Weekly tech news roundup for January 16

Try wearables before you buy
Every fitness wearable does something well…but that doesn’t mean it’ll work great for how you exercise. Well, now you can try a whole slew of them before you commit. Lumoid, who already had rent-to-own camera equipment, now lets you choose five wearables to try at home for seven days. If you like one, you can just pay for it and return the rest. If you don’t like any of them and choose not to buy, you pay $20 and send them all back. You can try devices from Jawbone, Misfit, Garmin, Samsung, Pebble, and more. Great idea!

Autonomous turtle-shaped robot creates pretty cool sand art
Beachbot, a sand-drawing autonomous robot, is the result of a collaboration between Disney Research and a Swiss engineering school. Perhaps because it’s partly from Disney, this isn’t some ugly robot—it’s cute and turtle-shaped—and was developed to draw art using the beach as both its medium and canvas. It draws the designs it’s programmed to (like Nemo!) by dragging a special rake attached to its backend. The rake can be adjusted to make wide lines or lines as thin as 5cm. Kind of a novel application of robotics but we’ve already got Roombas, why not this?
 

 

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop getting a test track
Musk says he’s going to build a five-mile test track for his Hyperloop transportation concept. He said it is likely to happen in Texas, but in tweets he implied it would be an open testing ground, “for companies and student teams to test out their pods.” The project still has many obstacles to overcome, but as The Verge pointed out, it’s nice to see the Musk hasn’t abandoned the project. No reports yet on a construction timeline yet.

Google Glass getting spun off
When Google introduced Glass, the hope was that the early adopters would find a myriad of uses for the device and it would become the next “must have” wearable. Alas, that has not come to pass. In an attempt to revitalize the project and product, Google is spinning off Glass into it’s own independent company with Tony Fadell at the helm. Fadell developed the iPod at Apple and later left to develop the Nest thermostat. As of yesterday, the Google’s Explorer program was cancelled the first version of Glass is now discontinued. The question becomes whether Fadell can revitalize the consumer applications for Glass or if he’ll take it in another direction such as focus on business/medical uses. Wired has a good analysis of this topic, if you’re interested in reading more.

Google Translator just got WAY better
How cool is this: Google Translate app is now not only faster so you can speak at a more conversational pace, it also has what they’re calling World Lens—you can take photo of a sign, for example, and Translate will show you what it says in your native language (assuming that language is French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish…for now, anyway).

Google Word Lens iPhone GIF

For more details about the update, you can read Google’s blog about it (but I’ll admit now having an urge to travel internationally just to try it out—as long as I have some Pluggage luggage, of course [see below]).

GE Keurig fridgeFridge with a built-in Keurig in the door
Having a water and ice dispenser in your fridge door is just so yesterday. Why settle for only water when you could have a Keurig coffee machine too?? GE Café Series fridges now offer a Keurig option! There will be a built-in LCD screen to control the warm beverage machine, and everything you make will use the fridge’s filtered water. Oh, and apparently you can control the fridge via an app so you can schedule times to have the water pre-heated and ready for you. The technological marvel will hit the market sometime this fall for the low, low price of $3,300.

The best touchscreen gloves
If you live anywhere that gets chilly in the winter, you’ve probably struggled to find gloves that work well with your smartphone. Kinja Co-Op, crowdsources to get opinions about products and services and they’re currently seeking votes about touchscreen gloves. So far, Glove.ly’s gloves are winning with the North Face Etip running in second, so they may be brands worth checking out. On the other hand (ha!), Glider ones aren’t getting many votes so you might want to avoid those. Those of us who live in the tundra would appreciate your input, so if you have any experience to share, please do vote!

Smart luggage can charge your phone, play your music—and even tell you if it’s on the plane
The luggage maker Delsey rolled out (see what I did there?) a new connected suitcase they’ve named Pluggage. Although only in prototype phase, Pluggage could include a lot of really awesome features both on the luggage and via an app. The luggage could offer an inside lighting system and speaker, fingerprint lot, and charger for your phone. Via an app, Pluggage may tell you how much it weighs and whether it’s on the plane, and even the local weather and flight updates (if you enter your info). You can help vote what features make the final production model on their website. I myself think I’d vote for, “All of the above” if they have such an option. The promo video doesn’t offer a lot of details, but it does make it look sexy!


 

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. You can find Missy on G+ and on Twitter.

One Response to Weekly tech news roundup for January 16

  1. Alex Smith January 17, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    I suppose this is as good a place to leave a comment about TDS as any. I have been a customer for nearly 25 years, not because I am happy but because TDS is the only land line option where I live. A friend also has TDS and yesterday evening his land line quit working. He sent me an email asking if I could call in for service on his behalf since he doesn’t have neighbors and does not own a cell phone. Anyway, I made the call to the repair # (which is just a regular number that still makes the caller press endless buttons, etc. a reliable annoyance!) The service call was scheduled your ref. # 8132906 and I was told THREE times by the woman at the call center that the technician would be out today (1-17-15) Surprise, surprise, no one showed today so my friend asked if I would call and check on the service order. I talked to a guy at the call center and this time was told that the service is scheduled for 01-19-15. He assured me that the TDS technicians DO NOT work weekends. As I said, I was told three times the repair would be done today, so I was lied to three times in one phone call. I would possibly chalk this up to a poorly trained person if it wasn’t for the fact that this has happened to me once before. I was lied to a couple years ago in exactly the same way when my internet had quit. It took two or three calls that time to get a person that actually would admit that, no, no one was coming because it is a weekend. This is a corporate culture thing… teaching your employees to lie to your customers is shameful!

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