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An IndyCar racer with an LED position display

It's sometimes hard to keep track of positions in an IndyCar race, especially if you're in the stands and don't have the luxury of a broadcaster or data stream to point things out. Never fear, though: as of this weekend, the league's cars are carrying LED panels that display the driver's race position in real-time by working in conjunction with timing lines embedded in the tracks. They're also smart enough to switch to pit stop times, so you'll know if that tire swap is running too long.

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Already immersing yourself in Windows 10? Trying to block out the not-so-favorable memories of Windows 8? Good for you. This week involved a new smartphone from a new challenger, and several new smartphone from a once-dominant player. And we don't mean Nokia, which was busy dipping its toes into the world of VR cameras. Because of course.

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Inhabitat's Week in Green

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.

Tesla's Model S got a lot of press when Elon Musk unveiled a "Ludicrous" upgrade that goes from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds -- but a new car built by a team of German students can go even faster than that. The electric vehicle can accelerate from 0-62MPH in a blistering 1.779 seconds, and it's currently awaiting confirmation for a Guinness World Record. In other news, Facebook just unveiled a solar-powered airplane that will beam the internet to remote locations. The Aquila has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, yet it weighs less than 1,100 pounds. This week, Inhabitat reporter Marc Carter spotted Chrysler's camouflaged new Town & Country minivan on the streets of LA -- and it looks like it's going to be a plug-in EV. Google's Street View cars show us towns and cities throughout the world -- and now they're getting equipped with pollution sensors to monitor the air we breathe. And if you're planning a road trip this summer, we've got two amazing mobile dwellings for you to check out: a stylish wood cabin on wheels and an old-school bus that's been retrofitted into a remarkable little home.

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Amazon released the Alexa Appkit last month in hopes that developers will create cool new features for the voice technology that powers the Echo. This time, the e-commerce giant is offering the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) itself as a developer preview, which both hobbyists and legit hardware manufacturers can integrate into their own connected devices. The best part is the company's allowing the use of its technology for free. "By adding Alexa to your device, your users can request and receive information in the same way they would from an Amazon Echo," the company's Getting Started Guide reads. That means devices loaded with Alexa will also be able to answer questions about the weather and look up stuff or the traffic conditions online.

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Dropbox's Roku channel

You can already access your Dropbox files on all your PCs and mobile gadgets, but what if you want to put them on your TV? If you have a Roku player, you're set. Roku has launched a Dropbox channel that lets you browse your photos and videos on its set-tops, including in slideshows. Yes, you now have an easy way to recap your vacation on a big screen without turning to other cloud services. The channel isn't flawless -- TechCrunch notes that you can't play long videos, so this won't work if you're trying to stream full-length movies. Even so, it's a big help if you'd rather not have everyone gather around your computer to see your snapshots.

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Pepper

Folks in Japan might find themselves chatting with Pepper robots in business establishments these coming years. The enterprise version of the gentle-looking humanoid machine will be available for pre-order starting on October 1st, 2015, and businesses in the country can rent one directly from SoftBank. The carrier's robotics division is offering a $444-per-month, 3-year contract to interested parties, which means they'll end up paying around $16,000 within that period. Sadly, they'll have to return the unit once the contract's over.

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Density's sensor

You probably aren't a fan of showing up at the coffee shop right when there's a large line, or at the gym when there are no free machines. Wouldn't it be nice if you could find out how busy a place is at any given moment, without resorting to estimates? The new Density sensor might help. The tiny infrared detector is effectively a smarter, more connected pedestrian traffic sensor: it tells apps how many people are entering or leaving a building at any moment, giving you a good sense of whether that restaurant is packed or blissfully empty. Shops can use that data to their advantage, too. They can offer discounts whenever it gets quiet, or notify you the moment there's a free seat.

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Frontback is happy again

Tech startups rarely get a second chance if they fail, since they can't usually draw on the help of either a huge following or a pile of cash. However, the recently defunct Frontback is getting that rare reprieve. The selfie-oriented social service has reached a deal with an as yet unnamed "partner" that will keep it running for the foreseeable future. This mysterious helper believes there's "something incredible" behind the concept of posting both front and back photos, Frontback says, and it's offering "fresh ideas" for what to do next. There's no certainty that Frontback will live happily ever after, but it's at least not going to fade out any time soon.

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Sultan Al Qassemi In Conversation With David Plouffe Hosted By Uber & Harvard Business School Club Of The GCC & The Harvard Kenn

Uber is getting richer and richer. It's now valued at $51 billion after raising another $1 billion in funding, and it got to this stage two years faster than Facebook did. As always, the ride-sharing service has attracted an assortment of investors during its latest funding round -- one of them's none other than tech juggernaut Microsoft, according to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. While neither company has admitted it yet, Bloomberg says Microsoft has agreed to back Uber to the tune of around $100 million. It's unclear whether this means they're pursuing a deeper relationship or if they're working together on a project or two, at least. If you recall, though, Uber's snapped up a portion of Bing's mapping tech back in June, along with a hundred of Redmond's employees.

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Gadget Show Dish

Just as Comcast dips its toe in the internet TV business, Sling TV is claiming that the giant is refusing to run ads for its service on NBC stations that it owns. According to Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch (last seen walking off with our Best of CES Overall Winner trophy), the ads are running across other broadcasters, and on NBC stations not owned by Comcast. If the idea was to cut down on the number of people seeing an alternative to the cable setup, that may have backfired since you're reading this right now. Comcast's NBC stations aren't running the ads in three cities (San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.), but the internet stretches much further.

