Bundesliga is the latest soccer league to use video referees

Of course, the idea here is to eliminate potentially major mistakes in officiating, especially those when the action happens very quickly. And as you might expect, the VAR system was called upon its first Bundesliga match in a penalty situation between Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen.

Opponents of the tech argue that it will slow the pace of the matches, but FIFA technical director Marco Van Basten argues otherwise.”Football will remain the same,” he said earlier this year. “But we’re working so that through the video assistants it will become more honest. All that we want is that the result at the end of a game is achieved in a regular manner.”

Historic moment as the new #Videoassist is called upon for the first time to award @FCBayernEN‘s penalty. #FCBB04 pic.twitter.com/MBbI1n3PP8

— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) August 18, 2017

Different leagues may employ VAR differently, but Bundesliga will only apply it in four specific situations. Those are limited to irregularities in goal decisions (foul, handball and offside), penalties, red cards and any time there’s mistaken identity over a yellow or red card. This is the same criteria MLS uses to decide when the video assistant referee can intervene in a match. The debut of the tech this month in MLS was the result of nearly three years of testing, which began back in 2014. What’s more, FIFA also plans to use the system during the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/18/bundesliga-video-assistant-referees/

ASUS goes dual-camera crazy for its ZenFone 4 series

The similar-looking ZenFone 4’s (ZE554KL) fancy concentric circle pattern on the back (except for the mint green version) may mislead you into thinking it’s the higher-end model, but its innards tell a very different story (ASUS has a tendency to apply this design to its mid-range models like the ZenFone 3). Its 5.5-inch 1080p display uses LCD instead of AMOLED, though it does have a higher 600-nit brightness. It also packs the mid-range octa-core Snapdragon 660 or Snapdragon 630 chipset instead, and it uses a slightly smaller 3,300 mAh battery, a single speaker plus dual-mic noise cancellation only.

Most notably, though, its dual camera serves a very different purpose. You still get the nice 12-megapixel Sony IMX362 for the main sensor (albeit with a slightly slower f/1.8 aperture, likely due to a different lens used here), but its secondary sensor here is for a 120-degree super wide view — a massive jump from the main sensor’s 83-degree view. It’s as if ASUS has taken a page out of LG’s book here. This consists of an 8-megapixel OmniVision 8856 (1.12um pixels) with a slightly slower f/2.2 aperture. And due to the nature of this camera, the portrait mode here uses software instead of hardware like on the Pro. The front camera also uses the same OmniVision sensor but with the more conventional 84-degree wide-angle view plus f/2.0 aperture.

Like the Pro model, the ZenFone 4 also comes with up to 6GB of RAM but only up to 64GB of storage, though the latter can also be extended via microSD using the second SIM slot. Starting price is at $399.

ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro and ZenFone 4 Selfie

ASUS goes dual-camera crazy for its ZenFone 4 series

As you can tell by the name, the ZenFone 4 Selfie series is all about taking selfies and “wefies” (ASUS’ word, not ours), hence the use of a dual camera on the front here for toggling a super wide view. Out of the two models, you can easily spot the ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro (ZD552KL) by its slick aluminum unibody which comes in at just 6.85mm thick.

The dual camera’s main sensor packs the same flagship 12-megapixel, 1.4um Sony IMX362, though its dual-pixel AF has been cunningly rejigged to output 24-megapixel sefies, because apparently there are users who want to print their selfies. Furthermore, you’ll also be able to take 4K selfie videos here. For the 120-degree super wide angle selfie capture, you’ll have to switch to the secondary sensor which, for some reason, comes with a disappointingly low 5-megapixel resolution (OmniVision 5670, 1.12um, f/2.2). The f/2.2 main camera here uses the 16-megapixel, 1um Sony IMX351 which we already saw as the secondary sensor on the ZenFone 4 Pro’s dual camera.

The ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro runs on an octa-core Snapdragon 625 chipset and packs up to 4GB of RAM plus 64GB of storage, along with microSD expansion via the second SIM slot. It also comes with a 3,000 mAh battery which is pretty good given its thickness. The only odd thing about this new phone is its micro-USB port, but ASUS reps reasoned that the main markets they are targeting with this series are still mainly using micro-USB, which would make sense if true. It’ll be available in red, gold and black, and prices here start at $379.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/17/asus-zenfone-4-pro-selfie-max-dual-camera/

Samsung’s next Gear Fit will track your swimming

The full extent of the software upgrades isn’t available, but the new wristwear should also support offline Spotify playback. So long as you have a pair of Bluetooth headphones, you won’t need to bring your phone to get a soundtrack for your gym sessions. GPS tracking was already included in the Fit 2 and should carry over here.

There’s no mention of pricing, not to mention whether this will replace or complement the Fit 2. The Pro badge suggests that it could be sold alongside the earlier wristwear, but nothing mentioned so far would explicitly justify a price hike. There’s only a few days until the reported launch, though, so it won’t take long to learn whether or not the new model is within your budget.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/14/samsungs-next-gear-fit-will-track-your-swimming/

Delorean’s next car is a flying one

According to the report, the DR-7 has four wings and a pair of winglets, while you’ll find a fan jet up front and ’round back. The two fans will tilt, much like the Harrier and Osprey, from a horizontal orientation for take off and landing, through to vertical for flight. So far, DeLorean has built a dummy model that measures 30 feet long and 18.5 feet wide, although plans to have it fold down enough to fit in a large garage.

DeLorean intends to realize his dream of creating an autonomous, battery-powered craft with a range of 120 miles. That outrageous range is, he claims, because he plans to cruise at higher altitudes than other flying car projects. DeLorean expects to have a working prototype by the end of next year, and will conduct unmanned test-flights shortly afterward.

What DeLorean, or anyone else for that matter, has failed to explain is how exactly all of this is going to work in practice. For instance, what sort of air traffic control setup will be required to ensure mid-air collisions don’t become commonplace? If a car has engine failure on a highway, that’s a problem, but what happens if your VTOL craft conks out in a built-up area?

Not that those questions necessarily need to be answered just yet, after all, there’s still all the Doc Brown gags to do in the next decade.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/14/delorean-aerospace-flying-car/

Pilot error caused fatal Icon A5 plane crash, NTSB says

A witness said the amphibious plane was flying low over a lake “and entered a nearby cove, which was surrounded by rising terrain on either side … [when] he heard the engine ‘rev up and accelerate hard.'” He heard the sound of an impact shortly after losing sight of the plane. “It is likely that the pilot mistakenly thought the canyon he entered was a different canyon that led to the larger, open portion of the lake,” the NTSB wrote.

The accident is tragic and Icon mourns the loss of two employees, but the finding shows there’s nothing wrong with the plane itself. Buyers can thus feel safe, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which recently certified the A5 in the light-sport category, can be satisfied with its decision.

Pilot error caused fatal Icon A5 plane crash, NTSB says

The amphibious aircraft, which Engadget’s Chris Velazco had the chance to fly a couple years ago, is unique for its relatively low price ($250,000), great looks, complete airplane parachute (CAP, above), foldable wings and land or sea capability. Unlike most private airplanes, the built-in pontoons let you take it onto small lakes, opening up a lot more places to use it. At the same time, you can cruise at a respectable 95 mph, not bad for a seaplane powered by a 100 horsepower Rotax motor.

The aircraft has numerous safety features besides the parachute, including an angle-of-attack gauge to help pilots avoid loss-of-control stalls, and a spin-resistant, composite airframe. Nevertheless, learning to pilot on water is a challenge and light-sport pilots can fly with after training for fewer hours than fully certified private pilots (20 hours compared to around 40 hours).

