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HP Announces All-Metal Chromebook 13: Thinner Than MacBook Pro, Costs $800 Less 158

On Thursday, HP unveiled a new Chromebook 13. Designed in collaboration with Google, the Chromebook 13 sports an all-metal body and is merely 13mm thick while weighing 1.29kg. It sports a 13-inch display with 3200x1800 pixels resolution and is powered by Intel's sixth-gen Core M processor, which comes coupled with up to 16GB of RAM. There's a USB Type-C port as well, and the company is also promising up to 11.5 hours of battery life on a single charge. The retail price of the HP Chromebook starts at $499, and will launch in the US later this month.

Intel Wants To Eliminate The Headphone Jack And Replace It With USB-C (9to5mac.com) 303

An anonymous reader writes: With rumors circulating about how Apple may do away with the 3.5 mm headphone jack on its upcoming iPhone 7, Intel has shared a similar desire, citing "industry singling a strong desire to move from analog to digital." Intel believes USB-C is the future audio jack. They believe USB-C has more potential than the 3.5mm audio jack as it allows users to add additional smart features to headphones in the future. For instance, a future pair of headphones could monitor one's pulse or inner-ear temperature for fitness tracking, something that could only be possible if the headphones were connected to a smartphone via a USB-C cable. What's also worth mentioning [quoted from 9to5Mac]: USB-C already supports analog audio transfer through sideband pins simplifying the engineering steps necessary to swap 3.5mm with USB-C in device designs. In the second quarter, Intel should have a finalized USB-C standard for digital audio transfer. Intel does note that the transition from analog to digital will be expensive as the headphones have to include amplifiers and DACs, but scale will offset the early costs over time.

Child Porn Suspect Jailed Indefinitely For Refusing To Decrypt Hard Drives (arstechnica.com) 584

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A Philadelphia man suspected of possessing child pornography has been in jail for seven months and counting after being found in contempt of a court order demanding that he decrypt two password-protected hard drives. The suspect, a former Philadelphia Police Department sergeant, has not been charged with any child porn crimes. Instead, he remains indefinitely imprisoned in Philadelphia's Federal Detention Center for refusing to unlock two drives encrypted with Apple's FileVault software in a case that once again highlights the extent to which the authorities are going to crack encrypted devices. The man is to remain jailed "until such time that he fully complies" with the decryption order. The government successfully cited a 1789 law known as the All Writs Act to compel (PDF) the suspect to decrypt two hard drives it believes contain child pornography. The All Writs Act was the same law the Justice Department asserted in its legal battle with Apple.

Dyson Launches New 'Supersonic' Hair Dryer To Revolutionize Hair Care (nbcnews.com) 201

An anonymous reader writes: Dyson has a launched a hair dryer with a design language similar to that of its bladeless fans. The $399 hair dryer is four years in the making, involving 103 engineers, over 1,000 miles of test hair, and a $71 million investment -- the Dyson Supersonic is being touted as "the hairdryer rethought" by its inventor Sir James Dyson. "We realized that hair dryers can cause extreme heat damage to hair," said Dyson in a press release. "So I challenged Dyson engineers to really understand the science of hair and develop our version of a hair dryer, which we think solves these problems." The hair dryer can be reserved online and will be sold exclusively at Sephora for $399 this fall.

Microsoft Buys Into DNA Data Storage (ieee.org) 78

the_newsbeagle writes: More than 2.5 exabytes of data is created every day, and some experts estimate that 90% of all data in the world today was created in the last two years. Clearly, storing all this data is becoming an issue. One idea is DNA data storage, in which digital files are converted into the genetic code of four nucleotides (As, Cs, Gs, and Ts). Microsoft just announced that it's testing out this idea, getting synthetic bio company Twist Bioscience to produce 10 million strands of DNA that encode some mystery file the company provided. Using DNA for long-term data storage is attractive because it's durable and efficient. For example, scientists can read the genome from a woolly mammoth hair dating from 20,000 years ago.

Smartphone Shipments Flat For the First Time, Says IDC 103

An anonymous reader writes: Smartphone vendors shipped a total of 334.9 million smartphones worldwide last quarter. This figure is up just 0.2 percent from the 334.3 million units in Q1 2015, marking the smallest year-over-year growth on record. We saw hints of this in yesterday's Apple earnings report, when the company reported an iPhone sales drop for the first time. Despite the poor state of the worldwide smartphone market, Samsung continues to dominate. In Q1 2016, the South Korean company once again shipped more smartphones than any other vendor.

