Japan’s top tech show, CEATEC, was held this week in Chiba, just outside Tokyo. And although it has always been traditionally known as a consumer electronics event, this year the show’s organisers took a sharp turn and focused on IoT instead.
The result was a futuristic show with many companies showing off prototypes and future tech. We were there to check them out.
Getting right into the spirit of things was Panasonic with a large display of its latest innovations and aspirations for the next three to five years.
Best gadgets of CEATEC 2016: Bendy batteries
A flexible Lithium-Ion battery was a real show stopper, mainly because it’s due for release at the end of the month. The battery can be flexed or twisted repeatedly without degrading and will most likely be used in wearable devices or smart clothing. Maybe we’ll even see bendable phones come to fruition too, as have been talked about for a while.
Best gadgets of CEATEC 2016: Panasonic’s future smarthome
Panasonic also showed several concept technologies that could really improve home life.
We particularly warmed up to its future kitchen. It included a snazzy drinks fridge/wine cooler which not only stores your drinks at three different optimum temperatures but also displays information on the ideal serving temps and glasses. It also gives you background information such as the origin and ingredients of your booze. You should never be at a loss to accurately describe your wine or sake collection again.
For those with smaller kitchens or who like smooth uncluttered lines Panasonic does away with ugly stove tops, proposing a conductive unit that doubles as a regular surface when you’re not using it to cook. If your kitchen is even too small for that, how about cooking your food straight on the plate? Simply pop off the protective cover and your dinner can be microwaved right on a tabletop.
Future living room
Forget flatscreen TVs, within five years you could have a clear glass display that transforms into a television screen. One minute you’re displaying an antique vase and giving off the impression of being super sophisticated and highbrow, flick a switch and you could soon be enjoying Netflix.
In the bedroom, Panasonic showed off a prototype Smart Mirror which can assess your skin’s condition, map blemishes and then print out nano-metre thick cover patches to allow you to achieve a flawless complexion without piling on the make-up products.
It can also assess the condition of your skin, including wrinkles, fine lines and not yet visible damage. While it all sounds great there are a couple of complications. The printer is large and presumably only serves that one function. And the company is still looking for a partner to develop this concept with. We imagine it will get both smaller and more sophisticated when that happens. Hopefully.
Best gadgets of CEATEC 2016: Lenovo’s own smart mirror
Lenovo was also showing off a smart mirror: the ThinkMirror. This one is more focused on lifestyle with an accompanying smart scale which feeds your body stats, such as BMI and bone density, to the mirror which then displays them.
It can also suggest exercises and inform you of how many calories you burnt carrying them out. Again, the one on show was only a prototype, and not one that the company’s representatives were comfortable with demoing on actual people, so that suggests it is far from ready.
However, the developer thought that it is something that could be ready by next year. If that’s the case, it seems like both Panasonic and Lenovo will be pipped at the post by a third option: Cal-Comp’s HiMirror. It combines skin analysis and a smart scale, and it’s set to launch this October.
Best gadgets of CEATEC 2016: Fancy a massage?
Also on the home front, we’ve been to Asia often enough to get used to electronic massage chairs but we have to say that Inada’s Lupinus is in another league.
The chair has large pads in the foot and leg well which act like hands applying pressure along your limbs. The same goes for your arms, which are usually neglected.
We really liked the way the chair manipulated your body by stretching it out before applying different massage techniques. It also has pads to press down on your shoulders, which allows pressure to be properly applied. There’s a display on the side showing you which actions are coming up next and all-in-all it was a thorough massage. We started off the day with a stiff shoulder and have to say after 15 minutes in the chair it was totally gone.
It’ll set you back a pretty penny though at a shade over £3,500.
Best gadgets of CEATEC 2016: Kirobi – Toyota’s mini robot
Toyota’s biggest draw at the show was the adorable Kirobi; the firm’s new mini robot. The tiny companion was officially announced on 3 October and will launch in Japan in early 2017. Pre-orders are now currently being accepted.
The thinking behind the Kirobi is that Toyota would like to get closer to its customers by providing a personalised experience. The genderless, child-like robot fits in the palm of your hand. And we have to admit that, when held, it did mange to feel cute. The size, weight and slightly oversized head do inspire certain protective instincts – maternal even.
