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Magnetic implant could deliver personalized doses of medication

Why it matters to you

In less than a decade, taking medication may be as easy as running a magnet over your skin.

In five years time, a magnetic implant may deliver your personalized dose of medication. The device has been developed by researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and could help ease treatments for patients required to take many pills or undergo regular intravenous injections.

At just six millimeters in diameter, the device is made of a silicone sponge and magnetic carbonyl iron particles encased in a round polymer. It’s designed to fit just under a patient’s skin. When activated by a magnet passed over the outside of the skin, the sponge deforms and its drug contents are dispersed through a small opening in the polymer casing.

A major benefit beyond its minimal invasiveness is that, unlike similar devices, which need a power source to disperse medication, the UBC device needs only an external magnetic field. This can be used to control dose sizes through magnets of varying strengths.

“We had a prior work on magnetic drug delivery device that contains a membrane and a drug reservoir,” Mu Chiao, a UBC professor of mechanical engineering who supervised the project, told Digital Trends. “It was quite challenging to make that device. So we thought about combining drug reservoirs and the membranes into one. Then we thought of a sponge.”

More: Blood refuses to go anywhere near this new medical implant material

The device was loaded with docetaxel, a prostate cancer drug, and administered to animal tissue in laboratory trials. The researchers demonstrated that the magnet was able to function and the drug didn’t lose its potency, proving effective against cancer cells after repeated uses.

Though Chiao sad the implant is still at least five to ten years from commercialization, the researchers hope to target procedures that are close to the skin, such as long-term hormone treatment.

A paper detailing the study was published online in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.


App Attack: Find the simple beauty in ‘Hidden Folks’

Why it matters to you

‘Hidden Folks’ is the perfect game to help you wind down after a busy week, or pass the time on your morning commute.

If you need a calming and fun game that doesn’t ask much of you, Hidden Folks is an app you need to download. It’s a seek-and-find game, similar to Where’s Waldo, and it’s hand-drawn in black and white with goofy sound effects.

There are more than 15 areas to search with over 120 targets to find, but what’s more interesting is that there are more than 960 “mouth-originated sound effects.” It’s part of the game’s charm — as you move through a large landscape the sounds change based on where you are, and tapping on almost anything produces a sound. Some sound effects are just sounds of water rippling or leaves rustling, but then you tap a monkey and hear the creators’ hilarious impression.

More: App Attack: Flipboard’s big update tailors magazines just for you

Everything is animated in these hand-drawn landscapes and you can zoom in and out to get a clearer picture. Don’t go in thinking it’s easy, as you can easily spend quite some time getting stumped. The riddles help place objects, people, and animals in certain areas of the large maps, making them easier to find.

There are zero game mechanics pushing you to find objects — click counters or time limits would only hamper the game’s simplicity and charm. Lose yourself in the monochrome world and it’s easy to come up with stories for characters in Hidden Folks.

There are more than a hundred iMessage stickers, and the riddles are supported in 14 languages. The app also works on Apple TV so it’d be a great game to play with the family or leave on for the kids.

It’s not free — the game will set you back $4, though there’s plenty of content to keep you playing for hours. The creators say “more areas and features to come.” There is no Android version at the moment, but it’s in the works. It’s compatible with the iPad and iPhone on the App Store, and you can also get it for Windows, Mac, and Linux via Steam.


Let everyone be a DJ! What Spotify and Apple Music should learn from Tidal

Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music and others, take note: Tidal has made a bold move. The streaming service’s new Track Edit feature allows you to manipulate and remix songs. You can adjust the tempo of a selection, let it fade it in or out, save your edit to a playlist, and even share it on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But, as fun as it is to hear Drake sing Hotline Bling at a faster tempo, there isn’t much else Tidal’s Track Edit can do … yet. Track Edit is pretty limited, but ripe with potential. This has us wondering: What else could Tidal add, and will other services like Spotify or Apple Music take note and give their subscribers some editing features?

More: Sprint invests $200 million in big boost to Jay-Z’s Tidal music service

What if you could cut tracks up, remix them, or combine elements of an artists songs together to create entirely new songs? We may be entering a new era where anyone can be more of a true DJ and make custom mixes for their friends.

