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Gadget Ogling: Shooting Flames, Flowing Time, and Locked-Up Temptation
March 28, 2015
Someway, somehow, it's apparently legal to own the XM42 flamethrower in the United States, unless you happen to live in California or Maryland. I can't fathom any circumstance under which a weapon -- let's not mince words here -- capable of shooting flames 25 feet should be available for anyone to pick up if they have $700 lying around to back Ion Productions' crowdfunding campaign.
Ford Tech Could Put an End to Speeding Tickets
March 26, 2015
Ford Motors on Tuesday unveiled a new technology that can scan traffic signs and automatically adjust a vehicle's speed accordingly. The Intelligent Speed Limiter was demonstrated in Germany, but it will be available worldwide in the newest edition of Ford's S-Max cars. The technology features a camera mounted on the windshield that works with a recognition system that can read roadside signs.
FAA's Sluggish Pace Frustrates Amazon's Drone Ambitions
March 25, 2015
For one brief shining moment, it appeared that Amazon and the FAA were in concert on outdoor drone testing in the U.S., but in testimony before a Senate subcommittee hearing held Tuesday, Amazon put paid to that notion. Although the FAA last week granted Amazon permission to conduct outdoor tests, the unmanned aircraft system covered by the authorization is no longer in use.
Over-the-Air Tinkering Keeps Tesla's Model S New
March 25, 2015
Tesla CEO Elon Musk last week said that the company's line of high-end electric cars will get some autonomous driving capabilities via an over-the-air software update this summer. The new features will let drivers give their vehicles control of certain tasks on major roads, possibly even highways. Other software updates for the Tesla S already are rolling out.
Magic Leap Allows a Peek Into Its Crazy-Cool AR World
March 24, 2015
Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz was scheduled to present last week at a TED talk in Vancouver, where he was expected to reveal the augmented reality tech his company has up its sleeve. Magic Leap pulled out a few days ahead of the presentation, but it left the tech world with a teaser trailer showing an AR game being played on a working prototype of its headset.
Glass Is Still a Twinkle in Google's Eye
March 23, 2015
Google hasn't killed Glass, its controversial Internet-connected eyewear, CEO Eric Schmidt said in an interview published Monday. In fact, Google plans to bring out a new version of Glass later this year, he said. Rumors of its demise seemed to be confirmed in January, when Google abruptly stopped selling the initial version of Glass and shuttered its Explorer program.
Gadget Ogling: Cute Robots, Secure Tablets and a Conscientious Can
March 21, 2015
PLEN2 is simply adorable. A robot to seemingly fix all the world's problems, if its Kickstarter project is anything to believe, PLEN2 is possibly the most joyous humanoid machine I've seen in years. Maybe I'm swayed a little by the infectious theme song in the pitch video. The idea is to sell the basic robot and let customers get creative using open source tools and 3D-printed parts.
PlayStation Vue Could Put Cable TV in Rear-View Mirror
March 19, 2015
Sony on Wednesday launched its PlayStation Vue streaming service in New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia. A combination of live and on-demand TV with a cloud-based DVR, Vue is available on the PS4 and PS3 in those cities. Users' favorite shows and channels will be right on the home screen whenever they fire up the service. The DVR lets users save favorite shows and store them for up to 28 days.
Musk: Technology May Revoke Your Driver's License
March 19, 2015
There will come a time, in a future not so far away, when it will be illegal for the average person to drive a car, predicted Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Autonomous vehicles will be exponentially safer, he said Tuesday at Nvidia's 2015 GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage with Musk for an unrehearsed conversation about the future of cars.
The Road Ahead for Self-Driving Cars
March 19, 2015
While several automakers are currently in the process of developing autonomous vehicles, the road ahead for self-driving cars could be long, with numerous obstacles to overcome. According to the recent Autonomous Vehicles 2015-2035 report, published by IDTechEx, the challenges and technology have much in common. So far, progress toward a completely driverless car is in the slow lane.
Windows Hello Waves Off Passwords
March 18, 2015
Microsoft on Tuesday announced Windows Hello, a feature that allows users to access computers and devices running Windows 10 via face recognition, iris identification or fingerprint matching. In addition, the company raised the curtain on Microsoft Passport, a programming system that IT managers, software developers and website authors can use for signing in to websites and applications.
Feds Put Big Money Into IT Innovations
March 18, 2015
The U.S. government spends tens of billions of dollars each year just to make sure that computer and data processing systems keep functioning on a day-to-day basis. With so much investment allocated for operations and maintenance of legacy systems, it makes sense that far fewer dollars are available for cutting-edge information technology investment -- also known as "DME" spending.
Talking Barbie Says Hello, Parents Say Goodbye
March 18, 2015
It's not so much Hello Barbie's talking -- it's her listening that has parents up in arms. Here's how Hello Barbie works: A kid presses on the doll's belt buckle and speaks into a microphone in the doll's necklace. An AI system processes and analyzes that speech in the cloud. Responses are then streamed back to the doll, who replies to the kid -- all over a secure WiFi connection to the Internet.
