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Robotics

MIT's Ori Robotic Modular Furniture Is Designed To Make Small Places Feel More Roomy (archpaper.com) 68

An anonymous reader writes: MIT's Media Lab has produced Ori, a range of robotic, modular furniture designed to make small places feel more roomy. The Architect's Newspaper reports: "With its name coming from the Japanese word 'origami,' the furniture system combines robotics, architecture, and design to let interiors double-up as bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, and offices. Teaming up with Swiss product designer Yves Behar, founder and CEO of Ori and research scientist at MIT Hasier Larrea has his eyes set on fundamentally altering the 'experience and economics of the urban built environment.' Speaking in a press release, Larrea added that 'Ori's systems make possible the effortless and magical transformation of interior spaces, providing the totally new experience of having our interior space intelligently conform to our activities, rather than our activities being forced to conform to our interior space.' A movable mainframe, containing a variety of concealable furniture and storage, is the core concept in Ori's modular and mechatronic furniture. Using the wall mounted control panel, the module can move across the floor and deploy different pieces of furniture. This can all be done remotely through the Ori app as well." Ori is not on the market yet, but inquiries can be made via Ori's website.
Windows

Windows 10 Warns Chrome and Firefox Users About Battery Drain, Recommends Switching To Edge (venturebeat.com) 376

A month after Microsoft claimed that its Edge web browser is more power efficient than Google Chrome and Firefox, the company is now warning Windows 10 users about the same. VentureBeat reports: Microsoft has turned on a new set of Windows Tips that warn Windows 10 users that Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox is draining their laptop's battery. The solution, according to the notification, is to use Microsoft Edge.In a statement to the publication, the company said: "These Windows Tips notifications were created to provide people with quick, easy information that can help them enhance their Windows 10 experience, including information that can help users extend battery life. That said, with Windows 10 you can easily choose the default browser and search engine of your choice."
Businesses

Volkswagen Sued For Violating State Environmental Statutes With Dieselgate (theverge.com) 123

The attorneys general of New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland are suing Volkswagen for violating state environmental regulations with its diesel emissions cheating scandal. The states say that the car company has violated their air quality laws, combined with some sort of anti-fraud measure for the defeat mechanisms to bypass emissions testing. The move comes after many states agreed to a $14.7 billion settlement for violating consumer protection and EPA and California state environmental regulations. The Verge reports: "Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche defrauded thousands of Massachusetts consumers, polluted our air, and damaged our environment and then, to make matters worse, plotted a massive cover-up to mislead environmental regulators," said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in a statement. This was echoed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who released his own statement saying "the allegations against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche reveal a culture of deeply-rooted corporate arrogance, combined with a conscious disregard for the rule of law and the protection of public health and the environment."
Hardware

NVIDIA Launches GeForce GTX 1060 To Take On AMD's Radeon RX 480 (hothardware.com) 89

Reader MojoKid writes: NVIDIA just launched their answer to AMD's Radeon RX 480 mainstream card today, dubbed the GeForce GTX 1060. The GP106 GPU at the heart of the GeForce GTX 1060 has roughly half of the resources of NVIDIA's current flagship GeForce GTX 1080. NVIDIA claims the GTX 1060 performs on par with a previous generation high-end GeForce GTX 980 and indeed this 120W mainstream offers an interesting mix of low-power and high-performance. The new GeForce GTX 1060 features a new Pascal derivative GPU that's somewhat smaller, called the GP106. The GP106 features 10 streaming multiprocessors (SM) with a total of 1280, single-precision CUDA cores and eight texture units. The GeForce GTX 1060 also features six 32-bit memory controllers, for 192-bits in total. GeForce GTX 1060 cards with either 6GB or 3GB of GDDR5 memory will be available and offered performance that just misses the mark set by the pricier AMD Radeon R9 Nano but often outran the 8GB Radeon RX 480. The GeForce GTX 1060 held onto its largest leads over the Radeon RX 480 in the DirectX 11 tests, though the Radeon had a clear edge in OpenCL and managed to pull ahead in Thief and in some DirectX 12 tests (like Hitman). The GeForce GTX 1060, however, consumes significantly less power than the Radeon RX 480 and is quieter too.You may also want to read PCPerspective's take on this.
Android