Let’s let everyone be a DJ

True DJs are always going to want professional tools, but that doesn’t mean everyone can’t have a small crack at DJing in the future. Creating a list of personally edited songs is vital to DJ’ing and the major music streaming services would be smart to follow Tidal’s lead and turn Track Edit into a virtual DJ tool. They could add sound filters, reverb, delays, and other basic features found on modern DJ turntables and music production programs.

If you’ve ever dreamed of listening to Bob Dylan as an autotuned robot, you would have your chance.

Warped filters could let you create a Skrillex-ey spacey sound, and vinyl effects could let you scratch songs like DJ Premier. The streaming services could even add an autotune feature. If you’ve ever dreamed of listening to Bob Dylan as an autotuned robot, you would have your chance. Fans would tweak songs for months, giving the services more music, and earning the artists more fans, and money.

Spotify has inched toward this reality for years. In 2014, the world’s most popular subscription music streaming service partnered with DJ software company Algoriddim to integrate its mobile DJ app Djay with Spotify’s library. This allowed Spotify Premium subscribers to use features common on traditional DJ rigs such as crossfading between tracks, scratching, and even adjusting pitch with millions of songs on Spotify.

Unfortunately, Spotify’s features aren’t as integrated as Tidal’s Track Edit. For one thing, you can’t record mixes you make with Spotify songs on the app, so only hardcore users that seek it out will have any luck.

Editing tracks, and making a radio station

The first thing many listeners want to do after hearing a song they love with is hit replay; the next thing they want to do is share it. Currently, you can not share individual song edits you make with Tidal’s Track Edit. You can share a playlist of edits on social media, but non-Tidal subscribers will only get a preview of the original song. To fix this, those edits need to be as freely available (and sharable) as the original cuts.

Apple Music’s defining feature is its Beats 1 Radio service, which anyone can stream from iTunes. Apple could build off Tidal’s Track Editing idea and add a radio feature to let anyone stream their creations with others on social media. Apple could even designate a section in Apple Music for the most popular Track Edit stations to increase discovery.

Tidal Song Editing

Apple Music and Spotify both have “Radio” features that create a randomized list of songs based on a song or collection of songs you select. Why not add the ability to create radio stations based on custom tracks you build, and then make that radio station sharable with friends? Or maybe the systems can autogenerate edits of tracks for custom playlists that are more dancey or better for running or working out.

At the moment, Track Edit also limits you to simply playing around with one track at a time, and you cannot edit every song. Introducing multi-track capabilities would allow users to mix at least two separate tracks together. Artists could restrict the mashups to their own comfort levels. If Beyonce and Adele don’t want users mashing them up together, they could disable the feature for their songs.

The more creative users can get, the more rewards artists may reap, though. Social media platform allows users to create and share short videos that lip-sync popular songs and has more than 90 million users. It’s a haven for tween singers, and the company even signed a licensing deal with Warner Music Group last year, as the label saw it as a good revenue source. If Apple Music and Spotify allowed their 65 million-plus combined paid subscribers to edit/remix songs and add their own basic vocal tracks, a lot of subscribers would have a ball with the new feature. They could even upcharge for it.

More remixes = more plays

It is not clear if streams of tracks edited on Tidal are counted by Nielsen and Billboard toward chart placement, but the two organizations have counted every YouTube video using authorized audio towards a song’s placement on the charts since 2013 — and a lot of them are remixes of some kind. Billboard’s Director of Charts Silvio Pietroluongo also told Digital Trends last January that the way the charts are counted could change as soon as this year, so anything is possible.

Subscription music streaming is the primary method most people use to listen to music these days, but without practical innovations, it’s bound to hit a ceiling as CDs did in the early 2000s.

Letting people edit songs may seem farfetched due to the complicated way artist royalties and copyright agreements work. But less than a decade ago, so did the idea of charging $10 a month for millions of songs. Putting all of the songs in people’s hands was the start. Putting all the control in the their hands could be the next step.

The music industry should learn from the popularity of DJing and the prevalence of remixes on SoundCloud. Services like Spotify and Apple Music would benefit greatly from them, and we’d all have a lot more fun making mixes, sharing them, and joining in on the creative process … just a little.


