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14
May

After Math: Keep the change


It was a big week of whole numbers for the tech industry. Fossil now offers 300 different smartwatch models for sale, Windows 10 hit 500 million active installs and Apple just invested $200 million in Corning’s Gorilla Glass operation. Numbers, because how else are you going to eliminate rounding error?

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14
May

‘WannaCry’ ransomware evolves despite attempts to kill it


There were predictions that the fast-spreading “WannaCry ” (aka “WannaCrypt”) ransomware would quickly evolve to get around its domain-based kill switch, and, well… the predictions were right. Security researchers have discovered variants of the Windows malware that either have different kill switches (easy to stop by purchasing the web domain) or don’t have a kill switch at all. MalwareTech’s initial findings might have stopped the original WannaCry in its tracks, but that was really just a speed bump for malicious coders.

In the meantime, the NSA-derived attack has affected companies and infrastructure well beyond the UK’s National Health Service. French car manufacturer Renault has confirmed to Reuters that it stopped production at multiple sites on May 13th to limit the reach of WannaCry. It plans to resume business as usual on Monday, but that’s a significant setback for a company that counts on continuous manufacturing. FedEx, Telefonica, Germany’s railway system and other big names have also been hit, although not always so dramatically. Europol’s Rob Wainright reports that the ransomware has hit about 200,000 computers in over 150 countries, and believes that the problem is getting worse, not better. It could be particularly bad on Monday, when many businesses switch on their computers and might expose unpatched systems to attack.

There will be solutions to this particular attack: more organizations will patch their PCs, and updated antivirus software will catch the malware. The big question is whether or not this will prompt a broader change in security policy. Many of the victims fell prey simply because their systems were running Windows XP or Server 2003, both of which have lost official support outside of special contracts. While it would be unrealistic to expect everyone to always run the latest operating system (software compatibility and cost are major concerns), you may well see repeat incidents unless these large-scale customers get in the habit of staying reasonably up to date.

Source: Matthieu Suiche (Twitter), Motherboard

14
May

How to maximize electric vehicle range (and minimize anxiety)


Forget road rage, there’s a new psychosis in town. The rise in popularity of electric vehicles has led to a new phenomenon — range anxiety. EVs tend to have shorter ranges than gasoline or diesel vehicles, and charging takes a lot longer than filling up with traditional dinosaur juice. As you can imagine, this fact hasn’t exactly been well-received.

In an all-electric car, getting to your destination can require a bit more planning than it would with an internal-combustion equivalent, but it is possible to live with an EV conveniently. Here’s everything you need to avoid range anxiety (besides Prozac).

Know your car

First, you need to know how much range you’re working with. The EPA-rated range is a good indicator of what your car can achieve, but as with gasoline cars and fuel economy, the range will vary in real-world use depending on a variety of factors, such as driving style and road conditions.

All EVs include some form of range meter, but these can be optimistic; you’ll get a better idea of that after driving the car for a while. These projections typically change in real time, giving you an idea of how driving behavior or conditions are impacting range. Don’t be surprised if the meter plummets when you floor the throttle.

Consequently, it’s important to leave yourself a little wiggle room when planning trips. If you can’t fully charge the car at a given stop, charge it to the point where you’ll have enough juice to reach your destination, and then some. On trips that push your car’s limits, make sure you’ll be able to reach charging stations along the way, but keep in mind that it will still take you longer to get from point A to point B because charging takes more time than filling up with gas.

Your car can also help you plan a trip. Certain models, like the Nissan Leaf, can display nearby charging stations directly within their navigation systems. The Tesla Model S and Model X can even let drivers check how crowded Tesla’s Supercharger stations are.

For extra-long trips, consider using a different vehicle or mode of transportation altogether. See if it makes sense to fly or take the train, or even rent a gasoline car. BMW offers complimentary loans of internal-combustion cars to its i3 owners, for example. Or maybe keep a gas-powered car or plug-in hybrid around as a second vehicle for times when your all-electric car’s range won’t cut it.

Get a home charging station

While road trips can be more complicated, quelling range anxiety for daily commuting is simple. A home charging station is essential for every electric-car owner, and should take care of most charging needs for short, local trips.

Several companies make 240-volt, Level 2 AC charging stations that allow you to replenish your car at home in a reasonable amount of time. The large battery packs in all-electric cars make simply plugging into a Level 1 conventional household outlet impractical, as it will take much longer to get a full charge. (You might be able to get away with it with a plug-in hybrid, though.) A 240V charging station will allow you to charge your electric overnight.

