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Fox Sports VR improves Virtual Suite experience with 360-degree Skycam

Why it matters to you

Watching football on a regular TV can get boring alone. Fox Sports VR brings people together around the country to watch the game in a new way,

Hosting a football party with your friends can be tough when life gets in the way. Instead of meeting up in real life, Fox Sports VR is bringing the social experience to the virtual world for the big football game between the University of Notre Dame and Michigan State University.

Once again, FoxSports is teaming up with LiveLike to cover the game through the free Fox Sports VR app. On the app, viewers can watch the game together through customizable avatars as they choose from the best views in the stadium. This time around, Fox is adding another view to the production package. App users will have access to a 360-degree Skycam view of the action between the Spartans and Fighting Irish.

Starting at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 23, viewers can watch pre-game festivities, team warmups, halftime band performances, and post-game celebration live via the 360-degree Skycam.

“Fox Sports continues to accelerate the development of virtual reality as a unique complement to our overall package of sports offerings,” Jeb Terry, Fox Sports vice president of partner and program management, said in a statement. “With the debut of social VR with the Gold Cup in July, and now the addition of the Skycam perspective, we continue to strengthen an already robust offering to both viewers and advertisers.”

Within the virtual suite, Fox Sports VR users can enjoy the action from multiple high-resolution camera angles. Viewers can choose between their favorite views or enjoy a director’s cut that automatically selects the best angle like it would on a regular television. By joining other friends who have connected to the app through Facebook, users can view the experience together. For those looking to make new friends, viewing partners can also be selected at random. The social aspect can be switched off at any time for a private experience.

FoxSports VR is available for free on Oculus or any iOS and Android device. For anyone looking to try out the app without a VR headset, the interactive 360-degree viewing has been built specifically for regular smartphone viewing as well. Like many other sports streaming apps, accessing the content will require users to sign in with their television provider information.


Nintendo rolls out two-step authentication for online accounts

Nintendo now supports two-factor verification to its Nintendo Accounts. This adds another layer of security by requiring codes generated from the Google Authenticator app, though it comes years later than most other gaming platforms.

Sony added two-factor to the PlayStation Network a year ago using codes texted to a user over SMS. Steam let users require verification over email for years, but introduced its standalone Mobile Authenticator system back in 2015. Microsoft scoffs at these latecomers, as it added two-step authentication to Microsoft Accounts back in 2014. Blizzard has had secondary authenticators for years, most prominently in its mobile verification dongles it’s had since before 2009. But better late security than no security, Nintendo fans.

Source: Gamasutra


Uber’s new chief says the company is paying for its bad rep

New company chief Dara Khosrowshahi has sent out an email to his employees about London, and it shows that the company might truly be under a different kind of leadership now. One that doesn’t sound like it’ll encourage “hustlin’” and overlook bad behavior, such as obtaining rape victims’ medical records through questionable means. Khosrowshahi told his employees and drivers in the internal email that while it’s easy to think London’s decision not to renew Uber’s taxi license is unfair, “the truth is that there is a high cost to bad reputation.”

He admitted that it really matters what people think of the company. So, going forward, he said it’s critical “to act with integrity in everything” the company does and to learn how to be better partner to every city where it’s active. By doing so, he hopes to show that Uber isn’t just a “really great product, but a really great company that is meaningfully contributing to society.”

In its announcement, Transport for London said it didn’t reissue Uber’s license because its policies for reporting criminal offenses, as well as the way it obtains medical records and does driver checks didn’t meet its standards. The agency was also wary of Greyball, which the company used to evade known authorities by showing them fake rides or none at all. Uber denies ever using Greyball in London, but it doesn’t matter: as Khosrowshahi said, the company will have to deal with the reputation it built for itself.

internal email from Dara to employees, re: London, below

— ಠ_ಠ (@MikeIsaac) September 22, 2017

Dear London: we r far from perfect but we have 40k licensed drivers and 3.5mm Londoners depending on us. Pls work w/us to make things right

— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) September 22, 2017

Source: Mike Isaac (Twitter)


Watch Lockheed Martin burn drones out of the sky with new, improved ATHENA laser

Why it matters to you

The ATHENA laser may one day help protect soldiers in combat from threats including swarms of drones.

