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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.
Apple's Researchkit Could Be Gold Mine for Hackers
March 13, 2015
Apple earlier this week announced ResearchKit, an open source framework that will let medical and health researchers gather data through iPhone apps. ResearchKit will be released in April. Apps to monitor asthma patients and for studies on breast cancer survivors, cardiovascular health and Parkinson's Disease, already have been developed using ResearchKit.
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.
Gadget Ogling: A Lovely Sky Snapper, a Grotesque Power Pack and Wafer-Thin Speakers
March 04, 2015
There's a new Nikon camera that actually won't work for parents eager to flash their cash at a kid's birthday party with an expensive DSLR when a camera phone would work just fine. The D810A has an infrared filter that probably will result in distorted colors when used for everyday purposes. So you might not want to use it for that cute shot of a butterfly nestling on a poppy.
DeepMind AI Exterminates Space Invaders, Pac-Man
February 27, 2015
Researchers at Google's DeepMind subsidiary in England have developed an artificial agent they call a "deep Q-network" that learned to play 49 classic Atari 2600 arcade games by just diving in. The DQN algorithm performed at more than 75 percent of the level of a professional player in more than half the games. It achieved the maximum attainable scores in certain games, such as Breakout.
Anthem Mega-Breach Jeopardizes 80 Million Consumers
February 05, 2015
Hackers broke into the databases of Anthem Inc., the second-largest health insurer in the U.S., and stole up to 80 million customers' personal information. The data includes current and former customers' names, birthdays, medical IDs, social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, Anthem president and CEO Joseph Swedish wrote in a note sent to customers.
Gadget Ogling: A Touchless Thermometer, Flashing Audio, and a Mesmerizing Mattress Cover
January 31, 2015
JoyWing's Wishbone is a fancier thermometer than what you or I will have seen on any trip to the doctor. It's a smartphone attachment that gives temperature readouts within a couple of seconds without even having to touch the person or material it's examining, thanks to an infrared sensor. It's inexpensive, at $26-35 for those pledging to the crowdfunding drive.
Gadget Ogling: A Swank Walkman, a Brainy Grill, and Oh, So Much More From CES
January 10, 2015
Welcome to the year's first edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that offers infallible opinions on the latest gadget announcements. The mammoth CES trade show took place this week, and though it offered far too many new items to conceivably cram into a single column, we'll look at some of the most notable and notorious, including Sony's latest Walkman, a smart grill and more.
Researchers Turn Computer Into Poker Shark
January 09, 2015
A computer program dubbed "Cepheus" has solved the game of poker, researchers at the University of Alberta announced. The Computer Poker Research Group, which created Cepheus, claims it not only can play heads-up limit Texas hold'em poker, but also beat human opponents. Games such as poker and chess have been used as test beds by researchers developing new concepts in artificial intelligence.
The Halting Progress of Mind-Controlled Robot Tech
December 30, 2014
new mind-controlled robotic arm in a project run by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Earlier this year, demonstrated her ability to use her thoughts to move the robot hand into different positions while controlling the wrist and arm. Mastering four distinct movements gave Scheuermann control of the hand in 10 dimensions. However, the school recently closed down the project.
Gadget Ogling: Budget Fitness Tracking, Focused Writing and Red-Hot Wearables
December 22, 2014
Gather around, friends, for another edition of the column that holds up just-announced gadgets to scrutiny, Gadget Dreams and Nightmares. In the stocking for our pre-holidays edition are a smartphone-controlled lock, an inexpensive fitness tracker, a red-hot wearable and much more. While I've looked before at smartphone-enabled door locks, Sony's take on the idea, the Qrio, stands out.
2014's Top Google Play Picks: Fitness, Netflix, Frozen and More
December 12, 2014
Health and fitness was the fastest-growing category of apps on Google Play this year, according to a report Google published on Thursday. MyFitnessPal was the most-downloaded app within that category, while Duolingo led the education category. Facebook was top among social apps named in the report, which listed the most popular apps, games, movies, music, news and books in 2014 on Google Play.
Gadget Ogling: Seeing E-Ink Everywhere, Breathing Easy and Brewing Beer
December 06, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, and set aside that last leftover-turkey sandwich for a short while as we explore the murky landscape of freshly announced gadgets. On the menu in our post-Thanksgiving edition are a pair of e-ink smart devices, wearables with a health focus, an intelligent home brewing kit, a kitschy kitchen product, and perhaps the most useless item we've included in this column to date.
