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17
Dec

Top 10 Best Shooters for VR


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What are the best shooters for VR?

One of the biggest genres in console and PC gaming is the shooter – an instantly recognizable concept with wide appeal. This appeal has also extended to virtual reality, putting players right into the center of the battle zone.

There are plenty of shooters on all VR platforms, but here are the ones we think are best suited for your library!

Read more at VR Heads!

17
Dec

Where to buy the Xiaomi Mi Box in the U.S.


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The least expensive full Android TV box you can buy is a bit scarce in U.S. retail.

Though the new Xiaomi Mi Box has been on sale in the U.S. since October, it’s been a little tough to get your hands on one. Most major retailers have yet to start selling the boxes, and many that have don’t have consistent stock or pricing. If you’re still looking to get your hands on this $69 Android TV box, we’ve rounded up all of the best places to buy it.

Buy the Mi Box at Walmart

The biggest U.S. retailer offering the Mi Box is Walmart, though stock can be hit or miss. You may have to check local availability in a nearby store, but chances are if you check back often you’ll be able to get one online and have it shipped. You’ll pay the standard $69 price and get free shipping if you order online, or free in-store pickup if not.

See at Walmart

Buy the Mi Box directly from Xiaomi

Xiaomi’s own mi.com store has many of its products available for sale directly to the U.S., and the Mi Box is one of them. It has the proper pricing of $69 for its latest Android TV box, and is offering free standard shipping (4-8 business days) as well. Xiaomi has historically been a little slow to ship since it’s shipping directly from China, but then again it’s often a good idea to order directly from the manufacturer when possible.

See at Xiaomi

Buy the Mi Box at Newegg

At the time of writing Newegg doesn’t have its own listing for the Mi Box, but is instead listing it for a partner store that has marked up the price a little bit to $99. That’s still a solid deal for this box and may be worth it if you prefer to shop from Newegg, but we’d recommend this as a last resort if the other places with the proper retail price don’t have stock when you’re looking to buy.

See at Newegg

Buy the Mi Box at Amazon

As is often the case for new and hard-to-get tech, Amazon is pretty swarmed with resellers that are trying to mark up and make some extra money on the Mi Box. There are a lot of confusing listings for either older versions or Chinese models of the Mi Box, which you don’t want, but there is a legitimate item listing where you can go for the proper version. At the time of writing you’ll be buying from a reseller at a markup, but then again you may be okay with that in exchange for being able to buy from Amazon with the discounts and buyer protection that’s included.

See at Amazon

17
Dec

Six DIY gadgets that improve life in the developing world


By Cat DiStasio

Around the world, inventors are coming up with amazing DIY gadgets perfectly suited for use in rural and off-grid areas. These gadgets translate into a huge improvement in quality of life for those who use them, by paving the way for affordable housing made from mud, effective energy-free lighting where there was previously darkness, and easy access to clean water. A 14-year-old Indian inventor even created a clever way to quickly launder clothes without electricity. With each of these innovations comes a story of true creativity triumphing over necessity, resulting in a simple, low-cost product that leaves a lasting impact on the lives of people who use them.

3D-printed mud homes

The world’s largest delta-style 3D printer stands 40 feet tall and can “print” a house from mud for around $50. The homes take advantage of the natural insulating properties of earth, and they can be made for close to zero cost using locally available materials. The 3D printer can lay down around three feet of mud each day, pausing at certain intervals for doors and windows to be manually installed. Hundreds of thousands of people are in need of new housing structures each year, according to the United Nations, and solutions like these could address the issue.