Facebook's Android App Can Now Save Offline Videos (ndtv.com) 30

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NDTV: The latest versions of Facebook's Android app now allow users to save videos for offline viewing. The video is saved inside the app in the 'Saved' section, and is not accessible independently to users. Facebook for Android is showing a 'Save video' option in the dropdown menu of a Facebook video post. The videos can be saved and viewed offline for as many times as the user desires and can also be deleted as per his/her wish. The company might not be willing to provide the video file independently to its users in order to encourage sharing over its own social media networking site, however, it is anybody's guess what the actual reason behind this decision is. It seems in line with what companies like Google have been doing with YouTube in developing nations like India, where a save for offline viewing option is present to combat mobile data woes. As per an Android Police report, the option to save videos is currently showing up in versions 85 and 86 (beta) of the Facebook for Android app.
Data Storage

Researchers Develop Atomic-Scale Hard Drive That Writes Information Atom By Atom (techcrunch.com) 68

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Researchers in the Netherlands have created a microscopic storage system that encodes every bit with a single atom -- allowing them to fit a kilobyte in a space under 100 nanometers across. That translates to a storage density of about 500 terabits per square inch. For comparison, those 4-terabyte hard drives you can buy today are about 1 terabit per square inch. That's because, unlike this new system, they use hundreds or thousands of atoms to store a single bit. "Every bit consists of two positions on a surface of copper atoms, and one chlorine atom that we can slide back and forth between these two positions," explained Sander Otte, lead scientist at Delft University of Technology, in a news release. Because chlorine on copper forms into a perfectly square grid, it's easy (relatively, anyway) to position and read them. If the chlorine atom is up top, that's a 1; if it's at the bottom, that's a 0. Put 8 chlorine atoms in a row and they form a byte. The data the researchers chose to demonstrate this was a fragment of a Feynman lecture, "There's plenty of room at the bottom" (PDF) -- fittingly, about storing data at extremely small scales. (You can see a high-resolution image of the array here.) The chlorine-copper array is only stable in a clean vacuum and at 77 kelvin -- about the temperature of liquid nitrogen. Anything past that and heat will disrupt the organization of the atoms. The research was published today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
Communications

BuzzFeed and Washington Post To Use Robots For RNC Coverage (engadget.com) 80

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Engadget: The Washington Post and Buzzfeed have sent robots to cover the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The Washington Post is using a telepresence robot from Double Robotics that consists of an iPad mounted on a Segway-like base. It's objective: to roam around the convention, streaming live on Periscope. Those viewing the stream will be able to ask questions of delegates, politicians and other figures who stumble upon the robot. BuzzFeed is using a robot called 'BuzzBot.' It's a Facebook chat bot that collects and caters news from the convention to users' messaging feeds. All you have to do is add the channel to your Messenger app and it will deliver news updates from BuzzFeed reporters. Specifically, it will collect reports from delegates, protesters and others in Cleveland. You have the option to send pictures and other info to BuzzBot, but it may ask you questions about your experience. The questions it asks will be different depending on your location. For example, if you live in Cleveland it will want to know what kind of impact the RNC is having on your daily life. Meanwhile, with roughly 50,000 attendees and likely millions of viewers watching across the country and abroad, the RNC is preparing for cyberattacks that aim to disrupt the network.
Databases

Ex Cardinal's Scouting Director Chris Correa Sentenced To 46 Months For Hacking Astros' Computer System (go.com) 42

New submitter yzf750 quotes a report from ESPN: A federal judge sentenced the former scouting director of the St. Louis Cardinals [Christopher Correa] to nearly four years in prison Monday for hacking the Houston Astros' player personnel database and email system in an unusual case of high-tech cheating involving two Major League Baseball clubs. "The data breach was reported in June 2014 when Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told reporters the team had been the victim of hackers who accessed servers and proceeded to publish online months of internal trade talks," reports ESPN. "Luhnow had previously worked for the Cardinals. The FBI said Correa was able to gain access using a password similar to that used by a Cardinals employee who 'had to turn over his Cardinals-owned laptop to Correa along with the laptop's password' when he was leaving for a job with the Astros in 2011. Prosecutors have said Correa in 2013 improperly downloaded a file of the Astros' scouting list of every eligible player for that year's draft. They say he also improperly viewed notes of trade discussions as well as a page that listed information such as potential bonus details, statistics and notes on recent performances and injuries by team prospects. Authorities say that after the Astros took security precautions involving [a database called Ground Control] following a Houston Chronicle story about the database, Correa was able to still get into it. Authorities say he hacked the email system and was able to view 118 pages of confidential information, including notes of trade discussions, player evaluations and a 2014 team draft board that had not yet been completed. Federal prosecutors say the hacking cost the Astros about $1.7 million, taking into account how Correa used the Astros' data to draft players. Christopher Correa had pleaded guilty in January to five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer from 2013 to at least 2014, the same year he was promoted to director of baseball development in St. Louis. He was fired last summer and now faces 46 months behind bars and a court order to pay $279,038 in restitution. He had faced up to five years in prison on each count."
Businesses

