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Microsoft’s news bot finds stories based on your interests

Bots are all the rage these days, and to help you keep pace with news stories that interest you, Microsoft has one named Rowe. Inside the News Pro app from Microsoft Garage, Rowe goes to work gathering those articles that you’ll want to read when you ask it to make a recommendation. What’s more, the bot will also serve up news for you or for people who look like you when you send it a selfie. And yes, you can also upload other images and Rowe will search for stories based on the content of the photo.

News Pro has some pretty standard reader features as well. By logging in with Facebook or LinkedIn, the app is able to “personalize” the links it pulls in. There’s a Highlights feed that breaks down articles based on your interests or those related to your job. You can also add friends and group them so that you’re sharing with with like-minded folks and colleagues in your office. If you’re looking another way to keep up with daily happenings, the News Pro app is available for iOS devices via the iTunes App Store.

Source: Microsoft Garage, YouTube


LG G5’s VR headset, 360 camera and other accessories hit the US

When LG announced its modular G5 phone last month, it also revealed a line of “Friends” companion devices to go along with it (See what it did there?). Included in the lineup are the 360 VR headset, 360 Cam, the Harman Kardon-powered Tone Platinum audio headset and the Cam Plus camera grip. While the phone itself is already available in the US, these gadgets that the company intends for you to use with the handset were not until now.

LG says that the major carriers in the States will offer these add-ons or you can purchase them directly from the company. The Cam Plus module that adds a grip, camera controls and takes advantage of the G5’s modular design is the most affordable of the group at $70. If you’re looking to nab the VR headset, Tone wireless audio headset or 360 Cam, be prepared to hand over $200 for each of those. Unfortunately, there’s no mention of the BB-8-like Rolling Ball, but LG did note that more third-party companion devices were on the way.

Source: LG (PR Newswire)


AI ‘doctors’ will diagnose your X-rays

An Israeli medical imaging company has signed a deal with a Utah-based healthcare provider that could change the way we diagnose certain conditions. Zebra Medical Imaging is teaming up with Intermountain to work on a neural network that will compare fresh X-rays with the “millions” stored in its own database. The eventual aim of the project is to offer up suggestions to radiographers and other medical professionals and eliminate costly misdiagnoses.

For instance, let’s imagine that you’ve gone to hospital for some unknown condition and you get an X-ray. Rather than handing the slide to a doctor, who could miss a small shadow or other minor clue, the image would be handed to the computer. It would use deep learning to trawl an anonymized patient database looking for any anomalies that you might be suffering from. The current system will work on bone health, cardiovascular analysis and lung conditions, although who knows where the possibilities will end.

As deep learning technology gets more powerful, smaller and significantly cheaper, the potential for AI to assist doctors becomes more realistic. IBM has spent the last few years pushing Watson, its homegrown supercomputer, as a system to aid decision making for patients. At the same time, companies like LG are trying to shrink medical imaging technology to end the days of bulky hospital equipment being available for a chosen few. All in all, the idea of a medical tricorder is going from fantastical to plausible in less time than you’d expect.


New Google Maps ads will drop branded pins on your search results

Yes, Google builds plenty of useful and fun products, but don’t ever forget — the company is first and foremost an advertising business. As such, today the company is announcing a number of updates to its various advertising products to help brands do a better job at reaching the billion-plus people using Google’s core services like search, Gmail and Maps.

The change that’ll probably be most noticeable to Google’s end users comes to Maps, a particularly valuable product for the company — Google says that nearly a third of all mobile searches are related to specific locations, and lots of those searches likely end up with the user in Google Maps. So now, when you’re looking at Google Maps on your phone, you’ll see the occasional “branded pin.” It’s similar to the red pin that shows up when you do a search, but it contains a brand’s logo right in it. These will show up when you’re looking at a map or looking at the navigation view in Google Maps.

Google is also offering brands and advertisers more customizable product pages within Google Maps itself. If you tab through to an advertising business’s detail page, you’ll be able to search a store’s local inventory or redeem special offers (if the store chooses to offer those options, that is). During a press briefing, we saw a Best Buy that offered 10 percent off iPhone accessories and a Starbucks that offered a dollar off your drink when you tapped through to the specific location details.

Obviously, none of us really want more ads in our products, but it’s an inevitability when dealing with Google. And there are worse things than having the option to save a few bucks if you need to hit a big-box store or chain. Hopefully Google and advertisers will exercise some restraint when using this tool, which will start popping up on iOS and Android over the coming months.

