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Internet Television

Taking cues from Chromecast, Sharp turns TVs into art displays 08 January 2015, 00.14 Internet Television
Taking cues from Chromecast, Sharp turns TVs into art displays
One of the features Sharp had on display at its CES booth looked vaguely familiar: Sharp’s 2015 TVs automatically display a series of works of art and great-looking photos when not in use, which the company is calling
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Online outlets showed Hebdo images but offline media didn’t. Why? 08 January 2015, 00.14 Internet Television
Online outlets showed Hebdo images but offline media didn’t. Why?
As the world struggled to understand the violence in Paris, where 12 cartoonists and other staff at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo were gunned down by Islamic extremists, media outlets were faced with a challenge: Should
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Neil Young: Pono won’t be a hardware company for long (video interview)
Neil Young’s high-definition audio startup Pono just started selling its Pono player, but the music legend told me during an interview at CES in Las Vegas Wednesday that he sees Pono getting out of the hardware business
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Tesco sells Blinkbox to TalkTalk and may offload Dunnhumby 08 January 2015, 00.14 Internet Television
Tesco sells Blinkbox to TalkTalk and may offload Dunnhumby
The British supermarket giant Tesco is, to put it mildly, having financial difficulties. On Thursday it unveiled a range of measures that it hopes will help dig it out of its hole. These include the sale of Tesco Broadband and
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Deezer buys mobile-focused Muve Music from Cricket / AT&T 08 January 2015, 00.14 Internet Television
Deezer buys mobile-focused Muve Music from Cricket / AT&T
Paris-based music streaming service Deezer has acquired Muve Music, the mobile-focused music service from Leap Wireless. Leap is a virtual mobile operator better known for its Cricket service, which was itself acquired by
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Earth News Reports

Top 7 WTF Fashion, Beauty Stories of 2015 (Vote for the Most Deplorable)
From toxic fire retardants in popular nail polishes to the brutal treatment of alligators that are skinned to make Hermès Birkin bags, here are seven stories that eroded our faith in humanity. Above, three years after a
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Green Transportation | Inhabitat - Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building
Welcome to Inhabitat, your online guide to the best green design ideas, innovations and inspiration to build a cleaner, brighter, and better future. Get the free Inhabitat Newsletter
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Top 7 Bizarre Eco-Fashion Stories of 2015 (Vote for the Weirdest)
Leave a Comment Please keep your comments relevant to this blog entry. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Please note that gratuitous links to your site are viewed as spam and
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Top 7 Recycled Fashion Designs of 2015 (Vote for the Most Creative!)
No failures of the imagination here. From sneakers made from recycled ocean plastic to salvaged "Sheltersuits" that convert from weather-resistant jackets into sleeping bags for the homeless, here are seven closed-loop designs
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The best of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 29 December 2015, 23.09 Green Architecture
The best of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards
Grand prizes for photography always give us the chance to discover spectacular, touching, or beautiful photos. Too often, the photos are a bit too serious, making us hope for something a bit lighter to handle. The Comedy
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Qwerkywriter: a tablet keyboard that looks like a mechanical one 29 December 2015, 23.09 Green Architecture
Qwerkywriter: a tablet keyboard that looks like a mechanical one
There is a reason why vintage products are so popular nowadays, there is some physical relation with it that can’t compare to the experience we have with electronic products. Qwerkywriter perfectly catches on this trend
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Top Web Design Trends to Watch for 2016 29 December 2015, 23.09 Green Architecture
Top Web Design Trends to Watch for 2016
That’s right, folks, we’ve followed an amazing set of design trends through 2015, and now we’re selecting our pick to watch for 2016. And just as in graphic design and fashion, there are usually some
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Phoreus Cherokee, a typeface to modernize the Cherokee language 29 December 2015, 23.09 Green Architecture
Phoreus Cherokee, a typeface to modernize the Cherokee language
With only 10’000 people still speaking the Cherokee language, it is becoming urgent for them to save one of the few remains of what was once a great nation. There are no magic methods to save a language, but a graphic
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These Victorian-era Christmas cards were dark and funny 29 December 2015, 23.09 Green Architecture
These Victorian-era Christmas cards were dark and funny
When you think of the Victorian era, you probably get serious images popping in your head. There is a good reason for that, photos from that period of time required that people stood still to get a clear image. If you do a
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A 3D printed shoe made from collected ocean plastic waste 29 December 2015, 23.09 Green Architecture
A 3D printed shoe made from collected ocean plastic waste
The fact that you don’t see ocean plastic waste on a daily basis doesn’t make it less of a terrifying problem for the future of the planet’s ecosystem. If you are not convinced, just do yourself a little
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Technology News Reports

