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2
Feb
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HTC M8 On-Screen Buttons Image Leaks Out


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We heard a week or so ago, that HTC’s new baby, the HTC M8, was going to be the first HTC device to not feature capacitive buttons. They were going to switch over to on-screen buttons like the Nexus 5, and many had some mixed feelings about it. Some people hated the fact, simply because that strip of real estate the buttons land on take up precious screen space. Others loved the idea because the capacitive buttons have suffered problems in the past with certain updates. Well now we get a good look on what those on-screen buttons are going to look like, and this is brought to us by HTC Source, who got an email with this image above.

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They also mocked up a comparison image, comparing these on-screen buttons to other HTC phones with the capacitive buttons. I think a lot of us are glad to see that HTC is putting THREE buttons instead of the two they adopted with the first HTC One. That was always a pain that was solved by developers and their awesome ROMs and tweaks. Let us know your thoughts about the buttons, and if you are excited for the HTC M8.

Source: HTC Source

2
Feb
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Inhabitat’s Week in Green: carbon fiber 3D printer, mollusk shell glass and a self-sustaining island


Wouldn’t it be great if you could just snap your fingers and a pizza would appear? It might not be too far off: NASA recently funded a plan to build a 3D food printer for astronauts, and a new video shows the prototype in action. In other 3D printing news, Stratasys just unveiled the world’s first multi-color, multi-material 3D printer. And in San Francisco, a race car part company recently produced the world’s first carbon fiber 3D printer, which can print parts that are 20 times stiffer than plastic. On the wearable tech front, Google Glass is getting a big-time face-lift with prescription lenses and stylish frames. And the design firm Lemur Studio unveiled plans for a life-saving boot insert that can detect land mines from a distance of 6.5 feet. In other innovation news, the Swedish design studio Tomorrow Machine has developed a new coating that makes food simply roll off your plates and bowls, making cleaning the dishes a breeze. And in order to reduce weight and cargo on future missions, NASA plans to make oxygen on Mars and water on the moon.

Imagine if you could drive from New York City to Los Angeles without paying a penny for fuel. If you own a Tesla, that dream is now a reality. The electric car company just completed a network of “supercharging” stations that extend from coast to coast, and best of all, they’re free! In other transportation news, Representative Henry Cuellar has proposed building a high-speed rail line that would connect San Antonio with Monterrey, Mexico. Meanwhile, in a barn in central Illinois, a team of self-funded volunteers has built a Batmobile-esque electric car from scratch — and it has an EPA mileage rating of 207 MPGe. In Tanzania, an innovative company called GalimotoCar is creating functional cars from trash and recycled materials. And a team of students at Jiangnan University School of Design drew up a proposal for futuristic self-navigating cars that could operate on a maglev railway.

In green energy news, Scotland — already a world leader in offshore wind energy — will soon be home to the world’s first self-sufficient island. Eigg is a roughly 10-square-mile island that currently gets about 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources, making it one of the greenest islands in the world. Meanwhile, California is suffering through its worst drought in decades, and one startup company is proposing to address the problem with a new solar-powered desalination system. New research suggests that water evaporation could be the largest power source in nature, and it could be harnessed using humidity-powered generators. And a team of scientists in India has developed a technique for transforming discarded plastic bags into usable fuel.

“Climate change is a fact,” said President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address last week. Indeed it is, and for the fringe naysayers, NASA put together a disturbing new visualization that shows 60 years of climate change in 15 seconds. We hear a lot of news reports about the terrible air quality in Chinese cities, but it turns out that the Indian capital of New Delhi is even worse. The truth is that the worst day in Beijing is really just an average day in New Delhi. In other news, scientists at McGill University have created a new type of super-strong glass that is inspired by mollusk shells. For parents who want to get their kids hooked on science at an early age, we recommend picking up a set of periodic table building blocks that covers 118 elements of the periodic table in bright, candy colors. And the website Chairish recently launched a new app that makes finding and selling vintage furniture easier than ever.

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2
Feb
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Max Mathews’ one-man electronic orchestra


Welcome to Time Machines, where we offer up a selection of mechanical oddities, milestone gadgets and unique inventions to test out your tech-history skills.

Conduct an electronic orchestra, right from your living room!

