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As sales of satellite navigation units slowly dry up, TomTom is making the gentle transition into a fitness and wearables company. That's why the firm decided to smash up its existing range of bulky running watches in favor of a ground-up rebuild. The result is that TomTom is launching the Spark, which look pretty much like the previous generation of devices, albeit after a very good diet. The most notable addition to the range this year is Bluetooth music playback, although that's made matters a little more confusing than in previous years.

It won't change your life, but oh boy is this a good time waster. If you scoot across to the Google homepage and type in "fun facts," the search engine will present you with a new type of answer box filled with a curious tidbit or two. The source of that particular knowledge will be listed below, followed by a blue bar with the option to "ask another question." Click that and you'll be presented with yet another random piece of information, with the classic "I'm feeling curious" query in the search field. Is this a new frontier in online productivity? No, but it's an amusing little addition to Google's search engine, and might distract you from the new logo on the homepage (we're still not used to it just yet).

Getting anyone at all interested in a new portable Bluetooth keyboard is quite the feat, but LG has just about managed it with its new, quirky roll-up peripheral. The Rolly, as it's inventively named, is intended for those who want to be a bit more productive with their tablet time, and I've had a brief tinker with it here at IFA. The benefit of having a keyboard that rolls up around its battery, of course, is that it takes up the least amount of space in your backpack. And neat, the Rolly certainly is. The magnets that run down either side of the key grid are no weaklings, keeping the thing tightly wound and generating a satisfying snap as you roll it up.

Must Reads

  • Intel's 'Skylake' CPU family includes an unlocked laptop chip

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  • GoPro wants you to make short videos on your action camera

    So you want to put your latest action camera footage on Instagram or Vine, but you'd rather not transfer the entire video to your computer or phone just to produce a seconds-long highlight. What to do? As of today, GoPro has an easy answer. It's rolling out a trimming feature that produces short, share-worthy...


Okay, what we're seeing here (probably) isn't a bizarre ant ritual passed down from generation to generation, hailing the iPhone as their new queen and overlord. The video's description on YouTube claims the insects acted that way, because they were affected by the "electromagnetic wave of an incoming call." University of New England associate professor Nigel Andrew agrees: "[They] have magnetic receptors in their antennae. If they're travelling long distances they use magnetic cues from the earth to know if they are going north, east, south or west."

The idea behind Philips' Hue Lightstrips was pretty neat: a line of LEDs that change color according to your whims, but suffered in the execution. After all, the hardware couldn't offer white light, so you were forced to shut them down if you weren't in the mood for a splash of color. Then there was the fact that the strips were only two meters long, making it pricey to run them down your dramatic entrance hall or under your kitchen cabinets. That's why the firm has spent the last year working on an upgrade, so please be upstanding for the new Philips Hue Lightstrip... Plus.

Today Samsung is the first company to announce an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, taking the lead in 4K and HDR video. Following up on its big Ultra HD push at CES and the movie streaming/download tech that has arrived in the months since, Samsung is ready to push super high resolution movies (four times the resolution of Blu-ray, and 64 times as many colors) on discs too. There's not much detail available on its new player, although we expect it will cost less than the $1,000 price its first Blu-ray player commanded nearly a decade ago and it should launch early next year. Joining the tech company on its IFA 2015 stage are Fox execs, with president Mike Dunn proclaiming the studio is committed to releasing its slate of upcoming movies in Ultra HD with HDR day-and-date with the Blu-ray and Digital HD releases. That includes Fantastic Four, Maze Runner, Kingsman: The Secret Service and more.

Samsung has just revealed its take on the sleep tracking concept with a new device called SleepSense. Rather than making you wear something on your wrist at night (which is a non-starter for a lot of folks), Samsung proposes that you slip the flat, disk-like device under your mattress, like similar devices from Withings and Misfit. It will then monitor your heart rate, breathing and movement during sleep with a claimed 97 percent accuracy. That information is transmitted to a smartphone app, which gives you an "individual sleep score" based on seven factors, including total sleep time, the number of times you awoke and the percentage of REM sleep.

