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  1. There’s a new player in the bustling world of “commercial space,” although the “space” part is a matter of definition. A Tucson, Arizona-based start-up plans to use a helium balloon to lift big-ticket customers in a pressurized capsule to around 98,000 feet. That’s a journey to the edge of space, if not into space as traditionally defined. This artist's rendering shows the tourist capsule (inset) planned by World View Enterprises that would be carried by balloon to an altitude of 98,000 feet, from where passengers, paying $75,000, could see the Earth's curvature below and the black of space above. The passengers would ascend for 1½ hours before spending two hours admiring the world from on high. Then the capsule would be disconnected from the balloon and begin a free fall, but a parafoil above the capsule would become increasingly effective in the thickening air and the capsule would glide to the surface, landing on skids. Price point: $75,000. The eight passengers on board would presumably come from the same customer pool that feeds high-end luxury vacations, such as round the world golf tours. said Jane Poynter, co-founder of Paragon Space Development Corp., which has lined up investors for the new venture, World View Enterprises. More than just hot air: This artist's rendering released Tuesday by World View Enterprises shows its capsule to be lifted by a high-altitude balloon to around 98,000 feet It hopes to begin the balloon flights in three years. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced Tuesday that, for purposes of regulation, the capsule will be treated as a space vehicle because it will be built to operate in outer space. it stated. The venture’s website promises a “truly transformative human experience.” The company said Tuesday it will offer There’s no distinct boundary between the atmosphere and space. Rather, the atmosphere steadily thins with altitude. On tourism trips, the World View balloon would rise to about 98,000 feet. One commonly referenced boundary of space is the Karman Line. That’s at 100 km (328,000 feet) and is roughly the altitude above which aerodynamic flight is impossible, even in theory. But in the minds of the people behind World View, they’re getting into space tourism. said Paragon co-founder Taber MacCallum. Poynter and MacCallum are well known in the entrepreneurial space community. In the early 1990s they spent two years as “bionauts,” sealed inside Biosphere II, a massive, greenhouselike structure in the Arizona desert. Their company, Paragon, has had contracts with NASA for life-support technology. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ZCAnLxRvNNc Toy Robot in Space! - HD balloon flight to 95,000ft. The highlights of the entire space flight from the music video for 'Edgar' by Lucky Elephant, this was published in 2010, but you can have a look at what you will experience with the ticket you may buy for your own space flight. The field of commercial space has been growing in recent years. Virgin Galactic, backed by billionaire businessman and adventurer Richard Branson, hopes to carry passengers on suborbital flights in 2014. It will use a rocket-powered vehicle called SpaceShipTwo, still in testing, that is designed to reach altitudes above the Karman Line. The company has sold nearly 650 tickets in advance. The ticket price recently jumped to $250,000 a seat, up from $200,000. World View’s MacCallum said. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=9VXUTXroxIM A clip from You Have Been Warned/Outrageous Acts Of Science 'Homemade Heroes' episode on Discovery Channel (UK+International) and Science Channel (US), explaining the science behind filming in near-space using a helium filled weather balloon. Paragon also is working with billionaire Dennis Tito on his Inspiration Mars plan — a 500-day mission that, if technically feasible, would send two astronauts on a flyby of Mars during a rare alignment of the planets five years from now.
