The technology industry is no stranger to battery issues. Years ago a huge number of lithium ion batteries were recalled when notebooks started to catch fire while being used normally. A 13-year-old girl in North Texas woke recently to the smell of something burning and realized that her Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone was on fire.
The fire was intense enough that the entire mobile device melted, glass, plastic and all. You can hardly tell that the device was a smartphone in the images. The teen says that her phone fell under a pillow as she slept and her father thinks that the phone overheated leading to the battery catching fire.
Samsung has pointed out that the battery inside the smartphone that caught fire wasn't a Samsung unit; rather it was a replacement part from another supplier. Samsung also noted that it points out in materials included with the phone that covering the device with bedding or other material could start a fire.
Smartphones, tablets, and computers are always getting more speed, storage, and memory to help them perform better with each new generation. A group of researchers has made a breakthrough with computer memory chips that could mean terabytes of memory inside future smartphones. The breakthrough could mean tens to hundreds of times more storage in mobile devices.
The memory is called resistive random access memory or RRAM and the chips are being developed by several companies. Making this sort of memory typically requires high-temperature or high-voltage making the chips hard to produce. Researchers at Rice University have made a breakthrough that allows the fabrication of these chips at room temperature and with much less voltage required.
RRAM is like flash memory in that it can store data without constant power supplied. RRAM stores data using resistance rather than charge in a transistor. Using resistance means each bit uses less space significantly increasing the amount of data that can be stored. These chips are also easier to stack leafing to more capacity.
The transition from military life to civilian life can be hard for some veterans. USAA is an insurance company that caters to veterans and their families and USAA will make the first consumer facing application of the IBM Watson cognitive computing technology.
Watson will be used to advise members of the military and families on the transition from military to civilian life. Watson is being used in a pilot program and USAA members will be able to ask questions to Watson that are related to the transition. Watson reportedly has analyzed and understands more than 3000 documents on topics that are exclusive to military transitions. Watson is designed to gain value and experience over time.
"This is a continuation of our journey to deliver meaningful advice to our members on digital platforms," Shon Manasco, executive vice president of member experience at USAA, said in a statement. "And it reinforces our commitment to finding innovative and distinctive ways to make our members' lives easier. Through this experience, we expect to learn how intelligent assistants like IBM Watson can help service members who may not know exactly where or how to start the daunting transition process."
Wireless carriers want to get away from offering big subsidies on smartphones and start financing out new devices for customers. Three of the major carriers already have plans in place to do that with AT&T Next, T-Mobile Jump, and Verizon Edge. Right now if you buy an iPhone in an Apple Store, you can only get a two-year contract plan or pay full price for an unlocked device.
That will be changing with Apples Stores gearing up to offer iPhone 5S and 5C smartphones via AT&T Next, T-Mobile Jump, and Verizon Edge. At the Apple Store Verizon Edge will break the phone purchase price up into 24 payments, AT&T Next breaks it into 20, and T-Mobile Jump breaks it into 24 payments.
One source says that these plans will be available at Apple Stores in an unspecified test market to begin with. After the issues are worked out, these plans will be offered at other stores later in 2014.
A document has leaked from Staples, the office supply store, that lists an Amazon Card Reader as a new product landing at the retail store next month. An Amazon Card Reader suggests that the ecommerce giant is getting a new mobile credit card processing platform.
Along with the Amazon Card Reader, the documents also show that Staples will start to sell a PayPal Here Mobile Card Reader and its own branded card reader. Documents suggest that the Amazon Card Reader will sell for $9.99 and it is expected to connect to a smartphone for processing.
Speculation is that the Amazon Card Reader might connect with the recently unveiled Amazon Wallet App that launched last week. Related rumors suggest that Amazon is working on other payment hardware including fingerprint scanners and more.
Zack Snyder is currently filming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which has Henry Cavill starring once again as the Man of Steel, Ben Affleck don the Batman suit, and up and coming star Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.
At this year's San Diego Comic-Con, we got our first look at Gadot in the Wonder Woman outfit for the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice movie. Gadot is someone you might not have heard of, but she starred in the last few Fast & Furious movies. The first look at Wonder Woman shows us that the new outfit doesn't feature the usual red, white, blue and gold, but a more muted look.
On her right hip, we can see the Lasso of Truth, and in her right hand her magical sword. This is Zack Snyder's take on Wonder Woman for the big screen, and I'm loving what I'm seeing so far.
Fans of talk radio may be familiar with the app called Swell. It's rather like Pandora, but specifically for talk radio and the company behind the app had raised $7.2 million from investors. Word has surfaced from multiple sources that Apple has now purchased Swell for about $30 million.
Apple has been on a buying spree of late with the massive $3 billion purchase of Beats and another purchase of a book recommendation service called BookLamp. Swell is an app designed to make it easy to listen to talk radio and podcasts in your car.
With Apple purchasing Swell, the app will be shut down this week. That is definitely not good news for fans of the app, but Apple is likely to integrate the tech into one of its existing apps. Odds are Swell tech will be used to replace Apple's own Podcast app. A large portion of the Swell team will be joining Apple.
Sound system and headphone manufacturer Bose has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Beats Electronics relating to noise-cancellation technology. According to Bose, Beats infringed upon five of its patents on purpose, and made a claim that the company is now incurring losses in sales as a result.
Bose also filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission in the hopes that they can stop Beats from selling their headphones in the United States. According to the company, Beats which was acquired by Apple for $3 billion, is using the infringed technology patent in its Studio and Studio Wireless lineups. Bose mentioned that its active noise reduction technology was originally designed for the military during the 1980s and later was designed for consumers in 2000.
Beats didn't comment on the issue, but Bose's representatives said that they are committed to protecting its investment, customers and also to defend its patent. The lawsuit is filed in US District Court of Delaware.
Windows Phone users have a new update that is in the works that will be landing in the coming months. The update is currently known as Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1 and it brings with it some nice features. We already know that this update will bring folder support.
In addition to that feature, the update will also add in support for smart cases along the lines of the HTC Dot View case and the LG QuickCircle case. The update will allow the makers of phones running the OS to specify what app runs when the case is closed and what happens when the case is opened.
Another feature that will come with the next update is support for larger screens. Screens as large as 7-inches with resolution of 1280 x 768 and support for 1280 x 800 for devices that have software navigation buttons will land in the update. Other things included in the update are improvements for voice over LTE, better Bluetooth music, and more. Exactly when the update will land is unknown at this time.
Google has been mapping tourist locations around the world for years now and puts the images it generates into virtual tours you can take via Google Maps. Reports have come in that indicate Google is now getting ready to make tours of Ellis Island and Liberty Island available for virtual tours.
Google has reportedly been collecting images of both islands in preparation to add the content to its online maps service. The images were taken by a Google backpack wearing man named Alberto Elias according to the NYT. The reason it's taken so long to get access to Liberty and Ellis islands is that the National Park Service operates them and a long process has to be worked through to gain access to the islands.
The Trekker backpack has 15 cameras along with GPS and a laser system on top that is used to measure the distance to objects. Liberty Island is a heavily visited landmark and the faces of those in the images will be blurred out before they are put online.