Rising terrain accidents are one of the most common accidents in light aircraft, and usually result in fatalities. However, they usually happen when pilots blunder into inclement weather conditions. In this case, the weather was clear, and it seems like a very unfortunate case of mistaken knowledge about the lay of the land.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/11/icon-a5-accident-pilot-error-ntsb/

‘Despacito’ is the third to hold YouTube’s most-popular spot this year

Not that ‘Despacito’ wasn’t destined for greatness: A few weeks ago, it broke another record by becoming the most-streamed song of all time with 4.6 billion listens across all platforms. But we’re clearly seeing views ramp up as people watch more videos with more mobile devices. “Gangnam Style” took the lead for most-watched video back in 2012 when the record was only 808 million views.

It held the crown for five years until “See You Again” surpassed it, but Khalifa and Puth’s tune wasn’t the only contender to seize the top slot. As Boing Boing pointed out at the time, the top 10 YouTube videos of all time all had over 2 billion views — and “Despacito” was in the middle of that last with 2.4 billion. Which means it racked up over 500 million views in a single month. So while Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee have hit a serious milestone, but it won’t be forever.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/04/despacito-is-the-third-to-hold-youtubes-most-popular-spot-thi/

Pinterest wants you to think of it as a visual search engine

Lens is a visual search tool that rolled out to US users earlier this year. It’s functionally the equivalent of a reverse image search. Users can take a photograph of something, say a desk, with Lens, and the smart search will return interesting pins with related design ideas and similar furniture. Pinterest is constantly updating Lens’s features and its accuracy.

More and more people are using Pinterest’s search features on mobile, so it makes sense that the company would want to move them front and center. The company says that 85 percent of all searches, both text-based and visual with Lens, occur on a mobile device. That’s a significant chunk of traffic.

The company also made some tweaks to the home feed. You should start seeing fewer duplicate pins in your feed and your recommendations will update in real-time, taking into account your most recent pins and searches. These added features are available in the iOS app today and should be ready for Android soon.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/08/01/pinterest-centers-lens-search-mobile/

Yeast could hold the key to custom-built DNA

Also in the pipeline is redesigned DNA — a disconcerting idea on paper, as this would effectively allow scientists to create genetically-altered people. But this isn’t the team’s intention (although they do plan on consulting ethicists and the general public before they do it). Instead, the altered DNA would be inserted into cells for medical benefits, such as making the body better at pumping out pharmaceutical proteins, or to engineer stem cells as a safe source of lab-grown tissue needed for organ transplants.

The work is underway, but it will be a while time before we see it come to fruition. Rewriting the yeast genome is an enormous undertaking involving 12 million chemical links (the human genome has 3.2 billion). Once the new yeast genome has been created, the scientists will have added, removed or edited around one million DNA letters.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/07/26/yeast-could-hold-the-key-to-custom-built-dna/

The wearables battlefield is strewn with casualties

2017 has been a turbulent time for what, for brevity’s sake, we’ll call the smartwatch industry, with Fitbit’s long-delayed smartwatch still trapped in development hell. Fitbit’s biggest rival, Jawbone, recently began winding itself down despite raising nearly a billion dollars in capital across its life. Then there’s Intel, another deep-pocketed player that reportedly chose to quietly shutter its wearables division to focus on augmented reality.

We’re reaching a point where all of the battles for our wrists have been fought and won, and now it’s just about clearing up the mess. Various brands and businesses that may have seen a bright future for themselves may soon realize that survival is too difficult a goal to achieve. Look at the personal computing, MP3 player and tablet markets, where hundreds of companies all tried and gain a foothold in the space, but only a few survived as the initial enthusiasm died down and the easy sources of cash started to run out.

We made this point not too long ago, but falling prices have taken much of the wind out of the smartwatch and fitness tracker world. If you want a tracker, then Xiaomi’s MiBand 2 does everything you need for less than $30. Meanwhile, Ticwatch is offering a relatively high-end Android Wear device for $159 on Kickstarter. The idea of a premium wearable device isn’t tied to features — since all have pretty much exact spec lists — but one that is being pushed by brands.