Big Robo-Bird Trains to Be Fastest on 2 Feet
March 17, 2015
Becoming the fastest of its kind is just a byproduct of the ATRIAS robot's primary objective. Oregon State University's biped is the focus of a loftier goal: to build an entire industry on its leg locomotion mechanics. Researchers have been drawing inspiration for ATRIAS from birds, and the science will grow from there, said Jonathan W. Hurst, associate professor of mechanical engineering at OSU.
Gadget Ogling: Falling Apples and Magical Pancakes
March 14, 2015
Apple dropped a few new facts about its Watch at this week's presentation. The hardware is interesting in that Apple is limiting what people can do with their 8 GB of storage. No more than a quarter of that can be filed with music, and photos can take up just 75 MB, which seems somewhat rudimentary. I'm glad to see the battery apparently lasts enough to see out a full day.
Cortana Could Edge Out Siri, Google Now
March 13, 2015
Microsoft later this year will offer its Cortana personal assistant as a standalone app for iOS and Android devices. The engine behind Cortana is "arguably better than [Siri or Google Now] simply because it's far more mature and comprehensive," said tech analyst Rob Enderle. The Cortana personal assistant evolved from the AI character Cortana in the Halo video game series.
No Fuel? No Problem - Solar Plane Completes 2nd Leg in Round-the-World Trip
March 11, 2015
Fueled solely by the sun, the Solar Impulse 2 has completed the second leg of its historic journey around the world, landing in Ahmedabad, India. A decade-old dream is actualizing for the team. The solar plane began its historic flight in Abu Dhabi on Monday and landed early Tuesday at Muscat, Oman. The second leg took 15 hours, with the Solar Impulse 2 arriving late Tuesday night in Ahmedabad.
What Mobile World Congress Delivered Besides Same-Old Smartphones
March 10, 2015
The latest handsets and tablets received their share of headlines at this year's MWC, but their mindshare shrank considerably. Sony unveiled its Xperia Z4 tablet, possibly its last hurrah in the mobile space. Meanwhile, Samsung's Galaxy S6 smartphone stole the spotlight. However, with more than 2,000 tech organizations promoting their wares and services, MWC 2015 offered a fresh set of promises.
Gadget Ogling: Slick, Dull and Outlandish Smartphones, a Powerful Shield and Invisibility Glasses
March 10, 2015
Samsung is trying something a little different while simultaneously positioning its S6 and S6 edge as the market's dominant Android smartphones. Sure, they're faster, smarter, brighter, stronger and more powerful than previous models -- as you might expect in a flagship refresh -- and that's all terribly pedestrian. Still, I love the edge concept. I'm glad to see Samsung continue and expand it.
How Deep Can Watson Drill?
March 10, 2015
IBM last week announced the acquisition of AlchemyAPI, which uses deep learning to perform natural language processing. NLP consists of semantic text analysis, including sentiment analysis. IBM "has some of these capabilities already, and we continue to explore ways to expand and amplify them through our growing developer community," said IBM Watson VP Steve Gold.
Apple Springs Bevy of New Products at Watch Event
March 09, 2015
The Apple Watch wasn't the only new product to take the stage at Apple's Monday media event -- Apple also introduced an all-new sleek MacBook. In addition, Apple nabbed the chance to be the exclusive launch partner for HBO's new streaming subscription service. Among the event highlights: Apple Watch will be available for preorder April 10, sale April 24; and Apple Watch Edition starts at $10,000.
Get Ready for Self-Driving Autos to Wreak Disruption
March 09, 2015
Autonomous vehicles are on a roll, suggests a new report from McKinsey & Co. Acceptance will increase substantially by 2050, accounting for as much of 20 percent of new car sales. The shift to self-driving technologies could reduce auto accidents by as much as 90 percent, the report suggests. In addition, self-driving vehicles could free up commuters' time in the car.
Get Ready - It's About to Be Apple Watch All the Time
March 07, 2015
The Apple Watch, representing Apple's first major new device category in more than four years, is about to be unleashed upon the world -- no doubt shortly after Apple reveals pricing and availability details on Monday. Careful what you wish for. All the hype is going to get worse -- much worse. Brace yourself. The rest of this year is going to be Apple Watch, Apple Watch, Apple Watch.
Precision Laser Weapon Scorches Mile-Away Truck Engine
March 06, 2015
Lockheed Martin this week conducted a test of its ATHENA laser system. The successful demonstration attests to just how far directed energy weapons technology has come. Boring clean through the engine of a truck mounted on a platform more than a mile away, ATHENA decommissioned the running vehicle in a matter of seconds. The technology is now ready for wider adoption.

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Are you looking forward to self-driving cars?
You bet -- I'd love to have a built-in chauffeur.
Yes -- self-driving cars will save lives.
Kind of -- I'd like some self-driving features, like parking.
No -- self-driving cars are too dangerous.
No -- I don't want to give up another freedom.
Absolutely not -- I saw Terminator and I'm not letting some robot take me for a ride!
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