The Return of the Black Panther
Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most important voices of our time, and he went to work on a new Black Panther series of comic books for Marvel. Coates previews the first issue in the series of 11 chronicling adventures of what was the first black superhero portrayed in US mainstream comics when it debuted in the 1960s. Details on the making of the new comics alongside a collection of panels for the first issue make this piece a must-read.
A Hundred Thousand Ghosts From Baseball’s Golden Age Come to Video Games
Out of the Park Baseball 17 launches for PC and Mac on March 22nd, delivering almost a century of the best minor-league players to ever hit the diamond.
Can IMDb’s Ranking System Be Trusted?
If you’ve wondered why classics like Casablanca, Dr. Strangelove, Citizen Kane, Psycho, Vertigo and 2001: A Space Odyssey are often absent from IMDb’s top 15, here’s why.
How Frog Designed a Life-Saving EpiPen for Heroin Overdoses
An industrial designer at the design firm Frog discovered just how flawed naloxone administration is for treating heroin users, so he and his team went to work on a better solution.
There are just too many passwords to remember in our daily routine.
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Last week, Sony took the wraps off its Future Lab initiative — an R&D arm of the company showing off early prototypes of products and gathering feedback to help shape their development process. Today at SXSW, Sony showed off some of those prototypes to the press. As expected, the company had a new type of wearable to show off. It’s called the Arc, and its design reminded me of some Bluetooth headphone sets out there — but the device is quite a bit different than a simple pair of headphones.
Perhaps the easiest way to describe the Arc is to call it an Amazon Echo you wear around your neck. The device is built for hands-free operation; four microphones are built in with noise-cancelling features around so you can always talk to it. After saying your trigger phrase (“Listen up Arc!”), it’ll start listening for your command and use your phone’s GPS to give you location-based info. Right now, you can ask the Arc to tell you the weather, give you local news, local restaurant info and even to take a photograph.
Yup, that’s right: There’s a tiny camera embedded in the Arc. But Sony appears to have learned from Google Glass, as that camera is hidden by default and only opens up if you tell the device to take a photo. It’s a fun little trick to see the camera lens pop into view and then disappear again.
The Arc’s last trick is to play back audio without you needing to wear earbuds. Thanks to some clever speaker placement, the Arc does a pretty great job at reproducing audio in a limited range around your head while still letting you clearly hear what’s happening around you. The prototype I tried didn’t give off truly high-quality audio, but it certainly sounded better than I expected and would work in a pinch for the Arc’s intended capabilities.
If you want better audio performance, Sony is also making a pair of earbuds with a unique twist. These so-called “open-ear earphones” consist of a driver that has a small tube going off of it that ends in a small open circle you put in your ear. It’s a weird thing to describe, but ultimately it manages to do a very good job of transmitting the audio from the driver into your ear while still letting you hear everything around you. I had multiple conversations with music playing in my ear and had no problem hearing the people I was talking to.
Whether or not the Arc has any chance of succeeding where Google Glass failed remains to be seen — Sony will have to do a lot to make it clear how it can be useful to potential buyers, but the company reinforced the fact that this device is still very much a prototype. How it might exist in its final form remains to be seen.
That’s just one of the experimental devices Sony was showing off. The company also had a black box that looked like a Bluetooth speaker that featured a much more impressive feature. It’s meant to be mounted above a surface like a tabletop; once set up, it can project down onto the table and essentially turn it into a touchscreen. But the project isn’t just touch-sensitive — it can also calculate depth thanks to cameras pointing at the table.
Sony had a pretty crazy demo that’s rather hard to describe to show off this unnamed device’s power. In the demo, you opened up a physical copy of the book Alice in Wonderland — the camera and projector then started interacting with the contents of the book. The drawings came to life and literally jumped off the page onto the table; you could drag them and move them wherever you want. You could also highlight passages from the book and the words would float out of the book. It was really interesting, and while the practical applications remain to be seen, it was a seriously impressive piece of technology.
