You might say the day is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workday, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Daily Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past 24 hours -- all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on through the break, and enjoy.
So I'm driving home the other night after a decent day of work, looking forward to a little run, some dinner and maybe a movie. Taking my normal north-south route along Crescent Heights, I listen to Tame Impala to calm the nerves and enter another mental state.
I'm at one of those intersections in which two lanes become one because of a parked car in the right lane ahead. I, being in the right lane, gun it a bit at the start in order to get some distance from the guy on my left.
He's having none of this, apparently.
Turns out my car is faster, though, and I edge him out. I see him wave his arms frantically, shaking them and then applauding.
Filed under: Transportation
The National Association of Broadcasters' annual event in Vegas may not offer the same blitz of high-profile gadgets as CES, but this show is hardly a quiet one. In fact, the excitement kicked off before the floor even opened, with Sony announcing pricing for its 55- and 65-inch 4K TVs. When 25 grand is the norm for these high-end sets, MSRPs of $5,000 and $7,000 seem downright budget-friendly. Blackmagic's $995 Pocket Cinema Camera also made headlines for its value proposition, with a Super-16 Cinema sensor, 13 stops of dynamic range and a Micro Four Thirds lens mount rounding out a very solid spec list.
Our favorite booth, however, belonged to Red. The company was performing its Dragon upgrade on-site, giving showgoers a fascinating look at the process of boosting the sensor to 6K -- we were even able to snag an exclusive look inside the sacred space. Finally, Intel announced the next generation of its Thunderbolt interface, promising double the throughput and expanded 4K support. But those are just the highlights; check out our complete coverage after the break for the full rehash.
Google believes that it's naive to build a wearable technology like Google Glass and expect successful businesses to simply materialize from thin air; those firms will need a financial nudge, too. Accordingly, Google is forming the Glass Collective to invest in projects centering on its eyewear. The partnership will see Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers unite on seed funding for those US-based startups which show promise in areas like communication and navigation. The group hasn't named any targets for its cash, but it's obviously very early days for both Glass and the Collective -- Google needs more developers in the field before it can shower companies with support.
Update: According to TechCrunch, Google mentioned during the event that it hopes to get Glass hardware into developers hands "in the next month." Since it started preregistering folks at last year's I/O event, we'd also hope they will arrive in time for this year's Google I/O and inevitable skydive-to-stage live stream.
Via: Google Official Blog
If emoticons weren't enough to spice up your status updates on Facebook, the social network has added the ability to convey what users are watching, reading, listening to or just merely consuming via a link to the artist, show or product page. Simply type in "watching Jurassic Park" for example, and the movie's icon and page link will automatically show up in the post, and will be added to your timeline's Movie section as well. We're sure it's all just one small piece in Zuckerberg's plan to rule the media landscape -- right after he takes over the mobile one, of course.
AT&T has been forging partnerships that give its roaming customers free WiFi while abroad, and it just struck one of the more logical networking deals that we've seen to date, if also the most lopsided. A pact with Boingo will let AT&T subscribers have 1GB of free data each month on Boingo's airport hotspots -- but, as with previous arrangements, only if they're subscribed to AT&T's $60 or $120 international data plans. Boingo subscribers, meanwhile, get a much better deal. They can use AT&T hotspots anywhere in the US as part of their existing rate, which could see them paying as little as $10 per month. Either arrangement will keep us online during a layover, and for that we're thankful -- but there's only one that's likely to have us pulling out our credit cards.
3D scanning at a range of 0.62 miles? It just became possible, thanks to a laser camera developed by physicists at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, UK. You can pretty much see how it works from the images above -- laser beams are bounced off the target and the duration of their return journey is measured precisely enough to detect millimeter depth changes even at extreme distances. Speaking of which, the researchers believe they could pump the range up to 10 miles with a bit of extra research, and even shrink the blaster down to make it "fully portable" in less than five years. Who knows, someday it might even work around corners. But there's a problem: skin doesn't reflect the beams properly, which means people can't be accurately scanned unless they also happen to be ringwraiths. As a result, the researchers seem slightly at loss as to what to do with the technology, with their best suggestions so far being watching the growth of foliage or tracking the movement of rocks. We'd try to think up some other ideas, were it not for the distracting and utterly irrelevant Nazgul v Wilhelm video embedded after the break.