Source: Google


YouTube Gaming launches event hubs with E3 live streams

YouTube Gaming is making live coverage of eSports competitions and other big events much easier to find. The channel is launching event hubs, starting with E3 in June. Each hub will house all the official YouTube shows and streams covering that particular tournament or expo, so you can browse them all in one page. YouTube’s E3 coverage will begin with EA’s and Bethesda’s keynotes on June 12th, followed by a 12-hour stream on June 13th. It’ll cover press conferences, live “Let’s Play” playthroughs and maybe even the free public event the expo’s holding this year. Twitch is still E3’s official streaming partner this year — and we’re covering the event, as well! — but YouTube’s hub sounds like a good place to check if you’re looking for even more videos.

Source: YouTube Gaming E3 hub


‘Ready Player One’ filmmakers want your 3D avatars

A bulk of Ready Player One takes place in a digital universe known as the OASIS, a utopian society filled with 3D models of people plugged into the MMO world. Steven Spielberg is directing the film adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel and he’s looking to bulk out OASIS with 3D avatars from digital artists around the globe. Anyone with the right skills and determination can submit a 3D avatar via Talenthouse, and Spielberg and co. will choose at least five winners to place in the movie.

The winning artists will receive $1,000 each in exchange for the complete rights to their 3D avatars. Filmmakers may also choose some models to use as background graffiti in the OASIS and those folks will receive $250 to hand over ownership. Submissions are open until June 23rd at 1PM ET (10AM PT) and the artists will be selected by July 7th.

This sounds like a splendid opportunity for digital artists everywhere, but keep in mind that this is basically a contest inside of the OASIS — and we all know how those things go.

Via: Gizmodo UK

Source: Talenthouse


The best food processor

By Christine Cyr Clisset, Michael Sullivan

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best things for your home. Read the full article here.

After spending 40 hours researching food processors, interviewing experts, and conducting nearly three years of long-term testing, we still think the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor is the best choice for most home cooks. With just pulse and on buttons plus a single bowl, this is one of Cuisinart’s most basic models, but it consistently chops, slices, and kneads better than any other food processor we’ve found for under $300.

How we tested

Our food processor picks (from left to right): The Cuisinart 3-Cup Mini-Prep Plus, the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor, and the Breville Sous Chef. Photo: Michael Hession

The best models should chop vegetables and herbs evenly (without pulverizing them), grate veggies and cheese uniformly, slice cleanly, and finely grind bread crumbs, nuts, and other dry ingredients. Better-quality machines with strong motors and heavy bases will also grind meat and mix sturdy yeast doughs without skidding across the counter, unlike low-quality machines.

We tested five large food processors 10 times each, chopping vegetables and parsley, slicing tomatoes and potatoes, grating soft mozzarella, grinding bread crumbs, pureeing a particularly delicious hummus, and mixing double batches of pizza dough. We also cleaned each model’s bowl, lid, and food presser 10 times—a test that proved more revealing than we’d expected.

We tested mini choppers by making a blended salsa, a Thai curry paste, and mayonnaise, and grinding almonds. We chopped one onion in each mini food processor to gauge evenness of texture. We also chopped whole almonds and shredded soft mozzarella cheese if the chopper came with a disk for shredding.

Our pick

With just two buttons, the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor has one of the simplest-to-use interfaces of the processors we tested. Photo: Michael Hession

The Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor does everything that a great food processor should without any unnecessary extras that would boost its price. With one bowl and only on and pulse buttons, it’s simply designed—but it works as well as or better than machines with multiple bowls and more attachments. Unlike some other models in our tests, the Cuisinart Custom’s base never shook while running, even when processing double batches of dough. The Cuisinart Custom comes with just the right number of blades and disks, and all of them will stow inside the mixing bowl, so you won’t need to store a big box of attachments. The Cuisinart Custom’s base and jar were also easier to clean than those of most of the competition.

We first recommended the Cuisinart Custom in 2013, and over the past three years, we’ve consistently liked using it. We’ve made slaws, grated cheese, blended dips, and kneaded pizza dough in it, and it has worked well. The 14-cup bowl doesn’t leak, and the controls are exactly what you need.

This processor’s base is heavy, so we’ve found that keeping it on the counter to use often is the best approach. Over the years, the jar has gotten a bit scratched (perhaps because we’ve stored the sharp blades inside the jar). We’ve also noticed on other Cuisinart models that the plastic on the S-blade attachment discolors slightly with prolonged use. However, we haven’t tested the Cuisinart Custom long enough for this to happen. Overall, we still really like using this machine.

Great for small batches

The chop and grind buttons on the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus move the blade in opposite directions. Photo: Michael Hession

If you want a processor for little batches of vinaigrette or mirepoix, we really like the 3-cup Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus. It chopped onions more evenly than the other models we tested it against. On top of that, its seamless plastic membrane buttons were easier to keep clean, and its handled jar was more convenient to use. We also think this model is the most convenient, idiotproof tool we’ve found for making small batches of mayonnaise (as long as you’re using a recipe formulated specifically for a food processor). And it’s a great option for people who can’t or don’t want to invest in a $200 machine. You couldn’t make bread dough or shredded salads in it, but you could grind or chop small batches of herbs or nuts and do other tasks that would be more tedious by hand.

