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A Daimler-built autonomous truck can now legally operate on the highways of Nevada. Gov. Brian Sandoval has officially granted the “Freightliner Inspiration Truck” a license for road use in the state, making it the first of its kind to navigate public roads in the US. In fact, the vehicle is now being unveiled in Las Vegas, as you can see in the live stream below the fold. The Inspiration is loaded with cameras, radar systems, other sensors and computer hardware like most autonomous vehicles. However, it’s not completely self-driving — it still needs a human driver behind the wheel.

According to the big rig’s official website,

Developing…

[Image credit: Freightliner Trucks/Instagram]

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If you think you’ve got a bright future in spaceship design, the Kerbal Space Program simulator will quickly humble you — beneath the playful surface is an accurate, unforgiving physics system. The lucky few that manage to get their virtual craft in orbit or beyond can’t be blamed if they’d like to commemorate the achievement. A printing company called Eucl3D now lets you do exactly that in PVC — all you have to do is upload your Kerbal .craft files, and for $99, you’ll get a plastic replica of your ship.

You may not get the epic grandeur you expect, as Eucl3d will scale all models to the size that $99 worth of PVC will allow. Also, tiny unprintable details like struts may be deleted automatically by the system. But those are minor details, and many of the finished models look fantastic. In fact, considering how many NASA engineers actually use Kerbal, you may even see your ship retrieve a freaking asteroid one day. If you’d like to try it, you can upload your files here.

Filed under: Peripherals, Science

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Via: Polygon

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Google Maps’ Play listing doesn’t quite elaborate on what’s new with the latest version, but the update’s definitely more than just a bunch of bug fixes. Android Police has discovered that the app can now mine your Gmail account for info whenever you search for these particular key phrases: my events, my flights, my reservations and my hotels. “My events” will list your Calendar entries, while the others are pretty self-explanatory. Unfortunately, these key phrases only work for the Android version of Maps at the moment — the good news is that they’re not exclusive to Mountain View’s navigation service. You can actually type those key phrases or use them as voice commands on Google search or on Google Now. So long as you’re logged into your account on a browser or a relevant app, they’ll work perfectly whatever your device or platform is.

[Image credit: Android Police]

Filed under: Cellphones, Tablets, Mobile, Google

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Via: Android Police

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Google removed the quirky puzzle game Threes from the Play store on Tuesday. Its removal was unceremonious and sudden, but that’s not exactly why Threes creator Asher Vollmer found the situation frustrating. That came down to two reasons:

* A robot informed Vollmer that his game was removed from Google Play in a cold, automated message.
* Threes was removed from Google Play because it used “2048” as a keyword — and 2048 is a blatant, known clone of Threes.

Google — probably a human there, not a robot — reinstated Threes after just a few hours offline and following a stream of articles and Twitter activity around its removal. Of course, 2048 remained live on Google Play the entire time, alongside a bunch of other Threes clones. This string of events highlights one of the biggest differences between Google and Apple, and how they approach their app stores. “Apple’s policies are preventative and Google’s policies are retroactive,” Vollmer says. “You can probably figure out which one I prefer.”

Vollmer spoke with a few of his Android developer friends during the Threes blackout and they said his situation was fairly common.

“Google has bots that crawl over their store and look for instances of ‘keyword stuffing’ and then automatically take down the app,” Vollmer explains. “You then have to appeal to get the app back on the store, which can take two to three days. On the Apple app store every app goes through an approval process for a few weeks before it shows up on the store. On Google Play you can publish a game instantly, but you are at risk of Google pulling it at any moment.”

Vollmer has tried to fight against the wave of Threes clones, which popped up at a ridiculous rate starting just 21 days after the original game’s release. Threes took 14 months and more than 500 emails between Vollmer and artist Greg Wohlwend to plan and perfect, and these games took the idea and ran with it, often with a price tag of “free.” Threes, on the other hand, costs $1.99. At first, the developers tried to get rid of the clones whack-a-mole style — and then 2048 showed up.

“There was technically nothing wrong with it,” Vollmer says. “It didn’t steal our art or our name and the creator of the web version was so far removed from the game scene that he had never even heard of Threes. He cloned a clone without knowing.”

