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Light-controlled nanoscale buzz saws kill cancer cells by drilling holes in them

Why it matters to you

Tiny nanoscale buzzsaws could be used to help fight diseases like cancer.

Rice University scientists broke records in 2005 when they constructed the world’s smallest car, a single-molecule “nanocar” boasting a chassis, axles, and four wheels. More than a decade later, the same research lab is still working at the nanoscale level — although its latest project could provide a whole lot more benefit than just nanoscale car races. With help from researchers in the U.K. and at North Carolina State University, what Rice scientists have developed are tiny nanoscale motorized molecules that are designed to drill holes in the membrane of individual cells. Depending on whether these cells are bad or good, it can then kill them or, potentially, deliver healing drugs.

“In [our work], we showed that these molecular machines can selectively kill cancer cells,” Gufeng Wang, an assistant professor in analytical chemistry at N.C. State, told Digital Trends. “We expect that molecular machines could also be used in vivo to cure diseases. In general, this technology can be used as a highly efficient, highly specific drug-delivery method, or, simply as a way to kill cells directly by disrupting their material exchange with the environment.”

Wang hypothesizes that skin cancer is one condition that could be treated using the tiny molecular machines to kill its associated malignant cells. The molecular machines are activated using ultraviolet (UV) light to control their movements through fiber optics. Like tiny buzz saws, they are then able to spin at an astonishing 2 million to 3 million rotations per second to slice open the cell membranes.

At present, there are still limitations for the diminutive technology. For one thing, the shallow penetration depth of UV light means that currently only cells at the surface of tissues can be treated — limiting it to areas like skin. There are also concerns about potential overuse of the technology since overexposure to UV light is harmful.

“We are working on two directions to make this new method more viable,” Wang said. “The first is that we are developing visible light or even near infrared (IR) light-activated motors. The second is that we are trying to activate the same motor using near IR light through a process called multiphoton excitation. In this process, the motor will absorb two photons simultaneously, and get enough energy to start the rotor. If we are able to use red to near IR light to actuate the molecular machines, we are no longer limited to the surface of the tissue.”

A paper describing the work was recently published in the journal Nature.


This camera may look like a Polaroid but it spits out moving photos

Why it matters to you

Whether you have to know-how to build your own or not, this GIF-printing camera is pretty slick.

Sure, Polaroid cameras have been spitting out instant photos for years, but what about GIFs, those moving photos that fill up social media feeds? That is exactly what Abhishek Singh, a developer, asked when he set out on his latest project, the InstaGif NextStep that spits out an instant photo that moves.

The InsaGif looks a lot like a Polaroid OneStep Camera and at first glance, works a lot like one too. While the work that went into creating the GIF camera appears anything but simple, taking a GIF is just as simple as using a classic Polaroid: Composing the shot, pressing the shutter, and grabbing the “photo” from the camera.

So how does it work? Instead of spitting out a piece of paper, the InstaGif spits out a cartridge — which is essentially a mini computer, albeit one that is designed to look like a classic Polaroid with that characteristic white frame. The GIF even slowly fades in, just like waiting for that instant film to develop.

The cartridge is designed from a modified Raspberry Pi LCD screen and USB ports, from the organization that creates low-cost computer parts in order to teach coding and development. The cartridge also includes homemade circuits and a rechargeable battery.

An altered Raspberry Pi 3 computer module computer sits inside the camera, along with another screen at the back to see what the camera sees. A  wide-angle lens cut from acrylic also sits in front of a Raspberry Pi camera module. The two Rasberry Pi computers communicate through an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network.

Using the software that Singh developed, the camera records a three-second GIF when the shutter button is pressed. That GIF is then compressed and sent to the cartridge through that Wi-Fi network.

Singh created the body of the cartridge as well as the body of the camera through 3D printing with a ProJet 7000 SLA. When he shared the project on Imgur, Singh said he ran into several challenges, including the mechanism for popping the cartridge out of the camera in that classic Polaroid way. Creating a small cartridge (in order to avoid an extra large camera) was also a challenge.

Singh shared the code and the process to create the camera so other developers can also try building the GIF camera — because who doesn’t want to hold a photo that moves?