DIY solar desalination machine

Water is essential for life, but it can be hard to come by in the Gaza region. One local man took his water needs into his own hands by creating a DIY solar desalination machine that can generate 2.6 gallons of fresh water in a single day. Fayez al-Hindi built a simple distillation tank on his roof that separates clean water from pollutants and salt, which supplies his family with just enough fresh water for their daily needs. Taking his DIY effort a step farther, al-Hindi also helps other local residents build their own distillation systems, since 90 percent of the local drinking water is considered unsafe for human consumption following decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Zero-energy air conditioner

In many of the hottest places on Earth, electricity is rare or inconsistent, which means air conditioning as we know it is simply not a thing. However, it’s still possible to reap the benefits of cool air indoors with this incredible DIY device made from plastic bottles. In Bangladesh, Ashis Paul developed an air conditioner that involves a square board cut to the size of a window, through which empty plastic bottles are mounted. The Eco Cooler system is hung over a home’s existing open window, and the plastic bottles catch the passing breeze and literally funnel it indoors, creating a gently soothing flow of slightly cooler air. Amazing, the system is capable of lowering inside temperatures up to five degrees Celsius.

Simple solar light tubes

In another genius reuse of plastic bottles, the My Shelter Foundation discovered a way to use them to light up Manila’s slums, where electricity is hard to come by. A plastic bottle filled with water and a little bleach can be mounted through a home’s rooftop, transforming it into a solar tube that draws in and disperses daylight. Homes that were once shrouded in complete darkness — even in the middle of the day — become flooded with light. This simple DIY project costs next to nothing, yet has a profoundly positive impact on the quality of life for people who were previously stuck living in the dark.

Pedal-powered clothes washer

If you’re lucky enough to have a washing machine in your home, you probably take for granted how easy it is to turn dirty clothes into clean clothes in the time it takes to binge watch a few episodes of your favorite Netflix show. Much of the world’s population is still forced to wash their laundry in a river or stream, though, which is a laborious and time-consuming process. Remya Jose, a 14-year-old from India, invented a washing machine powered by bicycle pedals which uses a minimal amount of water and just a little human elbow grease to scrub clothes clean. Her device is extremely simple, yet it can save people huge amounts of time and energy — which they can invest in other areas of life. Now in her mid-20s, Jose works at India’s National Foundation, where she creates new inventions to help rural communities in her home country.

$100 upcycled 3D printer

West African inventor Kodjo Afate Gnikou wanted to make a 3D printer, but couldn’t afford the parts. So he found them. He sourced materials from broken scanners, computers, printers and other e-waste to build a working 3D printer that costs around $100 — just a fraction of the price of commercially available models. The inventor belongs to the local hackerspace WoeLab, and he is working to make machines from recycled e-waste to prepare for missions on Mars. Diverting e-waste from landfills is a huge local win, but creating a functional tool out of garbage makes the innovation even more valuable. Through his upcycled inventions, Gnikou aims to “put technology into needy hands and give Africa the opportunity… to play the first role in a more virtuous industrial revolution.”

17
Dec

Recommended Reading: How Russia hacked the US


The Perfect Weapon:
How Russian Cyberpower
Invaded the US

Eric Lipton, David E.
Sanger and Scott Shane,
The New York Times

Within the last week, the CIA, Obama administration and FBI have all agreed that Russian intervened in the presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump. The White House went so far as to say that the cyberattacks were directed by president Vladimir Putin himself. The New York Times offers a detailed look at the Russian hack of the DNC which led to emails and other documents making it into the hands of WikiLeaks and other websites.

If Only AI Could Save Us from Ourselves
David Auerbach, MIT Technology Review

Google wants to use AI to fight abusive behavior online. It may not work for bigger sites and services, but there’s still potential to do some good.

150 Filmmakers Ask Nikon and Canon to Sell Encrypted Cameras
Andy Greenberg, Wired

Unlike your phone or computer, if someone gets a hold of your camera, the images and footage are fair game. A group of filmmakers want two big camera companies to do something about it.

Inside The Turmoil At Faraday Future, The Startup That Wants To Beat Tesla
Priya Anand, BuzzFeed News

Faraday Future has been teasing its upcoming luxury EV for a while now and says it’s still on track to unveil a vehicle at CES next month. According to BuzzFeed, the company is facing a mountain of financial troubles that may put its milestone sin jeopardy.

A Big Change to US Broadcasting Is Coming — and It’s One Putin Might Admire
The Washington Post

The Washington Post penned an explanation of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that will get rid of a national broadcasting board in favor of a chief executive that will be appointed by the president.

