YouTube automates sound effect captions with AI
Mar24

YouTube automates sound effect captions with AI

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. YouTube has used algorithms to automatically caption speech for eight years now in an effort to make its billions of videos more accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing. While the feature was pretty rough at first, it has significantly improved it over time, getting “closer and closer to human transcription error rates,” Google said in its developers blog. Since speech is just one part of the audio picture, though, YouTube has launched automatic sound effect captioning for the first time. For now, the system can just show three classes of sounds: Applause, music and laughter. “These were among the most frequent manually captioned sounds, and they can add meaningful context for viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing,” the company wrote. As with the automatic captions, Google uses machine learning to pick out sounds and display them as text. It developed a “deep neural network (DNN)” model for ambient sound, and trained it with “thousands of hours of videos” to get the best results. The toughest part, it wrote in a technical blog, was separating and displaying events that tend to occur at the same, like laughter and applause. You can see what that looks like in the clip from America’s Got Talent below. The sound effects are merged with the automatic speech recognition and “shown as part of the standard automatic captions,” much as you’d see in a close-captioned TV show. YouTube’s team said its aware that the captions are “simplistic,” but adding features will be easier as it has built a solid back end foundation. In the future, it’ll introduce common sounds like barking, knocking or ringing. That will pose new challenges, as the AI will need to figure out if a ringing sound is coming from an alarm, phone or doorbell, for example. It’ll be worth the effort, though, as Google says that two-thirds of participants in a study found that sound effect captions enhance the video experience. And while it’s bound to make mistakes no matter how good it gets (even humans are only about 95 percent accurate), users think that the odd error won’t detract from the benefits. Via: MIT Technology Review Source: YouTube Developers Blog, Google Research Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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SoundCloud borrows $70 million to keep going
Mar24

SoundCloud borrows $70 million to keep going

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. When a startup is in the ascendancy, there’s a near-endless line of investors ready to back it in the hope of future returns. When that road to success gets riskier, the investors dry up and the business has to run to the bank because it’s the only place to get more cash. Apropos of nothing, BusinessInsider is reporting that SoundCloud has secured itself a $70 million loan from a group of financial institutions. The “debt funding,” as it’s called, has been supplied by Kreos Capital, Davidson Technology and Ares Capital and was reportedly secured on March 10th. SoundCloud says that it will use the cash to hire staff, build technology and grow itself to be more than twice its current size by the end of 2017. It’s hoped that the moves will enable the company to become “financially sustainable” for “years to come.” SoundCloud has had a problem with money for a while, admitting in 2015 that it would need to raise cash or risk going under. It managed to score $70 million from Twitter and then spent the bulk of 2016 hinting that it would like to be bought, thank you very much. Spotify spent a while thinking about it before deciding that it was better off steering clear. Unfortunately, SoundCloud doesn’t necessarily look like a great investment at this point, given its numerous issues. For a start, its SoundCloud Go subscription service was reviewed poorly when it launched, with a meager library and poor design. Then there’s the fact that the majority of the tracks it hosts are user-generated content, remixes and other things you may not expect people to pay for. Between that, and the often onerous terms that come with debt financing, and it’s… it’s not looking great. Via: TechCrunch Source: BusinessInsider Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Experimental music video changes every time you play it
Mar24

Experimental music video changes every time you play it

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Artists and scientists say breakthroughs are often “lucky accidents,” but one band is basing an entire music video on that premise. The song Midnight Oil from UK-based Shaking Chains uses algorithms to select semi-random bits of video from the hundreds of hours uploaded every minute on YouTube. The result is a music video that’s completely different every time you view it. “I sought to obliquely reframe the stuff we subject ourselves to (whether beautiful, distressing, mundane, frivolous or eroticized) and algorithmically cut them into a new context,” band member Jack Hardiker tells Vice Creators. The algorithms select footage based on keyword searches chosen by the band, though it declined to name what they are except for one — “Black Friday Fights,” the Thanksgiving brawls that happen in stores across the US over flat-screen TVs. Still, “the search terms are not fully fixed either — it’s an evolving list … the content can come from anywhere,” says Hardiker. I sought to obliquely reframe the stuff we subject ourselves to (whether beautiful, distressing, mundane, frivolous or eroticized) and algorithmically cut them into a new context. Once the machine selects the video, it assembles into a complete montage set to the music, just a few moments before you play it. “What follows has the potential to fascinate, or could well be routine — but each time is different,” the page reads. The videos I watched included images like twerking, runway models, puppies and makeup videos, animal documentaries, security camera images, child beauty contests and disasters and war footage. As such, it gives a kind of strange snapshot of the current zeitgeist “through my search terms and the viewers’ attempts to make sense of the sequence,” Hardiker says. He also notes that while they’re a new, small band, they hope the film lives on beyond the cycle of the song itself. “What might it become a year from now? It would be dependent on what’s happening a year from now, on what the internet holds for us then.” You can check it out here. Via: Vice Creators Source: Midnight Oil Film Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Google might kill Hangouts' text messaging feature
Mar24

Google might kill Hangouts' text messaging feature

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Google might soon begin implementing some big changes to Hangouts, now that the service’s purpose has been redefined. According to an email reportedly sent to GSuite admins, you’ll stop being able to send and receive text messages through the app on May 22nd, unless you’re a Google Voice user. The email says the big G will prepare you for it by notifying everyone who’s been using their apps to text on March 27th with details on what will happen going forward. If you’ve designated Hangouts as the default messaging app, you’ll be asked to select another one to take its place. The prompt will take you to the Play store if you don’t have any installed, but if you do, then your messages will be transferred to app you choose. In case you’re a Google Voice user, you’ll get a notification telling you that you can’t send and receive messages with your carrier number anymore. You can still text through Hangouts, but you’ll have to use your Voice number after May 22nd. Seeing as Mountain View has several messaging apps ready to download and use, it’s not surprising that it wants to remove some Hangouts features and add in new ones to differentiate it from the others. In the email posted in its entirety on Reddit, it says this is part of ongoing effort — Google might have more changes planned for Hangouts in the future. Via: 9to5google Source: thereisonlyoneme (Reddit) Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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The Morning After: Friday, March 24th 2017
Mar24

