There are already quite a few Chromecast-savvy apps out there, but João Dias' newly completed AutoCast may be one of the most flexible. The Tasker add-on for Android lets you send a wide range of content to Google's media stick in your choice of layout, including multiple things at once -- you can get notifications while you're watching video, or play music while browsing video. You can also create custom home screens that show useful info like battery levels or weather, and it's possible for multiple users to share control over a single Chromecast app, such as an image editor. AutoCast won't address every possible function you might want, but it covers a surprising amount of ground by itself.
Saturday, April 05, 2014
The 1 percent have long had smartphones from Porsche and Vertu to quench their high-end thirst, but when it comes to dual-SIM handsets, the elite have had to settle for something a little more ordinary. For those in need, Gresso created Azimuth, the first dual-SIM luxury handset. Starting at $2,000, the phone is made of titanium, with both the keys and logo crafted out of 18K or white gold. Since appearances are all that matter, you're getting some pretty low-end specs under the hood, including 2GB of "internal memory," a 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth 2.0 and a tiny 1,100mAh battery. To put things in perspective, Samsung's Galaxy S5 starts with 16GB of built-in storage, a 16-megapixel camera and a 2,800mAh battery. The difference being, anyone can buy an S5. Only 999 Azimuth's will be made, because no one who's anyone wants a phone 1,000 people can own.
Posted by Augustine at 8:49 AM
Let's be real: Amazon isn't going to stop until you can go your entire life without setting foot in an actual brick-and-mortar store. Now the company wants to make buying groceries and sundries from its AmazonFresh same-day delivery service even easier, and it's doing it with a tiny little gadget called the Dash. Yes, move over Fire TV -- Amazon's newest bit of hardware is a free (for now?), WiFi-capable barcode scanner.
Alright, maybe it's a bit more complex than that. It appears to be a pint-sized
laser scanner LED scanner that'll capture the barcode of whatever items you need, but you can add to your list by speaking the name of the product into a built-in microphone. That voice-recognition bit seems like it would be better suited to generic products like apples, but the teaser video shows a young lady adding guitar strings to her cart -- presumably you can fine-tune choices like that once you jump onto the AmazonFresh site or mobile apps.
Word of the Dash definitely came as a surprise (especially on a lazy spring afternoon), but it falls right in line with Amazon's existing hardware plans. These days the e-commerce giant is all about pushing low-cost gadgets to reduce the friction of buying more stuff. Itching to read some Feynman? Fire up the ol' Kindle. Need to watch the last season of Luther? It's just a few clicks away on the Fire TV. What's really neat (if maybe a little scary) is that Amazon has finally found a way to make that formula work for real, physical products. Sadly, chances are you won't be using one of these things anytime soon. The AmazonFresh service is still only live in parts of California and Washington State, though rumors maintain that New York will get access to the program at some point.
Correction: We thought the Dash used a laser like most run-of-the-mill barcode scanners, but Amazon has confirmed that it actually uses an LED scanner instead. Sorry for the mix-up.
Posted by Augustine at 8:49 AM
Ah, nothing like good old fashioned scare tactics to get you to install anti-virus software. In a thinly veiled advert for its security suite, Kaspersky Labs has created a real-time cyber threat map -- painting the globe with six shades of malware. The brightly colored map lists Russia as the world's most infected country, followed closely by the United States, India and Vietnam. It's a mesmerizing visualization, but take it with a grain of salt: the data it presents is pulled exclusively from Kaspersky's own security network, which might explain why the Russian security outfit's home turf is the "most infected." More users in the motherland probably translates to more virus' detected. That said, if you're looking for a colorful view the world's malware, you won't be disappointed. Check it out at the source link below.
Posted by Augustine at 8:45 AM
All of the industry's biggest tech players are going gaga chasing the cloud-computing market these days:
- Cisco just vowed to spend $1 billion to build a new cloud to compete with Amazon's Web Services.
- Microsoft spent about $8 billion on cloud computing R&D in 2011 and spends billions more each year on its cloud data centers in 16 regions around the world.
- IBM is spending $7 billion to beef up its cloud.