Looking to buy Motorola? Here’s our ultimate guide to all 2017 Moto smartphones

If you’re looking for a well-rounded device running a close to pure version of Android — and Google’s Pixel is more phone than you really need — Motorola may be your best bet. Trouble is, the company has produced many new models in the past year and the lineup can be quite confusing at times, even for seasoned veterans. Our guide to Motorola’s 2017 smartphones take you through the hierarchy, starting with the $130 Moto E4 Plus, all the way up to the range-topping modular Moto Z2 Force.

Moto E4

Pricing: $130, $100 (Amazon Prime Exclusive with ads)

Who it’s for: Someone who needs a basic smartphone and nothing more

In terms of specs and price, the Moto E4 is the bare minimum the company offers. That said, you still get a respectable handset for the money, and depending on your usage, it could be enough to satisfy your needs. The E4 comes with Qualcomm’s low-end Snapdragon 425 system-on-chip (Sprint buyers get a slightly more powerful 427 processor), 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. There is also a MicroSD card slot if you need additional space for apps and media. The display is a 5-inch LCD with a 1,280 x 720 resolution, and the main camera is rated at 8 megapixels. It proved average in our photography tests, which isn’t particularly surprising given the low, low price of the hardware. You do still get a front-mounted fingerprint sensor for your troubles though, a welcome inclusion.

Moto E4 Review

Moto E4 Plus

Pricing: $180 (16GB); $200 (32GB); $140/$160 (Amazon Prime Exclusive with ads)

Who it’s for: Someone who wants the best battery life, and doesn’t need a powerful phone

We called the Moto E4 Plus the best smartphone under $200 when we reviewed it earlier in the summer, and that’s mostly down to one standout feature: The almost un-killable battery. Motorola stuffed a 5,000mAh unit into the E4 Plus’ 5.5-inch chassis. Coupled with the phone’s frugal Snapdragon 427 processor and 720p display, the E4 delivers incredible longevity on a charge. It crushes two days without breaking a sweat, and three is certainly doable. We say if you have the extra $50 to burn, spring for the Plus over the standard E4 — you’ll have a budget phone that does something even the four-times more expensive Apple iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S8, and Google Pixel can’t match.

Moto E4 Plus Review

Moto G5 and G5S

Pricing: 230 euros (G5); 250 euros (G5S); U.S. Moto G5S pricing TBA

Who it’s for: Someone who wants a full HD display in a compact package

Here’s where things get a little confusing. The standard Moto G5 is not sold in the U.S., but the slightly improved Moto G5S soon will be. These phones both sport Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 430 processor, though the G5S features a slightly improved battery — 3,000mAh versus 2,800mAh — as well as a 16-megapixel rear camera to replace the regular model’s 13-megapixel shooter, and metal construction instead of plastic. Otherwise, they’re the same; each has a 5.2-inch 1080p display and 2GB of RAM.

To be honest, there’s little reason to go with the G5 or G5S considering the rest of Motorola’s lineup. Between the excellent value of the E4 Plus and better all-around performance of the G5 Plus, neither device makes a whole lot of sense. The processors aren’t noticeably faster, nor are the designs markedly different. The batteries are substantially less than what the E4 Plus offers, and the cameras deliver similarly average photos. We say go lower or go higher.

Moto G5 Plus and G5S Plus

Pricing: $230 (G5 Plus, 32GB/2GB); $280 (G5 Plus, 64GB/4GB); U.S. Moto G5S Plus pricing TBA

Who it’s for: Someone who wants a jack-of-all-trades midrange phone under $300

The Moto G5S Plus isn’t available in the U.S. yet, but Moto G5 Plus is, and it’s our favorite budget smartphone. For $230, you get a Snapdragon 625 processor — a significant step up from the 430 found in the regular G5 and G5S — as well as a 5.2-inch 1080p display and 2GB of RAM. If you spend $50 more, you can have double the storage and RAM, making the G5 Plus one of the best values under the $300 mark.