Great for power users

The Breville Sous Chef performed best overall in our tests, but it is very large and has more attachments than most people need. Photo: Michael Hession

The Cuisinart Custom is a great value for the amount of performance it offers, but if you plan to use your food processor several times a week, or you need a more powerful machine to cook for large groups, or you use a scale for most recipes, consider investing in the 16-cup Breville Sous Chef. Its 1,200-watt motor and its smart design save you time in use and cleaning; in fact, despite its many accessories, it was the easiest to clean of all the models we tested. That said, if you use a food processor only occasionally, the Breville’s high cost probably outweighs its benefits. And given that it’s huge—over 18 inches tall and nearly 20 pounds—you’d need a big kitchen if you want to keep it on the counter.

Should you upgrade?

If you have an older machine that still works well, stick with it. But if your current machine’s motor base is so lightweight that the appliance stutters across the counter when in use, you’ll appreciate a model with a heavier build. And if your processor is 11 cups or smaller but you cook for more than two, you might prefer a model with a larger bowl.

If you often make things like homemade mayonnaise, vinaigrette, or small batches of bread crumbs, you might want to pick up a mini food processor—even if you have a full-size version. A mini model will process smaller quantities more efficiently, and its diminutive size means it’s easier to move around a counter and to store and clean.

This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.


‘Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’ and the long shadow of a cult classic

“It’s a game that’s built a lot on momentum and forward movement and not stopping, reaching almost a zen-like thing.”

That’s how DICE Design Director Erik Odeladhl describes his latest game, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. It stars Faith, a freerunner, as she sprints, slides and leaps around a stark-white futuristic urban sprawl. The city is her playground. On top of a skyscraper, Faith builds up speed and swings onto a thin ledge, where she seamlessly dashes and jumps, rolling onto the roof of the next building and always running, running, running. For many fans, this constant motion is what the series is all about.

But Odeladhl’s favorite part of Catalyst involves no movement at all.

“I find it extremely nice to just climb up somewhere really, really high up and then just stand still there and actually just look at the city,” he says. “Since it’s been part of my life for so many years now, I’m basically really, really happy seeing the city and seeing that it works and everything is connected. That’s a big thing for me.”

Odeladhl is one of the masterminds behind DICE’s new game. He pitched Catalyst as a reboot, he helped conceive the City of Glass and he decided everything would be larger with a nonlinear narrative. He holds Faith’s future in his hands.

“She’s a truly unique heroine,” Odeladhl says. “First, the fact that she’s a heroine — she’s not your standard game hero. But she’s also so far removed; she’s not a cliche and she’s got a very unique look.”

The original Mirror’s Edge, released in 2008 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, is a cult classic. Its hordes of fans are hungry for more freerunning, and they have specific requests for the new game. Essentially, they want more: more freerunning, more city to explore, more characters to interact with and more story to absorb.

It’s Odeladhl’s job to provide these things in Catalyst, while also retaining DICE’s own creative vision for the game. Luckily, Odeladhl knows what the series’ long-time hardcore fans want — because he’s one of them.

“Personally, I’ve always felt we were doing the right thing,” he says. “But you’re always worried. You never really know if you’re doing the right thing until people actually play the game. There’s a lot of heritage with Mirror’s Edge; it was very well-received, and it’s also a very unique title. And we wanted to build on that uniqueness; we wanted to create something that was true to the first game but improved upon it in a lot of areas.”

Odeladhl joined DICE in 2006, when Mirror’s Edge was in production, but he was brought on to build Battlefield games. He caught glimpses of Mirror’s Edge around the office, and when he finally got his hands on it in 2007, he was hooked.

“I immediately wanted to work on that game,” Odeladhl says. “But it didn’t work out that way.”

He ended up building Battlefield 3 and the 2010 installment of Medal of Honor before he was offered a chance to join a group working on the new Mirror’s Edge. Odeladhl and his team pitched the game to studio executives as a reboot with a vast, open city and nonlinear storyline. They wanted a clean slate in a fresh world with plenty of space for players to freerun. It wouldn’t have guns, it would feature asynchronous multiplayer modes and Faith would reprise her role as the star.

Catalyst hasn’t changed much from that initial pitch.

“We wanted to not just create a new game but actually to build a world with a big city, the City of Glass, where you free-roam as a player, but also a world with a history and a future — political conflicts and that type of stuff,” Odeladhl says.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst has been delayed twice since its announcement. First it was pushed back from February to May of this year, and then from May 24th to June 7th (more of a two-week hiccup than a full-fledged delay). The original setback was because Odeladhl and his team requested extra time, and the second was to incorporate feedback from the game’s closed beta.