- Oracle is in the process of building a cloud, too, with parts of it already being used by beta testers, CEO Larry Ellison recently said.
What is it that has all of the biggest tech players drooling? This chart that IBM sent to its investors explains it all. To summarize, IBM says ...
- 85% of new software today is being built for the cloud.
- One-quarter of the world's apps will be available on the cloud by 2016.
- Almost three-quarters of developers say that they are using the cloud in apps they are developing now.
Posted by Augustine at 8:43 AM
Friday, April 04, 2014
Last year's revelations of the National Security Agency's sweeping data collection programs were not particularly good for U.S. technology companies. Following the Edward Snowden leak, the D.C.-based think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation predicted that U.S. cloud computing c...
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Posted by Augustine at 9:22 AM
Follow Duncan Frazier has made impressive stunning timelapse footage, but when he and his business partner Stephen McGuigan (working together as Bitbanger Labs) sent us a link to Pixelstick, we experienced the kind of awe that was formerly reserved for Apple product launches. Pixelstick is a tool...
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Posted by Augustine at 9:21 AM
Among the unedifying terminology revealed in the Apple v Samsung patent war was Steve Jobs’ belief that his company should go thermonuclear in its dispute with Google , and regard it as a Holy War. How inappropriate! Yet Jobs hit a point of real contention, rather than hyperbole, in the same ‘hol...
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Posted by Augustine at 9:15 AM
A revolutionary new method of encrypting confidential information has been patented by scientists inspired by their discoveries from human biology, which model how the heart and lungs coordinate their rhythms by passing information between each other.
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Posted by Augustine at 9:13 AM
Sometimes a company is interesting not because of the utility of what it can provide now, but because of the slightly hard-to-pin-down possibilities it opens up — particularly if those possibilities may help us navigate a new age of user interfaces and experiences. Random is such a company, and h...
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Posted by Augustine at 8:36 AM
(Credit: CSIRO) The CSIRO is putting RFID sensors on Queensland fruit flies to study their behaviour in the hopes of saving Queensland's crops. What do Tasmanian bees and Queensland fruit flies (AKA Q-flies) have in common (aside from six legs, two wings and segmented eyes)? They both wear little...
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Posted by Augustine at 8:10 AM
Not to be outflanked by rivals, Intel has released the $99 Minnowboard Max, a tiny single-board computer that runs Linux and Android. It is completely open source – you can check out the firmware and software here – and runs a 1.91GHz Atom E3845 processor. The board’s schematics are also availabl...
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Posted by Augustine at 8:08 AM
Enjoy this reversed footage of a man walking backwards across Tokyo, proof that a simple, seemingly silly idea can result in something strangely confusing and attractive.
Posted by Augustine at 7:07 AM
Here is a sleek way to showcase your iPhone's looks and sounds. There are no wires or buttons or even plastic in this passive amp—just a single piece of glass, handcrafted to exacting proportions, that can wrap a room in sound.
Posted by Augustine at 7:07 AM
It can be mesmerizing watching a talented drummer beat away on a set of skins, but even more so when they're sitting in the middle of a long-exposure camera rig with a pair of glowing drumsticks in hand. What's usually a blur of arms and sticks suddenly becomes an intricate web of mid-air streaks and squiggles that only add to a drummer's performance.
Posted by Augustine at 7:06 AM
Project Ara has only exploded in prominence since Google unloaded Motorola earlier this year, and now we're getting yet another peek at the work in progress. The Phonebloks team just released a video showing off the progress Google and its partners have made on those modular smartphones, and things are coming along just as quick as you'd expect.
While this is ostensibly a video meet-and-greet with some of the folks working for the cause, there are still some tantalizing parts to gaze upon. We're given a quick look at how component modules like processors and cameras are held in place by electropermanent magnets -- they slide into place easily, and are locked and unlocked with a quick burst of voltage that'll ultimately be controlled with an app. For a few brief moments, we also get a look at the three different endoskeletons that those parts pop into side by side... if only in render form. The mainstream medium model is the one that's been getting all the attention lately, but the phablet-sized endo looks like it'll support 9 modules on its rear and the mini model that could sell for about $50 can handle at least 6. Not enough Ara meat for you? Never fear: the first Ara Developer Conference will take place on April 15, so expect most of the project's secrets to be spilled very shortly.
