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5
Jan

Oral-B’s latest smart toothbrush has one fatal flaw


Oral-B, those purveyors of tools to keep your teeth clean, have been making Bluetooth electric toothbrushes for a few years now. But its latest, the Oral-B Genius 8000, is the Cadillac of connected Bluetooth toothbrushes, if you’re in to that sort of thing. What’s interesting about the Genius is that it uses your smartphone’s front-facing camera to analyze your brushing patterns and ensure that you’re hitting every zone of your mouth sufficiently before you move on. The company has seen that when people brush, they often accidentally skip over or under-brush parts of their mouth, and this is meant to fix that.

Unfortunately, this means that you have to mount your phone to your bathroom mirror to take advantage of this feature. And thus the dark side of connected devices rears its ugly head yet again. But even if you don’t usually want to do that, the Genius 8000 also can alert you to when you’re brushing with too much pressure. It’ll also keeps track of how long you’re brushing and will bug you to make sure you’re spending enough time cleaning your pearly whites.

Even without all this connected trickery, electric toothbrushes have a lot going for them — so if you’re the type to wear a Fitbit and catalog the rest of your health and activity, why not start tracking how you treat your teeth as well?

5
Jan

The designer behind the Toyota Concept-i talks about being friends with a car


A lot of concept cars are coming out of CES. Most of them are geared toward making the passenger experience more relaxing. Toyota wants riders to also be at ease as well, but it also wants the driver to have a good time.

A lot of concept cars are coming out of CES. Most of them are geared toward making the passenger experience more relaxing. Toyota wants riders to also be at ease as well, but it also wants the driver to have a good time.

Toyota worked with the design Studio Calty to create the car shown at CES. Chief designer Ian Cartabiano chatted with us about what his team hoped to accomplish with the vehicle’s interior and what it means for people who love to drive.

Interview edited for length and clarity

What is the sort of core genesis of the idea of the Concept-i?

Well, I would say like the Concept-i really is just our vision of what future Toyota and future driving could be in the year 2030, so it’s a futuristic vision of 2030, and the idea is, how do we connect driver and car to society and driver society in this harmonious way, and how do we create a bond between the driver and the vehicle to basically improve your life and improve the driving experience? Then, just in a more nuts-and-bolts car way, what does “fun to drive” mean in the future, when technology is changing the way we drive in a very rapid pace?

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It’s actually a really fun project, probably one of the most challenging of my entire career because here at Calty we do concept cars, and we do production cars, and we do advanced projects a lot. But I don’t think we’ve had to put on our philosophy hat to this extent in a long time. The basic questions is what’s fun to drive in 2030? What does Toyota represent in 2030, and how do we create a bond between driver and car, and how do we reignite a love for cars in the future?

I love driving, but I hate traffic. Because traffic isn’t driving, traffic is sitting in a box.

Right.

I feel like a lot of people are like, “Well, in the future, you’ll just sit in the car, and it’ll take you somewhere, and then that’s it,” and your idea is you guys are talking about the love of driving. The love of vehicles.

You hit the nail on the head. Everybody’s working on autonomous driving and AI. So our task is what is Toyota’s vision for that and how are we going to be different knowing that Akio Toyoda really believes in the driving experience, mobility for everybody, fun to drive and no more boring cars. How do we translate that into a future of what it’s going to be?

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Some people say that autonomous driving is going to basically mean the end of car ownership or the end of driving pleasure. I personally don’t believe that. I think you’re you’re always going to need mobility. Smartphones, interconnectivity, social media, that can connect you with people on screens, but never in person. It can connect you to an image of a place, but that’ll never replace the feeling of being there and getting the feeling of movement on a screen is different than actually having the wind going through your hair and feeling the road through the wheel. I think those things are eternal.

Humankind has wanted to move since the dawn of time, and I don’t think that’s going to go anywhere, so how do we translate that into a car, and how do we create a user experience? I don’t even want to just say UX. I would say a unified user experience, starting with AI, that reconnects you to the driving experience, but also enhances your driving experience in life by giving you all the good things that AI can give you.

People have long had emotional attachments to cars and electronics. People became attached to their iPods when those first came out because it was a musical extension of themselves. Do you feel with AI you can take that to the next level?

Yes, exactly. I think we kind of envisioned it. So imagine when you first get a Concept Ai. It’s like meeting somebody for the first time, and you share some information. Yui, which is what we’re calling the agent in this car, kind of learns from the information that you share. You learn something about the vehicle, and as the days, weeks, months, years go by, the shared learning from each other basically means you get to know each other. Concept Ai and Yui learn and adapt, creating this bond. That bond and that partnership can really create a lot of interesting dynamics.