  2. Google has been posting a bunch of “Google Ideas” discussions to YouTube this week. One that went live today discusses smartphones and their role in making law enforcement “smarter.” It’s only seventeen minutes long, so it won’t take too much of your time. Google says in the description. Robert Muggah, Research Director at Igarape Institute and Vanessa Coimbra, Pacification Police Units, Military Police of Rio de Janeiro attempt to answer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KJ0im58A35w More of the talks are available at the Google Ideas YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/GoogleIdeas?feature=watch
  3. NASA has smashed its record for transmitting data to and from the moon. Now, it boasts a frankly amazing 622Mbps transfer speed to the rock that circles our little planet. The Agency is able to achieve that using lasers—instead of radio waves—to transmit data between its ground station in New Mexico and a spacecraft that's orbiting the moon, 239,000 miles away. Part of the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration, the agency was also able to upload error-free data to the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) spacecraft at a rate of 20Mbps. It beats previous attempts to send data through space using similar techniques, in particular one earlier this year which saw NASA beam the Mona Lisa into space at a rather paltry 300 bits per second. The new success of the LLCD marks a major milestone in space communications: NASA has previously relied on radio frequency data links, but they're not able to carry the quantities of data that the agency will require in the future. So, while the LLC is currently a proof of concept, it's hoped it will see real service soon. explained Badri Younes, NASA's deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation. And frankly, when internet on the moon is faster than some home connections, you know the future had arrived.
  4. This week, we learned that NASA can beam data to the moon — at a frankly astounding 622Mbps — using a high powered laser. Sounds like cutting edge modern tech? Perhaps. But it also sounds like the best weapon from the best scene of the best James Bond movie ever made: Goldfinger. Auric Goldfinger is the gold-obsessed megalomaniac with a plan to take the world's precious metals market hostage. James Bond gets in the way, so Goldfinger puts him in the way of his newest destruction device: I don't need to tell you what happens next. You've memorized it, and the first half-dozen or so times you saw it, it made you squirm in your chair. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DoQwKe0lggw To me, this is the pinnacle of Bond bad guy moments. Goldfinger isn't making a tangential threat, a promise to harm England or the world or the only woman James Bond ever loved. This is pure visceral terror. And while this high tech torture device comes with all the right space-age buzzwords (lasers! the moon!), it's not so far outside the realm of reality. Given the audacious endeavors of later Bond villains, a rich businessman procuring an industrial laser to fillet his enemies seems downright plausible. Tonight, fix yourself a drink (you know exactly which one) and settle in for a night of dashing and debonair world-saving. And hope nobody at NASA hatches an evil plan involving that laser.
  5. Lamborghini has taken the wraps off the Veneno Roadster, a stunning embodiment of speed and audacity limited to a handful of production models in 2014. As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, Lamborghini has unveiled a raging beast of a prototype. Next year, the luxury supercar company will launch a super-limited run of one of its most exclusive models: the Veneno Roadster, a sports racer with an asking price of more than $4.5 million. The sleek carbon fiber roadster follows the Veneno, unveiled in March and limited to a production run of just three cars. They're named after a famous Spanish fighting bull -- the fierce beast that adorns Lamborghini's logo -- to signify power, strength, and vigor. With its cutting lines and brilliant red body, the open-topped Veneno Roadster is a stunning embodiment of speed and audacity.
  6. The mellifluous sounds of the cello have been delighting ears since the 18th century, but the instrument's form has changed little over the centuries. Adhesives giant Bayer MaterialScience has a suggestion or two about that. What would Bach say? The Cello 2.0 is designed to be interactive. The manufacturer recently unveiled a futuristic redesign of the venerable stringed instrument, and has been showing it off at K 2013, a plastics and rubber trade show in Germany. The Cello 2.0 is made of transparent, lightweight cast resin fashioned in a swirling cutaway shape that's designed to make it much more portable. But it also plays videos. The concept instrument has some features of a regular electric cello, yet it was tweaked by design firm TEAMS Design, which describes it as The neck and fingerboard incorporate "different LEDs and mini video projectors," according to a Bayer release, while "a tuning device or surfaces for video jockeying (VJing) can also be installed in the instrument. In one alternative solution, LEDS and ultraflat OLED displays could be integrated directly and used to display photos and videos." The cello's surface can display graphics or videos, as shown in the illustration above. A pattern of light could display the rhythm of a piece the cellist is playing, for instance, or show when the wrong notes are being played. It could also change color when its tuning or intonation is off. TEAMS Design said in a release. Bayer said. The company's polycarbonate-ABS plastic blend has already been used to make a funky alto saxophone that's one of the lightest in the world, and it wants to create keyboard, plucked, and wind instruments based on the Cello 2.0. Whatever will they think of next? I, for one, still love my battered old electric bass.