Filed under: Mobile
Posted by Augustine at 6:56 AM
One of Project Loon's hot air balloons just completed a journey 'round the world, but unlike Vernes' Phileas Fogg who took 80 days to do so, Google's creation took but a mere 22 days. That far exceeds Mountain View's expectations (the team thought it would take around 33 days), all thanks to data collected by previous test flights. You see, the folks behind the project make sure to assess and use those findings to continue improving their balloons. In fact, this model (called Ibis-167), which had to brave particularly strong winds, might not have made it if not for the changes the team made.The team writes on the project's Google+ page:
Since last June, we've been using the wind data we've collected during flights to refine our prediction models and are now able to forecast balloon trajectories twice as far in advance. In addition, the pump that moves air in or out of the balloon has become three times more efficient, making it possible to change altitudes more rapidly to quickly catch winds going in different directions. There were times, for example, when this balloon could have been pulled into the polar vortex - large, powerful wind currents that whip around in a circle near the stratosphere in the polar region - but these improvements enabled us to maneuver around it and stay on course.
Project Loon is one of Google X Lab's (the company's more adventurous outfit also responsible for Glass) brainchild, which hopes to offer hot air balloon-powered internet connection someday. Until then, the team will continue doing more test flights -- the Ibis-167 is already on its second journey, clocking the project's 311,000th mile -- to ensure the hardiness of their balloons.
Source: Project Loon
Posted by Augustine at 6:50 AM
drag2share: This Sustainable Home In Silicon Valley Is The Perfect Alternative To A McMansion [PHOTOS]
To many observers, Silicon Valley is the land of cookie-cutter developments and massive McMansions. But a recently completed home in the area could provide a useful model to change that.
Situated on a half-acre lot in Menlo Park, the "Low/Rise house" is an impressive example of sustainable living. The house uses a number of energy-efficient techniques, including radiant floor heating and hidden solar panels that generate 90% of the home's energy.
"Given the great advances of technology emerging from Silicon Valley, architectural innovation surprisingly lags behind. The house is intended as a counter proposal to the suburban McMansion, the sprawling suburban developments that represent costly wasted space, resources, and energy," Dan Spiegel, founding partner of San Francisco-based Spiegel Aihara Workshop, said to Business Insider. "The Low/Rise House proposes a more responsive, flexible approach to the single family home."
Spiegel designed the home for his parents, two professors at Stanford. It has some pretty amazing green features.
The house is made up of two low structures that meet in the center.
A three-story guest tower rises on one end of the property. The owners can use an app to shut off the utilities in the separated structure so that it doesn't use too much power when unoccupied.
Solar panels on the roof generate 90% of the house's energy, but they're purposely hidden from view.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Posted by Augustine at 6:44 AM
Thursday, April 03, 2014
For nearly 40 years, American photographer Alex S. MacLean has been taking pictures from the sky.
In 1975, the photographer started the Landslides Aerial Photography project to provide illustrative aerial photography for architects, landscape designers, urban planners, and environmentalists. Photographing American and European landscapes from 5,000 feet and above, MacLean's pictures reveal the hidden geometry and gorgeous patterns of the world around us.
Posted by Augustine at 3:48 PM
This gorgeous custom motorbike began its life as an utterly mundane Honda P25, a fuel-efficient 1960s scooter. But motorcycle artisan Chicara Nagata turned it into a sweeping sculpture with a social-commentary twist: the tiny bike carries four infrared security cameras in its frame, built at the behest of a Japanese security company.
Posted by Augustine at 7:09 AM
This is an induction heater, an electromagnetic thingamajig that can make metal to levitate and—with enough power—melt. In this case, the metal is a 2.6-gram piece of aluminum that reaches a temperature of 2192 F (1200 C) before the machine is turned off.