But what of the G5S Plus? This phone is slated to go on sale soon, and we don’t yet have pricing data for it. It claims some pretty noteworthy upgrades. The G5S Plus is slightly bigger than the regular G5 Plus, with a 5.5-inch display at the same resolution. It’s also got dual cameras, both rated at 13-megapixels, replacing the G5 Plus’ single 12-megapixel shooter. The base model of the G5S Plus receives an extra gigabyte of RAM for a total of 3GB, though 4GB is again an option.

Moto G5 Plus Review

Moto X4

Pricing: 399 euros (64GB); U.S. Moto X pricing TBA

Who it’s for: Someone who wants flagship-quality dual cameras in an otherwise midrange device

Once upon a time, the Moto X was billed as Motorola’s flagship. That designation has shifted to the modular Moto Z in recent years, but now the company is reviving the Moto X as a midrange product. From the outside, it looks nothing like the previous versions: You’ll find chunky bezels, super-reflective glass construction, and dual cameras.

On the other hand, in terms of specs, it may be too similar to the Moto G5 Plus to really make a splash. The processor is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 630, the chip maker’s newest midrange silicon. It should only offer a negligible bump in day-to-day performance over the outgoing 625. Alongside are 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage.

Motorola has not yet announced pricing for the Moto X in the U.S., though we expect it to slide in between $400 and $450. It does boast a couple notable upgrades over the G5S Plus, like IP68 water resistance, and an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens serving as one of the dual cameras. Either way, you won’t be able to get your hands on one until the fall.

Moto X4 Hands-On Review

Moto Z2 Play

Pricing: $408 (32GB, Verizon exclusive); $500 (64GB)

Who it’s for: Someone who wants a modular phone at the cheapest price

The Moto Z2 Play brings the modular capabilities of the company’s Moto Mods platform down to an affordable cost. With a Snapdragon 626 processor alongside 3GB of RAM, it’s not necessarily more powerful than the G5 Plus, but it certainly is longer-lasting despite only a 3,000mAh battery. The system Motorola has devised for its Moto Mods is incredibly user friendly — they simply snap onto the back magnetically. Some are a bit too expensive, especially the Hasselblad TrueZoom camera mod and InstaShare projector. But if the idea truly speaks to you, and you don’t need a device with the fastest processor, the Z2 Play is a solid choice. If you want to learn about more Moto Mods, here’s a list of our favorites.

Moto Z2 Play Review

Moto Z2 Force

Pricing: $720

Who it’s for: Someone who wants a modular phone with flagship performance

Though they may mostly share the same name, the Moto Z2 Force is a very different beast from the Z2 Play. The latter is a midrange handset at heart,  but the Moto Z2 Force is Motorola’s flagship. It features Qualcomm’s most powerful system-on-chip, the Snapdragon 835, and 4GB of RAM. The only similarity between them is they both support Moto Mods.

The Z2 Force features a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440. It’s a remarkably thin device, though Motorola has protected the screen from inevitable mishaps with its proprietary ShatterShield layered technology. Unfortunately, that slimmer profile has resulted in a significant reduction in battery capacity compared to last year’s model. If you want better battery life, the Z2 Play is a better option. Or you can grab a battery Moto Mod to extend the Z2 Force’s life.

The Z2 Force does, however, feature a better camera, and it has two lenses. Both have 12 megapixels, but one is purely monochrome, allowing you to achieve true black and white photography. Bear in mind, though, that for all the Z2 Force’s bells and whistles, it starts at $720 — over $200 more than an unlocked Z2 Play.

Moto Z2 Force Review


New, more durable solar cells inspired by honeycomb design of insect eyes

Why it matters to you

A new solar cell design inspired by the honeycomb pattern of insects’ eyes makes the material perovskite far more durable.

Biomimicry is the imitation of models or systems found in the natural world with the goal of solving human problems. It’s something that’s been covered a fair bit as applied to robotics, with researchers borrowing inspiration from types of naturally occurring locomotion or materials. Investigators from Stanford University are doing something similar with a new photovoltaics project — except in this case, they’re using the design of an insect’s eye to inspire a new generation of solar cells.

Their work involves replicating the compound eye of an insect by packing multiple tiny solar cells, made of a photovoltaic material called perovskite, together in a hexagonal scaffold. Packing them together in this way makes them more durable when the cells come into contact with heat, moisture, or mechanical stress.

