions of women in interactive media. The first of those videos went live today and it's all about Superbrothers Sword and Sworcery's protagonist, The Scythian. It's a thoughtful look at one of the most stylish games in recent memory, exploring exactly what makes her such a strong character. It's a direct response to the common refrain from her most vocal detractors that all she does is highlight the bad in games, and as per usual it's a pretty great video overall; check it out just below.

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