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Your face could be your ticket to fly on JetBlue

Airports are where hopes and dreams go to die. But JetBlue thinks that one method of how people typically pass the time could be used to speed up the boarding process. For some passengers, a taken-at-the-gate photo will suffice to get them to their sky-chair. It’s part of a collaboration between the airline and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office, Jetblue announced today.

“Customers who opt in during the boarding process can put away their boarding passes and devices and simply step up to the camera for a quick photo. The custom-designed camera station will connect to CBP to instantly match the image to passport, visa or immigration photos in the CBP database and verify flight details.

The customer will be notified on an integrated screen above the camera when they are cleared to proceed to the jet bridge. The setup will move JetBlue crewmembers from behind the counter to interact with customers and assist throughout the process. JetBlue will issue iPad minis to crewmembers, giving them mobility to monitor and manage the boarding process while interacting with customers.”

It’ll start in very limited fashion this June, and only on service from flights to Beatrix International Airport in Aruba from Boston’s Logan International Airport.

“What we want to deliver is a secure and seamless passenger experience,” Jim Peters, the chief technology officer of info-tech provider SITA said in the release. “We use sophisticated technologies to enable biometric checks and for CBP authorization to be sent quickly to the airline’s systems.”

The pair are pitching this as a way of “enhancing” US national security and that it could be a quick and easy way to put biometric authorization in pretty much any airline and airport. The dark side of this is that the tech could be used to further build a surveillance database of US citizens. Previously we’ve seen the Customs department push for biometrics where you’d usually only need ID like a driver’s license.

Delta recently announced it was testing a photo-based bag checking system over the summer, but clarified that its photos would be deleted “immediately” following a match. We’ll update this post with more information about JetBlue and the CBP’s plans for photo storage should it arrive.

Via: Business Insider

Source: BusinessWire


Give any VR headset mixed reality powers with this 3D camera

While Microsoft’s HoloLens is the first augmented-reality headset you can actually try (if you’re a developer, anyway), it’s also pretty inaccessible thanks to its $3,000 price. Late last year, Stereolabs announced a potential solution in the form of the Linq, a mixed reality headset that will hopefully retail for less than $1,000. It offers a much wider field of view (110 degrees) and the ability to map a 3D space in real time, mostly thanks to the company’s ZED 3D camera that’s embedded in the headset itself. Today, however, the company is announcing an even cheaper device that’ll transform any VR headset into an AR one: the ZED Mini.

As the name suggests, the ZED Mini is essentially a tiny version of the ZED 3D camera. The idea with the ZED Mini is that it’s small enough that you can just slap it on top of an existing VR headset — say, the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift — and voilà, you’ll get an augmented-reality headset without having to cough up thousands more dollars.

The ZED Mini works in the same way as the ZED. It has two cameras that are designed to work like human eyesight. Both versions have two 720p RGB sensors with the aforementioned 110-degree field-of-view. The ZED Mini uses Stereolabs’ unique depth-sensing tech, which doesn’t require external cameras or sensors. “It takes the point of view of the left and right cameras and understands the distances of objects,” says Cecile Schmollgruber, Stereolabs’ co-founder and CEO. The ZED Mini connects via USB-C to the headset and attaches via a compatible mount.

This means that unlike Microsoft’s HoloLens, which displays images onto translucent screens, or the mysterious Magic Leap, which projects them directly onto your eyeballs, StereoLabs uses a basic 3D video pass-through. Instead of seeing the world naturally through clear glass, you’re essentially seeing the world through the ZED’s dual cameras. Think of it as seeing the world through a security camera rather than through a window.

I had a chance to try out the ZED Mini prototype for a little bit, and I have to say I was a little disappointed. The blurry and pixelated quality of the 720p video really dampened my experience, and even though the framerate was at 60 fps, I felt a little nauseated when I tried to walk around. A StereoLabs spokesperson said that could be because I wasn’t used to the spinning objects, but seeing as I’ve had plenty of experience with VR headsets, I don’t think that’s the case. I have a feeling it’s simply because the video quality was a lot poorer than I anticipated, and that threw me off.