Home charging stations are available through chain hardware stores such as Lowes and Home Depot, as well as online retailers like Amazon, and many automakers offer them as accessories to electric-car buyers. Installing one requires wiring a dedicated 240V line, the kind used by clothes dryers and other large appliances — and a job for an electrician. Charging stations can be installed inside or outside, so find the location that works best for you.

This is a straightforward process for homeowners, but a more complicated for renters. When approaching the property owner about installing a charging station, make it clear that you will pay for the installation work, the station itself, and any electricity you use. California explicitly requires property owners to let renters install charging stations; in other states, it’s a process that may take some negotiation.

Know the ins and outs of charging networks

Public charging stations are operated by a series of private companies, just like gas stations. But unlike gas stations, many companies require EV drivers to carry network-specific cards to use their stations — you won’t be able to access every charging station by simply swiping a credit card.

Many drivers address this problem by getting accounts with multiple networks, just to ensure they are covered wherever they go. Operators have discussed some form of inter-network payment scheme that would allow one-card access, but little has come of that so far. Nissan Leaf owners can get the automaker’s EZ-Charge card, which is good at AeroVironment, Blink, CarCharging, ChargePoint, Greenlots, and EVgo stations.

Mitigating that issue is the fact that many public charging stations are free to use. At this early stage in the development of electric cars, governments, automakers, and other groups are still looking to promote them. Subsidizing public charging stations is a pretty good way to do that, both because it helps assuage consumer concerns about the availability of charging infrastructure, and because everyone loves free stuff. Businesses also view charging as a way to draw in customers — you have to do something while your car charges, after all — and some are happy to offer free charging just for the traffic it brings.

Once you know where the charging stations are, and know you can use them, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the different types. Most public charging stations are Level 2 AC, charging at 240 volts — about twice the rate of normal household current. These typically take several hours to fully charge an electric car. Level 1 is basically plugging a car into a standard household outlet, although some dedicated Level 1 charging stations do exist. Charging at Level 1 takes too long to be practical for everyday use, however, so it’s more of a last resort.

DC fast-charging stations are, as the name implies, faster. They can charge many electric cars to 80-percent capacity in around 30 minutes, though charging rate slows down significantly after that to avoid damaging the battery pack. DC fast-charging stations are more expensive to install and operate, so they’re harder to find and are generally not used at residences.

Not every electric car has a DC fast-charging port, and there are three different types that correspond to different manufacturer-backed standards. The CHAdeMO standard is used primarily by Japanese and Korean automakers, while the Combined Charging Standard (CCS) is used by the majority of U.S. and German automakers. Tesla’s Supercharger stations can only interface with the company’s cars.

Put it in perspective

Owning an electric car can definitely be more challenging than owning an internal-combustion car. Shorter ranges and longer charging times shrink the margin of error for reaching a destination considerably. But that doesn’t mean every trip has to be nerve wracking.

A 2016 MIT study found that current electric cars could replace 87 percent of U.S. personal cars. Researchers looked at travel patterns and, rather than an expensive Tesla, they used the Nissan Leaf as a baseline. Assuming battery technology improves in line with government estimates, electric cars could replace 98 percent of gasoline and diesel cars by 2020, the study found.

Why? Most of the time, people drive relatively short distances. The average commute simply isn’t that long, and if you have a home charging station, you can charge at night and be ready to go in the morning. Range anxiety really only becomes an issue for longer trips, or other unusual circumstances. Put simply, if you can make a plan for those situations, you can conquer it.




14
May

Swedish solution to public unrest? Build a gold sauna where people can talk


Why it matters to you

If you have a disagreement with others, try meeting in a sauna to hash it out.

Here’s a unique way to settle public unrest or discord: discuss it in a sauna. No sauna? No problem, build a really cool one and people will come. That’s what happened in the far northern Swedish town of Kiruna when damage threatened from iron ore mining meant the whole town had to relocate a few miles away, according to Dezeen.

Iron ore is a major income source for Sweden, and is Kiruna’s economic lifeblood. A rich seam of ore runs downward diagonally through the town, and the only way to continue mining is to move the whole town and its 18,000-plus residents. Therefore, the town is moving east, and a new masterplan created by architectural firm White Arkitetker is being developed.