17
Dec

AirPods Begin Shipping to Customers in the U.S.


After going up for order on Tuesday, Apple’s AirPods have now been marked as “shipped” for the first wave of customers who were lucky enough to order their pair before delivery estimates slipped to four weeks, and then six weeks. Now, many users based in the United States have taken to Twitter and Reddit to share that their AirPods shipments are on the way.

Delivery dates still vary slightly among customers, but the average estimates suggest deliveries on either December 20 or December 21. AirPods launched in more than 100 countries around the world, and a few areas in Europe and Australia saw slightly earlier delivery dates for the wireless headphones than those given to U.S. customers, with some as soon as Monday, December 19. Australia customers specifically reported shipping status updates earlier in the week.

For anyone who missed out on the first run of orders, Apple will begin selling the AirPods in its retail stores Monday morning. Some of the company’s authorized resellers and a few carrier stores will also be receiving AirPods stock next week. Given how fast they sold out online, the supply of AirPods in retail locations is also expected to be limited. Nevertheless, in the press release on Tuesday, Apple said that its retail locations will receive “regular AirPods shipments” going forward.

Tag: AirPods
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17
Dec

Kenmore 13479 review – CNET


The Good The $500 Kenmore 13479 cleans better than models that cost two to three times as much. It’ll wipe away almost any dirt you throw at it, and it has a fine mix of cycles and a countdown timer.

The Bad The countdown timer is the fanciest feature you’ll find on this bare-bones model. It doesn’t even have basics like fold down tines or wine stem holders.

The Bottom Line If you want to save money without sacrificing cleaning power, and you don’t care about features or design, this is the dishwasher for you.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

Testing the $500 Kenmore 13479 dishwasher made me nervous. For a built-in standard-sized dishwasher, it’s priced at the low end. If it performed as such, that would have meant a lot of extra work for me. We spread 13 different types of foods over 112 different dishes, then let them sit for 24 hours before testing the cleaning prowess of our dishwashers. If the low-cost Kenmore 13479 wasn’t able to remove any dirt, I would have to do it.

Lo and behold, Kenmore came through. Price aside, it’s one of the best performing dishwashers we’ve ever tested. So when you take the price into account, the Kenmore 13479 makes for a great bargain as it out-cleans dishwashers that cost almost three times as much. This $500 dishwasher doesn’t have a whole lot else going for it. It’s bland and it doesn’t really have any special features. The interior is a little cramped. To an extent, you get what you pay for, but that doesn’t hold true as far as cleaning.

If you’re looking for a low-cost, no frills dishwasher that can handle your messes, the Kenmore 13479 fits the bill nicely. Consider the $700 Kenmore 13699 as well for a similarly capable dishwasher with a few more features.

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Looks like a pauper

Saying the Kenmore 13479 is a “no frills” dishwasher is being too generous. It’s not just missing high-end extras. It has no fold down tines, no wine stem holders, you can’t adjust the height of the upper rack and it only has room for 12 place settings. It also has a plastic tub instead of an energy saving stainless tub, but I’d expect that at this price. For $500, I also wouldn’t expect higher-end adornments like a third rack, specialized jets for difficult to wash dishes or customizable cycles for either the upper or lower rack. However, one or two simple add-ons would have been nice.

The exterior is an unadorned plain black. The model’s also available in white or stainless steel, though the stainless costs around $100 more. The curved handle is nice, as is the status light on the front which shines green as the dishwasher works. Otherwise, this dishwasher blends in enough to be forgettable, which is as much as I can say for its design.

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Both the exterior and interior are pretty bland.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The interior is similarly bland, and again, it has no features to speak of to make loading easier. The red jets on the spray arm at the bottom and the red cap on the rinse aid dispenser are the only hints of color. Without features, even our load of 10 place settings felt cramped, though the design isn’t so egregious as to get in the way. Though some plates overlapped, they all sat firmly in their spots when we loaded according to the pattern recommended in the manual.