Still, the field of view is certainly a lot larger than that on HoloLens. Instead of just a tiny square in your vision, the augmented view through the ZED Mini is massive (it’s basically your entire “screen” instead of just a small window). In a demo of the solar system, it felt like the planets were floating all around me. The real-time 3D mapping is pretty impressive, too. One demo had drones shooting lasers at me, and I was able to block their shots just by holding up my hands. I could also use other objects in the room as shields, like a chair or somebody standing in front of me.

I was especially impressed with a lightsaber demo, whereby the team at StereoLabs essentially transformed a generic toy lightsaber into a virtual weapon. They mapped the toy so that the camera would instantly recognize its color and shape. So when I brought the toy into view of the headset, the computer vision would kick in instantly and the lightsaber glowed as if it were real. And because the game was programmed to recognize the lightsaber, I could use it to deflect lasers and slice drones in half. Despite the poor video quality, it was pretty fun to play a pretend Jedi, at least for a little while.

In conjunction with the release of the ZED Mini, StereoLabs is also updating the ZED SDK so that developers can start making games and apps for it using Unity and Unreal game engines (right now, the ZED Mini will come bundled with the demo apps mentioned here). Because it can be attached to both Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, the ZED Mini is also compatible with the Vive and Touch controllers out of the box, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to start making games for it. The apps will be compatible not just with the ZED Mini, but also with the upcoming Linq headset, which is basically the same tech but housed in an all-in-one unit.

We should also note that while the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive need to be tethered to a PC, the final consumer version of the Linq headset doesn’t. Still, the Linq is set to be priced close to $1,000, with a yet-to-be-disclosed launch date. The ZED Mini, however, is expected to ship in September for $349. The ZED Mini might not have the immersion of a Magic Leap or the clarity of a HoloLens, but right now, it’s by far the cheapest and most accessible way to get into augmented reality.


Elgato Debuts New ‘Eve Degree’ HomeKit-Connected Temperature Monitor

Elgato today announced the latest product in its Eve series of HomeKit-connected devices, debuting the Eve Degree. Eve Degree is a HomeKit-compatible temperature and humidity monitor with a fresh design featuring a large display housed in a sleek aluminum body.

Elgato already makes a temperature and humidity monitor, the Eve Weather, but the new Eve Degree features an entirely different design and a visible temperature display for instant feedback with no need to check the Eve app to get a reading.

While the display means a quick temperature or humidity check doesn’t require opening the accompanying Eve app, the app does store additional information, including climate data over time presented through graphs.

Eve Degree works indoors or outdoors thanks to a splash proof IPX3 water resistance rating, and it includes a replaceable battery that will allow it to function for several months at a time without needing to be recharged.

“Eve Degree is a luxurious and classy thermometer but, more importantly, it is seamlessly integrated into iPhone,” says Florian Albrecht, Director User Experience, Elgato. “By leveraging the strengths of HomeKit and the Eve app, Eve Degree offers reliable usability, superior privacy, and advanced security.

With HomeKit support, temperature readings from the Eve Degree show up in the dedicated Home app, and it can answer to Siri queries and interface with other HomeKit-compatible products. With an Apple TV Home hub, Eve Degree is able to serve as a trigger for scenes, doing things like turning on a fan when the humidity gets too high, or turning on a humidifier when it’s dry.

Eve Degree will be available from the Elgato website starting Tuesday, June 6 for $69.95.

Tags: HomeKit, Elgato
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Wacom Announces $80 ‘Bamboo Sketch’ Stylus for Drawing and Writing on iPhone and iPad

Wacom today announced the Bamboo Sketch, a new precision stylus for drawing and sketching on both iPad and iPhone devices through a Bluetooth connection. The company said that the stylus mimics a traditional pen-and-paper writing and drawing experience thanks to two customizable shortcut buttons and two interchangeable pen nibs, in both soft and firm.

The Bamboo Sketch can be used within apps like Bamboo Paper, ArtRage, Autodesk SketchBook, Concepts, and MediaBang Paint, and when it’s in use the stylus boasts 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity.

“Visual thinkers who use an iPad or iPhone for their notes and sketches require a pen that offers precision and individualization,” said Mike Gay, Senior Vice President of the Wacom Consumer Business Unit. “Bamboo Sketch offers an advanced writing and drawing experience for those whose first instinct is to reach for a pen and paper as soon as inspiration strikes.”