Green Transportation | Inhabitat - Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building
Welcome to Inhabitat, your online guide to the best green design ideas, innovations and inspiration to build a cleaner, brighter, and better future. Get the free Inhabitat Newsletter
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The Internet of Things Is Everywhere, But It Doesn’t Rule Yet
Slide: 1 / of 1 . Caption: Giordano Poloni/Getty Images Skip Article Header. Skip to: Start of Article. Giordano Poloni/Getty Images In the future, everything will be connected. It won’t just be our phones that access
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The Most Important Cars of 2015 29 December 2015, 23.09 Tech
The Most Important Cars of 2015
Slide: 1 / of 12 . Caption: Tesla's game plan is simple: Build an electric luxury sedan, then a luxury SUV, then an affordable sedan for the masses. In October, it finally took step two, introducing the Model X. At $130,000,
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The Commercial Space Industry Takes Flight 29 December 2015, 23.09 Tech
The Commercial Space Industry Takes Flight
A few exploding rockets notwithstanding, commercial spaceflight had a great year. Elon Musk’s SpaceX got cleared to fly top secret Air Force cargo into space. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin landed a rocket. And NASA announced its
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All the Most Winningest Science From 2015 29 December 2015, 23.09 Tech
All the Most Winningest Science From 2015
An illustration of the New Horizons spacecraft during its encounter with Pluto and Charon. Science is not a game of winners and losers. What am I saying: Of course it is. From the Nobel Prizes to congressional budget
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New Wireless Tech Will Free Us From the Tyranny of Carriers
Slide: 1 / of 1 . Caption: Alvaro Dominguez for WIRED Skip Article Header. Skip to: Start of Article. Alvaro Dominguez for WIRED Cell coverage can be fickle. You might get great reception at home but spotty coverage at
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Here’s What You Need to Watch Before It Leaves Netflix
Here's What You Need to Watch Before It Leaves Netflix | WIRED Skip Article Header. Skip to: Start of Article.The year of 2015 is almost over. That means there are a lot of loose ends to be tied up before you can
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Sun-powered Solar Impulse lands safely in Hawaii after longest solo flight in aviation history
Share on TumblrEmail Solar Impulse 2, piloted by André Borschberg has successfully completed its record-breaking solar-powered flight from Japan to Hawaii. The plane landed at 5:55am local time today, and was
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Quebec university students design a car that gets an astounding 2,098 mpg
Share on TumblrEmail We love zero fuel vehicles, but the next best thing is a mode of transportation that can take you reeeeeeally far on just a little fuel. Vehicles with that ability compete in the SAE
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The next-generation Nissan Leaf will be able to drive over 310 miles on a single charge
Share on TumblrEmail Range anxiety is one of the main things holding electric cars back – but the next generation of electric vehicles will be able to drive farther. Much farther. Nissan just announced plans to
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FitDesk Lets You Pedal Your Way to Fitness While You Work
Share on TumblrEmail Telecommuting saves workers money on subway or gas costs while conserving energy – but it can also mean less exercise. The folks at FitDesk have a solution – a brilliant bicycle/desk that
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Poop-powered bus breaks world speed record 26 May 2015, 17.17 Transportation
Poop-powered bus breaks world speed record
Share on TumblrEmail The UK’s poop-powered bus has set a speed record for a regular service bus with a top speed of 76.8 miles per hour (123.5kph). The vehicle is called the ‘Bus Hound’ (a tongue-in-cheek
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Watch this man set the world record for farthest hoverboard flight
Share on TumblrEmail Catalin Alexandru Duru, an inventor from Canada, set the world’s record recently for the longest flight by hoverboard. Ever since Marty McFly surfed the streets of Hill Valley on a
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This bike lane in Korea is topped with 20 miles of solar panels
Share on TumblrEmail Is this the greenest road ever? This video, shot by a drone, shows a stretch of highway in Korea featuring a solar-powered bike lane running right down the middle. The lane is offset,
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Vancouver will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy 13 April 2015, 23.28 Transportation
Vancouver will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy
Share on TumblrEmail Vancouver, Canada, has become the latest city to commit to running on 100 percent renewable energy. Following a City Council vote on March 26 in favor of making the switch, the city
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Gustavo Penna’s modular bus stop blends into the urban landscape in Brazil
Share on TumblrEmail Gustavo Penna Arquiteto & Associados just completed their design for the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) bus stop in Brazil- a modular metallic structure that blends into the urban landscape.
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The Troll Hunters 13 April 2015, 23.28 Tech
The Troll Hunters
We’ve come up with the menacing term “troll” for someone who spreads hate and does other horrible things anonymously on the Internet. Internet trolls are unsettling not just because of the things they say but for the
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Paralyzed Again 13 April 2015, 23.28 Tech
Paralyzed Again
One night in 1982, John Mumford was working on an avalanche patrol on an icy Colorado mountain pass when the van carrying him and two other men slid off the road and plunged over a cliff. The other guys were able to walk
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Toolkits for the Mind 13 April 2015, 23.28 Tech
Toolkits for the Mind
When the Japanese computer scientist Yukihiro Matsumoto decided to create Ruby, a programming language that has helped build Twitter, Hulu, and much of the modern Web, he was chasing an idea from a 1966 science fiction novel
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IBM’s Watson Could Make a Knowledgeable Tour Guide
IBM researchers are exploring Watson’s abilities to answer museumgoers’ questions. By Rachel Metz on April 10, 2015 IBM’s Watson, the machine-learning computer that won Jeopardy! in 2011 and has found work searching
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Why Zapping the Brain Helps Parkinson's Patients
Deep brain stimulation could lead to a more effective, self-tuning device for Parkinson’s. By Courtney Humphries on April 13, 2015 Using electrodes (the white dots in this MRI image) on the brain’s surface,
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Mad Men Recap: Money Can’t Buy Don Draper Love
Seeing Mad Men through its ads: Every week, WIRED takes a look at the latest episode of Mad Men through the lens of the latest media campaign by advertising agency Sterling Cooper & Partners. “Yes…but is it art?”
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Why Everyone Went Nuts Over Hillary Clinton’s New Logo
Hillary Clinton speaks at the University of Miami on March 7, 2015. Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images On Sunday, shortly after Hillary Clinton announced her bid for the 2016 presidency, the internet erupted with a chorus of
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Veep GIF and a Graf: Selina Fails Pretty Much Immediately
Veep GIF and a Graf: Selina's Prompt Failure | WIRED Veep GIF and a Graf: Selina’s Prompt Failure Visually Toggle Menu Visually Toggle Search Click to go back to Wired Home PageSUBSCRIBE 1 / 1HBO HBO Last night Veep
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The 3DR Solo Is One Scary-Smart Drone 13 April 2015, 23.27 Tech
The 3DR Solo Is One Scary-Smart Drone
Great drone footage is mesmerizing, no matter what it depicts. (Exhibit A: This video of a truck driving through mud in super-slow-motion.) But perfect shots—the swooping landscapes, the hovering overheads—are hard to come
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This Week’s Trailers: True Detective Leaves Us Guessing
It feels like a lifetime ago that Rustin Cohle first darkened our doorways with his bleak and opaque philosophizing, and yet, it’s only been a year! And even though time is a flat blah blah blah, one more trip around the sun
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The Netflix of China Is Invading the US With Smartphones
For Letv, it's all about the screen time. Pau Barrena/Bloomberg/Getty Images When I describe Letv as the Netflix of China, Mark Li corrects me. “It’s the other way around,” he says. “Netflix is the Letv of the US.” He
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Blackberry wants to force popular services onto its platform in the name of net neutrality
Blackberry CEO John Chen has penned on the company’s blog his argument for extending net neutrality rules to the application and content layers. He cites the opening up of its Blackberry Messenger service (BBM) on the
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Hard drive failure rates point to clear winners and losers in 2014
One of the most common questions we’re asked about hardware reliability is whether there’s a real difference between the various storage manufacturers. This information is typically locked up like Fort Knox, which is one
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Windows 10: Microsoft raises the stakes for mobile Windows
In the two-plus-hour Microsoft press event revealing the details of Windows 10, none of us on the ET staff can recall hearing the words Android or iPhone, or any mention of how Windows would be improving its interoperability
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Canonical unveils Snappy Ubuntu Core, a lightweight operating system for your home
For the past few years, Canonical, the UK software developer behind the Ubuntu operating system, has been working to extend its traditional desktop operating system into a much broader range of products. Today, the company
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Elon Musk unveils new plan for global satellite internet, while Google invests a billion in SpaceX [UPDATED]
Update (1/20/2015): Multiple sources are claiming that Google is preparing a billion dollar investment into SpaceX that would give the company’s nascent internet plan an enormous capital boost. It’s not clear what kind
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Google ends existing Google Glass program, restructures program under Nest CEO
After months of controversy and limited visibility into the future of the program, Google has decided to restructure the Google Glass division, end the Explorer program, and hand the project off to the CEO of Nest, Tony
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Nissan and NASA team up to build autonomous cars for use in space
Share on TumblrEmail Nissan and NASA have inked a new partnership to further research autonomous vehicles that could be used not only here on Earth, but also in space. The five-year research and development
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Solar Impulse unveils route for first round-the-world flight powered by the sun
Share on TumblrEmail Slated for take off in either late February or early March 2015, the Solar Impulse 2 flight is expected to span approximately 25 flight days
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This cleverly designed bamboo bike charges mobile devices 24 January 2015, 00.26 Transportation
This cleverly designed bamboo bike charges mobile devices
Share on TumblrEmail Bambootec, a consortium from Yucatán, Mexico, has created a bamboo bicycle that turns pedaling into electricity for charging mobile devices. The bike also has a navigation dashboard in
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Resurrecting a Meltdown-Proof Reactor Design 24 January 2015, 00.25 Tech
Resurrecting a Meltdown-Proof Reactor Design
A new molten salt nuclear reactor design could make nuclear power safer and more economical. By Kevin Bullis on January 22, 2015 A view inside the 1970s version of the Oak Ridge molten salt nuclear reactor. A new take on
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Microsoft’s New Idea: A Hologram Headset to Rewrite Reality
A wearable display set for release by Microsoft later this year can augment your world with realistic, interactive virtual objects. By Tom Simonite on January 21, 2015 Microsoft has developed a version of the game
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Microsoft Researchers Get Wrapped Up in Smart Scarf
In the quest to make wearable electronics useful, researchers take a close look at the neck. By Rachel Metz on January 21, 2015 Microsoft researchers have created a scarf that can be commanded to heat up and vibrate via a
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Hawaii’s Solar Push Strains the Grid 24 January 2015, 00.25 Tech
Hawaii’s Solar Push Strains the Grid
Kauai’s utility takes a second stab at battery storage as solar heads toward 80 percent of peak power. By Peter Fairley on January 20, 2015 Shipping containers full of lithium batteries will stabilize Kauai’s grid
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Ford Finally Discovers Silicon Valley 24 January 2015, 00.24 Tech
Ford Finally Discovers Silicon Valley
Ford engineers show off a system for upgrading outdated infotainment hardware at the company’s newly opened Silicon Valley research center. Josh Valcarcel/WIRED “Cars!” says Dragos Maciuca, when asked why he left his
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Aspiring Singer Arrested in Israel on Suspicion of Hacking Madonna
Christie Goodwin/Redferns/Getty Images The specific hackers behind the Sony breach and data leaks may never be identified or arrested. But authorities say they have caught a hacker behind another high-profile breach: the
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Leatherman’s New Wearable Tech Can Repair Your Wearable Tech
Every link in the Leatherman Tread bracelet contains usable tools. It will come in both stainless steel and black DLC finishes (shown). Leatherman The Leatherman Tread will come out this Summer. It’s an interesting
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Here’s the Secret Silk Road Journal From the Laptop of Ross Ulbricht
freeross.org As the saga of the Silk Road has unfolded over the last four years, everyone has had an opinion about the unprecedented, billion-dollar online narcotics bazaar, from press to politicians to prosecutors. Even the
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The Strangely Competitive World of Sci-Fi Writing Workshops
courtesy Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust Each summer budding authors flock to writing workshops like Clarion, Clarion West, and Odyssey, which help prepare students for a career in fantasy and science fiction by
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While You Were Offline: American Sniper’s Fake Baby and a Drug-Buying Bot
Warner Bros. This week, Tumblr launched “Fandometrics,” a ranking that literally scores which fandom is more active and popular on the platform at any given moment. Is this a sign of an oncoming Internet apocalypse, or
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Google calls on FCC to mandate line-sharing, pits itself directly against Comcast and other ISPs
In the ongoing battle between net neutrality advocates and the ISPs, one of the hot-button issues that’s emerged is whether or not ISPs should be regulated as common carriers. Such regulation under Title II of the
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Microsoft is building a new web browser for Windows 10, may kill off Internet Explorer
According to a few sources from within Microsoft, it appears that the company is working on a new web browser — codenamed Spartan — that will debut with Windows 10. Spartan will reportedly look like a mix of Firefox and
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The Interview breaks online movie sales records: A case for simultaneous releases
It is exceedingly hard to find an angle that presents The Interview in a positive light — and yet, of course, Sony Pictures’ marketing department has managed to do just that. Yesterday, four days after the film’s
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Comcast announces plans to roll out gigabit internet by the end of the year
The various established telcos and cable operators have been under pressure ever since Google announced it would begin rolling out fiber networks to consumers in test locations across the country. Now, Comcast is gearing up
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Living with Amazon’s Echo: A cylinder of fun and frustration
Since I already own a Roku, a Chromecast, and an HTPC, I wasn’t in the market for another streaming device, especially not one that only does audio. But one thing about the Amazon Echo caught my attention immediately —
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Detroit Electric’s SP:01 will be the world’s fastest two-seater electric car when it hits the streets in 2016
Share on TumblrEmail Detroit Electric just unveiled the production version of the SP:01 electric sports car, which the automaker says will be the fastest pure-electric, two-seater electric car when it hits
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Johanson3′s electric cargo bikes are the perfect answer for the modern commute
Share on TumblrEmail Bike commuting is a great way to get around, but it can be limiting in terms of fashion choices and payload capacity. Johanson3 is about hit the market with a new product range of 5
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Mercedes-Benz unveils self-driving, hydrogen-powered F 015 Luxury in Motion vehicle at CES
Share on TumblrEmail Mercedes-Benz just unveiled its vision of the future of the automobile at Consumer Electronics Show“>CES 2015 – and it drives itself. The F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle is
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CES 2015: Wearables Everywhere 08 January 2015, 00.13 Tech
CES 2015: Wearables Everywhere
At the annual gadget show, wearable-device makers are moving beyond activity-tracking wristbands. By Rachel Metz on January 5, 2015 Melomind, a head-worn gadget from French company myBrain Technologies, purports to
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Cheap, Scratch-Resistant Displays 08 January 2015, 00.13 Tech
Cheap, Scratch-Resistant Displays
Ted Smick’s device loads crystal wafers for processing. Glass touch-screen displays are easily cracked and scratched, making them a weak point in today’s ubiquitous mobile devices. Sapphire—which is about three times
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The Dementia Plague 08 January 2015, 00.13 Tech
The Dementia Plague
  Evelyn C. Granieri is that rarest of 21st-century doctors: she still makes house calls. On a warm Thursday morning toward the end of August, the New York–based geriatrician, outfitted in a tailored white suit and high
Read More 367 Hits 0 Ratings
CES 2015: Unleash the Drones! 08 January 2015, 00.13 Tech
CES 2015: Unleash the Drones!
Prepare for takeoff. Unmanned aircraft are a rapidly growing category in consumer electronics. By Rachel Metz on January 7, 2015 The X-Star, a drone made by MaxAero of Shenzhen, China, takes a spin at the International
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CES 2015: Nvidia Demos a Car Computer Trained with “Deep Learning”
A commercial device uses powerful image and information processing to let cars interpret 360° camera views. By David Talbot on January 6, 2015 The Drive PX computer Many cars now include cameras or other sensors that
Read More 475 Hits 0 Ratings
A Bendable Implant Taps the Nervous System without Damaging It
Swiss researchers allow rats to walk again with a rubbery electronic implant. By Antonio Regalado on January 8, 2015 An implant made of silicone and gold wires is as stretchy as human tissue. Medicine these days
Read More 306 Hits 0 Ratings
Critics Say New Evidence Linking North Korea to the Sony Hack Is Still Flimsy
Cars pass by the entrance to Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. studios in Culver City, Calif. Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images If the FBI’s revelations on Wednesday about the sloppiness of North Korea’s hackers
Read More 918 Hits 0 Ratings
The Interface of Things: A Universal Remote for Your Life
Ford’s Sync. Ford When was the last time you tried to use the speech recognition feature on your phone or in your car? Maybe it was to ask your GPS program for directions, to place a call without taking your eyes off of
Read More 306 Hits 0 Ratings
Yahoo’s Share of US Search Traffic Rises After Its Firefox Deal
Photo: Courtesy of Yahoo Things are looking up for Yahoo. At least a bit. The venerable internet company has made some significant gains in the U.S. internet search market, while Google has experienced its biggest drop in
Read More 282 Hits 0 Ratings
How Tech Has Shaped Film Making: The Film vs. Digital Debate Is Put to Rest
Pixar The director Robert Rodriguez is famous for getting his shooting done rather quickly. He has described his process as one long day of work, beginning with shots and moving into editing all within the same day. He
Read More 308 Hits 0 Ratings
A Clever Plan to Teach Schoolkids New Languages With a Free App
Getty Images In developing countries like Ethiopia, Malaysia, and Mozambique, the market for English language learning is red hot. These are places where, often, English proficiency is seen as a stepping stone to a better
Read More 386 Hits 0 Ratings
Uber’s New Moving Service in Hong Kong Is No Mere Stunt
Uber Uber has proven many times over that it’s good for more than just ride-hailing. In the past, the app has acted as a Christmas tree delivery service, an ice cream truck-hailing app, an on-demand kitten-cuddling
Read More 264 Hits 0 Ratings
Chinese man builds working electric car from wood 26 December 2014, 02.50 Transportation
Chinese man builds working electric car from wood
Share on TumblrEmail Chinese carpenter Liu Fulong spent four months this year building a fully operational, all-electric car out of wood! The car is armored, it features several missiles mounted to the sides
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Volvo’s new connected helmet helps drivers and bikers avoid collision
Share on TumblrEmail Several automakers are working on new safety technology that will connect drivers to pedestrians and cyclists, with the ultimate goal of alleviating collisions. Volvo has already
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VIDEO: This dude floated up to 8,000 feet with nothing but a bunch of balloons and a lawnchair
Share on TumblrEmail Who hasn’t dreamed of grabbing a bunch of balloons and floating away into the sky? The difference between the dreamers and professional stuntman Erik Roner is that while the rest of the
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How Tech Has Shaped Film Making: The Film vs. Digital Debate Is Put to Rest PDF Print E-mail

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Pixar

The director Robert Rodriguez is famous for getting his shooting done rather quickly. He has described his process as one long day of work, beginning with shots and moving into editing all within the same day. He likes to be able to review his work as it’s produced so that he knows what the final product might look like. Compare that to someone like George Lucas, who spends quite a bit of time and budget in post-production, and it’s easy to see that technology has taken film in very different directions.

