Robots that are able to do things all by themselves are nothing new. DARPA has been pushing for robots that can autonomously operate in all sorts of environments. A group of researchers from Harvard and MIT have been working together to develop a new small robot that is able to assemble itself and walk away without human help.
The robot starts out as a flat sheet of paper and polystyrene plastic that has been etched with hinges. Along with that material is a flat and flexible circuit board, a pair of motors, a microcontroller, and two batteries.
The microcontroller activates the circuits that produce heat on command and that heat is required to fold the plastic to shape. Once done the little bot can amble off. Right now, the transformation process is triggered by connecting the battery. The team wants to make the bot smarter so it will transform in response to pressure or temperature changes.
We hear plenty about recalls of faulty cars for defects that can cause injury to owners, but we rarely hear about TVs being recalled. TV maker Vizio has done just that with a recall that has been expanded to cover 245,000 E-Series TVs that were sold between late 2013 and mid-2014.
The TVs covered in the recall are 39-inch and 42-inch units and the recall is due to faulty stands that cause an increased risk of tip over. This can be particularly problematic for homes with small children who are more likely to be injured if the TV tips over.
The TVs in the recall include model numbers E390-B0, E390i-B0, and E420i-B0 sold between December 2013 and June 2014. Vizio says that the defect that can lead to tip over isn't visible on the outside of the TV. No injuries have been reported, but 51 TVs in the recalled line have tipped over.
Lexus is a car company that many will think of as making luxury cars that are more for comfort than speed and performance. That is true for the most part, but Lexus did make a supercar called the LFA during a two-year production run. That production run ended in 2012 after Lexus built 500 examples of the vehicle.
The LFA was a sports car using high tech construction methods and powered by a 552-hp engine. The production run for the LFA has been over for a few years, but Lexus has announced that it intends to build a successor to the supercar. Sadly, Lexus has offered no insight into exactly what the successor to the LFA will be like.
Originally, the LFA was supposed to be a car selling in the $120,000 range, but that price quickly grew as more technology was added. The car eventually ended up costing $375,000 per unit. It wasn't the fastest supercar in that price range but it looks good and sounds fantastic.
Many people are very focused on security and keeping their communications private. Some of the focus on privacy and security came after Edward Snowden leaked documents to the world that showed the US government was capturing information on the internet from unencrypted websites.
Yahoo announced this week that users of its email service will have the option of encrypting emails sent from start to finish. The encryption will be available starting next year and will be enabled via a browser plug-in.
Yahoo's announcement comes only a short while after Google made a similar announcement. Yahoo says that it will bootstrap Google's code and that the Yahoo and Google encryption services will be compatible. Once the encryption is complete, the people will be able to send emails that only the intended recipient can read. Yahoo will use PGP encryption for its email.
When it comes to getting better rankings for their websites, you can bet many business users will do anything that Google tells them to. Google has a formula that it uses to determine the page raking for the sites that are returned in its listings when you type in a word or phrase.
Exactly what Google uses to rank the pages is a secret, but it will occasionally give site owners an idea what they need to do to get better rankings. Such is the case with an announcement made this week that involves a change to the formula used to rank pages online.
Google has said that web pages that automatically encrypt their services will get a ranking boost in the Google recommendation system. Google says for now the encryption will be a small factor in ranking, but the company says that it may put greater emphasis on encryption in the future. Sites that start with "https" are going to get rankings boost.
Researchers at IBM are working on a new chip that is designed to mimic a human brain. The chip has 4096 cores and according to IBM, it is able to simulate millions of neurons. The chip was fabricated by Samsung and is known as SyNAPSE. Samsung used 28nm process to build the chip and it features 5.4 billion CMOS transistor gates.
Total power consumption for the chip is 70mW and IBM says that the processor architecture is compatible with today's CPUs. The development of this processor was funded by DARPA with $53 million being contributed to the team for development.
IBM designed the chip with 16 TrueNorth chips on one circuit board allowing the chip to mimic sixteen million programmable neurons and four billion programmable synapses. Development of the chip continues with IBM working to improve density and power aiming at 20mW per cm2.
Microsoft has announced through its by the Numbers webpage that its Windows Phone Store is now home to over 300,000 apps. This doesn't begin to compare with Apple and Google, but it's a big milestone for Windows Phone, and Microsoft.
A Microsoft spokesperson spoke with The Next Web, where they said: "We have more than 300,000 Windows Phone apps today and the Windows Phone Store continues to grow. In the past year alone the Windows and Windows Phone app catalog has grown 94%, while the number of active developers has grown by 50%".
The company was asked when it reached the 300,000 app milestone, where TNW was told the data: "is as of end of June 2014". If we rewind to December 2013, Microsoft had 200,000 apps and rewinding further to June 2012, it had just 100,000 apps. So we're seeing many more apps uploaded to the Windows Phone Store as time goes on, with over 100,000 apps uploaded within the last six months alone.
We've already seen ADATA unveil its DDR4 kits, but they're only sitting at 2133MHz, and what fun is that? The company has now just unveiled its new enthusiast-focused DDR4 kits, named the XPG Z1 DDR4. These new kits are kicking up some speeds, and even though they don't match some of the insane speeds of DDR3, they're still faster than the original kits, at 2800MHz.
ADATA will maek its new XPG Z1 DDR4 kits available as 4GB and 8GB modules, with 1.2V of power required in both dual- and quad-channel kits. The new kits are rated to run at 2133MHz at CL 15 15-15, or CL 13 13-13 timings. Cranking it up to 2400MHz, we have CL 16 16-16, and then we have the 2800MHz setting which sees the timings relaxed more to CL17 17-17.
The new kits are based on an advanced 10-layer printed-circuit boards with 2oz copper, meaning they're designed for some serious overclocking. The new ADATA XPG Z1 DDR4 kits sport a new cooling system, which features a very nice looking jet wing-inspired design with carbon texture that is used on race cars, which gives off the impression of serious performance. ADATA will make its new XPG Z1 DDR4 kits available to consumers next month, with a lifetime warranty.
Now that Facebook owns Oculus VR, it has been setting up meetings with various studio executives and directors around Hollywood, where it wants to see special content created for the Oculus Rift.
We've already seen a few examples of how this would work, but now from massive Hollywood directors, with tens of millions of dollars behind them. People may have bad words to say about it, or doubt, but I think we're going to see more content for the Rift created and bigger success for true VR in movies than 3D ever did. Maybe not today, or next year, but within the next five years.
BioWare has just lost a key player to its ranks, with Casey Hudson leaving the company. Hudson was an Executive Producer on the Mass Effect series, but it looks like he's not leaving BioWare to join another company, he has explained that he just needs to "hit the reset button".
Hudson wrote: "While I feel that the time has come, this is without a doubt the most difficult decision of my career. BioWare is as magical a place today as it was when I started. The projects we are working on are some of the most exciting and prestigious in the world. The talent in our teams is second to none. And the people here are some of my closest friends. I've spent more time with many of you than my own family, and I have enjoyed every day of it".