The control panel on the top lip feels cheap and plasticky, but it does have a countdown timer and a nice set of six cycles. The hour-long speed cycle is a little slow, but the Kenmore has an otherwise standard but suitable mix including Pots and Pans, China Gentle and Smart Wash — which senses dirt and saves energy.

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The 13479 does have a nice selection of cycles.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

After you select your cycle, you can add on any of three options — Sani Rinse, High Temp and Heated Dry — another fine if underwhelming mix. If you spend an extra $200, the Kenmore 13699 adds a set of fold down tines on the bottom rack, an upper rack with adjustable height and an extra option which focuses water through jets specialized for a casserole dish. The 13699 isn’t feature-rich by any means, but it’s not quite as bare-boned as the 13479.

Other budget-friendly dishwashers

  • GE GDF610PMJES
  • Frigidaire FGID2466QF
  • Kenmore 13699

Still, you can get the 13479 for less than $500. As is typical with Kenmore products, it’s only available at Sears, and as of this writing it’s listed for $400. I wouldn’t expect a lot of features for such a low price, and what it does do, it does extremely well.

17
Dec

Star Wars: Force Arena hands-on preview


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Pick your side and join the battle for the Galaxy!

It’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan, with Star Wars: Rogue One hitting theaters and the recent resurgence in amazing Star Wars video games. The latest offering for mobile gamers is Star Wars: Force Arena, an action-packed real-time strategy game that puts you in control of a leader for either the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire. I’ve spent the past few days going hands-on with a pre-release version of the game, which combines gameplay elements from Clash Royale and MOBAs, and sets the whole thing in a galaxy far, far away.

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Now I’ll admit right off the top that I’m predisposed to adore this game as a huge Star Wars fan. Clash Royale also ranks as one of my favorite games of 2016, so Force Arena basically had my full attention from the minute it loaded up. Just like Clash Royale this is a deck building game with the battles set in iconic Star Wars locales, the divided arena guarded at each end by turrets and connected by two lanes. But instead of being an omnipresent figure casting troops cards onto the battlefield, you’re thrown right in the mix as a legendary character from the film franchise, fighting for the Rebellion or the Empire in both 1 vs. 1 and 2 vs. 2 online battles. The goal is to get past your enemies turrets and destroy their shield generator, so that your aerial assault team — Tie Fighters or X-Wings — can blow this thing and go home.

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The playable heroes i’ve seen in action so far include Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, the Emperor, Darth Vader, Boba Fett — y’know, the usual suspects. Each hero has their own special abilities that you’ll want to carefully consider before building your battle deck around them. To control your character in battle, tap around the battlefield to move and tap on an enemy troop to focus your character’s attack.

There will be over 80 characters included in the full release, from new faces from Rogue One alongside fan favorites from The Force Awakens and the original trilogy. You’ll likely have to discover most of them via card packs unlocked for free, won in battle, or purchased from the in-game store.

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After completing the short tutorial and receiving your starter battle decks from the complimentary card packs, you’re ready to pick a side and hit the battlefield. It’s surprising how well the MOBA and Clash Royale gameplay styles mesh into something that feels fresh-yet-familiar, and an ideal fit to harness the full scale of the Star Wars universe. Seeing Luke Skywalker running into battle towards Darth Vader as Stormtroopers and Rebel fighters exchange fire feels as epic as it should. Having the option to switch between the Rebels and Empire as you feel fit also adds an extra layer of depth and replayability.

An official release date has not been set, but if you’re excited to check out Star Wars: Force Arena, you should definitely sign up, which will help you out with 10,000 bonus credits among other rewards. Expect the game to launch globally in the coming weeks.

Pre-register at StarWarsForceArena.com

17
Dec

Best Road Trip Apps


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Load these apps onto your phone before you hit the road!

There are few things better than hitting the open road on a cross country road trip. Whether you’re heading out with your best buds, or loading the kids into the car to visit relatives a few states over a little app prep will make sure the trip goes as smooth as is possible.

More: The best phone car mounts for any phone!