Kiruna’s residents were afraid relocating the entire town would devastate their community spirit. That’s when Swedish developer Riksbyggen commissioned artists Bigert and Bergstrom to build a space for townspeople to unite and talk.

The result from the commission is Solar Egg, a golden, egg-shaped sauna. The striking edifice is a place where residents can meet to debate and discuss climate, sustainable community development, and any other concerns.

“Saunas are sacrosanct places where you can discuss all manner of things — from the big to the small,” according to Artist Mats Bigert.

Solar Egg stands approximately 16 feet high and has a 13-foot diameter. The exterior is covered with 69 pieces of gold-plated stainless steel sheets. Inside, pine floor and walls and aspen benches surround the sauna’s human heart-shaped wood stove made of iron and stone. According to the artists, the stove keeps the interior heated between 167 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.

Residents enter the Solar Egg via stairs on a doorway that lowers like a drawbridge. The sauna’s two-tiered seating has room for as many as eight people at a time to discuss matters of interest large and small with other people from Kiruna.




14
May

Big, beautiful, but breakable: Check out the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases


With a 6.2-inch screen and glass curves to die for, the S8 Plus proves big can be beautiful, but it’s also worryingly breakable. If it slips from your hand, you can expect cracks and scratches in that gorgeous glass exterior, not to mention chips and dents in the metal frame. It’s not cheap to fix, so it makes sense to take precautions. Shop for the best S8 Plus cases and covers, and find the right style and level of protection for you. It may be smart to pair some of these cases with one of the best S8 Plus screen protectors, for complete coverage.

Skech Matrix Glitter Case ($19)

Skech Matrix Glitter Case

If you’d like to add a little sparkle to Samsung’s stunning design, then this Skech case is for you. It features a clear, hard, polycarbonate back with a flexible TPU bumper. It’s a transparent case with glitter embedded in it, though you can get a crystal-clear version. It has a special coating that adds grip, reduces scratches, and resists any yellowing than the sun’s rays might cause. Drop protection is good from up to 8 feet, there’s a raised rim to safeguard your screen, and the slim button covers do their job well. You’ll also find accurate openings for easy access to everything.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Patchworks ITG Level Case ($15)

Patchworks ITG Level Case

This classic combination of shock absorbing TPU with a tough polycarbonate shell should keep your S8 Plus safe from drop damage caused by minor falls from up to 4 feet. It features a smart design with textured sides for enhanced grip, button covers that are easy to find and press without looking, and a sloping cut-out on the back that offers easy access to the fingerprint sensor and ensures there’s no flash splashback. It’s good that you can still enjoy your curved screen with this case on, but we have doubts about how protective it will be if your S8 Plus lands face down. It comes in red or black.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Nomad Folio Wallet Case ($50)

Nomad Folio Wallet Case

Here’s a classy S8 Plus case for anyone who wants to leave the wallet at home. The exterior comes in brown or grey leather, and it’s neatly stitched. Open it up and you’ll find three card slots and a larger pocket for cash. There’s also a plastic shell to hold your S8 Plus in place, and it has large cut-outs for easy access to buttons and ports. There’s a good-sized opening on the back for the camera and fingerprint sensor, too.

Buy one now from:

Best Buy

Silk Innovation Base Grip Case ($12)

Silk Innovation Base Grip Case

This is a slim, flexible case that’s easy to fit and offers basic protection for your S8 Plus. It does have a raised lip around the screen and cushioned corners, so it should protect your phone from bumps, scratches, and minor falls, but don’t expect rugged drop protection. The highlight is the textured bumper portion which aids grip. The button covers are very thin and the cut-outs are accurate. This affordable S8 Plus case comes in a teal blue, or in black.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

RhinoShield CrashGuard Bumper ($25)

RhinoShield CrashGuard Bumper

What we love about this bumper is that it doesn’t cover the screen or back of the S8 Plus and yet it offers solid drop protection from up to 11 feet. It won’t interfere with the camera, NFC, or wireless charging like some S8 Plus cases can. It also features generous openings for the ports and it can be used in partnership with most screen protectors. The downside is that it’s a chunky, hard polycarbonate frame and the button covers are stiff at first.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Caseology Fairmont Case ($20)

galaxy s8 plus cases
The Galaxy S8 Plus is many things, but one thing that it is not is cheap. The Fairmont case combines sturdy polycarbonate and faux-leather in a stylish package that gives the impression of premium luxury, but without the premium price tag. This case fits the smartphone nicely and is relatively slim. It will provide some measure of protection against bumps and scratches, while looking very smart in a two-tone cherry color combination. If you’re not into big, black, bulky cases, then this may be the way to go.

