An Intel drone fell on my head during a light show

It didn’t hurt. I thought someone dropped a small cardboard box on my head. It felt sharp and light. I was sitting on the floor, along the back of the crowd and then an Intel Shooting Star Mini drone dropped on my head. Audi put on a massive show to reveal its first EV, the e-tron. The automaker went all out, put journalists, executives and car dealers on a three-story paddle boat and sent us on a two-hour journey across San Francisco Bay. I had a beer and two dumplings. We were headed to a long-vacated Ford manufacturing plant in Richmond, CA. By the time we reached our destination, the sun had set and Audi was ready to begin. Suddenly, in front of the boat, Intel’s Shooting Star drones put on a show that ended with Audi’s trademark four ring logo. The show continued as music pounded inside the
Continue reading "An Intel drone fell on my head during a light show"

Committed to privacy, Snips founder wants to take on Alexa and Google, with blockchain

Earlier this year we saw the headlines of how the users of popular voice assistants like Alexa and Siri and continue to face issues when their private data is compromised, or even sent to random people. In May it was reported that Amazon’s Alexa recorded a private conversation and sent it to a random contact. Amazon insists its Echo devices aren’t always recording, but it did confirm the audio was sent.

The story could be a harbinger of things to come when voice becomes more and more ubiquitous. After all, Amazon announced the launch of Alexa for Hospitality, its Alexa system for hotels, in June. News stories like this simply reinforce the idea that voice control is seeping into our daily lives. The French startup Snips thinks it might have an answer to the issue of security and data privacy. Its built its software to run 100% on-device, independently from
Continue reading "Committed to privacy, Snips founder wants to take on Alexa and Google, with blockchain"

The Punkt MP02 inches closer to what a minimalist phone ought to be

There’s an empty space in my heart for a minimalist phone with only the most basic functions. Bad for my heart, but good for a handful of companies putting out devices aiming to fill it. Punkt’s latest, the MP02, goes a little ways to making the device I desire, but it isn’t quite there yet. Punkt’s first device included just texting and calling, which would likely have worked as intended if not for the inconvenient choice to have it connect only to 2G networks. These networks are being shut down and replaced all over the world, so you would have ended up with a phone that was even more limited than you expected. The MP02 is the sequel, and it adds a couple useful features. It runs on 4G LTE networks, which should keep it connected for years to come, and it has gained both threaded texting (rather than
Continue reading "The Punkt MP02 inches closer to what a minimalist phone ought to be"

Nintendo is offering an exclusive Fortnite bundle with the Switch

Fortnite has taken the world by storm. In fact, the game is so popular that Epic has released versions for PC, Xbox, PS4, iOS, Android and the Nintendo Switch, making the game about as accessible as possible. The popularity of the game stems from the general popularity of the Battle Royale genre and popular streamers like Ninja, who have made the game so much fun to watch. But it also comes from the fun, and often fleeting, skins, dances and pick axes the game offers in its Item Shop. On October 5th, folks interested in the Switch can pick up some extra Fortnite swag.

Nintendo is releasing a bundle that will include an exclusive

Continue reading "Nintendo is offering an exclusive Fortnite bundle with the Switch"

Spire Health Tags are now on Apple’s shelves

Spire’s Health Tags, the dark and tiny devices you stick on your clothes to gather all sorts of health data from your steps, heartbeat and stress levels is now available at your local Apple Store. The company started out with a breath tracking device to detect when you are feeling tense and help calm you down. But four years in and its now all about the wearable “tags” you stick on items of clothing like your pants or sports bra. Yes, yes, there are lots of gadgets out there to gather similar information — the Apple Watch will now even detect if you have a fall or something is wrong with your heart — but the Spire health tag is nothing like a Fitbit or Apple Watch, according to the company. For one, there’s zero need to charge the device. One tag’s battery will last a year and a half
Continue reading "Spire Health Tags are now on Apple’s shelves"

WHILL raises $45M to help people with disabilities get around airports and other large venues