  7. Have you always wanted to turn an Internet video or animated GIF into a lenticular print? There's a Kickstarter project for that. Unhappy leaving animated GIFs relegated to the Internet, a duo from Brooklyn, N.Y., wants to turn them into coaster-sized cards that play when you angle them back and forth. You might have seen something similar on souvenir postcards or movie posters, but designers Rachel Binx and Sha Hwang who launched a new Kickstarter project called Gifpop!, see the 70-some-odd-year-old lenticular film technology as a business opportunity. The project, which has already raised more than twice its minimum goal of $5,000, aims to turn GIFs as well as videos from Vine and Instagram into printed cards that can play back "around" 10 frames of any animation. Binx and Hwang say they're planning to use the money not just to set up the production of said products, but also a site that will let users upload that content and get it printed out to different sizes of cards. Part of that plan also involves offering up a place for GIF artists to hawk their wares on the Gifpop site, and the pair is giving some early backers copies of some of those designs. the pair says. This isn't the first such project to turn GIFs into physical keepsakes. Back in 2007, Motionbox (which was bought up by HP's Snapfish and later shut down) turned user videos into flipbooks for $8.99. An unrelated DIY version of that idea remains through GIFprint, which turns animated GIFs into printable PDFs that can be converted (by hand) into flipbooks. There was also the 2011 "Physical GIF" Kickstarter project that aimed to do the same thing using laser-cut zoetropes. And not to be outdone, there's also the GIF-TY, a concept product that would not only capture 1 to 5 second video clips, but also turn them into a paper flipbook. Of course none of those held the potential to double as a coaster, an unadvertised (and likely unadvised) feature of this particular project. Here's the pitch video: http://vimeo.com/77618304
  8. From Canon's Mixed Reality System to Microsoft's see-through 3D display to Google Glass, the world's biggest technology companies are getting good at tricking our eyes into seeing things that aren't really there. But the missing piece in the feedback puzzle has always been the sense of touch. Videogame controllers can vibrate to simulate gunfire and racing car engines, but they require you to be physically grasping the devices. Now, however, the folks Disney Research have created a way for those tingly little nerve endings on your skin to receive feedback. And they've done it by sculpting air. This new haptic technology is called Aireal, and through it the gamers that it's initially aimed at can feel virtual objects, experience the sensation of touching various textures, or get kinetic feedback. All without any need to wear gloves, vests or suits. Puffs of air can be controlled in terms of varying strength and speed. So it will be capable of creating a sensation as gentle as a butterfly's wings or as strong as a baseball caught in a glove. So how the heck does this work? The technology creates a vortex, which is a tightly held column of moving air that can travel relatively far and keep its shape and speed. (A tornado is a type of vortex.) Vortices can travel much farther than regular jets of air. In fact vortices can travel nearly five feet before accuracy drops below 80 percent. But when this traveling spinning ring of air touches something, like a person's skin, the low-pressure within the vortex collapses and this produces a force the user can feel. Next question: How can this "force" provide haptic feedback that is perceived by the user as three-dimensional? Aireal uses a flexible nozzle secured to a gimbal (a gimbal is a structure that allows for something to rotate in all directions on a single axis.) A 3D depth camera tracks the user and using data from various sensors this nozzle can send a vortex of air to precise locations anywhere within a three-dimensional space. Place multiple nozzles in multiple locations, and you've got your dimensional bases covered. Each module for Aireal is made from 3D printed parts so the costs of production are low. And the modules are scalable, meaning they could fit in something as small as a phone or large enough to cover a commercial theater. Disney says there are a wide range of applications for interactive spaces: Including gaming, storytelling, but also providing physical feedback from mobile devices or other digital screens or displays. While textual descriptions of this technology can only go so far, the folks at Engadget do a fairly good job of describing what they found at SIGGRAPH, where an Aireal demo was held. They describe the experience of feeling a virtual butterfly here: Of course a video may be the best (and fastest) way to understand and visualize the whole thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xaFBjUJj00M
