Nintendo introduces a Switch model refresh with better battery life


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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Nintendo already announced an entirely new Switch console this month, the Switch Lite, and now it’s bumping some of the specs on the existing Switch with a slightly updated version, spotted by The Verge. This update improves the hardware right where it counts when it comes to Switch portable playing power.

The new model will provide between 4.5 and 9 hours of battery life, depending on use, which is a big bump from the 2.5 to 6.5 hour rating on the original hardware that’s been offered to date. This is likely an improvement derived from a change in the processor used in the console, as well as more power-efficient memory, both of which were detailed in an FCC filing from last week.

Nintendo’s official Switch comparison page lists the models with improved battery life as model number ‘HAC-001(-01), with the bracketed addition distinguishing it from the

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Nexar’s Live Map is like Street View with pictures from 5 minutes ago


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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We all rely on maps to get where we’re going or investigate a neighborhood for potential brunch places, but the data we’re looking at is often old, vague, or both. Nexar, maker of dashcam apps and cameras, aims to put fresh and specific data on your map with images from the street taken only minutes before.

If you’re familiar with dash cams, and you’re familiar with Google’s Street View, then you can probably already picture what Live Map essentially is. It’s not quite as easy to picture how it works or why it’s useful.

Nexar sells dash cams and offers an app that turns your phone into one temporarily, and the business has been doing well, with thousands of active users on the streets of major cities at any given time. Each node of this network of gadgets shares information with the other nodes — warning of traffic snarls, potholes,

nexar zoom
Detection Filtering

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Voyant Photonics raises $4.3M to fit lidar on the head of a pin


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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Lidar is a critical method by which robots and autonomous vehicles sense the world around them, but the lasers and sensors generally take up a considerable amount of space. Not so with Voyant Photonics, which has created a lidar system that you really could conceivably balance on the head of a pin.

Before getting into the science, it’s worth noting why this is important. Lidar is most often used as a way for a car to sense things at a medium distance — far away, radar can outperform it, and up close ultrasonics and other methods are more compact. But from a few feet to a couple hundred feed out, lidar is very useful.

Unfortunately even the most compact lidar solutions today are still, roughly, the size of a hand, and the ones ready for use in production vehicles are still larger. A very small lidar unit that could be

LIDAR Fingertip Crop
photonics testbed

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Sony’s new A7R IV camera is a 61 MP full-frame mirrorless beast


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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Sony unveiled the latest in its line of interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras on Tuesday, debuting the A7R IV, its top-of-the-line full-frame digital shooter aimed at pros. The new camera packs a walloping 61-megapixel sensor, and will retail for $3,500 when it goes on sale this September.

The camera’s image resolution is a “world first” for a 35mm equivalent full-frame digital sensor, Sony notes, and that’s not where the improvements on this successor to the wildly popular A7R III ends: The A7R IV also has 10fps rapid shooting with continuous autofocus and autoexposure tracking capabilities; 567 phase-detect autofocus points that cover 74% of the frame; real-time eye autofocus tracking for stills and movies, which can handle both human and animal subjects; 4K movie recording without any pixel binning and with S-Log 2/3 support for editing (although without a 60p mode, as it caps out at 30p); ISO range of 100-32000

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Petcube’s Bites 2 and Play 2 amuse pets and humans alike with Alexa built-in


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Petcube’s original Bites smart treat dispenser and Play pet camera with a built-in laser pointer were great for pet parents who couldn’t always be around to hang out with their furry charges, but the new Bites 2 and Play 2 come with one big new upgrade that make them far more versatile than the original: They both double as Alexa-powered smart speaker devices.