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So, for example: We were talking about driving home, and I don’t know where you’re located, but where I’m at, I have a crazy commute. Say I’ve had a tough day at work and through maybe my meeting schedule, a social media posts, biometric feedback, the tone of voice, my pulse rate, my breathing rate, my body temperature, the way I’m driving, Yui can kind of tell that and maybe suggest, “Hey, let’s not take the 405 today. I know you love driving. Why don’t we take PCH? It’s a beautiful day. The weather’s gorgeous. Traffic is moving. It’s a little bit longer. It’ll take you this much time to get home.” Then as we’re driving maybe realize that we’re driving by a restaurant I’ve always wanted to try. Like, “Hey, two miles away is this restaurant,” and it will know from my social media posts, discussions with friends in the car or with Yui, that I’ve always wanted to try it.

Also for example, if it knows that I’m drowsy or getting sleepy it could start a conversation to keep my mind working to kind of wake me up.

And autonomous driving?

Another thing we talked about, is in this world of automated cars our driver’s are always in control in our product. One thing you notice is the steering wheel doesn’t retract and disappear like a lot of other people have been doing. You always want to have the steering wheel within reach.

Also, another interesting part of this car is that there are not screens everywhere. It’s very trendy and very easy to put tablets all over cars, right?

Yeah.

We see that all the time. I’m so sick of that. What if we could make the information, in this car, contextual? All the best apps are doing it. I think it’s what Gen Z basically just expects now from technology, the perfect amount of information at the right time, when you need it, catered to what you’re expecting or even what you’re anticipating, and then when you’re done with that information it disappears.

We were able to execute that because we utilize a really huge 3D heads-up display. It’s a 600 millimeter across and full color so we’re able to put some key information in front of the driver. That allowed us to simplify the interior design, and instead of black, shiny screens everywhere we made everything kind of white and this gold metal trim. It’s a very serene, soothing, yet beautiful, engaging space, and when you need information on the dashboard or IP, it seems to appear out of the white space. It’s kind of this magical feeling of information. It seems to come out of nowhere, and that’s what we think is another interesting aspect of our vision of the future, is it’s not overloading you with info. It’s what you need when you need it, and everything that you can have or need to improve the driving experience and your ultimate well-being.

It kind of looks like the cool hatchbacks of the ’90s, and so I’m looking at this, and I’m like, “This is really cool-looking.” It’s a concept car, but it seems to have an appeal that’s bigger than what millennials or Gen Z-ers want. Was that something Calty was thinking about?

At Calty, we do a lot of concept cars, but they’re always based in true user research, good ergonomics, usability and something that could possibly be made, and then also we thought that, no matter what the generation, beauty and sculpture, and humanistic artistic flavor is timeless and cross-generational, so when you think about real use, we didn’t want to make a giant car or a totally useless show car, where only one person can fit in it, and you can barely fit in that. What’s really cool about this car is you can to sit in it. Four adults sit in this thing comfortably, and the feeling of space. I mean it’s beautiful and comforting and serene and just feels fun at the same time.

We’re not doing a hyper-luxury car, and this is something that I really love about this project. It’s a vision of the future that’s for everybody, and I really like that, and the idea that we are experts in mobility, and we can share mobility with all generations, I think that’s something that Toyota is really great at, and we tried to execute that in the car. It’s a really great size. It’s a really useful size, and it’s just really a beautiful work of sculpture.

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Everything starts with the user experience, with Yui’s home in the center of the dashboard, and the way it flows all the way around the car from one point. You can really sense it when you walk around the vehicle. Every surface moves. The information around the car moves. Lighting seems to appear out of nowhere. Again, that kind of magical experience, and that’s really also the fun of futurism. Sometimes these autonomous cars can be so sterile and not fun, and the future can be fun, and we want to show a happy, positive vision of the future that’s, again, warm and friendly.

5
Jan

Tidal now offers studio-quality ‘Master’ audio


It’s easy to forget in the Jay Z era, but Tidal’s original marquee feature was its above-average audio quality, not its many exclusives — this was your service if your headphones were too good to be sullied with low-bitrate streaming. Tidal hasn’t forgotten, however. It’s stepping things up with Masters, which use MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) technology to promise studio-grade sound. If you’re the sort who wants to get as close to the sound booth as possible, this may be your best choice right now.

You’ll have to be finicky about what you listen to and where. It’s only available on the desktop at the moment, and a large chunk of Tidal’s catalog isn’t included. It’s not specific about who’s getting the Master treatment, but you’ll mostly have to be content with Warner Music Group artists. There are notable exceptions to the rule, though, such as Beyoncé. If Tidal can widen its offerings, though, it’ll be good news for both the company and you. It’ll be easier to choose Tidal over Spotify or Apple Music if you know you’ll get fidelity that just isn’t possible at other streaming giants.

