Such an eventful week! Besides NASA finding water on Mars, Apple releasing El Capitan and Experian exposing data on 15 million T-Mobile users, we saw journeys of unprecedented distance. And don't forget these impressive iPhone battery life savings thanks to ad blockers, or this soul-crushing Super Mario Bros. editor.
Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.
After three years of anticipation Tesla just launched its latest electric car. The company says the Model X is the world's safest SUV; it can go from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds; and it comes with a "bioweapon defense mode" in case of... well, the apocalypse. Meanwhile the Volkswagen emissions scandal continues to develop, and this past week, we asked just how many people have died due to pollution emitted by affected vehicles. Perhaps the worst part is that Volkswagen may actually avoid criminal charges due to a loophole in the Clean Air Act.
Sure, Apple Maps has improved significantly in the past few years since it launched, but for many Apple users it still doesn't hold a candle to Google Maps. But if you're an Apple Watch user who wanted to use your watch for directions, Apple Maps has been your only option -- until today. A new update...
Now that Apple is blurring the lines between its mobile tablets and PCs with the iPad Pro, it's tempting to imagine iOS and OS X merging into a single operating system (Windows 10-style) that works on virtually every device the company makes. You'll want to put any such ideas on hold, though. In a...
Daimler's dreams of self-driving big rig trucks just took one step closer to reality. The automaker has conducted the first-ever test of its semi-autonomous Highway Pilot system in a production truck on a public road, driving an augmented Mercedes-Benz Actros down Germany's Autobahn 8. While the vehicle needed a crew to keep watch, it could steer itself down the highway using a combination of radar, a stereo camera array and off-the-shelf systems like adaptive cruise control. The dry run shows that the technology can work on just about any vehicle in the real world, not just one-off concepts.
A team of researchers from the RMIT-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology Research Centre has developed a technique to create 10-micron-wide flower-like structures that bloom like the real thing. The group mixed two ingredients in water to make that happen: NDI-bearing phosphonic acid and melamine. As the water evaporates, the components undergo a chemical reaction that resembles a flower blooming. It takes three hours for the combination to fully form, which you can see below the fold. Note that each "flower" is so small, the researchers say you can fit ten along the width of a single human hair strand.
Google Glass (aka Project Aura), as cool as it is, isn't very immersive: you're still looking at flat pictures superimposed on a 3D world. You may see some added depth in the future, though. Google has filed for a patent on a "head wearable display" that would show holograms. The hope is that this would create an augmented reality experience that's more involving than what you get today, including a wider field of view a more efficient, easier-to-wear headset.
A new Disney Research project can make coloring books more exciting for those of us with limited art skills. The team has built an interactive Android and iOS coloring book app using the Unity game engine that can take a colored drawing and turn it into an augmented reality object on screen -- and, yes, as you can see above, it retains the original artwork's texture. In fact, the app can generate parts of the object in the same texture even if you only color a 2D picture. For example, if you fill in the front-facing line drawing of the elephant above, the app will show you a backside that resembles your masterpiece. It's definitely not perfect, but it works.
If you know your Rare history, you probably know that Conker's Bad Fur Day began life as a tame, kid-friendly game and evolved into the foul-mouthed 'mature' title that reached your Nintendo 64. Have you wondered what that original squirrel adventure looked like in action, however? Rare is happy to help. It just posted unreleased footage of the game when it was still known as Twelve Tales: Conker 64. To say that this early version was playing it safe would be an understatement. As you'll see below, Conker's companion Berry (aka Berri) wasn't nearly so sexualized. Meanwhile, the gameplay mechanics involved innocuous things like unicycles and differently-themed hats -- no feces monsters here.
One of the direct results of folks helping Subset Games, the developers of FTL: Faster Than Light, absolutely demolish their Kickstarter goal was hiring Ben Prunty to score the game. And now thanks to iam8bit you'll soon be able to listen to it on the best sounding format possible: vinyl. The two LP set features some truly incredible artwork from designer Leif Podhajsky, trippy starburst green and black vinyl and a download code. To make sure those atmospheric sci-fi sounds are at their best, the soundtrack was mastered for wax at Telegraph Mastering Studio whose clients include Sufjan Stevens and Steve Aoki among many others. The release is up for pre-order right now, ships early next year and will run you $35 plus the cost it takes to get it to your door. Don't have a vinyl
fetish obsession but still want these tunes? They're available for $5 over on Prunty's Bandcamp page.
Companies typically find out about data breaches first-hand, and bring in the police after the fact to (hopefully) identify the culprits. Unfortunately, Scottrade didn't even have that luxury: the investment firm only learned about a huge breach after federal law enforcement showed up at its door with word of an ongoing investigation. The intruders compromised roughly 4.6 million accounts between late 2013 and early 2014. They focused primarily on snagging contact information, but the targeted system also included information as sensitive as Social Security numbers.
