Kindle Family Library finally lets you share ebooks
Seriously, I almost can’t believe it took this long. Amazon announced a Kindle update today that lets people share books they’ve purchased with family members. It only works for books, not music or movies, but it allows two parents share between their accounts and four child accounts. The update will be delivered automatically “in the coming weeks” or you can visit their software updates page to do it now. In addition to Family Library, the new release offers Word Wise, a dictionary of a sort that “makes it easier to understand more challenging books more quickly” for those learning to read or who aren’t native English speakers. There are other small goodies in the update too: expanded X-Ray, more Goodreads integration, an enhanced search and more. But really, for me, it’s all about the family sharing (I could have read Wool, Shift, and Dust my own Kindle, rather than swapping readers with my husband!)
Quirky introduces 7 new home automation gadgets
The battle for your connected home just got a little more interesting. Quirky just introduced seven new device, all compatible with their Wink smart-home platform. Now you can tell if your doors/windows/garage door are open (and with your garage door, open and close it remotely), tell if your basement is flooding with a moisture/water sensor, and even control other smart things and dim lights connected to their new smart switch (note: engadget has a full run down of all of Quirky’s “toys”). The fast expansion of the Quirky ecosystem with practical gadgets like these would seem to make it a strong contender for smart home dollars.
Gold-backed TV to be auctioned for charity
When I first saw images of the TV, my first thought was, “As a civilization, we really have now gone too far” but then I read a little bit more. Samsung worked Christie’s (auction house) to have an artist back an 78-inch curved UHD TV with an original piece of art done in an Korean lacquer-painting technique….but not for profit. The TV will go for sale and the proceeds will benefit Orbis International, a non-governmental agency dedicated to preventing and treating blindness. The big question is, will the buyer display the work so they can see the TV side or the art side?
Chromecast gets game—literally
This week Google announced lots of new family-friendly game apps available for Chromecast. You’ll find classics like Scrabble, and twists on classics like Monopoly Dash, Connect Four Quads, and Simon Swipe.. Heck, there’s even Just Dance Now, two quiz games Big Web Quiz and Emoji Party. To control the games you use your smartphone or tablet when you’re linked to your Chromecast. If that’s not enough for you, Google’s also introduced Showtime Anytime and Starz apps so you can watch their content on demand (I’m assuming if you’re a subscriber). See? Now you know what to do after Thanksgiving dinner is over – play some family games…but in a whole new way.
Little, cheaper Raspberry Pi model for sale
A twenty-dollar bill will get you the newest Raspberry Pi, the Model A+. It is much smaller than the original by 20mm in length, and it also needs less power. Because it’s so small, it could be a popular choice for those looking to make battery-powered devices (and as TechRepublic points out, “The lack of ports relative to the B+ less of an issue for roboticists, who don’t want wires streaming behind their quadcopter.”). If you need some inspiration, Gizmodo offered 16 fun projects you can do with your new Model A+. Stocking stuffer anyone?
Amazon buries the “Hachette”
(Sorry, but that headline had to be done). Amazon and Hachette publishing have ended their battle over ebooks. They announced yesterday they signed an agreement…and interestingly, both sides are being relatively quiet over the deal. Hachette is saying they got what they wanted—they can set their own pricing for ebooks” but Amazon said that there were some incentives in place which will likely keep Hachette from going too crazy on pricing. Either way, fans of Hachette authors can rejoice as they can now pre-order books and view promotion pages for upcoming releases.
Kickstarter of the week: the Impossible bike
It’s the world’s smallest foldable electric bike. It’s meant to be commuter bike, and it’s only 17” high and so small and light it can actually fit IN a backpack. It’s made mostly from carbon fiber, with a few steel rods. There aren’t any moving pedals because it’s got an electric motor that’ll get you where you want to go…up to 15.6 miles (12.4 in turbo). Rather than using the traditional triangle-based frame, it uses circles, so it looks almost like a giant pair of glasses in some ways—a very distinctive look—but the frame helps spread weight of the rider evenly (but only up to 180lbs). Check it out:
While I don’t really need or want one, I can’t help but feel like this is what Kickstarter is for—helping small companies get a start at reinventing something.
Friday afternoon reading: BMW’s high-tech car gets reviewed
I spotted a BMW i8 on the highway just last weekend and it’s a head-turner, for sure (in good way, IMO). As a lover of cars and BMWs, I couldn’t resist taking a few minutes to read The Verge’s in-depth of review and if you’re a “car person” you might enjoy it too. Now all I need is six little numbers so I can get my own ;-).
Gorgeous, high-tech glowing bike path opens
It’s called the Van-Gogh-Roosegaarde bike path, it’s in Denmark, and it’s a work of art. The path has a light-emitting paint and it’s embedded LEDs in a mosaic type of pattern (very The Starry Night) so it glows at night. The LEDs charge via a nearby solar array all day, and a day’s worth of charge lasts almost all night (of course, if it’s too cloudy, the path can be lit using regular electricity). The path is a proof-of-concept for this technology which could create roads with illuminated lines. This project took two years, but if you weren’t worried about it looking pretty, I would think this could happen much more quickly. Gizmodo has more photos.