Even though it resulted in a small delay, the beta went extremely well from Odeladhl’s point of view.

“When you release games, and the internet being the internet, there’s always some negativity,” he says. “But I actually looked and I could find very little of it. That, to me, was the most surprising thing.”

Fans have waited a long while for a new Mirror’s Edge installment, but it hasn’t been in vain. Catalyst exists only because the proper amount of time has passed, allowing technology to catch up with DICE’s goals. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One finally boast enough memory and processing power to support a city on this scale (without generating a million loading screens).

“We literally couldn’t have built this game on the older consoles,” Odeladhl says. “It would have been a different game.”

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst would also be a completely different game if it was built from scratch for virtual reality. As an immersive first-person freerunning experience, it seems like an obvious candidate for VR, and series fans haven’t been quiet about that. Odeladhl and his team have certainly talked about Mirror’s Edge in VR, but it’s simply not in the cards — or the code — right now.

“The thing with VR is that it requires you to design and build for VR from the beginning,” Odeladhl says. “It’s very hard to port an experience. … Mirror’s Edge could very well work in VR, but we wanted to focus on the body awareness of a standard game now.”

DICE will release Mirror’s Edge Catalyst on June 7th, offering Faith another chance to prove the value of first-person freerunning. The City of Glass is complete and ready to be conquered; its buildings stand sleek and tall. And on top of one towering structure stands Faith, completely still, surveying the city that Odeladhl and DICE built.


World’s first 3D-printed office opens in Dubai

The world’s first 3D-printed office building opened this week in Dubai, Reuters reports. The 2,700-square-foot, single-story building was built in just 17 days using a gigantic, 20-foot tall 3D printer and a special mix of concrete, fiber reinforced plastic and glass fiber reinforced gypsum.

Although the “printer” was massive at about two stories tall, 120 feet long and 40 feet wide, it only needed one staffer to make sure it was functioning properly. The rest of the 18-person construction crew consisted of installers, electricians and mechanical engineers who completed the job for a mere $140,000 in construction and labor costs — or about half the price of a comparable structure built with conventional methods. Of course, the building is more than just another gold star in the UAE’s ultramodern playland — it will also serve, appropriately enough, as the temporary headquarters for the Dubai Future Foundation. Next year, the structure is scheduled to become the home of Dubai’s Museum of the Future.

“This is the first 3D-printed building in the world, and it’s not just a building, it has fully functional offices and staff,” the UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Mohamed Al Gergawi said. According to Gergawi, Dubai plans to have 25 percent of the buildings in the emirate built via 3D printing by the year 2030.


OtterBox Launches New uniVERSE Case Compatible With Accessories From Olloclip, Square and More

OtterBox today announced the launch of a new uniVERSE Case System, featuring a versatile OtterBox-branded protective case that’s able to be used with accessory modules from a range of companies like Square, Polar Pro, SanDisk, olloclip, Seek Thermal, and more.

Available for the iPhone 6/6s and the iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus, the uniVERSE Case System combines a slim but protective OtterBox case with a slotted rail system for attaching accessories. There’s a removable back accent plate covering the rail when the accessory modules are not in place, and there’s also a grooved edge inside the camera opening for attaching camera accessories.

“Innovation in the mobile technology world continues to evolve, and smartphones are at the center of this evolution,” said OtterBox CEO Jim Parke. “OtterBox is bringingtogether industry giants and cutting-edge innovators to create acustomizable mobile ecosystem. With uniVERSE Case System, consumers don’t have to compromise premium protection to use the amazing array of accessories that are changing how we use our phones.”

Alongside OtterBox, a number of companies are announcing new accessories designed for the uniVERSE case system. Olloclip, one of OtterBox’s first partners, is releasing its first 4-in-1 Lens kit compatible with a third-party case. Priced at $79.99, the 4-in-1 quick change Lens accessory for the uniVERSE Case features Fisheye, Wide-Angle, 10x Macro and 15x Macro lenses.

The Olloclip Lens set works with both the front and rear-facing cameras, fitting over the OtterBox case. It comes with two wearable pendants so it’s always on hand even when not in use and can be purchased starting today.

Other accessories compatible with the OtterBox uniVerse Case include a Square Contactless and Chip Reader ($49.99), the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive ($59.99 to $119.99), the Nite Ize Vent Mount Kit ($39.99), the Goal Zero Slide Battery ($59.99), the Seek Thermal Compact Camera and Seek Case ($249), the Influx Wi-Fi Booster ($39.99), and more.

The uniVERSE case for iPhone 6/6s and 6/6s Plus can be purchased from the OtterBox website starting today.

Tags: olloclip, Otterbox
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