Both the Bites 2 and Play 2 can hear and respond to Alexa requests, with a four-microphone array that in my limited testing actually outperforms the Alexa mics built into my Sonos One and Sonos Beam speakers, which is pretty impressive for devices whose main features are serving up treats and keeping an eye on your pets. That’s on top of the Bites 2 being able to remotely dispense treats for your pet, and the Play 2 providing playtime away from home with a built-in laser pointer

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Hero Labs raises £2.5M for its ultrasonic device to monitor a property’s water use and prevent leaks


This post is by Steve O'Hear from TechCrunch


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Hero Labs, a London-based startup that is developing “smart” technology to help prevent water leaks in U.K. properties, has raised £2.5 million in seed funding. The round is led by Earthworm Group, an environmental fund manager, with further support via a £300,000 EU innovation grant and a number of unnamed private investors.

The new capital will be used by Hero Labs to accelerate development of its first product: a smart device dubbed “Sonic” that uses ultrasonic technology to monitor water use within a property, including the early detection of water leaks.

Founded in 2018 by Krystian Zajac after he exited Neos, a smart home insurer that was acquired by Aviva, Hero Labs was born out of the realisation that a lot of smart home technology either wasn’t very smart or didn’t solve mass problems (Zajac had also previously ran a smart home company focusing on ultra high

KZ Event

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Hero Labs raises £2.5M for its ultrasonic device to monitor a property’s water use and prevent leaks


This post is by Steve O'Hear from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Hero Labs, a London-based startup that is developing “smart” technology to help prevent water leaks in U.K. properties, has raised £2.5 million in seed funding. The round is led by Earthworm Group, an environmental fund manager, with further support via a £300,000 EU innovation grant and a number of unnamed private investors.

The new capital will be used by Hero Labs to accelerate development of its first product: a smart device dubbed “Sonic” that uses ultrasonic technology to monitor water use within a property, including the early detection of water leaks.

Founded in 2018 by Krystian Zajac after he exited Neos, a smart home insurer that was acquired by Aviva, Hero Labs was born out of the realisation that a lot of smart home technology either wasn’t very smart or didn’t solve mass problems (Zajac had also previously ran a smart home company focusing on ultra high

KZ Event

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Archinaut snags $73 million in NASA funding to 3-D print giant spacecraft parts in orbit


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A project to 3-D print bulky components in space rather than bring them up there has collected a $73.7 million contract from NASA to demonstrate the technique in space. Archinaut, a mission now several years in development from Made In Space, could launch as soon as 2022.

The problem at hand is this: If you want a spacecraft to have solar arrays 60 feet long, you need to bring 60 feet of structure for those arrays to attach to — they can’t just flap around like ribbons. But where do you stash a 60-foot pole, or two 30-foot ones, or even 10 six-foot ones when you only have a few cubic feet of space to put them in? It gets real complicated real fast to take items with even a single large dimension into space.

Archinaut’s solution is simple. Why not just take the material for that long

optimast3

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These robo-ants can work together in swarms to navigate tricky terrain


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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While the agility of a Spot or Atlas robot is something to behold, there’s a special merit reserved for tiny, simple robots that work not as a versatile individual but as an adaptable group. These “tribots” are built on the model of ants, and like them can work together to overcome obstacles with teamwork.

Developed by EPFL and Osaka University, tribots are tiny, light, and simple, moving more like inchworms than ants, but able to fling themselves up and forward if necessary. The bots themselves and the system they make up are modeled on trap-jaw ants, which alternate between crawling and jumping, and work (as do most other ants) in fluid roles like explorer, worker, and leader. Each robot is not itself very intelligent, but they are controlled as a collective that deploys their abilities intelligently.

In this case a team of tribots might be expected to get from

fly tribot fly

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Amazon reportedly ramps development on Alexa-powered home robot on wheels


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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Bloomberg reported last April that Amazon was working on a home robot codenamed ‘Vesta’ (after the Roman goddess of the hearth and home) last year, and now the publication says that development on the project continues. Plus, the report includes new details about the specifics of the robot, including that it will indeed support Alexa and have wheels to help it move around. My terrible artist’s rendering of what that could look like is above.

The plan for Vesta was apparently to release it this year, but it’s not yet quite ready for mass production, according to Bloomberg’s sources. And while it could end up mothballed and never see the light of day, as with any project being developed ahead of launch, the company is said to be putting more engineering and development resources into the team working on its release.

