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Junk technology: A ridiculous history of fast-food PR stunts

Who doesn’t love a good, over-the-top marketing stunt? Recently we’ve seen a lot of those, including Pizza Hut’s Pizza Parka, a coat made out of the same insulating materials as its delivery pouches. Because why not? That ridiculous product from Pizza Hut shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, this is the same company that made shoes that can order a pie for you. But Pizza Hut isn’t the only one trying to get creative using technology to promote its brand.

Over the past few years, other food chains, like Domino’s, KFC and McDonald’s, have also used tech as a marketing tool. The hope is that whatever they make, be it a delivery robot or a chicken box with a built-in charger, is ridiculous enough that it’ll go viral. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, we’re here to show you a history of marketing stunts that have taken things too far. Or not far enough, depending on your taste.


Recommended Reading: ‘Lore’ makes the leap from podcast to TV

‘Lore’ Proves Podcasts Can Inspire Disturbingly Effective TV
Bryan Bishop,
The Verge

A year after Amazon greenlit the television adaption of the popular podcast, Lore debuted this week. The Verge reviews the series as it makes the jump from audio to visual, exploring whether or not the storytelling medium can be the basis for good television. Meanwhile, we’re still waiting on that Serial TV show.

Uber Pushed the Limits of the Law. Now Comes the Reckoning
Eric Newcomer, Bloomberg

Uber may have a new CEO who wants to change course, but the company still has a load of problems to deal with.

The Scientist Who Spots Fake Videos
Elizabeth Gibney, Nature

It can be difficult to detect fake or altered video footage these days, but a Dartmouth computer scientist is up to the task.

Westwood’s ‘Blade Runner’ Is an All-Time Classic in Danger of Being Forgotten
Edward Love, Eurogamer

As Blade Runner 2049 plays on the big screen, now is a good time to remember the video game and all it’s glory.

Ghost in the Cell
Colin Lecher, The Verge

The Verge tells story of an inmate who hid computers in the ceiling to power a fraud operation from inside an Ohio prison.


Pick the best fantasy football app and win your league this season

If you’re like the millions of other rabid fantasy football fans, the strategizing began the moment last season’s championship game ended. In the meantime, you’ve kept tabs on the incoming rookies and where they might fall, while continuing to deliberate which key players you intend to keep for the next year and pondering what players you should drop to your current draft spot. Hell, you’ve probably even made a series of graphs comparing the top position players’ bye weeks to your team’s biggest needs. At least, we hope you have.

However, if you still need to brush up on your NFL knowledge, rest assured that you’re not alone. With plenty of expert fantasy info available at your fingertips, anybody can hoist their league’s trophy by season’s end using one of the many stellar apps available for iOS, Android, and Windows platforms.  Below are our top picks for the best fantasy football apps, so you’ll be able to know the difference between Bishop Sankey and Latavius Murray, right down to the very street they grew up on.

If you’re looking for the best websites to help you through this football season here are the top 6 fantasy football websites compared and our guide on how you can stream live NFL games online.

Footballguys Draft Dominator ($5)

A serious app for the serious football fan, Draft Dominator combines more information than you’ll know what to do with. You can quickly access game scores, player updates, commentary, depth charts, newsletters, cheatsheets, rankings, projections, podcasts, forums, and more within the app, and you can even filter the information to exactly what you want to read or hear.’s all-encompassing football app offers several unique features, too, like dynamic draft lists that update during the draft and the ability to weight the season by week, so you can place extra importance on bye weeks or particular matchups. The Draft Dominator app doesn’t host fantasy leagues, though; it’s simply a mock drafting resource to help you plan for the real (fantasy) thing.

Download now from:

iTunes Google Play Store

Yahoo Fantasy Sports ($5)

Yahoo continues to lead the pack for fantasy sports services, hosting more users and leagues than any of its competitors. Though Yahoo’s official app primarily serves as a league application, you do have access to various stat updates, expert analysis, and mock drafts. The app also covers three other sports — hockey, baseball, and basketball — and allows you to switch between your leagues, view breaking news and community forums, and check messages to scope out the potential competition. As expected, you can also manage your roster, pick up wavers, and make trades.