The other projector prototype Sony showed off felt a little less potentially useful, but it still had some pretty fun features. It was an “aim-able projector” — using a black wand attached to the device, you could point the projector anywhere along a wall that you wanted to, and a speaker array attached to the device made it sound like audio was coming from wherever the projection was at any given moment. In the demo Sony showed us, the projector put a small alien UFO on the wall, and as you moved it across the wall, the audio followed the projection. Sony even rigged up a gun let you move the projector around to shoot UFOs off the wall. It was another bizarre demonstration in a night full of weird ideas from Sony, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun.
The last gadget Sony showed off was a bit more low-key than these demos, but no less fun. It was an advanced haptic controller — basically a touch screen with an accelerometer and some seriously impressive haptic feedback capabilities. The demo I tried basically amounted to a ball on the touchscreen, and as I tilted the controller, I could “feel” the ball bouncing around. It was as if there actually was a rubber ball contained inside the controller, and its bouncing felt real in my hands. You could even switch up the material of the ball, so a metal ball had its own distinct haptic feeling. It was a weird experience, but it seems like the kind of thing that’ll be great in the next PlayStation controller.
Beyond the viability of these products (or the lack thereof), it’s pretty great to see Sony showing off so much weird technology ahead of its release in consumer-ready products. It’s easy to forget now as the company’s innovative spirit dropped over the years, but Sony has a rich history of trying plenty of weird technology and pushing it into the mainstream. Getting more public sneak peeks at what the company is working on can only be good for the technology industry as a whole — and entertaining to those of us who follow it.
Didn’t have time to get through our 4,000-plus word review of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge? No problem. Here’s what you need to know: We like them. A lot. The S7 in particular feels like a refined version of the already-great S6, with an easier-to-hold design, improved camera, waterproof build, more powerful innards and the return of a microSD slot (back by popular demand). There’s not much we would change, though a bigger jump in battery life next time around would be nice. That’s the gist, as you’ll see in our mini review-video above, and hey, if you need some weekend reading, you know where to find our review.
Despite what your parents told you, it sounds like there’s at least one van that’s safe to go inside when you’re asked. Google is hitting the road to see how people outside of its San Francisco-area backyard use its products. The Associated Press reports that the mobile research station will be doing a handful of tour stops across America in an effort to act as a sort of focus group to “shape the future” of its services and apps.
“We are trying to understand the whole end-to-end experience, which is why we are trying to get out to more locations and see more people so we can gather more context,” Google’s Laura Granka tells the AP.
Some 500 folks across California, Colorado, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York and Utah will spend between 15 and 90 minutes inside the van while the search juggernaut’s researchers take a gander. What’ll they get in return? Google tees and gift cards. The AP says that should this incredibly small group provide any usable info the road trip will expand later this year and possibly to other countries.
You’d think that simply analyzing the surfeit of data it has on millions of users would be cheaper, but hey, if anyone has money to burn on wild ideas, it’s Alphabet, Inc.
Via: The Verge
Source: Associated Press, Google
Amazon released Amazon Echo last year, and it recently introduced two new models of the $179 Bluetooth-enabled speaker, each with their own set of features and functionality. But all three have one thing in common: Alexa.
Amazon Echo is a 9.25-inch-tall cylinder speaker with a 7-piece microphone array. This mic setup allows the speaker to respond to the wake word “Alexa,” which happens to be the name of the speaker’s Siri-like assistant. With Alexa, Amazon Echo is capable of voice interaction, controlling compatible smarthome devices, music playback from devices over Bluetooth, etc.
It can even make to-do lists, set alarms, stream podcasts, play audiobooks, read PDFs, provide weather forecasts, warn you of traffic, answer trivia, and serve up other information in real-time. Echo requires a Wi-Fi connection to respond to voice commands, and it must remain plugged in for power. If you’d like to know more, here’s several tips and tricks…
This guide will help you to not only master Amazon Echo but also Alexa.
Amazon Echo: How does Echo work?
Read Pocket-lint’s Amazon Echo review for information. You can also check out this Amazon support page for details about how to get the speaker up and running. The basics include plugging Amazon Echo’s powder adapter into an outlet, then downloading the free Alexa app for iOS, Android, and Fire OS and using it to manage your settings and connect to a Wi-Fi network.
Amazon Echo: How many Echo models are there?
One year after launching Echo, Amazon debuted two sibling speakers.