After Math: Going on ‘walk-a-back’

It was a big week for claiming victories (even if you didn’t really win). Just look at Trump’s crowing about how his administration is operating like a “well-oiled machine” (it’s not). Similarly, McDonald’s generated huge public interest in its new super-engineered shake straws (that you’ll never see IRL), Harvard researchers claim they’re close to successfully cloning mammoths (if by “close” you mean “decades from now”) and Playboy has announced that its once again becoming a nudie mag (after nixing the nakedness just last year). Numbers, because how else will you know how far to walk back your previous statements?


The best vacuums

By Liam McCabe

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best homewares. When readers choose to buy The Sweethome’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After putting in hundreds of hours of research on 330 different vacuums, and testing dozens of them over the past three years, we’ve found that the Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352 is by far the most effective, reliable vacuum for its price, and will be a great fit for most people and in most homes.

Who should get this

The focus of this guide is limited to plug-in vacuums. Compared with cordless vacuums, plug-in vacuums cost less and last longer, aren’t hampered by a limited battery life, and are always stronger cleaners with tighter filtration (for now, anyway).

If your place is small enough and cords get hung up on every corner, however, a cordless vacuum can be a life-changer. Because the prices and owner expectations are so different, we maintain a separate guide to the best cordless vacuums.

How we picked and tested

We started by making a list of every plug-in upright or canister vacuum we could find. Over the years we’ve assembled a spreadsheet with 330 different vacuum models.

For our main pick, we aimed to find a plug-in vacuum that could work well on almost any kind of bare floor and carpet. We wanted a model that could pick up pet hair or just about any other kind of noticeable debris in a couple of passes, and that could maintain that performance over a long life span, without much maintenance or ongoing costs of ownership. Most vacuums work fine when they’re brand-new, but loads of them lose their cleaning ability after a year unless their owners maintain them (and most people do not). For more on our criteria, see our full guide.

We used a set of ever-evolving in-house tests to measure cleaning performance, handling, and ease of maintenance. These included cleaning trials using cat litter, baby powder, cat hair, steel-cut oatmeal, and lentils, testing the machines’ performance on wood floors, laminate floors, tile floors, low-pile area rugs, low-pile knit carpets, and medium-pile rugs.

For handling, we ran each model through a timed slalom course to get a feel for steering and maneuverability. The point is to gauge how each vacuum handles in a real-world apartment with a tight floor layout.

Our favorite tests are the stress tests, which give us the best idea of how each vacuum stands up to the dumbest operator errors (we’ve all made them). Basically, we tried to clog and tangle each machine with tough debris like shredded copy paper, balls of cat hair, sawdust, and socks. And if we succeeded in jamming them up, we figured out how to unclog them.

Our pick

The Shark Navigator Lift-Away is the best vacuum cleaner at this price for most kinds of homes. Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

The Shark Navigator Lift-Away NV352 bagless upright is an effective, reliable vacuum at a great price. Of the 300-plus vacuums available today, this is the one that we think will make the most people the happiest.

The Navigator Lift-Away is a strong all-around vacuum, but the reliability and durability are what put this model above its competitors (and some pricier options). It needs less maintenance than other vacuums at this price, and it has essentially no ongoing costs of ownership thanks in part to a nearly comprehensive five-year warranty that’s easy to make a claim on. It’s a very capable cleaner, too, able to pick up any debris (including pet hair) from almost all kinds of flooring. Handling is smooth and light, emptying it is easy, and its owners tend to love it, often comparing it favorably with their old vacuums—even models that were much more expensive.

High-pile carpets, such as shag or cable cuts, pose a problem for the Navigator Lift-Away. Long fibers can sometimes plug up the intake or tangle in the brush roller, and the vacuum won’t work. But most homes don’t have any high-pile rugs, so this is a nonissue for most people.

The Navigator Lift-Away’s longevity and low maintenance come from a belt and filters designed to last the life of the vacuum. Most other vacuums at this price use flat rubber belts, which stretch out and need to be replaced at least once a year. Many use disposable filters, which have to be swapped out a few times per year. Most people don’t replace those worn-out parts, so cleaning performance takes a nosedive after about a year. The Navigator Lift-Away is different: It uses a geared belt, which doesn’t lose tension and should last about 10 years (before it gets brittle and cracks). It also comes with reusable filters.