Download now from:

iTunes Google Play Store

numberFire Fantasy Football Draft Kit ($5)

Create custom made rankings and auction values for your fantasy draft with numberFire’s cheat sheets. The app has numberFire’s in-house ranking mechanism called FireFactor. FireFactor takes into consideration a player’s projected fantasy points compared to the value of a replacement player for that position. You have complete control when creating and managing your team lists and it has integrated player profiles. It also gives you real-time news and updates on the players and all fantasy articles.

Download now from:


RotoWire Draft Kit ($5)

If you’re an iOS user, the RotoWire Draft Kit app has all the tools to help make you a champion in your fantasy league. The app includes a dynamic cheat sheet that automatically adjusts to your league’s settings, individual player assessments and predictions for the upcoming season, depth charts…. you name it, it’s here. Want to mark certain players as sleepers? Done. Looking for individual defensive player rankings? You got it. The Draft Kit has nearly all the bells and whistles that Draft Dominator brings to the table, but it’s been spit-shined and placed in a gorgeous, easy-to-use package. Don’t sleep on Mr. Roto.

Download now from:


ESPN Fantasy Sports (free)

Even though ESPN’s fantasy football system (and its app) has been criticized and maligned, it still ranks just behind Yahoo in terms of overall popularity. Despite the relative lack of tools and resources available, ESPN will never be accused of making an app that doesn’t look good. The clean UI makes for a fairly enjoyable experience, and it’s actually a great app if you pair it with something like Draft Dominator or RotoWire Draft Kit. There’s not enough here to get your wallet out, but the app is free, so don’t worry. Plus, it doubles for a drafting/fantasy league app for baseball, basketball, and hockey.

Download now from:

iTunes Google Play Store

Did you know that football players could sell their health data? Picking players for your fantasy football league could get a lot more interesting thanks to the Whoop 2.0 wearable wristband.

Update: We took another look at this list and added numberFire’s Fantasy Football Draft Kit.


Here are most of the Pixel 2-exclusive wallpapers for download

The Pixel 2 wallpapers have been made available for anyone wants to download them.

While not everyone may be able to get their hands on a Pixel 2 right away, users can make their own phone look like the Pixel with a bit of work. Earlier we had the Pixel launcher become available, and now Reddit user shivy2390 has shared the Pixel 2’s wallpapers to complete the look.


The wallpapers are divided into three downloads: an underwater collection, the “Rainy Day” image that has been in most press images, and the “Keep Looking” collection. There’s no pattern to the last collection, with images ranging from hot air balloons to Slinkys to my personal nightmare: two cups of coffee in the midst of spilling. We have a small gallery of wallpapers, with the download links to the full collection below that.

Download the Keep Looking collection!

Download the Underwater collection!

Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

  • Pixel 2 FAQ: Everything you need to know!
  • Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL hands-on preview
  • Google Pixel 2 specs
  • Google Pixel 2 vs. Pixel 2 XL: What’s the difference?
  • Join our Pixel 2 forums

Google Store
Project Fi


How ‘Channel Zero’ turns online ‘creepypasta’ tales into TV horror

Syfy’s Channel Zero is one of the best shows on television that you’re not watching. It’s a horror anthology series based on “creepypastas”– short, scary stories shared on forums and sites like Reddit. Slenderman is the most famous, but there are countless others in which (typically anonymous) writers take a stab at crafting modern folklore. For its first season, Channel Zero adapted one of the most popular creepypasta stories, Candle Cove. It centered on an old kid’s TV show that warped the minds of its young audience.

