Future Moto Mods could offer sticky notes and improved audio

The winning teams include Digiframe, a mod by Andrius Valentukonis and Ilja Laurs that gives you a little widget-based sticky note screen on the back of your phone that shows important info without having to launch specific apps on your Moto Z. You can stick it to your fridge when it’s not attached to your phone, too, so you can leave notes or to-do lists for roommates, family, or yourself.

The MACAY TrueSound HiFi, by Abigain Brown and Yousef Alsayid, puts an audio converter on your Moto Z. This winning hardware mod converts digital-to-analog as well as analog-to-digital signals and promises to give musicians and audiophiles a HiDef audio port for pro audio applications, like connecting to studio equipment or high-end speakers and headphones.

Runner-up projects include a wireless charging mod, a slider keyboard for those hardware-typist holdouts, an edge-notification mod, and a solar charger that attaches to your phone. The solar battery team won the top spot in the San Francisco hackathon last February.

All the Pitch Day participants will participate in the Moto Mods Accelerator Program, which provides engineering and design support. Remaining teams can continue to refine their projects through Motorola’s developer portal and partnership with Indiegogo. The program also offers engineering feedback, design support, and hands-on coaching to help teams get their mods ready for prime-time.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/20/future-moto-mods/

Crackle signs up 50 Cent for two original series

With Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee moving to Netflix, Crackle is looking to fill the gaps Jerry Seinfeld left in its lineup. The service is also working on original videos as a partnership with Mashable and A.V. Club publisher Fusion Media Group. But even then, whether or not the new programming can set Crackle apart from other services with seemingly endless pockets is up in the air, despite how many big names may be involved. If it doesn’t end up working out for 50, he always his headphone empire to fall back on. As for Crackle, the Dead Rising universe is ripe for more stories.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/20/crackle-50-cent-in-da-streaming-club/

Classic puzzle-platformer ‘Fez’ is coming to iOS

Fez was an important title for the indie game community, promoting the sort of wonder and puzzle design that demands paper, pen and endless pages of forum discussion. At first blush, the game’s allure is in its 2D-but-3D game design. A platform might look out of reach, but flipping the world by 90, 180 or 270 degrees would suddenly reveal a new route. It was smart and imaginative, rewarding players who could visualize and plan ahead. Underneath, however, was a greater set of mysteries involving cyphers and codes. Some of which people are still discussing and theorizing over.

To go any further would spoil the game’s numerous surprises. Fez will also be remembered equally for its controversial designer Phil Fish, who starred in the 2012 documentary Indie Game: The Movie. His portrayal and subsequent comments, which included a takedown of Japanese developers, triggered an internet firestorm, the cancellation of Fez II and Fish’s exit from the video game industry. Despite this drama, Fez is a wonderful title that deserves your attention. How the controls will work on iOS remains a mystery — swiping to change the camera angle seems logical, but how that will play with tap-based platforming remains a concern.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/14/fez-polytron-ios-release-2017/

GoPro-ready Ghost drone touts easy tilt control and auto-follow mode

The Ghost isn’t just about pricing. First and foremost, this machine claims to be “the world’s easiest drone to fly” on its website, and this is done so by replacing the traditional remote controller with a seemingly — and perhaps overly — straightforward smartphone interface (Android first; iOS compatibility due in March): There are buttons for taking off, landing, returning and hovering; you can tap on the map to guide the drone; there are sliding bars for adjusting the drone’s orientation and altitude plus the optional camera’s tilt and orientation. Thankfully, the app has a micro control pad — surrounded by a handy compass — to manually move the drone in its horizontal plane.

The link between the smartphone and the drone is handled by the bundled “G-Box” transmitter, which gives a 0.6-mile or 966-meter radius range. To satisfy the more capable drone users, Ehang is already developing a proprietary 8-channel remote controller for the Ghost. Yes, “proprietary” in the sense that the drone won’t work with existing controllers, in order “to enhance steering safety and smooth manual control.”

GoPro-ready Ghost drone touts easy tilt control and auto-follow mode

In addition to the above, Xiong highlighted two “breakthrough” features on the Ghost: smartphone-tilt control and an auto-follow mode that’s starting to become the norm. The former is very much what it says on the tin: Once the Ghost is in the air, you can rotate and tilt your phone as if you’re doing the same to the drone.