Google Play has taken Threes off the store because we used “2048” as a search keyword

– Asher Vollmer (@AsherVo) May 5, 2015

The studio behind 2048 is a notorious clone-making machine, and it’s able to stay in business because it’s not technically breaking any rules.

“My copyright on Threes only covers the look and feel of the game, and 2048 looks very different,” Vollmer says. “My trademark only covers the icon and name, and 2048 has neither. My only hope of legal action would be to patent the game mechanics, which I will never do for a thousand different reasons. All I can do is treat 2048 like a healthy competitor — one that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for me.”

According to Google Play, Threes has been installed 100,000 to 500,000 times, while 2048 has been installed 10 million to 50 million times.

Clearly, today, Threes was placed on the Google Play support fast-track once people there realized the mistake. This saved Vollmer a few days of not only inactivity, but of potential customers being directed to clones of his game. It was a mistake and at least it was handled quickly, but Google Play’s “publish now, pull later” philosophy remains. The Apple app store has its own issues as well, including oversaturation and pricing standards that feel like a race to the bottom. However, with the ironic removal of Threes, the oddity of Google Play’s app policies are currently on full display.

“I want Google to rely on humans and not on robots to make these decisions,” Vollmer says. “I want Google Play to at least issue warnings before they take these kinds of actions…. This was a completely tone-deaf move.”

Filed under: Gaming, HD, Apple, Google

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Source: Engadget - Read the full article here

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Developer Valve legendarily has a hard time counting to “3” but that doesn’t mean getting your hands on some new Portal action is too far out of reach. It just might not be in a place you’d expect. The long-running Zen Pinball series is taking a Newell-blessed trip to the test chambers with the “Aperture Science Heuristic Portal Pinball Device” table. As you might expect, there are plenty of nods to the series, with GLaDOS passive aggressively taunting while Chell jumps through the eponymous ingresses and co-op robots ATLAS and P-Body handling multi-ball duties. It’s $2.99 for consoles, Mac and PC and $1.99 on mobile come May 25th.

If you favor Lego bricks to steel balls there’s a game for you too. As Eurogamer reports, Walmart accidentally listed a Portal expansion set for the upcoming Lego Dimensions over the weekend. None of this adds up to Portal 3 proper, sure, but it’s a triumph in its own right nonetheless.

Filed under: Gaming, Home Entertainment, HD

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Source: Zen Studios, Eurogamer Follow @DailyTechWhip

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Microsoft has lost another legal battle against British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), after a European court found Skype’s name to be too similar to the latter’s. The judges also ruled that the service’s cloud-like logo “would further increase the likelihood of the element ‘Sky’ being recognized within the word element ‘Skype.‘” Redmond lost a similar case to the same broadcaster in court years ago, prompting the company to completely change the name of its cloud service from SkyDrive to OneDrive. Fortunately for Microsoft, it doesn’t have to change Skype’s name this time around — it merely can’t file a trademark registration for the product’s name and logo.

“The case was not a legal challenge to Skype’s use of the mark, it was only against the registration,” an MS spokesperson said. “We’re confident that no confusion exists between these brands and services and will appeal. This decision does not require us to alter product names in any way.” The tech titan said it has other measures in place to prevent European companies from using the name and logo of its popular chat messenger, even if it can’t legally register them in the continent.

In addition to these two cases against Microsoft, BSkyB also took Livescribe to court for its Sky smartpens, forcing the company to pull the product from its UK store. Clearly, any company manufacturing a product with the word “sky” in its name may want to think of an alternative before releasing it in Europe… just in case.

Filed under: Misc, Microsoft

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Disney Infinity 3.0 is the latest edition of Disney’s Skylanders-style video game series, and it’s scheduled to hit stores in the fall, complete with figurines from the Star Wars universe. That’s a relief, since we were worried there wouldn’t be enough Star Wars stuff to go around this year. There will be three Star Wars Play Sets for Disney Infinity 3.0: Twilight of the Republic (featuring Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Darth Maul figurines), Rise Against the Empire (with Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Darth Vader) and a third based on December’s film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That play set will launch in the winter, probably alongside the movie.