  • Android Auto
  • Waze
  • Google Trips
  • Yelp
  • GasBuddy
  • Google Play Music
  • Netflix

Android Auto

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If your car doesn’t have Android Auto functionality built into its stereo system, it’s worth checking out Google’s app for staying connected in your car. It’s now available on any Android phone, so you don’t need to buy a brand new car or upgrade your car stereo to take advantage of the convenience — it’ll just run right on your phone.

Android Auto makes it easier to use apps from your phone while you’re on the road, and the latest update adds “OK Google” wake word compatibility, so you don’t need to touch the screen to activate voice commands. Navigate with Google Maps, listen to playlists or podcasts from your favorite apps, send messages via voice, and more.

Download: Android Auto (Free)

Waze

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While Google Maps remains the most popular navigation app for Android (largely due to its inclusion as a stock app on most Android devices), Waze is a great option to consider for all your GPS navigation needs.

Waze users get the benefit of all the information gleaned from other Waze users on the road, from real-time traffic information including accident reports, police traps and other hazards seen on the road. You’re also encouraged to add your own updates and contribute to your local Waze community as well. Using all that data, Waze will automatically reroute you to avoid any upcoming hazards, and also has really smart features for finding the cheapest gas stations along the way as well as ways of keeping family and friends in the loop on your ETA.

Download: Waze (Free)

Google Trips

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Google Trips is a great travel planning app that helps with some of the mundane aspects of travelling like keeping track of your reservations, while also helping to plan out your days in a new city by suggesting cool things to do based on your interests and available time.

If you’re planning to make a pitstop on your way to your final destination, plug the city into the app and see what it generates! It’s also available offline, so if you planned out your pit stops ahead of time you can keep in the know even if your phone’s data konks out.

Download: Google Trips (Free)

Yelp

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When you’re exploring a new city trying to figure out what’s worth checking out, you’re best off checking in with the locals. Yelp is one of the most popular apps for reviewing restaurants and businesses with over 100 million reviews posted by users just like you.

When you’re in a pinch for a roadside bite and need to know what’s good, Yelp will help you find the perfect restaurant to fuel up and get back on the road.

Download: Yelp (Free)

GasBuddy

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Fuelling up is often one of the biggest expenses you’ll incur on a road trip. GasBuddy helps you find the cheapest places to fill up along the way. Not only is this an app that you’ll want to use on a road trip, but you might end up becoming an everyday user once you see the savings for yourself.

All the data is user generated, so if you see a cheaper gas price not listed in the app, you can report the price in the app and contribute to the GasBuddy community.

Download: GasBuddy (Free)

Google Play Music

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What’s a road trip without some kick ass driving music? Or maybe a podcast is more your speed? Regardless of what you prefer to listen to on your long distance drives, Google Play Music is your best bet.

With a subscription, you get streaming access to over 40 million tracks along with curated playlists, so the music won’t ever stop, even on the longest of drives. Google Play Music is also home to all your favorite podcasts, and it incorporates right into Android Auto for hands-free control of all your music while you’re on the road. That is, unless your co-pilot has already claimed the role of in-car DJ…

Download: Google Play Music (Free)

Netflix

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With it’s latest update allowing for offline viewing on mobile devices, Netflix suddenly became the go-to app for parents hoping to distract the young ones in the back without having to worry about all that data.

There’s a large amount of kid-friendly content available to be downloaded for offline viewing, which should help keep the shouts of “are we there yet?” to a minimum. Load up a phone or tablet with your kids’ favorites and look forward to the quietest road trip you’ve ever enjoyed. It’s also a great option for keeping adults quiet, too. A subscription is required, of course, but if you don’t already have one you for sure know someone who does.

Download: Netflix (Free)

Where are you headed?

How do you plan for your road trips? Any apps that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

17
Dec

ICYMI: Snap’s Spectacles are being used to broadcast surgery


ICYMI: Snap's Spectacles are being used to broadcast surgery

Today on In Case You Missed It: A surgeon who goes by the name virtualsurgeon on Snapchat used Spectacles to broadcast a hernia surgery. Meanwhile the Office of Naval Research demoed its prototype autonomous swarm watercraft, that no joke travel in packs and investigate other boats.