The next generation of SmartThings hardware is now available after a lengthy delay. Samsung purchased the home automation company just over a year ago, but was optimistic when it said the next-gen hardware would arrive in April. The hub, sensors and app (available on iOS and Android) are now good to go, however, along with developer tools to get other companies on board. The new hub improves on the last version in a couple of key ways. It no longer needs an internet cloud connection to function, and can run autonomously for 10 hours on a battery if the power is cut.

Phantom 3

DJI pleased Phantom owners recently when it announced that much-needed autopilot features would be coming to its most popular series of quadcopters, and the Inspire 1. Today, we learn when (September 7th) and how (via a good ole' firmware update). The new flight features include Waypoints (map out a path in advance, and the quad will follow it), Point of Interest (the quad flies around a set object with the camera remaining fixed on it) and Follow Me (you can guess what that does -- only coming to Phantom 3, not Inspire 1). There are also two features specific for the Phantom 3 Standard which make it easier to fly the quadcopter back to you should you lose your orientation -- these are already available on DJI's other craft. Finally, Phantom 3 Advance owners get a nice bonus, with the addition of a 2.7K (2704x1520) camera recording option -- a solid bump up from 1080p.

Samsung presumably has spilled the beans on its new Galaxy Note phones already. And it has a new smartwatch. And a new tablet. But there's a hall full of baying tech journalists. We're sure Samsung has more to tell us. You can watch it all go down right here. The show starts here in an hour at 11AM CEST here in Berlin, which translates to an early bird 5AM ET. Get your Nespresso or Keurig pod at the ready, because it's Samsung and it likely has an Internet of Things to talk about. You'll be able to watch on UStream or Samsung's YouTube channel.

Check out all the news from Berlin at our IFA 2015 hub.

Longfin Inshore Squid

While you've been busy scarfing down fried calamari rings, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have been doing something else with squid. Namely? Studying the cephalopod's ring teeth for a way to create a material that heals when water's present, much in the way that those tentacle-bound choppers do. The way the report spotted by Popular Science tells it, the researchers were able to reproduce the type of proteins found in the self-healing squid teeth and trigger bacteria to make it in a lab environment.


Sony Entertainment has reached a deal with its employees affected by the security breach that rocked its world in 2014. If you recall, that incident led to several waves of data leaks, including unreleased movies and juicy emails between its execs. Turns out the hackers also snatched present and previous employees' information in the process, because some of the affected individuals reported seeing their info for sale on the internet. Others claimed that someone tried to use their credit cards to make purchases -- in short, the data breach made them easy targets to identity thieves and credit card fraudsters.

There was a brief period when Bandai Namco was trying a free-to-play model for its bigger franchises like the venerable Soul Calibur fighting series and its arcadey Ridge Racer. The latter shut down in 2014, and the former will suffer a similar fate pretty soon. Come November 30th, the PlayStation 3 exclusive Soul Calibur Lost Swords closes its virtual doors while sales of in-game items stop about a month prior on October 27th, according to From September 16th to September 30th though, Bandai Namco is hosting some commemorative "ranking quests" to mark the occasion. Are you among the game's over two million players and are already mourning its passing? Let us know in the comments. And hey, who knows, this could point toward a Soul Calibur hitting modern consoles sometime soon -- possible silver lining and all that.

Game-tech powerhouse Epic Games and its Unreal Engine are capable of some seriously impressive stuff, and now the North Carolina-based outfit wants you to experience what it's capable of in the virtual reality space. "Showdown" is the demo that the outfit's been showing off at industry events for the past year or so (I got to try it at CES back in January) and it's by far the most bad-ass bullet-time walk toward a hulking, missile-happy, bipedal robot I've ever experienced. The path is predetermined, sure, but as the street explodes into chaos around you, it's entirely possible to duck down or peer around objects like pop cans or even cars as they hurtle toward you in slow motion.

