Input Devices

Low-Cost EEG Head-Sets Promise Virtual Reality Feedback Loops (thestack.com) 35

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from the University of Memphis have found that it's possible to use a low-cost EEG device such as the $300 Emotiv Epoc to understand how a user is feeling — opening up the path to genuine psycho-biological feedback in virtual/augmented reality scenarios. The Epoc has been used, in combination with the Razer Hydra, to give users control over VR/AR environments, but integrating emotional feedback into VR environments heralds many new possibilities in the fields of medical research, gaming — and, of course, marketing research.
Microsoft

Microsoft To Acquire SwiftKey Predictive Keyboard Technology Company For $250M (hothardware.com) 118

MojoKid writes: SwiftKey has been one of the more popular predictive keyboard offerings in the mobile space since it was first released in beta form on the Android market back in 2010. What made SwiftKey so appealing was its intelligent predictive texting technology. SwiftKey isn't a simple keyboard replacement. Rather, the software uses a combination of artificial intelligence technologies that give it the ability to learn usage patterns and predict the next word the user most likely intends to type. SwiftKey refines its predictions, learning over time by analyzing data from SMS, Facebook, and Twitter messages, then offering predictions based on the text being entered at the time. It is estimated that SwiftKey is installed on upwards of 500 million mobile devices. According to reports, Microsoft is apparently buying the UK-based company for a cool $250 Million. What Microsoft intends to do with SwiftKey is not clear just yet, but the company has been purchasing mobile apps at a good clip as of late.
Data Storage

Barracuda Copy Shutting Down (barracuda.com) 52

New submitter assaf07 writes: I received a notification [Monday] that Barracuda's excellent online storage option Copy will be shuttting down in May. A blog post by Rod Matthews, VP of Storage at Barracuda gives the usual business doublespeak excuse. Having used Google's Drive, Box, Dropbox, and Spideroak, I am very disappointed to lose Copy as its native Linux, Android, IOS, and Windows clients are/were wonderful.
Transportation

Morgan, Maker of Classic Handmade Sports Cars, Is Going Electric (arstechnica.com) 51

Ars Technica reports that Morgan, idiosyncratic maker of idiosyncratic cars, is about to make a move that might seem surprising, in light of the company's tradition of conservative design. "Yes," says the article, "you'll be able to buy a wood-framed electric car in 2019." From the article: The Morgan Motor Companyâ"best known for still using postwar styling and wooden body frames for some of its carsâ"will have a full hybrid and electric range within the next three years. The British car maker is going to invest $8.6 million (£6 million) to develop hybrid and electric powertrains for all the models in its range by 2019, working in conjunction with Delta Motorsport and Potenza technology.
Power

Utility Targets Bitcoin Miners With Power Rate Hike (datacenterfrontier.com) 173

1sockchuck writes: A public utility in Washington state wants to raise rates for high-density power users, citing a flood of requests for electricity to power bitcoin mining operations. Chelan County has some of the cheapest power in the nation, supported by hydroelectric generation from dams along the Columbia River. That got the attention of bitcoin miners, prompting requests to provision 220 megawatts of additional power. After a one-year moratorium, the Chelan utility now wants to raise rates for high density users (more than 250kW per square foot) from 3 cents to 5 cents per kilowatt hour. Bitcoin businesses say the rate hike is discriminatory. But Chelan officials cite the transient nature of the bitcoin business as a risk to recovering their costs for provisioning new power capacity.
Robotics

World's First Robotic Farm To Produce 11 Million Heads of Lettuce Per Year (inhabitat.com) 161

MikeChino writes: Japanese company SPREAD is preparing to open the world's first robot-controlled farm. The facility is designed to produce 11 million heads of lettuce each year, and it's expected to ship its first crop in Fall 2017. The new 47,300 square feet Vegetable Factory in Kansai Science City will also reduce construction costs by 25 percent and energy demand by 30 percent.
Transportation

EasyJet May Trial Hydrogen Fuel Cells For Taxiing (thestack.com) 150

An anonymous reader writes: Low-cost airline easyJet is discussing plans to install hydrogen batteries as part of a proposed zero emission fuel system, which would power its aircraft during taxiing. The budget service revealed designs for a hybrid plane this week, and said that it would begin trialling the technology later this year. The system will involve embedding a hydrogen fuel cell on board the aeroplanes, with the energy captured from the brakes on landing able to power the jet on the ground. As the only waste product from a hydrogen cell would be fresh, clean water, Ian Davies, head of engineering at easyJet, also suggested that this could be used to refill the planes' water systems during the flight, providing a water source for passengers to drink and for flushing toilets.
AMD

AMD Launches Enthusiast A10-7860K APU, New Mainstream CPUs and Wraith Cooler (hothardware.com) 80

MojoKid writes: AMD apparently wasn't done making announcements back at CES 2016. Today the company has shared news of new APUs, processors, fansink coolers, and motherboard updates. The company has been working with motherboard makers to enable a new wave of socket AM3+ and FM2+ motherboards with support for technologies like USB 3.1 (some with type-C and M.2 solid state drives (SSDs). Many of the updated motherboards are already available. AMD also has a trio of new APUs / processors coming down the pipe --the A10-7860K, the A6-7470K, and the Athlon X4 845. The Athlon X4 845 is a quad-core part, featuring four Excavator-class cores clocked at up to 3.8GHz. The processor has 2MB of L2 cache, 8 PCIe 3.0 lanes, and a TDP of 65W, but no built-in graphics. The A6-7470K is a dual Steamroller-core APU (clocked at up to 4GHz), with 8 GPU cores (at up to 800MHz), 1MB of L2 cache, 16 PCIe lanes, and a 65W TDP. The A10-7860K is a little beefier with four Steamroller cores (clocked up to 4GHz), with 8 GPU cores (clocked up to 757MHz), 1MB of L2 cache, 16 PCIe lanes, and a 65W TDP. Both the 7860K and 7470K are unlocked for more flexible overclocking. Finally, the FX-8370 bundled with AMD's new Wraith cooler will be arriving today at the same price point as the previous edition. According to AMD, the Wraith cooler offers 24% more surface area than the previous PIB cooler and the fan pushes 34% more air.
The Internet

