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New US Asteroid Mining Law Could Violate International Space Treaty
November 30, 2015
President Obama last week signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, which governs ownership of asteroid resources, possibly triggering a new battle in the commercial space race. Section 5103 of the Act gives U.S. companies the right to resources mined from asteroids, although it does not give them rights to the asteroids themselves.
Blue Origin Rocket Sticks Landing
November 27, 2015
Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket this week made history when it landed intact in Texas. The unmanned crew capsule returned safely from a test flight that took it 330,000 feet into the air. The New Shepard could become the first reusable booster -- it's scheduled to return to space in a few months. It's now tucked into a storage facility at a launch site in West Texas.
Fitbit Amps Up Tracking Features
November 23, 2015
Fitbit on Monday announced the addition of PurePulse heart rate tracking and SmartTrack automatic exercise recognition to its Charge HR and Surge devices. The PurePulse monitoring will be activated whenever the devices are used in Exercise Mode, providing users with continuous, automatic tracking of heart rate trends over time without the need for a chest strap.
Gadget Ogling: A Dumb Watch Dock, a Smart VR Phone Case, and a Fantastic Fireball Thrower
November 21, 2015
No longer leaving it up to third-party companies to create charging docks for its Apple Watch, Apple has released its own official dock. It allows Watch owners to rest the smartwatch in nightstand mode -- a feature introduced in the latest version of the operating system that essentially turns the Watch into a bedside clock -- without tangling it up with the standard magnetic charger.
NASA Awards Space Robot R&D Projects to MIT, Northeastern
November 20, 2015
NASA on Tuesday announced it has awarded one R5 humanoid robot each to MIT and Northeastern University to conduct research on adapting them for use in space. The universities were selected from U.S. entries in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Robotics Challenge held in June. Each team will receive up to $250,000 a year for two years. They also will get technical support from NASA.
Microsoft Retools Minecraft to Teach Kids to Code
November 18, 2015
Microsoft on Monday announced that its Mojang unit's Minecraft will star in Code.org's third annual Hour of Code event in December. A 2-D tutorial version of Minecraft will introduce players ages 6 and older to simple coding, encouraging them to mine and craft by using visual programming, Microsoft said. Players then can engage in a bundle of 14 challenges to reinforce what they've learned.
Researcher's Demo Sheds Doubt on Fitbit Security
October 23, 2015
Fortinet security researcher Axelle Apvrille demonstrated Wednesday in a presentation at the Hack.lu conference in Luxembourg. Apvrille showed how it was possible to access a Fitbit's Bluetooth connection and, in a mere 10 seconds, infect it with a malicious packet that later could be used to infect a PC, a feat she demoed earlier this month at a hacker conference in Budapest.
Magic Leap: Now You See It
October 22, 2015
There are no special effects in the augmented reality demo it shared on Tuesday, Magic Leap said. The video, which shows imaginary objects blended into a real-world setting, was shot using Magic Leap's augmented reality technology, the company proclaimed. Details about Magic Leap's AR headset have been sparse thus far, but CEO Rony Abovitz dropped a bit more this week.
Healthcare Sector Security Woefully Weak, Survey Says
October 21, 2015
The healthcare industry has become the favorite playground for many cybercriminals, suggests a report Trustwave released earlier this month. Of the 398 full-time healthcare professionals surveyed, 91 percent of information technology respondents and 77 percent of nontechnical respondents believed criminals increasingly were targeting healthcare organizations.
Facebook, Eutelsat to Use Satellites to Spread Net Across Sub-Saharan Africa
October 5, 2015
Facebook and Eutelsat have entered a partnership to leverage satellite technology to provide Internet access to remote parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative, which includes a multiyear agreement with Spacecom, will utilize the entire broadband payload on the future AMOS-6 satellite as the backbone of a dedicated system that will include satellite capacity, gateways and terminals.
Found on Mars: Cool, Clear Water?