With its second season, which is airing now on Syfy, Channel Zero creator Nick Antosca set his sights on No-End House. It’s a twist on the standard haunted-house genre, focusing on a legendary Victorian home that can tap into your deepest fears and desires. I chatted with Antosca about what it’s like to bring creepypasta stories to TV, and why horror is an ideal genre for exploring our anxieties around technology and modernity.

What led you to adapt creepypasta stories for television?

Well, I was always a fan way before the show. And before being a fan of creepypastas, I’m a fan of horror fiction, and particularly short horror fiction. Authors like Thomas Ligotti, Laird Barron, Brian Evenson, and older authors really influenced me as a kid. Then it doesn’t feel to me like a fundamentally different thing to read a horror story online than it does to read a horror story in a book. Good writing is good writing; good ideas are good ideas.

Formats change, but nightmares don’t. Since probably 15 years ago, I was familiar with the genre, and I’m the kind of insomniac who spent a lot of time reading Wikipedia lists of all the people who have disappeared under mysterious circumstances, crazy shit like that, or Atlas Obscura. Of course, if you spend a lot of time reading weird shit on the internet, you’re going to end up at some creepypasta stuff.

Even average internet users have now heard of Slenderman. Candle Cove had a huge reach, even if it wasn’t a household term. No-End House had fan fiction. There’s fan-made video games. The strongest creepypastas … they hit a nerve. There’s a viral reach, so it was already in my consciousness. My manager called me one day and was like, “Do you know what Candle Cove is?” I was like, “Yeah, so what’s up?” There was originally talk of turning it into … a limited series, but immediately, my question was, “Why don’t we do an anthology show? There’s a million of these stories, an amazing untapped resource.” I was shocked that nobody had done it before.


Channel Zero/Syfy

Do you see this as a new type of folklore now? Does it differ from similar stories in the past?

No. The format may affect the content a little bit, but any kind of urban legends that permeate a culture are going to sort of reflect the fears and collective nightmares of that culture, and so creepypastas tend to have themes of technology because they’re internet-based. But they function in the same way that urban legends did when Candyman came out. They purport to be real. … They’re the alligators in the sewer as well as being a kind of stealth literature.

What do you think it is about the internet that attracts these types of stories?

The internet is, when you think about it, it’s a sinister place. There’s a freedom in that, but there’s an inherent threat to it. You don’t know who you’re interacting with, you lose your identity, and to me, there’s a sense of a great threat under the surface. Maybe that’s because I’m a paranoid or pessimistic person sometimes, but I find the internet is ultimately a sinister force. I am not an internet optimist, and interestingly, most creepypastas, to me, have this defining element of a larger sense of dread, the best creepypastas. There’s a sense of something out there in the world, a great mythology that you can’t fully see or comprehend, and you are a small part of this larger, fundamentally terrifying, story.

When we adapt creepypastas for the show, obviously we’re trying to build on the foundation of the stories, because they’re very short, usually. That’s certainly the case with Candle Cove. No-End House is a little longer, but it’s still pretty compact. We’re building new stuff, but the thing that I really try to preserve is the sense of greater dread in the world, a pervasive sense of menace.

CHANNEL ZERO: NO END HOUSE -- "The Exit" Episode 110 -- Pictured: (l-r) Amy Forsyth as Margot, Aisha Dee as Jules -- (Photo by: Allen Fraser/Syfy)

Is horror the best genre for figuring out how we feel about technology?

Yeah, absolutely. Horror reflects cultural nightmares. You go back to Night of the Living Dead, which is, to me, the greatest allegorical horror film ever made. It’s a microcosm of American society beset by a larger menace … and they tear each other apart. The best modern horror films tend to deal with modern cultural fears, and that’s why I think, actually, The Ring is the perfect example of that. But I think creepypasta as a genre reflects that universal fascination and discomfort with technology. That’s why Candle Cove is such a great exemplar of what creepypasta is and can do.

Was nostalgia and older technology something you wanted to focus on when you adapted Candle Cove?