Buy one now from:

Caseology

Noreve Horizontal Wallet Case ($55)

galaxy s8 plus cases
When it comes to premium, supple leather cases, Noreve should be at the top of everyone’s shortlist. This horizontal wallet case protects your Galaxy S8 Plus from all sides, unlike some other wallet cases that leave the corners exposed. The camera, flash, and ports are easily accessible, so you can take pictures without any hassle. It has pockets for two cards and, as is typical with Noreve cases, you can order it in a variety of leather finishes, textures, and colors.

Buy one now from:

Noreve

UAG Pathfinder Case ($39)

galaxy s8 plus cases
The UAG Pathfinder case combines a very lightweight build with impact shock resistance that meets military drop-test standards. There is a heavily textured pattern on the back and sides of the case for extra grip. Samsung stuck with a headphone jack on the Galaxy S8, but charging and data transfer come via the USB Type-C port. Thankfully, the case features oversized ports so that you can use this case with most headphones, earbuds, or charging cables.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Otterbox Defender Case ($60)

galaxy s8 plus cases
The Otterbox Defender is one of those cases that offers no apologies. It is big, bulky, and boasts some of the best drop protection of any case. Like other Otterbox cases, it comes certified by Otterbox’s Drop+ protection. One important thing to note is that the Defender case for the Galaxy S8 Plus is a screenless design, so keep that in mind if you were looking for a rugged case with a built-in screen protector. Just because the case is big and rugged doesn’t mean that you have to get it in black; Otterbox does offer some very nice two-tone color combinations including the bizarrely-named marathoner (blue and gray), vinyasa (purple and pink), and the more straightforward aqua mint gray.

Buy one now from:

Otterbox

Lifeproof Case ($90)

galaxy s8 plus cases
If you were looking for a case that doubles down on waterproof protection and has a built-in screen protector, then you’ve just found it. We’re sure you know by now that the Galaxy S8 Plus has IP68 dust and water resistance, but you may want a case that is not only waterproof, but dirt-proof, snow-proof, and drop-proof as well. Lifeproof’s waterproofing also offers slightly more protection than the native IP68 water resistance of the Galaxy S8. This case is submersible to a depth of two meters for up to one hour. It’s a pretty bulky case, but the features and ports are easily accessible. The case is available in a few colors with silly names, including asphalt black, second wind gray (pictured), and twilight’s edge purple (which is actually pink, purple, and turquoise).

Buy one now from:

Lifeproof

14
May

Ben Heck finally gets the Nintendo-PlayStation prototype working


590c7940670984539ac9f234_o_F_v0.jpg

It feels like a long time has passed since the Midwest Gaming Classic in 2016 where the team first encountered the Nintendo-PlayStation SFX-100 portable. Now it’s time to see the highlights of Ben working on the rare console from past episodes, as well as one or two livestreams. Watch unseen diagnostic clips using oscilloscopes, and much glorious soldering! Finally, the question has been answered: Can the console be repaired to play games? Software developers, it’s now your time to shine! If you have any comments or questions, let us know over on the element14 Community. And if you’re inspired by the show, be sure to hack and make safely.

14
May

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Floating party platforms, pottery printers, and more


awesome-tech-you-cant-buy-yet-280x75.png

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion crowdfunding campaigns on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. In this column, we cut through all the worthless wearables and Oculus Rift ripoffs to round up the week’s most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects. But don’t grab your wallet just yet. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project can fail — even the most well-intentioned. Do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Soundfloat — Floating lounge chair

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It doesn’t matter where you live or what body of water is nearby — we can all agree that a lazy float in the river/lake/pool is quite possibly the most glorious leisure activity on planet earth. If done correctly, it involves all of the good things in life: being outside, being comfortable, listening to music, and (if you’re doing it right) drinking beer.  But if you want to enjoy all of these things at the same time, you need the proper equipment.

It’s basically the Coolest Cooler of floatie tubes.

In addition to a durable float tube, you also need a waterproof Bluetooth speaker and a dry bag to protect your phone/mp3 player — not to mention a floating cooler for your booze. And once you’ve rounded up all this gear, you’ll need to figure out a suitable lashing system to secure everything to your tube.