Waiting for the revamped Google Photos app to arrive on iOS? Well, the company has just rolled out an update on iTunes, but we're afraid it doesn't come with all the new features Mountain View promised at its Nexus event. The latest version for iPhones and iPads lets you share animations via Whatsapp, and if you're in the US, it gives you the power to label people and merge face groups. Similar to the Android version, you can easily search for the names of the people you labeled or even combine search terms (say, name + location) to find particular photos. However, it has one glaring omission: it's not Chromecast-enabled just yet. Google says that's "coming soon!" in its announcement post -- in the meantime, it has sprinkled in some bug fixes and added the ability to fire up the app faster.
"Shoot video that's worth watching" reads one of the straplines for Aetho's "Aeon" handheld GoPro stabilizer. It sounds kinda obvious, right? But, if you've ever walked/ran/danced/dived/whatever with a GoPro in your hand/mouth/knees/whatever you'll know it's not that simple. You thought you had an oak-like steady grip, turns out you shake like a cold chihuahua -- and the GoPro does a wonderful job of translating that to your videos. Aethos's marketing copy suddenly doesn't seem so vapid, does it? Especially once you see what the Aeon can do for your footage. Which, helpfully, you can right here in this article.
First it was toggle switches. And then keyboards, the mouse and other standard interface devices gave us control of computers and the digital world. From the tangible, to hands-free and beyond, the ways in which we control digital systems are expanding. We've collected just a few of the interesting products and concepts that are breaching the two-dimensional world of computing and merging it with our physical reality.
Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.
How Microsoft Got So Good at Predicting Who Will Win NFL Games
by Tim Stenovec
Have you been using Bing's sports predictions to make "friendly wagers" and set your fantasy lineups this football season? Microsoft's Bing Predicts team has been picking winners for NFL games, other sporting events, reality shows and elections for a while now. As it turns out, the small group of researchers employ machine learning to make the predictions and they've gotten better at it over time.
Today on In Case You Missed It: MIT developed robotic hands of pliable silicon that are also studded with pressure sensors so it knows how tightly to hold something. A small dashboard camera and advanced computer vision software are being tested in the San Francisco Bay Area to record potential roadway hazards and track the drivers eyes. And a robotic solar-powered mirror light is here to give Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers another option for Vitamin D.
What's music to some is noise to others. And that's perhaps most apparent with Ra the latest piece from the creator of an 8-bit camera gun, ::vtol::. As the artist writes in the demo's Vimeo description, the project uses a laser to scan the irregularities on the surface of a pyrite disc. The artist, real-name Dimitry Morozov, says that this disc was a gift from a mineral seller and that all of the tech present was centered around the idea of making a laser sound reader that'd "be able to produce sound from various uneven surfaces." Oh, and Morozov wanted to use the bare minimum tools to make it. What do those include? A Raspberry Pi, Arduino Nano, a homemade laser pickup, stepper motor, servo motor and a three watt mono sound system. If you want to see it in action, you're going to have to hit the Sound Museum in St. Petersburg.
If you were hoping to experience Cortana's most helpful version on your Xbox One this year, you might have to settle for her possible appearance in Halo 5 at the end of the month instead. The virtual assistant won't make her full debut to owners of Microsoft's latest console until early next year. Don't fret though: Redmond spokesperson Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb says that the voice from Master Chief's ear will be available to folks in the Xbox One's Dashboard Preview Program later this fall. There's a joke to be made about rampancy in this news -- I'm almost sure of it. Oh, and speaking of Halo 5, there's a new live-action trailer out today (embedded after the break) that nurtures the seeds of doubt in Spartan 117 that Microsoft's been sowing since the first teaser hit.
Google has long used the phrase "Don't be evil" as a sort of company motto, including it in the founder's letter for its IPO in 2004, and at the top of its Code of Conduct. The Wall Street Journal noticed that as a part of today's restructuring, Alphabet has exchanged that for something slightly more specific. The corporate code of conduct now entreats employees to "do the right thing – follow the law, act honorably, and treat each other with respect." It is unknown at press time if that includes a required viewing of Spike Lee's 1989 film. For Google employees specifically, the "Don't be evil" phrasing is still in full effect, so it's hard to see anything specifically changing as a result. Of course, some have mocked the giant for how close it does or does not stick to that adage, including when Steve Jobs reportedly called it "bullshit" in 2010. Of course, as the search giant worms its way into our photos, cars and even bodies, maybe being a little more specific about its intentions is a good thing.
[Image credit: Moviestore collection Ltd / Alamy]
When the TiVo Bolt was unveiled earlier this week, most of the questions (that weren't about its odd shape) came from long-time enthusiasts wondering why it doesn't cater to them? Many aren't willing to downgrade from a Roamio Pro's 6 tuners and 3TB storage just to add 4K and commercial skipping. Dave Zatz points out that today TiVo Chief Marketing Officer Ira Bahr has faced the company's most dedicated fans in a thread on TiVo Community, and says not to worry. According to Bahr, "we already have a roadmap plan to bring you something you'll like way better in 2016 (more on this shortly)." As I figured during our Bolt preview, this device is an attempt to connect with new users, among the millions of people buying streaming boxes as they use internet video services to replace or add to traditional TV. As far as the look of the Bolt, Bahr said "my view is that we have to look different."