To charge the stylus, users will be able to connect the magnetic charging port on the pen to a USB dongle accessory, which can be plugged into any traditional USB 3.0 port. The company said that the Bamboo Sketch stylus can last for up to 15 hours on one charge.

The stylus comes with a carrying case that holds the Bamboo Sketch, two pen nibs, and the USB charger. Wacom said that the Bamboo Sketch will launch online and in select retailers at a price point of $79.95 beginning in June.

Tag: Wacom
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What you should know before using an external hard drive on Xbox One or PS4

Whether you live in a “PlayStation household” or an “Xbox household,” your gaming console is likely one of the most important electronic devices in your home. For some people, the amount of storage space on their console is even more important than the storage space on their other devices, as games are often a huge time investment.

Xbox users have been taking advantage of external drives for some time now, allowing them to expand their storage and back up their content. For PlayStation users, however, delving into external storage is a more novel endeavor. Recent firmware updates have made it so you can finally install an external hard drive on your system with relative ease.

Here is our brief guide for all of your external storage needs — how to choose the right hard drive for your console, how to install your external hard drive, how to troubleshoot, and how to manage your storage. Read on for more information.

Xbox One

Your Xbox One or Xbox One S will connect to an external hard drive via USB 3.0, so long as it has a storage capacity of at least 256 GB. You can use a hard drive with lower specs, but it will only save your media, and it will not work for your games. You can also connect two external drives simultaneously, using a USB 3.0 hub, or use multiple hard drives on one system, swapping them out and using them two at a time.

Choosing your hard drive

How do you pick the right hard drive? This depends on a few factors, such as the amount of money you want to shell out, your gaming setup, and your speed and storage needs. External hard drives come in a variety of flavors, and Xbox is liberal with its requirements, allowing for all sorts of drives, including both HDD and SSD solutions.

What the hell is the difference between SSDs and HDDs anyway? A solid state drive (SSD) stores data on microchips, and there are no moving parts within the drive, hence the name. A hard disk drive, however, uses moving parts to read and write data on a disk. With an SSD, you’re likely going to pay more for less storage space, but faster load times.

As of late 2016, SSDs typically cost between 20 and 50 cents per GB, while HDDs are generally less than 5 cents per GB, Extreme Tech reports. HDDs are better for those who prioritize budget and large amounts of space, while SSDs are better for those who value speed and are willing to shell out cash for something a bit more reliable and high-end. However, keep in mind that your system will operate faster with an SSD, but you may not see the huge difference you’re expecting. You’ll likely see about a 20-percent reduction in load time if you have a good SSD, as opposed to an HDD. But, a game that took 90 seconds to load before is not going to all of a sudden load in a single millisecond. It’s also wise to remember that a hybrid (SSHD) will be “almost as fast” as an SSD, so their value is really in the eye of the user.

Whether to go with an HDD or SSD is not the only thing you have to decide on, either. Some drives come with their own power source — a power cord and an AC adapter — while others rely on power from the console’s USB 3.0 port to operate. If you like a clean setup (without a lot of cords) or you’re looking for something small and portable, these are factors to consider as well. In terms of price, you’ll pay anywhere between $40 and upwards of $300, depending on the type of drive and its specs.

A few of the best Xbox One hard drives you can buy for a decent price:

  • WD 1TB Black USB 3.0 My Passport Portable External Hard Drive — $60 on Amazon
  • Seagate Expansion 1TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0 — $55 on Amazon
  • Seagate 1TB FireCuda Gaming SSHD (Solid State Hybrid Drive) — $80 on Amazon
  • Samsung T3 Portable SSD – 500GB – USB 3.1 External SSD — $180 on Amazon
  • Samsung 850 EVO 500GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD — $170 on Amazon

Installing your Xbox one external hard drive

First, make sure you’ve installed any and all updates to your system. If you have an Xbox-certified hard drive, the system should detect it and it’ll be plug and play for the most part, with the system walking you through the process automatically.

For other hard drives, plug the drive into a USB port and press the Xbox button in the center of your controller to launch the guide. After that, go to Settings > All settings > System > Storage > Manage storage. Under Manage storage, you should see your external hard drive listed. If you don’t see your external drive listed, try the following troubleshooting steps:

Step 1: Remove and reconnect the drive into the same USB port.
Step 2: Remove and reconnect the drive in a different USB port.
Step 3: Reboot your console.
Step 4: Go into Settings > All settings > Power mode and uncheck the box besides “When Xbox is off, turn off storage.”
Step 5: Plug another compatible device into your console’s USB port to see if it functions properly.
Step 6: If your hard drive is working on an AC power adapter, try plugging it into a different outlet.

