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NVIDIA is testing its driverless car tech in California

You might see a car with a familiar logo driving around if you’re in California. The state’s DMV has added NVIDIA to the list of companies that can test their self-driving technologies on its roads, and according to The Verge, it wasted no time to get the ball rolling. While NVIDIA isn’t exactly an auto company, it designed processors for self-driving vehicles and put its own test car together, so it can take its autonomous technologies for a spin when needed. Back in September, it also announced that it’s working with Baidu to create an AI platform for driverless cars.

Automakers serious about their self-driving aspirations typically head to California for testing. Just recently, the state granted two little-known automakers (Wheego and Valeo) permission to do test drives on its roads, but its complete list includes bigger names, including Google, Honda, Ford, Mercedes, BMW and NVIDIA’s partner Baidu. You can watch NVIDIA’s AI test car named BB8 learn from a human driver in the video below:

Via: The Verge

Source: DMV


Twitter says no to law enforcement protest policing tool

Twitter has cut off access for a tool that law enforcement was using to monitor the social network for protest-specific keywords. Those included “Mikebrown,” “Blacklivesmatter” and “imunarmed” according to documents obtained by The Daily Dot. Media Sonar has been selling social media surveillance software to police departments for thousands of dollars. Twitter, for its part, cut off the firm’s API keys in October and has vowed to terminate Media Sonar’s attempts at making more.

Remember, using Twitter’s data feed for spying and surveillance is a violation of the service’s developer agreement. With the list of keywords, the Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union’s evidence suggests that Media Sonar was selling itself as a way to monitor African Americans specifically. One column groups keywords together under a heading named “Mike Brown Related.” Mike Brown was the unarmed black teenager shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.

Further documents (PDF) show that the firm pitches itself as a way to “avoid the warrant process when identifying social media accounts for particular individuals.”

What’s more, the company apparently directed law enforcement officials to not mention the Media Sonar by name in court, instead using “proprietary search engine” or “internet tools” when pressed for information under oath. It’s a far cry from issuing cyanide capsules to its customers, but still pretty telling of the company’s intent to keep its secrets safe.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has done this, and it likely won’t be the last organization to mine social media data for policing. This fall, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter cut off access to tracking systems from Geofeedia. We’ve reached out to Twitter for more information and will update this post should it arrive.

Source: The Daily Dot


Bose Hearphones make it easy to talk in noisy places

Bose’s new earbuds don’t block the outside world while you rock out to your favorite tunes. Instead, they give you the ability to focus on specific sounds, such as the voice of the person you’re talking to, and tune out what you consider ambient noise. The audio equipment maker has launched a website for the “Hearphones,” a pair of earbuds with directional microphones that gives you way to both amplify and reduce real world sounds. Say, you’re in a bar with a band playing on stage — you can adjust the Hearphones to focus on what your date is saying and to keep the music in the background.

As noticed by some users on Hacker News and on Reddit a couple of weeks ago, the Hearphones look like Bose’s QuietControl 30 with the capabilities of Doppler Labs’ Here One earbuds. The Here One buds can also block ambient noise by using the smart active listening tech their creator developed. They’ll cost you $299 when they drop in February 2017. Unfortunately, Bose hasn’t revealed how much the Hearphones will be sold for and when they’ll be available. The company uploaded the pair’s accompanying iOS app on iTunes last month, though, and even submitted a user manual to the FCC. You can at least read up on how they work while waiting for their official pricing.

Via: Hacker News

Source: Bose


Microsoft thinks people want ultra-portable headaches


Microsoft wants to hold on to the only thing they have left — desktop apps — in a mobile market where nobody wants them.

A while back I mentioned that having a third company make a big splash in mobile was sorely needed. Apple and Google holding all the chips isn’t good for anyone except Apple and Google. It was clear then, and still is now, that only one company can afford to keep trying — Microsoft. But their latest news about putting Windows 10 on ARM-powered tablets and convertibles, and rumored to come to phones, is just another way to spend money building things people probably won’t want to buy.