However, when we asked the engineer who it is designed it for, rather than immediately referencing young childless women – as much of this week’s coverage pointed to – they instead said young women, the elderly who might like a bit of extra company, and families with small kids.
Kirobi only speaks and responds to Japanese at present but it cleverly recognised our rather poorly-pronounced attempts. It responds in a voice reminiscent of a five year-old’s. We asked it how it was (“very well”) and it then announced it felt like going to see some animals. When we asked which was Kirobi’s favourite animal it said it wasn’t sure yet.
As you communicate with your mini robot it sends information back to the cloud and begins to develop its own memories. Not only will it realise and comment on arriving at a place a second time (using GPS, but shhh don’t tell the kids or grandpa that) but each Kirobi will eventually have different personalities. After three years, say, should you take one person’s Kirobi and swop it with another, they will have totally different memories stored and therefore have developed differently.
Kirobi can also recognise moods through the camera between its overlarge Kawaii eyes and at one point in our demo – admittedly when we were trying hard to remember some Japanese – suggested that we ought to cheer up and try to smile a bit.
Its just 10cm tall and weighs 180g – although when we asked Kirobi how much he weighed he considered the question for a moment and responded, “About the same as an apple.”
It was a lot more certain of its birthday though, gleefully declaring it to be 3 October. Kirobi mini is currently only confirmed to be available in Japanese (which is great if you need a language partner), but Toyota isn’t ruling out introducing other languages in the future.
Best gadgets of CEATEC 2016: VR hangliding
We tried virtual parachuting last June at Taipei’s Computex, so we couldn’t resist trying out a VR hanglide at CEATEC. The graphics were far more complete than the student-developed version we previously tried.
Players are strapped onto a platform with a control bar to hold onto. Although the flight was preset it was fun to be lifted up for real, then swooping down into a volcano in the VR world and through rocky arches across the sea. The demo booth even had a fan going to imitate air flow.
Best gadgets of CEATEC 2016: Robot table tennis tutor
Keeping on the gaming theme, fancy playing a game of ping pong against what essentially looks like a giant Tripod?
Forpheus is the world’s first robot table tennis tutor, as certified by the Guinness Book of Records. We had a go and while our skill level was pretty rubbish to begin with, we soon improved. Unfortunately, so did our opponent. The mammoth machine actually adjusts its skill level as you get better yourself.
Although Omron, the company behind it, is pushing smart machines to intuitively help in factory production we have to say we were glad to be taught a lesson or two ourselves. Sadly our skill level was pretty low, climbing to just four and half, but it would be great to see someone with real skills take on Forpheus.
Best gadgets of CEATEC 2016: Honda’s 3D printed electric car
Honda is pushing the boundaries of 3D printing with a printed electric car, also shown at CEATEC.
The model on the showfloor was produced for a Kanagawa-based biscuit company, in conjunction with design agency Kabuku. That’s why the single-seater delivery van was decorated in an intricate 3D pattern from the company’s boxes.
It only took 20 hours to print out the shell which is then assembled and placed on the axle and car base. Neither company was willing to disclose how much the cars retailed for but should you want to spot one they should be buzzing around Kamakura town from early next year – subject to approval from Japan’s department of transport.
Other designs showed included one with a surfboard holder on the side. As the designer from Kabuku pointed out, the great thing about 3D printing a car is the freedom that it allows in terms of shape and form.
Although CEATEC is still a relatively small tech show, the push towards the IoT is a welcome change and we hope that the organisers will build on this to grow as a more innovative show in the years to come.
Microsoft has sent invites to the media for an autumn hardware event.
The event is happening on 26 October at 10 am ET in New York City. Pocket-lint’s press invite is stamped with an “Image what you’ll do” tagline, as are other versions of the invite that are floating around.
According to ZDNet, which said the theme of the event will be “The next chapter in the Windows story”, we can expect OEM devices, Microsoft Surface device news, and some gaming updates. A Surface Phone is not expected until sometime later, if Microsoft doesn’t ditch the project, and Microsoft officials already confirmed there’d be no new Band this year.
