Tag Archives: Gadget Reviews

Scientists turn spinach into a farm for human heart cells

The result is a safe and potentially ideal bed for growing heart tissue. Existing approaches to generating heart cells, such as 3D printing, aren’t good at replicating the extremely complex network of veins needed to grow cells — spinach already has that. And when cellulose is bio-compatible, you don’t have to worry about hostile interactions between the heart cells and their host.

As is often the case with this kind of research, it’ll be a long while before this method is ready for practical use. If it pans out, though, it could lead to an affordable and eco-friendly of growing replacement tissue for heart attack patients. You could potentially apply this to other body replacements, too — the researchers suggest that wood’s structure might be helpful for generating bone. They’ve already applied this method to parsley, peanut hairy roots and sweet wormwood, so it’s more a question of finding use cases than overcoming technical hurdles.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/27/scientists-turn-spinach-into-human-heart-cell-farm/

The Morning After: Monday, March 27th 2017

4K graphics, reworked audio and even story improvements.‘StarCraft: Remastered’ upgrades a real-time strategy classic

Blizzard is legendary for keeping old games alive, but it’s going the extra mile this time around. The studio has unveiled StarCraft: Remastered, an overhaul that drags the 1998 real-time strategy game into the modern era. It’s getting the obligatory fresh coat of paint, including higher-resolution graphics and improved audio. The team is also using this as an excuse to ‘fix’ the game by adding content and features you take for granted. Multiplayer fans will see features that have been a staple of newer Blizzard titles, including “advanced” matchmaking, ladder play and social features. You’ll also have cloud saves for everything from your solo progress to custom maps and key bindings. About the only thing that won’t change is the core gameplay.

The retailer plans to expand its non-gaming businesses.Digital downloads killed 150 GameStop stores

It’s game over for at least 150 GameStop stores. The retailer has announced that it’s shutting down 2 to 3 percent of 7,500 shops across the globe after sales and earning plummeted last year. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company was affected by the shift to digital downloads. More and more people now prefer installing their games straight from their console’s online store instead of buying physical copies, that GameStop’s sales dropped 14 percent in 2016.

Travel through space on your porcelain throne.
Toto hopes to woo you with its high-tech toilet showroom

High-functioning toilets have long been a mainstay in Asian households, but the concept is still something of a curiosity in much of the Western world. Toto, Japan’s biggest toilet maker, has attempted to market its high-tech commodes to American audiences for decades with little success. The company is trying to change all this with a brand new “experiential” showroom that launched this week in San Francisco. It’s called Concept 190, and it’s equipped with four sensor-laden bathrooms where visitors are invited to pee, poo and have a toilet experience unlike anything they’ve had before.

Automakers may have to ignore the feds’ attempts to loosen rules.
California’s new car emission standards defy the White House

The Trump administration may be rethinking car efficiency regulations, but that isn’t stopping California. The state’s Air Resources Board has finalized car emissions standards for 2022-2025 that the White House still wants to review, creating the potential for a conflict if federal officials rethink the rules.

‘Not taking risks’Uber suspends self-driving tests following an Arizona crash

Uber isn’t taking any chances in the wake of its self-driving car accident in Tempe, Arizona. The company has suspended both its Arizona testing and its Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania operations while it investigates what happened. The company has confirmed that its vehicle was in self-driving mode at the time, but adds that there were no serious injuries on either side of the collision, and “no backseat passengers” in Uber’s autonomous Volvo.

‘Hi! I’m Alexa. How may I help?’
Amazon considers opening augmented reality furniture stores

Amazon’s retail plans could extend well beyond books and groceries. New York Times sources hear that the internet giant is “exploring” the possibility of appliance and furniture stores with a technological angle. You’d use augmented or virtual reality to see how items would look in your own home, making it easier to pull the trigger on that new couch or stove. Amazon might directly challenge some of its tech rivals in retail too. Just as long as Alexa doesn’t try to sell me a sofa on interest-free credit.

But wait, there’s more…

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/27/the-morning-after-monday-march-27th-2017/

Amazon considers opening augmented reality furniture stores

Reportedly, Amazon is mulling an electronics store that would be similar in concept to Apple’s shops. While Amazon’s bookstores already carry some of its devices, these would have a “heavy emphasis” on hardware and services like Echo speakers and Prime Video.