WHILL, the startup known for creating sleek, high-tech personal mobility devices, announced today that it has closed a $45 million Series C. The funding will be used for expanding into new international markets, as well as developing new products for large venues, including airports and “last-mile” sidewalk transportation. The round’s lead investors were SBI Investment, Daiwa Securities Group and WHIZ Partners, with participation from returning investors INCJ, Eight Road Ventures, MSIVC, Nippon Venture Capital, DG Incubation and Mizuho Capital. This brings WHILL’s total funding so far to about $80 million. Founded in Tokyo in 2012, WHILL plans to open a branch in the European Union and enter 10 new European countries. It also plans to start working with partners on developing autonomous capabilities for its mobility devices, senior marketing manager Jeff Yoshioka told TechCrunch. The company will build its own sensors and cameras to use in its “mobility as
Continue reading "WHILL raises $45M to help people with disabilities get around airports and other large venues"

Not to be overshadowed by the Apple Watch, AliveCor announces a new 6-lead ECG reader

Apple’s announcement last week of a Watch with an FDA-approved ECG reader to track heart health looked to be the undoing of original ECG reader company AliveCor. But, to prove it still has a hearty pulse, AliveCor tells TechCrunch it is coming out with a “never-before-seen” 6-lead electrocardiogram (ECG), pending FDA approval. In a care clinic, a patient typically has 12 leads, or stickers placed across their chest to pick up data from their heart. However, other ECG readers typically have one or two leads. The Apple Watch places a single lead system on the wrist. The 6-lead ECG reader is, in theory, more accurate because there are more sensors picking up more information, which could be critical in saving lives. AliveCor’s and the Apple Watch’s current function is to pick up AFib — or the detection of an irregular heart beat. AliveCor announced earlier this month it had received
Continue reading "Not to be overshadowed by the Apple Watch, AliveCor announces a new 6-lead ECG reader"

Five security settings in iOS 12 you should change right now

iOS 12, Apple’s latest mobile software for iPhone and iPad, is finally out. The new software packs in a bunch of new security and privacy features you’ve probably already heard about. Here’s what you need to do to take advantage of the new settings and lock down your device.

1. Turn on USB Restricted Mode to make hacking more difficult

This difficult-to-find new feature prevents any accessories from connecting to your device — like USB cables and headphones — when your iPhone or iPad has been locked for more than an hour. That prevents police and hackers alike from using tools to bypass your lock screen passcode and get your data. Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode and type in your passcode. Then, scroll down and ensure that USB Accessories are not permitted on the lock screen, so make sure the setting is Off.

2. Make sure automatic
Continue reading "Five security settings in iOS 12 you should change right now"

Zortrax launches a new high-speed, high-resolution printer, the Inkspire

Zortrax has launched a new printer, the Inkspire, that prints using an LCD to create objects in high-quality resin in minutes. The printer – essentially an upgrade to traditional stereolithography (SLA) printers – uses a single frame of light to create layers of 25 microns. Most SLA printers use a laser or DLP to shine a pattern on the resin. The light hardens the resin instantly, creating a layer of material that the printer then pulls up and out as the object grows. The UV LCD in the $2,699 Inkspire throws an entire layer at a time and is nine times more precise than standard SLA systems. It can print 20 to 36 millimeters per hour and the system can print objects in serial, allowing you to to print hundreds of thousands of small objects per month. “The printer is also perfect for rapid prototyping of tiny yet incredibly detailed
Continue reading "Zortrax launches a new high-speed, high-resolution printer, the Inkspire"

OnePlus is developing its own smart TV

Smartphone upstart OnePlus’s upcoming 6T flagship promises to bring changes — it’ll see it ditch the headphone jack and sport an in-screen fingerprint reader — but first there’s something else. OnePlus is developing its first smart TV. CEO Pete Lau revealed the details today, explaining that the device will mark the five-year-old company’s next step to “building a connected human experience.” “For most of us, there are four major environments we experience each day: the home, the workplace, the commute, and being on-the-move. The home – perhaps the most important environment experience – is just starting to enjoy the benefits of intelligent connectivity,” he wrote on the company’s website. “We want to bring the home environment to the next level of intelligent connectivity. To do this, we are building a new product of OnePlus’ premium flagship design, image quality and audio experience to more seamlessly connect the home,”
✍
Continue reading "OnePlus is developing its own smart TV"