Technology’s greatest impact is perhaps felt in new cameras that allow cinematographers to shoot in a higher definition, letting viewers take in more of the amazing work in set design. Technology also drives entire segments of film now, enabling movies that were not possible before. Here are some examples where technology has driven film making.

Costs

Film is the preferred medium of old school film makers, but it’s usually too costly for a studio to authorize. Film carries several disadvantages, that dwarf the authenticity that the film maker is going for. Aside from the expense, film is impossible to reuse. That means a day of shooting must have footage the crew can use, or else every resource consumed that day was a waste. The costs of film don’t end the day of shooting either. Cinematographers who use film must develop it, and then there is the costly process of editing the film.

Going digital largely means foregoing the large canisters of film that used to be synonymous with film making. It also means production companies complete their shoot schedules with less waste, keeping the entire project under or close to budget.

Editing

Post production is another area where digital trumps the usage of film. Adding visual effects to film was often a precise art, where the effect had to blend seamlessly with what was being shot. This was a painstaking process that editors no longer go through. Digital effects are created and added to the shot within the same program or family of programs. This software also allows editors to work on entire sections of a film, easily piecing scenes together after the post production effects are added in. That includes audio, which now has a high definition digital file that ensures the audience will hear every word and action that they see.

The end result is a piece of film that looks cleaner, with effects that blend seamlessly with the movie. The audience usually can’t tell when CGI has been used, but it’s a powerful tool film makers have increasingly used to set atmosphere.

Shooting

Shooting in digital is much easier because you can do more in less time. Multiple cameras can run on the same shot, so you always get the angle you want without having to waste time on retakes. I like shooting digitally because it makes it easy to shoot multiple takes, and to get multiple angles more economically. A director’s bread and butter is pace and performance. I love being able to shoot everything. Even, with the actors’ permission, the rehearsals. You never know what pieces you’ll be able to use later in editing.

Coupled with the new steady cam equipment that film has taken a liking to, the end result is a more intimate shot. The audience feels present in the moment because the lens we are allowed to look through feels authentic. Film makers also spend less time re-shooting the same scene to get the right angle.

Distribution

The process of distributing film in digital has not quite hit the apex of what it is capable of, but the indie film maker especially stands to gain. Distribution through YouTube has been the most common form of marketing for quite some time. Studios have released big-budget trailers, while indie film makers have sought funding and interested eyes posting content through various YouTube channels. Of course, the adverse affect is that quality has significantly declined, but that’s more a function of volume. YouTube users also crowd source what is popular with a thumbs up, helping others to find new and interesting content without spending too much time digging for it.

Rights to films are already distributed to consumers digitally, but this market has not been fully tapped. There is much debate as to the future of film consumption, but companies seem willing to distribute films online. The 2011 film Tower Heist with Ben Stiller was almost released to Comcast customers alongside the theatrical release, but the idea was scrapped after several theaters threatened not to show the film in protest. Although digital promises an exciting new world of distribution, the business of film has yet to catch up with this idea. 

Preservation

The preservation of film isn’t something we think about as consumers, but it’s the very reason we still have re-mastered copies of Ben Hurr and the Star Wars trilogy. Film will crumble and damage over time, and it’s extremely flammable too. There are simply too many methods for film to outlive its usefulness. Digital films can be stored on company servers, without taking up too much space. The costs to maintain this infrastructure are also lower than the costs to store and re-master film.

Digital archives are also easy to backup and restore. Pixar had a now famous incident when creating Toy Story 2, where one of the animators lost almost the entire film working on it at home thanks to a bad backup. Aside from this small gaffe, the backup system has allowed production companies access to earlier versions of a film, as well as a source to store shots used for dailies and extras. 

Without technology, it would be nearly impossible for Hollywood to produce the volume of films that it does. Film might be a nice thought for that vintage feel, but the practicalities of digital have largely put the film versus digital debate to rest. 

Charles Matthau, son of Walter Matthau, is a film and television director best known for adapting books into movies.

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A Clever Plan to Teach Schoolkids New Languages With a Free App PDF Print E-mail

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In developing countries like Ethiopia, Malaysia, and Mozambique, the market for English language learning is red hot. These are places where, often, English proficiency is seen as a stepping stone to a better job and a one-way ticket out of poverty. But one major kink in that plan is the fact that in many cases, the English teachers within these countries don’t speak English either. And so, the cycle continues.

But Luis von Ahn believes his app could play a key role in breaking that cycle. Von Ahn is the co-founder of Duolingo, a free language learning app that launched two and a half years ago and has since amassed a whopping 60 million users worldwide.

As big as Duolingo—and indeed, the entire online learning market—has become outside the classroom, von Ahn knows that language education still has a crucial place in schools. That’s why, on Thursday, the Pittsburgh-based startup is launching a new platform called Duolingo for Schools, which will help teachers track student activity on the app and tailor their lectures in the classroom, accordingly.

“It’s hard to know how many, but we think right now we have a few thousand teachers using Duolingo without this feature,” von Ahn says. “I think this will multiply that by a factor of ten, easily.”

Duolingo’s success is part of a groundswell of activity in the online learning space. In recent years, thanks to the explosive growth of platforms like Coursera and edX, the idea that you can get a quality education for free online has gone mainstream.

The New Model

That’s one reason why, in the early days, von Ahn and his co-founders Brendan Meeder and Severin Hacker intentionally designed Duolingo not for large school systems, but for a mass audience of international language learners. They objected to the fact that most mainstream products for learning a new language, like Rosetta Stone, are still prohibitively expensive, despite the huge and growing demand for English language education in poverty-stricken places.

Duolingo co-founders Severin Hacker and Luis von Ahn.

Duolingo co-founders Severin Hacker and Luis von Ahn. Duolingo

“It’s like the main reason you want to learn English is to get out of poverty,” says von Ahn, who hails from Guatemala, “but you need $500 to do it.”

So, the co-founders developed a novel business model to pay for the free service. When students finish a lesson in Duolingo, they can test their newfound knowledge by translating a piece of text in a news article. Companies like CNN and Buzzfeed pay Duolingo for these crowdsourced translations, and now, according to von Ahn, Duolingo’s millions of students churn out several hundred articles a day.

Whether or not Duolingo’s founders designed the products for schools, teachers slowly but surely began incorporating it into the classroom anyway, albeit with some clunky workarounds. “They do these weird things where they have all the students use Duolingo, and at the end, the teacher goes around writing what the students did,” von Ahn says. “It’s pretty cumbersome.”

Now, teachers will be able to create an account that tracks all of their students to see who’s struggling with or excelling at which skills. What’s more, the system learns from student performance to help teachers understand the best ways to teach a given subject.

“If we want to figure out if we should teach plurals before adjectives, we run a test,” von Ahn explains. “It could take you years to figure that out, otherwise. This year you’d have to teach it one way, and next year you teach it another way, and maybe after ten years you figure out plurals are better than adjectives first. Yes, teachers have been doing it way longer, but we can iterate way faster.”

The Teacher Caveat

Despite these advantages, some academics caution that an app like Duolingo can never replace the teacher—or the textbook—particularly at the university level. “You can review vocabulary and practice verb forms, but it’s not giving you any cultural context,” says Elise Mueller, an academic technology consultant, specializing in language teaching and technology at Duke University.

“It’s great that it’s free and available to people, and it does support language learning, but the main pushback is: it can’t be the primary way you’re learning a language.”

Still, Mueller concedes that for younger learners, Duolingo may become a worthwhile addition to the classroom. “It’s great, because it’s addictive,” she says. “Instead of having to do your homework and learn vocabulary the hard way, you’re pulled into it.”

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Uber’s New Moving Service in Hong Kong Is No Mere Stunt PDF Print E-mail

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Uber

Uber has proven many times over that it’s good for more than just ride-hailing. In the past, the app has acted as a Christmas tree delivery service, an ice cream truck-hailing app, an on-demand kitten-cuddling business, and, when San Francisco legalized gay marriage last summer, a full-fledged wedding planner. These were all marketing stunts, sure. But they proved how nimble (sometimes bizarrely so) Uber’s business model is.

Now, the company is using these skills for a more practical purpose.

With the flip of a switch, Uber can mutate into whatever type of transportation system it chooses.

On Wednesday, Uber announced the launch of UberCargo, a moving service currently being tested in Hong Kong. Similar to UberMovers, a service Uber offered college students last August to help them move out of their dorm rooms, UberCargo lets people hail a van, load it with their stuff, and cart it across town. They’re not even required to ride along with it.

The news in and of itself isn’t groundbreaking, except that it provides one compelling example of Uber’s ambitions to be a full-fledged logistics company. Uber’s $40 billion valuation makes it more valuable than the entire U.S. taxi and limousine industry. That’s largely due to the fact that, with the flip of a switch, Uber can mutate into whatever type of transportation system it chooses. Its vast network of drivers and the technology that supports them are extremely flexible, and projects like UberCargo prove as much.

While Uber mostly showcases that fact with hair-brained antics, this isn’t the first time Uber has tested a viable business model outside of ride-hailing. UberFRESH, which is currently operating only in Los Angeles, competes with services like SeamlessWeb and Delivery.com in the food delivery space. UberRUSH, operating only in New York City, is a courier service for shuttling small deliveries around town. And this summer, Uber even took on tech giants like Amazon and Google with the launch of Uber Corner Store, a service that promises delivery of staple items from local stores in 10 minutes or less.

In a blog post on UberCargo, Uber called the project an “Uber Everything experiment focused on making every day city living easier so you have more time to do what matter most.” Each of these small scale tests—yes, even the wacky ones—gives Uber a better idea of whether consumers actually want to use Uber for all of their needs. As Uber continues to expand, even in the face of so much regulatory backlash, is seems all signs point to yes.

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Can Japan Recapture Its Solar Power? PDF Print E-mail
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It’s 38 °C on the Atsumi Peninsula southwest of Tokyo: a deadly heat wave has been gripping much of Japan late this summer. Inside the offices of a newly built power plant operated by the plastics company Mitsui Chemicals, the AC is blasting. Outside, 215,000 solar panels are converting the blistering sunlight into 50 megawatts of electricity for the local grid. Three 118-meter-high wind turbines erected at the site add six megawatts of generation capacity to back up the solar panels during the winter.