Once you see your external hard drive listed, follow the on-screen prompts. Also, name the drive something unique so you’ll be able to recognize it easily. You can rename your hard drive by selecting it and choosing the “rename” option.

Using your external hard drive

To view the contents of your hard drive, visit the Storage menu, select the name of your drive, and choose the View contents option. While your new games will install onto your hard drive automatically using the default setting, you’ll have to move your old games over manually. To do so, go to your console’s My games and apps menu and find games you’d like to move. Alternatively, you can go to the Storage menu and click on your internal hard drive and find the games there.

To move a game, select Manage game, Move all, and choose Move to your external hard drive. Depending on the size of your game and your drive’s specs, this can take anywhere between a few seconds and several minutes to complete. If you want to house a game on both your internal and external drive — say, if you’re copying your content from an Xbox One to an Xbox One S perhaps — you can select Copy all instead of Move all, and the game will copy to your external drive instead of transferring.


How to clean a cast iron skillet

There are few implements in any given American kitchen more important than a cast iron skillet. These things are so durable and useful that half the foodies in America inherited theirs from their grandmothers. Durable, affordable, and almost impossible to mess up, a cast iron skillet is the workhorse of the American kitchen. From scrambled eggs to skillet-fried chicken, the cast iron skillet is practically a member of the family.

Unfortunately, most of us weren’t smart enough to take notes when our grandmothers were telling us how to clean our cast iron skillets. Thank goodness for the Internet, right?

The Importance of Seasoning

Another wonderful thing about our modern times is that most new cast iron skillets come pre-seasoned. “What is this seasoning of which you speak,” you ask incredulously? It’s a vital part of using a cast iron skillet properly. Basically, we’re using a bit of oil and some simple chemistry to add a non-stick coating to the skillet. If the manufacturer didn’t pre-season yours, you need to create that layer from scratch. Just coat the pan with some vegetable-based cooking oil and bake it at 350 degrees for an hour. Wipe off the oil and the pan is ready to use.

How to Clean a Cast Iron Skillet

There’s no faster way to start a fight among chefs and foodies than declaring the best way to clean a skillet. The truth is you have some options.

The fundamental tenet is that old school cooks believe you shouldn’t use soap to clean your cast iron skillet. In point of fact, it doesn’t make much of a difference. Some foodies think that soap will rub away your seasoning, which is one of the most important features of the pan in the first place. But here’s the thing about chemistry: remember how we put in our oil and heated up the pan to create our seasoning? The process of applying heat to that oil creates a chemical process by which the oil is turned into a thin, plastic-like layer that makes it nonstick. That process is called polymerization, and it’s very difficult to remove with anything less hardy than steel wool. So if you’re worried about germs, feel free to use a little soapy water, but you don’t strictly need to clean your cast iron skillet with soap.

The second tenet is old-school as well, and it’s actually important: don’t put your cast iron skillet in the dishwasher! Not only will the process of exposing your cast iron skillet to extremely hot water potentially diminish your seasoning, exposure to water can also cause it to rust.

Now, the important part: There is no single best way to clean your cast iron skillet, but we can point you in the right direction.

For a basic cleaning, just wash the pan, either with soapy water or simply warm water, wiping it with a kitchen sponge. If there are a few stubborn bits hanging on, you can use the synthetic scrubber found on many modern kitchen sponges. Just don’t break out anything stronger than that, such as steel wool.

If, let’s say, you’ve pan cooked a whole fish or pork loin or other food that has gotten stuck to the pan, go back to chemistry for the clean up. Toss some kosher salt into your skillet, put it on the burner on high heat, and then scrub out the charred messy bits with a spatula followed by some paper towels. The salt creates an abrasive substance that will free up the gunk, but won’t damage your seasoning. The heat simply carbonizes the leftover food, making it easier to pry up. Then rinse out the salt and wash the pan with warm water.