Source: Heriot Watt
The Google Fiber rollout for Austin has been spoiled twice, but today it's officially official: the music-centric city will become a gigabit city... eventually, that is. Google now says that it will start wiring Austinite homes for super-fast internet access by mid-2014 -- we wouldn't cancel that cable or DSL service just yet, sadly. At least the pricing should be familiar. Google still plans to offer both stand-alone internet access and internet-plus-TV bundles, both at rates within the ballpark of what it offers for Kansas City, and there will still be a near-free 5Mbps plan that only requires a one-off construction fee. Institutions will get free gigabit access, of course. While we'd like Google Fiber as soon as possible, we're just happy to realize that our next SXSW crash pad may have a lot more bandwidth on tap.
Source: Google Fiber
Bang & Olufsen already offers headphones, and it has the B&O Play line to serve a mobile-oriented world. Wouldn't it be nice if the two categories mixed? As of today, they do. The B&O Play H3 in-ears and H6 over-ears apply that Danish love of aluminum and leather to the kind of headphones you'd want to pack with your MP3 player or smartphone. The H3 carries 10.8mm drivers, a mini bass port and a 20Hz to 16kHz range in a unibody shape that should hold up to exercise; the slightly more stationary H6 over-ears sport 40mm drivers and a wider 20Hz to 22kHz range. Both have primarily iOS-oriented in-line mics and remotes, although the H6 alone has Monster-sourced daisy chaining support to share tunes with others. Don't expect a significant break in B&O's premium pricing just because they're B&O Play-branded headsets, however. The H3 and H6 will respectively cost €249 and €399 when they hit some retail stores in May, and US pricing isn't likely to be much cheaper.
Source: B&O Play
You know those goofy tennis racket peripherals that allow for Wiimote insertion? Or, perhaps more sensibly, those Guitar Hero axes that wouldn't function without a Wiimote planted at the heart? Looks as if Nintendo's going to do us all one better. Based on a rambling new patent granted to the Big N this week, the company now holds the power to concoct a "remotely controlled mobile device control system." Distilled down, the verbiage describes a Wiimote-type controller being embedded within a "remote controlled toy," which would then be (unsurprisingly) used in conjunction with a game console. Essentially, this opens the door for Honda to develop a new variant of ASIMO that takes commands via an embedded Wii controller... or, for a Wii-infused robot to turn on its owner and commit unspeakable crimes against humanity. But hey, it'll probably be pretty cute.
There are a lot of things you can have delivered to your home on a monthly basis: magazines, hot sauces, underwear and beer are just a few. The second place winner at the Husky Startup Challenge, genius.box, takes that basic concept but replaces the Fruit of the Looms with simple to perform science experiments. Aimed at children between the ages of eight and 12, the projects inside each package teach a basic lesson in science, technology, engineering or math through a hands-on experience. All of the materials needed for each experiment are included, along with a lesson plan, instructions and "factoid" cards with tidbits of interesting trivia, such as the number of elements on the periodic scale.
The two boxes trotted out for demo day by creators Kate Pipa and Shivangi Shah covered the science and technology portions of the STEM equation. One was a kitchen chemistry set for growing crystals and the other a simple electronics kit, based partially around parts of a Snap Circuits set, that has kids building an electromagnet and lighting up an LED. This isn't exactly a return to hardcore chemistry sets of the past (you'll find no radioactive materials or poisons in here), but it's certainly a step in the right direction for an America whose love affair with science is on the rocks. Every four weeks a child would get a whole new educational playset for the target price of $20 a month. Which is quite a bit cheaper than your standard chemistry set or electronics kit. To be kept in the loop as genius.box works to get off the ground, sign up at the more coverage link.
Red's clean room on the NAB show floor is typically no place for camera crews, but after adding a bit of protection, Red President Jarred Land gave us the green light to step inside the company's sacred space for a closer look at operation Dragon upgrade. (The $8,500+ sensor swap gives Epic cams the gift of 6K shooting.) The view from behind the glass wall separating spectators from technicians isn't significantly different, but we were able to get quite a bit more insight into how the process goes down, including stops at each of the workstations.
The temporary assembly center that Red built at the Las Vegas Convention Center is a miniature version of the company's primary facility in Irvine, California -- while Dragon upgrades are underway in Las Vegas, a structure that's estimated to be 20 times the size of the one here in Nevada is processing the updates remotely, though admittedly with far less fanfare. Join us past the break for an exclusive look at the process, live from Red's booth at NAB.