Source: Tidal

5
Jan

Google Calendar helps with fitness goals by logging workouts


With its Goals function, Google’s Calendar finds you space to squeeze in some exercise, but like a lazy coach, it doesn’t follow up to see if you did it. Now, it’ll take in data from either Google Fit and Apple Health, automatically mark an exercise session as “done” and, depending on your success, suggest different times.

For example, if you set a goal as “run three times a week,” it’ll first find you a time to do that, then record and log it into the Calendar once the tracker app marks it as complete. Later on, you can use the visual performance tracker to see if you’re meeting your goals, as shown below. What’s more, the app will automatically find better workout times if you’re missing the suggested times. If you set a goal to run at 6:30 AM, for instance, but don’t actually start until 45 minutes later, Goals will suggest a 7:15 AM start time in the future.

To find holes in your schedule, the app assumes that you plan your life to a “T” on a calendar. Most folks are probably more relaxed about it, so having it adjust to your schedule on the fly makes a lot of sense. Ideally, if companies like Google can make fitness app setups a lot less time consuming, then more of us might actually use them. If you’re interested, the new features should be going live soon.

Source: Google

5
Jan

LG will back away from modular phones with the G6


To put it mildly, the LG G5 has struggled in the market. While it’s not a terrible phone, it clearly leans on its modularity as its main selling point — and there just aren’t that many people willing to pay extra for a camera grip or sound module. Thankfully, LG has realized the error of its ways. A company spokesperson tells the Wall Street Journal that LG is aware of that less-than-positive feedback on the G5, and is “scaling back” the modularity for the G6. Instead, the focus is on “aesthetics and usability” — making a good phone, in other words. It’s not clear that this means killing modules outright, but it certainly sounds like that could happen.

Don’t expect any big surprises when it comes to the launch. The G6 will likely sit in the G5’s $500 to $600 price range, LG says, and it should first be available in North America, Europe and South Korea. It could be announced at Mobile World Congress in February, but the company is still considering additional dates.

The approach isn’t completely surprising if you’ve been following the G5’s trajectory. Steep discounts started soon after launch, and there’s no question that Samsung’s faster, prettier Galaxy S7 trounced the G5 sales-wise. Our question: to what degree has LG learned its lesson? While it’s certainly capable of making good phones, it has a longstanding habit of alternating between those and gimmick-centric phones (some better than others) in its bid to stand out. The G6 might well fare better than the G5, but that won’t matter if the G7 sees LG reverting to its old ways.

Source: Wall Street Journal

5
Jan

I want Sony’s new 4K OLED TV in my home


Sony didn’t have too much to show at CES this year, but it did come packing one surprise: a new, absurdly thin and sharp 4K TV. The horrifically named XBR-A1E (try remembering that one a few minutes from now) features a 55-inch, 65-inch or 77-inch OLED panel, capable of spitting out Ultra HD and high dynamic range (HDR) with ease. The most intriguing part, however, is “Acoustic Surface,” which integrates the speaker into the screen itself. That’s possible because of how ridiculously thin the set is — LG Display has used a similar approach with its Crystal Sound prototype.

So how does it sound? In a packed press conference booth, it was honestly hard to tell. While it may not beat a dedicated speaker system, it should be loud and rich enough for a lot of us. (The audiophiles among us will buy a separate sound system anyhow.) Some of its punchy audio output can be attributed to the slim subwoofer hidden just behind the TV — Acoustic Sound is good, but it needs a bit of help.

Needless to say, it’s a stunning set. Like all new Sony TVs, it runs Android TV and supports Google Cast right out of the box. While welcome, this support is largely irrelevant to me because I’m a diehard PlayStation kid. I want nothing more than to take this TV home, hook up a PS4 Pro and slot in a game like Final Fantasy XV, soaking up the environment of a mythical world like Eos. Or maybe The Last Guardian? No, I would definitely start with Dishonored 2. Okay, I’m just getting carried away now, aren’t I?

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.

5
Jan

Twitter will livestream portions of PGA golf tournaments


Twitter has dabbled in live golf coverage before (it streamed the FedExCup Playoffs last year), but it’s now ready for something more substantial. The social network has struck an exclusive deal to livestream parts of 31 PGA tournaments across what’s left of the 2016-2017 season. It’s not the comprehensive coverage you’d like, as it’ll be limited to pre-game presentations and the first two holes for each day’s Marquee Groups. However, it’ll be free and won’t require a login — if you just want to see top-tier golfers in action, you won’t have to pony up for a subscription.