Current prototypes of the robot are said to be

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Amazon said to be launch new Echo speaker with premium sound next year


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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Amazon is reportedly looking to offer an Echo that more directly competes with high-end speakers like the Sonos line of device of Apple’s HomePod, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The speaker should be released sometime next year, according to the sources cited in the report, and will be somewhat wider than the existing Echo models (perhaps more akin to the Echo Sub, pictured above), packing in four separate tweeters to help boost the song quality.

It will, of course, also offer access to the company’s Alexa voice assistant, which is what has propelled Echo to its current level of success. Bloomberg notes that it’s also likely to work better for the high-fidelity audio version of Amazon’s music streaming service that has previously been reported to be in the works.

This could make for an interesting working relationship with some of Amazon’s existing partners, including Sonos, since it sounds

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Luminar eyes production vehicles with $100M round and new Iris lidar platform


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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Luminar is one of the major players in the new crop of lidar companies that have sprung up all over the world, and it’s moving fast to outpace its peers. Today the company announced a new $100M funding round, bringing its total raised to over $250M — as well as a perception platform and a new, compact lidar unit aimed at inclusion in actual cars. Big day!

The new hardware, called Iris, looks to be about a third of the size of the test unit Luminar has been sticking on vehicles thus far. That one was about the size of a couple hardbacks stacked up, and Iris is more like a really thick sandwich.

Size is very important, of course, since few cars just have caverns of unused space hidden away in prime surfaces like the corners and windshield area. Other lidar makers have lowered the profiles of their

Luminar IRIS AND TEST FLEET LiDARS
LUMINAR IRIS TRAFFIC JAM PILOT

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Nintendo Switch Lite’s trade-off of whimsy for practicality is a good one


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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Nintendo revealed a new Switch Lite version of its current-generation console today, which attaches the controllers permanently, shrinks the hardware a bit, and adds a touch more battery life – but it also takes away the ‘Switch’ part of the equation, because you can only use it handheld, instead of attached to a TV or as a unique tabletop gaming experience.

The changes mostly seem in service of brining the price down, since it will retail for $199 when it goes on sale in September. That’s $100 less than the original Switch, which is a big price cut and could open up the market for Nintendo to a whole new group of players. But it’s also a change that seems to take away a lot of what made the Switch special, including the ability to plug it into a TV for a big-screen experience, or quickly detach the Joy-Con

NSwitchLiteImageWallImg04 image950w

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YouTube lands on Fire TV and Amazon Prime Video arrives on Chromecast, Android TV


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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It’s nice when people can come together and work through their differences to make it easier to watch stuff. That’s exactly what happened today, when the long-standing detente between Google and Amazon over streaming video services came to an end, with YouTube arriving on Fire TV and Prime Video making its way to Chromecast and Android TV.

Amazon’s second-generation Fire TV Stick, their Fire TV Stick 4K, the Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Stick Basic Edition and Fire TV Edition smart TVs made by partner OEMs will all get support for the official YouTube app globally starting today, and Amazon intends to extend support to even more of its hardware in future. YouTube TV and YouTube Kids will also come to Amazon Fire TV device later this year.

On the Google side, both its own Chromecast devices, as well as partners TVs and hardware that support Chromecast built-in, or that

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The Raspberry Pi 4 doesn’t work with all USB-C cables


This post is by Romain Dillet from TechCrunch


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The Raspberry Pi 4 is a great little beast, but Tyler Ward identified a flaw in the USB Type-C connector. The Raspberry Pi Foundation confirmed to TechRepublic that the design flaw is real, and that your Raspberry Pi 4 might not work with all USB-C cables.

It’s not really a dealbreaker, but you can expect a future board revision with a proper implementation of the USB-C protocol. But if you find yourself scratching your head and you don’t understand why your Raspberry Pi is not powering up, now you know why.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has released the schematics of the board. And there’s a missing CC resistor that let sophisticated chargers negotiate current with the device.

Given that USB-C is a complicated connector, some cables are electronically marked, which means that they have an integrated chip to support a wide range of devices.