Soundfloat offers an alternative to all this madness. Rather than forcing you to cobble all your float gear together like a hobo, the Soundfloat incorporates all the gear you need into one tricked-out flotation device. Built into the inflatable body, you’ll find a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, a dry bag for your electronics, and a removable cooler. It’s basically the Coolest Cooler of floatie tubes.

Read more here

ClayXYZ — Desktop 3D clay printer

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Clay-like ceramic filament for 3D printing has been around for a few years, but truth be told, the stuff that they sell right now isn’t really clay. In its normal form, clay isn’t particularly printer-friendly, so the product that filament shops sell is usually a clay/thermoplastic composite that’s more predictable and easy to work with. Most printers just aren’t properly equipped to handle gobs of wet clay, but ClayXYZ isn’t just any old printer. This bad boy was designed from the ground up to print pottery.

In terms of operation, ClayXYZ works a lot like a traditional filament-based 3D printer. It takes raw material and extrudes it, layer by layer, to create a 3D object. The only difference here is that instead of a plastic filament, ClayXYZ pushes a block of wet clay through a nozzle — kind of like how you force toothpaste out of a tube. Then, when the object is finished, it must then be fired in a kiln. This hardens the clay and activates any glaze applied to the model.

When all is said and done, you’ll have a fully-functional ceramic object in your hands. So if pottery classes aren’t your thing, at least now you have an alternative!

Read more here

HushMe — Wearable voice muffler

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Ever had to take a private call in a not-so-private room? If you have, you know how awful it is. Everyone within earshot can eavesdrop on your conversation, which can make you feel self-conscious and awkward while on the phone. But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if there was some sort of magical device that allowed you to speak freely in an open office, but only be heard by the person on the other end of your call? It sounds ridiculous, but that’s exactly what this new gizmo called HushMe is designed to do.

“You can use ‘active’ mode and get almost 100 percent privacy.”

“We have created the world’s first voice mask for smartphones, called Hushme,” CEO Roman Sakun told Digital Trends. “Hushme is a Bluetooth hands-free device, with the additional features of voice masking. You connect it to your mobile and can listen to a music or use as a traditional hands-free, but if you are in open space office and need to make a private call, you just put it on and speak.”

Hushme has some impressive muffling qualities to go with its Bane-like look. “Due to insulating materials, your voice is decreased by 60 percent in ‘passive’ mode, and [people at a distance of three feet cannot] understand what are you speaking about,” Sakun continued. “If you are in a crowded noisy place like a railway station or airport, then you can use ‘active’ mode and get almost 100 percent privacy.”

Read more here

Ploota — Anti-drowning wearable

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

When you drive a car, you put a seat belt on. When you go cycling, you wear a helmet. But not counting goofy-looking water wings, there’s not really an equivalent when you go swimming. That’s precisely what the team behind Ploota wants to change. The device is essentially a high-tech necklace that deploys airbags filled with CO2, designed to keep a person’s head upright, if they’re under water for more than 30 seconds. Just don’t forget about it and decide to challenge your buddy to a breath-holding contest!

“Back in 2014, two close family members of mine almost drowned in the ocean during a holiday in South Africa,” creator Rainer Fakesch told Digital Trends’ Luke Dormehl in an interview. “Only with luck and a huge effort did they manage to reach the shore after 30 minutes of struggling. The next year, I read in a German newspaper that during the first two summer weeks, nine people drowned in a lake. They were mostly good swimmers, but they didn’t make it back to the shore. That was the initial spark that made me start developing Ploota.”

Read more here

Heatworks Model 3 — Advanced tankless water heater

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Tankless water heaters (the kind that provide an endless stream of hot water) are arguably one of the best inventions ever — but they’re far from perfect. Generally speaking, tankless water heaters rely on a resistance heating element to warm up the water. In order to get it to a reasonable temperature in just a few seconds, these elements need to get extremely hot, and it’s not uncommon for them to reach temperatures well over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface.

This method is undeniably effective at heating water, but it comes with one big drawback: this massive heat difference between the water and the coil causes minerals in the water to plate to the heating element, which over time can build up and make the coil inefficient — or even cause it to fail completely.

Heatworks circumvents this problem with its patented “direct electric resistance” technology that uses two graphite electrodes and the water’s own resistance to directly energize and heat it. This apparently ensures no plating effect, superb temperature control, reliable operation, and a significantly longer lifespan compared to traditional water heaters.

