sfcrazy writes "The creator of the most sought after 'Android' of the world has been secretly working on creating a robotics division within Google. The search engine giant has acquired over seven robotics companies recently to create the robotics unit which is being headed by none other than Andy Rubin himself. Andy made the disclosure in an interview given to the New York Times." Their initial goal is to automate the woefully manual process of electronics manufacturing.
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OldJuke writes "Called the YotaPhone, the device pairs a traditional LCD color touch-screen on one side with a black-and-white, electronic-paper display on the other, allowing users to continuously view data in real time without having to constantly wake up their phones and drain their batteries. General interaction will be done through the LCD screen, but the e-paper display allows an image to be displayed at all times — from maps, airline boarding passes and family photos to Twitter messages and emails — but only uses power when the picture changes. BBC News interviewed the company's leader, Vlad Martynov, for a hands-on demonstration."
TheRealHocusLocus writes "Extreme bandwidth is nice, intelligent power management is cool... but folks should be spilling into the streets in thankful praise that the next generation miniature USB connector will fit either way. All told — just how many intricate miracle devices have been scrapped in their prime — because a tiny USB port was mangled? For millennia untold chimpanzees and people have been poking termite mounds with round sticks. I for one am glad to see round stick technology make its way into consumer electronics. Death to the trapezoid, bring back the rectangle! So... since we're on roll here... how many other tiny annoyances that lead to big fails are out there?" The new connector will be smaller too.
theodp writes "'The desktop or laptop is now in decline,' writes John Sall, 'squeezed from one side by mobile platforms and from the other side by the cloud. As a developer of desktop software [by choice not necessity], I believe it is time to address the challenges to our viability. Is software for the desktop PC now the living dead, or zombieware.' While conceding there's some truth to truisms about the death of the desktop, Sall believes there's still life in the old desktop dog, 'We live in a world of computing where dreams come true,' Sall concludes. 'The mainframe bows to the minicomputer. The minicomputer bows to the personal computer. The personal computer bows to the tablet and smart phone. It seems as if these will soon bow to the smart watch or smart glasses. But at each step along the way, some applications find their best home – and other applications as well as new applications find the more convenient and smaller home better...So let's keep our desktops and laptops, our PCs and Macs. They are amazingly good at what they do.'"
MojoKid writes "There's a great deal riding on the launch of AMD's next-generation Kaveri APU. The new chip will be the first processor from AMD to incorporate significant architectural changes to the Bulldozer core AMD launched two years ago and the first chip to use a graphics core derived from AMD's GCN (Graphics Core Next) architecture. A strong Kaveri launch could give AMD back some momentum in the enthusiast business. Details are emerging that point to a Kaveri APU that's coming in hot — possibly a little hotter than some of us anticipated. Kaveri's Steamroller CPU core separates some of the core functions that Bulldozer unified and should substantially improve the chip's front-end execution. Unlike Piledriver, which could only decode four instructions per module per cycle (and topped out at eight instructions for a quad-core APU), Steamroller can decode four instructions per core or 16 instructions per quad-core module. The A10-7850K will offer a 512-core GPU while the A10-7700K will be a 384-core part. Again, GPU clock speeds have come down, from 844MHz on the A10-6800K to 720MHz on the new A10-7850K but should be offset by the gains from moving to AMD's GCN architecture."
symbolset writes "Zach Whittaker over at ZDNet covers an IDC report. In it the 2013 9.7% forecast decline in PC shipments is advanced to 10.1%. Further, IDC's longer-term forecast turns quite grim: contracting 23% from 2012 levels by 2017. There is also a projection of future Windows tablet sales, and a statement that total Windows tablet sales for 2013 are expected to be 'less than 7.5 million units.'"
First time accepted submitter wick3t writes "The Neo900 fundraising campaign has already achieved the milestone of 200 pre-orders which means that mass production is now feasible. This follows a successful first prototype that was showcased at the OpenPhoenux-Hard-Software-Workshop 2013. Their next target is 1000 pre-orders as they aspire to reduce the production costs of each device." For those not familiar, the Neo 900 is an offshoot of the OpenMoko GTA04 designed for use in the popular Nokia N900 case (and, yes, they're fixing the weak usb port).
ckwu writes "As a way to generate renewable electricity, researchers have designed methods that harvest the energy released when fresh and saline water mix, such as when a river meets the sea. One such method is called pressure-retarded osmosis, where two streams of water, one saline and one fresh, meet in a cell divided by a semipermeable membrane. Osmosis drives the freshwater across the membrane to the saltier side, increasing the pressure in the saline solution. The system keeps this salty water pressurized and then releases the pressure to spin a turbine to generate electricity. Now a team at Yale University has created a prototype device that increases the power output of pressure-retarded osmosis by an order of magnitude. At a full-scale facility, the estimated cost of the electricity generated by such a system could be 20 to 30 cents per kWh, approaching the cost of other conventional renewable energy technologies."
Zothecula writes "Last August, it looked as if NASA's Kepler space telescope was as good as scrap due to the failure of its attitude control system. Now the space agency proposes what it calls the K2 mission concept, which may fix the problem by using the Sun to regain attitude control and allow Kepler to resume its search for extrasolar planets."
sandbagger writes "The Large Hadron Collider is the world's biggest science experiment. When spinning, it reportedly generates up to six gigs of data per second. Today's six-terabyte tape cartridges fill rapidly when you're creating that amount of material. The Economist reports that despite the advances in SSDs and hard drives, tape still seems to be the way to go when you need to store massive amounts of digital assets."
theodp writes "'The night watchman of the future,' explains the NY Times' John Markoff, 'is 5 feet tall, weighs 300 pounds and looks a lot like R2-D2 – without the whimsy. And will work for $6.25 an hour.' California-based Knightscope has developed a mobile robot known as the K5 Autonomous Data Machine as a safety and security tool for corporations, as well as for schools and neighborhoods. 'But what is for some a technology-laden route to safer communities and schools,' writes Markoff, 'is to others an entry point to a post-Orwellian, post-privacy world.'"
judgecorp writes "Fujitsu has launched a laptop which authenticates users using the veins of their palm. The contactless technology is hard to deceive and — since it detects haemoglobin in the veins, is not so likely to be breakable using the gruesome method of cutting off a hand."