As for the auto-follow mode, don’t expect the drone to follow you while you’re climbing up a cliff; it can only travel horizontally so use with caution. That said, Xiong hasn’t ruled out the possibility of adding auto-altitude control as more phones come with a built-in barometer. Unlike the Plexidrone due in April, the Ghost doesn’t do obstacle avoidance which is no surprise given its price point, but as you can see in the above video, there’s work being done on a LIDAR module that may one day allow this drone to detect its surroundings. Until then, the auto-follow feature is best used in a clear area.

Now that we’ve gotten the features out of the way, we can take a closer look at the drone itself. The Ghost can travel at up to 21.9 m/s, though it’s capped at 4.47 m/s by default for safety reasons (for the record, the DJI Phantom 2 does 15 m/s max). Ehang claims that its machine can even fly in winds at up to 21 knots (about 11 m/s) without losing too much video quality, and it can also resist light rain. The interchangeable 5,400 mAh battery can last up to 20 minutes with the optional 2-D gimbal plus a GoPro camera installed, or up to 30 minutes without them (the Phantom 2 does 25 minutes).

GoPro-ready Ghost drone touts easy tilt control and auto-follow mode

As we mentioned earlier, the basic pre-assembled Ghost is up for grabs for a mere $375, and you also get four propeller guards in the box. If you want it with a 2-D gimbal to go with your own GoPro Hero3 or Hero4 camera, it’ll cost you $599; or pay an extra $380 ($100 off for early birds) to have a Hero4 Silver (normally $400) bundled with the package, making it a total of $979. These will all be shipped in as early as mid-December and no later than end of January — unless you opt for a color other than black or white, should the Indiegogo campaign reach its $150,000 stretch goal.

For the last option, there’s actually no harm in considering the Phantom 2 Vision which is now only $799 (or $899 with an extra battery) and also has a two-axis camera, a traditional controller plus video stream capability to your smartphone. On the other hand, if you want to go beyond 1080p video capture while also having the option to reuse the Hero4 Silver on your next drone, then the Ghost would be a safer bet.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2014/11/11/ehang-ghost-gopro-indiegogo/

A ‘brand new’ Google Earth will arrive April 18th

While Google doesn’t offer many details aside from the time, date and location — April 18th, 8:30 AM ET at New York’s Whitney Museum of Art — the Earth team did launch a virtual reality version of the planet-visualizing app onto Steam late last year. The app was only available for HTC Vive headsets at the time, but the team promised to add support for additional platforms in the near future. So we’d be surprised if next week’s event didn’t come with an update for Google Daydream, which would make it much more affordable as a VR educational tool. Google has also been developing its stand-alone virtual tours and augmented reality museum experiences for years now and could be incorporating more of those “on-the-ground” kinds of VR experiences directly into its incredibly detailed whole-Earth model.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/12/new-google-earth-update-event-april-18th/

‘Minecraft’ adds a shop for mobile add-ons

For many, the biggest limitation of Minecraft‘s Pocket and Windows 10 Editions has been the lack of community material. What good is playing on your phone if you can’t try out that sweet new texture pack you saw on your PC? You’re about to get that option. Microsoft and Mojang are launching a Marketplace that lets both Pocket and Windows 10 gamers download content from community creators, including skins, textures and whole worlds. You don’t buy any paid content directly — instead, you buy “Minecraft Coins” that let you snap up the add-ons you want. It’s ostensibly to help producers set “flexible prices,” although it also helps mask the value of what you’re buying. You might not want to let kids have unfettered access, in other words.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/10/minecraft-marketplace-on-mobile/

Amazon replaces battery forklifts with fast-fueling hydrogen ones

The power source will allow Amazon’s forklifts to work round the clock, since they don’t need to take time off to charge their batteries. Operators will simply have to refill them with hydrogen fuel when they run out. In addition to using Plug Power’s products in its fulfillment centers, Amazon will also work with the company to expand its fuel cell engines’ applications. If the partnership goes well, the tech titan could spend up to $140 million to equip fulfillment centers with HFCs and their corresponding infrastructure in 2018.