  9. A Taiwan-based nonprofit R&D organization announced Wednesday a virtual display that allows users to control virtual keyboards and touchscreens that float out in front of users. The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) said its new technology uses special glasses and DDDR (defined distance with defined range) camera technology to allow users to see and interact with virtual data, images and devices with finger strokes. The heads-up display technology resembles the sci-fi technology displayed in the movie Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise. The new i-Air Touch technology is being developed for an array of devices, including PCs and laptops, wearable computers and mobile devices, that allows a user's hand to be free of any physical device such as a touchpad or keyboard for touch input. i-Air Touch glasses allow virtual interaction with computer screens i-Air Touch's see-through capability enables a user wearing a pair of special eyeglasses to see and interact with a virtual input device, such as a touchscreen or mouse that appears to be floating in the air, while still being able to see and interact with the real world. Golden Tiao, deputy general director of ITRI's Electronics and Optoelectronics Research Laboratories, said in a statement. ITRI plans to license the patented technology to manufacturers. The company sees the heads-up display technology being used in not only consumer arenas, but also for medical applications such as endoscopic surgery and any industrial applications that benefit from hands-free input. The DDDR camera is the key functional component of i-Air Touch, ITRI said. The camera discerns the virtual images for interaction, but it conserves battery power, which is a major issue facing manufacturers of many wearable computers, the company stated. How it works The camera uses a phase- and color-coded lens to discern an object at a predetermined distance of 11 inches to 12.5 inches away from the eyeglasses. The camera detects and activates only in the presence of a fingertip within that input range. The virtual images shut off if a user's fingertip isn't present, allowing a clear field of view. The DDDR camera essentially captures the image of a user's fingertip out in front of it and splits the image into green and red color codes to provide segmentation in image processing, while phase coding provides distance and depth perception of the fingertip. i-Air Touch allows multiple screen/keyboard interaction. The DDDR camera lens focuses the green light component at 11 inches and the red at 12.5-inches. The combined green and red components resolve to the strongest image signal at the midpoint between the two light components (about 11 13/16-in). The camera then captures the image signal at that midpoint as "input." Because the camera does not register signals outside of the 11-in.-to-12.5-in. virtual target plane, it consumes no power other than when a fingertip is present. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&list=UUFT7NKSwWDHDecfIjnqRQjA&v=CWZUJoutGoM Additionally, by detecting when a user's fingertip is in input range, the camera ensures that the user is intentionally trying to air-touch the virtual input device and that the camera does not mistake other user movements for input. ITRI stated in a news release. While the glasses cannot take photos, like Google Glass, they can be used with cameras in others kinds of wearable computers, the company said.
  10. Did you hear? Apple unveiled its latest iPad – the iPad Air – yesterday. The company boasted that it was the lightest full-sized tablet in the world at just 1 pound, and even tossed in free iLife and iWork apps to sweeten the deal for those buying the new 64-bit tablet. Now, new Apple products are always a source of joy for the ardent Apple devotee, but it’s also a source of humor for everyone else. Enter NMA – it’s latest parody revives the ghost of Steve Jobs for one more sketch as it makes fun of everything from the iPad’s dwindling marketshare to Apple’s developer policies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1QgiaJqlVQU Google’s latest smartphone – the Nexus 5 – and tablet – the Nexus 10 – are expected to be unveiled next week. Here’s hoping NMA has more fun with that next week.