Chinese Security Robot Draws Dalek, Terminator Comparisons (abc.net.au) 104

An anonymous reader writes: China's first "intelligent security robot," which reportedly includes an "electrically charged riot control tool" and an SOS button for people to notify police, has been compared to the killer Dalek from Doctor Who after being shown off at a tech fair. Intelligence agency whistleblower Edward Snowden shared the news on Twitter with the caption: "Surely this will end well." The robot, unveiled at the 12th Chongqing Hi-Tech Fair, is 1.49 metres tall, weighs 78 kilograms, has a claimed top speed of 18 kilometres per hour and an operating duration of eight hours between charges, according to a report by People's Daily Online. Dubbed AnBot, it was built by the National Defence University in China and has "sensors that mimic the human brain, eyes and ears." The report said AnBot represented breakthroughs in "key technologies including low-cost autonomous navigation and intelligent video analysis" and would play an important role in anti-terrorism and anti-riot operations. AnBot has an SOS button for people to use to notify police of a problem, but it is unclear what criteria AnBot uses to assess threats autonomously.

Zero Zero's Camera Drone Could Be A Robot Command Center In The Future (ieee.org) 31

Tekla Perry writes: Zero Zero Robotics comes out of stealth today with the Hover Camera drone that uses face and body recognition to follow and photograph selected subjects. Company cofounder Meng Qiu Wang explains why he did the engineering in China (he built a team of 80 that worked two years on the project), and how this flying camera will evolve to be a navigation and control system for future home robots. According Zero Zero cofounder and CEO Meng Qiu Wang, "It has two cameras. The front viewing camera is a 13-megapixel camera that records video, but also has Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), an algorithm that allows it to determine where it is. It also has a down-facing video camera, running an algorithm called optical flow, that looks at ground at 60 frames per second, so the Hover knows when it moves and can correct itself. These visual sensors are giving inputs and actual position and speed, meanwhile, the accelerometer and gyroscope gives relative position. All these signals are fed into the flight control algorithm, so when I throw it up in the air, it can just hover there." With a price of less than $600, it should compete well against the expensive DJI Phantom 4, which is already available on the market for $1400 and features autonomous flying and tracking features.

FBI Director Suggests iPhone Hacking Method May Remain Secret (reuters.com) 108

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: FBI Director James Comey said on Tuesday that his agency was still assessing whether a vulnerability used to unlock an iPhone linked to one of the San Bernardino killers would go through a government review to determine if it should be disclosed to Apple or the public. "We are in the midst of trying to sort that out," Comey said. "The threshold (for disclosure) is, are we aware of the vulnerability, or did we just buy a tool and don't have sufficient knowledge of the vulnerability to implicate the process?" The White House has a procedure for reviewing technology security flaws and deciding which ones should be made public. Although officials say the process leans toward disclosure, it is not set up to handle or reveal flaws that are discovered and owned by private companies, sources have told Reuters, raising questions about the effectiveness of the so-called Vulnerabilities Equities Process.

Apple Has First Earnings Decline In More Than A Decade (go.com) 249

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has announced its first-ever decline in revenue in the past 13 years as its iPhone sales have slowed down. Apple posted quarterly revenue of $50.6 billion and quarterly net income of $10.5 billion. Last year, the company posted revenue of $58 billion and net income of $13.6 billion. The reason Apple has been so successful is because of the iPhone, which was first released in 2007. What goes up must come down -- and we're starting to see that now. The success of the iPhone is starting plateau and ultimately decrease now that consumers are finding less of a reason to upgrade to the latest and greatest smartphone. Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed to weakening currencies worldwide as one of the obstacles the company would face as iPhone sales were up less than 1 percent year-over-year last quarter. Gene Munster, managing director and senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, told ABC News, "This has been anticipated for three months now. The reason is nothing [that] is wrong with the iPhone." Munster said this is not worrisome to Apple and that iPhone sales will likely increase by the end of the year when the next iPhone(s) is released.