The Morning After: Friday, March 24th 2017

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Hey, good morning! It’s Friday! We made it. This Friday, hackers are threatening Apple, read about experiences of online dating when as a woman in her 40s, the good and the bad in Mass Effect: Andromeda. Oh and how to dress like an adult — with some liberating online help. Roll ’em back.Senate votes 50 – 48 in favor of letting ISPs sell your private data Yesterday, the US Senate voted for “congressional disapproval” of an FCC rule that prevented ISPs from selling their customer’s personal data without getting permission first. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) wrote the resolution, claiming the rule made for an unfair burden on ISPs compared to companies like Google and Facebook. He is apparently unbothered by the idea that consumers have less choice in what ISP they can use than whether or not they maintain an account on those sites. In response, the ACLU argues that “The House must now stop this resolution from moving forward and stand up for our privacy rights.” The convertible dream will never die.Apple explores using an iPhone or iPad to power a laptop Apple has filed a patent filing this morning detailing how an iPhone, or an iPad, could be used to power an ultraportable laptop. One diagram features a slot near the trackpad area where you can drop in an iPhone, which provides all of the hardware necessary to run the Macbook-looking ultraportable. And, in a truly unique spin, the iPhone would also serve as the actual trackpad. This is not a drill.Hackers are threatening to erase iPhones if Apple doesn’t pay up A hacker group claims it has accumulated credentials for hundreds of millions of iCloud and Apple ID accounts (likely due to leaks on other services where people used the same passwords). While Apple maintains that its systems have not been breached, ZDNet has been able to authenticate a few credentials provided by the group. Now the group claims it will use the Find My iPhone tool to wipe devices unless it’s paid a ransom. What does this mean for you? If you have an Apple account (or Google, or anywhere else, really) make sure you’re using strong, unique passwords, and enable two-factor authentication — right now. Would you pay for Twitter?Twitter floats the idea of a $20 subscription version of Tweetdeck As a service, Twitter is indispensable for information addicts but still struggles to make money. One thing that could bring cash in is finding new ways to profit from heavy users like businesses and news outlets, and it looks like Twitter has an...

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Ofcom proposes free cash for lengthy broadband outages
Mar24

Ofcom proposes free cash for lengthy broadband outages

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Under new proposals by Ofcom, Brits could soon receive automatic compensation for slow broadband repairs and missed engineer appointments. The measures are part of a larger crackdown on the UK’s telephone and internet service providers. Openreach, the arm of BT that handles broadband infrastructure, was forced to become its own, “legally separate company” earlier this month. Now, Ofcom is effectively saying that it needs to do better than before, or face financial repercussions. The suggested penalties would cover landline and broadband connections which are “not fixed quickly enough” (Ofcom suggests two working days as the threshold), engineers who don’t show up for appointments, and new connections which aren’t ready on a promised date. Under any of these scenarios, customers would be entitled to automatic compensation, paid in cash or as credit on their next bill. Ofcom is proposing £10 for every calendar day that a service isn’t repaired, £30 for missed appointments and £6 per day for a new connection that’s hasn’t been installed on time. “This would mean customers are properly compensated, while providers will want to work harder to improve their service,” Lindsey Fussell, consumer group director for Ofcom said. The new proposals are hardly a surprise, however. A little under a year ago, the Queen’s Speech mentioned a new Digital Economy Bill, which hinted at plans for “automatic compensation” when something goes wrong with a citizen’s broadband. Internet providers have, therefore, had some time to prepare for today’s proposals. Ofcom says BT, Sky and Virgin Media have already put forward a draft counter-pitch which would introduce automatic compensation through a voluntary industry code of practice. The UK’s media regulator has rejected the suggestion, however: “At this stage, we do not consider that this proposal sufficiently meets our concerns, when quality of service falls short.” Ofcom is now holding a consultation, which will run until June 5th. The watchdog will make a statement towards the end of the year — so don’t expect any noticeably speedier broadband fixes anytime soon. Source: Ofcom Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Under Armour's latest $300 3D-printed sneaker arrives March 30th
Mar24

Under Armour's latest $300 3D-printed sneaker arrives March 30th

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Last year Under Armour debuted a limited run (96 pairs) of Architech shoes with a 3D-printed midsole, and now it’s continuing the line with the Futurist. Once again, that 3D printing is used to create a “dynamic lattice network” for cushioning but this time it’s matched to a compression lace system that adds an external sleeve with a zipper and a UA SpeedForm upper for a very secure fit. Its “heel stability solution” is supposed to be steady enough for strength training, but versatile enough for whatever workout you’re willing to attempt in this limited edition $300 sneaker. We’re still not sure when 3D printing techniques will make the leap to mass production, but WearTesters reports that printing the tooling for the shoe can take a full day. Adidas talked about designing custom shoes with its FutureCraft system but also has only produced limited numbers, and Reebok showed off “3D drawing,” but the tech hasn’t quite been figured out yet. Even Nike has only shown off 3D printing in terms of how it can help design new shoes for some of its athletes. For now, anyone who wants these Futurists can try to get a pair March 30th on UA.com or at select Under Armour Brand Houses worldwide. Source: Under Armour Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Moto G5 Plus is now available in an Amazon-subsidized flavor
Mar24