Yeah. It’s such a familiar experience, I think, to our generation, the generation that grew up watching TV. The last generation before the internet took over our lives. I think I’m almost the last age that you could be before that happened. I was in college when I got my first cellphone. I got my first smartphone a couple years out of college. As a child, I wasn’t constantly plugged in, so there was a freshness to the content that I did get. People back before photography was invented, they saw paintings like, “Wow, that’s remarkable. That’s special, a reproduction of something.” Now it means nothing. Sorry, I digress.

The way we went about it [in Candle Cove] is we watched a ton of really creepy old children’s TV shows, whether on YouTube or other places that we were able to find them. Peppermint Park, for example. You watch enough of them that you start to get a little discomfited, because who was making this stuff? Were they miserable, deranged people? Who in their right mind could think that this was delightful to a kid? Then we did our best to re-create that in doing the actual Candle Cove puppet show, and we shot that on the video cameras of the era, and did it analog. We decided to create something that might plausibly have actually been a children’s TV show.


Allen Fraser/Syfy

These stories sometimes come from several people or there are different variations on a single story. How do you go about licensing or crediting the people who create creepypastas?

That’s a good question. One of the most important things to me is to credit the original author. That’s challenging because many of them are anonymous. Fortunately, Kris Straub and Brian Russell, who wrote the first two stories, at least their names are attached. [Producer] Max Landis had optioned Candle Cove, so we already had the rights. Then, for No-End House, I just always wanted to do that. I always knew that if we got a second season, that would be No. 2, and so we tracked the author down. Brian Russell actually works as an assistant on The Exorcist TV show.

He was around L.A., which is totally random, because these people are scattered all over the world. For the upcoming seasons, we had to do some more research. We’ve been ordered for third and fourth installments, and those authors were a little bit harder to track down, but we found them, we reached out to them. They were excited, and then the studio made an option agreement with them. From that point, it’s pretty straightforward. We credit them on the show, we pay them, I talk to them throughout the process. The challenge is going to be, I get asked all the time, “Will you do Russian Sleep Experiment? Will you do this story or that story?” There are some that I would love to do; like, I really want to do Russian Sleep Experiment, but we can’t find the original author.

I’m not sure how that works. I don’t know if you can set aside money for them in case they come forward and verify who they are or if you just can’t do it, but we’ll see. Fingers crossed that we have that problem in the future.


“Candle Cove’s” adorable “toothchild.”

Channel Zero/Syfy

Have you talked about what the third and fourth seasons are going to be yet?

Oh, yeah. Yeah, we have them. I’m talking to you having just stepped out of the editing room for the third installment. We stopped at the summer, and each season has its own director. We’ve got an amazing director for the third season. I try to get really surprising directors. I’m not supposed to reveal what the story is that the third and fourth installment are based on, but the third one is a … we’re doing something a little bit different than we’ve done before.

We’re taking a series of posts, and there’s one element in it that we really loved, and so we’re building off of that. Then for the fourth season, it’s a much more obscure story. It’s not well known like Candle Cove or No-End House, but it’s a really beautiful, simple idea that I got very excited about. That one, we’re writing right now.

We really haven’t seen many successful horror shows on TV. For some strange reason, it’s always better suited to film. How did you guys go about bringing horror to TV?

To me, it’s not a strange reason. You can’t sustain that, the kind of fear that people expect from a horror movie, over episodes after episodes. You can’t do five or six seasons of what we think of as genuine horror. So horror on TV, good horror either has to be a limited series, or it has to be a different kind of horror. It has to be about a sense of dread, a pervasive feeling of menace or something off. That is why Twin Peaks is the greatest horror TV show.

It’s not about jump scares. It’s not about gore. It’s about a sense that lingers with you for years after you see it, of, “God, that was weird. That was disturbing. What was that?” That’s why we set out to do a show that wasn’t based on jump scares or the traditional kind of horror that you might expect from a horror film. It had to be building something else. That’s why creepypasta was a great resource, because that specific feeling that I talked about earlier was what we wanted to capture in the show.