Previous reports have claimed Microsoft is readying three all-in-one PC desktops and that it would hold a hardware event in late October to launch them. These Surface-branded devices currently go by the codename Cardinal, might come in 21-inch, 24-inch, and 27-inch screen sizes, and likely use the same Perceptive Pixel screen tech found in Surface Hub.
Apart from the all-in-one Surface PCs, Microsoft will primarily spotlight new hardware such as laptops and tablets from Windows 10 device manufacturers. Other Surface devices, including the recently leaked Surface keyboard and mouse, should appear at the autumn event as well. We also might hear news on the next Windows 10 “Redstone 2” update.
Minor refreshes to existing Surface tablets is plausible too. However, the Surface Book 2, Surface Pro 5, and Atom-based Surface 3 probably won’t debut this calendar year. The Verge claimed the company isn’t planning to update its Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book devices at the autumn event, because it will unveil laptops and devices from OEMs instead.
Microsoft will also focus on its vision for the future of Windows 10, such as new features in Windows 10, which it reportedly plans to introduce via two major software updates next year, as well as some Xbox-related announcements, as those new Windows 10 features will tie into its Xbox gaming strategy.
Check out Pocket-lint’s Microsoft hub for related news.
Google unveiled its fancy new Pixel phone during a press event on Tuesday. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s an impressive handset, with VR capabilities, a fast-charging battery, supposedly the best-ever phone camera, a super-smart AI assistant and Android 7.1. It’s also the harbinger of death for the current line of Google Nexus smartphones.
As soon CEO Sundar Pichai announced the Pixel on-stage, Google set about scrubbing listings for the Nexus 5X and 6P from its online store. If you want to buy one of them direct from Google now, you’re out of luck. You can however still get one through Google Fi if you don’t mind switching carriers. So what are consumers who have recently purchased these phones (*raises hand*) to do? Does the introduction of the Pixel mean that Nexus owners are on their own, hemmed in by a Nougat 7.0 ceiling, relegated to the technological sidelines until our service contracts expire and we’re free to upgrade?
Turns out, the situation isn’t quite as dire as I feared. Per Google, the company will continue to support existing handsets (think: customer service, software updates and the like), but the company has no plans to build any more Nexus-branded products.
Although there are definitely some features that will remain exclusive to the Pixel handsets themselves, a Google rep told me that a number of them will eventually spread to the rest of the Android ecosystem. Assistant, for example, will start off as a Pixel exclusive and probably won’t be porting to other devices any time soon. Daydream VR support, though, will be available on day one for any Android device new enough to accept the Nougat 7.1 upgrade.
All told, the Pixel will ship with the following exclusives: the Pixel launcher, Google Assistant, screen sharing and various UI/wallpaper tweaks. It will also be the only one to offer the Pixel camera (obvs) as well as Smart Storage, and unlimited space on Google Photos. Plus the Pixel is the first Android phone to offer a quick switch adapter that ports content from your old phone, so of course that’s an exclusive too. Again, some of these features will eventually find their way to other phones, some will not. It depends on a litany of marketing and technological factors so Google isn’t publicly saying what or when just yet.
That said, our Nexuses are not chopped liver. When Nougat 7.1 arrives, you can look forward to a slew of new software features. These include Night Light, touch and display performance improvements, Daydream VR mode and a new manual storage manager that will allow users to see which apps are using the most onboard memory. The update will also enable Moves: an opt-in gesture-based feature that will open or close the notifications slider.
So, no, Nexus owners aren’t going to get Assistant or a fancy new camera — those are the perks of riding the early-adopter train — but we’re not being left in the wilds to fend for ourselves either. Plus, no matter which handset you have, Nougat 7.1 is going to give us VR and that’s something everyone can get excited about.
A replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7 started smoking and burned through the carpet on board a Southwest flight this week. Following the incident, one US carrier is allowing owners to exchange those replacement devices even though the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) hasn’t issued a formal warning or recall yet. Sprint confirmed to Engadget it will allow customers to return their replacement Note 7 for another device at its retail stores “during the investigation window.” The carrier says that it’s working with Samsung “to better understand the most recent concerns” with the handset.