Moto G5 Plus is now available in an Amazon-subsidized flavor

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Amazon may have given up on the Fire phone, but the company’s line of low-cost “Prime Exclusive” ad-subsidized smartphones is getting a refresh today. The program launched last year with a respectable lineup of discounted, unlocked handsets that have topped Amazon’s sales charts for ever since. This week, Amazon is adding more choice to that lineup with the recently launched Moto G5 Plus and the thrifty Alcatel A30, which will retail for $184.99 and $59.99 respectively. Both phones come unlocked out of the box and are compatible with any carrier you choose. You’ll need to be a Prime subscriber to get the deal, but in exchange for about $45 off the retail price, you’ll be get “personalized offers and ads, including deals and product recommendations,” showing up on your lock screen. Assuming you don’t mind dismissing ads along with your unread emails, the Moto G5 Plus is another solid smartphone, boasting Android Nougat, a 5.2″ 1080p display, fingerprint reader, 2Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor and 4G LTE speeds. It also carries the same flagship-level 12-megapixel rear camera as the Galaxy S7 along with a wide angle 5-megapixel front camera for group selfies. Motorola claims the device has an all-day battery and there are two memory sizes available: one version with 2GB RAM and 32GB storage, and another with double the memory across the board. The Alcatel A30 is also joining the program. Although you won’t get any of Alcatel’s quirky new handsets at this price, you do get a Nougat-ready phone with a 5-inch 720p HD display, directional speakers, 2GB RAM a quad-core Snapdragon processor, 4G LTE, 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel selfie shooter. The Alcatel also offers some gesture control features and its 16GB of internal storage can be expanded up to 32GB with microSD support. Source: Amazon Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Twitter mulls offering a Tweetdeck subscription service
Mar24

Twitter mulls offering a Tweetdeck subscription service

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Twitter has always been free to use and will likely remain free. But the company is now considering offering its first paid subscription service through Tweetdeck. The social network has recently sent emails to select users, asking if they’d be willing to pay for a “more advanced Tweetdeck experience.” Based on the email posted by journalist Andrew Tavani, a premium experience will add new viewing, posting and signaling tools in one customizable dashboard that you can see above. They include bookmarks, to-do lists, a “save for later” option, cross-posting capabilities, the ability to manage multiple accounts and to customize tweets for different groups of followers. The ad-free premium tier will also come with analytic tools and be available on mobile and desktop. Since these features obviously target social media professionals and companies, it’s unclear if the company will offer the option even to casual users. What we do know is that you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription fee to access these tools, and it might cost you $20 per month. Twitter will likely have to offer everyone the chance to subscribe if it’s depending on the tier to make money for the company, though: It missed Wall Street’s revenue estimates for Q4 2016 and its ad business isn’t doing so well either. 2 more notes on ‘advanced TweetDeck’: 1. Monthly subscription fee Twitter is exploring in the survey is $19.99. 2. Complete list of features pic.twitter.com/YEOf9AQ9bt — Andrew Tavani (@andrewtavani) March 24, 2017 Source: Andrew Tavani (Twitter) Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Elgato's control pad is a livestreaming sidekick
Mar23

Elgato's control pad is a livestreaming sidekick

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. The rise of livestreaming has opened the floodgates of casual broadcasting, turning many computer desks into makeshift studios. Peripherals have started catering to this market, like 360-degree cameras. In this niche, Elgato has released the Stream Deck, a standalone mini-keyboard with 15 extra buttons for streamers to program in shortcuts to programs or features. Just like the extra buttons dedicated to MMO macros on the gaming keyboards of yore, the Stream Deck’s buttons are aimed to give users quick access to things nested deep in program files. The keys are shortcuts to suit your streaming style, whether that’s firing up Twitter, starting/stopping a stream on Twitch, changing volume levels or dropping in a GIF. Finally, the keys themselves are essentially tiny LCD screens that can hold custom icons. Because who doesn’t want to drop in their favorite ridiculous thumbnail into their tiny keypad? Source: Elgato Stream Deck Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Hackers try to extort Apple by threatening to wipe iPhones
Mar23

Hackers try to extort Apple by threatening to wipe iPhones

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Someone claiming to be a group of hackers called themselves the “Turkish Crime Family” has apparently been trying to extort money from Apple. As Motherboard reported a few days ago, the group claims to have login details for hundreds of millions of Apple accounts and is threatening to remotely wipe devices via iCloud unless it’s paid $75,000 in Bitcoin or $100,000 in iTunes gift cards. Today, ZDNet says that it was able to verify 54 accounts revealed by the hackers, although it’s still unclear how many other accounts they have or how they came by them. In a statement, Apple said its systems have not been breached, and the alleged list appears to have been obtained from other sources. It also says it’s “actively monitoring” to prevent unauthorized access and is working with law enforcement. Apple: There have not been any breaches in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud and Apple ID. The alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services. We’re actively monitoring to prevent unauthorized access to user accounts and are working with law enforcement to identify the criminals involved. To protect against these type of attacks, we always recommend that users always use strong passwords, not use those same passwords across sites and turn on two-factor authentication. Because of shared passwords, hackers frequently use details obtained in other breaches to try and access more valuable accounts, which may be happening here. Previously, we’ve seen hackers try to extort users directly this way, using Find My iPhone to remotely lock devices until they’re paid. We’ve contacted Apple and will update this post if there are any other details. Now that at least some of the information has been verified, it seems like a good time for anyone who has (or used to have) an Apple or iCloud account to update and lock down their security settings. Even if these hackers (or someone else) has obtained a password for your account, using two-factor authentication should keep them from being able to access details or remotely wipe devices. Instructions on setting up two-factor authentication for your Apple ID can be found here. Additionally, if you haven’t changed your password in a while, or have ever shared it with an account anywhere else, it’s a good idea to change it to something strong and unique. Visit Apple’s password reset page at https://iforgot.apple.com/ (check for the secure padlock and correct URL in your address bar) to do that now. Source: ZDNet Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on...