For instance, you can use

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Apple stops selling the 12-inch MacBook, a computer you either loved or were confused by


This post is by Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch


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Apple officially stopped selling the 12-inch MacBook today, a computer that hasn’t had an update since June 2017 and that is also maybe one of the most contentious Macs in Apple’s lineup. The 12-inch MacBook at one time seemed like Apple’s path forward (plenty of Apple fans and analysts saw it as a sign of things to come when it launched in 2015), but ultimately ended up representing some of Apple’s biggest challenges with its Macs in general.

The biggest indicator that Apple felt the MacBook was a showcase and crucial product was the name – it was just THE MacBook, without any addition epithets or qualifiers like “Air” or “Pro” (both of which predated its existence. And when it debuted, it brought a number of firsts for Apple’s laptop lineup, including USB-C for both data and power, a keyboard with butterfly mechanisms, a Force Touch trackpad and a new

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Mario creator Miyamoto counters cloud gaming hype (but don’t count Nintendo out)


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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Cloud gaming — however a company chooses to define that — is shaping up to be a big part of the next generation of consoles and other platforms. But Mario creator and Nintendo veteran Shigeru Miyamoto says his company won’t be so quick to jump on the bandwagon.

Speaking to shareholders at Nintendo’s annual general meeting, Miyamoto and other executives addressed a variety of issues, among them what some interpret as a failure to keep up with the state of the industry. Sony and Microsoft (together, amazingly) are about to lock horns with Google, Nvidia, and others in the arena of game streaming, but Nintendo has announced no plans whatsoever regarding the powerful new technology.

As reported by GamesIndustry.biz, Miyamoto was unfazed by this allegation.

“We believe it is important to continue to use these diverse technical environments to make

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This drone swarm spray painted a jumbo-size graffiti mural


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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It’s Friday, so why not watch some good old-fashioned drone-powered graffiti? A design firm in Italy has put together a lovely little show that collected sketches from the art community and put them all together in a giant mural, painted over 12 hours by a team of drones.

We’ve seen spray-painting drones before, of course, but this is far better than the crude vandalism of a fashion billboard or even Disney’s more structured wall drawings. These drones actually put together something worth looking at!

spraydrone

The Urban Flying Opera project was curated by Carlo Ratti Associati, which collected some 1,200 small illustrations via an app, selecting 100 to assemble into a single mural. The line drawings were then loaded into a central control computer and painting instructions relayed to a set of four drones equipped with paint cans, which worked over a 12-hour period to put the whole thing together.

drones painting ufo drones

Each

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Watch a plane land itself truly autonomously for the first time


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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A team of German researchers have created an automatic landing system for small aircraft that lets them touch down not only without a pilot, but without any of the tech on the ground that lets other planes do it. It could open up a new era of autonomous flight — and make ordinary landings safer to boot.

Now it would be natural to think that with the sophisticated autopilot systems that we have today, a plane could land itself quite easily. And that’s kind of true — but the autoland systems on full-size aircraft aren’t really autonomous. They rely on a set of radio signals emitted by stations only found at major airports: the Instrument Landing System, or ILS.

These signals tell the plane exactly where the runway is even in poor visibility, but even so an “automatic” landing is rarely done. Instead, the pilots — as they do elsewhere

tum plane
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autotum

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This solar array expands itself at the right temperature


This post is by Devin Coldewey from TechCrunch


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Wouldn’t it be nice to have a solar panel that’s only there when the sun shines on it? That’s the idea behind this research project, which uses shape-shifting materials to make a solar panel grow from a compressed state to an expanded one with nothing more than a change in temperature.

The flower-like prototype device is made of what’s called a “shape-memory polymer,” a material that can be shaped when cool to one form, then when heated will attempt to return to its original, natural configuration. In this case the cool form is a compressed disc, and the warm one is a much wider one.

The transition (demonstrated here in warm water for simplicity) takes less than a minute. It’s guided by a network of hinged joints, the structure of which was inspired by the children’s toy known as a Hoberman sphere, which changes from a small, spiky ball to

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