Here’s Sprint’s full statement on the matter:
“Sprint is working collaboratively with Samsung to better understand the most recent concerns regarding replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is also investigating the Note 7 replacement device. At this time, CPSC has not specifically said if customers should or should not use the replacement model. If a Sprint customer with a replacement Note 7 has any concerns regarding their device, we will exchange it for any other device at any Sprint retail store during the investigation window. We will provide additional information when the investigation has concluded.”
So, what if you’re on T-Mobile, AT&T or Verizon? Well, Recode reports T-Mobile will accept returns so long as they fall within its normal 14-day “remorse” policy. The carrier began offering replacement Note 7s to customers on September 21st, so if you got one that day, the return window has already closed. T-Mobile began selling the phone to new customers this week, so they still have time to take it back. We’ve asked the carrier for more info on the return process and we’ll let you know when/if its responds.
AT&T confirmed to Engadget that it will also allow customers to exchange replacement Galaxy Note 7s for another phone. We also reached out to Verizon on the matter and haven’t heard back. When or if we do, we’ll update this post with more information. Both carriers have 14-day return policies similar to T-Mobile, but again, if you picked up a replacement on the 21st, that exchange period has already run out.
Update: This post has been updated to reflect AT&T confirmed that it too would offer exchanges.
Via: 9to5 Google
Online classified ad site Backpage.com has been going through legal turmoil for years, and with good reason — there’s plenty of evidence that the site’s “adult” section has been a haven of sex trafficking, including some advertisements for sexual encounters with minors. All those issues are hitting the company in a big way today: CEO Carl Ferrer and founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin were charged today in California on charges of conspiracy and pimping a minor, reports The New York Times.
Ferrer was arrested Thursday in Texas and is awaiting an extradition hearing to return him to California, while Lacey and Larkin haven’t been apprehended just yet. The affidavit for the warrant claims that the defendants “have known that their website is the United States hub for the illegal sex trade and that many of the people advertised for commercial sex on Backpage are victims of sex trafficking, including children.” The charges come after a three-year joint investigation between Texas and California.
Earlier this year, a congressional investigation found that Backpage would edit some of its classified ads to disguise the fact they were selling the services of minors. The US Senate issued subpoenas for documents relating to how the company screens its ads, a request that went unfulfilled. The Senate then held the company in contempt in an effort to force a response to its subpoenas. Ferrer himself was subpoenaed about a year ago, but didn’t show up.
It sounds like the case against Ferrer and the company’s co-founders is pretty strong — documents filed included interviews with children who were forced to take out ads on Backpage. One 15-year-old girl said she was forced into prostitution at the age of 13 and that the company has been profiting from prostitution for years. “I mean really, coming from someone my age, there is too much access, like it’s too easy for people get on it and post an ad,” the unnamed minor said. It’ll likely be a while before these cases are seen through to a conclusion, but these arrests are an important step towards shutting down a site that appears to be engaged in seriously unsavory activity.
Source: The New York Times
By Melanie Pinola
This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article here.
Of the dozen ergonomic keyboards we’ve tested since 2014, the Microsoft Sculpt Ergo is the most comfortable model for most people. It’s the only one to meet all of our ergonomic criteria, including a separate number pad and support for both negative tilt and vertical “tenting.” The Sculpt Ergo’s manta-ray-like design puts your hands in the most natural and comfortable position for long bouts of typing, and it’s a solid wireless keyboard with keys that are crisp and satisfying to press.
Who this is for
If you type often and are concerned about your posture or experiencing hand, arm, or shoulder pain, an ergonomic keyboard can help you better position your body. Although there’s no clear evidence that ergonomic keyboards can prevent carpal tunnel syndrome or other kinds of repetitive-stress injuries, alternative keyboards can help reduce strain. If you’ve been diagnosed with carpal tunnel or RSI, consult your doctor for advice specific to you.
A primer on good keyboard ergonomics
Regular keyboards can force your hands closer together, causing your wrists to bend to the side unnaturally. This bending is called ulnar deviation, and the position puts pressure on your ulnar nerve. To counter this effect, most ergonomic keyboards split their layouts and position keys at an angle so that your hands can lie flat on the keys.