In independent tests, ISI has determined that the Model 3 is up to 40 percent more energy efficient and 10 percent more water efficient than the average tankless heater. All this, and it’s still only a bit larger than a toaster.

Read more here




14
May

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Floating party platforms, pottery printers, and more


awesome-tech-you-cant-buy-yet-280x75.png

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion crowdfunding campaigns on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. In this column, we cut through all the worthless wearables and Oculus Rift ripoffs to round up the week’s most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects. But don’t grab your wallet just yet. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project can fail — even the most well-intentioned. Do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Soundfloat — Floating lounge chair

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

It doesn’t matter where you live or what body of water is nearby — we can all agree that a lazy float in the river/lake/pool is quite possibly the most glorious leisure activity on planet earth. If done correctly, it involves all of the good things in life: being outside, being comfortable, listening to music, and (if you’re doing it right) drinking beer.  But if you want to enjoy all of these things at the same time, you need the proper equipment.

It’s basically the Coolest Cooler of floatie tubes.

In addition to a durable float tube, you also need a waterproof Bluetooth speaker and a dry bag to protect your phone/mp3 player — not to mention a floating cooler for your booze. And once you’ve rounded up all this gear, you’ll need to figure out a suitable lashing system to secure everything to your tube.

Soundfloat offers an alternative to all this madness. Rather than forcing you to cobble all your float gear together like a hobo, the Soundfloat incorporates all the gear you need into one tricked-out flotation device. Built into the inflatable body, you’ll find a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, a dry bag for your electronics, and a removable cooler. It’s basically the Coolest Cooler of floatie tubes.

Read more here

ClayXYZ — Desktop 3D clay printer

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Clay-like ceramic filament for 3D printing has been around for a few years, but truth be told, the stuff that they sell right now isn’t really clay. In its normal form, clay isn’t particularly printer-friendly, so the product that filament shops sell is usually a clay/thermoplastic composite that’s more predictable and easy to work with. Most printers just aren’t properly equipped to handle gobs of wet clay, but ClayXYZ isn’t just any old printer. This bad boy was designed from the ground up to print pottery.

In terms of operation, ClayXYZ works a lot like a traditional filament-based 3D printer. It takes raw material and extrudes it, layer by layer, to create a 3D object. The only difference here is that instead of a plastic filament, ClayXYZ pushes a block of wet clay through a nozzle — kind of like how you force toothpaste out of a tube. Then, when the object is finished, it must then be fired in a kiln. This hardens the clay and activates any glaze applied to the model.

When all is said and done, you’ll have a fully-functional ceramic object in your hands. So if pottery classes aren’t your thing, at least now you have an alternative!

Read more here

HushMe — Wearable voice muffler

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Ever had to take a private call in a not-so-private room? If you have, you know how awful it is. Everyone within earshot can eavesdrop on your conversation, which can make you feel self-conscious and awkward while on the phone. But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if there was some sort of magical device that allowed you to speak freely in an open office, but only be heard by the person on the other end of your call? It sounds ridiculous, but that’s exactly what this new gizmo called HushMe is designed to do.

“You can use ‘active’ mode and get almost 100 percent privacy.”

“We have created the world’s first voice mask for smartphones, called Hushme,” CEO Roman Sakun told Digital Trends. “Hushme is a Bluetooth hands-free device, with the additional features of voice masking. You connect it to your mobile and can listen to a music or use as a traditional hands-free, but if you are in open space office and need to make a private call, you just put it on and speak.”

Hushme has some impressive muffling qualities to go with its Bane-like look. “Due to insulating materials, your voice is decreased by 60 percent in ‘passive’ mode, and [people at a distance of three feet cannot] understand what are you speaking about,” Sakun continued. “If you are in a crowded noisy place like a railway station or airport, then you can use ‘active’ mode and get almost 100 percent privacy.”

Read more here

Ploota — Anti-drowning wearable

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

When you drive a car, you put a seat belt on. When you go cycling, you wear a helmet. But not counting goofy-looking water wings, there’s not really an equivalent when you go swimming. That’s precisely what the team behind Ploota wants to change. The device is essentially a high-tech necklace that deploys airbags filled with CO2, designed to keep a person’s head upright, if they’re under water for more than 30 seconds. Just don’t forget about it and decide to challenge your buddy to a breath-holding contest!

