Inhabitat's Week in Green: the Soundscraper, bedroom algae biofuel lab and the revival of the gastric-brooding frog
Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.
The first week of spring kicked off with a bang for the architecture community as Japanese architect Toyo Ito was awarded the 2013 Pritzker Prize. Meanwhile Christo unveiled the world's largest inflated indoor sculpture in Germany and MIT researchers announced plans to 3D print a pavilion inspired by the technique that silkworms use to build their cocoons. Inhabitat also showcased several futuristic skyscraper concepts -- including the Soundscraper, which transforms auditory vibrations into clean energy, and the Zero Skyscraper, which is a post-apocalyptic survival structure. And we profiled some fascinating adaptive-reuse projects, including a grain elevator that was transformed into a student housing complex in Oslo and a Cold War-era missile silo that was converted into an underground home in Upstate New York.
Hyperkin has developed a reputation for modern takes on legendary game consoles that are often better than the real thing. If true, its just-unveiled Retron 5 is a nostalgia singularity. The hardware emulator can use its namesake five cartridge slots to play original games from no less than nine vintage consoles, including the Genesis (Megadrive), NES (Famicom), SNES (Super Famicom) and GameBoys from the original through to the GameBoy Advance. It keeps going: there's a custom Bluetooth controller that can handle every system, mix-and-match original controller support, save states and upscaling for both video (to 720p, through HDMI) as well as audio. While we'll have to see just how well the Retron 5 works whenever it exists as more than a conceptual graphic, that opportunity may come quickly when Hyperkin is tentatively shooting for a July release at less than $100. About all that's left for a follow-up Retron are Jaguar and Turbografx 16 slots -- pretty please?
When Blockbuster's UK brand entered administration at the start of the year, there were concerns that it would ultimately prove just another casualty of the inexorable move toward online video. Not quite: Gordon Brothers Europe, a private equity firm known for rescuing troubled companies, has bought Blockbuster's British assets. The acquirer isn't disclosing the cash involved, but it plans to keep 2,000 workers and 264 stores in full swing while it plots a turnaround. That recovery is only described in vague terms at this stage, however -- Gordon Brothers plans to bring "new products" and "new technologies" to the bruised retail chain. While we're glad to see a one-time cornerstone of video rentals get a second chance, we hope that its bounce-back strategy involves a more futureproof selection than aisles full of plastic discs.
Filed under: Home Entertainment
Via: Sky News
Source: Gordon Brothers Europe
We know you've got questions, and if you're brave enough to ask the world for answers, then here's the outlet to do so. This week's Ask Engadget inquiry is from Christopher, who wants to brave the world of Bluetooth cans for his daily rounds. If you're looking to ask one of your own, drop us a line at ask [at] engadget [dawt] com.
"Yeah, okay. 'Audiophile' and 'Bluetooth' don't go together, but I'd really like a good pair of Bluetooth cans to use with my iPhone. Naturally, we're talking about headphones / cans rather than earbuds, ideally with track control buttons, a microphone and noise canceling -- but what I'm after is clean, beautifully reproduced audio above anything else. What can you suggest for less than £300 ($455)?"
Engadget's resident audiophile is a Klipsch evangelist, so it's probably best to start by talking about its Image One Bluetooth headset. It's £199 / $249 and comes with A2DP and aptX for high-quality audio, and we're fairly sure the company wouldn't put its name to a headset unless it was sure it was half-decent. Still, if you're sure you want to max out that headphone budget, then for £259 / $399, you can get Parrot's Phillippe Stark-designed Zik cans, which come with noise cancellation, jawbone microphone and touch-sensitive controls. Then again, we can only offer you so many suggestions before we open this question up to the folks in the peanut gallery -- so what do you peeps down there think?
Filed under: Portable Audio/Video
Watch out, Google Maps for Android, it looks like Apple's iOS Maps may soon be entering the building -- when it comes to indoor GPS tracking anyway. The Wall Street Journal's Digits blog is reporting that Apple has confirmed it purchased WiFiSlam, a startup that specializes in WiFi-assisted indoor-GPS functionality for phone apps. Interestingly, Digits notes that the company was founded by a few ex-Googlers a couple of years back and that one of its investors has included a Google employee. Further, a quick Google search confirms that any WiFiSlam-related apps that may have been on Google Play are all but dead links now.
The word on the street is that Apple handed over $20 million to claim the company, although it wouldn't confirm any numbers -- or a specific reason for the purchase -- with the blog. While there's no actual telling whether this means we'll see indoor mapping on iOS maps at any point, it's hard not to imagine it now that Apple's made the purchase. We're seeking comment from Apple on our end, and will be sure to let you know what we hear back. For now, check out an old demo of WiFiSlam in action after the break.
If you didn't get enough mobile news during the week, not to worry, because we've opened the firehose for the truly hardcore. This week, a potential listing of T-Mobile's LTE launch markets was leaked, the FCC Chairman gave notice of upcoming spectrum auctions and Sprint issued a teaser for all you Windows Phone fans. So buy the ticket and take the ride as we explore all that's happening in the mobile world for this week of March 18th, 2013.