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Facial recognition will help doctors detect rare genetic disease
Mar23

Facial recognition will help doctors detect rare genetic disease

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. A group of scientists have used facial recognition for something other than verifying identity or catching crooks on the run. The team from the National Human Genome Research Institute have developed a facial recognition method that can diagnose a rare genetic condition called DiGeorge syndrome in non-Caucasian populations. See, DiGeorge, which is caused by the deletion of a tiny segment in chromosome 22, leads to a number of medical complications and cognitive conditions that make it hard to diagnose. While it also comes with a characteristic facial appearance that should make it easy to detect, it varies widely across ethnicities. NHGRI medical geneticist Paul Kruszka explains that “Human malformation syndromes appear different in different parts of the world. Even experienced clinicians have difficulty diagnosing genetic syndromes in non-European populations.” That’s where facial recognition comes in. The NHGRI team studied the photographs of 101 participants with the rare disease from Africa, Asia and Latin America. They then developed a facial recognition tech that was able to correctly diagnose the condition 96.6 percent of the time during their trial runs. The team says their tech can diagnose Down’s syndrome, as well. While it could take a while, the researchers plan to develop their creation further until it can help healthcare providers around the world. Someday, doctors could simply take a patient’s picture with their phone, have it analyzed by the facial recognition system and receive a diagnosis. Source: National Human Genome Research Institute Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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'The Handmaid's Tale' trailer takes us to a bleak post-America future
Mar23

'The Handmaid's Tale' trailer takes us to a bleak post-America future

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Hulu has been teasing its adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale for months now, giving us a peak into a dystopian future Margaret Atwood first imagined in 1985. While those previews definitely gave us a look at the show’s visual style, they didn’t offer many clues about the plot for anyone who might have missed the novel the first time around. Today, Hulu dropped its first full-length trailer for the series, which debuts next month. In a voiceover, our protagonist Offred (played by Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss) sets the scene, which suddenly feels more timely than ever: “When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the constitution, we didn’t wake up then either.” Through a series of flashbacks, we get a glimpse into Offred’s reality, where her life is torn apart as the United States is dismantled and replaced by the cruel theocratic Republic of Gilead and the few remaining fertile women are treated as government property. Offred’s role as surrogate mother for the women of the ruling class obviously plays a very visceral part here, but its her past that hints at her motivations for survival. We also get a better look at Samira Wiley (of Orange is the New Black) as Offred’s friend Moira and a powerfully creepy Joseph Fiennes as Commander Fred Waterford. The show will span 10 episodes, but since Hulu doesn’t like to release their series in one binge-friendly dump, they’ll be trickling out week by week, starting Wednesday, April 26th. Source: Hulu (YouTube) Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Hubble telescope finds black hole shot out of a distant galaxy
Mar23

Hubble telescope finds black hole shot out of a distant galaxy

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have observed a supermassive black hole with a mass one million times that of our Sun hurtling away from its parent galaxy. It’s the first confirmed case out of several suspected “runaway black holes,” which required an immense amount of energy to get launched from the center of its galaxy. How much? “We estimate that it took the equivalent energy of 100 million supernovae exploding simultaneously to jettison the black hole,” said Stefano Bianchi of Roma Tre University, co-author of the study announcing the phenomenon. According to their theoretical model, gravitational waves generated by two other black holes merging 1-2 billion years ago might have sent the supermassive one hurtling spaceward. The researchers had noticed that the black hole’s energetic signature, known as a quasar, was located far from its expected place at the center of its home galaxy, named 3C186. It had already moved 35,000 light-years away, the team calculated, which is farther than our Sun’s distance from the center of the Milky Way. The supermassive black hole continues to move at 7.5 million kilometers per hour, a speed that would get you from the Earth to the Moon in three minutes. Source: SpaceTelescope.org Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Facebook adds more familiar features to Messenger chats
Mar23

Facebook adds more familiar features to Messenger chats

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Facebook has a habit of copping features from other apps and dropping them into Messenger, so the addition of message reactions and @-mentions in the social network’s marquee messaging app was probably inevitable as the company slowly merges features across it’s products. Like iMessage, Slack and regular old Facebook comment threads, you can now react to individual messages or tag a friend to get their attention in group chats. Message reactions work exactly as they do in iMessage — you just press and hold a message to bring up Facebook’s set of seven basic love/laugh/cry emoji. For anyone keeping score, a small counter will tally up the reactions and show you who in the chat is showering you with all these emoji. Of course, everything gets a playful animation and its own notification on the lock screen. Mentions should seem pretty familiar as well: start typing @ and you’ll bring up a list of people in the chat. Tag a name and that user will get a special notification letting them know they’ve been called out. Mentions and Reactions began rolling out to users today, and they should be available to everyone in the next few days. And for companies using Facebook Workplace, the same features will be available in Work Chat. Source: Facebook Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Samsung finally has an LTE model of the Gear S3 Classic
Mar23