Another common issue is extension—bending your arm upward at the wrist so that your fingers can reach keys on a keyboard that’s taller in the back—which puts excessive pressure on the median nerve. You can alleviate this condition by using a keyboard with negative tilt, which prevents extension by angling your forearms slightly downward. In most cases, if you improve your posture and select a different keyboard, you can find some relief. Check out our full guide for more information on proper keyboard ergonomics.
How we picked and tested
For this update, we retested our top picks and brought in three additional keyboards based on new advice and research from ergonomics experts. Photo: Melanie Pinola
Based on advice from experts in ergonomics and keyboard design, we looked at ergonomic keyboards with a split design (whether a fixed or complete split); a low profile; clicky, responsive keys; a negative tilt; and no built-in numeric keypad, so you can have the mouse closer to you.
We researched 21 models and then tested four by using each keyboard for four days to write, email, and browse the Web, switching to a different keyboard halfway through each day so that each keyboard got equal time in the mornings, when there was less likely to be fatigue, and in the evenings, when achiness was most noticeable. Since comfort is subjective, we also consulted the opinions of a five-person testing panel to compare their opinions on each keyboard’s comfort, feel, and efficiency when typing.
The Microsoft Sculpt Ergo meets all our ergonomic criteria, making it the best choice for most people. Photo: Melanie Pinola
The Microsoft Sculpt Ergo is the only keyboard we tested that offers both tenting—rotating the wrists properly to avoid ulnar deviation—and a negative tilt to prevent extension. The Sculpt Ergo also includes low-profile, clicky keys, plus a number pad that’s separate from the main keyboard. It meets all of our ergonomic criteria for less than half the price of our other main contenders. Most people who don’t already have consistent keyboard-related pain will likely find it more comfortable to use for hours on end compared with a traditional keyboard.
In my testing, the keyboard’s large, curved palm rest was comfortable to rest my hands on, and the keys were responsively springy and easy to press. Because the Sculpt Ergo’s keys are shallow and laptop-style, I didn’t have to bend my wrists excessively upward to type or to rest my fingers on the home-row keys. After full days of typing on the Sculpt Ergo, I felt very little, if any, increase in fatigue or achiness in my hands or elbows compared with using a regular keyboard.
The one drawback of the Sculpt Ergo is that it’s a fixed keyboard, which means you can’t adjust the angle of the negative tilt or tenting, nor the distance of the split between the left and right sections. While that design makes the keyboard easier to set up and use for most people, if you have broad shoulders, suffer from shoulder pain, or tend to rotate your wrists more, you should opt for a fully split, adjustable keyboard.
The Matias Ergo Pro is a fully split ergonomic keyboard with excellent mechanical keys. Photo: Melanie Pinola
If you have consistent aches while typing, if you need more customization, or if the Sculpt Ergo doesn’t fit your body’s ergonomic needs, the Matias Ergo Pro may be better for you. The Ergo Pro is a fully split mechanical keyboard with layouts for both Mac and Windows. You can tent the Ergo Pro’s keyboard halves or tilt them away from you, and the completely split design means you can position the keyboard halves for optimal wrist, shoulder, and arm comfort. Unlike the Microsoft Sculpt Ergo, the Matias Ergo Pro doesn’t support both tenting and negative tilt at the same time. But because it’s more adjustable than the other models we tested, the Ergo Pro is more ergonomic for a wider swath of comfort needs.
A Bluetooth option
The Kinesis Freestyle2 Blue can connect to up to three devices via Bluetooth. Photo: Melanie Pinola
If you want a fully split keyboard without lots of messy wires, or if you’d like to use the keyboard for both your computer and your mobile gadgets, the Kinesis Freestyle2 Blue—available in Mac and Windows versions—is your best option. The VIP3 accessory is a must-have for getting the most ergonomic benefits from this keyboard; with it, you can tent the halves to a steeper angle than our other picks. While the Freestyle2 Blue’s keys were our least favorite among our picks, the keyboard worked flawlessly for typing on a desktop computer and on mobile devices. This Bluetooth model connects wirelessly and supports multi-device pairing, and the fully split design lets you customize the position of the keyboard halves. If you frequently switch between devices or you hate messy cables, the Freestyle2 Blue is the best wireless ergonomic keyboard we’ve seen.