Posted by Augustine at 7:09 AM
At IDF Shenzhen today, Intel briefly announced the 14nm successor to its budget 22nm Bay Trail processors. Dubbed Braswell, this new SoC architecture is mainly aimed at the likes of affordable Chrome OS and Android devices. It will also complement the higher-end Broadwell announced last September (and pictured after the break), though there's no word on availability for these two 14nm, 64-bit lines -- last we heard was that Broadwell's production had been delayed, with shipment still on track for the second half of this year. Fanless Core i7 systems just can't come any sooner.
Posted by Augustine at 6:47 AM
With Windows 8.1 updates rolling out on April 8th across all platforms, you didn't think Microsoft was going to forget its browser, did you? Redmond has unified features on its mobile and desktop Internet Explorer 11 versions, while making it easier to use on different-sized devices. IE 11 for Windows Phone 8.1, in particular, underwent a major overhaul. You can now pin sites to Live Tiles like you can with the full version and sync tabs between devices using OneDrive. Another highly-requested new feature is InPrivate browsing, which leaves no trace of your surfing à la Chrome's Incognito mode. There's also a nod to low-bandwidth users with the so-called High Savings data compression mode which loads only the elements you want, reducing data use by 60-80 percent. Finally, Microsoft has introduced voice commands to WP8.1, plus a new reading view that brings a Kindle-like look to articles on your smartphone. Meanwhile, Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 8.1 received more subtle tweaks -- check after the break for more.
For the full IE 11 version, Microsoft is trying to make sure users are happy whether they're using a 7-inch tablet or a 28-inch all-in-one. Depending on the device and whether it has a mouse or touchscreen, the browser will adjust the number tabs of displayed, adapt the type size and permit full-screen or regular browsing. Other changes are mainly for developers, with enhanced debugging and simplified testing for older versions of Internet Explorer -- the latter often being a serious pain. Finally, Microsoft revealed FishGL, a new version of its classic aquarium screen that also serves as a 3D WebGL graphics benchmark on Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1. If you're raring to grab all of that now, the updates are available for download on Windows 8.1 -- otherwise, they'll be pushed automatically for Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 starting April 8th.
Posted by Augustine at 6:47 AM
We knew gesture cameras will be making their way to computers and mobile devices this year, but seeing one on the classic claw crane was a pleasant surprise for us. This IDF tech demo was courtesy of a Guangzhou company called The Best Sync, and according to Intel VP Doug Fisher, it only took three days to develop this project using Intel's RealSense technology -- as represented here by the Creative Interactive Gesture Camera (co-developed by SoftKinetic). The gestures were simple: move your hand in one of the four directions to position the claw, and clench your fist to drop it on the dolls. The joystick replacement didn't make the game any easier, but it seemed like everyone still had fun with it. Well, at least this author did, as you can see in our video after the break.
Posted by Augustine at 6:46 AM
Wednesday, April 02, 2014
A U.S. Chamber of Commerce official stated on Wednesday that an anti-piracy program involving major internet service providers is now in full effect, more than a year after news of the so-called Copyright Alert System was first reported.
“The last year has been a ramp-up … March is the first month those [notices] are going out to full capacities,” said Rick Cotton, speaking at a copyright event in New York.
Cotton, who heads the Chamber’s anti-counterfeiting and piracy division, was referring to a system in which five ISPs (AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon) agreed to undertake an escalating series of measures against alleged infringers on behalf of content owners, beginning with a warning notice.
Cotton claimed the scheme has reduced piracy, but declined to provide specific details such as how many times the ISPs have taken action against their subscribers. A recent report suggested Comcast alone has sent out 625,000 notices.
The American version is different in that it contains six strikes, not three, and is a voluntary arrangement between studios and the ISPs. It also doesn’t culminate in the ISPs cutting off internet service, but instead slowing it down.
“There’s an enormous fall-off when people get the first notice,” said Cotton, adding that it is too early to talk about the system’s more severe measures. “The vast majority of people say they stop when they receive the notice.”
Robert Levine, the host of the event and the author of a popular book defending copyright, pointed out to Cotton that people wishing to avoid the six-strikes system can turn to technology like encryption and virtual private networks. Cotton acknowledged that “piracy will never go away” but that the goal for now is to focus on education rather than enforcement.