There's a whole lotta new going on this week. A new flagship from Samsung, a new (successful) event for Engadget, new studio gear and -- most importantly -- a new chair for Tim. What isn't new is where you go to get it. As always, that's right here.
Hosts: Tim Stevens, Peter Rojas, Brian Heater
Producer: James Trew
Hear the podcast
Filed under: Podcasts
It appears that Pebble's smartwatch is officially feeling its largest growing pain since debuting just two months ago. A five-page long (and growing) thread on the company's forum has some owners describing a bug that's leaving their Pebbles pebbled bricked after shutdown. Pebble's Eric Migicovsky let us know that the company is actively replacing affected units, while examining those being sent in to find out the root cause:
We've had reports of this issue, and we understand of course that it's annoying for users. We're replacing any Pebbles for users who report this issue. We're reviewing the Pebbles that get returned, working to get to the bottom of the issue. We have our support team ready to follow up to any user that reports this issue.
As it stands, there's no word on whether firmware update 1.9 has any role in keeping the devices from turning on after being shut down. Owners have further reported that no amount of charging their Pebble will help it to actually come back to life. We've reached out to the company for more info on the matter (including nailing down how many units the company has replaced so far), and we'll be sure to keep you updated. For now, let us know whether your experience with Pebble has been rocky at all so far.
Update: That was fast -- apparently Pebble has received about 30 reports of this issue since Friday. Here's the official word from Migicovsky:
We're tracking a few reports of this issue. Up to Friday, we've had 20-30 reports (out of 30,000+ pebbles in the field). We've gotten several back to the office, and we're getting to the bottom of it.
[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]
Source: Pebble (forum)
Alt-week peels back the covers on some of the more curious sci-tech stories from the last seven days.
If you are a fan of absolutes, then you are in the right place. We have a first, a fastest and a biggest in this week's round-up of all things sci-tech. We'll try to add one more to that -- a quickest. The quickest intro for this feature ever. Did we manage it? This is alt-week.
While Addappt has been teasing painless contact syncing between iOS-using friends and colleagues since its December launch, its invitation-only nature has kept most of us on the sidelines. It may be time to try Addappt now that an update opens the doors to the public. On top of widening the app's audience for its update once, share everywhere approach, the 1.3 release brings group management that easily lets us lump coworkers or social circles together. Messaging is appropriately easier as well -- it's possible to quickly text or email everyone in a given group, including the option to share more photos at once than the five that iOS usually allows. A port to Android isn't yet on the cards, but iPhone and iPod touch owners tired of missing phone number changes can give Addappt a whirl today.
Via: The Next Web
Source: App Store
Motion sensor-based golf devices are all the rage these days, but they mostly target the full swing. Can such electronics be accurate enough to measure a much smaller stroke, namely the all-important putt? Since golf season's nearly here, we decided to find out with the Putt from 3BaysGSA, a tiny, lightweight device that fits in the handle of a putter and relays stroke information via Bluetooth to an Android or iOS device. As Engadget's resident golf nut, yours truly put the device through its paces both objectively and in a less-than-formal way to see whether it could accurately track a stroke. Will it help you lift your putter in victory, or make you wrap it around a tree? Hit the break to see how we did.
Gallery: 3Bays GSA Putt Hands-On
Thought that Dell buy out was a done deal? Well, the Blackstone Group and investor Carl Icahn clearly don't think so, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that both have contacted the committee of Dell's board just before Friday's shutoff deadline. The would-be bidders are reported to be working on their actual offer amounts, and in the process buying them four more days thinking time. Reuters reports that Blackstone's tentative offer is already in, according to sources, but at this time the company is yet to comment. Despite a recent slump in profits, Michael Dell surprised many when he announced his intention to buy back the eponymous firm in a deal with Microsoft for $24.4 billion. So, if the founder thought he had the keys to the old estate back, he might just have to wait a little longer.
- Intel enters mini-computer fray with Core i5-powered NUC
- Intel's Core i3 NUC mini-system bares it all for IDF (hands-on video)
- Intel's NUC mini-PC internals exposed, available for around $300 in early December
The name says it all. Late last year, Intel quietly introduced the Next Unit of Computing (NUC): a miniature, barebones desktop PC that represents a modern take on the traditional beige box. The NUC sits a mere two inches tall and comes nestled within a 4-inch square chassis. It also retails for just shy of $300. Don't let its diminutive size or price fool you, though. The Core i3 system is speedy, stable and more than capable of handling day-to-day computing tasks. Yes, it's a hell of a departure from the noisy monstrosities we lusted after just a few years ago. And it's a lot quieter, too.
Before you get too excited, though, let's temper that enthusiasm just a bit. As with any bare-bones kit, you'll need to install your own memory, storage, wireless networking components and operating system. In other words, unless you're willing to get your hands a bit dirty, the NUC isn't for you. And then there's the question of its price, which becomes a lot less tempting once you factor in the laundry list of necessary components. So, is the NUC deserving of its "Next Unit of Computing" title? Let's explore this question together.