Gadget Ogling: A Creepy Echo, Clever Home Connections, Bizarre Smartphones and Flexible 3D Printing
November 15, 2014
Echo, Amazon's newest attempt at a smart personal assistant, is set to take pride of place in your home. The black tower is voice-activated and can play music, as well as provide information and news updates. It's from Amazon, so it also can update your shopping list. It's always on, so it's continually listening to you, wherever you are in a room. That's just more than a little unsettling.
Dell: Using Technology to Change the World
November 10, 2014
I was at Dell World last week, and it is kind of amazing how far the company has come since it went private. Interestingly, much of the big tent content was less about Dell's technology and more about how technology was being used to change the world. This was kind of a scary event in some cases, because we are far from ready for some of the changes.
Foodini: Presto Chango, Your Dinner Is Printed
November 07, 2014
Natural Machines this week took to the stage at the Web Summit in Dublin to demonstrate Foodini, a 3D printer that can be used to create pizza, pasta, burgers and a wide range of other savory and sweet foods. Users begin by choosing the recipe they want to print, either from the Internet-connected device's onboard touchscreen or from their own PC or mobile device.
New Jawbone Fitness Trackers Stretch High and Low
November 06, 2014
Jawbone has announced two new fitness trackers: the high-end Up3 wristband and the entry-level Up Move clip device. Using a multisensor platform, the $179.99 Up3 captures detailed information about the wearer's heart rate, sleep stages and physical activity over the course of the day. It also connects with the Up App to deliver Smart Coach, an intelligent system that tracks the user's progress.
Take a Nano Pill and Call Google in the Morning?
November 03, 2014
Google is in the early stages of developing a nanoparticle-covered pill to detect cancer and other serious health problems such as heart disease, according to Andrew Conrad, head of the life sciences team at Google X, who revealed the project last week. The pill would work in tandem with a wearable magnetic device worn by the patient; the device would guide the pill to different parts of the body.
Gadget Ogling: Logged Jogs, Manual Music, Smart Weapons and Skinny Phones
October 31, 2014
Welcome to another installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, a weekly look at the treats and horrors revealed as manufacturers pull back their curtains. Behind door number one is a selection of updated activity trackers from one of the oldest dogs in the yard, with the other shiny prizes including a music controller, a smart accessory for police firearms, and the planet's thinnest smartphone.
Microsoft May Have Launched a Band of Gold
October 30, 2014
Microsoft has made another foray into the mobile health market with the introduction of the Microsoft Band, powered by its new Microsoft Health platform. The band, which is available at Microsoft Stores for $200 as of Thursday, is designed to be worn 24 hours a day. In addition to the usual monitoring capabilities, the band will notify wearers of incoming calls, emails, texts and social updates.
Hybrid IKEA Desk Could Get You Off Your Duff
October 28, 2014
IKEA last week introduced a new desk that can be raised and lowered with the push of a button to accommodate both sitting and standing positions. Part of IKEA's Bekant line, the desk serves as a hybrid alternative to traditional desks. "This desk promotes a healthy work environment by getting people on their feet," said Karen Haas, IKEA's U.S. sales leader for Workspaces.
Fitbit Tosses 3 More Bands Into the Activity-Tracking Melee
October 27, 2014
Fitbit on Monday announced three new fitness and activity-tracking wearables: the Fitbit Charge, Charge HR and Surge. The Charge HR and Surge will be available early next year. The Charge is available now on Fitbit's site and is coming soon to retailers nationwide. Prices are high -- $130 for the Charge, $150 for the Charge HR, and $250 for the Surge, a fitness super watch with eight sensors.
Android Wear Gets Its First Big Update
October 24, 2014
Google's Android Wear on Thursday got its first major update, bringing GPS support and offline music capabilities to the wearables platform. "Android Wear is great for tracking things like route, distance and speed," wrote Kenny Stoltz, Android Wear product manager. "Before today, you had to keep your phone close at hand. Starting today, Wear supports watches with GPS sensors."
Robots Gearing Up to Join Ebola Front Lines
October 24, 2014
The White House and roboticists have set Nov. 7 to get together in a workshop to explore ways of using robots to help in the battle against Ebola. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will cohost the workshop on safety robotics for Ebola workers, with Texas A&M University's Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue, or CRASAR.

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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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