A long-time lawyer for NBC, Cotton’s view is that the “infrastructure sector” of the internet — ISPs, payment systems, ad networks and so on — is more willing than in the past to tell users “what the rules of the road are.” He also also described copyright infringers as “criminals,” which is unlikely to endear with many in the technology sector, who are critical of the hard lines espoused by big content owners.
Overall, the event, which was hosted by the Copyright Clearance Center, reflected one side of a familiar dichotomy over the internet, which many content owners have long regarded with fear and mistrust.
Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:
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Posted by Augustine at 9:15 PM
When we reviewed the TomTom Runner GPS watch
Posted by Augustine at 3:45 PM
We forecast that Amazon will sell nearly 6 million of its just-announced Fire TV streaming devices in the U.S. this year.
Amazon's new streaming device will begin shipping today. The device is priced at $99, on par with Apple TV, but well above Google's Chromecast.
- Amazon will sell 5.8 million Fire TVs in the U.S. this year, giving it about one-fifth of the streaming device market share by sales.
- Apple will still be the top streaming device this year, selling 8.8 million Apple TVs, accounting for just under one-third of the streaming device market.
- Roku will come in third, selling about 5 million devices.
- Google's Chromecast will round out the top four, selling 4 million devices during the year.
Our forecast is based on the trajectory of Kindle Fire sales, alongside the trends we've been tracking closely in the streaming device market. Google, for example, sold 2.7 million Chromecasts in the U.S. in the first two quarters the devices were on the market, according to data from Hillside Partners.
It's important to bear in mind, Amazon has a unique advantage within the streaming device market.
It already has a significant media ecosystem, and thus a built-in audience for the Amazon Fire TV. For anyone with a Prime subscription, including many Kindle Fire users, the appeal of the Amazon Fire will be unlimited access to Amazon Instant, the company's streaming service.
And like Netflix, the company is betting big that original content will make Amazon Instant even more appealing. Amazon recently approved six new original series for production.
The company's Kindle Fire tablets and Prime subscription strategy demonstrate that Amazon knows how to incentivize users to stay within the Amazon ecosystem. The company is expected to generate $5.7 billion in revenue from digital media this year, according to Morgan Stanley.
Posted by Augustine at 3:43 PM
Amazon officially announced a TV streaming box called Amazon Fire TV at its press event in New York Wednesday morning. The device is a set-top box with a dedicated remote control that is powered by a quad-core CPU and a dedicated GPU, which results in it being three times as powerful as competitors like Apple TV and Roku. Fire TV goes on sale immediately for $99.
The device comes with a dedicated remote control that enables voice input through a microphone button. The box itself is connected through 802.11 a/b/g/n dual-band Wi-Fi.
The device will come with a number of featured third-party apps at launch, including Hulu Plus, Netflix, Quello, NBA GameTime, Plex, Vevo, TED amd MLB.tv. Netflix and Hulu Plus are featured right on the home screen, and content of these apps is available through content recommendations that take into account which serves a viewer subscribes to. FreeTime also doubles as a kind of parental control for the device: Parents can set time limits for video viewing, and kids won’t be able to exit the app and access other content without their parents’ approval.
Amazon Fire TV also integrates other Amazon services. Users who have the Amazon Cloud Drive app installed on their mobile devices can view photos on the TV right after they’re uploaded to the cloud. Subscribers can also access FreeTime, Amazon’s curated tier of kids content, through the device.
Another key feature is gaming. Amazon wants to deliver thousands of gaming titles from publishers like Disney, Ubisoft and EA, but not directly go up against Xbox One and PS4, but rather target casual and mobile gamers. To do so, it will sell a dedicated game controller, dubbed the Fire Game Controller, for $40. For that price, consumers will also get 1000 Amazon coins to spend on game titles. There will also be a multiplayer mode that will integrate tablets and phones. And yes, this is the game controller that leaked a few weeks ago.