Also in store for Disney Infinity 3.0 is a new Marvel Play Set including, in part, Hulkbuster Iron Man and Ultron. Plus, there are new Tron and Pixar figurines on the way. Accessories from previous versions of Disney Infinity will be compatible with the new game, Disney says. The Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Pack, including Ahsoka Tano and Anakin Skywalker figures, costs $65, with pre-orders live now. If that sounds pricey, just think of it as “the price to see a movie with four-ish friends” or “the price to see a movie alone and with lots of popcorn.”

Filed under: Gaming, HD

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Orb spider silk, already among the toughest and strongest materials found in nature, could soon get a super-strong nanoscale upgrade. A research team from the University of Trento, Italy recently sprayed 15 Orb-weaving spiders, members of the Pholcidae family, with carbon nanotube or graphene particle solutions. They found that doing so caused some of the spiders to spin even stronger silk than what they normally do. The team administered five spiders with a graphene-water solution and another 10 with a carbon-water mix. While some spiders subsequently spun sub-par silk (and four of them died outright), a few of the carbon-dosed arachnids actually produced strands 3.5 times stronger than the most resilient natural silk we know about.

The team initially suspected that the nanomaterials simply coated the outside of the strand, however that theory could not sufficiently explain the degree of performance increase seen in the resulting silk. Team leader Nicola Pugno instead believes that the spiders may be “harvesting” materials in their immediate area, then incorporating them into the spinning process. In this case, since the spider was covered in nanoparticles, that’s what made it into its silk. The team plans to continue researching this technique in hopes of creating a large-scale hybrid silk production process. Up next, however, they want to recreate their success with silkworms using similar nano-solutions.

[Image Credit: The Associated Press]

Filed under: Science

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Via: New Scientist

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Remember OpenTV, the video on demand software developer that sued Netflix for allegedly violating its streaming patents? It’s back. The company is suing Apple in the belief that virtually everything Apple makes (such as the Apple TV and iTunes) is infringing on five streaming-related patents, including ones for interactive TV and copy protection. Supposedly, you’re borrowing OpenTV technology when you download or rent a movie through Apple’s software. The folks at 1 Infinite Loop haven’t issued a formal response to the suit, although there’s definitely pressure to offer compensation. OpenTV’s parent company, the Kudelski Group, brags that it already has licensing deals (Netflix settled earlier this year) with the likes of Disney and Google — Apple didn’t necessarily use OpenTV’s ideas, but it’ll go against the grain if it fights back.

Filed under: Home Entertainment, Internet, HD, Apple

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Via: AppleInsider

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If you rely on Uber to get around Kansas, you’ll have to find an alternative in short order. The ridesharing firm has ended service in the state after legislators overturned the Governor’s veto on SB 117, a bill that tightens restrictions on Uber and similar app-based transportation networks. The stricter insurance requirements in the bill supposedly make it “impossible” for the company to do business. To no one’s surprise, Uber is hopping mad — it insist that the move hurts the availability of safe rides, denies job opportunities and makes Kansas regulation look “backward.”

The company is hopeful that it’ll return one day, although it’s not saying how that might happen. Its chances aren’t all that hot at the moment. While Kansas might not look good as the only state to (effectively) kick out Uber, any change of heart would require new legislation or a big concession on Uber’s part, neither of which is likely in the current political climate.

[Image credit: Getty Images]

Filed under: Transportation, Internet

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Via: CNN Money

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Sure, Twitter’s Periscope app will tell you which of your friends are streaming, but what if you want to find out who’s broadcasting the local baseball game? You won’t have that problem for much longer. Periscope chief Kayvon Beykpour has revealed that the app will soon get a way to find streams in a given area. It won’t be so precise that you can creep on others, but it could be helpful for following protests and other unfolding events without having to get a link from someone else. Beykpour suggests that the map-based browsing is coming soon, so you shouldn’t have to wait long before Periscope is as good at helping you discover streams as it is for watching them.