These are things that regular solar panels are able to deal with without incident. However, perovskite is an extremely sensitive material that’s liable to break extremely easily. By using a dense honeycomb pattern, that effect is mitigated. It also means that, should one segment of the solar cell break, hundreds more will still operate.

Dauskardt Lab/Stanford University

In tests, the researchers found that their material could survive temperatures of 185 Fahrenheit and relative humidity of 85 percent for a period of six weeks, without any negative effects.

The reason why perovskite is a desirable material to use, despite its weakness, is that it is cheap and easy to produce, while its efficiency has greatly improved over the eight years since it was introduced. “We got nearly the same power-conversion efficiencies out of each little perovskite cell that we would get from a planar solar cell,” said Reinhold Dauskardt, professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford, and senior author of the study. “So we achieved a huge increase in fracture resistance with no penalty for efficiency.”

We’ll have to wait and see if this solar cell concept catches on, but it’s certainly an intriguing proof of concept. Between this and other similarly intriguing “invisible” solar panel projects, there’s certainly no shortage of innovative work being done in the photovoltaics field right now.

A research paper describing this project was recently published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.


Phones, wearables and currywurst [#acpodcast]

We’ll do it live! Andrew Martonik, Alex Dobie, and Phil Nickinson, have traveled all the way to Berlin, Germany for IFA 2017 to bring you the latest announcements in the Android universe. They do a deep dive into the LG V30, Moto X4, plus new wearables from Samsung, connected speakers, and more!

Show Notes and Links:

  • LG V30 hands-on: A galaxy of good ideas
  • LG V30 specs: Snapdragon 835, dual cameras, Quad DAC
  • The LG V30 is the phone the G6 should’ve been from the start
  • LG V30 is official, and it could be one of the sleeper hits of the year
  • Moto X4 hands-on: Familiar name, entirely different phone
  • Moto X4 is official: 5.2-inch display, dual cameras and glass back for €399
  • Moto X4 specs: Snapdragon 630, 3000mAh battery and dual cameras
  • Samsung Gear Sport hands-on: The Gear S2 refresh we all wanted
  • Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro hands-on: Simple improvements to one of the best fitness trackers
  • BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition goes global
  • Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact hands-on: Tiny upgrades
  • Sony Xperia XZ1 and XZ1 Compact specs: Snapdragon 835, Motion Eye camera, and dual speakers

Podcast MP3 URL:


Nexus 6P likely to receive Android Oreo on Sept. 11

The last Nexus might see its last OS upgrade in just a few days.

According to Canadian carrier Rogers’ OS Upgrade Schedule, Android Oreo for the Nexus 6P will be released on September 11.

When Android Oreo was initially released by Google, only phones that were currently enrolled in the Android beta program received the update. This isn’t surprising, as the people who helped test the software all along should be the ones to give a gold master version its last test. A week or so later, Oreo was pushed to everyone’s Pixel but we’ve heard no word on a wider release for the Nexus 6P or the Nexus 5X.

We have heard some whispers that Huawei and LG need to tweak a few things, mostly with the radio firmware, to get Oreo closer to perfect for the last of the Nexus line. If true, this would give more weight to a carrier announcement as the release date because they are the companies doing the final network testing.


There is also the off chance that this will be a point release and we’ll see Android 8.0.1 for the 6P next week. Whatever happens, we hope the release is good, OTAs go smoothly, and our inbox and forums aren’t filled with reports of boot loops and bricked phones.

Are you running a Nexus 5X or 6P waiting for Oreo? Let us know in the comments below!

Android Oreo

  • Android Oreo review!
  • Everything new in Android Oreo
  • How to get Android Oreo on your Pixel or Nexus
  • Oreo will make you love notifications again
  • Will my phone get Android Oreo?
  • Join the Discussion


Roku’s IPO filing reveals plans to raise $100 million

Roku has come a long way from its origin as the Netflix streaming player, and today the company filed for its IPO. The documents reveal that it hopes to raise as much as $100 million, and give more insight than ever into exactly how it’s doing. The company says it had 15.1 million active accounts at the end of June, more than the number of subscribers counted by the fourth largest cable company in the US. It also mentioned that former Netflix tech lead Neil Hunt joined its board of directors last month.