City Installs Traffic Lights In Sidewalks For Smartphone Users (washingtonpost.com) 193

tlhIngan writes: It's finally happened -- the smartphone zombies are here. The German city of Augsburg installed traffic lights in the sidewalks so smartphone users don't have to look up. Apparently people are so addicted to their smartphones they can't be bothered to look up at traffic signals, so embedding them in the ground they don't have to. According to the Washington Post report, the city spokeswoman Stephanie Lermen thinks the money used to install the lights is well spent. A recent survey conducted in several European cities including Berlin, found that almost 20 percent of pedestrians were distracted by their smartphones. Of course, younger people are at higher risk as they're willing to risk their safety to look at their Facebook profiles or WhatsApp messages, the survey found. The problem may be even worse in the U.S: A survey by the University of Washington found that 1 in 3 Americans is busy texting or working on a smartphone at dangerous road crossings. City officials say installing the traffic lights is justified: The idea is to install such traffic lights came after a 15-year-old girl was killed by a tram. According to police reports, she was distracted by her smartphone as she crossed the tracks.
Data Storage

Tesla Will Install More Energy Storage With SolarCity In 2016 Than The US Installed In 2015 (electrek.co) 149

An anonymous reader writes: Tesla is scheduled to install more energy storage capacity in 2016 with SolarCity alone than all of the US installed in 2015. It was revealed in a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that Tesla foresees an almost 10x increase in sales to SolarCity for behind the meter storage. [From the SEC filing: "We recognized approximately $4.9 million in revenue from SolarCity during fiscal year 2015 for sales of energy storage governed by this master supply agreement, and anticipate recognizing approximately $44.0 million in such revenues during fiscal year 2016."] This revenue projection means Tesla expects to install approximately 116 MWh of behind the meter storage. The U.S. for example installed about 76 MWh of behind the meter storage. SolarCity and Tesla Energy doubled their battery installation volume last year. What's particularly noteworthy is that the 116 MWh expectation does not include SolarCity's biggest project -- Kauai Island's coming 52 MWh system. Hawaii is aiming for 100% renewable energy by 2045 and has contracted with SolarCity to balance the two 12MW Solar Power plants with the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). By 2020, there will be 70 GWh of Tesla battery storage on the road, and Straubel expects there to be 10 GWh of controllable load in those cars.
The Almighty Buck

Goldman Sachs Launches GS Bank, An Internet Bank With A $1 Minimum Deposit (techcrunch.com) 188

An anonymous reader recaps a report from TechCrunch: Traditionally, Goldman Sachs has functioned like a run-of-the-mill investment bank with minimums to open an account in the range of $10 million, and returns not guaranteed. Goldman is opening its doors to the masses today with the launch of GS Bank, an FDIC-insured, internet-based savings bank. Anyone with an internet connection and a dollar can join, as that is what each account's minimum balance must be. GS Bank's interest rates give customers an annual yield of 1.05 percent, a rate that trumps the average U.S. saving's bank yield of .06 percent APY. GS Bank was a result of Goldman's acquisition of GE Capital Bank, the online retail bank previously run by General Electric's capital arm. The move is to diversify revenue streams and strengthen liquidity. GS Bank currently has total deposits of around $114 billion. In other news from the multinational banking firm, Goldman Sachs believes virtual-reality and augmented-reality "will be the next generation computing platform" worth $80 billion by 2025.

Valve Inks Deal With Lionsgate Adding Over 100 Movie Titles To Steam Platform (hothardware.com) 117

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Valve took a major step in growing its Steam digital distribution platform today by adding movie rentals to the mix. The addition of movies to Steam's catalog is a first, and it was made possible through a deal with Lionsgate Entertainment that immediately fleshes out the service with more than 100 flicks. Steam is currently the biggest digital distribution platform for games, and while it has a long way to go before it can claim the same for movies, there's little doubt Valve wants to take it there. In a press release announcing the deal, Valve said Lionsgate was "one of the first major studios to license films" for streaming on Steam, which hints that it's attempting to lure other studios as well. You can view the entire catalog here.

Symantec: Cruz and Kasich Campaign Apps May Expose Sensitive Data (go.com) 32

An anonymous reader writes: Apps released by the campaigns of Republican presidential contenders Ted Cruz and John Kasich have the potential for hackers to access users' personal information. According to an independent analysis by Symantec, the "Cruz Crew" app could allow third parties to capture a phone's unique identifying number and other personal information while the Kasich 2016 app could expose users' location data and information about other apps installed on the phones. First it was Veracode that reported potential vulnerabilities with the apps, now it's Symantec. Apparently the Cruz campaign updated its app to resolve the issues after the Veracode report was released. Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the security experts didn't know what they were talking about. Both campaigns have yet to respond to the latest Symantec analysis. Neither security firm found any issues in the app released by the campaign of Democrat Bernie Sanders. Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton do not have campaign apps.

