Five years ago, Google CEO Eric Schmidt proclaimed that laptops would become disposable. We’re nearly there. Starting today, you can buy a new Chromebook for just $150—the cheapest price ever. And this spring, there’s a $250 Chromebook coming that looks pretty incredible.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Google has unveiled a whole new type of Chrome device, and it's one that can fit in your pocket. It's called the Chromebit, and it's essentially a Chromebook crammed in a dongle. This tiny little package contains a Rockchip 3288 SoC, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of eMMC memory, a USB 2.0 port, WiFi 802.11 ac support, Bluetooth 4.0, a Smart Ready controller and an ARM Mali 760 quad-core GPU. Just like Intel's Compute Stick, all you have to do to get the Chromebit working is to attach it to any display with a HDMI port, and voila, you've turned it into a computer. Unlike the Intel stick though, the Chromebit's HDMI end actually swivels around so that the dongle doesn't stick out in an unsightly way behind a monitor or TV. As for battery life, well, Google says it doesn't really know that just yet as the product is still in testing. Google promises that the Chromebit -- the first is made by ASUS -- will retail for less than $100. It'll be available in either silver, blue or orange and will be out later this summer.
Source: Google Chrome Blog
Posted by Augustine at 6:51 PM
Techie culture-vultures aren't likely to encounter Vine upload fails anymore at Seattle's home to arts, culture and the Space Needle thanks to Microsoft. The city's biggest patron has installed a new WiFi service at the Seattle Center that uses new technology to blow away the previous system's speed and capacity. The installation is a pilot program for Microsoft Research's white space tech that harnesses long-range, wall-penetrating TV signals. Along with quadruple the access points, the tech gives the Seattle Center public WiFi speeds up to 5,000 times faster, letting you Skype, Vine and Meerkat to your heart's content.
The previous system supported basic browsing only and often didn't work at all with too many users online. Microsoft told the Ballard News-Tribune that "this technology can handle more than 25,000 users at a time," which should be a boon during concerts and other big events. The pilot is also part of a city-wide program to improve public WiFi, and Microsoft's white space tech "may be deploy(ed) to other neighborhoods in the city," according to Mayor Ed Murray. To use the tech, you just have to log on to the "Microsoft Wi-Fi Seattle Center" network, with a free app coming soon.
[Image credit: AFP/Getty Images]
Via: The Ballard Tribune
Posted by Augustine at 6:51 PM
LG's new mobile VR headset -- which is basically just a plastic version of Google's cardboard VR viewer -- is finally hitting American shores. The company just announced that it'll be throwing in a free headset, simply called the VR for G3, with the purchase of its latest flagship Android phone at participating retailers. Since it's adopting the Google Cardboard platform, which is just a box that you can plug your smartphone in for simple VR experiences, there really isn't much to LG's offering. You just need to slide in a G3 unit and load up a VR app (LG will also link users to some VR gaming content). It also features a magnet that works together with the phone's gyroscope (again, just like Google's box), that lets you select things without interacting with the screen. Unfortunately, it's still unclear how existing G3 owners can get their hands on LG's VR headset (we've dropped a line for additional details).It may seem a tad gimmicky, but a cheap VR headset will allow consumers to get a taste of the virtual reality experience without shelling out for an expensive accessory like Samsung's $200 Gear VR. And while it certainly won't compare with complex VR tech from Oculus, HTC and Valve, the VR for G3 is a reminder how small the barrier to entry for VR is getting.
Posted by Augustine at 6:47 PM
Monday, March 30, 2015
Einstein was wrong -- about the quantum mechanical phenomena known as superpositioning and wave form collapse, at least. A team from Australia's Griffith University and Japan's University of Tokyo, have proven that both are tangible phenomena, not simply mathematical paradoxes. See, back when he was still reigning "smartest guy on the planet," Einstein just couldn't wrap his massive intellect around the theory of superpositioning (or as he called it, "spooky action across distance"). That is, a particle in superposition effectively exists in both places at once (not unlike Schroedinger's Cat) until you observe it at either location. At which time the particle you aren't looking at ceases to exist (a process known as wave function collapse). What's more, the disappearing particle seems to know that its twin has been discovered through some mechanism that happens instantly, literally traveling faster than the speed of light -- a clear violation of Einstein's theory of relativity.
In a paper published last week in the journal, Nature Communications, the team split a single photon in half and transmitted it to two separate labs. Upon analysis, they found that the particle not only exists in a superposition state until its observed but that it never showed up in both labs at the same time. According to Einstein's understanding of physics, this simply shouldn't be possible.
Now that the researchers have proven that both superposition and wave function collapse are real, we can begin to apply these phenomena to the next generation of quantum information processing systems. "Usually there are two types of quantum information processing," University of Tokyo professor of applied physics, Akira Furusawa, said in a statement. "There's the qubit type, the digital information processing, and there's continuous variable, a sort of analog type of quantum information. We are trying to combine them." And by leveraging the wave function collapse mechanism, researchers may be able to make quantum communications more secure.
