No Picture

Building the Moon without leaving the London area

April 17, 2018 Alex 0

Hardware isn’t easy — especially if you decline to take advantage of the global manufacturing infrastructure, build everything in a flat in London, and use only local labor and materials. But that’s what the creators of successful Kickstarter project Moon did, and they have no regrets.

Back in 2016, I got a pitch for the Moon, an accurate replica of our satellite around which a set of LEDs rotated, illuminating the face in perfect time with the actual phase. A cool idea, though for some reason or another I didn’t cover it, instead asking Alex du Prees, one of the creators, to hit me back later to talk about the challenges of crowdfunded, home-brewed hardware.

The project was a success, raising £145,393 — well over the £25,000 goal — and Alex and I chatted late last year while the team was wrapping up production and starting on a second run, which in fact they just recently wrapped up as well.

It’s an interesting case study of a crowdfunded hardware project, not least because the Moo..

No Picture

Snap launches new features for Lens Studio

April 17, 2018 Alex 0

At the end of last year, Snap introduced Lens Studio, a platform that allows developers to create AR lenses for Snapchat. Today, the company is announcing new features for Lens Studio, including seven brand new templates for the creation of face lenses.

Before now, only World Lens creation was available to everyone within Lens Studio, meaning developers could create 3D AR objects but not overlay AR experiences over faces. Now, developers can create Face Lenses, with seven different templates to choose from.

Here are the new templates for Face Lenses:

Face Paint: focuses on face substitution, mapping the face to let developers create art tied to facial features like the lips or nose (great for makeup or accessories)
Photo: much like Face Paint, Photo lets creators overlay lenses onto a single static (head-on) photo
Distort: lets developers stretch or shrink facial features
Trigger: with Trigger, developers can create a trigger (blinking, raising eyebrows, open/close mouth) to execute..

No Picture

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn is stepping down after 8 years at the FCC

April 17, 2018 Alex 0

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn is stepping down from the FCC after eight years on the job. She broke the news at the Commission’s monthly open meeting, confirming the plans to move on that she has mentioned occasionally since the new administration took over.

I realize I don’t sound like the impartial journalist that I should be when I say this, since I cover the FCC closely, but I will very much miss the presence of Commissioner Clyburn there. (And I’m not the only one; my inbox is filling up with groups and individuals issuing thank you statements. I’ll add some to this post later.)

Regardless of what one’s position is on things like net neutrality, broadband access, media regulation and so on, Clyburn always brings a note of humanity and common sense to the discussion. Her commentary, though technically and legally sound, is rarely technical or legal in nature, instead focused on the human cost or benefit of a proposal or decision — but made her point nevertheless.

That’s no mean ac..

No Picture

Here’s what you’ll learn at Atrium’s fundraising workshop

April 17, 2018 Alex 0

Justin Kan is qualified to teach you how to pitch, and isn’t shy about it. Having raised about $90 million for a few companies and sold his startup Twitch to Amazon for almost a billion dollars, not being shy is actually part of what Kan teaches. His legal services startup Atrium today officially launches Atrium Scale, its free Series A fundraising workshop that’s helped 8 startups raise $100 million since it started in beta 5 months ago. The two-day in-person seminar includes pitch coaching, intros to investors and mentors, follow-up online pitch deck help, legal advice, Amazon and Google Cloud credits, and tax and accounting services.

I went through Atrium Scale myself, pretending I was the founder of a hypothetical startup that replaces your phone’s Contacts app. While the lectures were full of valuable tips, you can get a lot of those from instructional blog posts by Kan and other VCs. But the small group Q&A and coaching with entrepreneurs who’d successfully raised did a remarkab..

No Picture

These AirPods-style earbuds cost $30 less

April 17, 2018 Alex 0

It’s been more than a year since Apple released the AirPods, but it’s only now that other companies are really starting to match them when it comes to the style and shape of wireless earbuds. The latest are from Mobvoi, which is starting an Indiegogo campaign to sell the TicPods Free, a pair of wireless earbuds that look like a slightly thicker, more angular version of the AirPods. Plus, they come in colors other than white.

The TicPods offer the same feature set of the AirPods: they come with a charging case, they pause the music when removed from your ears, you can tap on them to control playback, they have built-in mics to take calls, and you can access a smart assistant — Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, or Apple’s Siri — with a…

Continue reading…

No Picture

Watch Jordan Peele use AI to make Barack Obama deliver a PSA about fake news

April 17, 2018 Alex 0

What does the future of fake news look like? No one really knows, but here’s a little sampler from Jordan Peele and BuzzFeed, who teamed up to make the above PSA. Using some of the latest AI techniques, Peele ventriloquizes Barack Obama, having him voice his opinion on Black Panther (“Killmonger was right”) and call President Donald Trump “a total and complete dipshit.”

The video was made by Peele’s production company using a combination of old and new technology: Adobe After Effects and the AI face-swapping tool FakeApp. The latter is the most prominent example of how AI can facilitate the creation of photorealistic fake videos. It started life on Reddit as a tool for making fake celebrity porn, but it has since become a worrying symbol…

Continue reading…

No Picture

Jabra Elite 65t review: the best AirPods alternative

April 17, 2018 Alex 0

The new $170 Jabra Elite 65t earbuds are my go-to recommendation for anyone who wants truly wireless earbuds that aren’t Apple’s AirPods. As good as the AirPods are, there are several things that might rule them out for some people. If you’re like me, it’s the one-size-fits-most design; my ears just aren’t a good match, and buying aftermarket ear hooks for a snug, secure fit is a hassle. And then there’s the outside noise; the open design of AirPods, though great for awareness and safety, means you’ll occasionally find yourself cranking the volume to extremes when you want to drown out the cacophony of city life. But those pitfalls aside, the AirPods have remained on their own pedestal above the competition for well over a year because…

Continue reading…

No Picture

John Scalzi’s Head On is a murder mystery set in a robot fighting league 

April 17, 2018 Alex 0

John Scalzi is known for his witty science fiction thrillers. Old Man’s War and its sequels are his take on military science fiction, while last year’s Collapsing Empire was a new foray into space opera. His latest novel Head Onis a techno-thriller involving robotic sports leagues and murder, and it’s a book that’s particularly relevant in our own, technological world.

Some spoilers ahead for Head On.

Head Onis the sequel to Scalzi’s 2014 thriller Lock In and an accompanying novella, Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome. In each, he introduces readers to a world that’s experienced a medical catastrophe: a flu pandemic infected and killed millions of people around the world, and left some of the survivors with Haden’s…

Continue reading…

No Picture

Casio announces a cheaper version of its Wear OS watch for hikers

April 17, 2018 Alex 0

Casio is introducing a new smartwatch for the outdoors today that runs Google’s Wear OS, but it doesn’t look all that different from some of Casio’s older Wear OS watches. In fact, it looks exactly the same and appears to have all the same specs and features, except for one: it costs $100 less.

The new Pro Trek Smart Outdoor Watch, or the WSD-F20A will sell for $399 when it launches on May 1st. That’s $100 less than the WSD-F20, which was introduced in January. The two watches look identical, aside from their color. We’ve reached out to Casio to find out if there are any other differences.

What’s nice about this series of Casio watches is how little they look like traditional Wear OS devices. Casio has highly customized the watches to…

Continue reading…

No Picture

New York seeks more information from crypto exchanges

April 17, 2018 Alex 0

(Reuters) – New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Tuesday sought information from 13 cryptocurrency trading platforms, including Coinbase Inc and Gemini Trust, about their operations such as fee structures and safety measures to protect customer accounts.