Gallery: Red Dragon upgrade eyes-on
Filed under: Cameras
Would news of an upcoming Google Play Store redesign completely blindside you? Of course not, but it's great to see it come to fruition sooner rather than later. The oft-whispered 4.0 update has now been officially acknowledged by Google and is ready for digital distribution starting today. What exactly is fresh and exciting about the new look? According to a blog post written by Play group product manager Michael Siliski, it focuses on bigger images, grouping together similarly themed content and offering new recommendations as you move down the page. Checkout has also been simplified just a tad. The update will be available for any phone or tablet running Android 2.2 or better, and it will begin rolling out today worldwide -- with such a hefty drain on Google's servers, however, the company warns that it may be a few weeks before it arrives on your particular device.
Source: Android Blog
See that? That's a new feature on Facebook's status box, which has started to roll out this morning after earlier testing in January. It's also covering up a pretty depressing note from a friend underneath, who would've undoubtedly selected "sad" if he were to have recognized said feature before posting a conventional status update. For now, it appears that the emotion selection tool is only hitting select US-based users, as our European contingent has yet to see it appear on their profiles. Essentially, a smiley face has been added to the right of the photo button, and pressing it gives you a quick way to update your status -- you can share an emotion, or what you're watching / listening to / reading / drinking / eating.
It seems as if Facebook wants to funnel conversations a bit; instead of only giving you free rein to blabber in a status box, it'd much rather you update with a linked artist, television show or product. That way, said entity gets included in any conversations you have, and the great revenue wheel begins to spin. At any rate, feel free to check your own page and play around with the new functionality. Then shoot us an emoticon in comments to let us know how you're feeling about it.
Gallery: Facebook emoticon update
Chances are avid readers of our site will recognize the Amped Wireless name, because the company pushes out products like routers and range extenders as if they're candy. We're always big fans of new stuff, and Amped is ready to throw some your way. We have two bundles of prizes to hand out, each one containing a R20000G dual-band WiFi router ($140 value), SR20000G Range Extender ($150 value) and Amped's brand new REC10 Compact Range Extender ($80 value) announced just a week ago. The whole set will likely hook you up with WiFi coverage not only throughout your home but your backyard as well -- heck, you may even be able to enjoy a signal at your neighbor's place. It's definitely worth heading below to submit your entry, and we wish you the best of luck!
Note: Please enter using the widget below, as comments are no longer valid methods of entry. The widget only requires your name and email address so we know how to get in touch with you if you win (your information is not given out to third parties), but you will have an option to receive an additional entry by following us on Twitter if you so desire.
In Insert Coin, we look at an exciting new tech project that requires funding before it can hit production. If you'd like to pitch a project, please send us a tip with "Insert Coin" as the subject line.
It's safe to say that most people's idea of home networking involves the following steps: buy a wireless router, set it up with an SSID and a password, and then never ever think about it again as long as the WiFi keeps working. But if you're one of a dedicated few who want deeper IT admin-level control over your family's internet usage, then a new Kickstarter campaign from PowerCloud Systems just might be right up your alley. The product is called Skydog, and while you do get a slim and compact dual-band 802.11n five-port Gigabit router out of it, Skydog is really more about the cloud-based platform than the physical hardware. Customers are able to visually survey who and what device is on their home network, manage permissions based on that information, allocate bandwidth priority, troubleshoot network issues with ease and more.
PowerCloud Systems is no stranger to cloud-managed networking -- it's been providing just such a solution to enterprises such as hotels, schools, multi-dwelling units and retail chains ever since 2008 when it was spun out of Xerox PARC. In order to bring that level of sophistication to the home audience, however, the company needed consumer-facing software to simplify the process for the masses, and that's exactly what it has tried to do with Skydog. After the break, we offer a tour of the service and interview the people behind it to see just why they're seeking funding via Kickstarter.
Gallery: Skydog interface
Source: Skydog (Kickstarter)
The Anycast Touch is not only a sleeker incarnation of Sony's all-in-one studio, with a slider design and a manageable-enough 6.6-kg (13-pound) body; it's also the company's first such system to feature a touchscreen interface. The machine sports two touch-enabled displays, allowing users to adjust audio controls, type via an on-screen keyboard and edit footage, among other functions. Video sources are assigned to one side of the panel, and tapping a particular input will bring up the footage in the middle preview window. It seems like an intuitive interface, especially given all the live-broadcasting controls on board -- a six-input video switcher, a five-channel audio mixer, a built-in character and title generator, and a remote camera controller, just to name a few.