Amazon taps Getty to provide images for visual searches on the Echo Show and Echo Spot

On the heels of the Getty family regaining control of Getty Images, reportedly for about $3 billion, the company is announcing a move to expand use of its images to a wider set of eyeballs. It will now work with Amazon to provide images from its catalog of 200 million digital images to populate searches on its screen-based Echo Show and Echo Spot devices. The deal also comes amid rumors of a supposed launch of a screen-based Google Home device (made by the king of search, Google) to compete with the Echo Show, ahead of the holiday season. It’s not clear if the Getty deal will mean that those building skills for the Echo devices will also be able to tap the Getty catalog, or if this is just for Amazon’s basic search feature — or something in between. We have contacted Amazon and Getty to ask and will update
Continue reading "Amazon taps Getty to provide images for visual searches on the Echo Show and Echo Spot"

Everyday home gear made smart

Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and TechCrunch may earn affiliate commissions. If you only have one smart home device, it’s likely something simple and fun like a voice-controlled speaker or color-changing LED light bulb. As you expand your smart home setup, you can begin to swap out gear that isn’t as flashy but you still use everyday. Switching to connected locks, power outlets and smoke alarms are all simple installs that can improve your safety and comfort in your own home. We’ve pulled together some of our favorite essentials made smart for anyone looking to upgrade. Smart lock: Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock 2nd Gen
Continue reading "Everyday home gear made smart"

The iPhone SE was the best phone Apple ever made, and now it’s dead

I only wanted one thing out of 2018’s iPhone event: a new iPhone SE. In failing to provide it Apple seems to have quietly put the model out to pasture — and for this I curse them eternally. Because it was the best phone the company ever made. If you were one of the many who passed over the SE back in 2015, when it made its debut, that’s understandable. The iPhone 6S was the latest and greatest, and of course fixed a few of the problems Apple had kindly introduced with the entirely new design of the 6. But for me the SE was a perfect match. See, I’ve always loved the iPhone design that began with the 4. That storied phone is perhaps best remembered for being left in a bar ahead of release and leaked by Gizmodo — which is too bad, because for once the product
Continue reading "The iPhone SE was the best phone Apple ever made, and now it’s dead"

Kegel trainer startup Elvie is launching a smaller, smarter, hands-free breast pump

Elvie, a Berlin-based startup known best for its connected Kegel trainer is jumping into the breast pump business with a new $480 hands-free system you can slip into your bra. Even with all the innovation in baby gear, breast pumps have mostly sucked (pun intended) for new moms for the past half a century. My first experience with a pump required me to stay near a wall socket and hunch over for a good twenty to thirty minutes for fear the milk collected might spill all over the place (which it did anyway, frequently). It was awful! Next I tried the Willow Pump, an egg-shaped, connected pump meant to liberate women everywhere with its small and mobile design. It received glowing reviews, though my experience with it was less than stellar. The proprietary bags were hard to fit in the device, filled up with air, cost 50 cents
Continue reading "Kegel trainer startup Elvie is launching a smaller, smarter, hands-free breast pump"

3DHubs, once a community 3D printing service, is now sourcing all 3D prints internally

3D Hubs, like MakeXYZ, was a community-based 3D printing service that let anyone with a printer sell their prints online. Founded in the heyday of the 3D printing revolution, the service let thousands of makers gather a little cash for making and mailing prints on their home 3D printers. Now, however, the company has moved to a model in which its high-end partners will be manufacturing plastic, metal, and injection molded parts for customers willing to pay extra for a professional print. “Indeed, more focus on high end printers run by professional companies,” said founder Brian Garret. “So a smaller pool of manufacturing locations (still hundreds around the world), but with more control on standardized quality and repeatability. Our software takes care of the sourcing, so companies order with 3D Hubs directly.” Not everyone is happy with the decision. 3DPrint.come editor Joris Peels saw the value
😥
Continue reading "3DHubs, once a community 3D printing service, is now sourcing all 3D prints internally"