It may seem like a fever dream headline from the 1950s, but the physical results of Max Mathews’ years of work in computer music wouldn’t fully materialize until the ’80s. His Radio Drum (aka Radio Baton) — although a continual work-in-progress — was a groundbreaking method of controlling computer-synthesized sound through a predominantly wireless three-dimensional interface. Many of its unique abilities were courtesy of technological visionary Bob Boie’s capacitance research, creating “a much more participatory way of enjoying music,” as Mathews described in Stanford University’s Brainstorm. The Radio Drum could track surface hits and even hovering positions, and use that data to control a multitude of audio parameters. It was one of many projects that Mathews worked on during his lifetime and played a part in earning him the honorary title of “Father of Computer Music.”

The Radio Drum / Radio Baton

It was 1955 and Mathews was fresh out of MIT with his Ph.D. in electrical engineering when he signed on at Bell Labs. He was tasked with converting speech to electronic signals and back again as a tool for digitally testing new phone products. Around 1957, he began exploring the possibilities of generating music using computers, which led him to begin coding the first in a series of pioneering programs for synthesis and composition: Music I. In an interview with Curtis Roads in The Music Machine, Mathews described the program’s characteristics at the time: “[Music I] generated one waveform, an equilateral triangular waveform, with the same rise as decay characteristics. You could specify a pitch, an amplitude and a duration for each note and that was it.”

Mathews understood the limitations and was eager to develop it further. As head of Bell Labs’ Acoustical and Behavioral Research Division from 1962 through 1985, Mathews continued to focus on synthesizing music with computers, and that research culminated in his seminal 1969 book The Technology of Computer Music. Following the introduction of the integrated circuit in the ’70s, more powerful and affordable computers began to appear on the market, opening up new opportunities for the field. Mathews stated in an interview with Wired, that “it would take an hour just to record 18 seconds of music” back in the ’50s, but with new developments, machines could finally produce music faster than humans could play it. This led Mathews to develop his GROOVE software and RTSKED algorithm, both of which were focused on enabling real-time musical performance.

During a stint in the ’70s as science advisor at IRCAM (Institute for Research and Coordination of Acoustics/Music) in Paris, Mathews developed the idea for the Sequential Drum. Professor and composer Andrew Schloss, a longtime associate of Mathews, recognizes this device as a conceptual ancestor to video games like Guitar Hero. He saw the Sequential Drum as one of the earliest examples of storing music on a computer for on-demand playback using a control interface. The hardware involved in the Sequential Drum concept was the first incarnation of what would eventually become the Radio Drum. It consisted of a drum head with two subdermal wire grids that were connected to a computer, and could translate hits into triggers for computer-synthesized sounds or sequences. The surface hits also generated an amplitude signal, based on the velocity of the strike (for loudness) and the X and Y location for each hit was used to indicate timbre. It was a major step forward for computer-controlled music, but still had a degree of limitations.

Enter Bob Boie, robotics engineer, capacitive-sensing expert and associate of Mathews from Bell Labs. Around 1985, Boie developed a radio technology that could track the position of an object in three dimensions and initially considered using it as some type of mouse-like device. Mathews saw the project and it seemed obvious to him that they should redirect its development into a music controller. The use of Boie’s capacitive sensor for 3D tracking was a breakthrough at the time, pre-dating devices like the Kinect and Leap Motion by several decades. With the Radio Drum’s surface now wired with receiving antennas and two batons (or drumsticks) outfitted with transmitting antennas, location data for the batons could be registered in X (right-to-left), Y (top-to-bottom) and Z (position above the drum surface) coordinates. You could use the Radio Drum like an instrument, playing notes and controlling variables such as pitch, envelope and volume, or you could use it to trigger and control pre-recorded sequences of music rather than notes, as Mathews had envisioned. He developed his own Conductor Program software just for this purpose and when used in this manner, the device is commonly referred to as the Radio Baton.

The Radio Drum/Baton went through many iterative developments over the years with the help of synth designer Tom Oberheim, who produced the subsequent hardware. A limited number of devices was produced and sold, but musicians and academics continued to be intrigued by the technology and its unique potential as a performance tool. Its original RS232 serial interface was updated to MIDI in the early ’90s and continued adjustments were made to the antenna and sensitivity settings. Schloss, who often received updated versions of the Radio Drum from Mathews and Oberheim as they were developed, continued to compose for the device — primarily for percussive pieces — and even made his own changes to the hardware. During the mid-’90s, Schloss paid a visit to Boie (then retired) and showed him this latest version of the Radio Drum he’d been working on. Immediately, Boie offered to make some “necessary” changes to the device and soon presented him with, what Schloss now calls, the “radiodrum,” a percussive-focused version that he continues to use for performances today.

