12 Apr 2012

Tech-Stew Podcast Episode 13:  Tech Stew Unlocked, recorded on Thursday April 12th, 2012


North Koreas rocket blows up, skyrim gets Kinect support, the Sony SmartWatch, the Google Plus redesign, a working Nintendo controller coffee table, Facebook buys instagram for $1billion, Viking detected life on Mars and more.  

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12 Apr 2012

Get your best Dragon Shout voice ready as official Kinect support has been announced by Bethesday for the Elder Scrolls V:  Skyrim.  Imagine yelling "FUS RO DAH!" at your TV, an instant classic.  This ability will come for free as an update this month and introduce more than 200 voice commands.

Support voice commands will include Dragon Shouts, Hotkey Equipping, Follower Commands, and all Menus.

You will be able to create and load saves during gameplay and access all menus and inventories.  There will be Kinect support for special map functions, additional hotkey options, along with the ability to sort inventory items by name, weight and value.  The full list of voice commands will be released by Bethesda in the next few weeks.  No word on if any other Kinect integration such as motion control, will come in the future.

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12 Apr 2012

The Sony SmartWatch will communicate with your Android phone (Credit: Sony)

Have you ever wished you could wear a watch that could talk to your Android phone?  Look no further than the new Sony SmartWatch, yours from Sony for $150 from their online marketplace and in stores.

Sony's SmartWatch is a watch that allows users to read text messages, e-mail, social updates, manage calls and control music all from the wrist.  For this device to work, it connects to an Android-based handset via Bluetooth.

What makes this device useful to many, is that you don't have to take your phone out of your pocket all the time.  The strap comes in rubber and a choice of colors ranging from black, white to blue.  If you want anything but black you must purchase it separately.  The display is an OLED display 1.3-inches in size.  If you receive a new alert or call the device vibrates.

The watch was originally revealed at the Consumer Electronics show in January.  Sony said that the watch would work with Android phones from Sony, HTC, Motorola, Samsung and others.  The battery life is pretty good, lasting four days on one charge and the phone is dust and splash proof, but don't expect to go deep sea diving though.

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11 Apr 2012

Ever wished that you could defeat Bowser literally right from your coffee table with giant built in buttons?  Well, your dreams have come true with the fully-functional Nintendo Controller Coffee Table.  This is the creation of Charles Lushear that has combined old school entertainment with maple wood and craftsmanship.  Simply plug into an existing classic NES system and go to town.  The table also features a removable glass top with retractable cord to use the furniture as just a table when you are done playing Mario.

The table dimensions are 42" long x 18.25" wide and 18" high and is yours for a cool $3500 from Etsy.

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11 Apr 2012

Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank in Japan is introducing Japan's first ATM that will let you withdraw cash just by scanning your hand.  While not the first to use extra biometrics to verify your identity, its the first to work without needing a card.

Customers go to the bank to provide some manual verification the first time and their palm, then from there on its have palm will get cash and go, mostly.  When using the ATM of the Gifu Prefecture-based bank they will be required to enter their date of birth then hold their palm over the reader and enter their four-digit ID number.  Perhaps this is in case someone steals your palm, an extra layer of security never hurts.

The bank is hoping it will help provide people with access to their cash should they lose their card, unless that is, you have a Luke Skywalker's robotic hand.

Source:  e.nikkei.com

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04 Apr 2012

Your GPS blurts out, "Warning heavy traffic detected in route, 4 miles ahead.  Would you like to re-route?"  You think, no, and instead issue the voice command, "Set destination to nearest CarPort runway."  It's the near future and you are in your Terrafugia Transition vehicle, also known as a "roadable aircraft".  After heading to the closest "CarPort" you hit the runway near the parking lot which now features a take off strip for such vehicles and soar at 115 miles per hour towards your destination.

This is the future proposed by many flying car manufacturers.  The Terrafugia Transition has two seats, four wheels and folding wings with a propeller. 

The New York Post is reporting that the Terrafugia will be unveiled at the New York International Auto Show April 6th through the 15th at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

The Transition flies at a top speed of 115 miles per hour and has a range of 500 miles, while on the road it will top out at 70 miles per hour and get 35 miles to gallon using unleaded gasoline.  It has all the features of regular vehicles like airbags, crumple zones and seat belts.  The price, a mere $279,000 once it is available. 

01 Apr 2012

Tech-Stew Podcast Episode 12:  Science Spectacular, recorded on Sunday 04-01-12

Summary:  The Nokia Lumia 900 is coming, Google Drive becomes a reality, Best Buy to close 50 store-fronts, strange clouds on Mars, aliens land in Arizona, SpaceX can get us to Mars for cheap, billions of habitable planets in our galaxy, antibody kills cancer in mice and more  

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28 Mar 2012

The eyes are the windows to your soul, or for eye-tracking loads of information on your habbits and thoughts.  (Credit:  ThinkStock Photograph)

You can tell a lot from a person's eyes.  In the future, computers may dive deep into your soul based on your eyes.  Just reading an article and scanning certain words can cause changes in your pupils or blinking.

Eye-tracking relies on information from one or more cameras to capture these changes in the movements and structure of our eyes.  It can measure these changes with high accuracy.  The applications for eye-tracking range from disabled people, to user interfaces for gaming such as shooting asteroids with your eyes.  Some companies are already planning on putting eye-tracking into smartphones as early as next year, such as Sensye, a European company.  There are many computations involved in eye-tracking and it is predicted that by 2015, most devices will be able to do so with ease.

By 2015 eye-tracking should become more common and the next step in the evolution of the hardware and software is to gather information not on what is being read but on how it is read.  Such things as how our eyes might linger for a few seconds on an advertisement, or how they move to look at certain content on a page and more specifically what words and phrases we look at or avoid.

This brings us to yet more privacy concerns for you and I and information sharing mechanisms for large companies to utilize.  The information from eye-tracking will be collected, analyzed and resold to many companies ranging from advertisers, and analytics providers.  Of course they say in theory it will be non-personal anonymous data, but that will be easy to circumvent, through the use of the unique identifiers from individual devices where the data is gathered.

These future eye-tracking devices will be useful in law enforcement, such as those used by the Department of Homeland Security.  There are many studies done that show there is a correlation between blink rates, pupil dilation and deception.  Law enforcement can utilize this to identify behavior that is considered suspicious.  Devices like those made by Apple may have displays that contain thousands of tiny imaging sensors built into the screens themselves, thwarting anyone who would simply cover the camera to avoid eye-tracking.

It's only a matter of time before our day to day devices and computers begin to incorporate these new eye-tracking devices, taking information derived from your eyes to a whole new level.

Source:  news.discovery.com

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