Posted by Augustine at 3:33 PM
What Einstein termed "spooky action at a distance" has been successfully demonstrated for the first time. For the first time, quantum entanglement of a single particle has been observed by researchers -- an event that Albert Einstein believed to be impossible under the contemporary quantum mechan...
Posted by Augustine at 8:26 AM
Robots typically rely on batteries to get power, but they may soon have to do little more than nibble on another material to start moving. Chinese researchers have developed simple liquid metal machines (not shown here) that zip around if they "eat" aluminum and other substances that produce electrochemical reactions. It's not possible to directly control their movement, but they closely mimic whatever space they're in -- you can propel them through channels, for instance.
These amorphous machines aren't blisteringly fast. Right now, chewing on metal lets them move at about 2 inches per second for over an hour. It's doubtful that you'll see a nimble, Terminator 2-style shapeshifting android any time soon, then -- perhaps thankfully -- but one of the basic ingredients for that kind of liquid robot is now in place.
[Image credit: Shelley Brunt, Flickr]
Posted by Augustine at 2:20 AM
Sunday, March 29, 2015
Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.
Fans of green cars are eagerly awaiting the release of the Tesla Model X, but you won't have to wait to see what it looks like on the road -- a YouTube user spotted the new car cruising down the freeway in Palo Alto, California. The electric vehicle, which was originally supposed to be released in 2013, is now set to launch in the third quarter of 2015. In other automotive news, Mercedes-Benz has announced plans to release 10 new plug-in hybrid models by 2017. The new models will be designated with a simple "e" instead of the longer "plug-in hybrid" branding. Toyota is currently testing its i-Road three-wheeled electric vehicle in France. The i-Road is seen as a "last-mile" vehicle, and Toyota wants to see how it can integrate with public transportation to decrease traffic gridlock.
In other green transportation news, a Russian oligarch has announced plans to build a massive superhighway that would connect all the continents in the Northern Hemisphere. NASA is quietly testing an electric plane concept that has the potential to shake up the aviation industry. The plane, which looks quite a bit different than today's typical commercial jet, has 18 independently operated electric motors that are powered by lithium-phosphate batteries. And for contemporary nomads, the Mogo Freedom is a versatile trailer that sleeps two and contains plenty of storage space for schlepping outdoor gear.
The Solar Decathlon is one of the biggest green architecture events of the year, and plans for this year's slate of houses are already trickling in. A team of German and American students from Munich and Austin, Texas (respectively), will build NexusHaus, a small one-story prefab that's equipped with an efficient water-treatment system and rooftop solar panels. In other design news, Spanish architects Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano of SelgasCano just unveiled designs for the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion, a temporary structure that will be built in London's Kensington Gardens. The United Nations is partnering with the social enterprise Better Shelter to deliver 10,000 solar-powered flat-pack IKEA shelters to refugee families. Irish company Thermo Tent has created a new type of insulated camping tent that maintains constant internal temperatures and muffles noise, while Heimplanet released a new inflatable tent that can fit up to six people. A father-daughter team has recreated many of the scenes from Jurassic Park using stop-motion video and over $100,000 worth of Lego bricks. And in wearable tech news, a new shoe created by iShüu Technologies is made from electronic paper that can change colors and patterns. And fashion designer Pauline van Dongen and architect Behnaz Farahi have teamed up to create a 3D-printed flexible collar that can move on its own with a little help from nitinol and a small electric signal.
Chinese officials have announced plans to shutter all of Beijing's coal-fired power plants by 2016. The city will be switching to gas-powered plants, which are significantly cleaner. Meanwhile, Europe is leading the way when it comes to dealing with climate change. France just passed a new law that will require all new commercial buildings to be at least partially covered with either solar panels or green roofs. But increases in renewable energy aren't confined to the European continent. Thanks to heavy rainfall, Costa Rica was able to run solely on renewable energy for more than 75 days. And in Uzbekistan, workers have erected an enormous solar oven that uses concentrated solar energy to produce temperatures hot enough to melt metal. New photos show the futuristic structure, which can heat up to 3,000 degrees Celsius. In other clean energy news, researchers have figured out a way to transform packing peanuts -- those little, white, foam nuggets that typically end up in the landfill -- into carbon anodes for lithium-ion batteries.
Posted by Augustine at 3:30 PM
Friday, March 27, 2015
The Royal Navy's successful invasion of Jamaica in 1655 had a lot of terribly negative outcomes. The commanders ended up in the Tower of London. Many of the English sailors fell sick or starved. A lot of Spanish settlers died. But there was one undeniably positive outcome: rum.