To be fair, they have to do something. Intel is done building low-power (and low-performing) chips designed for always-on mobile things. The future will move away from the desktop model we currently have (Steve jobs’ computer equals truck analogy will come true, just much later than he thought) and Microsoft’s history of trying to reinvent themselves in mobile has been less than spectacular. Windows as it exists on a phone or tablet, as well as Continuum, are ideas nobody asked for. I don’t have an answer and don’t claim to have ever had any. Luckily, guiding Microsoft’s mobile ambitions isn’t my job. Critiquing them while unable to do any better is. But I do have a pretty good idea of what the consumer buying public-at-large is spending their dollars on, and more of the same from Windows on a small touch device doesn’t fit in with it.

atrix-4g.jpg?itok=VMZmzvVZThis was a bad idea in 2011 and it’s a bad idea now.

If people really were jonesing to run full blown desktop Adobe photoshop on a touch screen tablet, Adobe would be making it for the iPad (and iPad sales wouldn’t be shrinking.) Adding a detachable keyboard and calling a 10-inch tablet something besides a tablet doesn’t change that. Shrinking the experience down to 6 or 7 inches and telling people they can use a keyboard, mouse and HDMI cable certainly doesn’t improve anything. Having a very expensive and very nice slim laptop with a great input pen that can run Photoshop the way it was intended makes sense and people who need Photoshop at that level surely appreciate the experience on the new Surface the same way they do on the new MacBook. The same goes for Turbo Tax and Quicken, Microsoft Access 2016, AutoCad and any of the other crazy things that have been touted as something people want to do and make the new new Windows portables the best ever. (I stopped reading comments and Tweets when someone said Visual Studio.)

The Codeweavers app lets you run Photoshop on an ASUS Zenfone if you want to — and nobody wants to.

Right about now, half of the people reading this disagree and are ready to express that in the comments. I get it, but people who visit tech blogs on weekends are hardly a representation of the average consumer. Folks still buying tablets as well as people buying phones are looking for something more simple than the computer they left at the office Friday at quitting time. Instead of Steam and Civ 6, they want Temple Run with Mario when it comes to something small they hold in their hands. The same goes for Photoshop — the experience for iOS and Android is good but it can get a little complicated. Yet it’s miles away from what you would see on Windows 10. People are buying devices that are cheap and easy to use. Apple and Google see this and are trying to make things even more simple. The things that tech-savvy folks think of as dumbing down are the very same things that let people not worry about how to do things and instead, they can just do them.

I don’t know what Microsoft should do to prepare for the end of the desktop cash cow. But I know what isn’t likely to sell.

I’m not saying this is a good thing, but it is a thing. I don’t want to see OS X turn into MacOS (for example) but Apple isn’t making products that Jerry wants to buy; they are making products that most people want to buy. Marshmallow did some things better than Nougat does for this power-user nerd. Microsoft hanging on to their legacy of desktop software to drive a new mobile strategy may be cool to some of us, but I think an iPad or Chromebook is going to be a better choice for most people because they are simple and do all the things most people want.


Paris cinema chain lets you pay to test-drive VR headsets

The tech industry is banking on VR, but most folks have never even tested a headset like the Oculus Rift, let alone plunked down $500-plus to buy one. In France, at least, it’s about to become easier to try them out, thanks to a Paris movie theater chain called MK2. It’s launched a virtual reality experience featuring the latest games and videos on the Rift, Sony’s PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive. At $25 for 40 minutes, you can play games like The Climb and Star Wars Battlefront: Mission X-Wing VR, watch VR films, or fly over Manhattan in the Birdly motion sim.

“MK2 VR is the first facility in France dedicated to the best VR experiences in films, documentaries, video games and even flying motion sims,” said GM Elisha Karmitz. The company is piloting the idea at a 3,000-square-foot space located at MK2’s flagship cinema in the southeast of Paris and granted me a visit before today’s opening.

The company is trying to balance the cutting-edge technology with accessibility and chic decor. The wood, glass and metal VR space housing the 12 VR “pods” is cozy, but appears bigger thanks to large windows and a high ceiling. While waiting your turn, you can buy drinks in a tent-covered tiki-style bar that was still under construction when I visited.