The device goes up against competition from Apple, Roku and Google, whose devices all sell on Amazon.com as well. Kindle VP Peter Larsen took a direct stab at Roku Wednesday, demonstrating how hard it can be to find titles via search with a traditional remote control. He also quoted Amazon customer reviews of Apple TV, Roku and Vizio media streamers highlighting the same issue.
It had been clear for a long time that Amazon had been working on a TV streaming device. The company had hired a good chunk of the team that built Logitech’s Revue Google TV box, and reportedly was looking to launch in time for the 2013 holiday season, but decided to delay the release for unknown reasons.
Developing news, more to come.
Posted by Augustine at 12:01 PM
According to "Clicking Clean: How Companies are Creating the Green Internet," a new Greenpeace report on energy usage by the cloud-computing industry, IT behemoths like Apple, Facebook and Google are leading the charge for renewable energy, while several others — notably Amazon Web Services and Twitter — receive failing grades due to their reliance on “dirty” power from coal and other greenhouse-gas emitting sources.
At a February shareholders meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook even suggested that climate skeptics "get out of the stock," if they didn't approve of the company's green initiatives.
“Apple’s rapid shift to renewable energy over the past 24 months has made it clear why it’s one of the world’s most innovative and popular companies,” said Gary Cook, the report's lead author and a senior IT analyst for the environmental group. “By continuing to buy dirty energy, Amazon Web Services not only can’t seem to keep up with Apple, but is dragging much of the internet down with it.”
The cloud industry is growing rapidly, and those endless server farms burn a lot of power — more each year than all but five of the world's most energy-hogging countries, the report states.
Fortunately, it’s also among the environmentally responsible sectors of the global economy.
The report is generally upbeat, noting that six of the top cloud-computing companies — Google, Apple, Facebook, Box, Rackspace and Salesforce — have made str! ong comm itments to the goal of powering their data centers with 100% renewable energy. As such companies make decisions about where to situate their operations, these clean-energy policies are causing a scramble among states and energy utilities to adopt green policies to woo their business.
Apple, for instance, has increased its use of green energy at its iCloud data centers from 35% to 75% in three years, rolling out massive solar arrays near its server farms in North Carolina and Nevada, and relying on wind energy for its sites in Oregon and California.
Google powers its server farms in Iowa, Oklahoma and Finland with renewable energy, and has made major investments in solar power.
The report heaps praise on Facebook for pulling back the curtain on its energy footprint, going so far as to provide “facility-specific performance dashboards,” so anyone can see exactly where the company’s power is coming from. (It has also made the software open-source, inviting other companies to follow its lead.) One new Facebook data center, based in Sweden, uses 100% hydropower, and the company announced plans to build a new server farm in Iowa that will run entirely on wind-power.
eBay, which has had a more mixed record on green energy, recently installed natural gas fuel cells around its Utah data center rather than continue to purchase energy from local coal-powered plants.
And Apple, Google and Facebook — all of which operate data centers in North Carolina — successfully pressured Duke Energy, the largest ut! ility in the country and, according to Greenpeace “one of its biggest emitters of global warming pollution,” to launch a program in the state to offer renewable energy to major customers.
But other big tech companies, notably Amazon and Twitter, get slammed in the report for making use of “dirty” energy from coal and other fossil feuls and for failing to be transparent about energy usage.
Twitter, which rents its server space from “colocation” companies, the report says, “[discoloses] no information about its energy footprint,” earning an "F" for transparency on Greenpeace’s report card. The company has made, “no public effort to procure renewable energy for its data centers,” the report adds.
"Twitter believes strongly in energy efficiency and optimization of resources for minimal environmental impact," a spokesperson for the service emailed Business Insider. "As we build out our infrastructure, we continue to strive for even greater efficiency of operations."
Amazon, which provides cloud services for Netflix, Pinterest, Spotify, and Vine, among many other companies, was named the least transparent company in the report, “[failing] to make public even the most basic details on its energy footprint.” The company also gets dinged for operating “without any apparent regard to environmental impact or access to renewable energy.”
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
Disclosure: Amazon founxer and CEO Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
Posted by Augustine at 11:41 AM