That’s particularly notable since its devices are heavily used to access Netflix. In its section listing business risks, Roku explained that while it doesn’t generate much revenue from the streamer, Netflix accounted for one-third of all hours streamed through its platform in 2016 and the first six months of 2017. It also explained that it doesn’t make any money from YouTube, even though that’s the most-viewed ad-supported channel on its platform.

Analyst Parks Associates announced just a couple of weeks ago that according to its estimates, Roku is increasing its lead in the streaming media player landscape, now accounting for 37 percent of streaming media players. The ability to turn all those active users into viewers of subscription or ad supported channels that Roku does make money on will be its main challenge, but so far the company’s mostly content-agnostic approach has worked for publishers and viewers alike.

Source: SEC, Roku


Google’s iOS app now shows trending searches

Earlier this year, Google added a “trending” widget in its iOS search app that shows off what people are looking for at any given moment. Now, Google’s adding that info right into the main part of the app. After installing an update that’s live in the App Store, you’ll see trending searches when you tap on the search bar in the Google app. They show up below your recent searches, which are immediately visible when you tap the bar; they’re also symbolized with a blue rising arrow icon.

As noted by TechCrunch, this feature came to Android phones a while back — and it was met with some displeasure, as vocal users said they didn’t want the search interface cluttered with more terms. Google added a setting to let you turn trending searches off, and they’ve done the same thing in the iOS app.

The update also added “instant answers to the search box. When you start typing in a question (like “how tall is the Eiffel Tower?” or “what is the Red Sox score?”) it’ll pull up the answer for you before you’re even done. It looks like the app is basically pulling in information from Google’s expansive knowledge graph and showing it to you early rather than waiting for you to hit search.

If you just have to know what nonsense everyone is searching for at any given moment, the update is live now in the iOS App Store.

Via: TechCrunch


TouchArcade iOS Gaming Roundup: PAX West, Suzy Cube, Game of Thrones and More

We are at PAX West this weekend, scoping out the coolest mobile games in Seattle for coverage on TouchArcade. If you’re also here and want to show us your game, be sure to hit up either @hodapp or @jaredta and we’ll make sure that we make it happen. For everyone else, like any other week in the calendar year, this one has been packed with all sorts of interesting things happening in the world of iOS gaming.

First off, one cool thing that we do around TouchArcade is called the RPG Reload play along. The basic gist of the whole thing is we select an RPG, which typically is an older or other retro game, and we all play it together over the course of a month and share out experiences in this forum thread. It’s a really awesome way to revisit older games that you have (or haven’t) played before. This month we’re focusing on the action RPG Bastion. It’s a fully narrated game experience, which is… unbelievably cool if you’ve never tried it before. Check out the trailer, or the forum thread, and hop in. These play alongs are a ton of fun.

While it’s the first time we’ve mentioned it in these MacRumors roundups, Suzy Cube is a game we’ve been following over on TouchArcade for years now. It’s basically a modern, touch-based, reinterpretation of the 3DS game Super Mario 3D Land. The amount of time the developer, Louis-Nicolas Dozois, has put into refining every aspect of the game is really just sort of incredible. His latest developer blog posted over on Gamasutra details all the challenges that went into designing the controls of a 3D platformer. In fact, the entirety of his development blog is a really fascinating read if you’re at all into following the passion project of a developer who is making a game that isn’t typically done so well on mobile with touch screen controls.

On the sales front, Street Fighter IV Champion Edition has slammed down to two bucks. It’s a full-featured mobile iteration of Street Fighter which we really loved in our review. It has a couple caveats: The framerate isn’t as good as its console counterparts, and if you’re not a fan of touch controls you’re probably not going to be that into the controls of this particular game.

Additionally, all the Simogo games are also on sale for a buck. Simogo is responsible for some of the most innovative (and strangest) games on the App Store. Device 6 is a fascinating spin on interactive fiction, SPL-T is a brain-twisting puzzle game, Year Walk is an incredible atmospheric avdenture, and the list just goes on. Simogo consistently releases amazing titles, so if you’re missing anything from their catalog, now is a great time to stock up.