Nothing quite says “you’re living in the future” like the knowledge that defense giant Lockheed Martin has developed a giant laser blaster and is demonstrating its awesome power by using it to blow autonomous drones out of the sky. That’s exactly what Lockheed did in a recent showcase with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. Its prototype laser weapon system ATHENA (Advanced Test High Energy Asset) was used to fry the heck out of five Outlaw drones.

“The tests at [White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico] against aerial targets validated our lethality models and replicated the results we’ve seen against static targets at our own test range,” said Keoki Jackson, Lockheed Martin’s chief technology officer, in a statement. “As we mature the technology behind laser weapon systems, we’re making the entire system more effective and moving closer to a laser weapon that will provide greater protection to our warfighters by taking on more sophisticated threats from a longer range.”

The ATHENA weapon is currently powered by a compact Rolls-Royce turbo generator. As we’ve noted before, what makes the weapon special (apart from being a freaking ground-mounted laser that haunts the dreams of drones everywhere) is the fact that it boasts a smart modular design that allows its operators to vary the amount of power it wields by adding or taking away laser modules. The base model is capable of shooting a 60 kW beam, which could be upped to 120 kW if required.

As to why it’s being used in demonstrations to shoot unmanned aerial vehicles, the explanation is in the fact that, once deployed, the ATHENA laser may one day help protect soldiers in combat from threats that could possibly include swarms of drones. One big advantage of lasers like ATHENA is that they offer greater speed, flexibility, precision, and lower cost per engagement when compared to alternative weapons.

Following the recent test, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Army will now carry out a post mission review, with data collected following the trial used to further refine the system, improve model predictions, and — just maybe — help build bigger, better, and badder future laser systems.


Android’s ‘check for update’ button will now finally do something

Why it matters to you

Many Android users wait patiently in anticipation for new versions of the operating system, but now the “check for updates” button should cut down some of that wait time.

If you’re an Android user, you likely know the pain of waiting for a new version of Android to hit your phone. That “check for update” button becomes the most-used feature on your device but you might not be aware that to date that button really hasn’t done much.

That, however, is now changing. According to Google’s Elliot Hughes, as long as the latest version of Google Play Services is on your phone, hitting the “check for update” button will now reveal an update if one is available. In other words, whether you are in the current rollout group or not, you will get the update.

The reason for that is that Google is now flagging you pressing the button as “user-initiated,” which essentially allows you to bypass the rollout groups, which were generally between one and 25 percent.

“One thing I haven’t seen the tech press notice is that the button in Settings to check for an update actually works now,” Hughes said in a post. “If you’re running a current Google Play Services, you shouldn’t need to sideload an OTA or flash a system image just because you’re impatient…”

Of course, as mentioned there are a few things to keep in mind. For starters, you’ll need the latest version of Google Play Services to ensure you get the update, and the rollout of a new version of Google Play Services may still happen in stages. Not only that, but it’s highly likely that this really only applies to Google-built devices like Pixel and Pixel XL, and Nexus devices. It may also apply to Android One devices, which are serviced by Google and run stock Android. Why? Well, manufacturers like Samsung run their own tweaked versions of Android, and as such, they handle updates themselves.

We tested the “check for update” button ourselves on the old Google Nexus Player and found that pressing it quickly revealed an Android 8.0 Oreo update, allowing us to check out the latest and greatest version of Android TV. It’s possible that our testing was just a coincidence and that an update was already on its way but that does not seem to be the case.


Another mass extinction event is on its way, warns MIT scientist

Why it matters to you

Unless we decrease carbon emissions, a sixth mass extinction event could be triggered this century.

Looking for some great news to fill you with hope for the future? A geophysics professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claims he’s just run the math … and we’re on our way to what he refers to as a mass extinction event. As its name suggests, this is an event in which a large number of species become extinct at once — as was the case with the death of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

According to MIT’s research paper, the five previous mass extinction events which have taken place over the last 540 million years all involved “thresholds of catastrophe” in the carbon cycle that, once exceeded, lead to an unstable environment that is ultimately bad for things which enjoy living. That’s an issue when you consider the extent to which carbon dioxide emissions have risen since the 19th century, causing a significant spike in the process.

“The study identifies two thresholds for major carbon cycle change,” Daniel Rothman told Digital Trends. “One is a critical rate of change, corresponding to the rate at which CO2 is added to the ocean/atmosphere system. The other, a critical size or mass, corresponds to the total carbon added to the oceans. Exceeding the critical rate at slow time scales — much greater than about 10,000 years — or exceeding the critical size at fast time scales — much less than about 10,000 years — is associated with mass extinction. [The MIT research paper] predicts that the critical mass, about 300 gigatons of carbon, will likely be exceeded sometime this century. If so, following the paper’s logic, the marine carbon cycle would proceed to follow a trajectory which could excite a mass extinction over a period of about 10,000 years.”

