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Fitbit's Alta Is Dressed to Kill
February 3, 2016
Fitbit has unveiled a new fitness tracker that highlights muted colors and fashion-forward design elements. The Alta, priced at $129, has a brushed, stainless steel body that supports interchangeable bands, so that it doesn't stand out for the wrong reasons. Consumers can select bands from the Classic line, available in plum, teal, black and blue for $30 each.
Google, Movidius to Bring Deep Learning to Mobile Devices
January 29, 2016
Movidius on Wednesday announced that it's working with Google to put deep learning on mobile devices. Google will source Movidius' latest flagship chip -- the MA2450 -- and software development environment, and will contribute to Movidius' neural network technology road map in return. That could result in mobile devices that will be able to understand images and audio swiftly and accurately.
3D Printing: Innovation's New Lifeblood
January 27, 2016
To many, 3D printing is little more than a toy. A toy that mostly prints toys. To others, it's a prototyping tool good for a hands-on feel of a manifested idea but not much more. Yet for a select few, 3D printing is the heart of innovation, and each new iteration is pumping the future's lifeblood. Here are some of the innovations 3D printing is bringing to life.
Gadget Ogling: Super Strollers, Posture Prodders, and Portable Projectors
January 26, 2016
Regular readers will know that I am not a parent, so you might wonder why I'm including a self-propelling stroller in this week's cavalcade of riches. The answer is elementary: It's a smashing idea. Granted, it's maybe because I don't have a child that I think as much. Aside from pushing itself along the sidewalk, the Smartbe Intelligent Stroller can warm bottles, charge devices and play music.
DARPA Challenges Researchers to Link Human Brains With Computers
January 26, 2016
The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, last week announced a new program that aims to build a connection between the human brain and the digital world. To achieve the goals of the Neural Engineering System Design program, DARPA has invited proposals to design, build, demonstrate and validate a human-computer interface.
SpaceX Finds Silver Lining in Failed Sea Landing
January 20, 2016
SpaceX this week failed in its third attempt to land a rocket on an ocean platform. The company has landed a reusable rocket on land successfully, but it has stepped up its efforts to land at sea. The latest attempt, though not successful, was a step forward, SpaceX said. The Falcon 9 rocket was supposed to deliver its payload, then land on a drone ship out in the Pacific Ocean.
Gadget Ogling: Baring Souls, Soaking Up Sound, and Tracking Babes
January 19, 2016
As time advances, more responsibilities seep into our lives. We get wrapped up in our own worlds, and don't necessarily make enough time to spend with the friends and family members who've been important parts of our worlds for decades. Concepter's Soul time tracker seeks to make us more conscious of the time we spend with those who matter most to us.
NASA Advances Mission to Protect Earth From Asteroids
January 15, 2016
NASA last week announced that it has established the Planetary Defense Coordination Office to formalize its efforts to detect and track near-Earth objects. The PDCO will supervise all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near Earth's orbit around the sun. It will issue notices of close passes and warnings of any detected potential impacts.
Researchers May Have Licked Flaming Lithium-Ion Battery Problem
January 14, 2016
Incorporating a polymer switching material into lithium-ion batteries could prevent their overheating due to a process known as "thermal runaway," according to Stanford researchers. Lithium-ion batteries consist of an anode, a cathode, a separator and a flammable electrolyte. The separator melts when a large amount of heat is generated by overcharging or shorting, ultimately resulting in a thermal runaway.
ESA Fails to Rouse Philae Lander
January 12, 2016
DLR, the German Aerospace Center, this week vainly tried to reawaken the dormant Philae robotic probe, which achieved the first-ever soft landing on a comet nucleus in 2014. The center, known as DLR, sent a command to Philae to spin up its flywheel, which had stabilized the lander during its descent onto the comet. DLR hoped that might give Philae some angular momentum to align itself with the sun.
Gadget Ogling: Fitbit's Smartwatch, Super Home Movies, and Flying Machines
January 9, 2016
Fitbit found great success this past holiday season, and it's keeping up the momentum with its first smartwatch. The Fitbit Blaze includes a continuous heart-rate monitor, a connected GPS, and a multisport mode with a feature that recognizes the type of workout or sport and tracks it appropriately. Still, the Blaze stands out almost more for what it doesn't do.
Human Computation May Be Key to Solving World's Wicked Problems
January 5, 2016
Combining human and computer intelligence could help solve the world's most vexing problems, researchers envisioned in an article published Monday in the journal Science. Researchers from Cornell University and the Human Computation Institute want more humans to help out in accelerating research and finding solutions to life's most difficult problems, such as cancer, HIV and climate change.
Zuckerberg Resolves to Invent, Encourages Girls to Invent Too
January 5, 2016
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's 2016 resolution to challenge himself outside his work is to build a simple artificial intelligence assistant to run his home and help him do a better job juggling his business responsibilities. "You can think of it kind of like Jarvis in 'Iron Man,'" he suggested. Zuckerberg first will explore the available technology, then train it to understand his voice to control everything in his home.
Musk and Friends Launch OpenAI
December 16, 2015
The aim of OpenAI is to use artificial intelligence to benefit society. The fledgling project has drawn $1 billion in funding from some of high tech's most recognizable names to help it achieve that goal. Investors include SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, Y Combinator founding partner Jessica Livingston and President Sam Altman and AWS.
AI Programmed to Learn at Human Speed
December 15, 2015
Researchers have created a computational model that enables artificial intelligence to learn the way humans do, according to an article published last week. The model gives AI the ability to recognize handwritten alphabetical characters as fast as humans can. Researchers reversed engineered the way people address problems and built an AI algorithm for that approach.