If your mind is still blown from the Game of Thrones season finale, you’ve got a brief reprieve before the launch of Game of Thrones Conquest. You can pre-register for the game here, which awards $50 worth of in-game goodies once the game goes live. So far it sounds like it’s one of those free to play MMO battle games, which could be pretty cool with a Game of Thrones skin on top. Interestingly enough, it’s developed by Turbine who were the original developers of Asheron’s Call, making Game of Thrones Conquest potentially far more interesting than your typical free to play game.

In the world of App Store approval drama, Apple kicked CheapCharts off the App Store. If CheapCharts is new to you, it’s basically an app with functionality sort of similar to the original AppShopper app. Apparently, when they added Mac apps to their price tracker, that was the final straw for Apple who “suddenly claimed that our business model would not be in compliance with Apple’s guidelines and that the look and feel of CheapCharts would be identical to that of the App Store.” For folks in our situations, this is unbelievably frustrating as all CheapCharts, AppShopper, and the TouchArcade app really do is encourage people to buy more things from the App Store.

Last, but by no stretch of the imagination least, the original Infinity Blade has been updated to 64-bit. Aside from evading the 32-bit purge of iOS 11, this also provides a fantastic opportunity for anyone who didn’t play Infinity Blade when it was new and exciting to download the game knowing it’s going to work on their phone for the foreseeable future. It’s ancient by today’s standards, but out original review of Infinity Blade still stands as one of the best games ever released on the App Store. Since then, two other games have been released, which are both just as good.

For all this and more, be sure to check out TouchArcade, we post this sort of news around the clock and it’s really the best place you can go to follow the beat of the mobile gaming world!

Tag: TouchArcade gaming roundup
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Leaked Apple Document Outlines Apple’s iPhone Repair Rules

A leaked Apple “Visual/Mechanical Inspection Guide” shared this afternoon by Business Insider provides some insight into how Apple’s repair policies work, highlighting how Apple determines when to offer an in-warranty repair, an out-of-warranty repair, or a denial of service.

Dated March 3, 2017, the document is known internally as the “VMI” and covers the iPhone 6, 6s, and 7, along with Plus models. An Apple technician told Business Insider that there’s a similar document for all of its products, and that it’s generally used for training.

The guide is divided into three sections. The green section denotes problems where Apple will provide a warranty service, the yellow covers issues where Apple will offer out-of-warranty repairs, and the red section contains examples of issues Apple will refuse to fix.

Click to enlarge
Debris under the display glass, a pixel anomaly, FaceTime camera foam misalignment, and a single hairline crack to the front glass are all problems that Apple will fix under warranty, even if there’s additional accidental or liquid damage to the device. These are the only issues that can be fixed automatically even with additional damage to a device.

Apple will provide out-of-warranty replacements for liquid damage confirmed by the user, evidence of corrosion, LCD fractures, camera damage from lasers, cracks at a point of impact, damaged Lightning/audio/microphone components, extreme abrasion or puncture holes, and a bent or split enclosure.

Devices that have user-replaced parts, intentional tampering or damage, non-Apple batteries, or catastrophic damage are not eligible for service at all. Enclosure damage, like scratches and scuffs, is not covered and cosmetic problems do not warrant a replacement or repair if there are no other issues.

Apple also has a special set of rules for water damage. Employees are instructed to look for signs of water damage both internally and externally when diagnosing issues, and if there is evidence of contact with water, employees are told to deny some in-warranty repairs and instead offer an out-of-warranty repair.

Click to enlarge
According to Apple employees, the VMI isn’t often used unless there’s an “oddball issue,” and it’s also more of a guide than a hard and fast rule when it comes to replacement, as there are many issues that arise that aren’t covered here. “There are always those one-off issues that the phone is technically not covered under warranty but we swap the phone anyways under warranty,” an Apple technician told Business Insider.

These rules don’t apply to devices covered by AppleCare+, as that warranty entitles users to two device replacements or repairs, even for accidental damage, so long as the fee is covered. For out-of-warranty repairs, Apple charges $130 to $150 for screen repairs and $300 to $350 for other damage. With AppleCare+, a screen repair costs $29 and other damage costs $99 to fix.

Tag: Apple retail
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