Other modern musicians have sought wireless ways to enhance their live performances, including MIT’s Elly Jessop. Her musical glove project inspired Imogen Heap to experiment further with gesture control interfaces as well, manipulating effects, volumes and sound triggers with a sweep of her wire-enmeshed hands. When comparing the functionality of the Radio Drum to more modern developments, Schloss notes that while these newer devices are ideal for exploring the range within three dimensions, Boie’s capacitance technology for the Radio Drum still stands the test of time, outperforming many similar control devices in tracking high-speed motions at close quarters, especially in percussion. As for Mathews’ Radio Baton and Conductor Program finding a place in the homes of casual music fans, it’s still a possibility. And while the concept may be ahead of its time, one thing’s for certain: That Bieber kid could probably do with some lessons in conducting himself.

[Image credits: Patte Wood CCRMA (Lead image of Max Mathews); Boie, Mathews, Schloss (Radio Drum drawing); Andrew Schloss (Radiodrum performance – mid-90s)]

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2
Feb
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Tim Cook Visits United Arab Emirates Amid Rumors of Apple Retail Store Plans


Following his visit to Ireland on Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been spotted in the United Arab Emirates this weekend, as highlighted by tbreak media. Cook posed for photos at Apple reseller Virgin Megastore at the Al Wahdi Mall in Abu Dhabi yesterday, while several photos from today place him in Dubai at the massive Dubai Mall.

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The reason for Cook’s visit is unknown, but Apple users in the region are unsurprisingly speculating that he may be meeting with relevant parties about the possibility of an Apple retail store. MacRumors received an unconfirmed tip last year claiming that Apple was making plans to open a major store at The Galleria in Sowwah Square in Abu Dhabi, a luxury mall that opened late last year, but no additional reports of such a project have yet surfaced. The source claimed that the store would not open for several years and that it could arrive as the world’s largest Apple retail store.

Alternatively and much less interestingly, Cook may simply be visiting to check up on the company’s existing reseller network and maintain relationships with government officials in the region.

    



2
Feb
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Too soon for a Lenovo Nexus 6 concept? Not so says Jermaine Smit


Lenovo Nexus 6 conceptOne of the most intriguing, if sensationalist, theories to come out of the Lenovo deal to acquire Motorola Mobility from Google is that the Chinese-based manufacturer will be producing the next and last Nexus device, a rumour which originated with Eldar Murtazin. Murtazin has gotten quite a few things right over the years, so his words likely won’t be taken lightly, but considering how past rumours about Nexus devices have been very wrong before (even catching out the great evleaks) we can’t help me take this news with more than just a grain of salt. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped one designer from coming up with his take on a Lenovo Nexus 6 concept.

Lenovo Nexus 6 conceptThis concept design comes to us courtesy of Jermaine Smit, who’s given us a very minimalistic, though very elegant, concept of a potential Lenovo Nexus 6. It’s interesting to ponder, even though we have no idea what Lenovo has in mind for the U.S., both design-wise and strategically, or if Google would even work with Lenovo considering they didn’t even really work with Motorola when Google owned them.

This definitely won’t be the last Lenovo Nexus 6, or even just Nexus 6, concept that we’ll see before a tangible device is released by Google, but it’s always nice to dream. What do you think about Smit’s design? Do you believe Lenovo will be making the next Nexus device? Let us know in the comments.

Source: Concept Phones via PocketNow

2
Feb
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[LEAK] Evleaks leaks the existence of the HTC M8 Mini


HTC m8 miniProlific leaker, evleaks, is often quite straightforward in his Twitter leaks, and although his latest tweet is decidedly cryptic, it seems to nevertheless confirm the existence of a HTC M8 Mini:

I think it’s safe to assume that the first four charaters before the device names are some kind of internal model number reference, but it’s definitely the first time that we’ve heard of a smaller HTC M8 device been mentioned. HTC attempted a similar feat last year with the HTC One Mini, but with disappointing hardware and an inflated price-tag, the One Mini failed to capitalize on the same hype created by its bigger brother, the HTC One.

One popular  theory is that the HTC M8 Mini will be released alongside the full-sized iteration of the HTC M8, which is expected to be soon, if not at MWC 2014 this month, while other suggest that the M8 Mini will be released shortly after the M8′s announcement. What do you think HTC is planning to do with the HTC M8 Mini? Do you think they should do something differently compared to last year’s strategy with the HTC One Mini? Let us know your 2 cents in the comments below.