The November release Valve's fancy Steam Controller is right around the corner, and the company seems to be getting the rest of its platform ready for launch day. Specifically, Valve is giving Steam's Big Picture Mode a visual overhaul, redesigning UI navigation in the TV-interface's game library with a more dynamic layout, making tweaks to game-specific pages within that library and updating the look of user profile pages. Valve is also adding FLAC, OGG, Vorbis and M4A support to its music player, as well as experimental Streaming-host support for Macs. Curious? Try it out for yourself by opting into the Steam beta client in your settings menu, or simply check out the gallery below.

baby monitor

Don't call a priest just yet if you hear strange voices coming out of your child's baby monitor -- it's more likely a hacker than some kind of supernatural entity. Security firm Rapid 7 has released a study that shows just how vulnerable at least nine internet-connected baby monitors are. The team tested models from eight manufacturers (including Philips and Withings) this 2015 and found that hackers can easily break into them, not only to scare the living daylights out of a family, but also to monitor their activities. For instance, some models have unencrypted web apps, so hackers can use that flaw to gain access to their cameras.

US Office of Personnel Management

That massive data breach at the US Office of Personnel Management is going to cost the country a lot more than you might think. Officials have awarded ID Experts a contract to protect the 21.5 million affected government workers against identity theft. The arrangement will cost the government at least $133.3 million, and options could bring its value to as high as $329.8 million. Suddenly, Sony's identity protection offer following the 2011 PSN breach seems like small potatoes. And that's just part of a smaller effort to mitigate the effects of data breaches -- the General Services Administration has handed out a separate $500 million contract for responding to these kinds of attacks.

Technics quartz synthesizer direct-drive turntables, 1999.

Ask DJs about their favorite turntables and they'll frequently swear by Technics' SL-1200 -- even though it hasn't been made since 2007, the super-reliable deck is still the gold standard for vinyl spinners. If you're one of those enthusiasts, you'll be glad to hear that Panasonic is bringing Technics turntables back as part of a larger revival for the audio brand. Many of the details are still under wraps, but the turntable set will have a new direct-drive motor that should improve the audio quality. The gear won't show up until sometime during Panasonic's next fiscal year (sometime between April 2016 and March 2017), but more development time is likely a good thing. After all, the SL-1200 thrives precisely because its makers were careful to preserve elements that worked well -- a rushed product could easily hurt more than it helps.

Check out all the news from Berlin at our IFA 2015 hub.

WD My Cloud Mirror

Let's be honest: the cloud features bundled with hard drives tend to suck. They're seldom more than nice freebies that you ignore while you set up Dropbox, Google Drive or another more sophisticated option. However, WD (aka Western Digital) might give you an incentive to try its in-house offering. It's launching My Cloud OS 3, a platform that gives connected hard drives (including network-attached storage) some of the features you take for granted on dedicated online services. It'll automatically sync not just between PCs, but from the camera rolls of your mobile devices. You'll have web- and app-based access to your storage, as well. True, you can find this kind of syncing elsewhere, but this gives you an alternative that won't leave you feeling pangs of regret... so long as you're using WD storage, at least.

Xbox One and its controller

Ever watch a YouTube review of a game or console and worry that the reviewer was a little too enthusiastic? You're not alone. Machinima has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it mislead gamers by failing to disclose that Xbox One reviews from YouTube "influencers" (read: popular channels) were really paid promos. Under the terms of the deal, Machinima has to make sure that any promos are clearly disclosed, refuse to pay for those that aren't, and check in on campaigns to make sure that the disclosures haven't vanished. And in case you're wondering: while the FTC has determined that Microsoft and its ad agency were partly responsible, it believes these promos were "isolated incidents" that didn't reflect those two companies' policies.