The new ones are called Amazon Tap and Echo Dot. If you were to sit all three devices next to each other, starting with the Echo and ending with the Dot, one would be tall, one would be medium, and one would be short. However, the differences between Amazon’s speakers aren’t limited to height; each one is best suited to a specific environment – whether that be at home, on the go, or as an enhancement to your current audio setup.
We’ve dissected how each Amazon speaker is different here.
Amazon Echo: What are some Echo tips and tricks?
Mute the ‘Alexa’ wake word
Amazon Echo is always listening for the word Alexa. That way, whenever you say it, the speaker will immediately consider what you’re about to say next and can adequately respond. But if you want the speaker to wake and respond to absolutely nothing, there’s a mute button on the top of the speaker can that you can press to mute Alexa. Press it again to unmute her. Simples.
Amazon Echo on the web
There is a couple ways you can access Echo’s settings, as well as your to-do and shopping lists. The first, as we discussed earlier, is through the speaker’s free app. The second way is through the web. Just visit this site in your browser: http://echo.amazon.com.
Setup Household Profiles
Also, from the Echo website, you can link your family Prime accounts. With a feature called Household Profiles, you can add another adult to your Amazon Household to listen to either his or her content (for instance, music and audiobooks) and manage shared features (like lists).
Go to Settings, scroll down the page, and set up your Household. Shared members will have to download the Echo app and agree to join the household. You can also use the app to setup your household. More information about Household Profiles is at this support page.
Switch Amazon account profiles
Thanks to Household Profiles, Amazon Echo can be synced with more than one Amazon account. To find out which profile you’re currently using, say “Alexa, which profile am I using?” To switch profiles, say either “Alexa, switch profile” (moves to the next profile) or “Alexa, switch to David’s profile” (moves to the profile you named). More information about Household Profiles is at this support page.
Control a smarthome device
You can control some smarthome devices with Alexa (see a list of compatible devices here). After you say “Discover my devices” or use the Echo app to discover and pair smarthome devices, you can ask Alexa to do things like “Turn on/off [smart home device name]” or “Dim the light to [##] per cent” (see a list of commands here). You can also setup groups (see here) so that saying “house lights” turns on/off three lamps.
Force software updates
Amazon Echo has a CPU and software running it that needs updating. The speaker looks for updates every night, but if you want to force an update, just hit that same mute button we discussed earlier, then let it sit for at least 30 minutes, and the speaker will update.
Amazon Echo: What can you say to Alexa?
Here are some examples of things you can say to Alexa, along with links to their relevant Amazon support pages:
- What’s new?
- Ask questions
- Check your calendar
- Control media playback on Bluetooth devices
- Control music with your voice
- Control smart home devices
- Discover & buy music
- Find local businesses and restaurants
- Find traffic information
- Get updates on the weather
- Go to the movies
- Hear the news
- Keep up with your favorite sports teams
- Keep track of important tasks and items to purchase
- Listen to audiobooks
- Listen to Prime Music
- Listen to stations, shows and more
- Read Kindle books
- Reorder products from Amazon
- Request music
- Set up alarms and timers
- Switch between profiles
- Use these anytime
Amazon Echo: Are there any Easter eggs?
Alexa responds to a wide number of fun Easter eggs. This Reddit thread and this website aggregate several of the hilarious and interesting commands you can issue to Alexa. We’ve picked out a few of the more interesting ones and listed them below.
“Simon says…”: You can get Alexa to repeat anything you say if use the command “Alexa, Simon says…”
“Alexa, play Bingo”: Look up and download some free printable bingo cards, and ask Alexa to start a Bingo game with you.
“Alexa, ask Word Master to play a game”: This is like Geography. Alexa says a word, then you have to follow with a word that starts with the last letter of the word she said.
“Alexa, start Animal Game/Capital Quiz”: This lets you play 20 questions about animals or geography.
“Alexa, start Star Wars quiz”: Self-explanatory.
“Alexa, play Jeopardy”: Trivia geeks will love these game-show style questions. Don’t forget to answer in the form of a question.
“Alexa, roll the dice”: Missing the di to your board game? She’ll roll 6-sided, 10-sided, 20-sided, and other dice as well.