Samsung finally has an LTE model of the Gear S3 Classic

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. If you’re in the market for a new wearable with a retro look, Samsung today announced that its Gear S3 Classic smartwatch is getting 4G LTE connectivity. The original Classic lacked this feature, opting for WiFi instead. S3 fans had to go with the Frontier version if they wanted LTE. There’s no word yet on how much it will cost or when it will be available, but we do know AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon will offer it. Both the S3 Classic and Frontier currently cost around $350, so it’s likely the new model will be in that range. Like its predecessor, the new S3 Classic will have the same minimalist look and silver rotating bezel, which lets users answer or reject calls, read messages and access apps. It also comes with a 1.3-inch circular display that’s always on so you can check the time, built-in GPS, Tizen OS and Samsung Pay. We don’t know if adding LTE will change the watch’s size, but it’s unlikely, since the original Classic isn’t much smaller than the Frontier. Via: 9to5Google Source: BusinessWire Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Jaguar follows Chevy with unlimited LTE for your car
Mar23

Jaguar follows Chevy with unlimited LTE for your car

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. In-car WiFi is only worth having if you’ve got enough mobile data to make use of it. Following Chevy’s lead, Jaguar Land Rover will offer a pre-paid, unlimited AT&T data plan for $20 a month. The luxury automaker says that you can connect as many as eight devices to the LTE network via the InControl feature on certain models, including the Jaguar XE. If that car sounds familiar, that’s because it’s one of the few that you can make in-car, cashless gas payments from. Would you pony up for the mobile data service? Let us know in the comments. Via: TechCrunch Source: Jaguar Land Rover Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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German researchers built a molecule-splitting artificial sun
Mar23

German researchers built a molecule-splitting artificial sun

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Scientists from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are testing a novel way to generate hydrogen, a potential green energy source, by using a massive array of lights normally found in movie theaters. It’s part of the “Synlight” project, which aims to split water molecules into its component hydrogen and oxygen atoms using the power of the sun. Hydrogen can be used as a green fuel source since burning it doesn’t release any greenhouse gasses. But the problem is that hydrogen doesn’t occur naturally here on Earth, you’ve got to break water to get to it. The Synlight array consists of 149 xenon short-arc lamps, typically used as cinematic spotlights, setup in a honeycomb pattern and all focused on a single 8-inch by 8-inch patch. The amount of energy hitting that space is roughly 10,000 times as intense as natural sunlight and generate temperatures as high as 3,500C. “If you went in the room when it was switched on, you’d burn directly,” Professor Bernard Hoffschmidt, research director at the DLR, told The Guardian. The point of all this is to figure out how to concentrate natural sunlight to most efficiently split H2O. We obviously can’t use huge bulb arrays like the Synlight — it cost $3.8 million to build and sucks down as much power in 4 minutes as an average German household consumes in a year. But the Sun generates a nearly unlimited supply of energy that just needs to be harnessed. It’s a similar concept to modern solar thermal power plants, though instead of superheating molten salt mixtures to drive steam turbines, this process would produce hydrogen fuel. Via: The Guardian Source: AP Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Google and Howard University partner for more diversity in tech
Mar23

Google and Howard University partner for more diversity in tech

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Diversity (or the lack thereof) at Silicon Valley companies like Google has been a hot topic in the tech industry of late — just about every major tech company out there now is publishing diversity numbers and pledging to make their workforces more than just white men. Google today has just announced a new partnership with Howard University to help improve its own diversity. As Google VP Bonita Stewart (herself a Howard alum) writes, the new “Howard West” program is a residency at Google’s Mountain View campus for black computer science majors. The goal is to give those students more exposure and opportunities out in Silicon Valley. “The lack of exposure, access to mentors and role models are critical gaps that Howard West will solve,” Stewart writes. She says that Google has also found “systematic barriers lead to low engagement and enrollment in CS, low retention in CS programs and a lack of proximity and strong relationships between Silicon Valley, HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] and the larger African American Community.” The program will kick off this summer and is open to juniors and seniors in Howard’s CS program. It’ll involve attending Howard West for three months at a time, with students under the instruction of both senior Google engineers and Howard University faculty. This is only the first step for the program — Stewart says that the plan is to scale it up to accommodate students from other HBCUs in the future. Source: Google Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Apple explores using an iPhone or iPad to power a laptop
Mar23

Apple explores using an iPhone or iPad to power a laptop

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. The notion of using a phone to power a computer isn’t new — we’ve seen companies like HP and Motorola try, and ultimately fail, to make it a reality for years. But that’s not stopping Apple from considering the idea. The USPTO issued a patent filing this morning detailing how an iPhone, or an iPad, could be used to power an ultraportable laptop, AppleInsider reports. As usual, the patent idea likely won’t end up turning into full-fledged product (it was originally filed last September). But it gives us an idea of how Apple is looking at the future of mobile devices and ultraportables. The patent filing shows off multiple forms of a potential “electronic accessory.” One features a slot near the trackpad area where you can drop in an iPhone, which provides all of the hardware necessary to run the Macbook-looking ultraportable. And, in a truly unique spin, the iPhone would also serve as the actual trackpad. Another concept describes sliding an iPad in the screen area to power the accessory. Apple also considers plugging additional batteries and GPU hardware in the accessory base to buoy the performance of the iPhone or iPad. This might all seem a bit crazy, but it makes sense for Apple to be considering new ways to use its mobile hardware. Both the iPhone and iPad are getting faster every year, and such a nimble accessory could give Apple some intriguing ways to combat the rise of convertible, touchscreen-equipped PC laptops. We’re in a world where Microsoft’s Surface devices are demonstrating far more innovation when it comes to portable computing, and where Apple is being forced to respond with its iPad Pro line. It’s about time for the Cupertino company to try something new. Via: AppleInsider Source: USPTO (1), (2) Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Google improves Photos and Duo for lousy connections
Mar23