Aside from the touchscreens, built-in live-streaming capability is one of the Anycast Touch's most unique features. On the show floor, Sony was sharing the product's output with WiFi-enabled devices. According to the company, this functionality will be useful in educational settings, at houses of worship, corporate seminars and any other events intended to reach a broad audience. The Anycast could even help news producers scale back on their own gear, letting them trade those gigantic live trucks for live vans or sedans, for example. Pricing info isn't set in stone, but Sony says the MSRP will be less than $20,000 when the device ships at the end of summer. There's simply a ton of functionality here, so we definitely recommend checking out the studio-in-a-box in action in our hands-on video after the break for a bit more detail.
Gallery: Sony Anycast Touch hands-on
Rugged phone cases are bountiful. But, while they may offer some additional thermal protection, they're not built for true extremes. For that, you'd need either piles of insulation (too bulky) or some way to control the temperature inside the case. ThermoShield, one of over a dozen student-run companies vying for attention at Northeastern University's Husky Startup Challenge, went the latter route by slipping a Peltier element inside a slim plastic shell. The current prototype was built on a 3D printer and clearly created for an iPhone, but plans for the initial model should be simple enough to port to any handset. A standard watch battery powers the small plate and by controlling the voltage across it you generate either small amounts of heat or produce a slight cooling effect. A simple switch or slider would be used to manually control the flow of electrons. Trekking through the arctic tundra? Simply crank up the heat to keep your phone from freezing to death. Meandering through the Sahara? Take advantage of the Peltier's thermoelectric cooling properties to keep the Gorilla Glass from melting.
According to one of the creators, Hannah Bialic, it wouldn't be terribly difficult to add automatic temperature control. Though, development costs could significantly drive up the price of the ThermoShield. The hardware could all be baked directly into the case itself or an app could be created that would automate everything. Obviously, though, relying on software would limit the case to working with a single device (and let's be realistic, it won't be your beloved Nexus 4). There's no telling when or if you'll actually be able to pick up one of these variable temperature shells, but you can add your name to the mailing list at the more coverage link.
After selling 7.19 million phones in China last year, Xiaomi is now one step closer to world domination with a new device that'll take it to new territories: the Xiaomi Phone 2S (or MI-2S). As the name and look (pictured left) suggest, this is pretty much the same device as the 4.3-inch Xiaomi Phone 2, except it comes with Qualcomm's newer Snapdragon 600 quad-core chip clocked at 1.7GHz, plus a beefed up camera of 13-megapixel resolution (with F2.2 aperture) on the 32GB model. The 16GB 2S, on the other hand, gets the same old 8-megapixel F2.0 imager. The rest of the hardware is the same old: 2GB RAM, 2,000mAH removable battery, 720p IPS display, dual-mic noise cancellation, 2-megapixel front-facing camera and WCDMA 850/1900/2100MHz radio (there's also a CDMA version for China Telecom).
Unlike the previous launch, the 16GB flavor of this phone is already in stock on the day of announcement and is ready for purchase in China today for ¥1,999 or about $320 unsubsidized. Actually, strike that -- apparently the first lot of 200,000 units promptly sold out (likely thanks to scalpers). Luckily, Xiaomi is finally tapping into the Hong Kong market via its xiaomi.hk website starting April 23rd, so chances are genuine buyers in Hong Kong won't have to compete against the machines from mainland China; and Taiwan customers will also be able to buy a 2S from either local carrier Far Eastone towards the end of this month, or from xiaomi.tw starting next month. No word on the availability of the 32GB model just yet, but it's already priced at ¥2,299 or about $370 unsubsidized.
Gallery: Xiaomi Phone 2A
Gallery: Xiaomi Phone 2S
Gallery: Xiaomi Fans Carnival 2013
Smoke goes up. Lights fade. The crowd roars. It's 2003, and the Dave Matthews Band is about to perform what would go on to become the theme song for security processes the world over a decade later. Weird visualizations aside, it sure seems as if two-step authentication has become all the rage these days. With Google implementing the process in 2011, both Apple and Dropbox have followed, and Evernote has made clear that it's going to join the fray as soon as feasible. Now, leaked imagery is demonstrating that Microsoft might not be far behind, with a two-step verification process evidently planned for its online services.
As you'd expect, the process should work pretty simply once it's instituted -- you'll need to enable two-step on your account, and then use an app on your mobile device to retrieve randomized keys when logging into a computer that's not on your trusted device list. Notably, the process isn't expected to work with linked accounts, and while a Windows Phone app appears to already be floating about, there's no word on whether Android, BlackBerry or iOS users will receive the same courtesy. Till then, keep your passwords guarded. And, of course, watch the video embedded after the break.