SoftBank To Buy British Chip Designer ARM For $32 Billion (cnet.com) 153

SoftBank has agreed to acquire British chip designer ARM Holdings for $32 billion in cash. The purchase will give Japan's multinational telecommunications and Internet corporation a slice of virtually every mobile computing gadget on the planet and future connected devices in the home. ARM, unlike Intel, doesn't manufacture chips, but licenses the design for it. ARM customers shipped roughly 15 billion products with ARM chips inside in 2015. This also marks the first large-scale, cross-border transaction in Britain since it voted to exit the European Union last month. "I have admired this company for over ten years," SoftBank Chief Executive Officer Masayoshi Son told reporters at a press conference in London on Monday. "This is an endorsement into the view of the future of the U.K."

ARM assumes the tentpole position in chips for mobile devices. It was one of the first companies to aggressively focus on mobile devices while other semiconductor companies were ramping up their efforts on desktops. SoftBank, which is based in Tokyo has become one of the most acquisitive companies in the recent years. It heavily invests in technology, media, and telecommunications companies. ARM could provide an additional boost to SoftBank's mobile strategy. SoftBank, for instance, also owns about 83 percent of the American wireless operator Sprint.
Hermann Hauser, one of ARM's founders, said, "ARM is the proudest achievement of my life. The proposed sale to SoftBank is a sad day for me and for technology in Britain." BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones asked, "Question -- if ARM goes, what's left as a worldbeating UK-owned tech player?"
Android

Microsoft 'Patch' Blocks Linux Installs On Locked-Down Windows RT Computers (fossbytes.com) 141

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from fossBytes: Microsoft has released a security update that has patched a backdoor in Windows RT operating system [that] allowed users to install non-Redmond approved operating systems like Linux and Android on Windows RT tablets. This vulnerability in ARM-powered, locked-down Windows devices was left by Redmond programmers during the development process. Exploiting this flaw, one was able to boot operating systems of his/her choice, including Android or GNU/Linux.
The Register points out that since Windows RT is "a dead-end operating system" which Microsoft has announced they'll stop developing, "mainstream support for Surface RT tablets runs out in 2017 and Windows RT 8.1 in 2018. This is why a means to bypass its boot mechanisms is highly sought."
Australia

Energy Prices Skyrocket in South Australia (yahoo.com) 269

Slashdot reader sycodon quotes an article from AFR: Turmoil in South Australia's heavily wind-reliant electricity market has forced the state government to plead with the owner of a mothballed gas-fired power station to turn it back on. The emergency measures are needed to ease punishing costs for South Australian industry as National Electricity Market prices in the state have frequently surged above $1000 a megawatt hour this month and at one point on Tuesday hit the $14,000/MWh maximum price...
"A planned outage of the Heywood Interconnector to Victoria, coupled with higher than expected gas prices and severe weather conditions have contributed to large-scale price volatility in the energy spot market in recent days," said South Australia's energy minister, Tom Koutsantonis. The Australian Associated Press adds that "The state Labor government has invested heavily in wind and solar energy at the expense of baseload power, a move critics say has left the state exposed during poor weather. Mr. Koutsantonis has described the energy volatility as a failure of the national energy market because a lack of interconnection means South Australia often produces more renewable power than it can sell into the grid. But opposition spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the government had been too hasty to invest in renewables."
Robotics

Robotic Exoskeletons May Become Skintight Suits (robohub.org) 33

Slashdot reader Kassandra Perlongo shares an article about "soft robotics and exoskeletons" at the University of Salford, writing "those bulky, mechanical suits could eventually be a thing of the past." Children with a rare neurological disease were recently given the chance to walk for the first time thanks to a new robotic exoskeleton... But while today's exoskeletons are mostly clumsy, heavy devices, new technology could make them much easier and more natural to use by creating a robotic skin... [Soft robotic devices] are particularly well suited to interaction with humans as they are typically lightweight which means if they collide with a person they are unlikely to cause injury.