  11. Ask a hundred entrepreneurs where they draw inspiration and you’ll probably get a hundred different answers, but few are likely to be as unusual as that of Marcus Weller. The CEO of Skully Helmets came up with his idea for a high-tech motorcycle helmet after smashing into a car on a street in Barcelona. he said. Weller thinks the accident wouldn’t have happened if he’d kept his eyes on the road, so he came up with a way to get navigation information projected onto a heads-up display in the rider’s helmet. With good directions, the rider wouldn’t need to spend as much time looking at road signs. The helmet’s other differentiating feature is a rear-facing camera that collects a 180-degree image of what’s behind the bike and feeds it to the same display. There’s also a voice control interface. SkullySkully Facebook.Helmets 2.0. Weller is due to unveil the helmet Thursday at the Demo conference in Silicon Valley, where attendees will be able to try it on. It will be the first time the helmet has been demonstrated in public. Information isn’t projected on the visor but onto a display that appears to the rider as if it’s about 6 meters ahead of them. It doesn’t interfere with the rider’s primary field of view and allows riders to lift the helmet visor without losing the display, Weller said. The display and associated electronics are powered by a built-in battery that lasts about nine hours. The helmet pairs over Bluetooth with a smartphone for the Internet connection needed for the GPS navigation and mapping service. The company plans to begin limited beta testing in the spring of 2014 and says it has yet to decide on a price for the helmet but that it will be a “premium product.”
  12. It's that time of year again: The weather's getting colder, the leaves are changing colors, and rumors of an Amazon phone are emerging from their summer homes to terrorize the world once more. Both the Financial Times and Jessica Lessin are reporting that HTC and Amazon are pairing up to build the long-rumored Amazon smartphone. If the report holds any ounce of truth, the device is close to completion so it's only a matter of time before an Amazon employee leaves a prototype of the phone in a bar somewhere. If Amazon is building a phone with HTC then it's a definite win-win for both parties: Amazon's Kindle Fires are some of the most successful Android tablets out there and it would only make sense for the company to move into the phone space with its own flavor of Android. HTC has long been struggling and recently posted significant losses, but the partnership would almost guarantee that a boat-load of HTC devices make their way to the hands of consumers—especially if earlier rumors hold true and Amazon offers the phone for free. HTC declined to comment about the report, and both companies declined to comment to the Financial Times or Jessica Lessin, so right now we can only speculate on what sorts of deals are happening behind the scenes. An Amazon phone running the company's own version of Android could just be the fastest way to customer's wallets but the big question remains: Would it come with a free year of Amazon Prime?
  13. Ever since the late 17th century, it's been understood that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That's Newton's Third Law of Motion. But a group of German scientists recently came up with a trick that appears to break that law, one that lets light accelerate all by itself. And it could bring us faster electronics in the process. Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727) This is not a simple trick. It involves fiddling with the mass of photons, particles that are believed not to have a mass at all, and requires a form of negative mass, a state that scientists believe does not exist. That's the trick part. And that's also why it merely appears to break Newton's third law. All that said, it's pretty impressive. Newton Third Law: A force is a push or a pull upon an object that results from its interaction with another object. What these German scientists basically did is create an optical diametric drive. The basic principle behind a diametric drive calls for an object with positive mass to collide with an object with negative mass causing both to accelerate forever in the same direction. In the 1990s NASA tried and failed to build one, because it would make an awesome spaceship engine. However—and that's a big however—diametric drives are difficult to build because there's no such thing as an object with negative mass, at least not one that scientists have observed. Bear with me here. To get around these basic rules of physics and quantum mechanics, our friends the German scientists used photons to create something called effective mass. This is what a particle seems to have when it's responding to forces, and there is such a thing as negative effective mass. So the scientists sent a series of laser pulses through a two loops of fiber-optic cable—one bigger than the other—that connect at a contact point. As the pulses are traveling through the different-sized loops at slightly different times, they share photons creating an interference that gives them effective mass, some positive and some negative. In this so-called optical diametric drive, the pulses accelerate in the same direction. Cool, huh? Complicated, but cool. This is an illustration of the "super-photon." Needless to say, the idea of laser pulses that accelerate continuously bears big implications for anything that uses fiber optic cables. This method could make computers, communications networks, and so forth to get faster and more powerful. Just remember that it's a highly experimental new technology; it's going to take a while before this makes your iPhone better.