Ten thousand years may sound a long time scale in human terms, but Rothman points out that this would be the period over which the entire ecological disaster scenario would take to play out. For things to have reached an “unknown territory” tipping point would only take until the year 2100, at which point he predicts that around 310 gigatons of carbon from human activities will have splashed down in the world’s oceans. In a worst case scenario, this amount could hit 500 gigatons.

Any way to stop it? “Decreasing carbon emissions,” Rothman says, simply.

An article describing the research was recently published in the journal Science Advances.


Walmart is testing a delivery service that puts food into your fridge

Why it matters to you

It takes home delivery to a whole new level, though you have to be comfortable with the idea of a stranger entering your home when you’re not there.

If online grocery shopping with speedy delivery isn’t quite as convenient as you like it to be, how about a service where the person delivering the food actually enters your home and walks into your kitchen before placing the appropriate items into your refrigerator and pantry?

It may sound absurd — it may even be absurd — but this concept is being tested by Walmart with select customers in California’s Silicon Valley.

Partnering with smart home specialist August and delivery firm Deliv, the proposed service works like this: You place your order online, specify a delivery time, and then go about your day. The delivery person arrives at your home and if no one’s in, enters a one-time passcode into the front door’s smart lock. They then locate your kitchen and stock up your refrigerator with all the goodies you ordered.

When the passcode is activated, a notification is sent to your smartphone. You then have the option to watch the delivery person inside your house via a live-stream from your home security cameras. You may want to do this because you’re not particularly comfortable with the idea of having a stranger in your home when you’re not there, or perhaps because you want to get your money’s worth from the pricey camera gear you installed but never use.

When the delivery person exits the house, you receive another notification confirming that the door was securely locked. If you don’t, you will need to get over there pretty quickly to secure your premises.

Walmart believes the service could be attractive for people who are short on time.

“Imagine planning a last-minute get-together and having everything you need to entertain already waiting for you inside your fridge,” Walmart’s Sloan Eddleston wrote in a blog post about the service. “Or maybe you think during lunch at work that you’d like to surprise your spouse by making dinner, but don’t have time to run to the store. In the future, you could order on and start cooking minutes after you walk through the door.”

While the idea may appeal to those who harbor a strong dislike not only for grocery shopping but also for dealing with deliveries and perhaps even placing items into refrigerators, others are unlikely to go for Walmart’s offbeat scheme, unhappy with the idea of a stranger entering their home when they are not around.

Eddleston is at least realistic enough to acknowledge that the idea “may not be for everyone,” but adds that “what might seem novel today could be the standard tomorrow.”


A new smart foam in football helmets could help detect concussions

Why it matters to you

Impact data is key to keeping football players safe, and now, a new smart foam may be able to deliver that information in real time.

Earlier this week, it was discovered that former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez suffered from one of the most severe forms of CTE, a degenerative brain disease that seems all too common among football players. While the sport is one of the most popular in the U.S., the risks associated with the game are becoming increasingly apparent, and as such, scientists are looking for ways to mitigate its dangers. The latest innovation comes from Brigham Young University in Utah, where mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Jake Merrell is leading an effort to measure football-related head injuries in real time.

Along with a team of BYU researchers, Merrell has developed and tested a nano composite smartfoam meant to be placed within football helmets and pads to detect the impact of tackles. Using electrical signals, the foam measures the effects of a hit, and sends this data wirelessly to a tablet or similar mobile device.

To be precise, whenever the smartfoam is compressed (as it would be on impact), it rubs against nickel nano-particles, resulting in a static electric charge. A conductive electrode in the foam collects that charge, and it is then measured by a microcomputer, and sent to a computer or smart device. This way, coaches, trainers, and medical professionals can see in real time if a player has been hit, and just how hard.

“The standard measurement systems on the market today directly measure the acceleration, but just measuring the acceleration is not enough and can even be erroneous,” Merrell noted in a statement. “Our XOnano smartfoam sensors measure much more than just acceleration, which we see as a vital key to better diagnose head injuries.”

