Britain's Technology Strategy Board is overseeing part of a 400 million pound investment into robotics, in what the plan's authors say could see the United Kingdom leading in robotic research.
"Robots have often been positioned as a thing of the future, but today's strategy-launch emphasises the fact that they are very much of the here and now," Science Minister David Willets said. The Technology Strategy Board will invest cash into certain geographies like Bristol in England and Edinburgh in Scotland, which are already leading the charge in robotics. Any research will join existing technologies such as nuclear plant safety monitors and self driving cars, where the country is already excelling.
Experts told the BBC, however, that the UK is well behind other European nations in the use of industrial robotics. Professor Noel Sharkey from the University of Sheffield said "it's a massive market" and that the country has "already slipped well behind," but added there's a ton of talent in British universities and a lot of potential for further development.
Some cinemas in the United Kingdom have announced a blanket ban on Google Glass just days after the smart specs arrived in the country.
The Cinema Exhibitors Association, or CEA, represents 90 percent of all the UK's cinemas, and has just announced it will request customers do not wear Google Glass at all. "Customers will be requested not to wear these into cinema auditoriums, whether the film is playing or not," spokesperson Phil Clapp said in an interview with the Independent. Vue, one of the biggest chains in Britain, said that moviegoers will be asked to take off Glass once the lights dim.
But, the Press Association reports, a Google spokesperson believes the ban is down to a lack of understanding about Glass. "We recommend any cinemas concerned about Glass to treat the device as they treat similar devices like mobile phones: simply ask wearers to turn it off before the film starts," a spokesGoogle said. "Broadly speaking, we also think it's best to have direct and first hand experience with Glass before creating policies around it."
Iraq has lifted a 17 day ban on social media, which was put in place amid a crisis that saw armed militants seize key territories in the country.
The ban was in response to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant - ISIL - which declared a caliphate over the weekend. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has reportedly been utilizing social media to push out its message.
State telecoms company ITPC and the Ministry of Communications are staying quiet on the reasons for lifting the social media ban. But access to some websites are still blocked, including Al Jazeera and Saudi Arabia's TV station, Al Arabiya. Additionally, the Iraq is now also allowing renewed access to VPNs, and mobile data can be used again outside conflict areas, according to Reuters.
Gadget-happy consumers across Europe will breathe a sigh of relief to hear the European Union has officially slashed roaming charges in all 28 countries.
Anyone with a contract from European telcos won't have to spend an arm and a leg for calls, text messages or even data abroad - compared to the widely reviled, sky-high rates that were previously set by providers. "This huge drop in data roaming prices will make a big difference to all of us this summer," European commissioner Neelie Kroes, who oversaw the plans, said in a recent statement. "But it is not enough."
These developments will be welcome for beleaguered European consumers - who have been left behind in the worldwide race for 4G networks. But they may not be so welcome for network providers who have felt forced to up call rates outside of Europe to compensate. Companies such as Vodafone have struggled in Europe of late, posting profit warnings amid high tax rates in certain territories, and diversifying product portfolios to supplement mobile businesses.
Apple is currently testing a way to make its iCloud system more secure by using two-step verification. Before the new system went into testing, all people needed was a simple password to gain access to iCloud.com. Using only a password makes access easier to gain by nefarious hackers.
iCloud now uses Apple's normal two-factor authentication system with users logging in using a password and a four-digit verification code. That four-digit verification code has to be sent to a trusted device.
Once that four-digit code is entered, iCloud apps are unlocked and can be accessed normally. The only iCloud app that can be accessed without the verification code is the Find my iPhone button. Find My iPhone is not secured with two-factor authentication to allow you to find your device if it is lost or stolen and is your trusted device.
Microsoft is having a very hard time convincing users of its operating system that it is worthwhile to upgrade. That means that the profitability for its Windows division isn't what it used to be. The next major Windows release is expected to happen in the spring of 2015.
The name of that major release is up in the air, it is being called Windows "Threshold" right now, but it could ultimately be called Windows 9. The main goal of the operating system is to lure Windows 7 holdouts to upgrade. To get Windows 7 users to go to a new OS, Microsoft will fit it with features specifically aimed at desktop users that interface with a mouse and keyboard or touch.
Reports indicate that the OS will use profiles that make it look different depending on what type of hardware it is running on. The next version of Windows will have versions that are designed for desktops and put Windows Desktop for legacy apps in the forefront and version that supports switching for convertible devices between metro-style mode and Windowed mode. Interestingly, there is some indication that Threshold may be a free update for everyone on Windows 8.1.
Twitter has added buy now buttons to some tweets that are about products. This means that shopping on twitter appears ready to launch. The first evidence of the Buy Now buttons has surfaced on products via a shopping app called Fancy.
The Buy Now links in the tweets pictured above reportedly didn't work. You can also see that the prices on the products in the tweets are insane with a pair of shoes for $170 million. Clearly, these are placeholder products put there for testing.
It is presumed that these links, which leaked via the twitter mobile app, weren't meant to go live. Officials from twitter and Fancy didn't offer any comments on the leaks.
Apple has been working with other firms for a while now to bring better speech recognition to Siri. Siri can recognize the voice commands it hears and perform the action asked of it in many instances. However, the speech recognition in the Siri assistant could be better and Apple knows that.
Apple is reportedly working on building a team internally to help it improve speech recognition for Siri. Currently Siri's voice recognition is powered by Nuance and Apple wants to get away from using that tech and get into using its own.
Apple is expected to release its own in-house voice recognition service in the future. Apple is reportedly hiring at management levels for this in-house team and is hiring on the research and team level as well. The next iteration of iOS, iOS 8, is expected to use Nuance tech.
Audi has announced that it and Apple will be working together to integrate Apple CarPlay into vehicles starting in 2015. Audi buyers that purchase a car next year in Europe will get CarPlay integration. North American fans of Audi vehicles will have to wait until early 2016 to be able to purchase a vehicle with CarPlay integration.
Audi isn't alone in working to bring Apple CarPlay integration to its vehicles, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes, and Volvo will also be offering CarPlay as well. Audi has been on the confirmed on the participating list for CarPlay for a while, but this is the first word on when cars with the service will hit the roads around the world.
Audi plans to integrate its own controls and touch system into CarPlay to make it less distracting to drivers. Audi drivers will also be able to use Siri via Audi dial, touch, and voice control systems.
There are plenty of LED light bulbs on the market today that allow the user to control lighting and even light color using smartphone apps. The catch is that many of those bulbs also carry a rather steep price blocking entry into the smart bulb market for some. GE has announced a new smart LED bulb series that it promises will be cheap compared to existing products.
GE's new family of bulbs are called Link bulbs and the system does require a hub to connect the bulbs in the home. That hub will set you back $30 on its own. After buying that hub, the bulbs will cost in the area of $15 to $25 each depending on the style chosen.
A kit is available with the hub and two 60W equivalent bulbs for $50. Once connected, the app and hub allow you to schedule the lights and control brightness. It doesn't appear that the bulbs allow you to control the color of the light. Home Depot is taking pre-orders on the bulbs now and they will ship this fall.