  14. Australian textbook rental company launches hexacopter delivery in Sydney. A textbook-rental startup in Australia has found a new way to shave costs from its business model: delivery by drone. Zookal, which sells and rents textbooks to Australian university students, has launched a pilot program (pilotless program?) at the University of Sydney to deliver textbooks by autonomous hexacopter. The drone, from a University of Sydney supported startup called Flirtey, will fly to a customer at a designated GPS location based on data sent from an app on the customer's cell phone. Hamish McKenzie of PandoDaily reports that Zookal is partnering with another startup, social media company Vimbra, to build a joint drone delivery service. The companies say that the service will dramatically reduce the cost of local shipping of textbooks and cut delivery time. The drone is not equipped with a camera, but it does have collision avoidance systems to prevent collisions with birds, trees, buildings, and overhead wires. http://vimeo.com/76606906 Zookal's textbook delivery drone in tests near Sydney Harbor. The delivery system, the companies claim, will fly to the GPS waypoint assigned for the delivery, hover above it, and then lower the book package to the waiting customer. The two companies claim that Zookal's delivery trial is the first commercial use of drones in the world (though other companies have used drones in trials and as part of promotional stunts, such as a pizza delivery drone used in a viral campaign by a UK Domino's franchise holder). https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=on4DRTUvst0 The Domino's delivery drone. Australia currently allows commercial drone operations, but expansion of the service beyond the Sydney trial—and to other countries—will have to leap multiple regulatory hurdles. In the US, commercial drone operations are still not legal while the Federal Aviation Administration considers rules for integrating drones into the national airspace.
  15. Audio Technica makes a wide range of high-end headphones that plenty of audiophiles subsequently plug directly into a standalone digital-to-analog converter. Perhaps that’s why one of their new sets of cans comes with a DAC built into the ear cup. The Audio Technica ATH-D900USB uses the same 53mm drivers and components as the analog, open-back ATH-D900. But what makes it special is the 24-bit DAC built into the left ear cup. Powered by Burr-Brown amplifiers and taking a Mini USB input, the ATH-D900USB is the first pair of cans with a built-in 24-bit DAC included in the actual headset. Most of the time, these headphones will be playing music through USB, so the built-in DAC can do the usual digital-to-analog dance as well as normalize volume. But if you wanted to use these cans as a traditional pair of analog headphones, it does accept a 3.5mm jack. Not much else is known about the ATH-D900USB at the moment, including how they sound. But they should be available for purchase in late 2014 for ¥37,800, or about $385.
  16. Woojer is a wearable mobile accessory designed to allow its wearer to feel what they’re listening to on their mobile device — via the medium of haptic feedback — rather than simply having banging tunes inserted into their earholes. It’s also being aimed at gamers who want a more immersive in-game experience, or for watching movies or other audiovisual content on a mobile device. The Israel-based startup behind Woojer, which closed a $600,000 angel round earlier this year, has been developing the product since the start of 2011. It currently has a working prototype — and plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign next month to raise funding for an initial production run. If that’s successful, they hope to ship to backers in early Spring 2014. How exactly does Woojer work? Its creators describe it as a “tactile transducer” that reproduces sound as a polyphonic vibration, allowing a haptic, noiseless element to augment the standard stereo audio the user hears via their own headphones (which plug into the Woojer box via a 3.5mm headphone jack). Unlike some of the rival offerings in this space, such as subpac and bassAware Holster, Woojer doesn’t require the user to strap on some form of backpack or wear a special headset. (Or look like they buy all their clothes at Cyberdog.) Instead, the roughly matchbox-sized box is clipped to clothing so it rests against the body. Its low frequency vibrations then create a physical bass sensation — similar to hearing live music at a concert or cinema surround sound. Or that’s the theory. Here’s how Woojer explains the tech — which it will be showing off next week at Pepcom in San Francisco: adds Woojer founder Neal Naimer. Advantages over rival offerings in this space include its small size and portability; lower price (final retail price is still being decided but Naimer suggests a ballpark figure of $70 for two devices vs $300 for some rival offerings); polyphonic sound; improved latency over rivals’ so that the tactile sensation doesn’t lag the audiovisuals; and a longer play time (Woojer will be good for more than four hours of use), according to Naimer. The startup is taking to Kickstarter to push production forward rather than attempting to partner with games or headset makers as a faster way to get to market. Here’s a video of Woojer’s Naimer pitching the concept earlier this year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=30QFmhbf0o0