CHANNEL ZERO: NO END HOUSE -- "This Isn't Real" Episode 107 -- Pictured:  (l-r) Amy Forsyth as Margot, The Masked Figure -- (Photo by: Allen Fraser/Syfy)

Your work on Hannibal almost directly leads to some of what we’re seeing in Channel Zero. Did you bring anything over that you learned from Hannibal to this?

I watched the first two seasons of Hannibal as a fan on my own, and at some point in season two, it became clear to me, “OK, this show pretended to be a procedural and got on the air like that, but actually, it’s an art installation or something that’s pretending to be a TV show.”

It looks like a Matthew Barney art installation sometimes. I love the clarity of vision, and I loved the idea that you could basically do an art project on TV. That kind of speaks to, specifically, some of the design elements of No-End House, bringing Sarah Sitkin in, and Guy Maddin, who does the video art in it, and Olivier De Sagazan, the performance artist in season one. Both in Candle Cove and No-End House, we bring in fine artists to just do cool stuff in a TV show, which is not normal.

Channel Zero airs on Syfy on Wednesday’s at 10PM ET. It’s also available on Syfy’s on-demand library for cable subscribers.

Images: Allen Fraser/Syfy

This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.


The Morning After: Weekend Edition

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

Welcome to the weekend. We’ll recap this week’s news highlights, plus big stories from Friday like the Stranger Things season two soundtrack/trailer and, wait one second, did that Twitter boycott actually work?

Does it have a mascot?Steve Wozniak just created his own online university


Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has just launched Woz U, a new digital institute designed for those eyeing a career in the tech industry. “Our goal is to educate and train people in employable digital skills without putting them into years of debt,” Wozniak said in a statement.

A modding tool for adding emulated games supports Nintendo’s mini-console.Nintendo’s mini SNES has already been cracked to run more games


It appears that Nintendo really doesn’t mind modders cracking open its little retro consoles and using them for more than they were originally intended. Back when the NES Classic Edition was released, it took Russian tinkerer Cluster just a few months to figure out how to side-load additional games on to the system. Nintendo doesn’t seem to have made the process any more difficult on the new mini SNES.

Good luck topping ‘League of Legends.’Riot Games is finally working on a second game


The two founders of Riot Games announced that they’re handing off the management of League of Legends to other administrators so they can make a new game — which will end up being the publisher’s second big video game release in 11 years of operation.

New rules incomingTwitter CEO responds to boycott


While many weren’t sure the #WomenBoycottTwitter campaign would have any impact, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted a thread promising that after a day spent focusing on “making some critical decisions…We decided to take a more aggressive stance in our rules and how we enforce them.” Specifically, the exec says we can expect new rules around “unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence.”

So, who is going to build the Model 3?Tesla fired ‘hundreds’ of workers this week


The Mercury News reports that Tesla — which is in the midst of ramping up production of the Model 3 — fired hundreds of workers this week at its headquarters and factory. In a statement, the company cited performance reviews as a reason for departures from its workforce of more than 33,000 and said that it is continuing to grow.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Win a trip to LA and two tickets to the Engadget Experience
  • The future of surveillance is hidden in airport ads
  • Amazon’s new Kindle Oasis is waterproof and has a bigger screen
  • Pornhub is improving search with an AI porn addict
  • Watch the ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ trailer one more time
  • Oculus’ standalone headsets point to a changing VR landscape
  • An appreciation of 2017’s in-game shopkeepers
  • After 10 years, I’ve finally accepted that ‘Half-Life’ is dead

The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you’ll miss if you don’t subscribe.


Good birdie! This box trains crows to collect cigarette butts for cleaner cities

The world is full of trash. Look around your local park and you’ll spot gum wrappers, plastic bottles, and crinkled up cans tossed carelessly aside. But not all litter is so obvious. Look a little closer to the ground, kick some grass aside, and you’ll find flattened cylinders dug into the dirt. Cigarette butts — they’re practically everywhere and essentially eternal. It takes over a decade for a filter to degrade, which means a kid could play at the park next to the same discarded butt from childhood to adolescence.