Less Poking Around? Google Seeks Patent on Needle-Free Blood Drawing Tech
December 12, 2015
Google has filed for a patent on needle-free blood-drawing technology, described in a USPTO application published last week. Application 20150342509 suggests four potential implementations of the technology, including its use in a device that has an evacuated negative-pressure barrel with a membrane sealing an aperture at the far end containing an accelerator barrel.
Wikipedia Uses AI to Assist Human Editors
December 4, 2015
The Wikimedia Foundation this week rolled out a service designed to improve the quality of Wikipedia articles. The Objective Revision Evaluation Service uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help Wikipedia editors identify damaging articles more quickly and assign quality scores more rapidly. ORES lets editors peer into incoming content to identify potentially damaging edits.
New US Asteroid Mining Law Could Violate International Space Treaty
November 30, 2015
President Obama last week signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, which governs ownership of asteroid resources, possibly triggering a new battle in the commercial space race. Section 5103 of the Act gives U.S. companies the right to resources mined from asteroids, although it does not give them rights to the asteroids themselves.
Blue Origin Rocket Sticks Landing
November 27, 2015
Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket this week made history when it landed intact in Texas. The unmanned crew capsule returned safely from a test flight that took it 330,000 feet into the air. The New Shepard could become the first reusable booster -- it's scheduled to return to space in a few months. It's now tucked into a storage facility at a launch site in West Texas.
Fitbit Amps Up Tracking Features
November 23, 2015
Fitbit on Monday announced the addition of PurePulse heart rate tracking and SmartTrack automatic exercise recognition to its Charge HR and Surge devices. The PurePulse monitoring will be activated whenever the devices are used in Exercise Mode, providing users with continuous, automatic tracking of heart rate trends over time without the need for a chest strap.
Gadget Ogling: A Dumb Watch Dock, a Smart VR Phone Case, and a Fantastic Fireball Thrower
November 21, 2015
No longer leaving it up to third-party companies to create charging docks for its Apple Watch, Apple has released its own official dock. It allows Watch owners to rest the smartwatch in nightstand mode -- a feature introduced in the latest version of the operating system that essentially turns the Watch into a bedside clock -- without tangling it up with the standard magnetic charger.
NASA Awards Space Robot R&D Projects to MIT, Northeastern
November 20, 2015
NASA on Tuesday announced it has awarded one R5 humanoid robot each to MIT and Northeastern University to conduct research on adapting them for use in space. The universities were selected from U.S. entries in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Robotics Challenge held in June. Each team will receive up to $250,000 a year for two years. They also will get technical support from NASA.
Microsoft Retools Minecraft to Teach Kids to Code
November 18, 2015
Microsoft on Monday announced that its Mojang unit's Minecraft will star in Code.org's third annual Hour of Code event in December. A 2-D tutorial version of Minecraft will introduce players ages 6 and older to simple coding, encouraging them to mine and craft by using visual programming, Microsoft said. Players then can engage in a bundle of 14 challenges to reinforce what they've learned.
Researcher's Demo Sheds Doubt on Fitbit Security
October 23, 2015
Fortinet security researcher Axelle Apvrille demonstrated Wednesday in a presentation at the Hack.lu conference in Luxembourg. Apvrille showed how it was possible to access a Fitbit's Bluetooth connection and, in a mere 10 seconds, infect it with a malicious packet that later could be used to infect a PC, a feat she demoed earlier this month at a hacker conference in Budapest.
Magic Leap: Now You See It
October 22, 2015
There are no special effects in the augmented reality demo it shared on Tuesday, Magic Leap said. The video, which shows imaginary objects blended into a real-world setting, was shot using Magic Leap's augmented reality technology, the company proclaimed. Details about Magic Leap's AR headset have been sparse thus far, but CEO Rony Abovitz dropped a bit more this week.
Healthcare Sector Security Woefully Weak, Survey Says
October 21, 2015
The healthcare industry has become the favorite playground for many cybercriminals, suggests a report Trustwave released earlier this month. Of the 398 full-time healthcare professionals surveyed, 91 percent of information technology respondents and 77 percent of nontechnical respondents believed criminals increasingly were targeting healthcare organizations.
Facebook, Eutelsat to Use Satellites to Spread Net Across Sub-Saharan Africa
October 5, 2015
Facebook and Eutelsat have entered a partnership to leverage satellite technology to provide Internet access to remote parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative, which includes a multiyear agreement with Spacecom, will utilize the entire broadband payload on the future AMOS-6 satellite as the backbone of a dedicated system that will include satellite capacity, gateways and terminals.
Found on Mars: Cool, Clear Water?
September 29, 2015
Dark, narrow streaks going downhill at four locations on Mars are evidence of water flowing on the planet. Called "recurring slope lineae," the streaks are approximately the length of a football field, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They are believed to have been formed by the seasonal flow of water. A report on the research was published Monday in Nature Geoscience.
What Goes Around Comes Around: Russia Gets Hacked
September 23, 2015
Russia has been a prime suspect in recent cyberattacks against U.S. government targets. However, Russia has been poked with the other end of the hacker stick. For more than two months, hacker attacks originating in China have bedeviled Russia's military and telecom sectors, Proofpoint researchers have revealed. Russian-speaking analysts working at global financial firms also have been attacked.
Blue Origin Rockets Into Cape Canaveral
September 18, 2015
Blue Origin on Tuesday announced plans to launch rockets from a Cape Canaveral launchpad, which it has leased from NASA. "The site saw its last launch in 2005, and the pad has stood silent for more than 10 years -- too long. We can't wait to fix that," said Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos, who is also the founder of Amazon. It's the sort of thing the folks at NASA like to hear. People are interested in space again.
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