In return, the PGA will boost the number of highlight clips and Periscope livestreams that it offers on Twitter.

These kinds of deals are increasingly common for Twitter, which is banking on livestreamed sports as a way of growing its audience and turning a much-needed profit. However, it has to be asked: are partial coverage agreements enough? While it’s hard to beat free streaming in terms of value, an avid sports fan isn’t going to sign up for Twitter just to see fractions of golf tournaments or a single football game per week. The company may need to goad leagues into offering more comprehensive deals if it wants to reel people in.

Source: PR Newswire

5
Jan

Netflix’s first original Korean series is based on a web comic


Netflix is eager to court South Korea now that it has a foothold in the country, and it’s finally readying its first original series to match… with a decidedly technological twist. It’s readying Love Alarm, a 12-episode show based on a popular Korean web comic — no, not a book or another country’s TV programming. Even the premise is appropriately techy. The story centers around a mysterious mobile app that lets you know if someone nearby is attracted to you, which invariably causes chaos.

The show won’t debut until 2018, but it’ll be available worldwide. That may sound odd for something that’s clearly designed to suit local tastes, but Netflix is clearly counting on the West’s surge in interest for all things Korean (think everything from K-pop to Oldboy) as a draw. In theory, it’s the company’s dream show: it’s intensely relevant in its home country, but accessible enough that it could attract an international fan base.

Via: Tech Crunch

Source: Netflix

5
Jan

Telegram’s unsend feature can help prevent texting regret


Telegram’s latest update adds a feature that would’ve been pretty useful this past holiday season: it gives you a way to unsend messages you regret. Unsend works for both one-to-one and group chats, so long as you do it with within 48 hours of hitting send. Apparently, one of the messaging app’s engineers conjured up the solution when he accidentally sent some risqué Santa stickers to his mother. We don’t know how true that is, but if you think the feature would be especially useful, you’ve got that careless, likely drunk, engineer to thank. Of course, you can’t stop anyone from reading or screencapping what you’ve already written in chat, so you may want to keep locking up your phone if you tend to send drunk texts.

Source: Telegram

5
Jan

Hulu Bringing CBS-Owned Networks to Live TV Service, Which Will Be Priced ‘Under $40’ Per Month


Hulu and CBS have reached an agreement that will bring CBS-owned channels to Hulu’s upcoming live-streaming service, as well as grant subscribers on-demand access to recent episodes of popular CBS shows like Mom and The Big Bang Theory (via The Wall Street Journal). Full access to current and past seasons of these shows will remain on CBS All Access.

The current deal includes user access to CBS Sports Network and Pop, a pop culture focused network, with the potential for more CBS networks — like CBS’s Smithsonian Channel and The CW — to be added down the line. Although unspecified, it’s also predicted that Hulu will continue to offer the CBS-owned premium network Showtime as an add-on within its new live-streaming package. Current Hulu subscribers can purchase Showtime for $8.99 on top of their monthly Hulu cost.

According to people close to the deal, CBS will receive “more than $3 per monthly subscriber” at the service’s launch, with the multiyear contract signaling the potential for the network’s take to rise above $4.

The streaming service aims to offer a more personalized, intuitive version of cable TV than that offered by traditional pay-TV distributors and even newer streaming entrants. At launch, Hulu’s offering will also include a cloud-based digital video recorder and many local station affiliates.

CBS’s pact with Hulu shows that at least for now the network is finding a way to have its cake and eat it, too—striking deals with distributors while maintaining a stand-alone streaming service with some 1.2 million subscribers. Moreover, the deal with Hulu involves CBS’s direct rivals; the streaming service is owned by Disney, Fox, Comcast and Time Warner.

During the announcement at an investor conference this week, Hulu Chief Executive Mike Hopkins also mentioned that the service is set to cost users “under $40” per month. The service will include Hulu’s existing video content library as well, which now includes a wide selection of movies from Disney.

Word of Hulu’s upcoming live-streaming service began spreading last May, when it was said that the company’s new subscription plan would directly introduce it as “a competitor to traditional pay-TV providers,” in addition to on-demand streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Hulu’s unnamed cable-like service will now be backed with channels from CBS, Walt Disney, Time Warner, Fox, and NBC.

Hulu will be entering a steadily growing and competitive market with its live-streaming service. Both Sling TV and DirecTV NOW are available to users on the iOS and Apple TV App Stores for streaming and viewing live television networks without the need for a traditional cable subscription. In the past, Apple tried to launch its own $30-$40 TV service but became “frustrated” and ultimately shelved the plans after failing to find mutually advantageous ways to work with network programmers.

Tags: CBS, Hulu
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