Mitsui’s plant is just one of thousands of renewable-power installations under way as Japan confronts its third summer in a row without use of the nuclear reactors that had delivered almost 30 percent of its electricity. In Japan people refer to the earthquake and nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011, as “Three-Eleven.” Radioactive contamination forced more than 100,000 people to evacuate and terrified millions more. It also sent a shock wave through Japan’s already fragile manufacturing sector, which is the country’s second-largest employer and accounts for 18 percent of its economy.

Eleven of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors shut down on the day of the earthquake. One year later every reactor in Japan was out of service; each had to be upgraded to meet heightened safety standards and then get in a queue for inspections. During my visit this summer, Japan was still without nuclear power, and only aggressive energy conservation kept the lights on. Meanwhile, the country was using so much more imported fossil fuel that electricity prices were up by about 20 percent for homes and 30 percent for businesses, according to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI).

The post-Fukushima energy crisis, however, has fueled hopes for the country’s renewable-power industry, particularly its solar businesses. As one of his last moves before leaving office in the summer of 2011, Prime Minister Naoto Kan established potentially lucrative feed-in tariffs to stimulate the installation of solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy. Feed-in tariffs set a premium rate at which utilities must purchase power generated from such sources.

The government incentive is what motivated Mitsui to finally make use of land originally purchased for an automotive plastics factory that was never built because carmakers moved manufacturing operations overseas. The site had sat idle for 21 years before Mitsui assembled a consortium to help finance a $180 million investment in solar panels and wind turbines. By moving fast, Mitsui and its six partners qualified for 2012 feed-in tariffs that promised industrial-scale solar facilities 40 yen (35 cents) per kilowatt-hour generated for 20 years. At that price, says Shin Fukuda, the former nuclear engineer who runs Mitsui’s energy and environment business, the consortium should earn back its investment in 10 years and collect substantial profits from the renewable facility for at least another decade.

Sanyo Electric’s so-called Solar Ark, built in 2001 during the heyday of the country’s initial solar boom, was designed to generate 630 kilowatts of power, making it one of the world’s largest solar facilities. It boasts 5,046 solar panels.

Overnight, Japan has become the world’s hottest solar market: in less than two years after Fukushima melted down, the country more than doubled its solar generating capacity. According to METI, developers installed nearly 10 gigawatts of renewable generating capacity through the end of April 2014, including 9.6 gigawatts of photovoltaics. (The nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi had 4.7 gigawatts of capacity; overall, the country has around 290 gigawatts of installed electricity-generating capacity.) Three-quarters of the new solar capacity was in large-scale installations such as Mitsui’s.

Yet this explosion of solar capacity marks a bittersweet triumph for Japan’s solar-panel manufacturers, which had led the design of photovoltaics in the 1980s and launched the global solar industry in the 1990s. Bitter because most of the millions of panels being installed are imports made outside the country. Even some Japanese manufacturers, including early market leader Sharp, have taken to buying panels produced abroad and selling them in Japan.

How Japan­­—once the world’s most advanced semiconductor producer and a pioneer in using that technology to manufacture photovoltaic cells—gave away its solar industry is a story of national insecurity, monopoly power, and money-driven politics. It is also a tale with important lessons for those who believe that the strength of renewable technologies will provide sufficient incentives for countries to transform their energy habits.

In Japan, for most of the 2000s, impressive advances in photovoltaics were ignored because the country’s powerful utilities exerted their political muscle to favor nuclear power. And despite resurging consumer demand for solar power and strong public disdain for nuclear, the same thing could happen again. Will a country with few fossil-fuel resources and bleak memories of the Fukushima disaster take advantage of its technical expertise to recapture its position as a leading producer of photovoltaics, or will it turn away from renewable energy once more?

Riches

Longer than three football fields and over 37 meters tall, the Solar Ark is clearly visible from the Tokkaido Shinkansen as the bullet train crosses central Japan. The structure, covered with photovoltaic panels, looks like a temple of energy from another era—a time when Japan owned the solar-power industry. Sanyo erected the Ark in 2001, arraying on it 5,046 solar panels capable of generating 630 kilowatts of pollution-free electricity.

An image from Japanese television captures smoke rising after a hydrogen explosion at Fukushima Daiichi’s unit 3 on March 14, 2011, days after the initial earthquake. Following the Fukushima disaster, all the country’s nuclear reactors were shut down.

The era that gave rise to this feat began with the energy crises of the 1970s, when spiking global petroleum prices pummeled Japan’s export-driven manufacturing economy. The country harnessed its dominance in the production of electronic semiconductor chips to pursue alternatives for cleaner, safer power in photovoltaics. And unlike other countries, such as the United States, it stuck with the resulting solar development programs even when oil prices dropped in the 1980s. Between 1985 and 2007, Japanese researchers filed for more than twice as many patents in solar technologies as rival U.S. and European inventors combined. Companies like Sharp, Sanyo Electric, Panasonic, and Kyocera became the clear leaders in solar technology. Japanese producers began ramping up sales and solar installations in the 1990s. By 2001 total solar-power output in Japan was 500 times higher than it had been a decade earlier—a decade in which U.S. solar generation edged up by a meager 15 percent.

Then it all came crashing to a halt a decade ago as the country staked its future on nuclear power.

The government’s nuclear plans were ambitious: by the time Fukushima Daiichi melted down, they would call for 14 additional reactors by 2030, which would have nearly doubled nuclear generation to account for 50 percent of Japan’s power supply. Meanwhile, photovoltaic sales in Japan declined during the mid-2000s, and by 2007 Japanese producers had ceded global market leadership to U.S., Chinese, and European manufacturers. In just a few years, the country had gone from industry leader to has-been.

What turned Japan away from the sun was a pernicious blend of perception, culture, and politics. Nuclear power had an aura of strength, while energy based on intermittent renewable power sources looked weak and unreliable—an impression encouraged by the country’s politically powerful utilities. Though Japan has numerous locations that are ideal for wind and solar power, power companies convinced the public that energy choices were limited. “We are really severely of the mind-set that we lack resources and that Japan has to depend on imported fuel,” says Mika Ohbayashi, director of the Tokyo-based Japan Renewable Energy Foundation.

What turned Japan away from the sun was a pernicious blend of perception, culture, and politics.

The utilities’ view was colored by self-interest. Japan’s 10 utilities were (and remain) vertical monopolies. Each controls power generation, transmission, and distribution in its respective region, and its grids are designed to deliver electricity from centralized power plants—including large nuclear reactors. They lack, by design, the interconnections that facilitate the safe use of variable power generation. In most industrialized countries, governments have broken up the monopolies in power markets, freeing operators of transmission grids to build those interconnections, but Japan’s utilities have bucked the deregulation trend. The interconnection problem is further compounded by an artifact: two AC frequencies that split the country’s electrical system in half. Eastern Japan operates at 50 hertz, while western Japan uses 60-hertz power—a barrier that proved crippling in 2011, in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, when a suddenly underpowered Tokyo could access little of Osaka’s surplus power.

Asked why Japan chose not to push solar power aggressively when it dominated the global industry, former prime minister Kan told me he puts the blame squarely on the country’s utilities: “The reason is very clear. The electric power companies, the people who wanted to promote nuclear power, were opposed.”

Revival

In a subdivision spreading over reclaimed land in the bay in Ashiya, a city between Osaka and Kobe, a 400-unit residential development called Smart City Shio-Ashiya (“Salty-Ashiya”) is taking shape, the brainchild of the Panasonic subsidiary ­PanaHome. On a Sunday in July, solar panels atop each of the 50 houses built to date are pumping surplus power into the local grid, and PanaHome salespeople are selling a couple with toddlers on the homes’ energy benefits and earthquake resistance.

Shio-Ashiya’s two-story homes include geothermal heating and cooling and other green design features to minimize power consumption, while the high-efficiency rooftop solar panels maximize power generation. The surplus power should, according to PanaHome saleswoman Saho Watanabe, earn residents roughly 100,000 yen ($825) each year. Watanabe touts another feature, which should be invaluable when the grid goes down—say, in an earthquake or typhoon. She opens a cupboard in the dining room of a model home to reveal a lithium battery that, working with an energy management system near the kitchen, can run the family’s AC/heat pumps, first-floor lighting, and refrigerator for about two days.


Panasonic’s solar hopes rest on a technology invented by researchers at Sanyo in the 1990s and acquired by Panasonic four years ago when the corporations merged. The solar cells combine conventional crystalline-silicon and thin-film amorphous-­silicon technologies to achieve relatively high efficiency in converting sunlight to electricity. Called HIT, for heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer, the hybrid technology has become a mainstay of the company’s solar strategy.

Shingo Okamoto, a materials scientist who spent his career at Sanyo Electric before becoming director of solar R&D for Panasonic’s EcoSolutions business group, says the panels are earning premium pricing in domestic sales because they produce far more electricity from a given rooftop than the cheaper polycrystalline panels that dominate the market. Assuming that each household consumes electricity at the Japanese average of 1,400 kilowatt-hours per year during daylight hours, he says, a household with the Panasonic system will have 52 percent more surplus power to return to the grid than a home with an ordinary solar system.

Residential power in Japan is pricey—at 24.33 yen (20 cents) per kilowatt-hour in 2013, it was nearly double the U.S. average. And given that electricity prices are “sure to keep going up,” says Okamoto, the most efficient rooftop photovoltaic systems will have a strong advantage. When we met in July at Panasonic’s Shiga plant, east of Kyoto, the plant had just started shipping its newest and most powerful panel design. The advances behind the panel, which uses cells with an efficiency of 22.5 percent, include a light-scattering film on the backside to enhance light absorption. Assembly lines were running 24 hours a day to keep up with domestic demand.

Further advances are in the pipeline. In April, Okamoto’s group produced a silicon solar cell that reached 25.6 percent efficiency, breaking a 15-year-old world record of 25.0 percent. Though the record was set in the lab using a prototype device, Okamoto predicts that the group will ultimately be able to produce commercial cells whose efficiency is within a few percentage points of crystalline silicon’s theoretical limit, 29 percent.

Repowering

Across the coastal mountains from the smashed reactors at Fukushima Daiichi and the contaminated landscape they created, one of the world’s most advanced facilities dedicated to renewable-energy R&D is gearing up. The $100 million complex opened in April in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture’s commercial center, and pulls together previously disparate research by Japan’s science and technology agencies. The institute is not here by accident. It’s an explicit commitment to the emotionally and economically devastated region.

The verdant prefecture north of Tokyo remains depopulated after the earthquake, tsunami, and meltdowns of March 2011. Many of the more than 100,000 residents rendered homeless by the disasters will never return. Replacing lost residents and businesses in an area known for radioactive contamination is not easy. Solar-powered radioactivity monitors in Koriyama show that the air is safe, but 100 kilometers to the east, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) still struggles to keep contamination from polluting both groundwater and the sea.

The Koriyama R&D facility boasts state-of-the-art labs for crystallizing, slicing, and patterning silicon wafers, and its production line can churn out up to 360 wafers an hour. Outside, a variety of photovoltaics are being tested, along with a modest-sized wind turbine and a large grid-connected battery. Its most ambitious program is directed by Makoto Konagai, one of Japan’s most celebrated solar scientists, who has moved to Koriyama from the Tokyo Institute of Technology. His goal is to smash through the theoretical efficiency limit of silicon cells, demonstrating rates of 30 percent by 2016 and up to 40 percent by 2021. It is an ambitious plan, but three large manufacturers, including Panasonic, have signed on.

