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June 17, 2017

Weekly Rewind: A better hoverboard, solar paint, and a healthier tan

by John_A

A lot can happen in a week when it comes to tech. The constant onslaught of news makes it nigh impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of this week’s top 10 tech stories, from what happened at E3 2017 to how to tan safely this summer — it’s all here.

Streamers and press duke it out at E3 2017, but let’s not forget we’re all gamers

Streamers and YouTubers are attending E3 2017 in record numbers, and that’s creating a bit of tension on the show floor. With bigger media outlets and streamers jockeying for the same demos and access, these growing pains are only natural, but it’s important to keep in mind that democratizing access at E3 is ultimately a good thing for gamers.

Since the event is open to the public for the first time, fans, streamers, and content creators who may not have large enough followings to qualify for press access are able to enjoy the biggest gaming event of the year right alongside big media outlets. At a few pre-show events, some publishers set aside streamer-centric seating right alongside the press.

Read the full story here.

Grab an umbrella! Animated GIFs are raining down on Facebook

The image format, Graphics Interchange Format, or GIF — commonly associated with those animated, looping photographs — is turning 30 on June 15, and Facebook is celebrating by adding the option to find and use GIFs within comments. Facebook is also asking readers that quizzical question: How do you pronounce GIF, anyway?

GIF support isn’t new to Facebook, of course, but the company says GIFs have become increasingly popular since support was introduced to Facebook Messenger in 2015, allowing users to chat with GIFs without opening up a web browser to find the appropriate animation. To date, users have shared almost 13 billion GIFs, from cute animations to funny video-like memes, inside the Messenger app in the last year alone. This amounts to about 25,000 per minute. Facebook says that number is triple the amount of GIFs sent from the previous year.

Read the full story here.

We could soon be painting our houses with ‘solar paint’ for clean energy

Imagine if painting the outside of your house not only made it look easy on the eye, but also took care of all of your home’s energy needs.

This, it seems, could soon be a reality as researchers in Australia have come up with a “solar paint” capable of absorbing moisture from the air and turning it into hydrogen fuel for clean energy.

Based at RMIT University in Melbourne, southern Australia, the research team has developed a unique paint containing a newly developed compound that acts like silica gel — that’s the stuff used in those little sachets that absorb moisture to keep things like food, medicines, and electronics in good shape.

Read the full story here.

Toyota is researching heart-monitoring cars that could prevent crashes

As occasional news reports have shown, having a heart attack or some other medical emergency while driving can prove devastating both for those in the affected vehicle and for anyone nearby when it happens.

With that in mind, Toyota is looking at the idea of incorporating technology into its cars that can predict such an event and bring the vehicle to a quick and safe stop.

Of course, with self-driving cars expected one day to rule the road, there would be no need for such technology. But with the widespread use of autonomous vehicles still a ways off, Toyota’s plans could prove an effective interim safety measure to prevent injuries (and potentially worse).

Read the full story here.

Roaming charges end in the EU, but Brexit confusion dampens celebrations

Mobile roaming charges for Europeans traveling to other European countries are no more. From June 15, 2017, travelers making a call, sending a text message, or using data will pay exactly the same as they do at home. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement: “Roaming charges will now be a thing of the past. As of June 15, you will be able to remain connected while traveling in the EU, for the same price as at home.”

The agreement was finalized in February, and had been a long time coming. Preliminary agreements were made in June 2015, but negotiations had been happening for a decade. What does it mean to you? If you’re an EU citizen, and travel to another EU country, you won’t pay extra for using your phone. The commission calls this a “roam-like-at-home” plan. The deal doesn’t mean everything will be free. Instead it means the services you use while roaming will be charged at the same rate you pay when on your home network.

Read the full story here.

Study finds ecigs may cause as much DNA damage as unfiltered cigarettes

Ecigarettes are still relatively new, which means that, unlike the case with regular cigarettes, we’re still in the early stages of working out how they’ll affect our health in the long term.

While some research has reported that they are considerably safer than tobacco cigarettes, a new study from researchers at the University of Connecticut claims something different: that vaping using a device filled with nicotine-based liquid can cause just as much DNA damage as smoking regular cigarettes.

The study involved the use of a new, 3D-printed electro-optical screening device capable of quickly detecting DNA damage. It showed that the damage caused by nicotine ecigarettes is approximately equivalent to that caused by smoking unfiltered tobacco cigarettes. The cellular mutations caused by DNA damage can lead to cancer. The level of potential DNA damage depends on how much vapor is inhaled by the smoker, as well as the quantity of other additives present.

Read the full story here.

We talk demigod-fatherhood with ‘God of War’ director Cory Barlog

The new God of War was first unveiled at E3 2016, revealing a wholly new game that builds on the storied franchise, and discards much of its conventions in favor of a fresh, bold new look and narrative style. At E3 2017 (watch the new GOW E3 trailer here), we got the chance to sit down with its director Cory Barlog, who we also spoke with last year. This time around, he discussed some of the finer points of demi-god fatherhood.

Perhaps the most noticeable change to God of War is Kratos himself. He’s still angry, but he’s sad about it. Which makes sense considering the horrors he endured — and inflicted — during his campaign of revenge against the gods of Mount Olympus.

Read the full story here.

Canvas replaces over-the-phone job interviews with texting

We’ve all been there: you send your spruced-up resume and references to a job recruiter, get a friendly acceptance email from said recruiter, and set up a phone interview. That’s where things get tricky; once you’ve spent days or weeks nailing down a time that fits both of your calendars, you’re stuck with logistical challenges like dodgy cell reception, background noise, and awkward questions that sound much better in an email than over the phone. That’s why Canvas, a new startup, is tackling things from a different angle: Text messaging.

Canvas, the brainchild of Aman Brar, Kelly Lavin, and Jared Adams, takes a “messaging-first” approach to job interviews. Instead of scheduling a phone call with a recruiter, prospective employees text them via a smartphone, PC, or tablet, as if they’re exchanging messages with a friend. Brar compared it to online dating.

Read the full story here.

New ‘hoverboard’ offers more practical features, less spontaneous combustion

Radical Moov’s name makes it sound a bit like a politically conscious 1990s electronic dance music collective. In fact, it’s a Mark Cuban-backed hoverboard which promises to be so good that it’ll banish all thoughts of lesser quality rideables that have sullied the good name of hoverboards over the years.

“Though Moov looks like a sleeker version of the hoverboard, the riding experience is very different since it’s a rigid platform and has weight-based steering,” co-founder and engineer EJ Williams told Digital Trends. “It’s a premium, American-made rideable that is both fun to ride and useful to get around.”

Read the full story here.

Scientists may have found a safer way to tan, minus the cancer risk

With summer here, chances are that you’ve probably spared a bit of thought for getting that sun-kissed, tanned look often associated with youth and vitality. The sad irony, of course, is that while we might associate suntanned skin with good health, prolonged sun exposure can lead to accelerated skin aging, as well as associated risks like skin cancer.

A new research project published in the journal Cell Reports suggests that things don’t have to remain that way, though. Scientists have discovered is a small molecule that may be able to stimulate the darkening of human skin, without exposing it to potentially harmful UV radiation. This involves inhibiting an enzyme called Salt Inducible Kinase (SIK), which naturally suppresses pigmentation. By inhibiting it, pigment synthesis is instead stimulated.

Read the full story here.




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