Filed under: Cellphones, Internet, Mobile

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In an attempt to prevent terrorist attacks, the French Parliament has approved a new surveillance law that gives unprecedented access to intelligence agencies. According to the BBC, the new bill was drafted three days after the Charlie Hebdo killings. While the government insists that the intelligence-gathering systems will monitor suspicious activities, defenders of civil liberties believe it allows the state to carry out mass surveillance without distinction. Despite the debate, the decision to pass the bill was almost unanimous. Both the ruling Socialists and opposition voted in favor of it.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls says the bill is not like America’s Patriot Act. But, the new data collection tactics seem equally intrusive. Internet service providers will now be forced to make massive amounts of metadata available to the intelligence agencies. A nine-person committee will watch over the surveillance activities and will be able to advise the Prime Minister, but it won’t have the power to overrule him. The law has been fast tracked and is expected to be in the statute books by July.

[Image credit: aurélien/Flickr]

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Comcast’s Xfinity Home has been automating living spaces for a while, but now the company is opening up the cloud-based system to more gadgets. Starting this summer, customers can add devices from August, Automatic, Cuff, Leeo, Lutron, Rachio, SkyBell and Whistle to the kit that already wrangles motion sensors, connected outlets, cameras and more. We’re talking about things like August’s smart locks, Automatic’s car tracker and Cuff’s smart jewelery. What’s more, Comcast is teaming up with Nest as part of the Works with Nest effort to bring that smart thermostat into the fold, too. In addition to those new partners, Comcast will open up an SDK later this year alongside a Works with Xfinity Home certification program to make sure approved devices can be used with minimal headaches.

Filed under: Household, Internet

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The sequel to the beloved 2008 parkour game Mirror’s Edge is scheduled to release in early 2016 for consoles and PC, EA’s quarterly financial presentation reveals (PDF). EA announced a new Mirror’s Edge during E3 2014, but didn’t provide any information about the release window, platforms or gameplay details, so this is the best we have so far. EA’s financial presentation suggests the game will launch on consoles and PC within the same window, from January 1st to March 31st next year. Keep the Faith, folks.

Filed under: Gaming, HD

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3D printing has resulted in solid solutions like cartilages, organ replicas and even tortoise shells. But Disney Research now has a printer that can create soft, bendable objects – think 3D printing stuffed toys. The mechanics of the printer are similar to conventional machines that use plastics or metals, except this one works with fabric to create flexible and functional objects. Most additive 3D printers are designed to deposit materials in a specific spot, but fabric requires an alternative technique that imitates sewing or layering.

The researchers came up with a two-step printing process suited to fabric. First, a laser beam cuts through a sheet to create 2D shapes. The process retains the fabric surrounding the designated shape so it’s easier for the sheets to sit on top of each other in the next step. Every laser-cut sheet is then layered and fused together with a heat sensitive adhesive that’s commonly used in sewing. When printing is complete, the excess fabric is peeled off to reveal the object. For now, the researchers printed a bright red bunny prototype that demonstrates the cuddly possibilities and also a touch sensor with conductive materials that could join the next generation of interactive devices.

[Image credit: Disney Research]

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The Intercept has released a new document from Edward Snowden’s cache of government files describing how the NSA has been converting voice calls to searchable text documents for nearly a decade. The NSA has long monitored signals intelligence (SIGNIT) around the world (as is its primary function), especially in active combat zones like Afghanistan and Iraq as well as in Latin America. Traditionally, this sort of data gathering required that a live operator listen in on calls and translate them in real-time. However, the NSA has reportedly developed what it calls “Google for Voice”; an automated system that provides a rough but keyword searchable transcription. According to the documents, the NSA has also developed analytical programs and sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations for human review.

What’s more, these do so on an automated and industrial scale, allowing the NSA to monitor larger amounts of the total SIGNIT traffic within a given region. Granted, these transcriptions aren’t perfect — they’re pretty rough in fact — but as NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake explained to The Intercept, “But even if it’s not 100 percent, I can still get a lot more information. It’s far more accessible. I can search against it. The breakthrough was being able to do it on a vast scale.”