Workers watched in October as a crane lifted a section of a radiation shroud that had been placed over a reactor at Fukushima after the earthquake. Lifting the cover exposed the debris inside the destroyed building for the first time since 2011.

While some other researchers seek more efficient alternatives to silicon, which accounts for 90 percent of current solar production, Konagai seeks to redesign the silicon cell from top to bottom. One of his teams, for example, is developing a casting method to produce higher-quality silicon ingots. Another team is rethinking the way semiconductor structures are patterned to turn silicon wafers into cells: Konagai’s plan is to etch or build vertical structures just a few nanometers across, almost 100,000 times narrower than the silicon wafer itself. If his simulations are good, the resulting nanowires or nanowalls will alter the electrical behavior of the silicon within, boosting its potential to absorb light and gather electrical charge.

In June 2011, Fukushima’s previously pro-nuclear governor, Yuhei Sato, declared that Fukushima should pin its future on renewable energy. Community activists initiated dozens of projects across the prefecture, and in 2012 it set a goal of increasing renewable energy from 22 percent to 100 percent of its power supply by 2040.

The cold reality of Japan’s energy predicament, however, is that such bold ambitions are likely to fall short. The type of solar expansion that can be expected from feed-in tariffs alone isn’t likely to meet the prefecture’s goals—or even to replace the power that Japan’s nuclear fleet once delivered. And political and economic forces don’t seem to favor policies that would expand renewables more dramatically.

Projections by the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association, a Tokyo-based trade group, suggest that annual solar installations will peak this year just shy of seven gigawatts. The group predicts that total installed solar capacity in Japan will reach 102 gigawatts by 2030, which would be enough to meet only a small fraction of the country’s electricity needs. Moderate deployment of wind power would provide some additional electricity. But Japan needs far more. While Japanese consumers and industry have cut power demand since 2011, utilities covered most of the nuclear shortfall by ramping up combustion of imported natural gas, petroleum, and coal. Fossil fuels accounted for some 89 percent of Japan’s electricity generation in 2012. As a result, its total greenhouse-gas emissions were 7 percent higher that year than in 2010.

The prospects for renewable power could get worse. To hedge against the possibility that they may be unable to restart nuclear reactors, utilities are building a new generation of coal-fired power stations. By Ohbayashi’s count, some 13 gigawatts of new coal-fired power generation are now in development.

Meanwhile, the relatively high cost of Japan’s solar power threatens to incite a backlash against renewable energy, encouraged by the pro-nuclear utilities. “There is no doubt that with the current photovoltaics, power generation is expensive,” says Okamoto, expressing his personal viewpoint rather than Panasonic’s. He fears negative reactions from ratepayers, whose rising power bills pay the tariffs that fund photovoltaic systems on rooftops and at power plants like Mitsui Chemicals’: “If we continue to expand our business with the current level of costs, we may have objections.”

What’s more, the old politics that favor nuclear power seem to be returning. Though opinion polls consistently show that a majority of Japanese oppose restarting the utilities’ idled reactors, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vows to restart those deemed safe by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority. In July the agency issued the first such certification, to a pair of reactors on the southern island of Kyushu—even though offsite emergency control centers mandated after Fukushima have yet to be completed and the reactors are dangerously close to an active volcano. Iodine pills were quickly distributed to the reactors’ neighbors, and the precedent-setting restart is expected soon, after getting the green light from the local governor and the plant’s host city, Satsumasendai, whose economy is crippled without the jobs, tax dollars, and business that the plant provides.

At the same time, utilities are delaying grid connections to renewable developments or imposing grid-upgrade fees that render renewable projects infeasible. The pushback is hitting wind power hardest. Japan’s meager market for wind turbines has actually slowed since Fukushima.

This summer METI launched a committee to manage the implementation of new energy policies. One topic: recent efforts by utilities and the government to restrain further solar installations. Ohbayashi says METI is backpedaling because it misjudged the commercial potential of renewables and their potential impact on the utilities. Says Ohbayashi, “They didn’t foresee the explosive growth of photovoltaics.”

The Japanese government has plans to radically overhaul the country’s balkanized wholesale market and power grid, preparing for a future in which producers compete for the right to deliver power. In that scenario, renewable energy could thrive.

The most critical step, however, is still years away: forcing the vertically integrated utilities to “unbundle” their power generation and transmission businesses. Unbundling is essential to create a level playing field for producers and a system optimized to deliver the cheapest and cleanest power available in real time.

Reëngineering the grid to accommodate massive flows of renewables such as wind and solar is a potentially expensive route for Japan. However, it’s not necessarily more costly than the path back to nuclear that the current government and the utilities are charting. Factoring in the cost of insurance against accidents and upgrades to prevent them could double the cost of nuclear energy.

As former prime minister Naoto Kan told me, the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi has forever altered the economics of nuclear power. “In the past, nuclear power was said to be able to supply power at a very cheap cost, but we know now that is not correct,” he said. “That calculation assumed that no accidents could occur. Now we know they can.”

Peter Fairley is a contributing editor for MIT Technology Review.

Credits: Illustration by Tatsuro Kiuchi, photos by Polaris; AP Images; The Asahi Shimbun; Getty Images

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In Praise of Efficient Price Gouging PDF Print E-mail

Uber’s most important innovation is the way it prices its services. But that innovation has not been unreservedly welcomed by customers. They’re wrong.

illustration of man in waist-high snow hailing car on lift

In the four years since the car service Uber launched, it has been beset by criticism from myriad groups, including city officials annoyed by its sometimes cavalier attitude toward regulation and taxi companies annoyed by increased competition. Some of the harshest criticism, though, has come from an unlikely place: Uber’s own customers. Thanks to its reliance on what it calls “surge pricing”— meaning that during times of high demand, Uber raises its prices, often sharply—the company has been accused of profiteering and exploiting its customers. When Uber jacked up prices during a snowstorm in New York last December, for instance, there was an eruption of complaints, the general mood being summed up by a tweet calling Uber “price-gouging assholes.”

What’s striking about the Uber backlash is that the company is hardly the first to use dynamic pricing. There have always been crude forms of price differentiation—or, as it is known in economics, price discrimination. If you go to a movie matinee, you pay less than if you go at night, and if you’re willing to wait to buy a new dress (and run the risk that it might sell out), you can often get it at a marked-down price. But dynamic pricing in a more rigorous sense was pioneered in the 1980s by Robert Crandall, CEO of American Airlines, as a way to fight off competition from discount airlines like People Express. American began by slashing prices for tickets bought well in advance, while keeping prices for tickets bought closer to takeoff (when ticket inventory was lower, and demand was less price-sensitive) as high as possible. In the decades since, this kind of yield management has become integral to the business models of airlines, hotels, and rental-car companies, and greater computing power and more sophisticated data analysis has turned pricing in these industries into an incredibly complex process. (Dynamic pricing has also allowed sites like Priceline and Hotwire to flourish, since when hotels are stuck with extra rooms, they’re often willing to drop prices rather than let a room sit empty.) More recently, as technology has made it easier to segment the market and change prices on the fly, dynamic pricing has become common in other industries, too. Many professional sports teams now use it to set ticket prices—games against high-profile teams cost more than games against cellar dwellers—while concert ticket prices wax and wane with demand.

If dynamic pricing is hardly unusual, why has Uber taken so much flak? Some of it is a matter of history: early on, Uber’s pricing was not especially transparent, so customers occasionally found themselves stuck with fares that were much higher than they expected. The fact that some of the most high-profile examples of surge pricing have been the result of big storms also matters, since it taps into people’s visceral dislike of price gouging. A 1986 study by Daniel Kahneman, Jack Knetsch, and Richard Thaler found that most people thought “raising prices in response to a shortage is unfair even when close substitutes are readily available”—a situation that almost perfectly describes Uber. Then, too, the price increases during surges are often magnitudes greater than customers are used to; during that New York snowstorm, Uber charged up to nearly eight times as much as it usually did. Thaler has suggested that people find price increases above three times normal psychologically ­intolerable.

The reality is that the times when people most want a ride are also the times when it’s most annoying and, often, most risky to drive: rush hour, New Year’s Eve, 2 a.m. on a Saturday night, snowstorms.

It’s also important that Uber’s prices only rise above the base rate and never fall below it, since customers seem to accept dynamic pricing more easily when it’s characterized as a discount. At the movies, for instance, prime-time tickets aren’t presented as a few dollars more than the normal price—rather, matinees are presented as a few dollars less. When American introduced dynamic pricing, it framed the 21-day advance-purchase requirement as a chance to buy “super-saver” fares. And happy hours at bars are, similarly, framed as a markdown from the regular price. These framing devices don’t change the underlying economics or price structure, but they can have a big impact on customer reaction. In 1999, for instance, Douglas Ivester, then the CEO of Coca-Cola, suggested that smart vending machines would allow Cokes to be more expensive on hot days, when demand was presumably higher. There was an immediate, intense backlash, and the company quickly backed down, saying Ivester’s comments were purely hypothetical. Had Ivester instead suggested that Coca-Cola could use dynamic pricing to charge less on cold days (even if it had raised the base price of a can), response would probably have been very different. Uber’s competitor Lyft seems to have recognized the power of framing: it recently introduced what it calls happy-hour pricing, offering discounts during slow business hours.

Finally, Uber also faces a challenge simply because of the industry it’s in: a business in which fares have historically been regulated (for cabs) and fixed (if you take a car service to the airport in New York, for instance, you typically pay the same price whether you leave at 6 a.m. or 5 p.m.). Uber’s pricing scheme is more complicated and harder to grasp intuitively, so that even though Uber is transparent about surge pricing, some people inevitably find it vexing. Uber’s also combating the sense that transportation is, in some sense, a public utility, and that it’s offensive to charge people so much more than they’re used to paying. This is a mysterious complaint, since there are many alternatives to using Uber. But it’s a surprisingly common one.

It’s easy to see, then, why Uber has become a flash point for criticism. But there is a deep irony here: the company arguably offers the most economically sensible, and useful, example of dynamic pricing in today’s economy.

In most cases, after all, dynamic pricing is a way for companies to maximize profits by exploiting demand—charging higher prices to people who can and will pay more. As MIT professor Yossi Sheffi has put it, it’s the “science of squeezing every possible dollar from customers.”

That’s because most industries that use dynamic pricing have a limited inventory (an airline flight has a set number of seats, a hotel a set number of rooms) and are trying to make as much money from selling that inventory as possible. Uber’s case is different. While the company also wants to make as much money as possible, it uses surge pricing not only to exploit demand but to increase supply.

illustrated screen of Uber's smartphone app

The Uber app tells users how much the rate has increased during times of high demand.

When there are more would-be Uber passengers than available Uber cars, the company’s algorithm sets a price that balances supply and demand. Uber’s algorithm (which it has been refining since 2011) is the company’s greatest asset and most significant innovation, allowing it to find the price that will attract drivers—whom, as independent contractors, it can’t order onto the road—without alienating customers. The strategy works. In a recent blog post, the venture capitalist Bill Gurley, who’s an Uber board member, said that when Uber first tested dynamic pricing in Boston in 2012, it was able to “increase on-the-road supply of drivers by 70 to 80 percent.”

Plenty of us have an intuition that cab drivers would want to be on the road when there’s money to be made. But this isn’t the case: a number of studies have shown that there’s considerable variety in how they decide when to drive. Also, the reality is that the times when people most want a ride are also the times when it’s most annoying and, often, most risky to drive. Rush hour, New Year’s Eve, 2 a.m. on a Saturday night, snowstorms: generally speaking, these are exactly the times when a driver doesn’t want to be on the road. But if driving at those times pays considerably better, then they are more likely to be willing.

