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Researchers at Barcelona's Telefonica Research lab have developed a smartphone-based algorithm that determines a user's level of boredom based on how much they're using the device. The algorithm also takes a number of factors such as time of day and how long it's been since receiving a call or text into account as well. With it, the researchers were able to accurately gauge a user's level of boredom 83 percent of the time.

Google Updates Its Logo

Silicon Valley's anti-poaching conspiracy has reached its conclusion. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has approved the $415 million settlement, suggested by Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe earlier this year. The four tech giants have long been accused of agreeing not to poach each other's employees. According to the employees who filed the antitrust class action law suit in 2011, the internal policy to not hire someone from one of the other companies in the pact stunted their growth and prevented them from having access to higher paychecks. One of the main deciding factors in the case was a set of emails between senior executives like Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt that revealed the practice of "no-poach" lists and requests that attempted to thwart the hiring of valued employees.

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If you live in a metropolitan area like San Francisco, New York or Chicago, you understand the appeal of a tiny car. It's easier to swoop through traffic and it can be parked nearly anywhere. Smart says the Fortwo is the tiniest of the tiny cars available in the United States. The latest version of the Mercedes-Benz-built vehicle is still only 8.8 feet long, but it's gotten wider with more forgiving suspension. It's also filled with additional standard features making it feel more like a car and less like a compromise. To highlight the new diminutive driver's features, Smart set up a scavenger hunt in the retirement community for 30-year-olds: Portland, Oregon. If you're going to take a car meant to tackle an urban environment for a spin, it might as well be in a city with a road system that seems like it was laid out more as a practical joke than a way to get drivers from point A to point B.

T-Mobile has launched a video calling feature that you can access straight from your smartphone's stock phone dialer. With T-Mobile Video Calling, "there's no need to search out, download, configure and register additional apps," said CTO Neville Ray. It seamlessly switches between LTE and WiFi and automatically drops to voice-only when bandwidth is low, switching back if you get a better connection. There's a serious catch, though: It only works on Samsung's brand new Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5 phones now, with support for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge coming next week.

Luxury audiovisual brand Bang & Olufsen (B&O) has just announced a pricey wireless speaker, the $999 BeoPlay A6. The style evokes the back of a chair, gently curving and covered in designer fabric from Danish studio Kvadrat. Apparently, this isn't all about looks, though. B&O says its unique shape "enables sound to fill an entire room whilst creating ambience in multiple areas of a house." The interface for the A6 is pretty interesting too. It's all based around swiping and tapping the top of the speaker. A swipe right, for example, turns the volume up. Holding the center mutes, and a quick tap skips the track. Perhaps not the most intuitive control scheme ever, but a cool talking point nonetheless.

Few companies have churned out as many different smartwatches as Samsung, so it's little surprise the company is showing off a new one — the Gear S2 — at IFA. What is a surprise, though, is how much more elegant, more polished the S2 feels compared to just about all of Samsung's previous attempts. After years of seemingly blind iteration (and just a little bit of hands-on time), Samsung finally seems to have a style, if somewhat controversial smartwatch on its hands.

LG's never been scared of trying new things when it comes to smartphones, even pioneering the strange-yet-convenient back button placement other manufacturers have copied since. By comparison, the company has played it safe with its G Pad tablet range, none of which have had any particularly stand-out features. And after briefly playing the LG's new G Pad II 10.1 here at IFA, it seems like the company is quite happy sticking to its rather unexciting formula. Last year, LG opted to release three sizes of tablet, but for now at least, the G Pad II only comes in the one form factor, with a 10.1-inch 1,920 x 1,200 display.

Skype users have ridden a rollercoaster of different designs over the years, and the latest version promises yet more change. Version 6.0 has been completely redesigned for both iOS and Android apps, which are now in lockstep with each other. For Google's ecosystem, the new layout took a page from the Android 5 "Material" playbook with circular icons and other touches. Other features include a floating action button to start new calls or chats (à la Facebook's Messenger), enhanced search and improved messaging. There are also custom ringtones, photo sharing and web link reviews to bring the app in line with rival messaging products like Google's Hangouts.

Withings' smart alarm clock with Spotify functionality

Like the idea of Withings' Aura improving your sleep cycles, but don't need a $300 gadget tracking every last nuance of your slumber? You're in luck. Withings is rolling out a lower-cost device, the $190 Connected Alarm Clock, that keeps the sleep-regulating light and sound patterns while ditching the biometric sensor. And speaking of audio, both the clock and the Sleep System are getting a Spotify tie-in -- you can now use the streaming service's music catalog to fall asleep or wake up, complete with suggested playlists based on both their effectiveness and your genre tastes.

Today we got our first glimpse of the BBC's upcoming Grand Theft Auto docudrama, which examines the game's development and public scrutiny in 2002. The Gamechangers, starring Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar president Sam Houser, covers the franchise's growth in the PlayStation 2 era and the criticism that followed regarding its portrayal of violence. Bill Paxton is playing Jack Thompson, a former attorney that famously campaigned against the series, and based on this new trailer it's clear their thorny relationship is the centerpiece of the show. In May, Rockstar said it would be filing a lawsuit against the BBC over trademark infringement -- the developer said it's had "no involvement" with the project and seemingly disapproves of it altogether. The broadcaster appears unfazed by the legal action though, as it's scheduled to air on September 15th, at 9pm on BBC Two in the UK. If you live elsewhere, however, there's no word just yet on an international release.