While the power source doesn’t emit anything harmful, they remain controversial to this day. To make hydrogen fuel, manufacturers have to use a lot of energy and produce greenhouse gases in the process. In addition, the fuel is pricey, as well as difficult to store and transport. These are merely some of the reasons why fuel cells never took off, though like Amazon, the military is giving the technology a shot: it’s current exploring the possibility of deploying Chevy’s HFC-powered pickups to battlefields and US bases.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/07/amazon-fuel-cell-forklifts/

Reebok will introduce plant-based sustainable shoes this year

According to Reebok Future head Bill McInnis “We like to say, we are ‘growing shoes’ here at Reebok. Ultimately, our goal is to create a broad selection of bio-based footwear that can be composted after use. We’ll then use that compost as part of the soil to grow the materials for the next range of shoes. We want to take the entire cycle into account; to go from dust to dust.”

While the shoe itself won’t arrive until later this year, Reebok says it’s using DuPont’s Susterra Propanediol to create the sole. It originates from “non-food source” industrially grown corn, while the upper will be made of organic cotton. Last year, the Future department the Liquid Speed shoes made with 3D drawing technology, and this next project will fit right alongside them. More importantly, McInnis claims this is “just the beginning,” and expects to use it as a blueprint moving forward.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/05/reebok-will-introduce-plant-based-sustainable-shoes-this-year/

Bipartisan bill aims to curb warrantless phone searches at the border

As it stands now, the DHS is allowed to search electronic devices — even those belonging to American citizens — whenever they come across the US border. This new bill, put forward by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) in the Senate and Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Blake Farenthold (R-TX), would instead require that border agents obtain a warrant or, at least, suspect a crime is currently taking place, before they can search phones and laptops. The rules would apply to airports and land crossings alike.

“Americans’ constitutional rights shouldn’t disappear at the border,” Wyden said in a statement. “By requiring a warrant to search Americans’ devices and prohibiting unreasonable delay, this bill makes sure that border agents are focused on criminals and terrorists instead of wasting their time thumbing through innocent Americans’ personal photos and other data.”

According the the Customs and Border Protection’s publicly available data, the agency conducted 23,877 electronic media searches in 2016. That’s an eight fold increase over 2015’s 4,764 but still a fraction of the roughly 400 million people who entered the country that year.

Senator Paul pointed out that the Supreme Court already ruled that cellphones and laptops cannot be treated with the same cavalier nature as pockets and backpacks during police searches since they contain a host of personal digital information that wouldn’t normally be carried around in its physical form. He argues that the same rules should apply at the border.

“As the Supreme Court unanimously recognized in 2014, innovation does not render the Fourth Amendment obsolete,” Paul said. “It still stands today as a shield between the American people and a government all too eager to invade their digital lives. Americans should not be asked to surrender their rights or privacy at the border, and our bill will put an end to the government’s intrusive practices.”

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/04/bipartisan-bill-aims-to-curb-warrantless-phone-searches-at-the-b/

Electric skull cap helps brain cancer patients live longer

The Optune medical device works by continuously delivering alternating electric fields to the brain. Researchers believe this has an anticancer effect because it blocks cell division. During the clinical trial, patients diagnosed with an aggressive cancer called glioblastoma were randomly assigned the Optune device and chemotherapy treatment, while others received chemo only. Those who used the cap had a median overall survival of 21 months, compared to 16 months for those who didn’t. The two-, three-, four-, and five-year survival rates for patients significantly improved as well: 43 percent versus 31 percent; 26 percent versus 16 percent; 20 percent versus 8 percent; and 13 percent versus 5 percent.

Dr. Roger Stupp, professor of Neurological Surgery at Northwestern University, is excited by the study’s findings. It’s been more than 10 years since any form of treatment was shown to improve survival for people with glioblastoma, he said. “When I started treating patients with GBM 20 years ago, the majority of patients died within less than one year and long-term survival was nearly absent,” he said in a press release. “Now, we see a meaningful improvement in survival at two years and beyond. With the combination of Optune and temozolomide, one out of seven patients is living longer than five years.”

As promising as the device may be though, it has a downside — it costs roughly $700 per day, the Associated Press reports. While most US insurers will cover it, Medicare won’t. But, oncology company Novocure, which funded the clinical trial, said it’ll pay for the treatment if need be. “We’ve never refused a patient regardless of insurance status,” Novocure Executive Chairman Bill Doyle told the AP.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/04/03/optane-skull-cap-treats-brain-cancer/