Mercedes-Benz turns to SoundHound for in-vehicle voice assistant

Drivers of new Mercedes-Benz A-Class vehicles will soon be able to talk to their cars. And the cars will respond. Ask the car to turn on the heads-up display or for sports scores. Say you’re hungry and it will suggest restaurants. The new in-vehicle assistant utilizes local and cloud data to provide drivers plenty to talk about. The service was built by a 13-year old startup ran out of Santa Clara, CA called SoundHound . Originally, the company launched as a Shazam-like service but kept evolving into a robust conversational artificial intelligence service. Different versions of SoundHound’s service are available on a number of platforms including iOS, Android and in several vehicles made by Kia and Hyundai. Mercedes’ version of SoundHound’s service is two parts. Some of the requests, mostly about the vehicle’s systems, are processed locally. If a driver asks about sports scores or stock prices or a gas station
Continue reading "Mercedes-Benz turns to SoundHound for in-vehicle voice assistant"

Watch this robot fly like a real insect

The DelFly is a super light, super agile robot that flies like a real insect. By using a quad-wing flapping system, this odd little bot can flit, hover, and land like a fruit fly. Part of a research project at the Delft University of Technology, this is the latest version of the DelFly and it can now perform high speed maneuvers including rapid turns. From the release:
The so far unmatched combination of performances makes the lightweight (and thus inherently safe) natural-looking robot ready for many real-world tasks. At the same time, the high agility, combined with the programmability of the robot, opens up a new way of studying insect flight dynamics and control during high agility maneuvers, such as rapid banked turns observed in fruit-flies when evading predators.
The robot flies by rolling in the air and it has four wings to control three axes of flight. It
Continue reading "Watch this robot fly like a real insect"

Nintendo’s NES Switch controllers activate the nostalgia centers (and wallets) of retro gamers

The news that Nintendo would be adding NES games to the Switch as part of its paid online service had a mixed reception, but the company has made up for this controversial decision by releasing wireless NES controllers to play those games with. At $60 they’re a bit steep, but come on. You know you’re going to buy them eventually. Probably next week. The controllers were revealed during the latest Nintendo Direct video news dump, alongside a host of other nostalgia bombs, like a new Animal Crossing and about a million Final Fantasy ports. But first the details of those sweet, sweet controllers. They’re definitely NES-style down to the buttons, meaning they aren’t going to replace your existing Switch Joy-Cons. There’s no force feedback, no shoulder buttons, no gyros. So why do they cost so much? Because Nintendo. At least they’re wireless and they charge up by slotting onto the
Continue reading "Nintendo’s NES Switch controllers activate the nostalgia centers (and wallets) of retro gamers"

JBL’s smart display combines Google smarts with good sound

If you’re looking for a smart display that’s powered by the Google Assistant, you now have two choices: the Lenovo Smart Display and the JBL Link View. Lenovo was first out of the gate with its surprisingly stylish gadget, but it also left room for improvement. JBL, given its heritage as an audio company, is putting the emphasis on sound quality, with stereo speakers and a surprising amount of bass. In terms of the overall design, the Link View isn’t going to win any prizes, but its pill shape definitely isn’t ugly either. JBL makes the Link View in any color you like, as long as that’s black. It’ll likely fit in with your home decor, though. The Link View has an 8-inch high-definition touchscreen that is more than crisp enough for the maps, photos and YouTube videos you’ll play on it. In using it for the last two weeks, the
Continue reading "JBL’s smart display combines Google smarts with good sound"

Kano’s latest computer kit for kids doubles down on touch

Learn-to-code startup Kano, whose products aim to turn kids into digital makers, has taken the wraps off the latest incarnation of its build-it-yourself computer kit. With the new flagship Kano is doubling down on touch interactions — urging kids to “make your own tablet”. The Computer Kit Touch packs a 10.1″ HD touchscreen, along with Kano’s now familiar bright orange wireless keyboard which comes with a built in trackpad. While touch is becoming increasingly central to its products, Kano says the keyboard remains an important component of the product — supporting text-based coding apps which its platform also provides access to, as well as the more approachable drag-and-drop block-based coding systems that do really benefit from having a touchscreen to hand. The kit, which Kano says is generally (but not exclusively) aimed at the 6-13 age range, is on sale from today, priced at $279.99 — via its website
Continue reading "Kano’s latest computer kit for kids doubles down on touch"