Gallery: Intel NUC review
Developing a high-end in-car infotainment system can present challenges that don't exist in other platforms -- you're juggling core car systems, a myriad of sensors and media playback in a testbed on wheels. NVIDIA has just explained how it's uniting those elements with its new, lengthily-titled Jetson Automotive Development Platform. While it looks like a single-DIN car stereo laid bare, the configurable kit incorporates a Tegra processor (for usual infotainment functions), multiple car-friendly interfaces and a Kepler-based graphics chipset that can power car detection, lane departure and other computer vision systems by using CUDA or OpenCV code. The net effect should be a much simpler development process: automakers can consolidate some of their test hardware in one Jetson unit that they can upgrade or swap out if newer technology comes along. NVIDIA isn't naming the handful of designers and suppliers that are already building car electronics using Jetson, although history offers a few possible candidates.
The marriage of social networking and television is nothing new, but Myriad recently launched Social TV, a white label solution which allows TV service providers to roll out their own custom social networking platform on your cable box. It complements services like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ by offering a more contextual way for viewers to interact with their friends while watching TV. Social TV provides an integrated HTML5 experience that's consistent across both television and companion devices (phones and tablets). Viewers can chose between receiving alerts on their TVs, mobile devices or both and can create show- or series-specific virtual communities that automatically expire when the program ends. The system is even mindful of time zones and time-shifts messages to prevent spoilers. More after the break.
Gallery: Myriad Social TV hands-on
AT&T is finally set to launch its Digital Life home automation service, and it's ready to do so in a big way. Initially planned for just eight markets, the telephony giant has expanded its coverage to 15 starting this spring, with the hope of 50 by the end of the year. Essentially a way to monitor your home, Digital Life packages may include live video, the ability to remotely toggle the light on and off, change the thermostat, unlock the door and more. Customers are able to set up programs and alerts via smartphone or tablet applications or the web. AT&T should bring some heavy clout to the home automation party, though it won't be the first big-name communications company to do so. For more information on Digital Life and what it offers, have a peek at the source below.
China's government and people have historically been friendly toward Linux, although not quite on the level of a new deal with Canonical. The country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is teaming with Canonical to create Ubuntu Kylin, a variant of the regular Linux distribution that would serve as a reference point for local hardware and software developers. A Raring Ringtail-based build due this April should bring Chinese calendars, character input methods and quick access to relevant music services. Later Kylin releases should integrate Baidu mapping, mass transit information, Taobao shopping and a common slate of photo editing and system tools from WPS. The hope is to foster open source development in China as part of a five-year government growth plan -- and, we suspect, get away from closed operating systems that Americans control.
Filed under: Software
Via: The Register
Panasonic and Nuance have been close partners on TV voice recognition in the past; we now know that they're getting a bit cozier for Panasonic's 2013 Smart TVs. The company's newer LCDs and plasmas with voice recognition use Nuance's Dragon TV for voice-only control of basics like volume as well as content and web searches. The engine will also speak out content and menus if you need more than just visual confirmation of where you're going. Panasonic's refreshed TV line is gradually rolling out over the spring, so those who see a plastic remote control as so very 2010 won't have long to wait.
Russia's Yandex has been in the online payment business for more than a decade now with its Yandex.Money service, but it's branching out into some slightly more uncharted territory with its latest addition. Dubbed Twym, the company's new service will let folks send actual rubles to other Twitter users with nothing more than a tweet like the one above. Before that transfer takes place, though, both the sender and receiver of the money will need to link their Twitter and Yandex.Money accounts, and there are expectedly some limits on the amounts that can be transfered. 100,000 rubles (or roughly $3,300) is the maximum limit allowed by Yandex, but that can be changed by each user. You can also thankfully keep things private via direct message if you'd rather not broadcast your money transfers to all your followers.
Via: The Next Web
Apple ID accounts reportedly vulnerable to password reset hack, forgot password page taken offline for maintenance (update 2: back)
Gaping security holes are a pretty terrifying thing, especially when they involve something as sensitive as your Apple ID. Sadly it seems that immediately after making the paranoid happy by instituting two-step authentication a pretty massive flaw in Cupertino's system was discovered and first reported by The Verge. Turns out you can reset any Apple ID password with nothing more than a person's email address and date of birth -- two pieces of information that are pretty easy to come across.
There's a little more to the hack, but it's simple enough that even your non-tech savvy aunt or uncle could do it. After entering the target email address in the password reset form you can then select to answer security questions to validate your identity. The first task will be to enter a date of birth. If you enter that correctly then paste a particular URL into the address bar (which we will not be publishing for obvious reasons), press enter, then -- voilà -- instant password reset! Or, at least that's the story. While we were attempting to verify these claims Apple took down the password reset page for "maintenance." Though we've received no official confirmation from Apple, it seems the company is moving swiftly to shut down this particularly troublesome workaround before word of it spreads too far.
Update: We've heard back from Apple on the matter, which stated, "Apple takes customer privacy very seriously. We are aware of this issue, and working on a fix." No real surprises that a fix is in the works, but there you have it from the horse's mouth.
Update 2: The forgotten password page is back as of late Friday evening -- that was (relatively) quick. iMore reports (and we've verified ourselves) that the security hole is now closed.