As we stated before, water is a really bad thing for a cast iron skillet because it can start the process of oxidization, meaning your pan could rust. Because of this risk, make sure to dry your skillet thoroughly with kitchen towels or paper towels immediately after washing. On that note, you can cook just about anything in a cast iron skillet, but don’t try to boil water in it or make soup. That’s just asking for trouble.

As an additional option, you can also hand-dry the skillet and then set it over a high flame. The heat causes any remaining water to evaporate, guaranteeing that the skillet is really dry.

As one last optional step, you can re-apply your vegetable oil to the pan and set it over a high flame to ensure your pan is seasoned and ready for its next outing. Just keep in mind that you need to heat it up if you choose this last option. If you just apply the oil without heating it, the oil can be sticky and even rancid by the time time you use it, necessitating the search for a new skillet.

Some Final Tips

Don’t overdo it on size. A 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet will be a very versatile tool for your kitchen.

Cast iron skillets take longer to heat up than Teflon or other pans, but keep in mind that they also retain heat better and distribute it more evenly than other surfaces.

It’s easy to get burnt on a cast iron pan, especially if you pop it in the oven, so always use a towel or an oven mitt to handle the skillet.

Cooking in cast iron increases the iron content in food. Kids under the age of three can be prone to iron toxicity, so use caution with the kiddies.

Use caution in cooking acidic foods like tomato sauce or recipes that contain wine in the cast iron skillet, as these types of foods can be abrasive to your seasoning.

Always heat the cast iron skillet up before cooking in it; if you start with a completely cold pan, your food is more likely to stick.

Which Cast Iron Skillet to Buy?

There are a wide variety of cast iron skillets on the market, from the relatively cheap T-Fal pans at retailers like Target to full-on professional cookware for chefs. Given that this is a vital part of your kitchen arsenal, it’s better to spend a little more money and get a cast iron skillet that will meet your needs. Weight, handle length, and size also play key roles in how easy a cast iron skillet is to use. Longer handles will give you better leverage, although shorter ones can be good, too, if they also include a handle helper.

You can do your own search online, but here are three options. For a good basic pan ($30-$50 range), you can try the Calphalon pre-seasoned cast iron skillet or the Lodge LCC3 Cast Iron Combo Cooker, which is also pre-seasoned and comes with a Dutch oven. For something a little more high-tech, try the Le Creuset Signature Iron Handle Skillet, which comes with a decorative red exterior.

Now you know. Go forth, and cook something good tonight!


Sony’s Xperia Touch projector lets you interact with any surface

Why it matters to you

Sony’s Xperia Touch brings the idea of screen-less interactivity one step closer to reality.


Sony’s latest odd contraption is a projector with an interactive display — the Xperia Touch has been shown and demonstrated at previous trade shows, but the company is finally bringing it to market. And we finally have pricing and availability for the device.

The Xperia Touch looks like a large, external hard drive, but it’s essentially a device projecting an Android tablet interface onto a wall. The resolution it projects only goes up to 720p, but it ranges in size from 23 inches to 80 inches. Sony has announced that the Touch will be available for pre-order starting on June 16, and will be sold for $1,700, which sounds like a lot, but isn’t all that unexpected for a new, cutting-edge device like this.

To project it at 23 inches, the Touch needs to sit close to a wall — that’s when the magic happens. An infrared sensor detects movement across the projected screen, allowing the Touch to detect touch actions on the wall. This allows you to control the projected Android user interface with just your fingers, similar to using a mounted tablet except without a physical display.

Sony has a handful of apps pre-installed that utilize this type of interface, such as a piano keyboard app and a drawing app. But what makes the Xperia Touch even more unique is how it’s essentially a Google Home as well.

That’s all thanks to the new announcement about Google’s app update that will bring Google Assistant, its artificially-intelligent voice bot, to all devices running Android 6.0 or higher. The Xperia Touch runs Android 7.0 Nougat, so you’ll be able to utilize Assistant’s many features, like controlling smart home devices.

The Touch is also filled with a myriad of sensors, such as a human detection sensor, humidity, temperature, barometer, ambient light, GPS, and e-Compass sensors as well. It also has Bluetooth 4.2, 32GB of internal storage, and 3GB of RAM.

It also has NFC at the top, so if you use “OK Google” to ask the Touch for directions, simply tap your (NFC-capable) phone on top and beam the data to your device — that way you’ll get the navigation information on your phone, ready to go.