The pods are arranged around a circular station with various games and headsets hung by cables that make them easy to don and safely limit your motion. Some titles require you to stand and others are better seated, and there’s also the Birdly flying motion sim and pair of Holodia rowing trainers set up for racing.

MK2 will have plenty of staff on hand to help customers at the stations. “It’s really important that we bring the VR experience to people who don’t know VR,” Karmitz said. “So there will be approximately one employee for every three consumers, who will help them put on the headset and launch the experience.” There are also tech staff on hand to handle the headsets and MSI computers, equipped with NVIDIA GeForce 1080 cards and Intel Core i7-6700K CPUs.

For the Oculus Rift, you can try Homebound Joyride, an exclusive, faster-moving version of the standalone VR title, as well as The Climb, a rock-climbing game that uses the just-released Oculus Touch controllers. Newcomers can watch Introduction to VR, a 360-degree, 3D video for Oculus Rift produced by MK2 in collaboration with Parisian VR studio Félix & Paul.

HTC Vive fans can check out the Birdly and Holofit motion sims, Space Pirate Trainer shooting arcade, and The Walk, a title that puts you on a vertigo-inducing gangplank nearly 1,000 feet over the streets of Manhattan.

On the Playstation VR, meanwhile, you can experience a simulated dive and shark attack in Ocean Descent VR, try Star Wars Battlefront Rogue One: Mission X-Wing VR, or play Ubisoft’s Eagle Flight — another flying game, this one set appropriately in Paris. From December 9th to 31st, MK2 VR will offer an exclusive Assassin’s Creed VR experience for PS VR from the long-awaited Michael Fassbender film, set to arrive on December 21st.

The Birdly flying VR motion sim on HTC Vive at the MK2 VR grand opening (image credit: MK2/©HLenie)

While I was there, I checked out Birdly, an HTC Vive motion sim that that you can lie down on and control by tilting two paddles back and forth. It lifts, pitches and tilts to match the headset motion which creates some strong sensations, especially the first time you dive directly toward the ground. I also tried out The Climb on Oculus Rift, a rock-climbing game that takes advantage of the Touch controllers and will also test your fear of heights.

Finally, I tested Star Wars Battlefront Rogue One: X-Wing VR Mission, a brand-new Playstation VR title. With the ability to look around the highly detailed cockpit and the galaxy, it’s one of the best flight combat sims I’ve ever tried.

The experience runs €12 for 20 minutes, or €20 (around $25) for 40 minutes, and you’re free to check out any games or sims you want. While that might seem like a lot compared to a movie, my experience shows that it’s a cheap way to try out all three headsets, back to back, if you’re still trying to figure out which to buy.

Meanwhile, if you already own a headset it’s a great way to test games before spending up to $700 to buy one. MK2 has managed to score some exclusive deals with publishers, getting titles as soon as they’re released, as well as special versions that condense the action.

Karmitz also thinks the experience will make for a fun night out for a group of friends, especially with the option to loosen up with a few drinks before jumping into the games. Additionally, the company is pitching it as a corporate-bonding experience and will rent out the space for private groups.

MK2 VR is piloting the experience at one Paris theater but hopes to expand to others if it works out. Their execution looks solid, but since it’s one of the first such VR spaces out there, it’s hard to say whether it’ll succeed financially. The concept makes a lot of sense, though. Considering how expensive console and PC-based VRs are, most people are going to want to try before they buy. And, as is the way in Paris, why not do it while partying with your friends?


Inside Adidas’ new tech-infused store in New York City

Not to be outdone by Nike, Adidas has also opened up a new flagship store in New York City. And, just like its rival, the German company packed the space with loads of technology. Inside the four-story, 45,000-square-foot space, located on the corner of 5th Avenue and 46th Street, you’ll find a virtual reality experience and a wearable system designed to help you find the best running shoe. Let’s take a look at what other tech Adidas is featuring at its biggest retail store yet.

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