“Alexa, open the Wayne Investigation”: This starts a chose-your-own-adventure game that immerses you into the world of Gotham.
Amazon Echo: Want to know more?
Check out Pocket-lint’s Amazon Echo hub for related news.
We’ve seen Malaysia ban access to Medium and Russia do the same for Wikipedia, so if you thought Amnesty International would sit on the sidelines for World Day Against Cyber Censorship this year, you’re sorely mistaken. On March 12th, the human rights organization is teaming with AdBlock to replace online ads with messages from artist Ai Weiwei, Edward Snowden and Russian punk rockers Pussy Riot — themselves all victims of overzealous government censorship.
They’ll look like the image embedded below, via Mashable. AdBlock CEO Gabriel Cubbage says that the idea is to get its users involved in thinking about online privacy and that come Sunday the spots where AI’s banners were will be empty once again. Cubbage urges AdBlock’s users to “take a moment to consider that in an increasingly information-driven world, when your right to digital privacy is threatened, so is your right to free expression.”
Beyond the aforementioned high-profile censorship targets, AI says that AdBlock will also populate ad spaces with messages from North Korean cyber censorship casualties. It isn’t the first time the organization has taken a stance against those who’d rather online privacy not exist, but perhaps it’s the most prescient. The outfit says that just last year alone it documented arrests in 16 countries over what people said or did online.
And really, the timing couldn’t be better considering the feds’ ongoing war with Apple over unlocking San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone 5c, and our government’s PR campaign to devalue encryption at seemingly all costs.
Source: Amnesty International
Human Go player Lee Sedol is currently down 0-2 in a five game series against the AlphaGo program, which is powered by Google’s DeepMind AI. The third match is currently under way at the Four Seasons hotel in Seoul, and like the others, you can watch a live stream (with commentary explaining things for us you Go novices) on YouTube. If there’s any chance for humanity to pull out an overall victory then Sedol will need to make a move tonight, tune in and see how close we are to facing retribution for our crimes against robots.
Depending on your preference, the fact that Android app icons can all come in various shapes and sizescan be one of its benefits over iOS.
For some, however, uniform app icons provides a cleaner look and experience.
Samsung has added a new option with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge that places app icons atop the same background, making all of them the same size.
To enable “Icons with backgrounds,” open the Settings app. Then tap on Display and wallpaper, followed by Icon backgrounds.
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET
A preview of your current setting will show up in the box below the two options on this page. Switch between the two to get a better idea of what app icons will look like with each respective setting, then tap Done after selecting your preferred look.
Left: Standard icon look. Right: Icons with backgrounds.
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET
When you go back to your home screen or app drawer you’ll notice most apps have a new background. The only exception is Samsung’s own apps, which are the same size and shape as the new icon background.
That slick edge screen on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is more than just a pretty design, it’s functional, too.
Last year’s Galaxy S6 Edge had just a few features to make use of the curved screen, but the S7 ramps it up. The curved edges of the display make it feel like the screen never really stops. The edges of the screen also act as an additional place to show information in a way that doesn’t interfere with the rest of the screen.
We’ll dive into everything Samsung added to the edge screen this year below and go hands-on with them in the video above.
The edge screen gets far more shortcuts and tools with the S7 Edge. The People edge, a menu of favorite contacts is still there, but it’s joined by the Apps edge menu, which shows your most frequently used apps and the Tasks edge, where you can add shortcuts of things you do often with your phone (such as taking a selfie or creating a new calendar event).
There are also new panels of information from Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance, your calendar, weather and more. You can customize the Edge screen in settings, removing panels you don’t want and downloading new ones from the Samsung app store.
Swipe a finger back and forth along either edge when the screen is off to see the Edge feed. It’s a tiny display of helpful information, like missed calls, messages, sports scores and news updates. You can swipe up and down along the edge to move between feeds, which include Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance stock information, and your step count from the built-in S Health pedometer.
Just like with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, the S7 Edge’s screen will light up when someone calls or texts you. When the phone is resting screen down, the edge will glow when you get an incoming call or text. If the person calling you is one of the contacts in your People edge the screen will glow with whichever color you’ve assigned them — either blue, green, purple, yellow or orange.