It’s meant to stay idle and remain plugged in your home via the USB Type-C charger, but it does have a battery that can keep it running for an hour unplugged.

Updated on 05-30-2017 by Christian de Looper: Added pricing and availability of the Sony Touch.


New technique allows engineers to make electricity with nothing but saltwater and freshwater

Why it matters to you

New source of sustainable energy could provide 40 percent of our electricity needs.

Researchers at Penn State University have developed hybrid technology that’s capable of producing “unprecedented” amounts of electrical power at the point at which seawater and freshwater converge at the coast. Its creators claim the smart tech could generate enough energy to fulfill a maximum of 40 percent of the world’s electricity demands.

Technology designed to extract energy from the mixing of fresh and saltwater — based on the difference in salt concentrations between the two water sources — has been around for a while. This is an attempt to derive power from the “osmotic pressure” that builds up when fresh and saltwater mix and nature tries to balance out the salinity gradient.

However, the three main methods for carrying out this energy extraction — including pressure retarded osmosis (PRO), reverse electrodialysis (RED) and capacitive mixing (CapMix) — all come with their own drawbacks. These range from clogged membranes that no longer allow water to move through them (in the case of PRO) to an inability to produce sufficiently large amounts of power (in the case of RED and CapMIX).

The Penn State researchers have developed a new method combining the RED and CapMix methods to create an electrochemical flow cell in which two channels are separated by a membrane. A copper hexacyanoferrate electrode is then placed in each channel, with graphite foil used as a current collector. In their study, one channel was then fed with synthetic seawater, and the other with synthetic freshwater. Switching the water’s flow paths then charges the cell to produce an unprecedented amount of electricity, compared with previous RED and CapMIX solutions.

“There are two things going on here that make it work,” Christopher Gorski, assistant professor in environmental engineering at Penn State, said in a statement. “The first is you have the salt going to the electrodes. The second is you have the chloride transferring across the membrane. Since both of these processes generate a voltage, you end up developing a combined voltage at the electrodes and across the membrane.”

Going forward, scalability will need to be tested, and one imagines that there may be a few hurdles in the form of potential interference with river traffic. But it’s definitely exciting news — and we’ll be eager to see how this develops.


A simple guide on how to share your current location on an iPhone – It’s so easy!

Did you know that your iPhone lets you share more than just pictures and files? One of the easiest things to do with your GPS-enabled device, for instance, is to share your location with family and friends. This feature can be useful in many situations. Maybe you want to show someone a great vacation spot, or perhaps you’re at a party and want a friend to join you. Whatever the case may be, sharing your current location on an iPhone is an easy thing to do. Below, we’ll show you how to share your location using any of your iOS devices via Google Maps, Apple Maps, or iMessage.

How to turn Location Services on

The first thing you need to do is to make sure Location Services is turned on. You might have skipped this step while setting up your iPhone, or maybe you’ve turned it off to conserve battery life. Once you turn it on, you’ll be able to see every app on your smartphone that has access to your location. It is up to you to decide which apps you allow to access your location.

Step 1: Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

Step 2: Make sure Location Services is turned on.

How to share your location using iMessage

Step 1: Tap the information icon (details icon menu) in the upper-right corner.

Step 2: Select Share My Location.

How to share your location in the Contacts app

You can share your location within the Contacts app, too. Open your contacts either by opening the Contacts app or by opening the Phone app and then going to Contacts.

share location iphone

Step 1: Open Contacts.

Step 2: Select the contact with whom you want to share your location.

Step 3: Scroll down to Share My Location and select it.

How to share your location using Apple Maps

Step 1: Open Apple Maps.

Step 2: Tap the blue dot that indicates your device’s location.

Step 3: Tap the blue Share My Location button.

Step 4: Choose the app you want to use to send your location.

How to share your location using Google Maps

Step 1: Open Google Maps.

Step 2: Tap the blue dot that indicates your device’s location, or tap the hamburger menu (hamburger menu) in the upper-left corner and select Share Location.

Step 3: Select Share your location.

Step 4: Choose the app you want to use to send your location.


The ReMarkable tablet is designed to replace your trusty notebook

Why it matters to you

Most tablets make terrible notepad stand-ins, but the ReMarkable’s E Ink display makes it feel like you’re writing on paper.