Google improves Photos and Duo for lousy connections

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Google’s been pretty busy this week. It added a location-sharing feature to the Maps app, started allowing sports teams and artists to post directly to its search results, teased us with a preview of Android O and vowed to make sure all Android phones are updated quickly. But it’s not done. The company also introduced ways to improve the speed of its Photos and Duo apps, even when network signals are weak. Those who use Photos on Android should experience faster image backups when they’re not connected to WiFi, as the app will automatically save files in a lightweight preview quality first. When a WiFi connection is later detected, Photos will replace these with the full, high-quality versions. The iOS and Android versions of the app will do the same when you’re sharing pictures with your friends on low connectivity — first sending them a lower-resolution image and then pushing the full-quality original over when a stronger signal is detected. As for the video-calling Duo app, Google is adding a voice-only option so you can talk to your friends without the image stream sucking up all your bandwidth. The company said in a blog post that this feature will “work well on all connection speeds” and rolls out first in Brazil before going live in the rest of the world “in the coming days.” Google’s chat app Allo also gets an update to support document-sharing, so those who use the app on Android can send .pdf, .mp3, .apk, .zip and .doc files to each other. This addition isn’t related to connection speeds, but it’s a handy tool that makes Allo more useful than before. The connectivity-related optimizations for Duo and Photos, on the other hand, are sure to be welcome by those who either have limited data plans or often find themselves in areas with poor coverage. Source: Google Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Senate agrees to let carriers use your data however they want
Mar23

Senate agrees to let carriers use your data however they want

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. The US Senate on Thursday voted in a resolution that will effectively eliminate the consumer privacy rules that the Federal Communications Commission enacted back in October. These rules had required service providers like Verizon and AT&T to obtain the customer’s permission before selling their data to advertisers. The bill’s author, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) argues that these privacy regulations place an unfair burden on service providers compared to websites like Google and Facebook, who also collect user data, and constitute a “bureaucratic power grab”. This data includes “precise geo-location, financial information, health information, children’s information, social security numbers, web browsing history, app usage history and the content of communications,” according to an FCC statement. “Passing this [Congressional Review Act] will send a powerful message that federal agencies can’t unilaterally restrict constitutional rights and expect to get away with it,” Flake said in a statement. If also passed by the House and signed by the president, the bill would leverage the CRA to halt the implementation of these rules and prevent the FCC from passing “substantially similar” regulations in the future. That means that we’ll go back to having to actively opt out from service providers selling our data. A number of Democratic Senators rallied against the bill before the vote, arguing that it would weaken consumer protections. “Passing [the resolution] will take consumers out of this driver’s seat and place the collection and use of their information behind a veil of secrecy,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), “despite rhetoric surrounding our debate today suggesting that eliminating these common-sense rules will better protect consumers’ privacy online or will eliminate consumer confusion.” The ACLU also made a statement denouncing the bill’s passage. “It is extremely disappointing that the Senate voted today to sacrifice the privacy rights of Americans in the interest of protecting the profits of major internet companies, including Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon,” an ACLU representative wrote. “The resolution would undo privacy rules that ensure consumers control how their most sensitive information is used. The House must now stop this resolution from moving forward and stand up for our privacy rights.” This isn’t the first time that the Republican majority in Congress have used a CRA to reverse Obama-era regulations. In February, the president signed three such acts: one of which rolled back protections against the mentally ill purchasing firearms, another that had prevented coal mining operations from dumping waste into waterways and a third that required energy companies to disclose financial donations to foreign governments. Source: Hill Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow...

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WikiLeaks: CIA has all sorts of tools for hacking your Mac
Mar23

WikiLeaks: CIA has all sorts of tools for hacking your Mac

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. One of Apple’s big talking points is that Macs don’t get viruses and that they’re relatively safe when compared to Windows PCs. Well, WikiLeaks would like you to reconsider that notion with more info about Vault 7. The organization’s latest dump is a handful of documents from the Central Intelligence Agency that detail, among other things, how the agency can infect a MacBook Air during its boot cycle via a modified Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter. With “Sonic Screwdriver,” the CIA’s monitoring tools are stored on the dongle and the machine can be infected even if it’s password protected. Considering how dongle dependent the new MacBooks are, this sort of exploit becomes even more worrying. Next on the nightmare list is a project called “Dark Matter” which is an umbrella for a handful of other spying initiatives. Perhaps most troubling is that these infections can persist even if you reinstall OSX. Then there’s “NightSkies 1.2” which, as of 2008, was used to infect brand new iPhones. “While CIA assets are sometimes used to physically infect systems in the custody of a target, it is likely that many CIA physical access attacks have infected the targeted organization’s supply chain, including by interdicting mail orders and other shipments (opening, infecting and resending) leaving the United States or otherwise,” WikiLeaks writes. So, the CIA was intercepting iPhone orders, putting their malware on them and then making sure the devices got to their targets. WikiLeaks also notes that despite some of the comparatively ancient dates on the documents, it appears the CIA continues using and updating at least a few of them. We’ve reached out to Apple for more information and will update this post should it arrive. In the case of the intercepted iPhones, there isn’t much you can do. But for everything else, just remember: Don’t leave your laptop unattended in the open, and do not plug anything into your computer that was given to you by a stranger. Source: Wikileaks Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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What we love and hate about 'Mass Effect: Andromeda'
Mar23

What we love and hate about 'Mass Effect: Andromeda'