But a team of Dutch designers have devised a clever way to clean up our shared space by enlisting an unlikely ally: crows.

Crows are incredibly intelligent. Despite thumb-sized brains, they’re sophisticated thinkers and tinkerers, fastening rods out of sticks to “fish” insects and larvae out of tree bark. They’re also some of the best problem solvers in the animal kingdom. In one study, a crow named 007 successfully completed an eight-step puzzle for a food reward, and did so without any of Bond’s gadgets.

With all those smarts, crows are highly trainable, which is why the Dutch team decided to focus on these feathered friends as the clean up crew. In the project, called Crowded Cities, designers Ruben van der Vleuten and Bob Spikman have set out to develop the Crowbar, a device that provides mutual benefit for humans, crows, and the environment at large.

Van der Vleuten and Spikman didn’t initially consider crows. Rather, they spotted a problem — the billions of cigarette filters littered annually in the Netherlands alone — and searched for a solution.

First, they’ll need to learn that depositing a butt means receiving a reward.

“As industrial designers, we discussed using a Roomba-like vacuum cleaner that could drive around a city to suck up all cigarette filters laying around,” Van der Vleuten told Digital Trends. “Soon we realized this would be very complex and would again pollute the environment because of the production of these machines. So we started looking at how we can use the environment itself. This is where we saw the opportunity to use pigeons but doing research online showed that there is another bird around cities which is far smarter.”

The guys at Crowded Cities haven’t run any trials with the Crowbar yet but they’re pretty sure they know how it will work. The device consists of an inverted cone with a camera. When a crow deposits a filter into the cone, the camera quickly scans the offering and delivers a tasty treat.

Of course, crows probably won’t drop filters into the device on a whim, so they’ll first need to learn that depositing a butt means receiving a reward.

An American hacker named Joshua Klein might have an idea. In his own study, Klein has trained captive crows to deposit coins for a peanut and he’s now looking for citizen scientists to help experiment with wild crows. The Crowded Cities team have looked to Klein for inspiration.

There are some apparent problems with the Crowbar though, not least being the health of the clean up crew. Cigarettes and their filters are full of harmful chemicals and plastic fibers that might seep into a crow’s system. If crows handle cigarettes, how might this affect their health?

And no one really know how an incentive program like the Crowbar would disrupt crow communities. Would crows begin to congregate around smokers, nabbing half-finished cigarettes from their unsuspecting fingers? Would crows change their diets, trading insects and seeds for filters and rewards? If Crowbars suddenly run out of treats, will crows react like Szechuan sauce-deprived Rick and Morty fans? No one really knows.

Van der Vleuten and Spikman say they’re aware of the issues and want to meet with a specialist to discuss the concerns. Until then they’ll continue setting up their first trials and hopefully soon will help make the world filter litter free, one crow at a time.


11 years after creating ‘League of Legends,’ Riot is making a new game

The two founders of Riot Games announced that they’re handing off the management of League of Legends to other administrators so they can make a new game — which will end up being the publisher’s second big video game release in 11 years of operation. Brandon “Ryze” Beck and Marc “Tryndamere” Merrill created Riot in 2006 to develop their only title, which has become a wildly successful gaming juggernaut dominating the MOBA genre. Now, they’re handing over the leadership reins so they can make new titles that will ‘finally put the “s” in Riot Games,’ as they put it in their joint statement.

In order to do that, they’re handing over company operations to Riot CFO Dylan Jadeja, Scott Gelb (CTO), and Nicolo Laurent (President). That leaves Ryze and Tryndamere free to develop new, as-yet-undefined titles for the publisher, which has produced a tabletop and several small games, but no AAA tentpoles beyond League of Legends. It’ll certainly take the pressure off their shoulders from running the blockbuster title, which sports 100 million players worldwide which continues to redefine the esports world.