This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.
The third season of Charlie Brooker’s dark, technology-infused drama Black Mirror is almost upon us. The show is known for its bleak but surprisingly believable depictions of the future, where society has pursued revelatory technologies — only to discover some unsettling consequences. The show started on Channel 4 in the UK, but has since been picked up by Netflix for season three. The first proper trailer dropped today, teasing some of the storylines that will play out in each of the six episodes. There are plenty of familiar faces, including Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World), Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones) and Michael Kelly (House of Cards).
The first batch of episodes will drop on October 21st. Netflix has commissioned 12 episodes, however, so a second set — which most people are now referring to as season four — will be released at a later date.
It has been a busy few weeks for the big tech companies making major announcements and we’re not done yet. Microsoft announced today that it will host a Windows 10 event October 26th in New York City at 10:00 AM ET. The company didn’t get into specifics on the invite or social media posts, but if it’s keeping an yearly update timeline for new Surface Pros, perhaps we’ll see a new model later this month. The Surface Pro 4 was revealed in early October last year after all. Of course, there’s sure to be some discussion on the latest developments for Windows 10 as well, and we’ll be there to bring you all the news live as it happens.
Please join us Oct. 26 to see what’s next for Windows 10. #MicrosoftEvent https://t.co/mNAhcpNeso pic.twitter.com/yqRC6ZcDQ2
— Microsoft (@Microsoft) October 7, 2016
There’s no shortage of event-finding apps for your smartphone. YPlan, Eventbrite, Songkick — the list goes on and on. Facebook’s dream of being your go-to event planner is no secret, and today it’s taking a huge swipe at its specialized competitors with a new, standalone app of its own. Available first on iOS, the aptly named “Events” gives you a filtered feed with all of your friends’ activity. So if they’ve said they’re “interested” in a nearby food market, you’ll see it immediately — no need to trawl through the News Feed, or hunt for the appropriate section inside the main Facebook app.
There’s a search tab too, which lets you filter events by time or location. An image-heavy carousel sits further down with suggestions, pulled presumably from your Likes, history and geographical whereabouts. Finally, there’s a search box if you want to get specific. The calendar tab, accessible at the bottom, will give you an overview of everything you’ve signed up for. It’s not a full calendar app — but if you’re struggling to keep up with your Facebook-related engagements, maybe this can help.
Events’ utility is obvious. Facebook has a massive audience, one that’s attracted almost every type of business and event organiser. That interest has led to a huge number of listings, which could appeal to an equally huge number of people online. Facebook’s job is to pair the two groups together — a simple challenge, you might think, but one that’s grown harder as the platform’s priorities have broadened. Video, livestreaming, friendship anniversary reminders — it’s easy for events to get lost amongst the rest of the social noise. A standalone app could bring them back to the fore.
Source: Events (iOS)
Sports reputation as being DVR-proof has led some leagues to try and tightly control how and where their highlights show up online. While the NBA is relatively loose about allowing its clips on YouTube or Twitter, the NFL has gone after websites for posting video or GIFs before, and the Olympics banned outlets from posting GIFs this summer. Now, a leaked memo obtained by TheMMQB and Mashable reveals how the NFL can go after its own teams for posts by their social media accounts. Now, teams can be fined for exceeding the limits on video and any moving content (read: GIFs) posted during the 60 minutes before a game or during the game.
As noted by Pro Football Talk, these new rules actually loosen restrictions that had existed on using video from games, and recorded at the stadium on gameday. But the penalties put in place mean that for a first-time violation, a team could be fined $25,000 for an offending post, which ramps up to $50,000 the second time, and $100,000 plus the loss of rights to post league content for a third strike.
Mashable revealed that banned behavior includes tweeting video during the restricted time period, other than resharing video from official league accounts. While the ban on gametime GIFs (even for content that’s not from the game itself) could be reviewed going forward, it seems likely that your preferred team’s social media account will become a lot less personal while the game is happening. The big question however, is whether the NFL just wants more control over valuable game video and reach when the most people are paying attention, or if it’s worried about ratings that, through the first quarter of the season, have noticeable declined?
Source: TheMMQB, Mashable, Pro Football Talk