What this means is that in the case of Uber, surge pricing doesn’t just make rides more expensive (as is the case with airline tickets or hotel rooms at times of high demand). It also expands the number of people who are actually able to get a ride. Customers pay more, but they also get a ride that they otherwise would not have gotten. This is exactly how a market is supposed to work: higher demand induces more supply.

Of course, Uber has been making this argument for a while now, and it hasn’t stopped people from complaining. (Though it hasn’t stopped people from using the service, either: Uber is now valued at more than $17 billion.) So pundits have proffered a number of suggestions for solving the public relations problem.

The company itself should take no money during surge periods (it now takes 20 percent of every fare), so all the money goes to the drivers. Or it should cap prices to consumers but pay the higher price to drivers, essentially subsidizing people’s rides in surge periods. Or when prices rise really sharply, Uber should donate its take to charity.

These are all interesting ideas. But it’d be a mistake for Uber to let public relations trump economics when it comes to dynamic pricing. It makes sense that the company recently reached an agreement with New York’s attorney general that caps surge pricing during times of “emergency,” since these emergencies are rare, and the negative fallout from them can be immense. But tinkering with the basic idea of surge pricing will only reinforce the status quo and bolster people’s implicit assumption that prices should be set, in some sense, independently of supply and demand. The basic reality of Uber’s business model is that when people want a ride the most, it’s likely to be the most expensive. This will always be irritating, just as exorbitant prices for last-minute airline tickets are irritating. But over time, surge pricing will also become more familiar and less surprising.

Utilities are now starting to use dynamic pricing for electric power, which can help prevent blackouts at times of high demand and promote energy conservation more generally. A new startup called Boomerang Commerce, which is led by former Amazon engineers, has been helping online retailers set prices dynamically. Dynamic pricing is the future, even if the road to get there will be bumpy.

James Surowiecki writes “The Financial Page” for the New Yorker.

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2014 in Mobile: The Year of Wearable Gadgets PDF Print E-mail

In 2014, the hottest theme in mobile technology was the introduction of wearable gadgets that can track everything from seizures to how much sunlight you soak up. Device makers large and small attempted to make wearables that are both functional and fashionable.

Activity trackers like the Fitbit and Jawbone Up still make up the vast majority of devices worn on the body, but companies increasingly pushed smart watches in 2014. LG and Samsung were among those that released watches running Android Wear, a new version of Google’s Android mobile software tailored for wearable electronics. Meanwhile, companies like Pinterest, Airbnb, and Groupon designed apps for the small screens.

The highest-profile smart watch unveiled this year came from Apple in September. Apple’s first wearable device looks more stylish and thoughtfully designed than most smart watches, with a force-sensitive touch screen and a dial on its side that can scroll and zoom. The gadget, which will cost $349 in its most inexpensive configuration, won’t be available until early next year, however, and Apple only released its WatchKit developer tools and rules in November.

Though smart watches in particular often cram a ton of features into a small package, this year some wearable makers eschewed feature creep for simplicity in an effort to woo consumers. French company Netatmo unveiled June, a jewel-like device on a leather bracelet: it keeps track of the wearer’s sun exposure and works with an iPhone app to tell you when to grab a hat or seek shade. The Hong Kong company ConnecteDevice launched a simple smart watch called Cogito that has a traditional-looking analog face but also shows some notifications.

There was also a greater focus on precise biometric tracking this year. In November, startup Empatica announced a wristband called Embrace, meant for people with epilepsy. It can track seizures and works with a smartphone app to let a family member know when you’re having one. The device combines data collected by its accelerometer and gyroscope with measurements of skin conductance (gathered via small electrodes on the inside of the band), which increases during seizures, according to Empatica chief scientist and MIT Media Lab professor Rosalind Picard. The wristband is expected to be available next summer for $199.

Despite the overwhelming popularity of the wrist, some companies released wearables for other body parts this year in an attempt to make intimate technology both useful and comfortable. Startup OMsignal, for example, started selling shirts that are knitted with electrodes so they can track your breathing and heart rates. A device that snaps into a pocket on the shirt captures this information, along with your movements, and you can view details on an iPhone app.

Still, wearable devices of all kinds—and particularly ones that are more in-your-face, such as smart glasses—have a long way to go before they’re widely accepted.

The bumpy road to acceptance may be best illustrated by Google Glass, the headgear with a small head-up display, which was unveiled in 2012 as an experimental device and still hasn’t been released as a consumer product. Google maintains its commitment to Glass, but by late 2014 the gadget seemed to be taking a nosedive as early adopters—who paid $1,500 apiece—started losing interest, and companies like Twitter stopped working on apps for it.

Regardless of Glass’s fate, the market for wearables will keep growing, buoyed by the impending arrival of the Apple Watch and other new gadgets. Convincing consumers to buy and use these devices will require a lot more work on design, technology miniaturization, and so-called killer apps—all likely to be major focus areas for wearable-gadget makers in the year ahead.

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“Smart” Software Can Be Tricked Into Seeing What Isn’t There PDF Print E-mail

Humans and software see some images differently, pointing out shortcomings of recent breakthroughs in machine learning.

Images created to trick machine learning algorithms. The software sees each pattern as one of the digits 1 to 5.

A technique called deep learning has enabled recent breakthroughs from Google and other companies in getting computers to understand the content of photos. Now researchers at Cornell University and the University of Wyoming have shown how to make images that fool such software into seeing things that aren’t there.

The researchers can create images that appear to a human as scrambled nonsense or simple geometric patterns, but are firmly identified by the software as an everyday object, such as a school bus. The trick images offer new insight into the differences between how real brains and the simple simulated neurons used in deep learning process images.

Researchers typically train deep learning software to recognize something of interest—say, a guitar—by showing it millions of pictures of guitars, and each time telling the computer “This is a guitar.” After a while, the software can identify guitars in images it has never seen before, and assign its answer a confidence rating. It might give a guitar displayed alone on a white background a high confidence rating, and a guitar seen in the background of a grainy cluttered picture a lower confidence rating  (see “10 Breakthrough Technologies 2013: Deep Learning”).

That approach has valuable applications such as facial recognition, or using software to process security or traffic camera footage, for example to measure traffic flows or spot suspicious activity.

But although the mathematical functions used to create an artificial neural network are understood individually, how they work together to decipher images is unknown. “We understand that they work, just not how they work,” says Jeff Clune, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Wyoming. “They can learn to do things that we can’t even learn to do ourselves.”

These images look abstract to humans, but are seen by the image recognition algorithm they were designed to fool as the objects described in the labels.

To shed new light on how these networks operate, Clune’s group used a neural network called AlexNet that has achieved impressive results in image recognition. They operated it in reverse, asking a version of the software with no knowledge of guitars to create a picture of one, by generating random pixels across an image.

The researchers asked a second version of the network that had been trained to spot guitars to rate the images made by the first network. That confidence rating was used by the first network to refine its next attempt to create a guitar image. After thousands of rounds of this between the two pieces of software, the first network could make an image that the second network recognized as a guitar with 99 percent confidence.

However, to a human, those “guitar” images looked like colored TV static or simple patterns. Clune says this shows that the software is not interested in piecing together structural details like strings or a fretboard, as a human trying to identify something might be. Instead, the software seems to be looking at specific distance or color relationships between pixels, or overall color and texture.

That offers new insight into how artificial neural networks really work, says Clune, although more research is needed.

Ryan Adams, an assistant computer science professor at Harvard, says the results aren’t completely surprising. The fact that large areas of the trick images look like seas of static probably stems from the way networks are fed training images. The object of interest is usually only a small part of the photo, and the rest is unimportant.

Adams also points out that Clune’s research shows humans and artificial neural networks do have some things in common. Humans have been thinking they see everyday objects in random patterns—such as the stars—for millennia.

Clune says it would be possible to use his technique to fool image recognition algorithms when they are put to work in Web services and other products. However, it would be very difficult to pull off. For instance, Google has algorithms that filter out pornography from the results of its image search service. But to create images that would trick it, a prankster would need to know significant details about how Google’s software was designed.

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Singapore Wants a Driverless Version of Uber PDF Print E-mail

Singapore plans to let anyone test driverless cars in one of its busy neighborhoods in 2015.

This electric car, retrofitted to drive itself, is being tested in Singapore.

As driverless cars edge slowly toward commercial reality, some people are wondering how cities might change as a result. Will traffic lights disappear? Will parking garages become obsolete? Will carpooling become the norm?

Singapore is keen to find out. The city-state will open one of its neighborhoods to driverless cars in 2015, with the idea that such vehicles could operate as a kind of jitney service, picking up passengers and taking them to trains or other modes of public transportation. The vehicles might be like golf carts, taking people short distances at low speeds, similar to the driverless vehicles demonstrated this year by Google (see “Lazy Humans Shaped Google’s New Autonomous Car”).

Lam Wee Shann, director of the futures division for Singapore’s Ministry of Transport, said during a panel held at MIT last month that the government wants to explore whether autonomous vehicles could reduce congestion and remake the city into one built around walking, bicycling, and public transit.

“Singapore welcomes industry and academia to deploy automated vehicles for testing under real traffic conditions on public roads,” Lam said in a follow-up e-mail interview. He declined to say whether Google or any other companies pursuing driverless cars have contacted Singapore yet.

At 700 square kilometers, Singapore is about three times the size of Boston, but it has 5.5 million residents versus Boston’s 646,000. Because it is so dense, Singapore is aggressively trying to discourage car traffic. For example, if you want to own a car in Singapore you have to pay a “certificate of entitlement” fee that’s roughly equal to the price of a car. It also offers free travel on city trains before peak periods (along with free breakfast vouchers).

Through the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, the city has had pilot tests of driverless cars for several years, starting with two driverless golf carts on the campus of the National University of Singapore. This year it added a Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car, retrofitted to be autonomous. A driverless bus called the Navia is used as a shuttle at Singapore’s Cleantech eco-industrial park and on campus at Nanyang Technology University.

All of these experiments “provide first-and-last mile connectivity to main public transport nodes,” Lam said.

This fall, people in Singapore were able to try out driverless cars for the first time. Driverless buggies were deployed in the Chinese and Japanese gardens in the Jurong Lake District. The system featured an online booking system and vehicle-to-vehicle communications. The buggies ran for two weekends, and carried 500 people over 400 kilometers in total.

Cities with driverless cars could eventually eliminate mainstays like traffic lights. Paolo Santi, a senior researcher with the MIT/Fraunhofer ambient mobility initiative, said at the MIT event that his lab has done simulations showing that twice as many driverless cars could route themselves through intersections, easing congestion and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions caused by stop-and-go driving. Santi hopes to carry out experiments in Singapore to see how pedestrians and bikes affect driverless cars at intersections.

Many challenges remain. On the panel at MIT, Nhai Cao, a senior global product line manager at TomTom, a navigation vendor, noted that, “current maps are not good enough for autonomous vehicles.” Driverless cars, he said, need maps that are three-dimensional and accurate to within 20 centimeters. 

Lam also noted that if driverless cars are available to everyone, that could translate into more people taking car trips. “An autonomous vehicle could add on a lot more road trips, and we can ill afford that,” he said. 