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. A veteran Mass Effect player and a complete novice walk into a bar. This isn’t the beginning of a terrible joke: Instead, it’s the premise of a conversation between Engadget associate editor Timothy J. Seppala and senior reporter Jessica Conditt, both of whom have been playing the latest Mass Effect game, Andromeda, over the past few weeks. Tim has devoured and adored the Mass Effect series for almost a decade while Jessica has never touched the games before. How does Andromeda compare to previous Mass Effect games? Does it stand on its own as a worthy addition to the sci-fi genre? Are the animations always this messed up? In the following conversation, Tim and Jessica discuss Andromeda‘s highs and lows from two vastly different perspectives — and somehow, they end up with similar conclusions. Spoilers for the entire Mass Effect series reside below; you’ve been warned. Timothy J. Seppala, Mass Effect fan Jess, it pains me to say this, but I don’t want to play more of Mass Effect: Andromeda. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in that universe, playing through the previous trilogy a handful of times as the altruistic Timothy J. Shepard and as his evil counterpart Toni Shepard. Together, they helped form some of my fondest recent gaming memories. The games were nowhere near perfect, but their rough charm made them all the more endearing. It was easy to overlook how awful the UI and cover system were in the first game when I had a team of ridiculously well-developed alien compatriots along for the ride. More than in any series prior, Mass Effect‘s characters felt like friends. The bond I formed with those characters helped carry me through the subsequent sequels and their increased focus on being action RPGs versus the hard-core role-playing games developer BioWare was known for. I’ll never forget my reflexive scream when Legion, a former enemy robot, and Tali, a mysterious helmeted scientist, sacrificed themselves in Mass Effect 3 within moments of each other. I thought I’d saved them both from certain doom before that cliffside conversation. Watching helplessly as Legion gave his life and Tali took her own was a 1-2 punch to the gut after all the time we’d spent together. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to keep my expectations tempered going into Andromeda. And somehow, I’m still disappointed. You’ve never played a Mass Effect prior, so I’m curious how you’re feeling about the game. After all, it’s a new story line that’s set in an entirely new galaxy, so it should be a good starting point for...

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Instagram will start blurring 'sensitive' photos in your feed
Mar23

Instagram will start blurring 'sensitive' photos in your feed

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. In recent months, Instagram has taken some long-overdue steps to reduce abuse on its platform and generally make the experience better and safer for all users. Today, the company has announced another change in line with those goals. When you’re browsing pictures or a user profile, you might start seeing a filter over images marked as “sensitive.” Instagram says that these images are ones that other users have reported but don’t technically violate the service’s guidelines. While full nudity isn’t allowed on Instagram, for example, you can still get away with posting pretty racy images. If those images have been reported and Instagram’s team deems them “sensitive,” they’ll be blocked by default. You can simply tap the screen to get the full image, though. It’s not a bad addition, but Instagram should probably offer a way to turn the setting off for people who don’t really care about having images filtered. Another change announced today is one everyone should take advantage of: two-factor authentication. It’s been around in limited fashion for a while, but now it’s available to everyone. It works just like you’d expect — once turned on, you’ll need a code sent to your phone via text message every time you log in. Before you turn it on, just make sure that the phone number linked to your Instagram account is the current number you’re using. Instagram has also launched a stand-alone website as a one-stop shop for keeping your experience on the service safe and positive. It’ll give you an overview of things like blocking accounts, tagging photos, managing comments and other things you’ll use to control your experience. All these features should be rolling out today, so check the Instagram app and site if you want to try this all out. Via: TechCrunch Source: Instagram Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Spotify's latest music documentary chronicles Green Day's rise
Mar23

Spotify's latest music documentary chronicles Green Day's rise

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Spotify’s Landmark music documentary series debuted back in August with four episodes on the early days of Metallic. Today, another installment is premiering on the streaming service and this time you’ll get to relive the grungy angst of the early ’90s with Green Day. The first episode is available today with the other three to follow each Thursday through April 13th. The Green Day version of Landmark starts with the band’s origins at Berkley’s Gilman Street venue in the late ’80s through the release of its platinum album Dookie in 1994. The show catches up with the band today and includes other artists who cite the group as an influence — acts like Ed Sheeran, All Time Low and more. Each episode in the series so far has been around 10 minutes or less, so you won’t have to dedicate much time to watching them. You can stream them via Spotify’s iOS and Android apps as well as on the desktop from the “Video Series” page. As Spotify continues to debut new installments of Landmark, the streaming service is padding its content offerings elsewhere as well. Earlier this month, the company announced it would make WNYC podcasts available to stream. That list includes popular shows like 2 Dope Girls, Radiolab, Freakonomics Radio, On The Media and more. The service still has quite the lead in terms of users, but with Apple willing to shell out considerable amounts for limited exclusives, original video content and podcasts may help further pad those numbers. Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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US ordered social media checks for some Visa applicants
Mar23

US ordered social media checks for some Visa applicants

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ordered “mandatory social media checks” on all visa applicants who visited ISIS-controlled regions, according to memos seen by Reuters. That could explain why some visitors to the US have complained about increased demands by customs officials to access phones and passwords for Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts. The four memos instruct agents on how to implement President Trump’s latest ban on immigrants from six Muslim-majority nations. Secretary Tillerson reportedly issued the memos and then retracted some of later in response to court rulings in Hawaii and elsewhere that temporarily suspended key parts of the order. Another cable instructs consular chiefs in each diplomatic mission to identify populations “warranting increased security.” Those groups, which could vary depending on the country, could then be screened more carefully by customs officials, according to the memo. Former US officials told Reuters that the “broad, labor intensive” screening described in the memos are currently done rarely, and would significantly increase the workload for consular officials. US immigration officials use specific set of factors developed over years to target specific applicants for increased scrutiny. However, the new orders would broaden the rules and possibly lead to religious or ethnic profiling, an immigration lawyer told Reuters. Back in 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under President Obama started formulating a plan to check the social media accounts of Visa applicants following the San Bernardino terrorist attack. In December, it added social media fields in Visa Waiver applications, but the information was optional and the DHS didn’t ask for passwords and credentials. However, in January the agency started checking visitors’ Facebook and Twitter accounts, threatening to deny entry if they didn’t comply. Last month, the DHS told congress it would consider demanding social media passwords as well from US visitors. Shortly after, visitors (including a US-born NASA scientist), said they were ordered to unlock their phones and hand over passwords and other info. Source: Reuters Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Coffee Meets Bagel dating app is trying to end ghosting
Mar23