We recently developed a new "soft continuum actuator", a joint that bends like an elephant's trunk...if it encounters resistance in one part of its body it will still bend but at a different location elsewhere along its length. By equipping a skintight material suit with these actuators, we can create a soft exoskeleton that bends at the precise location of the wearer's joints. This means the suit will fit a range of users comfortably without needing mechanical adjustment or calibration. Plus, the system is lightweight and can be worn like clothing rather than a bulky mechanical frame.

Data Storage

Encrypted DNA Storage Investigated by DOE Researchers (darkreading.com) 42

Biological engineers at a Department of Energy lab "are experimenting with encrypted DNA storage for archival applications." Slashdot reader ancientribe shares an article from Dark Reading: Using this method, the researchers could theoretically store 2.2 petabytes of information in one gram of DNA. That's 200 times the printed material at the Library of Congress... Instead of needing a 15,000 square-foot building to store 35,000 boxes of inactive records and archival documents, Sandia National Laboratories can potentially store information on much less paper, in powder form, in test tubes or petri dishes, or even as a bacterial cell... "Hard drives fail and very often the data can't be recovered," explains Bachand. "With DNA, it's possible to recover strands that are 10,000 to 20,000 years old... even if someone sneezes and the powder is lost, it's possible to recover all the information by just recovering one DNA molecule."
Graphics

Leak Shows PlayStation 4 Neo Is Expected To Have Twice The Graphics Horsepower (hothardware.com) 99

MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Following rumors of a more powerful console in Sony's not-too-distant future -- one that will be capable of playing games at a 4K resolution -- the Japanese electronics maker last month opted to confirm it is indeed in development. Called PlayStation 4 Neo, the upgraded system will bring better hardware to the console scene to meet the needs of gaming on a television with four times as many pixels as a Full HD 1080p display. What's it going to take to game at 4K in the living room? A leaked internal document outlines some very interesting specs of the new model PS4 console. Assuming the leaked document is up to date with Sony's current plans, the PS4 Neo will use the same Jaguar cores as the original PS4, but clocked 500MHz faster, with 8 cores at 2.1GHz (up from 1.6GHz). The more significant upgrade will be the GPU. According to the slide, the PS4 Neo will use an improved version of AMD's GCN compute units (CUs), with twice the number of CUs at 36 instead of 18. They'll also be clocked faster -- 911MHz versus 800MHz. The net result is a 2.3x improvement in floating point performance.
Android

Google Decided To Nix Its Oculus Rift Competitor (recode.net) 50

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Recode: Google recently nixed an internal project to create a high-end standalone virtual-reality headset that would compete directly against the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, according to sources familiar with the plans. Google instead decided to shift more of its resources behind mobile VR and provide tools for other companies to build apps, games and services on Android-powered smartphones, rather than expensive hardware. In May, the company announced "Google Daydream," a platform that will help hardware and software developers create VR hardware, games, and experiences for its new Android Nougat operating system. Google did say they would be releasing their own VR headset, but it's mostly geared towards developers. A different VR project was started inside the Google X research lab, which is now a separate Alphabet company, with around 50 employees working on it, according to one source. That project was creating a separate operating system for the device, unique from Android. Now, it appears that the OS and project were scratched in favor of Android. The report suggests that Google is not as interested in competing directly with hardware from Facebook, Samsung, HTC and others. Apple has been recently granted another AR/VR patent, suggesting the company might be building a VR headset of its own.
Communications

Elon Musk: Autopilot Feature Was Disabled In Pennsylvania Crash (latimes.com) 166

An anonymous reader writes: In response to the third reported Autopilot crash, which was the first of three where there were no fatalities, Tesla CEO Elon Musk says that the Model X's Autopilot feature was turned off. He tweeted Thursday afternoon that the onboard vehicle logs show that the semi-autonomous driving feature was turned off in the crash. "Moreover, crash would not have occurred if it was on," he added. The driver of the Model X told police he was using the Autopilot feature, according to the Detroit Free Press. The vehicle flipped over after hitting a freeway guardrail. U.S. auto-safety regulators have been investigating a prior crash that occurred while Tesla's Autopilot mode was activated. Late Thursday afternoon and into early Friday, Musk made some comments on the improvements made to its radar technology used to achieve full driving autonomy. "Working on using existing Tesla radar by itself (decoupled from camera) w temporal smoothing to create a coarse point cloud, like lidar," he tweeted. "Good thing about radar is that, unlike lidar (which is visible wavelength), it can see through rain, snow, fog and dust." Musk has rejected Lidar technology in the past, saying it's unnecessary to achieve full driving autonomy. Consumer Reports is calling on Tesla to "disable hands-free operation until its system can be made safer."
Businesses