DeviceGuru writes "DM&P Group has begun shipping a $39 Arduino compatible boardset and similar mini-PC equipped with a new computer-on-module based on a new 300MHz x86 compatible Vortex86EX system-on-chip. The $39 86Duino Zero boardset mimics an Arduino Leonardo, in terms of both form-factor and I/O expansion. The tiny $49 86Duino Educake mini-PC incorportates the same functionality, but in a 78 x 70 x 29mm enclosure with an integrated I/O expansion breadboard built into its top surface. The mini-PC's front and back provide 2x USB, audio in/out, Ethernet, and COM interfaces, power input, and an SD card slot. The hardware and software source for all the boards, including the computer-on-module, are available for download under open source licenses at the 86Duino.com website."
An anonymous reader writes "On Cyber Monday, millions of Americans will take to the Internet in search of the newest gadgets to bestow upon their loved ones. Most of these 'gifts' are trojan horses that will spy on their recipients, prevent them from doing what they want with their device, or maybe even block access to their favorite books or music. The Free Software Foundation is proud to introduce a map through this minefield: our 2013 Giving Guide. The Giving Guide features gifts that will not only make your recipients jump for joy; these gifts will also protect their freedom."
Zothecula writes "When was the last time you heard about a sea turtle getting stuck in a shipwreck? Never, that's when. Although that's partly because stuck turtles rarely make the news, it's also due to the fact that they're relatively small and highly maneuverable. With that in mind, the European Union-funded ARROWS project has created U-CAT – a prototype robotic sunken-ship-exploring sea turtle."
JDG1980 writes "OCZ, a manufacturer of solid-state drives, says it will file for bankruptcy. This move is being forced by Hercules Technology Growth Capital, which had lent $30 million to OCZ under terms that were later breached. The most likely outcome of this bankruptcy is that OCZ's assets (including the Indilinx controller IP) will be purchased by Toshiba. If this deal falls through, the company will be liquidated. No word yet on what a Toshiba purchase would mean in terms of warranty support for OCZ's notoriously unreliable drives."
An anonymous reader writes "Google has launched the Google Voice Search Hotword extension for Chrome, bringing the 'OK Google' feature to the desktop. You can download the new tool, currently in beta, now directly from the Chrome Web Store. Android users with version 4.4 KitKat will recognize the feature: it lets you talk to Google without first clicking or typing. It's completely hands-free, provided you're already on Google.com: just say 'OK Google' and then ask your question." Quick, someone wire Pocketsphinx up to Firefox, or integrate Simon into Krunner.
muterobert writes "The Oculus Rift has competition, and it's incredible. The InfinitEye has a 210 degree field of view (compared with the Oculus Rift's 90) and surrounds your peripheral vision in the game completely. Paul James from RoadToVR goes in-depth with the team behind the new device and finds out how high-FOV Virtual Reality really works. Quoting: 'At the present time, we are using 4 renders, 2 per eye. Left eye renders are centered on left eye, the first render is rotated 90 left and the second looks straight ahead, building two sides of a cube. Right eye renders are centered on its position, the first is rotated 90 degree right and the second looks straight ahead, two sides of another cube. We then process those renders in a final pass, building the distorted image.'"
rjmarvin writes "Docker 0.7 was released today, with 7 major new features including support to run on all Linux distributions. No longer capable solely on running on Debian and Ubuntu Linux, Docker 0.7 adds support for distributions such as Red Hat, SUSE, Gentoo and Arch. From the announcement: 'A key feature of Docker is the ability to create many copies of the same base filesystem almost instantly. Under the hood Docker makes heavy use of AUFS by Junjiro R. Okajima as a copy-on-write storage mechanism. AUFS is an amazing piece of software and at this point it’s safe to say that it has safely copied billions of containers over the last few years, a great many of them in critical production environments. Unfortunately, AUFS is not part of the standard linux kernel and it’s unclear when it will be merged. This has prevented docker from being available on all Linux systems. Docker 0.7 solves this problem by introducing a storage driver API, and shipping with several drivers. Currently 3 drivers are available: AUFS, VFS (which uses simple directories and copy) and DEVICEMAPPER, developed in collaboration with Alex Larsson and the talented team at Red Hat, which uses an advanced variation of LVM snapshots to implement copy-on-write. An experimental BTRFS driver is also being developed, with even more coming soon: ZFS, Gluster, Ceph, etc. When the docker daemon is started it will automatically select a suitable driver depending on its capabilities.'"
Bennett Haselton has in years previous made some canny suggestions for tech-oriented holiday gifts; you can look forward to another one. Today, though, Bennett writes about one cool toy in particular: a kit to make your own creepy robot: "For over 20 years, Dutch inventor Theo Jansen has been building truck-sized sculptures that crab-walk eerily across the beach, using only the power of the wind to turn fan blades that power the gears and crankshafts and enable the walking motion. This kit allows you to assemble your own working model that 'walks' sideways across your desktop." Read on for the rest.