Via: Glixel

Source: Riot Games


Jack Dorsey responds to #WomenBoycottTwitter: New rules incoming

Last night #WomenBoycottTwitter spread among many high profile accounts that stood in solidarity with “victims of hate and harassment Twitter fails to support.” The boycott itself wasn’t without controversy and spawned responses including a push to highlight and appreciate women of color on the platform under the hashtag #WOCAffirmation. While many weren’t sure it would have any impact, tonight Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded with a thread promising that after focusing today on “making some critical decisions…We decided to take a more aggressive stance in our rules and how we enforce them.”

Changes that he says are coming in the next few weeks include “New rules around: unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence.” Of course, we’ve heard these kinds of statements from Twitter before, and critics may note it only plans to deal with “violent” groups and overt symbols of hate. Will that be enough to make any real difference in the experiences so many people report on Twitter? Unfortunately, we’re still waiting to find out.

[View the story “Twitter changes” on Storify]

Really proud of Twitter today. Bold decisions that will mean real and positive change.

— Biz Stone (@biz) October 14, 2017

Source: Jack Dorsey (Twitter)


Samsung ‘Dual Pixel’ tech allows dual-lens effects from single-lens smartphones

Why it matters to you

Soon the Google Pixel 2 won’t be the only smartphone that can create dual-lens effects with a single lens.

The iPhone 7 Plus brought simulated background blur through dual-lens cameras, while Google’s Pixel 2 just proved the same effect doesn’t need two cameras — but that single-lens, dual-camera effect will soon be coming to more smartphones. This week, Samsung announced the launch of a new “Dual Pixel” sensor alongside a second high-resolution yet compact sensor with improved low-light capabilities.

Dual-lens cameras can compare the view from their slightly different positions to determine what’s the subject and what’s in the background, allowing the software to simulate the background blur or bokeh traditionally associated with cameras that pack larger sensors. A Dual Pixel sensor, on the other hand, instead measures the difference from one side of the pixel and the other rather than two lenses. The feature allows dual-camera effects like the portrait mode for background blur to work in single lens cameras.

The first of Samsung’s new sensors uses that Dual Pixel technology for both that bokeh effect and faster autofocus performance. As upcoming smartphones integrate the new Isocell Fast 2L9 sensor, more will have that bokeh effect without requiring a second lens. The camera on the Pixel 2 will bring the feature to the market for the first time, but the new sensor should help make the option more widely available. The 12-megapixel sensor, Samsung says, has a smaller pixel size, which will make it possible to design a smartphone without a bump on the back to accommodate the camera.

Samsung says the second sensor, the Isocell Slim 2X7, is the first to have a pixel size below 1.0μm — which means a 24-megapixel sensor can fit inside of a slim smartphone. Smaller pixel sizes tend to create more noise and typically don’t perform as well in low light. Think of a pixel as a solar panel — a larger panel is going to gather more light.

But Samsung says the design of the sensor helps negate the negatives of a smaller pixel, including a deep trench isolation design allows the sensor to hold more light information. A second feature called Tetracell technology also helps negate the downsides of using smaller pixel sites. Tetracell merges four pixels together in order to have a larger surface area in low light scenarios, while a re-mosiac algorithm uses individual pixels in bright lighting conditions. The combination means better low light photos with higher-resolution shots when lighting isn’t a problem.

“Samsung Isoccell Fast 2L9 and Isocell Slim 2X7 are new image sensors that fully utilize Samsung’s advanced pixel technology, and are highly versatile as they can be placed in both front and rear of a smartphone,” Ben K. Hur, vice president of system LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics, said in a press release.

“Samsung plans to further develop the Dual Pixel and 0.9μm-pixel product categories, and expand applicable devices for ISOCELL image sensors that can enhance photographing experiences for consumers.”

While it’s too early to determine which upcoming smartphones will adapt the new sensors, the launch should make the Dual Pixel and high resolution easier to find.

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