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Cape Watch: The Avengers Get a Pouty Teen and Suicide Squad Gets More Villains PDF Print E-mail

CapeWatch17

Marvel Entertainment (left, right), Warner Bros. (center)

Before you curl up by the yule log for the holidays, spare a few thoughts for those truly in need: the Hollywood executives who work so hard to bring us the superhero movies we enjoy all summer. While we settle down for a few days off and a chance to recharge, those brave, tireless souls will be dreaming up new ways to lure us into theaters over the next few years. Whether they get gifts or coal in their stockings relies on the success or failure of their efforts, years from now … but until then, here are the highlights of this week’s superhero movie news.

SUPER IDEA: Another DC Villain Joining Suicide Squad

With a line-up that already includes Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, the Enchantress, the Joker, and Harley Quinn, you might think that there are already enough bad guys in David Ayer’s 2016 Suicide Squad adaptation. Maybe not. This week, somone on Reddit reported being part of a test group for potential storylines for the movie, and named both Lex Luthor and Arrow villain Deathstroke as possible additions to the cast.
Why this is super: With this many troublesome tykes around, Suicide Squad might get a little crowded—but if nothing else, it’ll quickly build out Warner Bros.’ DC movie universe in terms of bad guys to use in future flicks.

SUPER IDEA: Marvel Borrowing a Page From Mary Shelley

Talking to Entertainment Weekly, Avengers: Age of Ultron writer/director Joss Whedon likened the follow-up to Marvel’s 2012 smash to a piece of classic literature, saying that artificial intelligence is “our new Frankenstein myth. … We create something in our own image and the thing turns on us.” Ultron, he said, would be that idea writ large. “I don’t remember seeing an artificial-intelligence movie where the robot is bonkers—the most emotionally unstable person in the film—and who has the knowledge of 3,000 years of recorded history and who is a pouty teen, all at the same time,” he teased.
Why this is super: If there’s one man we trust with the idea of an emotionally-petulant teen killing machine, it’s Joss Whedon. And, let’s be honest; it’ll be a lot of fun to hear James Spader whine that Tony Stark isn’t the boss of him, especially if it’s accompanied by an army of unstoppable robots.

SUPER IDEA: Sony Maybe, Possibly Finding Spidey’s Sinister Six

According to a report on ComicBookMovie.com, information dumped online following the Sony hack might point at a possible cast for Drew Goddard’s Amazing Spider-Man spin-off movie, Sinister Six. If true, then the following actors are up for roles: Tom Hardy, Emily Blunt, Woody Harrelson, Colin Firth, and Channing Tatum. Also mentioned in the discussion, interestingly, is the possibility of bringing Emma Stone back as her own clone in a future installment, following her character’s untimely death in this summer’s Amazing Spider-Man 2. Well, at least they realized that was a mistake.
Why this is super: Many of the names are unlikely to be available—Hardy and Tatum are already connected with Warners and Fox superhero series, respectively, and Blunt is one of the rumored choices for Marvel’s Captain Marvel—which gives this list an air of wish-list casting more than anything else. However, they’re all interesting and, in some cases, unlikely choices, which suggests that the movie might be surprisingly fun, if it actually gets made…

SUPER IDEA: James Gunn Knows That Thanos Is a Problem

It turns out, James Gunn was just aware as you that Thanos didn’t really have anything to do in Guardians of the Galaxy this summer. “His presence doesn’t really serve being in Guardians, and having Thanos be in that scene was more helpful to the Marvel universe than it was to Guardians of the Galaxy,” the director told Vulture, describing the character’s big scene as the hardest to write for the entire movie. “You’re setting up this incredibly powerful character, but you don’t want to belittle the actual antagonist of the film, which is Ronan. You don’t want him to seem like a big wussy.”
Why this is super: Thank God that it wasn’t just us. Thanos literally had no purpose in that movie other than setting up future Marvel films, so it’s oddly reassuring for the sake of future movies to see that Gunn realized this. Whether or not it means we’ll see less of this needlessly gratuitous guest-starring in future, we can but hope, but at least we’re not alone.

MEH IDEA: Not So Fast With That Wonder Woman Movie, Folks

Well, this was unexpected. In a New York magazine profile of director Michelle MacLaren, the Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad veteran said she couldn’t say anything about her announced gig as director of the Warner Bros. Wonder Woman for a surprising reason: the movie hasn’t actually been greenlit yet, and despite the announcement of a 2017 release, there’s nothing officially on the calendar. “I really, really, really can’t talk about this,” she said. It sounds as if there’s not a lot to talk about, anyway.
Why this is villainy: Waaaait. So the movie was announced and MacLaren gets the job of directing it, but it might not happen? That’s some Olympic-level trolling there, Warner Bros. This is how you’re ending the year? That doesn’t make us feel too good about all the other movies announced at the same time, we have to say.

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Page 5 of 94

Computer News Reports

Uber rival Sidecar hits dead end, will shut down ride and courier service on Dec. 31
Brad Chacos | @BradChacos Senior Editor, PCWorld The ride’s over for Sidecar, a pioneering ride-sharing service that simply couldn’t compete with Uber and Lyft’s mindshare—nor their massive venture
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All 2016 Samsung smart TVs will be ready to talk to your appliances
A Samsung TV on show at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Oct. 25, 2015. Credit: Martyn Williams All Samsung smart TVs sold in 2016 will be IoT-ready, meaning they’ll be able to talk to compatible
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Samsung Pay's expanding to cheaper phones and online payments in 2016
Credit: Florence Ion Brad Chacos | @BradChacos Senior Editor, PCWorld Mobile payment systems are the new fingerprint sensors: Everybody’s got to have one, it seems. But while Android Pay and Apple Pay enjoy fairly
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Lian Li's wild new PC cases mimic cruise ships and double as standing desks
Hardware & Accessories Lian Li's new PC cases double as cruise ships and standing desks Lian Li's new PC cases live up to the manufacturer's ambitious reputation. Brad Chacos | @BradChacos Senior Editor,
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What's ahead for Windows 10: Needed upgrades, forced updates, and developer love
Changes to Microsoft Edge and the way that consumers are upgraded are coming soon A Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10 Credit: Blair Hanley Frank Windows 10 was the biggest news story out of Microsoft in 2015, and looking
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USB-C charging: Universal or bust! We plug in every device we have to chase the dream
Four devices and five chargers tell us just how close we are. Credit: Gordon Mah Ung Gordon Mah Ung | @Gordonung Executive Editor, PCWorld We’re here to tell you about the second way USB-C is great for technology. You
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New Bitcoin Foundation chief eyes crowdfunding 13 April 2015, 23.28 Computers
New Bitcoin Foundation chief eyes crowdfunding
The newly appointed head of the Bitcoin Foundation, a group that promotes development of the digital currency, believes crowdfunding is one part of the solution for its troubled finances. A one-time Morgan Stanley
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In New Zealand, a legal battle looms over streaming TV
A legal battle is taking shape in New Zealand that could result in one of the first worldwide court cases to address the legality of skirting regional restrictions on web content. Several ISPs in the country received a
Read More 2073 Hits 0 Ratings
IBM's Watson Health division will incorporate patient data from Apple
The health information your Apple Watch collects could eventually end up in IBM’s Watson cloud computing platform, where medical researchers and doctors can tap it in the course of their work. On Monday, IBM launched the
Read More 2192 Hits 0 Ratings
Sharp develops 4K smartphone display, undecided on manufacturing plan
Sharp has developed a 5.5-inch display with 3860 x 2160 pixel resolution, which is equivalent to “ultra high definition,” also known as 4K. The prototype LCD display, which could be used in smartphones in the future,
Read More 2155 Hits 0 Ratings
RadioShack presses ahead plan for sale of customer data
RadioShack will press on with its plan to sell its customer data, despite opposition from a number of U.S. states. The company has asked a bankruptcy court for approval for a second auction of its assets, which includes the
Read More 2075 Hits 0 Ratings
Windows vulnerability can compromise credentials 13 April 2015, 23.28 Computers
Windows vulnerability can compromise credentials
A vulnerability found in the late 1990s in Microsoft Windows can still be used to steal login credentials, according to a security advisory released Monday. A researcher with security vendor Cylance, Brian Wallace, found a
Read More 1482 Hits 0 Ratings
#Movistar – Who Owns Your Customers Problems? 24 January 2015, 00.26 Computers
#Movistar – Who Owns Your Customers Problems?
And after 69 rather long, frustrating and somewhat infuriating days of a much anticipated wait … HABEMUS INTERNET! Yes!! You are reading it right. After nearly 2.5 months of waiting for Movistar to, finally, get their act
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#Movistar – The Only Boss You Need to Pay Attention To
Here I am, once again, incredibly frustrated and very irritated I got disconnected from the Internet last week Friday, as I blew up my monthly data allowance on my mobile phone for the zillionth time over the course of last
Read More 2009 Hits 0 Ratings
Blitzkrieg 3 hands-on preview: An asynchronous war of your own making
If I were a World War II officer, I would apparently be the equivalent of that character that Ross from Friends played in Band of Brothers a.k.a. Sergeant Completely Incompetent. Friends got really dark before the end.
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North Carolina could be next in Google Fiber roll-out
Two cities in North Carolina could be the first to benefit from a planned expansion of Google’s fiber-optic Internet service. The company is holding events in Raleigh and Durham on Wednesday and Thursday next week,
Read More 1857 Hits 0 Ratings
NIST pledges transparency in NSA dealings over crypto standards
A U.S. agency that develops widely used standards for encryption has pledged to be more transparent about its dealings with the National Security Agency, amid concerns the NSA undermined those standards to boost its
Read More 1821 Hits 0 Ratings
California DMV changes course, reverses registration policy change for rideshare drivers
Earlier this month, some UberX drivers in Calfornia found themselves between a rock and a hard place: The state started requiring ridesharing service drivers to register their cars as commercial vehicles, but Uber in turn
Read More 1753 Hits 0 Ratings
DirectX 12 just sneaked into Windows 10, but you can't use it yet
Poking around the fresh Windows 10 build last night, I found an interesting new feature that Joe Belfiore didn’t mentioned in his announcement post: DirectX 12 is already baked into the operating system. Don’t take my
Read More 1480 Hits 0 Ratings
Conference calls a waste of time? In 1915, this one made history
These days, making a call across the U.S. is so easy that people often don’t even know they’re talking coast to coast. But 100 years ago Sunday, it took a hackathon, a new technology and an international exposition to
Read More 1449 Hits 0 Ratings
#Movistar Killed the Web Star 08 January 2015, 00.13 Computers
#Movistar Killed the Web Star
Imagine if all of a sudden you decide to embark on an experiment where you try to figure out what it would be like to live without access to the Internet over a certain period of time not only for your day to day work, but
Read More 1583 Hits 0 Ratings
#Movistar – The Cost of Lying to Your Customers 08 January 2015, 00.13 Computers
#Movistar – The Cost of Lying to Your Customers
Today is, officially, my first day at work for 2015 after the Christmas holidays. I am writing officially on purpose, because after 61 days I am still waiting for Movistar (That Queen Between that always wants to get paid,
Read More 1938 Hits 0 Ratings
MSI's sweet Shadow gaming dock bundle costs as much as an old-school PC
LAS VEGAS—As any gamer knows, the problem with a laptop is that once you’ve purchased it, you’re stuck with whatever the manufacturer included inside. MSI now has two separate products that can solve that
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What CES told us about this year's smartphone trends 08 January 2015, 00.13 Computers
What CES told us about this year's smartphone trends
International CES has never been a showcase for new smartphones, but it always features several interesting announcements that highlight big trends for the next 12 months, and this year was no exception. Smartphone
Read More 1524 Hits 0 Ratings