Coffee Meets Bagel dating app is trying to end ghosting

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. “Coffee Meets Bagel,” a dating app that promises high-quality matches, has launched a rather pricey premium tier. The company’s cofounder told VentureBeat that they had a lofty goal in mind when they decided to offer the option: they want to end ghosting. The habit is one of the most prevalent issues with services like this, and in an effort to combat the problem, dating apps are turning more and more like the older dating sites they replaced. Coffee Meets Bagel is but the latest one to launch a premium option — its rivals, including Tinder, also offer similar tiers of their own. If you choose to pay for membership, you’ll be able to see your matches’ activity report, like in the image below. It shows how likely they are to send the first message, how long it usually takes them to reply and the last time they were active. You’ll also see read receipts when the other person has already seen your messages. That way, you won’t have to waste time waiting for responses that’ll never come. Finally, you’ll get 6,000 “Beans” to spend on the service’s various features, such as the ability to see you and your matches’ mutual friends. All those perks don’t come cheap, though. At $35 a month, you likely have to enjoy CMB’s offerings the most to choose it over more affordable options. Source: TechCrunch, VentureBeat Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Artificial skin with solar cells could power prosthetics
Mar23

Artificial skin with solar cells could power prosthetics

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Researchers at Glasgow University have successfully developed a new type of artificial skin that is more sensitive than our own. Made of just a single atomic layer of graphene, the new soft feeling epidermis functions as its own sophisticated touch sensor. If that wasn’t impressive enough, this artificial ‘skin’ is also entirely self-powered. Housing a solar panel hidden under its graphene layer, the material manages to absorb over 98 percent of the light available, relying only on the sun to power it. As well as having huge implications for creating more realistic looking (and feeling) robotics, the new lightweight material could have a profound impact on helping amputees. The man behind the graphene skin, Dr Ravinder Dahiya has begun developing his own 3D printed hands, aiming to help provide amputees with affordable and lightweight limbs. Thanks to its lack of batteries and the relatively low price of silicon and graphene, including the hands, these robotics only cost $350 to make. This is significantly cheaper than the standard battery-operated prosthesis — which typically cost tens of thousands of dollars. Dahiya released a brief video demonstrating the capabilities of a prototype hand, showing the gentle touch in action. Outside of robotics, he suggests that this new skin could have a wide range of different applications. With the highly sensitive material being able to detect the slightest of movements, it has the potential to make a surprisingly accurate sweat sensor for gym clothes. Outside of the touch sensor, Dahiya also suggests that the solar tech could be used to easily power devices like glucose monitors, allowing doctors to observe patients who have no access to electricity. Yet according to Doctor Dahiya, his work is only just beginning. “The next step for us is to further develop the power-generation technology…and use it to power the motors which drive the prosthetic hand itself. This could allow the creation of an entirely energy-autonomous prosthetic limb.” Source: Lab manager Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Engadget - Read the full article...

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Alaska Airlines: Goodbye 'Virgin America,' hello comfier flights
Mar23

Alaska Airlines: Goodbye 'Virgin America,' hello comfier flights

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Virgin America has been the airline of choice for many travelers due to its on-board amenities, including comfy seating, mood lighting, Netflix and Spotify. However, the name won’t be around much longer. Alaska Airlines, which bought the airline last year, announced this week that it plans “to retire” the Virgin America name and logo “likely sometime in 2019.” As you can imagine, many were upset the beloved brand was being shuttered, including Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson. “It has a very different business model and sadly, it could not find a way to maintain its own brand and that of Virgin America,” Branson said. Alaska Airlines says a number of the things that made Virgin America so great in the eyes of travelers won’t go away — namely its dedication to stellar customer service. The company was also quick to reveal changes coming to the in-flight experience as a way of softening the blow that the go-to airline for many will no longer be around. And yes, there will be mood lighting. Next year, Alaska Airlines says it will debut a redesigned cabin complete with new seats and more. In the fall of 2018, all of the company’s Boeing aircraft will be retrofitted with high-speed satellite WiFi to improve internet during flights. The same upgrade will be applied to Alaska Airlines’ Airbus fleet afterwards with all planes expected to be equipped with faster WiFi by the end of 2019. The airline says you can expect to stream movies and shows from your service of choice when the upgrade to more reliable connectivity is complete. The airline already offers a catalog of over 200 movies and TV shows directly to passenger devices free of charge. That in-flight entertainment option is now permanently available on Alaska Airlines’ Boeing fleet and it arrives on the Airbus aircraft this August. If you’re flying on an Airbus plane, you’ll still be able to purchase new releases. If you don’t mind handing over a few dollars, of course. Alaska says it was the first and only airline to offer free in-flight chat when it did so in January. The amenity allows passengers to stay in contact with folks on the ground with apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and iMessage. This August, that free chatting will also be available on Airbus flights. While Virgin America may be going away in a few months, it’s clear Alaska Airlines is focused on improving the air travel experience to keep faithful customers happy. More premium seats, faster WiFi and easy-to-access entertainment options are a start, but it...

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