Microsoft shows off real-time language translator
Called Skype Translator (catchy!), Microsoft showed off their attempt at a Star Trek-like language communicator. When someone speaks, Skype translates the other person’s language and puts what they’re saying on the screen in the form of subtitles. It’s not an instant translator—you’ve got to wait until the other person is done talking to see what they said. Still, even with a short pause, you’ve gotta admit it pretty darn cool. It’ll be coming to Skype later this year. Watch at 1:05 to see it in action.
$250 3D printer is trying to go mainstream
Sure, I think we’ve all heard about 3D printing by now, but they’re not exactly in every home…yet. A company called New Matter is trying to change all that with their nice-looking, home-scaled (but not too small you can’t make neat things), MOD T 3D printer that will sell for only $250. It’s not just the attractiveness of the printer they think will sell it—it’s the software. The company says they’re developing a large library of things to print, including one of the hottest items to make—cell phone covers. You can check out their Indigogo campaign for more details.
Google’s self-driving car is absolutely adorable
Google’s new steering wheel-free and pedal-free self-driving car is as imposing as a child’s plaything—the headlights and sensors even give it a friendly “face.” Late this summer, Google is going to start road testing these new prototype vehicles it designed from the ground up. In a video showing the car off, you see non-Google folks giving it a try. I’ll admit that I got a little teary seeing the two elderly ladies and the blind gentleman give it a try. As intended, you’re reminded that these cars have the potential to bring mobility to those who might be more limited (hats off to Google marketing!).
Apple entering the smart home market
Rumor has it that Apple is going to introduce a smart home program at its Worldwide Developers Conference. The conference starts June 2nd, and the initial rumors were Apple was going to showcase something that allowed users to control their lights, appliances, and security systems with their iPhones. Mashable said, “a select number of device makers will be certified to offer products that work with Apple’s upcoming system.” Given Google’s recent acquisition of Nest Labs, this is not super surprising news though, is it? But before you get too excited, this is not a connected-home experience as much as it is a certification program. The latest buzz says this will be connected devices can apply to get a “Made for iPhone label.”
Stream new-ish music with Amazon Prime
Amazon is jumping into the world of music streaming by adding a bunch of 6-month-old (and older) music for Prime customers to stream. The streaming service is set to launch in June and July (no rumors yet on what it will be called) and, instead of featuring a full selection of all the latest music, will offer a variety of select music Amazon has gotten cheaply. In some ways, this is what Amazon is doing with HBO—it’s offering older, select, but popular, content. We’ll know in a few months if this approach works for music as well as it does for TV.
Roboraptor runs as fast as a cheetah
Here’s something to haunt your nightmares this weekend: researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have developed a sprinting robot inspired by the Velociraptor. It runs on two legs and has been clocked at 28.5 miles per hour—faster than the world’s fastest sprinter and nearly as fast as a cheetah (which can go 29.3mph). Right now the roboraptor still needs to be attached to bar for stabilization, but once that thing gets let off its leash? Eeek! Check out the video because it’s pretty darn cool (if slightly scary).
Apple really IS buying Beats Music
And it only cost them $3 billion dollars to do it! It’s Apple’s biggest acquisition to date and means Apple gets both the headphone business and the music subscription service…plus Beats’ co-cofounders Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. It’s not every day a tech company can say it has a hip-hot artist (Dre) and a record producer (Iovine) on staff. For a more thorough discussion and a copy of the press release, I’d recommend 9to5Mac.com’s article. If you want to read more about why Apple made the decision to buy, Wired has a piece discussing why Tim Cook thinks Beats is the way to go.
Quiet “windmill” could bring wind power to urban areas (without bugging your neighbors)
It’s actually a wind turbine and it looks nothing like a traditional windmill at all. The shape of the turbine is based, partly anyway, on Archimedes’ screw pump for water—only here it’s used to make an uber-efficient windmill instead. The turbine is called the Liam F1 (no, not very catchy [maybe it is in Rotterdam where it was invented?]) and reportedly, with only a moderate breeze, a single unit can product half the energy used in an average home. They’ll cost $5,400 when they’re available in January which, if you ask me, could be worth it in the long run (there’s a longish video here with plenty of action shots of the Liam F1 but, disappointingly, they didn’t include any of what it actually sounds like).
One video will make you wish you worked at Twitch
Come on, it’s Friday—take a few minutes to fantasize about working for Twitch. Why? After Friday meetings they will hang out at the BAR IN THE OFFICE. No joke. Twitch (which as you heard, YouTube is looking to buy), the incredibly popular video platform for streaming online gaming, was just featured by TechCrunch as part of their Cribs series. Go on, watch it and dream.