  17. Nike is revealing a new version of its FuelBand today at an event in New York City. Dubbed the FuelBand SE, the new fitness tracker sports a variety of color accents and represents the sporting goods maker’s first non-cosmetic update to its activity tracking wearable since the gadget’s introduction. The FuelBand, for those who aren’t familiar, is a wearable wristband that provides users with a visual readout of their steps taken during the course of a day, and also offers up a ‘Fuel’ tally, which is a metric made up by Nike that calculates based on your activity level through things like walking, running, paying basketball and more. They don’t share much about how they come up with that number, but it’s likely not terribly scientific and meant primarily as a motivation device to get people moving more frequently. This new second-generation product has a similar design to the original version (but with red, pink or yellow accents), with a rubberized band that fits snugly around the wrist available in different sizes. This edition is intended to be better at encouraging users to move, and harder to cheat with. Nike reports that doing things like punching your fist in the air to game your score won’t up your Fuel score, according to CNET. It also looks to offer up better ability to differentiate between different types of activity, like cycling, spinning and rowing. Nike’s new hardware is sealed and waterproofed, making it usable in the shower, and it’s got a highly refined motion detection algorithm. There are regular reminders (once hourly) to prompt you to get up and stop being so lazy, and there’s a new shortcut to let you double tap the button to access time. It uses Bluetooth 4.0, too, which should make it easier to sync data and provide a bit of a battery boost. There’s also a brand new app redesign to do along with it, with more granular and informative charts and graphs related to activity data. A new Fuel-per-minute metric offers a look at your average intensity, rather than just cumulative activity totals. Finally, there’s sleep tracking, which the first generation device lacked entirely. Sleep tracking is available to users of the Fitbit Flex, and the Jawbone Up, so that’s a huge addition in terms of playing catchup with the competition. The FuelBand SE is still iOS only, however, so don’t be expecting an Android app anytime soon. Users not in the Apple flock can still use the website, however
  18. You’re probably sick and tired of Nexus 5 leaks by now, but this next one is a doozy of a spill. Over the weekend, a surprisingly clear video of a phone that looks very much like the rumored Nexus 5 made its rounds online. The7-minute video (with no sound) is the first good look we’ve had at the phone since that Google employee “ accidentally” showed his off during the unveiling of the Kit Kat Android statue. Although the front of the phone doesn’t look all that different than last year’s Nexus 4, the device is bigger and features a giant camera lens like the one on the new Nexus 7. The glass on the camera lens looks raised, so our fingers are crossed that whoever built this thing knew that they were doing and built it to last. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2ksOJl0PDDg It’s rumored that this new Nexus will have optical image stabilization like Nokia’s Lumia line, but we might have to wait for the next big video leak to see that feature in action. Unfortunately the video doesn’t go into much detail about the phone’s software. The operating system is still labeled “KeyLimePie,” so it’s possible that this is an early build from before the Google-Nestle partnership, and the launcher doesn’t look like the one we’ve been seeing in other leaks. The video spends a considerable amount of time poking around the Google Earth, Chrome, and YouTube apps, none of which are particularly exciting. You can see an icon for the new Google Experience Launcher when the open app drawer is opened, and you can practically hear Android fans everywhere screaming for the video maker to tap the icon. Google is still expected to announce the Nexus 5 and Kit Kat on Tuesday but, at this point, it doesn’t seem like there is much else to say unless the big G has a surprise up its sleeve.