[Image Credit: Getty]

Filed under: Internet, Google

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Quasi-legal music streaming service Grooveshark shutdown earlier this month as part of a settlement agreement with major labels. But the internet wouldn’t let it die. A mysterious team has resurrected the service. One of the team, an individual who calls himself Shark, told BGR, “well, I started backing up all the content on the website when I started suspecting that Grooveshark’s demise is close and my suspicion was confirmed a few days later when they closed.” The relaunched music-stealing site is a shadow of its former self, but Shark’s team hopes to recreate the defunct site’s entire UI experience including playlists and favorites. It’s unclear if the team is affiliated in any way with the former Grooveshark. Whoever they are, the team behind this zombie version of the site should expect the same type of copyright lawsuits from record labels.

Filed under: Internet

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All signs point to a completely revamped Apple TV being in the works. For now, however, the growth of the platform doesn’t appear to be slowing down — even as new hardware and software loom on the horizon. Today, CBS Sports and USA Now launched their on-demand streaming channels on Apple TV, bringing even more entertainment content to owners of the $69 set-top box. While neither channel offers access to live shows, there’s still plenty to watch from both networks, including full episodes and a robust set of shorter length videos. If you’re in the US, you should see these on your Apple TV’s home screen now — otherwise they will be showing up soon.

Filed under: Home Entertainment, Internet, Software, HD, Apple

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Back when we saw Connected Cycle’s smart bike pedals at CES in January we were pretty impressed by its plan to track activity and location; now you have a chance to get in on the action. The outfit’s smart pedals recently hit crowdfunding site IndieGoGo where the campaign has already hit 171 percent of its funding goal. Since we last saw them, the duration limit on included data plans has been lifted for backers and CC is working on design modifications so the pedals accommodate “standardized” foot straps.

The discounted early-bird backer levels are already gone of course, so if you want a pair of the anti-theft and activity tracking pedals they’ll run you $149. As the campaign page tells it, that’s still a $71 savings over retail. As it stands, they’re probably a little overkill if you’re riding a Huffy from Kmart but anyone who’s dropped serious coin on something along the lines of a Cannondale or Fuji probably can’t put a price on peace of mind.

Connected Cycle Pedals – Indiegogo Campaign Film from Christian Kravanja on Vimeo.

Filed under: Transportation, Software, Mobile

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Telesurgery has the potential to bring surgeons in contact with patients anywhere, any time. In a remote robotic-assisted surgery, a doctor would be able to guide a mechanical device at a far away location to perform the procedure. The use of robotics in surgeries has been successful, as long as the operator and the device are in the same OR. But putting distance between the two has been problematic. The whole process relies on a strong network or Internet for connectivity, which invariably results in some amount of latency. Even the slightest lag can have serious implications. With a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Florida Hospital Nicholson Center has completed a series of tests that reveal improvements in bandwidth technology are making telesurgery safer.

For telesurgery to become a viable option, it’s essential to know how much latency a surgeon can tolerate before it starts to impact the outcome. The center’s tests concluded that a lag of up to 200 milliseconds (about the same time as the blink of an eye) didn’t affect a surgeon’s ability. 107 experienced surgeons completed simulated exercises, both with and without induced latency for comparable results. Most of those surgeons noticed a delay between 300 and 500 milliseconds and were able to compensate for it, but anything higher was considered too risky.

Telesurgery is of particular interest to the US military because it promises to make the best healthcare available to wounded soldiers near a battlefield. With that in mind, most remote surgery experiments have been focused on overcoming harsh environments and long distances. “These discovered that all of the necessary pieces were not in place yet to provide telesurgery to soldiers,” says Dr Roger Smith, Chief Technology Officer at the Nicholson Center. “But they did not measure what was possible in a technology-rich environment.”

Unlike previous tests, which highlighted the failures of the system, the center tested distances where telesurgery could be successful. “Our research focused on finding out what is possible right now at short distances and well-equipped hospitals,” he says. “Then we will step out from there until we find the threshold where the system breaks down.” Their simulated telesurgery tests covered a 1,200-mile distance, from Celebration, Florida to Fort Worth in Texas.

Latency has been the biggest obstacle so far. But it isn’t the only thing that prevents telesurgery from being accessible to the military or the public. “The challenges are in security, social acceptance, and legal constraints,” says Dr. Smith. “Without more clear answers in those areas, no company will invest the millions necessary to create a robotic system for telesurgery.”

[Image credit: Nicholson Center]

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