Source: Twitter

2
Feb
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Scentee’s smelly smartphone notifications are now available worldwide


Scentee on an iPhone

If you were crestfallen when you heard that Scentee’s fragrance-emitting smartphone add-on would be hard to get outside of Japan, you can relax — it’s now available worldwide through the company’s site. The perfume plug-in sells for $35 by itself (plus a whopping $30 in shipping), while scent packs for coffee, lavender, rose, rosemary and strawberry will cost you $5 each. That’s quite a lot to pay for smell-based notifications on your Android device or iPhone, but Scentee is at least more practical than some of the other novelty imports that we’ve seen as of late.

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Via: Electronista

Source: Scentee

2
Feb
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AT&T Launches Lower-Cost Mobile Share Value Plans for Families [iOS Blog]


attlogo.png AT&T has announced that it will be introducing new Mobile Share Value Plans for families starting February 2, bringing reduced costs for both new and existing customers with monthly data plans of 10GB or more. Under the new terms, a family plan including two lines, 10GB of data, and unlimited talk and text starts at $130 and increases $15 for each additional line thereafter.

The updated pricing applies to new customers who buy a phone under the AT&T Next early upgrade program and sign up for an eligible data plan, as well as existing customers that switch to or already have the required data limit. New customers who also bring their own smartphone or purchase one at full price can also receive the new plan.

Furthermore, AT&T’s new plans can also be combined with an existing promotion that offers a $100 bill credit to new and existing customers who add a new line of service. Last December, the carrier originally launched Mobile Share Value Plans offering a $15 monthly discount to shared data customers that met one of four requirements, along with a new 18-month option for AT&T Next.

The move comes in the midst of a marketing war between U.S. cellular carriers, particularly between T-Mobile and AT&T. Recently, AT&T also began a new promotion to offer up to $450 in credits to customers that switch to it from T-Mobile, while T-Mobile launched a similar program offering up to $350 in credits to customers that switch to its network.

    



2
Feb
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Lockheed Martin’s autonomous convoy tests bring Skynet one step closer to reality


Drones delivering your latest George R.R Martin instalment? Cute. But the real work of autonomous vehicles is being pioneered in the military. Lockheed Martin has recently completed testing of full autonomous convoys in Fort Hood, Texas. The test is part of the Army and Marine Corps’ Autonomous Mobility Appliqué System (AMAS) program, and saw vehicles successfully navigate an urban-style route, complete with obstacles a real-world convoy might encounter (humans, junctions etc). While regular military vehicles have always been designed to keep their human cargo as safe as possible, the new technology could remove the need for putting soldiers at risk altogether. We’re a way out from seeing this deployed in active service, but for now the results bolster the US Army’s efforts to introduce more robotic systems into real warfare.

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Via: SlashGear

Source: Lockheed Martin

2
Feb
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Revised Renderings of Apple’s New Flagship San Francisco Store Surface


Revised plans for Apple’s proposed flagship retail store in San Francisco’s Union Square has revealed new renderings, reports SocketSite. The prospective store is now pictured to feature two full-height sliding glass panels standing 44 feet tall and 23 feet wide, allowing the building to be opened up to the street. The store will also include regular glass doors that would act as a primary point of entry when the larger doors are closed.

applestore_unionsquare_panelopen Apple’s revised design for new San Francisco flagship store
Apple originally filed plans last May to move its existing Stockton Street flagship store three blocks north, giving the store a larger footprint and prime location in the Union Square shopping district. However, the plans quickly ran into opposition as critics panned multiple aspects of the proposal, such as the idea to remove a sculptural fountain created by late sculpture artist Ruth Asawa and the installation of a 80-foot-long windowless wall along a key pedestrian and transit corridor. Soon after, city officials made clear that significant changes would be needed for the project if it was to receive approval.

Apple then filed revised plans in August to address some of the proposal’s biggest criticisms, stating that it would keep the fountain, add an eight-foot wide window along the Stockton Street frontage, and move to pull the proposed glass wall of the store back by four feet to add a greater sense of depth and more shadows for visual interest.

apple_store_sf_union_square_largeApple’s original design for new San Francisco flagship store
City officials were reportedly pleased by Apple’s proposed changes, although the project must still pass through full review before it can be approved. A part of that review will take place on Wednesday, February 5, as the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission will meet to discuss Apple’s request for a permit to construct the store. Apple has not announced when it plans to open the new store, and any internal targets may yet be affected by San Francisco’s review and permitting processes.

Thanks, Cody!

    



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