There was so much big news this week but we recommend reading up on how scientists are duplicating climate change data before a Trump presidency. As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.

17
Dec

The Morning After: Weekend Edition


Letter from the Editor

Christmas is right around the corner, but Santa’s not the only one dropping from the sky with presents this holiday season. Amazon’s Prime Air officially began service this week, when a drone made the service’s first delivery in Cambridge, England. So the future of shipping has arrived … for a handful of people in the English countryside.

Many, many more Amazonians will be getting served, however, by Prime Video, now that the company has spun it out into a standalone service. At an introductory rate that’s a third the cost of Netflix, the move creates serious competition for viewing dollars around the world — though it only brings Amazon’s original programming. Still, if critical acclaim is any indicator, you’re getting good value: Both of the two streaming services have shows up for multiple Golden Globes.

One competitor Amazon isn’t (and shouldn’t be) preoccupied with is a new virtual assistant from Japan. It’s a female anime character in a jar. It costs $2,500. It will not lift the crushing weight of loneliness that pervades your every waking hour. Oh, and if you’re thinking it’d make a swell Christmas gift, think 2017 — the company’s taking preorders now, but it won’t arrive for a year.

Elon Musk: Supercharger spots are meant for charging, not parkingTesla will tax owners who idle at the Supercharger

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More Teslas on the road also means there might be long lines at the local Supercharger. After complaints about owners who leave their car hooked up beyond the time needed for a full charge, Elon Musk & Co. have a fix: idle fees. If you don’t collect your EV within five minutes of it reaching full charge (you’ll get a notification on your phone), then expect a 40 cent per minute charge to sit in that spot.

Here’s what it will cost when you lose oneApple’s AirPods are now on sale

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Online pre-orders are now stretching into 2017, but you can order a pair of Apple’s new EarBuds. The wireless buds go perfectly with a headphone jack-deficient iPhone 7, whose owners are most likely to lay down $160 for the pair + charger. A side effect of the AirPods’ tangle free lifestyle is that you might end up losing one, however, and if you do, the replacement will cost $69.

Not to be confused with “The O.C.”Netflix’s weird surprise show ‘The OA’ is now streaming

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Last weekend Netflix surprised us by teasing a new miniseries about a mysterious young woman. The trailer left much to the imagination, but the main plot centers on a young woman who was blind before being abducted, and returns to her family seven years later able to see. Its eight-episode length had some hoping for another “Stranger Things” experience. We don’t know if it’s that good, but it’s a perfect choice if you can’t make it out to “Rogue One” this weekend.

League of $$$$“League of Legends” developer signs a $300 million streaming deal

eSports looks poised to make a big leap, and BAMTech, a streaming company part-owned by the MLB, the NHL and Disney (read: ESPN) is ready to buy in. It struck a deal with “League of Legends” maker Riot Games that’s worth over $300 million, and it will build an app next year to stream competitions on phones, PCs and other devices.

Looks like someone read “Ender’s Game”DARPA’s OFFSET program will use gamers to playtest drone swarm control

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Stop us if this sounds familiar: A government agency is trying to help the military control groups of flying robots, and one of the ways it will learn is by offering a “physics-based, swarm tactics game.” The idea is to let playtesters swap strategies on how to best control a swarm of drone robots, then apply that knowledge to the real thing.

The final stops are at PAX and SXSWNintendo’s Switch console is going on tour

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Can’t wait until March to see the Switch? No problem, because Nintendo just announced it’s taking the console on a “Preview Tour” of major cities starting in January.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Meet Waymo: Google’s new (old) self-driving car business
  • Nokia returns with a dumb phone from its new owner
  • The Engadget Podcast Episode 18: In which Terrence drops F-bombs while talking about Yahoo
  • Review: HP Spectre x360 (2016)
  • Dwarf planet Ceres is ‘oozing’ with water
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