The recipe-based automation software IFTTT delivered its one-button control app to phones back in February, and now it's putting it on your wrist. Android Wear gadgets can now employ the DO Button to complete any number of tasks that you assign to it. Rather than waiting for certain criteria to be met in order to trigger an action or swiping over to the requisite app, a single button push handles the chore. We're talking about things like setting your Nest thermostat to 68 degrees or turning off those Phillips Hue lights. Looking to take the DO Button for a spin? Grab the app from Google Pay and you'll be able to do just that.

Star Wars merchandise is big business. So big, in fact, that the films' stewards are streaming an unboxing marathon for all of the Force Awakens toys coming out on "Force Friday" tomorrow. We weren't going to pay much interest, but two items in particular have grabbed our attention: a remote-controlled Millennium Falcon and X-Wing starfighter. With minimal assembly, you'll be able to launch and fly both of these legendary spacecraft in your living room, pestering family members or reliving the final battle from Return of the Jedi. The Millennium Falcon is basically a quadcopter drone -- it has four tiny propellors built into the body, and is built from a "high density foam" to ensure it can take the odd knock and TIE fighter attack. Both the X-Wing fighter and Millennium Falcon are being manufactured by Air Hogs, a company with plenty of experience in remote controlled vehicles -- when we hear anything concrete around pricing and stockists, we'll be sure to let you know.

Barnes & Noble's partnership with Samsung continues with the Galaxy Tab S2 Nook. And, as you've probably guessed, it's simply Samsung's recently announced Galaxy Tab S2 jam-packed with Nook apps. The 8-inch tablet hits Barnes & Noble stores today for $400, though if you've got a B&N membership you can also knock another 10 percent off that price. It's still sad to see the book seller move away from its own tablet hardware, but you could do a lot worse than the Tab S2. It's an incredibly thin and light tablet with a bright quad HD screen (our full review is coming soon). The Tab S2 Nook fills a premium slot for Barnes & Noble, whereas last year's Tab 4 Nooks are more budget-friendly at $150 and $250. You won't really gain much with the Tab S2 Nook variant -- you get three free books from a selection of 20 titles, along with three free magazines and $5 worth of credit. But really, it's a tablet meant for people who are more used to strolling around B&N stores than comparing Android tablets online.

Do you still prefer the feel of pen on paper but need an easy way to catalog your handwritten notes digitally? Wacom's Bamboo Spark will do just what. The product is something the company calls a "smart folio" that uses its digital pen technology to capture the scribbles of a real ink pen on A5 paper (5.83 x 8.27 inches). How does it work exactly? With the help of the Bamboo Spark app on an Android or iOS device, the folio's Electro-Magnetic Resonance board and Bluetooth beam your pen strokes to that trusty mobile device at the push of a button. The Spark can hold up to 100 pages, even while it's in offline mode, and claims up to 8 hours of use before needing to recharge via USB.

Ricoh Theta S

Ricoh's Theta camera was a novel, but pricey experiment: a stick-shaped camera that took completely spherical stills (and later, video.) There was also the unfortunate problem of spreading a typical point-and-shoot camera resolution over an understandably bigger 360-degree digital canvas, meaning that images were often noisy and low on detail. Ricoh's Theta S camera, which launches globally next month, looks like it'll improve on its predecessor in those areas and more. The new camera roughly doubles the resolution of images it can take over the last Theta camera, and an upgraded f2.0 lens (like the optics found on high-end smartphones) ensures more light and meaning less noise and less blur. (The results of the last model were often lacking when there wasn't a strong light source.)

In the midst of IFA's volley of tech hardware news, Google Maps has announced a spin-off Street View app that allows you to upload your own spherical photos. Yes, you're now a human Street View car. The app lets you not only shoot photo spheres from your phone but also connect directly to spherical cameras, like Ricoh's Theta camera series. The announcement came alongside the latest Theta camera, which is of course compatible with the new feature. It sounds like Street View will turn into a combination of Google's own photography and crowdsourced spheres.​ Charles Armstrong, Google Maps product manager, said the new app will allow "people all over the world to explore user contributions, Google's own imagery, and their own published photo spheres through a seamless world map of landscapes, landmarks, business interiors and more."


The stethoscope, invented 200 years ago because a French doctor was too embarrassed to put his ear directly against a woman's chest, is finally getting a digital upgrade. A device called the Eko Core, which attaches to a regular stethoscope, has just been approved for medical use by the US FDA. It amplifies and records the sound signals transmitted by the ubiquitous medical devices, then sends the sound waves wirelessly to an iPhone app. From there, doctors can record the waveform and either listen to it later or compare it to a future visit to test the effects of a treatment. It will also be handy as a teaching too for medical students.

NASA has successfully completed a series of tests making sure that the X-56A Multi-Utility Technology Testbed (MUTT) aircraft can withstand flights up to 130 knots in speed. See, the X-56A isn't your typical aircraft: it's a remote-controlled test model the space agency's using for the development of flexible flight tech, which will be used for lightweight, eco-friendly planes. NASA needs to test the technology extensively, since planes with pliable wings are typically more susceptible to strong winds and vibrations. In fact, this recent round of testing only completed all of the agency's "stiff wing objectives." X-56A 2.0 -- yes, this is the second version, as developer Lockheed Martin already put the first one through the wringer in 2013 and 2014 -- doesn't have its flexible wings yet. Those special airfoils will be attached in the next few months before the aircraft takes off for its first flexi-wing flight in early 2016.

Today on In Case You Missed It: A new golf cart that can drive itself has been designed, complete with a tool to let people schedule pickups and drop-offs. Like *cough* Uber *cough*. A Canadian inventor is showcasing his water hoverboard that we all now want. And we get to toss in a reference to the person who says he just caught a fish with a drone, which is really the point here, friends. Also, motorized tricycles for adults are a thing and a pretty fun looking one at that.