  19. Over the weekend, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities revealed that Apple has plans for a new laptop in 2014. In a note picked up at 9 to 5 Mac, Kuo says Apple is planning a high-resolution 12-inch laptop that will be as portable as the 11-inch MacBook Air, but as productive as the 13-inch MacBook Air. This new MacBook will "redefine laptop computing" according to Kuo, just like the current MacBook Air redefined laptop computers when it was introduced in 2010. (The original MacBook Air was out in 2008, but was flawed. The 2010 version fixed the flaws and became the industry standard.) This new laptop will be thinner and lighter than the current MacBook Airs, per Kuo. For Apple, the Mac business is a small portion of the company's overall earnings, and it's in decline like the rest of the consumer PC industry. Still, lots of people use laptops, so it's not like Apple is just going to give up on it. What's interesting here, is that it doesn't sound like Apple wants to go the Microsoft route and make a Surface — a tablet with a keyboard. Instead, it looks like it's just trying to make its laptops more mobile, keeping the distinction between the two categories. Kuo has a very good track record when it comes to Apple product announcements. He's not great on timing, though. We don't know when Apple might reveal this new laptop, but we expect it at some point next year.
  20. Taser International, a manufacturer of electronic stun guns, is not the company most people would expect to be bumping elbows with the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Dropbox as it looks for acquisitions. Taser is the best-known maker of a class of weapons known as electric control devices, which are intended to give law enforcement officials a nonlethal method of immobilizing suspects with electrical shocks. But a medical study last year said the devices could pose significant health risks, including cardiac arrest, and Amnesty International, the human rights group, released a report blaming Tasers for the deaths of at least 500 people held in custody in the United States since 2001. And Taser is currently named as a defendant in 23 lawsuits in which plaintiffs say wrongful death or personal injury stemmed from its devices, according to the company’s most recent quarterly filing with securities regulators. Taser has said its products are less risky for civilians than firearms. A Taser International device, with a built-in video camera to record activity, meant to subdue targets with jolts of electricity.Taser International, via Mkt A Taser International device, with a built-in video camera to record activity, meant to subdue targets with jolts of electricity. It was the lawsuits that, through a chain of events, brought Taser into closer contact with Silicon Valley companies. About seven years ago, Taser developed a miniature camera that attached to its devices so law enforcement officers could record the situations in which the devices were needed. Eventually, Taser began offering wearable cameras that officers could clip to their glasses, chests and helmets. said Jason Droege, general manager of Evidence.com, a cloud service run by Taser. But police officers shooting video through wearable cameras and smartphones have created big new technology challenges for police departments, which must manage the vast numbers of photos and videos that the devices capture. The files have to be stored securely, with audit trails that show who had access to them and other controls that prevent tampering. Taser created Evidence.com to help law enforcement agencies do all this. In an effort to bolster its new direction, Taser plans to announce on Thursday that it has acquired a start-up based in Seattle called Familiar that is in a business that seems to have almost no connection with Taser’s own. Familiar runs a service that turns ordinary smartphones and tablets into digital picture frames, letting friends and family members automatically broadcast photos and videos to each others’ devices. Facebook, Dropbox and Twitter also had conversations with Familiar about an acquisition, according to a person briefed on the discussions who declined to be named because the conversations were confidential. Slater Tow, a spokesman for Facebook, declined to comment, as did Jim Prosser, a spokesman for Twitter. Dropbox did not respond to a request for comment. As part of the deal, which this person said was for less than $10 million, five people from Familiar will join Taser. Mr. Droege said Taser was attracted to the expertise that Familiar had in creating a consumer-friendly service for securely moving video and images among devices. he said.