How the Raspberry Pi Can Automatically Tweet Complaints About Your Slow Internet (ibtimes.co.uk) 151

An anonymous reader writes: Contacting your internet provider to complain about slow browsing speeds is a tiresome chore which none of us enjoy, but one man has found a solution. He has configured a Raspberry Pi computer to automatically tweet a complaint to Comcast when his internet falls below 50Mbps, well below the 150Mbps he pays for. Wouldn't it be nice if ISPs wrote a rebate check each month to reflect the percentage of their promised throughput that was actually available?
Google

Google To Take 'Apple-Like' Control Over Nexus Phones (droid-life.com) 179

Soulskill writes: According to a (paywalled) report in The Information, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wants the company to take greater control over development of their Nexus smartphones. When producing Nexus phones, Google has always partnered with manufacturers, like Samsung, LG, and HTC, who actually built the devices. Rather than creating a true revenue stream, Google's main goal has been to provide a reference for what Android can be like without interference from carriers and manufacturers. (For example, many users are frustrated by Samsung's TouchWiz skin, as well as the bloatware resulting from deals with carriers.

But now, Google appears to want more control. The report indicates Google wants to do a better job of competing throughout the market. They want to compete with Apple on the high end, but also seem concerned that manufacturers haven't put enough effort into quality budget phones. The article at Droid-Life argues, "We all know that Nexus phones will never be household items until Google puts some marketing dollars behind them. Will a top-to-bottom approach finally push them to do that?"

Data Storage

Triple M.2 NVMe RAID-0 Testing Proves Latency Reductions 73

Vigile writes: The gang over at PC Perspective just posted a story that looks at a set of three M.2 form factor Samsung 950 Pro NVMe PCIe SSDs in a RAID-0 array, courtesy of a new motherboard from Gigabyte that included three M.2 slots. The pure bandwidth available in this configuration is amazing, breaching 3.3 GB/s on reads and 3.0 GB/s on writes. But what is more interesting is a new testing methodology that allows for individual storage IO latency capturing, giving us a look at performance of SSDs in all configurations. What PC Perspective proved here is that users often claiming that RAIDs "feel faster" despite a lack of bandwidth result to prove it, are likely correct. Measurements now show that the latency of IO operations improves dramatically as you add drives to an array, giving a feeling of "snappiness" to a system beyond even what a single SSD can offer. PC Perspective's new testing demonstrates the triple RAID-0 array having just 1/6th of the latency of a single drive.
Robotics

Let's Tear Down a Kiva Bot! (robohub.org) 22

Ben Einstein, writes new submitter Robofenix2, has torn down a Kiva bot -- a mobile ground-based warehouse delivery drone, aka Amazon's busiest employee. These robotic systems have revolutionised the warehouse distribution industry helping deliver packages. Ben was able to get his hands on an older generation, end-of-life Kiva bot and cracked open its bright orange shell to expose a brilliant piece of engineering; this post shares the fruits of Kiva's hard work. This 2011 video is also worth viewing, not least to see Kiva's shelf-lifting corkscrew action.
Cloud

Microsoft Serves Cloud From the Sea Bed (datacenterdynamics.com) 104

judgecorp writes: A Microsoft Research project to run a data center underwater was so successful the team actually delivered commercial Azure cloud services from the module, which was 1km off the US Pacific coast for three months. The vessel, dubbed Leona Philpot after a Halo character, is a proof of concept for Project Natick, which proposes small data centers that could be submerged for five years or more, serving coastal communities.
Cellphones

Apple Developing Wireless Charging For Mobile Devices (thestack.com) 132

An anonymous reader writes: Apple is currently working with partners in the US and Asia to develop wireless charging for iPhone and iPad. Mobile devices with wireless charging capabilities could be released as soon as next year. Apple has not released the specific details on the range that could be available, but as far back as 2010, Apple applied for a patent to use an iMac as a wireless charging hub for distances of 1 meter. In 2014 it applied for a patent on specialized housing for a mobile device with an integrated RF antenna, which would also allow for wireless charging by helping to eliminate the problem of metallic interference with charging signals. Apple would apparently be building on these ideas to create a new iPhone or iPad that could charge further away from the hub, while continuing to be used.
Displays

Drone Races To Be Broadcast To VR Headsets (thenewstack.io) 30

An anonymous reader writes: You just plug in the HDMI feed, and you're in the cockpit of the drone," the CEO of the new Drone Racing League tells Wired. "Everyone from Oculus on is expecting to have VR headsets in every home for entertainment consumption, and we're a natural use for it." In anticipation of a new mass entertainment, the Drone Racing League released new footage Thursday highlighting one of their complicated competition courses, "a concrete steampunk torture chamber with cast-iron columns and massive hulking turbines from another era" described as The Gates of Hell. "[T]hese young drone pilots are not just enjoying themselves, but also inventing a new sport," reports one technology site, asking whether we'll ultimately see "drone parks" or even drone demolition derbies and flying robot wars. In an article titled "When Video Games Get Real," they quote one pilot who says it feels like skateboarding in the 1990's, "with a small group of people pushing the envelope and inventing every day" — this time wearing virtual reality googles to experience the addictive thrill of flying.

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