September 29, 2015
Dark, narrow streaks going downhill at four locations on Mars are evidence of water flowing on the planet. Called "recurring slope lineae," the streaks are approximately the length of a football field, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They are believed to have been formed by the seasonal flow of water. A report on the research was published Monday in Nature Geoscience.
What Goes Around Comes Around: Russia Gets Hacked
September 23, 2015
Russia has been a prime suspect in recent cyberattacks against U.S. government targets. However, Russia has been poked with the other end of the hacker stick. For more than two months, hacker attacks originating in China have bedeviled Russia's military and telecom sectors, Proofpoint researchers have revealed. Russian-speaking analysts working at global financial firms also have been attacked.
Blue Origin Rockets Into Cape Canaveral
September 18, 2015
Blue Origin on Tuesday announced plans to launch rockets from a Cape Canaveral launchpad, which it has leased from NASA. "The site saw its last launch in 2005, and the pad has stood silent for more than 10 years -- too long. We can't wait to fix that," said Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos, who is also the founder of Amazon. It's the sort of thing the folks at NASA like to hear. People are interested in space again.
Hackers Home in on Health, Education, Government Sectors
September 16, 2015
A New York healthcare provider, California's higher education system and the Department of Energy have become the latest targets of data bandits. The latest massive data breach at a healthcare provider reportedly took place at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, which last week revealed that the personal data of more than 10 million people was at risk due to an attack that dates back to December 2013.
NASA May Move Microsatellites Magnetically
September 14, 2015
NASA earlier this month entered an agreement with Arx Pax to use its Magnetic Field Architecture technology in hardware that will let astronauts move tiny satellites without touching them. Arx Pax CEO Greg Henderson and his wife, Jill Henderson, last year launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund development of a functional hoverboard based on the technology.
Samsung's IoT Products Make Themselves at Home
September 9, 2015
Samsung last week plunged into the Internet of Things for the home market, unveiling a new hub to control connected gadgets, home and sleep monitors, and a smart washing machine. The company made the announcements at IFA 2015. The SmartThings Hub for home devices is built around a powerful processor that enables video monitoring, and it includes a battery backup that lasts up to 10 hours.
Apple Watch Nips at Fitbit's Heels
August 28, 2015
Despite disparaging sales reports, the Apple Watch is closing in on market leader Fitbit, according to a new IDC report. During the second quarter, Apple shipped 3.6 million watches -- 800,000 units behind Fitbit's shipments for the period. Shipments for all wearables during the quarter increased 223 percent from the same period a year ago, IDC reported, to 18.1 million units from 5.6 million.
Intel: Putting Innovation Back in the Hands of the Innovators
August 24, 2015
We are living in an amazing time, but many of us seem to take it for granted. We have private spaceships. Self-driving cars are on the road, even though we can't buy them yet, and there are plans for a 12-mile-high inflatable building. Granted, a number of us are convinced it will end up looking like a giant version of the inflatable fan blown stick man often seen outside of car dealerships.
Gadget Ogling: Swimming Aids, Drinks Fixers, and Sleep Rings
August 22, 2015
As an occasional swimmer, I'd like a better way of monitoring how well I'm doing. It's not so easy to use a stopwatch on my phone in the pool as it is while out for a jog. So, Misfit is looking to bring wearables to the water with a new version of its Shine activity tracker, developed with Speedo. The Speedo Shine apparently can monitor your progress on laps across all types of strokes.
Mum Robot Goes Darwinian on Her Kids
August 21, 2015
A "mother" robot has demonstrated natural selection and the process of evolution in action, according to researchers from the University of Cambridge. Scientists typically have to go back in time to study evolution -- it's rarely observable over the course of a human lifetime. However, for robots and artificial intelligence, it's a different story.