Same Shark, different setup

Photo: Shark

All of the Shark Navigator Lift-Away models in the NV350, NV360, or NV370 series are essentially the same vacuum, just with minor differences in their tool sets, colors, and button placements. We tend to recommend the NV352 because it’s typically the best value at our favorite retailers. But any of the other models are good choices, as well. We’ve found that the Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe NV360 is the easiest to nab for a good deal these days, and it’s the same as the NV352 except for the shape of the handle and the placement of the power button. The NV350 and NV351 are the same as the NV352, with different accessories. The NV355 and NV356 are the “pro” models, with slightly larger dust cups, and the NV370 is the “pro” model with the different handle and placement of the power button. Go wild—pick whichever one you can get for the best deal with all the tools you need.

An excellent cleaner with superior dust control


The Miele C2 (the Topaz model is pictured here) or C3 is the best canister vacuum for most people. Each comes in about a dozen configurations to suit all kinds of floor plans. Photo: Liam McCabe

If you want a vacuum that will run reliably for decades and keep your home as clean as any vacuum can hope to, your best bet is a model from the Miele C2 or C3 series.

Miele canister models have a phenomenal reputation throughout vacuumland. Technicians, salespeople, enthusiasts, testing houses, people who bought and own them—there’s a lot of love for these cleaners. Some of the experts we talked to said that if they could recommend just one vacuum, they’d recommend a Miele canister. A Miele model is special because it’s easy to maintain and built to last for decades—honestly, 20 years is not uncommon—making it a great value in spite of the high price. Several models, including our pick, are easy to use and as quiet as a vacuum can be. They’re fantastic cleaners, too, with excellent pickup, dust collection, and air filtration.

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

Note from The Sweethome: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.


BlackBerry hits rock bottom in phone market

Why it matters to you

Once one of the largest smartphone makers, BlackBerry’s irrelevance pushed it to 0.0 percent.

Blackberry was king of the mountain eons ago, but the Canadian manufacturer just hit rock bottom — with a 0.0 percent market share, according to research firm Gartner’s latest quarterly data.

It’s been a long seven years for BlackBerry, which commanded around 20 percent of the smartphone space by the end of 2009. That percentage fell off a cliff since then, while iOS and Android continued to see growth, to the point where the two mobile operating systems command 99.6 percent — the highest combined percentage we have seen — of the smartphone market.

Because of the record high percentage, BlackBerry has been marginalized to a 0.0 percent, though Windows is not much better — Microsoft’s mobile operating only owns 0.3 percent of the phone space.

More: BlackBerry sues Nokia, alleging networking patent infringement

That’s not to say BlackBerry did not ship any devices — the company shipped just under 208,000 smartphones during the fourth quarter of 2016. Furthermore, the numbers accounts only for devices that run BlackBerry OS and not Android, an important point given BlackBerry’s shift to the latter.

BlackBerry responded to Gartner’s report and reiterated its focus on software and licensing.

“As has been widely communicated, our current strategy is focused on providing state-of-the-art software and security for enterprise and devices,” the company told GSMArena. “As part of this aggressive pivot to software, we have shifted away from hardware and toward a licensing model where partners develop hardware and distribute and market the BlackBerry brand. We are very excited about the new BlackBerry-branded smartphones that our licensing partners — TCL, BB Merah Putih, and Optiemus — will soon be introducing.”

BlackBerry already licensed its wares to TCL, with the upcoming Mercury the first original design from the partnership.


#ThrowbackThursday is only the start: Instagram hashtags for every day of the week

Let’s face it, humans are down for any excuse to take a photo of themselves. Whether it’s a filtered photo of a couple or the blatant thirst for likes that is the selfie, Instagram is the ideal platform to participate in this embarrassing — albeit ubiquitous — behavior. Moreover, the use of hashtags can help draw more followers and increase the chances of that next, ever-elusive like.