Samsung In Talks With BYD To Buy Stake In Electric-Car Maker (bloomberg.com) 13

An anonymous reader writes: Samsung is reportedly in talks with BYD Co. about investing in the Chinese electric-car manufacturer. Bloomberg reports: "Details including the size of the investment will be disclosed when they're confirmed, Samsung said Friday in an emailed statement. The investment in BYD, backed by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., would bolster Samsung's semiconductor business for cars, the South Korean company said. Samsung is pursuing the investment after its affiliate was among foreign battery makers left off a list of suppliers approved by China, where sales of electric vehicles are surging and the government has sped up construction of charging points. The talks with BYD also add to the global trend of technology companies and automakers collaborating as car buyers increasingly demand more advanced powertrains and features that improve connectivity and safety. 'It puts Samsung into the electric-vehicle subsystem supply chain for a key Chinese electric vehicle and battery manufacturer,' said Bill Russo, a Shanghai-based managing director at Gao Feng Advisory Co. 'BYD gets a technology innovation pipeline partner with a reputable brand.' China surpassed the U.S. as the largest market for electric vehicles last year. The government wants sales of what it calls new-energy vehicles to exceed 3 million units a year by 2025." With the success of its Galaxy S7 flagship smartphones, Samsung said that its second-quarter operating profit likely rose 17.4% from a year earlier.
NASA

How President Jimmy Carter Saved The Space Shuttle (blastingnews.com) 237

MarkWhittington writes: Eric Berger has published an account in Ars Technica about how President Jimmy Carter saved the space shuttle program. The article is well worth reading for its detail. In essence, around 1978 the space shuttle program had undergone a crisis with technical challenges surrounding its heat-resistant tiles and its reusable rocket engines and cost overruns. President Carter was not all that enthused about human space flight to begin with, adhering to the since discredited notion that robotic space probes were adequate for exploring the universe. His vice president, Walter Mondale, was a vehement foe of human space flight programs, maintaining that money spent on them were better used for social programs.
Open Source

A Smaller Version of Raspberry Pi 3 Is Coming Soon (pcworld.com) 89

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: A smaller version of the popular Raspberry Pi 3 will go on sale in a few months. Raspberry Pi is developing a new version of its Compute Module, a single-board computer that plugs into specific on-board memory slots. The new Pi will be more like a mini-computer inside a computer, and it won't come with a power supply. The Compute Module will have similar circuitry to that of Raspberry Pi 3, a wildly successful computer that can be a PC replacement. But it will be smaller, with the memory, CPU, and storage embedded tightly on a board. While the Compute Module will have a 64-bit ARM processor like the Pi 3, it won't have Wi-Fi, Eben Upton, founder of Raspberry Pi, said in an interview with IDG News Service. The Compute Module could ship as soon as this quarter, Upton said. It will be priced similar to its predecessor, the 2-year-old Compute Module, available from reseller RS Components for about $24. The older Compute Module is based on the original Raspberry Pi. Like Raspberry Pi 3, the new Compute Module will work with Linux and Microsoft's Windows 10 IoT Core, Upton said. A Compute Module Development Kit, in which the Compute Module can be slotted for testing, may also be sold. The Development Kit could have multiple connectivity and port options, much like the Raspberry Pi 3. Last month, the biggest manufacturer of the Raspberry Pi, Premier Farnell, was acquired by Swiss industrial component supplier Daetwyler Holding AG for roughly $871 million.
Graphics

NVIDIA's Releases Its First VR Game, Along With An Interactive Screenshot Tool 'Ansel' (techgage.com) 20

Deathspawner writes: NVIDIA has today released a Game Ready GeForce driver that introduces its interactive screenshot tool 'Ansel.' Named after famed photographer Ansel Adams, this new tool requires a developer to integrate up to a couple hundred lines of code to give players the ability to pause their game, move around the environment, and then capture a more "artistic" image. To further that artistic value, users will have the ability to apply filters as well as capture an image in high-res 360 mode so that they can be viewed properly with a virtual-reality (VR) headset. Currently, Ansel supports only a single game -- Mirror's Edge Catalyst -- but NVIDIA promises that many more supported titles are on the way. In addition, NVIDIA has released its first ever video game via Steam that just so happens to be a VR game. The game is called VR Funhouse and is available for free via Steam but is only playable on the HTC Vive. The game consists of a virtual-reality carnival and employs many NVIDIA graphics technologies, like collision-based haptic feedback and advanced physics simulation.

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