Posted by Augustine at 7:59 PM
Abundant Wi-Fi is one of the best 21st century conveniences. But while the ease of an open hotspot may be enticing, be careful: Hackers are constantly looking for vulnerable access points intercept data.
Earlier today we reported on a huge internet vulnerability plaguing the hospitality world. Networking equipment often used by hotel chains had a gaping security hole that allowed hackers to gain access into the network and monitor and tamper with any traffic that flowed through. Anyone who used the hotels' Wi-Fi stood the chance of having their traffic intercepted.
We asked the security expert behind this finding, Justin W Clarke, if he thought this meant that all hotel Wi-Fi networks are a hot-bed for nefarious cybercrime.
He wouldn’t go so far. Clarke is a researcher that sees vulnerabilities like these all the time. This week's discovery, while frightening, is an example of the need for security diligence, and for businesses to ensure their infrastructure is secure.
“The reality,” Clarke said, “is that there’s no perfect way to access the internet.” He added that personally he would think twice before checking his bank account at a hotel or cafe. This gets at a critical point most people overlook.
This week's finding isn't about hotels per se; it's about the freewheeling nature people have when they surf the web. People quite often share their data in potentially unsecure environments.
On the extreme opposite end, some individuals may use separate computers only to check their financial information.
There's a middle-point, where people are more mindful of if their data can get intercepted. It's probably wise to not log personal information unless you're absolutely sure about security. Unless you are in your own private n! etwork, it’s hard to be sure where your data is going.
Additionally, there are safeguards users can adopt to further protect themselves. People can use a virtual private networks (VPNs) to encrypt their traffic. In fact, that’s what many security experts — including Clarke — do when using public hotspots.
Use common sense. Just think: What am I accessing right now? Is it private? Is my network private? Would it be bad if a third-party could intercept this traffic? Then proceed.
NOW WATCH: Here's What To Do If Your iPhone Gets Stolen
Posted by Augustine at 7:38 PM
SSDs and other flash memory devices will soon get cheaper and larger thanks to big announcements from Toshiba and Intel. Both companies revealed new "3D NAND" memory chips that are stacked in layers to pack in more data, unlike single-plane chips currently used. Toshiba said that it's created the world's first 48-layer NAND, yielding a 16GB chip with boosted speeds and reliability. The Japanese company invented flash memory in the first place and has the smallest NAND cells in the world at 15nm. Toshiba is now giving manufacturers engineering samples, but products using the new chips won't arrive for another year or so.At the same time, Intel and partner Micron revealed they're now manufacturing their own 32-layer NAND chips that should also arrive in SSDs in around a year. They're sampling even larger capacity NAND memory than Toshiba, with 32GB chips available now and a 48GB version coming soon. Micron said the chips could be used to make gum-stick sized M.2 PCIe SSDs up to 3.5TB in size and 2.5-inch SSDs with 10TB of capacity -- on par with the latest hard drives. All of this means that Toshiba, Intel/Micron and companies using their chips will soon give some extra competition to Samsung, which has been using 3D NAND tech for much longer. The result will be nothing but good for consumers: higher capacity, cheaper SSDs that will make spinning hard disks sleep with one eye open.
Posted by Augustine at 4:25 PM
The number of US digital video viewers on desktop fell to its lowest point in eight months during February, according to comScore data.
- US desktop-video viewers totaled nearly 189 million in February 2015, down by about 6.3 million viewers from the prior month, and up by a tiny 3% year-over-year.
- The declines point to increased video viewership on mobile devices. For comparison, the average monthly audience for video on smartphones increased by ~20% during the final quarter of 2014, according to Nielsen.
The results highlight the importance of optimizing video for mobile. Google and Facebook both offer popular dedicated mobile apps with robust video-playback features and massive installed bases, while third- and fourth-ranked video platform AOL and Yahoo trail far behind in this respect.
Posted by Augustine at 4:18 PM
Article: Streaming music companies have had uneven success shifting ad-supported listeners to paid accounts
Streaming music companies have had uneven success shifting ad-supported listeners to more valuable paid monthly subscriptions, and this has created a drag on the entire digital music industry. Paid-music streaming services account for a smaller share of revenue — and audience pool — than ad-suppo...
Posted by Augustine at 8:31 AM
YouTube introduced videos that play at 60 frames per second last year and ones viewable in 4K resolution in February. Now, the website is starting to experiment with videos that are both silky smooth and ultra high-def. TechCrunch has spotted a low-key, semi-secret playlist comprised of only six ...
Posted by Augustine at 8:22 AM
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Oh man, this video is absolutely horrifying. Put together by AAA, it shows how distracted teenagers are when they drive. You see drivers take their eyes off the road to text, people ignoring cars while they're on the phone and a lot of them just not paying attention at all. You get to see the side-by-side of what they're doing vs the dash cam footage of the car.
Posted by Augustine at 9:45 PM