As per research published in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering, the foam is capable of measuring acceleration, impact energy, and impact velocity. Taken together, these factors help experts discern the severity and location of impact, and impressively, can do so with 90 percent accuracy. So why does this matter? Thus far, there has been no way to truly monitor the energy and velocity of impact, which are key factors in determining a football player’s risk of concussion, and perhaps, more severe brain damage later down the line.


Have $16 million? Climb aboard the Dynamiq GTT 115, the Porsche of the sea

Why it matters to you

Porsche’s performance cars rule the streets, and now the brand is taking over the high seas.

Porsche is best known for its high-performance road cars, but the German brand is much more well-rounded than you may think. The company’s design arm, Studio F.A. Porsche (formerly known as Porsche Design Studio), crafts everything from business suits, to laptops, and even kitchen knives, but Studio F.A. Porsche has just debuted what may be its magnum opus — the Dynamiq GTT 115.

The GTT 115 is a 115-foot superyacht that is literally the Porsche 911 of the sea. Created in tandem with shipbuilder Dynamiq, the boat is powered by two 1,650-horsepower diesel V12s paired to Fortjes pod-drives. This gives the massive vessel a top speed of 21 knots (24 mph) and a range of 3,400 nautical miles. It’s also incredibly exclusive with a base price of $16.7 million and only seven have been built thus far. The similarities to Porsche’s sports cars don’t end there, though.

The yacht’s design is inspired by the drop-shaped silhouette of the iconic 911. The overall proportions match up, and even the cleats (the devices docking ropes attach to) mimic the 911’s aft lighting. The interior takes its cues from the automotive world as well, as the horizontal wood and aluminum trim pieces are reminiscent of the dashboard from the Porsche Mission E.

Buyers can choose from a variety of color combinations to customize the interior look, which is generally something we associate with cars, not boats. The result is something Porsche’s designers call a “Grand Tourismo for the seas,” and after looking at this amazing machine, it’s hard to argue with them. The GTT 115 Superyacht will be displayed at the Monaco Yacht Show next week.

If you prefer your Porsches with wheels instead of propellers, not to worry, we have you covered. The automaker recently announced a new Touring Package for the hardcore 911 GT3, which tames the vehicle’s exterior styling by removing the boy-racer rear wing and replacing it with a more subtle adaptive spoiler. This allows Porsche drivers to enjoy the precise, dynamic feel of the GT3 without the flashy exterior kit, which could come in handy for those who want to commute in peace without being challenged to a race at every other stoplight. Read more about the new Touring Package right here.


Everything you need to know about charging your iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus

The Apple iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are finally here, and there are a number of great new features in the phones. Among the best, you might know, are the new wireless charging and fast charging capabilities, which could become a serious improvement on your daily life.

Unfortunately using fast and wireless charging on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus is not as easy as it sounds. You’ll need to buy a few extra accessories. Here’s a quick rundown on everything you need to know about fast and wireless charging on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

Wireless charging

Apple has finally embraced wireless charging, making for a much more convenient way to charge your shiny new phones. Instead of having to have charging cables everywhere, you can simply pop the phones onto a charging pad and they’ll automatically start charging.

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are both compatible with standard Qi standard, which is great because there are a number of Qi wireless chargers on the market. You’ll want to check the charging pad you buy is a Qi pad — there are a few other wireless standards out there.

What you might not know, however, is that buying a 15 watt charging pad won’t necessarily charge your phone faster — as the iPhones are only capable of taking in 5 watts right now. Apple will be pushing a software update later this year that will allow the iPhones to take in 7.5 watts. Buying a 15W charger won’t damage your phone — and it might even be worth buying them for use with future devices that might use the full 15W, but keep in mind that for now, your phone will take in at most 7.5W, and that’s only when the software update arrives.

Belkin and Mophie have launched their own wireless charging pads for the iPhone, and the companies said it worked with Apple to make the most efficient charger. But if you’re planning on charging multiple devices, like the Apple Watch Series 3 and AirPods, you may want to wait to buy your chargers until Apple launches its AirPower charger next year. It’ll be able to charge all three of your devices at the same time, while the aforementioned Qi chargers can only charge one device at a time.

Fast charging on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are capable of fast charging, but taking advantage of that isn’t as easy as it should be. That’s because Apple did not include the necessary accessories to be able to use the feature. To use fast charging, you’ll need to buy and use a Lightning to USB-C cable, which is available in a 1-meter and 2-meter version. You’ll also need to buy a USB-C power adapter like this one, which can get a little pricey.

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