In the "sure wish we had a video" category, aptly-monikered defense contractor Rheinmetall has run a highly successful test of its 50kW high-energy laser weapon. It works by hunting down incoming targets using a so-called Skyguard radar system, then locking in with an optical scanner before firing multiple, superimposed beams for extra energy. During the Swiss trials, the German-made HEL cannon managed to cut through a 15mm steel girder from over 3,200 feet away and knock down several drones diving at over 110 mph. Most impressively, the laser succeeded in dipatching an 82mm steel projectile in flight, showing the viability of beam-based weapons against potential mortar attacks. Rheinmetall has quintupled the power in just the last year, and plans to ramp up the juice to 60kW in 2013 trials, saying "nothing stands in the way" of a future 100kW system. Of course if that doesn't work out, it could always start up a death metal band.
Filed under: Science
Building up your beat lab's equipment arsenal to finish up production on that 80s-themed mix-tape that you've been working on? Then you might want to check out Animoog 2.0 for iPad. Loaded with a smorgasbord of abilities, the updated synthesizer app adds features like scale lock and a note hold button that allows you to maintain tones between presets. Users also gain accelerometer-controlled sound modulation and a free ($5 after December 31st) in-app four-track recorder that lets you sample, edit and loop music from your iTunes library. Plus, in order to spread some holiday cheer, Moog has slashed the app's price in half to just $15 for the remainder of the year. We could go on about Animoog's new bells and whistles, but it's best to hear them for yourself in the video after the break.
Filed under: Software
Tablet lovers who've been eying Microsoft's elaborately named Surface with Windows 8 Pro may be one step closer to getting it in their hands now that a mystery Microsoft tablet, the 1514, has swung through the FCC's approval process. While there's no neon lights advertising the slate's identity, it's described as running Windows 8 -- the current Surface appeared at the FCC clearly labeled as a Windows RT device. The 1514 number is also just two digits away from the 1516 of the Surface we can buy today. Prospective buyers hoping for unadvertised wireless features won't get them, as there's just 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth, but we don't think they'll mind. If the hardware truly represents the high-end Surface variant, an FCC appearance means one less obstacle to the planned January release.
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.
Sometimes even Santa Claus needs help. Thankfully, the jolly fat guy's got one of our favorite modders on his side. We visited Ben Heck's Madison, Wisconsin workshop a few weeks ago for an Engadget Show segment and got to watch as the master put together a special holiday-themed project, the Naughty or Nice Meter, a big candy cane-accented box that'll help tired parents "keep the kids in line" this holiday season. The box itself is actually a mostly hollow shell, with an Arduino, TI LaunchPad and a few other select select components in the rear that communicate with a specialized app, letting the parent in question adjust the needle based on their kids' behavior. Nothing like a little manipulative fun in the spirit of the holidays! Check out our segment on Mr. Heckendorn just after the jump and click on through the source link to find out how to make a Naughty or Nice meter or your very own.
Gallery: Ben Heck's Naughty or Nice Meter
Filed under: Misc
Source: Element 14
Stop us if you've heard this one before: the launch of a flagship, brand-defining smartphone gives its creator a swift leap in market share immediately afterwards. There's no surprise that the iPhone 5 will have improved Apple's standing in the US, then, but Kantar Worldpanel's market share study suggests that the lift was more than some expected. The firm estimates that Apple climbed to 53.3 percent of American smartphone share in the three months leading up to late November. The figure is both Apple's highest ever for the country as well as its first venture past the 50 percent mark. Android in this climate held on to 41.9 percent of the market, hinting that many of those market-shifting iPhone sales came after October. Kantar expects a similar story this month, although it's not predicting how well the Cupertino crew will fare beyond that.
Lest anyone take the results out of context, Kantar points out that it's often a Google-friendly world. Android represents 61 percent of smartphone sales in the five largest European countries, while Apple's share in countries like Brazil and China is still small. There is an upside for Microsoft on this wider scale -- a year of Nokia Lumia sales and the early results of the Windows Phone 8 launch have reportedly pushed Redmond's platform back up to 4.7 percent in those five European nations. We're a long way from going beyond a two-horse race in the smartphone field, but there's at least hints of change on the horizon.
Source: Kantar Worldpanel ComTech
Boeing has hauled in around 20,000 pounds of potatoes to use as human substitutes during its tests with airplane WiFi. The aircraft maker is checking that onboard wireless signals don't interfere with navigation and communication systems. Groaningly titled SPUDS (Synthetic Personnel Using Dielectric Substitution), the tubers apparently replicate how airborne signals are bounced and absorbed by real-life passengers, but without the need for Boeing to offer complimentary snacks or tiny drinks during testing.
Filed under: Transportation
Source: LA Times
Acer looks ready to launch an entry-level tablet into the market judging by an FCC application that popped up today along with an earlier GLBenchmark leak. The test site's report shows a likely 7-inch or so tab with a 1,024 x 600 display, Android 4.1.2 Jellybean, 1.2GHz dual-core processor and PowerVR SGX 531 GPU along with distinctly non-barnburning test results. Those specs now look quite credible when combined with the new FCC document, which shows it sporting WiFi radios but no other data options. The company has been mum so far about when such a device would arrive and at what cost, but judging by the above, it's unlikely to break any banks. Check the source if parsing radio reports is your bag.