What we have seen of late is a lot of fashion brands partnering with Google to slap their logo on a commodity Android Wear device. The cases and straps may be different, but they’re almost always the same system, running the same software, available for far less money elsewhere. Those devices will, of course, be catnip to brand devotees, but will do little to ensnare folks who are otherwise resisting the advent of wearables.

The wearables battlefield is strewn with casualties

We don’t know, for certain, how many Android Wear devices have sold, but journalist Charles Arthur has worked hard to give a good estimate. At the end of 2016, he believed that around five million devices had been sold in the two years since the platform’s inception. Those figures represent sales from a variety of companies — Motorola, LG, ASUS, Huawei, Acer and the rest. It boils down to less than a million devices sold across 115 weeks, hardly something to get excited about.

The elephant in this room is, of course, the Apple Watch, which is gently eroding everyone else’s position in the smartwatch world. Parks Associates believes that, across 2016, the company sold 12 million devices, which rings true enough. Whatever the third generation device brings, it’s likely that it will, again, use the combination of Apple’s brand and its utility to embarrass the rest of the field.

The great hope in all of this is that Fitbit’s long-gestating smartwatch will be able to provide a true alternative to Google and Apple. But the longer it remains unavailable, the harder its task becomes, because impatient customers will take their money elsewhere. But even if it arrived tomorrow, it’s not likely that it would do everything it needs to do to succeed.

Think about it: Fitbit’s smartwatch needs to be popular and profitable enough to banish any concerns about the company’s long-term survival. It also needs to sell enough devices that developers are encouraged to devote time and resources to building apps for it. It needs to be adaptable enough that third parties will invest in building accessories for customization — an ecosystem, if you will. Oh, and it needs to do all of those as good as, or ideally better, than the Apple Watch and Android Wear.

The big test will be to see what happens at IFA in September, which has previously been a showcase for new watches. It’s entirely possible that many of the aforementioned companies, which have been burned by tiny sales of their devices, will dampen down or axe their efforts. If Samsung, LG, ASUS and Acer all demonstrate something innovative, then perhaps I’m wrong. But the rumor mill has been suspiciously quiet on device news coming out of the show.

If Samsung, LG, ASUS and Acer all offer up new devices — and the rumor mill has been suspiciously quiet on that front — then perhaps I’m wrong. What’s more likely is that those companies will no longer see enough value in being on the wrist to try. Either they’ll pull out altogether, quietly letting their devices fall into obsolescence, or produce lazy me-too devices. In the end, it’s entirely plausible that we’ll see a greatly diminished wrist-worn wearables industry going in to 2018 and beyond.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/07/26/the-wearables-battlefield-is-strewn-with-casualties/

Adobe accidentally released its cloud-based photo editor

Adobe accidentally released its cloud-based photo editor

Nimbus isn’t exactly Lightroom, though it apparently uses some of the same tools, including those for basic light and color adjustments, refraction, brush and gradient correction. Nimbus also standard options, like copy and paste, a way to see the original photo easily and a histogram display. What sets the cloud app apart, though, is that the photos and the modifications are both stored in the cloud, which obviates any need to sync photos and rely on your Lightroom installs having the same setups. The cloud-based editing app reportedly has an automatic image tagging system, too. Both of these features are similar to those in Apple’s iCloud Photo Library.

Adobe accidentally released its cloud-based photo editor

According to the screenshots, Adobe’s upcoming app, with a beta due this year, also seems to have a non-destructive workflow, letting you edit your images without worrying about losing the initial image. The interface is closer to the iPad version of Lightroom, reports MacGeneration, and seems to includs 1TB of cloud storage — quite a bit more than the standard 20GB that current Creative Cloud users have access to.

An Adobe spokesperson sent us the following statement. “We mistakenly shared Project Nimbus with a small group of Adobe Creative Cloud customers. As you will recall from MAX in October 2016, Project Nimbus is next-generation photo editing technology that we have been exploring as part of our Lightroom and Photoshop ecosystems. We cannot share any further details at this time but will keep you posted on future developments.”

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/07/25/adobe-accidentally-released-cloud-photo-editor/