Sony's SmartBand 2 Takes the Plunge
August 21, 2015
Sony on Thursday unveiled its SmartBand 2 fitness tracker. It has an advanced heart rate sensor and a variety of communications capabilities. It informs wearers when they get calls, messages, emails or notifications on social media sites. It sports interchangeable silicone rubber bands in black, white, pink and indigo. The SmartBand 2 is compatible with many Android and iOS devices.
12-Mile-High Tower May Launch Spacecraft Horizontally
August 19, 2015
Thoth Technology last month won patents in the U.S. and UK for a space elevator -- a 12-mile-high tower that could herald a new era of space transportation. If all goes as planned, the freestanding ThothX Tower will be the tallest structure in the world by far. Dubhai's Burj Khalifa, currently the world's tallest building, is a mere half mile in height.
Truth May Be Wiggly in Wikipedia's Hot-Button Science Articles
August 18, 2015
Users should take extra care when exploring Wikipedia's science topics, because many articles on controversial issues such as global warming and acid rain have been targeted for editing by revisionists who reject scientific findings, new research has found. Due to its crowdsourced model, academics widely regard Wikipedia as a starting point for research -- a compass more than a map.
Gadget Ogling: Smart Rings, Breathalyzing Bike Locks, and Laptop-Sized Transports
August 15, 2015
Please, whatever you do, don't decide with your loved one it would be a good idea to get rings that vibrate only when you're trying to get in touch with one another. Omate and Emanuel Ungaro are offering schmucks the Ungaro ring, which does just that. It buzzes when one designated person, whoever that may be, sends a text message or calls you. It will retail for up to $2,000.
Fitbit Hooks Up With Windows 10
August 14, 2015
Fitbit on Thursday introduced a new app for Windows 10, Windows 10 mobile and Xbox One, scheduled for availability later this year. The Fitbit for Windows 10 app features an improved design that allows users to personalize the way they utilize Windows devices as part of a fitness routine. It handles traditional fitness tracking and provides the user with advice to help reach overall fitness goals.
Now Google Knows Its ABCs
August 11, 2015
Google on Monday announced a restructuring that will make it a wholly owned subsidiary of a new umbrella company called "Alphabet." Product Chief Sundar Pichai will take over as CEO of Google, while Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergei Brin will be CEO and president, respectively, of Alphabet. Pichai "is ... the right person to lead the core Google search effort," said Covestor's Barry Randall.
IBM to Buy Watson a Pair of Eyes
August 10, 2015
IBM last week announced a $1 billion deal to acquire Merge Health, a provider of enterprise imaging and clinical system, with the goal of giving the supercomputer "eyes." There are compelling synergies in the marriage of Merge's medical imaging and IBM's notable resources in analytics, cloud and cognitive computing, noted Jon Peddie Research's Kathleen Maher.
Gadget Ogling: Bacteria-Zapping Toasters, a Clicker for Cortana and Souped-Up Printers
August 8, 2015
In truth, the Nico Gerard Skyview Pinnacle is more an accessory than a gadget, but it's so repugnant and ridiculous that it's impossible not to include it this week. Someway, somehow, watchmaker Nico Gerard found it prudent to create a watch that can accommodate an Apple Watch on its band, mounted where the clasp is located. It starts at $9,300. The Pinnacle is colossally absurd.
Gadget Ogling: Useful Smartwatches, Orbital Cameras, and an Un-Procrastinator
August 1, 2015
Dot is a smartwatch that may have life-changing implications. Rather than trying to convey information through tiny text on a small screen, Dot intends to provide visually impaired wearers with notifications through Braille. Four sets of the six dots that signify characters in the Braille system raise and lower as quickly as 100 times per second to denote four characters simultaneously.
Consumers Fret Over Health Wearables Security
July 29, 2015
Collecting health and fitness data through wearable devices is raising concerns among consumers about the security of that information. Twenty-five percent of more than 3,500 consumers who participated in a recent survey did not believe their personal health data was safe on fitness trackers or in health-tracking apps, reported Healthline -- and that number could be low.
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