A stylus and tablet make pretty poor stand-ins for pencil and paper. The smooth, friction-less glass feels unnatural against your palm; the bright screens can strain your eyes over time; and incessant notifications compete for your attention. But as good as paper feels, it’s not a convenient way to collaborate.

Those shortcomings are what ReMarkable, the startup behind an E Ink drawing tablet, set out to reconcile more than five years ago.

“We wanted a gadget that felt like the pen and paper we used through school,” Magnus Wanber, ReMarkable’s chief executive officer, told Digital Trends. “We fell in love with the idea of a paper experience.”

The team settled on a one-two punch of a solution: An E Ink with a pencil-like stylus.

E Ink screens, unlike the color LCD screen in Apple’s iPad and Microsoft’s Surface Pro, are made up of millions of microscopic capsules that contain positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles. When a positive or negative electric field is applied, the corresponding particles move to the screen’s surface, making it appear as though they’ve been printed.

E Ink’s unique properties make it much more power-efficient than LCDs. When nothing’s changing on screen, it doesn’t consume any power, and it doesn’t need a backlight — E Ink screens use ambient light for illumination. But E Ink isn’t typically sourced for stylus-equipped tablets. When the ReMarkable tablet’s development began in 2013, the team learned that displays with refresh rates high enough to support drawing apps didn’t exist. Most E Ink screens refresh every 100 milliseconds — fast enough for flipping pages in an eBook, but about half a second too slow for styluses.

Undeterred, the team engineered their own solution. They spent three years refining an E Ink screen design, refining on a platform — Canvas Display — that leverages five core technologies to deliver sub-55ms response time. They teamed up with E Ink, the privately held company that manufactures E Ink screens, shortly after to produce Canvas Displays at scale.

Then, the team turned its attention to the tablet. The Canvas Display was molded into a tablet form factor — the ReMarkable — which launched on Kickstarter last year. “We needed to see if there was a market for it,” Wanberg said. “We needed to prove that we weren’t just building it for ourselves.”

Validation came swiftly. The ReMarkable blew past its goal, raising $11 million on more than 30,000 in pre-orders. “It’s made us more confident than ever that we’re solving a real problem,” Wanberg said. “The device has a crystal clear rationale.”

But the product isn’t quite finished — the team’s testing the seventh generation prototype, with plans to ship the tablet in August. The design has been finalized, and the hardware’s fully functional. It’s lightweight and thin, with a 10.3-inch 226ppi (pixels per inch) touchscreen and physical buttons that handle navigation. It’s dust resistant and durable — Wanberg said it can withstand drops without cracking.

The ReMarkable’s stylus is just as impressive. It supports more than 2,000 levels of pressure and tilt detection, and uses electromagnetic resonance to register taps and touches on the tablet’s surface. Unlike most drawing styluses, it’s passive — it doesn’t require batteries or need to be recharged.

There’s more to the stylus than meets the eye. The tip — a combination of felt and plastic that took the team nine months to formulate — approximates the feel of notebook paper. Just like graphite in a pencil, the stylus’ material wears down after a while — about nine months. You’ll have to buy replacements for the tip, though no price has been announced yet.

True to the ReMarkable team’s claims, the stylus feels unlike any on the market. During a demo in New York City, we used it to scribble and sketch on the tablet’s blank canvas mode, and were impressed by its responsiveness.

The ReMarkable team’s paid no less attention to the tablet’s software. An extensive brush library boasts includes a tilt-sensitive pencil tool that broadens your strokes as the stylus is laid flat against the tablet’s screen. A background editor lets you upload and switch between graphs, lined notepaper, and even staff paper.

Saved sketches sync to ReMarkable’s suite of smartphone and desktop apps, and a “digital whiteboard” option lets collaborators see (and contribute) changes in real time.

Eventually, the ReMarkable team plans to add optical character recognition (OCR) in a future software update — it converts handwriting to text. Wanberg said it’s already up and running on internal prototypes, but the team wants to ensure it’ll work in “all drawing scenerios.” The team’s also planning on integrating Microsoft’s OneNote, Dropbox, Evernote, and other cloud storage platforms down the line.

“We’re very open,” Wanberg said. “Whatever the users want, we’ll try to add it.”

The ReMarkable tablet, which ships with a stylus and protective folio cover, will start at $530 when it goes on sale later this year.

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