More: Be the master of your own Insta-verse with our guide on how to manage multiple Instagram accounts

Staying current and matching those daily hashtags can help you step up your Instaswag, and give your digital life that much more meaning. Even the most green of Instagrammers know about #ThrowbackThursday, but how about #WineWednesday or #FashionFriday? You’ll never be out of the loop with our list of popular Instagram hashtags.


mancrushmonday, instagram

Except for the rare occasions in which a government holiday starts off the workweek, most people dread the very sound of “Monday.” Mondays are a real bummer and #MondayBlues is the perfect hashtag to express our true grief and utter dismay. As of the time of this writing, there are more than 920,000 posts on Instagram with the tag, so get to snapping those cubicle selfies and mundane panoramas of rush-hour traffic.

If you prefer more of a glass-half-full approach to your Instagram posts, you can go ahead and use #MondayMotivation or #MotivationMonday, and overlay your favorite quote on a Tahitian sunset.  Sometimes that motivation can even come in the form of music. If that’s the case, you can kill two hashtags at once by including #MusicMonday with a photo of your 1975 record.

That said, #ManCrushMonday is also one of the more popular hashtags on the internet. Individuals take to Instagram on Mondays to post everything from their favorite shots of Bieber and Gosling to photos of themselves or their male dogs.


How to record calls on your Android phone

Sometimes recording a phone call is important, whether it be for legal reasons or just because you want to keep a record of the call. Sadly, making a recording for future reference isn’t as easy as you might think. Not only does Android lack a built-in tool for doing so, but very few apps in the Google Play Store can actually record calls with crystal-clear audio quality. That’s why we’ve put together this guide — to help you find the best way to record calls on your Android phone for future use.

More: Store your Skype calls for later reference with these free and paid tools

Editor’s Note: There are federal and state laws pertaining to the recording of phone calls. As a general rule of thumb, though, you shouldn’t run into any legal trouble if you capture both parties verbally consenting to the recording. Some states require that only one party consent, however, feel free to check your state or local laws if you need further clarification.

Recording calls with Google Voice

Many Android users have the Google Voice app installed on their phone, which makes it easy to record phone calls using a Google Voice account. Not only that, but the app allows you to record your calls for free! Well, at least some of the calls. If you opt for Google Voice, you can only record incoming calls.

First, you’ll need a Google Voice account. If you don’t have one, head to the Google Voice website and follow the on-screen instructions. Then, once your account is set up, you’ll need to enable recording on your account, which is relatively easy to do.

Step 1: Navigate to the Google Voice homepage.

Step 2: Click the gear icon in the upper-right corner and select Settings from the drop-down menu.


Step 3:  Select the Calls tab and check the box labelled Enable Recording, which is located near the bottom of the page.


Once done, you’ll be able to record incoming calls by simply hitting the “4” button on your keypad. When you press “4,” you and the person you’re talking with will hear a message saying that the recording is underway. Press “4” again, and the recording will stop and automatically save to your inbox. To access your recordings in the Voice app, head to the Menu and tap Recorded.


Daydream controller won’t move? Here’s how to fix it!


When your controller stops working, there are a few things to double check.

There are plenty of frustrating problems that can crop up while you are in VR, but one of the peskiest is having your Daydream remote stop responding. Since the only way to interact with the Daydream menus and games is with the controller, having it stop moving is an instant problem. If this is the first time this has happened, we have a few tricks that may solve the problem. If it’s happened before you might want to look into troubleshooting Daydream controller issues.



Ben Heck’s Portable N64, part 2


When Ben began his Nintendo 64 build, he knew it wasn’t going to be easy. In this episode, he shrinks down the size of the controller, embeds the RAM expansion and begins to construct the case with design cues from the Nintendo Switch. To embed the controller, he has to get creative: The notorious analogue stick needs to be reworked. Thanks to an Arduino Pro Micro, though, it can be replaced with a joystick from Sony’s PlayStation Vita.

Further hackery comes in the form of a custom-made printed circuit board to house the controller chip, as the one from the original joypad is far too big. Unfortunately, there’s one final problem to overcome, but you’ll have to watch the episode to find out what it is. Do you have any ideas on how this portable console could have been built differently? Or have you made your own? Let us know over on the element14 Community.

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