Weekly tech news roundup for August 1

amazon 3D printingAmazon introduces 3D Printing Store
Sure, you’d love to make a bobble head or a cell phone case, but you don’t have a 3D printer of your very own. Never fear! Amazon has opened the 3D Printing Store so you can print what you’d like with various sellers. Currently the shop has products in five different categories: jewelry, home décor, toys & games, tech accessories, and “creative expressions” where you can customize a product (bobble head that looks like you, perhaps?). I must admit the create-your-own printed molecule jewelry is pretty fun (and my daughter would FREAK over a Totoro cookie cutter set). Not a bad idea, Amazon.

New batteries could double the life of your mobile device
With current battery technology the electricity is there but it doesn’t get used efficiently. Why? Because the best and lightest material for providing electrons for the electricity AND for sending that electricity on to a device—lithium— can’t be used for both … until now. Researchers from Stanford have figured out how to make lithium work as an uber efficient electron discharger (without cracking, which is what always happened in previous efforts). It could mean that batteries could be the same size or smaller, and last up to 400% longer. For a more in-depth description of the technological breakthrough, Forbes has a good overview.

ice-cream-colorScientist creates “mood” ice cream
The ice cream chances color when you lick it, not unlike those mood rings that change colors depending on how warm or cold you are. The treat’s creator, Manuel Linares, is actually physicist and engineer…and apparently a cook as well. The ice cream changes color from blue to a pink tone as it warms and melts. He’s named his frozen treat “Xamaleon” and the ingredients are all natural and it tastes rather like traditional tutti-frutti. It’s kind of a subtle color switch, but skill kind of cool (sorry, couldn’t resist). Photo: Engadget.

Smart shoes for the blind…or for those with no sense of direction
A startup has created a shoe that vibrates to tell you which way to turn. The shoes have Bluetooth that will synch with Google Maps to “steer” the wearer in the right direction. If the left shoe buzzes, you should take the next left. If the right shoe vibrates, turn right. The shoes will also keep track of fitness data such as calories burned and miles walked. If you’re not a fan of their rather distinctive-looking shoes, they will also be selling an insole you can put into your existing footwear. The Lechal shoes (Hindi for “take me there”) which will cost between $100-150 will be sold starting in September with the first ones rolling off the production line in time for a March shipping date.

High tech bikes for 5 different cities
I swear that just about every tech blog had a piece this week about the Bike Design Project. Five teams participated in the project and created bikes that fit their respective urban area. The teams came from San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Chicago, and Portland. Now that the bikes have been submitted, in all their coolness, everyone has a chance to vote for the one they’d like to see go into production (a limited production with Fuji bikes). Voting ends at noon (PST) on August 3rd, so go to the website and start oohing and aaaahing over the neat bikes (some of which have some really innovated James Bond-esque accessories) and pick your favorite.

Why the movie Lucy is a big fat lie
Well, at least the concept it’s based on, that is. We hear all the time that we only use 10% of our brain capacity….but, unfortunately for film makers, it’s not true. Interesting fact: although our brains only account for 3% of our body weight, it uses up 20% of our body’s energy. Gizmodo has a fun piece this week that explores the origins of this myth along with a brief overview of the current research showing we do actually use almost all of our brain all of the time.

Mario Kart 8Mario can’t save Nintendo
Mario Kart 8 was a HUGE hit for Nintendo selling 2.82 million copies—60% of all WiiU games sold for the last quarter. While this sounds fantastic, the problem is that Nintendo posted a $97 million loss at the same time. In good news, Wii U sales were up over last year, but with only 510,000 sold, the base of WiiU customers just isn’t there. Perhaps with Smash Bros., reportedly coming around the holidays, there will actually be good Nintendo news to share.

Amazon launching a Square-like credit card reader
An apparently leaked document from Staples hints that Amazon is planning on launching a mobile payment solution in August, probably the 12th. It will be called the “Amazon Card Reader” and will appear in Staples stores near the Square and PayPal solutions. The cost? $9.99 and the speculation is that the reader will plug in to Amazon’s new Wallet app nicely.

NFL adding sensors to player uniforms
They’re putting them in the players’ shoulder pads to track real-time data while players are in the field. The NFL wants to know about position, speed, distance, etc. using the quarter-sized bits of tech. Including the sensors in uniforms is easy, but not every stadium has the technology to receive the data. Only the stadiums hosting Thursday night games this year have the radio-frequency identification transmitters needed to pick up the sensor information. The data will be available to broadcasters so we’ll see how, or if, they use it during the games. Long term, the NFL hopes this technology will evolve and deliver data to each team to help the NFL learn how to prevent injuries.

Apple and Beats seal the deal
Apple’s $3 billion purchase of beats is now officially closed. Apple welcomed Beats to the family and also admitted that they’re cutting 200 Beats jobs (out of 700). The statement says Apple will do its best to find permanent jobs for those Beats employees who have only temporary offers in the company due to overlap.

Friday afternoon reading: the history of autocorrect
While you might think of the often frustrating autocorrect on your phone, teh the feature which helps fix common spelling and typing mistakes started on the PC with Microsoft Word. Wired interviewed the guy who started it all and got the story. It’s a longer piece (in other words, it’ll take you more than a minute), but I loved reading how they adapted the system for swear words :-). A worthy Friday afternoon read when you need to escape for a few minutes.

About Missy Kellor

Missy works on the Corporate Communications team and reports stories to TDS employees and customers. This is right up her alley because she’s an extrovert and also a big fan of research (really, she’ll look up just about anything that strikes her interest). Missy is a native of Madison, Wis. with an undergraduate in Anthropology and a master’s degree in Life Sciences Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interest in the Internet as a mass media shaped her work towards a PhD in Journalism and Mass Communications. She’s also worked as an editorial assistant, copywriter, and production artist. In her off hours, Missy is a crafter, Pinterest addict, reader, wife, and mom of two kids.
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