LG unveiling round smartwatch next week
What will be called the LG G Watch R, with a round face, is expected to be introduced next week in Berlin. You can catch a hint of what it’s going to look like in this teaser, but it will join the Moto 360 in the round smartwatch category. We should get more details next week so I’ll keep you posted if it looks promising.
Amazon buying Twitch (not Google!)
A month or so ago the rumor was the Google was going to buy the gaming site for big bucks. Well, evidently that deal “cooled” and now Amazon is in the mix. The two companies are in late-stage talks for a $970 million purchase deal. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said they want to help Twitch develop new services for gamers even faster, and Twitches CEO said Twitch will give them resources to grow while maintaining their independence. Why is Amazon doing it? Some are saying the ad revenue could be huge, in addition to giving them an instant and big jump into the gaming space. No word yet on when the deal will be closed.
It’s official: Apple sends invites to September 9th event
The next round of iPhones is expected to be unveiled at the 10 a.m. event—the invite for which says, “Wish we could say more.” In a change from usual, the event will NOT be held at Apple’s headquarters. Instead, folks are being invited to the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino. In fact, there is also some large structure being built at the center—which has a much higher seating capacity than their own venue. As such, all signs are indicating whatever is announced, it’s going to be big.
Space junk is a real problem
The blockbuster movie Gravity wasn’t entirely scientifically accurate, but it’s true that even tiny amounts of space trash can do real damage to very expensive machinery. Enter Lockheed Martin, who is teaming up with an Australian company to build an optical space junk tracker (if only Sandra Bullock’s character had this!). The U.S. has their own system which uses radar (called Space Fence, and also developed by Lockheed), but this new effort will use telescope-like optics to zoom in on junk and lasers to figure out how fast they’re moving (down to objects the size of baseballs).
Death Valley sailing stone mystery solved
I know this isn’t strictly tech news, but I loved reading and hearing about it and decided you would too. In Death Valley there are giant boulders nicknamed “the sailing stones” because, although no one had seen it happen, it was clear the rocks were moving—there were tracks to prove it. Theories of how this could be abounded, from aliens to high winds, tons of hypotheses were tossed out there but no one new for sure…until now. Researchers attached GPS tags to some of the rocks, put out a video camera, and waited (and waited). It ends up that a very specific set of conditions is needed to move the rocks across the floor of the valley—it must rain, and then freeze overnight, and then be warm enough the next day for the ice to break up, and also be windy enough that the ice slides across the thin layer of melted water remaining. That moving ice acts like a bulldozer pushing the rocks along with it.You can read the research here, and here’s time-lapse video (how cool is that?):
A 3D printed bump key could let anyone in your house
A lock-picking technique uses what’s known as a bump key—it looks similar to a regular key but by applying a practiced “bump” it on the head, an expert can open just about any door. This technique has been around for a while, but lock manufacturers responded by creating “unbumpable” locks by making really complicated key blanks and keeping those blanks from being sold to anyone who wasn’t verified. Well, a couple of lockpickers have changed the game by creating a 3D printed bump key using some software, a photo of the keyhole, and readily available information about how deep the hole is. One of the creators said at a recent conference, “Basically, if I can see your keyhole, there’s an app for that.” Eeek. Wired has the full story (which is disturbingly fascinating) but here’s a video of the bump key in action:
12.9 inch iPad coming in 2015
This is according to Bloomberg, who says the diagonal measurement on the new iPads will be 12.9 inches. It will join the existing Apple line up of 9.7 and 7.9-inch devices. A bigger iPad could be stronger competition against laptops, especially since tablet sales have slowed.
Man 3D prints a castle in his backyard
A gentleman in Minnesota built a 3D printer that uses concrete to build a small castle in his yard— complete with turrets. The man, named Andrey Rudenko, works in construction and has background in architecture and engineering. He was inspired to develop his own technique after seeing some of the rather inelegant and rough-looking 3D concrete printing happening elsewhere in the world. Rudenko played with the viscosity of the concrete and used the castle as an experiment to work out the kinks on his process before he moves on to printing a two-story house. Check it out:
Thoughtful piece of the day: How social media silences debate
Maybe it’s just me, but I thought this research and report was pretty fascinating: The Pew Research Internet Project released a report this week about how social media fosters conversatio. Specifically, they wondered if these sites allow minority ideas to share space with majority views, or do they squash differences of opinion. As it happens, social media does not create a lovely utopia-like space where all thoughts and ideas are valued. Instead social media creates a type of spiral of silence, where people aren’t willing to speak up if they feel people won’t agree with them. You can read the results from the whole study (which used the Snowden/NSA issue as the focus, since people were quite polarized about it) at the Pew website.
Fun piece of the day: Why your voice sounds different in your head
Hate hearing recordings of your voice because you sound so terrible? There’s a reason for that—you’re actually hearing yourself as everyone else does, in “mono” instead of in “stereo” the way you hear your own voice. When you speak, the sound travels both through your head and out your mouth. Sound travels differently through solid objects—like bone—than air. Complicating things further, is the placement of our ears—they’re not in front of our faces so the sound waves from your voice reach them after bouncing off other objects. So, basically, what you hear as your own voice comes from a combination of both internal and external sources. Gizmodo had the story.