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Microsoft HoloLens

When Microsoft said that its HoloLens headset would arrive "in the Windows 10 time frame," what did it mean, exactly? Thanks to a BBC interview with Satya Nadella, we now have a better sense of when this augmented reality eyewear will show up. The company chief expects developers and enterprise users to get the first version of HoloLens "within the next year" -- you won't be getting one as a holiday gift, folks. It's not certain just when a personal version will launch, but Nadella describes the overall technology as a "5-year journey" that will eventually branch out to other fields. While that doesn't necessarily leave you high and dry until 2020, it does suggest that you'll have to be patient if you want to play some holographic Minecraft.

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A BMW i3 with ActiveAssist

Apple and BMW may eventually have more in common than just some features in your car's infotainment system. Sources for both Reuters and Manager Magazin understand that the two companies have had "exploratory talks," including a trip by Apple executives to Leipzig to see how BMW builds the i3. Apple reportedly likes that BMW rethought the conventional car manufacturing process for its electric vehicle, and might use what it learned to help make its own EV. While BMW claims that there aren't any active talks about jointly developing a car, a Reuters tipster hears that the firms may revive talks (not necessarily to co-produce a vehicle) later on.

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Facebook's Lollapalooza feed

If you can't make a pilgrimage to Lollapalooza but want to get a sense of what it's like to be there beyond the concert streams, Facebook might have what you're looking for. It's testing an expansion of Place Tips that lets anyone in the US see a feed of Lollapalooza's goings-on, whether they're photos, videos, set times or updates. Ideally, this will give you a feel for the event (and possibly a twinge of regret) without having to brave the crowds and summer heat. Facebook isn't saying when you'll see the feature again, but it's promising to "explore" uses in the future. Don't be surprised if it quickly becomes commonplace. The social network is eager to capture the as-it-happens excitement that you normally find on the likes of Snapchat or Twitter -- this could keep your eyes glued to Facebook after you're done catching up with family and friends.

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WINDOWS 95 CARNIVALIt's hard to believe that Windows is 30 years old this year. Originally a graphic shell that sat on MS-DOS, Windows has blossomed over the years to be the visually rich experience it is today. That's not to say it hasn't encountered a few pitfalls along the way -- Windows ME, anyone? -- but despite weathering rivals from the likes of Apple, Microsoft's pride and joy is still the most widely used personal computer operating system on the planet. In the gallery here, we take a look back at Windows through the ages. Be sure to keep an eye out for a few cameos from Jennifer Aniston, Jerry Seinfeld and, of course, Steve Ballmer.

[Image credit: Associated Press]

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If anything's kept pace with how video games have changed over the years, it's how we interact with them. Our biggest touchpoint with virtual worlds is the gamepad and -- akin to how games themselves have evolved from simple 2D affairs into 100-hour-long labyrinths in three dimensions -- controllers have changed to accommodate that. What you'll find in the gallery below is a comprehensive look at gamepads from the past 30-plus years of gaming, including high points and missteps alike.

[Image: Adafruit Industries/Flickr]

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Are you ready for lab-made hamburgers, bug-filled protein bars and 3D-printed cuisine? With the Earth's population rapidly approaching 8 billion and the race to keep up with food demand intensifying, industries have begun to drain essential resources and adversely affect the environment. Thanks to some scientific know-how, we're finding new ways to bypass those issues while still bringing natural and nutritious food to the table. In honor of that quest, we've gathered an assortment of forward-thinking products and projects that aim to alleviate the environmental impact of feeding the world and help kickstart a farming future for our space-faring progeny.

[Images: David Parry / PA Wire (Cultured Beef); Chloe Rutzerveld (Edible Growth); 3D Systems (ChefJet)]

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I entered the doors of the building, an approximately 7-foot Piranha Plant greeted me. Inside, I saw large question block cushions scattered throughout and 25 Wii U stations. Off in the corner was a Mario mascot, posing for photos in front of a big green pipe. If you thought I was in Nintendo Land, you'd be wrong. I was in Facebook's Menlo Park, California, offices. It was the second day of a two-day hackathon collaboration with Nintendo, where employees had the opportunity to create levels with the upcoming game Super Mario Maker. And the ultimate prize? The winning level design would be available to download when the game launches.

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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.

This Kentucky Distillery Is Blasting David Bowie Songs to Flavor Its Brandy
by Ashlie Stevens
Munchies

Sounds strange, right? I thought so too, but it actually makes a lot of sense. The vibrations of the barrels triggered by subwoofers placed around the Copper & Kings distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, constantly circulate the company's brandy. This means that liquid spends more time in contact with the oak barrels, much more than the typical, stationary aging process allows.

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Sony Increases PS Plus Prices In Certain Countries

Sure, PlayStation Plus subscribers are used to getting "free" games every month, but they haven't had any say about what the gratis titles would be. Until now. With Vote to Play, you'll have a chance to make your voice heard. PlayStation VP of platforms marketing John Koller writes on the PlayStation Blog that the game with the most votes will automatically be added to the upcoming month's offerings, and that in the first round of voting the runner-up will be available at a discount. Pretty cool, huh? Exactly how the voting process will work (if there will be videos or whatnot to help make informed choices) isn't clear just yet, but Koller writes that more info is coming soon enough. The real question though is if you would've voted for Rocket League, the dark horse from last month's promo that's absolutely dominating the gaming conversation right now.

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