Communications

Joomla! Specific Links
Joomla! Specific LinksA selection of links that are all related to the Joomla! Project.
Watch Spy World Online | Season 1 Full Episodes Video Streaming & Torrent Search
Spy World Synopsis Spy World is a documentary television series produced by the Travel Channel that premiered in December of 2014. In each episode of Spy World a famous and sometimes forgotten spy stories are reconstructed.
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Channel 4 Dumping 4oD In Favor Of All 4 | New Streaming Television Hub For UK Viewers
4oD has been a successful effort, with Channel 4 having offered on-demand television across a range of platforms for several years. But the name is being dumped, and the service is being given a major overhaul to better cater
Read More 0 Comments 1740 Hits 0 Ratings
Live Streaming Pioneer Justin.tv Shuts Down As Twitch Prepares For Acquisition By Google
Justin.tv is no more, with the pioneering live streaming service having suddenly shut down after seven years. Meanwhile, its replacement, Twitch.tv, is making a series of changes which suggests it’s preparing to be acquired
Read More 0 Comments 1261 Hits 0 Ratings
Netflix In Talks To Broadcast Seinfeld Episodes On Demand | Successful Sitcoms Never Die
Seinfeld could soon be available to stream on Netflix, with Jerry Seinfeld, the creator and star of the classic sitcom, suggesting talks are ongoing. However, Netflix could face competition from rival streaming services, and
Read More 0 Comments 1471 Hits 0 Ratings
YouTube Unveils New Features For Content Creators | Studio App, Crowdfunding, 60fps
YouTube would be nothing without content, and original content, no less. And the people who create that original content need as many tools at their disposal as possible. YouTube has delivered a new set of features to content
Read More 0 Comments 1662 Hits 1 Rating
Netflix Expands Into Mainland Europe: Streaming Video In France, Germany, Austria
Netflix is officially expanding into mainland Europe, announcing its intentions to launch in six more countries by the end of 2014. In doing so, it faces several new challenges in France, Germany, Austria, and others. Strong
Read More 0 Comments 2420 Hits 0 Ratings
Watch Penny Dreadful Online | Season 1 Full Episodes Video Streaming & Torrent Search
Penny Dreadful Synopsis Penny Dreadful is a horror drama television series produced by Showtime that premiered in April of 2014. Created by John Logan Penny Dreadful combines some of the most horrifying characters from
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Microsoft Reveals Xbox Originals | Halo TV Show Amongst Content In Development
Microsoft has long held ambitious plans to turn its games console into a media hub delivering masses of content of all kinds into people’s living rooms. With Xbox Originals, it may be on its way to realizing this dream.
Read More 0 Comments 2234 Hits 0 Ratings
Yahoo Wants To Beat YouTube | Coaxing YouTube Stars With Advertising Revenues
YouTube is one of the tentpoles of the Web at this point in time, being a household name and one of the most-visited sites on the Internet. And yet Yahoo is reportedly planning to compete with YouTube by launching its own
Read More 0 Comments 1948 Hits 1 Rating
Google & Viacom Settle YouTube Fight | Seven-Year Copyright Lawsuit Ends Amicably
Google and Viacom have finally resolved the long-running lawsuit over videos uploaded to YouTube almost a decade ago. The terms of the out-of-court settlement aren’t being disclosed but we’re just pleased this
Read More 0 Comments 1949 Hits 0 Ratings
The BBC Unveils New-Look iPlayer | A Responsive HTML5 Design Brings It Up To Date
The BBC has unveiled the new iPlayer, and its free catch-up television service has undergone several big changes. The biggest being an HTML5-powered responsive design driving the whole effort. The New iPlayer The BBC has
Read More 0 Comments 1932 Hits 1 Rating
Google Ordered To Remove ‘Innocence Of Muslims’ Over Actress’ Copyright Claims
An appeals court has ordered Google to remove a controversial short film from YouTube after an actress who appeared in Innocence Of Muslims filed a copyright claim. The decision seems to go against existing thinking on
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LoveFilm Becomes Amazon Prime Instant Video In The UK, With £79 Adding A Raft Of Extras
LoveFilm is no more, being rebranded as Amazon Prime Instant Video and being folded into the existing Amazon Prime service. Most people will have to pay more money for the service, but the £79-per-year asking price buys you
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Netflix News Roundup: Subscriber Numbers, Pricing Tiers, Net Neutrality Statement
Netflix has had a big news week, with various stories emerging from and about the streaming video company. This includes revenue and subscriber numbers, plans for new pricing tiers and an expansion into Europe, and a statement
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What The Net Neutrality Ruling Means For Online Video 18 January 2014, 22.47 4G Voice, Video, & Data
What The Net Neutrality Ruling Means For Online Video
A recent decision by an appeals court in Washington to chuck out net neutrality rules could have dire consequences for everyone using the Internet. Including those who both deliver and consume online video. Net Neutrality
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Vdio Is Dead | Rdio Shutters Video Service 28 December 2013, 22.35 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Vdio Is Dead | Rdio Shutters Video Service
Vdio is no more, with parent company Rdio deciding to shutter the online video service. The reasons for the closure remain unclear, but it seems that there just wasn’t room for Vdio in an already-crowded market. It didn’t
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YouTube’s Content ID Crackdown On Let’s Play Videos Draws Ire From Gamers & Developers
YouTube’s recent crackdown on Let’s Play videos, with an aggressive new Content ID update, has left a bad taste in the mouths of everyone involved. Except the companies making money from videos they really had no business
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Google Fights Back After YouTube Comments Spam Increased | Google+ Integration Staying
Google has finally addressed the issues affecting the new YouTube comments system, controversially rolled out earlier this month. Unfortunately, while small changes are being made to plaster over the cracks, the elephant in
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YouTube Changes Comments System To Google+, Even Jawed Karim Complains 10 November 2013, 00.35 4G Voice, Video, & Data
YouTube Changes Comments System To Google+, Even Jawed Karim Complains
Google has rolled out the new YouTube comments system, which is designed to stop the absurd levels of spam and trolling which have plagued the site in recent years. Unfortunately the new system requires Google+ integration,
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File contained a virus and was deleted 02 November 2013, 22.56 4G Voice, Video, & Data
File contained a virus and was deleted
I had a client that was recently getting this message.  If you are getting it, the cause can be a misconfiguration or worse. The result can sometimes be caused by faulty anti virus programs.  Or anti virus programs that were
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YouTube Launching Paid Spotify-Like Streaming Music Service Before End Of 2013
Google is set to launch a YouTube music streaming service before the end of 2013, at least if current persistent rumors are to be believed. This service will work the same way as Spotify, with a hefty catalog of music
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Is Online Streaming Availability To Blame For Movie Piracy? Research Suggests It Could Be
Do people pirate things because they’re cheap and want to get whatever they can for free? Or is the practice less sinister and more about getting hold of things that aren’t available in the format they favor? These are
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Netflix Originals Keeping Subscribers Happy | Original Content Strategy Already Working
Original content looks like being a small but significant part of the future of online television.. It’s certainly an area Netflix, amongst others, has explored, and one which, according to a new report, looks to be working
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YouTube Founders Unveil MixBit, A Vine & Instagram Competitor With Hidden Tricks
The mobile video space is becoming more crowded by the day. Following on from Vine and its six seconds of recording simplicity, and Instagram and its 15 seconds of recording simplicity, comes MixBit. Can this new startup
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YouTube Opening New Production Studio In New York | Original Content Ramped Up
YouTube is set to continue its efforts to evolve from the home of a disparate collection of funny animal videos into the home of truly talented individuals all creating professional-quality programming. In order to affect this
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Google Launches Chromecast, a $35 Dongle That Streams Content From Mobile To TV
Google recently unveiled Chromecast, a $35 dongle that is able to stream content from mobile devices to your television. This is Google’s latest attempt to grab a foothold in the TV industry, which it’s going to need to be
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Hulu Owners Decide Not To Sell After All | Fox, NBC, & Disney Reinvest Millions Instead
Hulu has been withdrawn from sale for the second time in its history, with the joint partners once again deciding against accepting the bids that were coming in, just as they did in 2011. Instead, the three partners are
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Video on Instagram Arrives To Compete With Vine | Facebook & Twitter Go Head-To-Head
Facebook and Twitter have been at war as competing social networks for a number of years. But the latest battleground between the two is mobile video, with Video on Instagram (owned by Facebook) arriving as a direct response
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PalmPad: HP Slate in Palm Clothing? 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
PalmPad: HP Slate in Palm Clothing?
Dec. 21, 2010 - 12:39 PM PDT Dec. 21, 2010 - 12:39 PM PDT Summary: It’s being reporting today that HP/Palm is preparing to release the “PalmPad” next month. The story is accompanied by a diagram showing the PalmPad.
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Home Health Monitoring is Big Business 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Home Health Monitoring is Big Business
Dec. 21, 2010 - 7:55 AM PDT Dec. 21, 2010 - 7:55 AM PDTSummary: Remote health monitoring generated €7.6 billion globally in 2010, an amount destined to grow as this nascent area of healthcare is used more heavily in the
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Last Minute Geek’s Holiday Gift Guide 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Last Minute Geek’s Holiday Gift Guide
Dec. 20, 2010 - 11:36 AM PDT Dec. 20, 2010 - 11:36 AM PDT The geek in your life is hard enough to find appropriate gifts for the holidays, and this year, once again you waited until the last moment. Never fear, we have scoured
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Android This Week: Leveling Off; Fring Calling; LogMeIn 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Android This Week: Leveling Off; Fring Calling; LogMeIn
Dec. 18, 2010 - 6:00 AM PDT Dec. 18, 2010 - 6:00 AM PDTSummary: The growth of Android in the smartphone space has been phenomenal, but recent ad statistics show it may be leveling off. VoIP calling is hot on Android, however,
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MobileTechRoundup 226 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
MobileTechRoundup 226
Dec. 17, 2010 - 8:00 AM PDT Dec. 17, 2010 - 8:00 AM PDT Summary: Join James, Matt and Kevin live for this week’s audio podcast where they’ll cover the week’s mobile technology news and share experiences with the
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Kindle for Android Gets Periodicals, In-App Store 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Kindle for Android Gets Periodicals, In-App Store
Dec. 17, 2010 - 7:08 AM PDT Dec. 17, 2010 - 7:08 AM PDTSummary: Amazon has rolled out a major new version of the Kindle app for Android that adds magazines and newspapers to the standard e-book fare. The app also adds shopping
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Samsung ATIV Smart PC 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Samsung ATIV Smart PC
The tablet market is going into hyperdrive.  The announcement of Microsoft’s foray into the tablet market utilization with Windows 8 architecture made a few ripples.  It will be really interesting to see how this plays
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Norton Hotspot VPN 17 June 2013, 15.02 4G Voice, Video, & Data
Norton Hotspot VPN
One of the thorniest issues is traveling and maintaining security.  Norton has come up with a nice little VPN package that allows for secure surfing while on open networks. If you have ever been in a hotel, most likely you
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Tesla's sales model? It's simple: don't sell cars: If you are waiting with bated breath for electric vehicles to revolutionize the transportation sector, you are likely to pass out. If it happens, it will not be an overnight process. That...
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