The Times is quick to point out that talking about stores isn’t the same as definitive plans. There’s a chance that Amazon will scrap the ideas if they prove to be unworkable. Even if that happens, this still shows just how much Amazon’s philosophy has changed over the years. It was originally known for rendering physical stores obsolete — now, it seems bent on reinvigorating retail by using its internet expertise as an advantage. The furniture and electronics stores in particular would represent an admission that shoppers still want hands-on time with products when possible, even if they’re happy to purchase online.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/26/amazon-furniture-and-electronics-stores/

‘Black box’ technique may lead to more powerful AI

The system starts with many random parameters, makes guesses, and then tweaks follow-up guesses to favor the more successful candidates, gradually whittling things down to the ideal answer. You may start with a million numbers, but you’ll end up with just one in the end.

It sounds a bit mysterious, but the benefits are easy to understand. The technique eliminates a lot of the traditional cruft in training neural networks, making the code both easier to implement and roughly two to three times faster. And when ‘workers’ in this scheme only need to share tiny bits of data with each other, the method scales elegantly the more processor cores you throw at a problem. In tests, a large supercomputer with 1,440 cores could train a humanoid to walk in 10 minutes versus 10 hours for a typical setup, and even a “lowly” 720-core system could do in 1 hour what a 32-core system would take a full day to accomplish.

There’s a long way to go before you see the black box approach used in real-world AI. However, the practical implications are clear: neural network operators could spend more time actually using their systems instead of training them. And as computers get ever faster, this increases the likelihood that this kind of learning can effectively happen in real time. You could eventually see robots that are very quick to adapt to new tasks and learn from mistakes.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/26/black-box-strategy-helps-neural-networks/

3D-printed cartilage cell implants thrive in baby mice

Somewhere in Sweden, a few lab mice have human cartilage cells living and growing within their bodies. A team of researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and Sahlgrenska Academy used a CELLINK 3D bioprinter to make hydrogel out of human-derived cartilage cells. They then implanted the gels into six-week-old mice and found “something that begins to resemble cartilage” after 60 days. The researchers are working towards being able to use 3D bioprinting to create body parts for patients who need them. While they’re far from achieving that goal, this particular experiment proves that it’s a possibility in the future.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/25/3d-printed-cartilage-cell-implants-baby-mice/

Uber CEO linked to escort bar visit that resulted in an HR complaint

All of this has become news now, apparently, because in the last month Michael contacted Holzwarth in an attempt to stop the trip from becoming public knowledge, telling her to simply say they went to karaoke and had a good time. His statement, which is quoted in the article, reads: “Given the intense news cycle I thought it was the right thing to do to reach out and let her know that reporters may try to contact her directly. I have known her for a long time, consider her a friend and did not want her to be taken by surprise. Her recollection of this conversation was different from mine and I am very sorry if the purpose of my call was misunderstood.”

A statement from Uber says that “This all happened about three years ago and was previously reported to human resources. In early March it was referred to Eric Holder and Tammy Albarran as part of their review.”


As far as the accident, a picture posted on Twitter showed one of Uber’s self-driving Volvo SUVs laying on its side in the road. It’s next to a Ford Edge showing serious damage along the passenger side. The Arizona Republic spoke to a policeman who says that a vehicle failed to yield while making a left turn and collided with the self-driving car before a third car was hit by one of the first two vehicles. Thankfully, no serious injuries have been reported. The company is aware of the incident, but so far we don’t have any other information and don’t know if the car was in self-driving mode at the time of the accident.

As I noted the last time Uber had two negative stories break almost simultaneously, a slew of self-inflicted wounds have already damaged the company’s credibility. Emil Michael is the same exec who openly discussed hiring investigators to dig up dirt, and these Volvos are on Arizona streets because California temporarily banned them.

We keep hearing that Uber and its executives — including Kalanick, who just met with Jesse Jackson on an apology tour — will change, but the bad stories seem to stay the same, whether they’re about internal obliviousness about the problems with its workplace culture or making sure its self-driving cars are safe before they’re let loose on public streets.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/25/uber-ceo-kalanick-self-driving-car-crash/