“Back in 2014, two close family members of mine almost drowned in the ocean during a holiday in South Africa,” creator Rainer Fakesch told Digital Trends’ Luke Dormehl in an interview. “Only with luck and a huge effort did they manage to reach the shore after 30 minutes of struggling. The next year, I read in a German newspaper that during the first two summer weeks, nine people drowned in a lake. They were mostly good swimmers, but they didn’t make it back to the shore. That was the initial spark that made me start developing Ploota.”

Read more here

Heatworks Model 3 — Advanced tankless water heater

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Tankless water heaters (the kind that provide an endless stream of hot water) are arguably one of the best inventions ever — but they’re far from perfect. Generally speaking, tankless water heaters rely on a resistance heating element to warm up the water. In order to get it to a reasonable temperature in just a few seconds, these elements need to get extremely hot, and it’s not uncommon for them to reach temperatures well over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface.

This method is undeniably effective at heating water, but it comes with one big drawback: this massive heat difference between the water and the coil causes minerals in the water to plate to the heating element, which over time can build up and make the coil inefficient — or even cause it to fail completely.

Heatworks circumvents this problem with its patented “direct electric resistance” technology that uses two graphite electrodes and the water’s own resistance to directly energize and heat it. This apparently ensures no plating effect, superb temperature control, reliable operation, and a significantly longer lifespan compared to traditional water heaters.

In independent tests, ISI has determined that the Model 3 is up to 40 percent more energy efficient and 10 percent more water efficient than the average tankless heater. All this, and it’s still only a bit larger than a toaster.

Read more here




14
May

Honeywell recalls fire alarm gateway that can’t detect fires


Tech-savvy fire alarm systems aren’t without their share of problems, it seems. Honeywell is recalling its SWIFT wireless gateway after learning that the smoke detectors connected to the gateway (usually found in apartments, hotels and offices) won’t always kick in — in other words, they can’t accomplish their one and only mission. The company hasn’t received reports of real-world incidents and is offering a firmware update as a fix, but it clearly doesn’t want to take any chances.

The recall isn’t about to spark a mass panic when it covers just 900 units sold between October 2014 and December 2016. However, it underscores the challenges of building advanced safety systems. Simply put, there isn’t much room for glitches. Fire alarms have to be extremely reliable, and that’s not an easy feat when you bring networking into the equation.

Source: CPSC

14
May

Intel ends its dreams of replacing the x86 chip in your PC


When Intel launched its first Itanium processor in 2001, it had very high hopes: the 64-bit chip was supposed to do nothing less than kill off the x86 architecture that had dominated PCs for over two decades. Things didn’t quite pan out that way, however, and Intel is officially calling it quits. The company tells PCWorld that its just-shipping Itanium 9700-series processors will be the last models in the family. HPE, the enterprise company resulting from the split of Itanium co-creator HP, will be the last major customer — its extra-reliable Integrity i6 servers are getting the upgraded hardware, but you won’t hear much from anyone else.

The news marks the quiet end to a tumultuous saga. Itanium was supposed to represent a clean break from x86 that put Intel firmly into the 64-bit era. It was first intended for high-end servers and workstations, but it was eventually supposed to find its way into home PCs. Needless to say, that’s not how it worked out. Early Itanium chips were power hogs, and AMD threw a monkey wrench into Intel’s plans by launching 64-bit x86 processors ahead of Intel. Why buy Itanium when you can get many of the benefits of 64-bit technology without tossing your existing software? Intel responded with 64-bit x86 chips of its own, and those quickly took over as Itanium remained the niche option.

That shift effectively killed any hopes of the broad support Itanium needed to survive. Microsoft dropped support in Windows after 2010 , and HP went so far as to sue Oracle for ditching software development in 2011. Not that Intel necessarily minded by that point. It poured most of its energy into many-core Xeon processors that were often up to the job. And it’ll be a while before Itanium disappears forever. HPE says that it’ll offer Linux-based “containers” that let you run Itanium software on x86 servers, so it’ll be relatively easy for companies to jump ship at their own pace.

The cancellation also shows just how much Intel has changed in the past 16 years. Where the chip giant was once obsessed with ruling the high-performance computing world, it’s now trying to move beyond the PC. Why pour resources into exotic server CPUs when the future revolves more around drones, wearables and the Internet of Things? Although server chips aren’t about to disappear any time soon, Intel clearly has better ways to spend its money.

Source: PCWorld

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