New Heating Technology Uses Seawater and Carbon Dioxide (csmonitor.com) 155

Kenneth Stephen writes: While some enterprises have used sea-water for cooling, others are starting to use this for heating. and thereby cut back greatly on the carbon footprint of large facilities. What makes this technique even more fascinating is that a key component of this technology is carbon dioxide — the greenhouse gas that has climate watchers so worried. An Alaska aquarium recently announced "the first installation of CO2 refrigerant heat pumps to replace oil or electrical boilers in a conventional heating system in the United States" after 7 years of development, and predicts they'll now save up to $15,000 each month on their heating bill.

Report: Google Developing New 'Area 120' Corporate Incubator (thenextweb.com) 36

An anonymous reader writes: The Information has released a new report about how Google is developing its own "startup incubator" called "Area 120." According to sources, the incubator will be helmed by Google executives Don Harrison and Bradley Horowitz. The way it will work is teams of Google employees will pitch their ideas for inclusion in Area 120. If a team's idea is approved, they will then be able to work full-time on their idea, and eventually start a new company after the business plan is created. The timing is unclear but the whole process will likely take several months. According to The Next Web, "The '120' in Area 120 is a homage to Google's famed '20 percent time,' which asks that employees spend one-fifth of their working hours on projects that excite them." Both Gmail and AdSense were a result of Google's 20 percent time workplace philosophy. The report claims Area 120 will be tied exclusively to Google, not its parent company, Alphabet. It also says it will remain separate from Google's Mountain View campus.

Oculus Rift Users Angered By Pre-Order Snafu (roadtovr.com) 70

fluor2 writes: In April, Oculus announced that many of the Oculus Rift CV1 pre-orders were getting bumped from March to early May or even June...but they're still finding CV1's for supplying Rift+PC bundles. The solution for some has now been to cancel their order, order Rift+PC bundles...and cancel the PC portion.
This tactic appears to have mixed results, and those Rift+PC bundles have now also sold out, adds the Road To VR site, which reports that some of the original pre-orders "are now shipping out significantly ahead of the initial delay estimates provided by Oculus." For one customer, "Oculus estimated the Rift wouldn't ship until sometime between May 23 and June 2, around two months after the official launch date. However, the customer tells us that their Rift was shipped today, about one month ahead of the delay estimate, and about one month after the official launch date."

This Battery-Free Computer Sucks Power Out Of Thin Air (fastcodesign.com) 60

An anonymous reader shares an article on Fast Co Design (edited and condensed for clarity): Researchers at University of Washington's Sensor Lab have created the WISP, or Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform: a combination sensor and computing chip that doesn't need a battery or a wired power source to operate. Instead, it sucks in radio waves emitted from a standard, off-the-shelf RFID reader -- the same technology that retail shops use to deter shoplifters -- and converts them into electricity. The WISP isn't designed to compete with the chips in your smartphone or your laptop. It has about the same clock speed as the processor in a Fitbit and similar functionality, including embedded accelerometers and temperature sensors. [...] It has about the same bandwidth as Bluetooth Low Energy mode, the wireless power-sipping technology which drives most Bluetooth speakers and wireless headphones.

Drone Fire-Fighting Tested in Nebraska (ap.org) 38

An anonymous reader writes: Friday Researchers at the University of Nebraska flew a drone over a prairie test site, dropping small containers the size of ping-pong balls to ignite controlled fires. "The fires clear out brush to make it easier to control wildfires on the prairie," reports the Associated Press, citing a National Park Service spokesperson who believes it could help clear overgrown vegetation in hard-to-reach areas. "The technology is already used by helicopters to start controlled burns," reports the AP, "but researchers note that the drone is cheaper and more portable. 'You could afford one of these on the back of your fire truck, whereas you probably can't afford to have a full-sized helicopter parked at your fire station,' said Carrick Detweiler, a member of the Nebraska research team."
One engineering professor tells the AP, "Imagine them having this in their backpack, pulling it out and telling it, 'Hey, go scout out there. Check whether it's hot. Check whether it's safe..." And this Omaha news site has video footage of the drone fire-fighting test.

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