Using a variety of sensors and cameras, a number of high-end vehicles available today offer autonomous cruise control, advanced emergency braking systems and self-parking technology. While Google’s (GOOG) dreams of fully autonomous vehicles may still be far off, crash-proof cars may be the next big thing. The on-board sensors used in today’s vehicles do not have the ability to communicate with the road or other automobiles, but a couple of weeks ago, a year-long connected-vehicle program hit the streets in Ann Arbor, Michigan. More →
More than 100 international technology companies have interest in becoming residents of a floating city located in international waters outside of Silicon Valley. The project, called Blueseed, was co-founded by Max Marty and Dario Mutabdzija and lead by venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. The company is looking to either convert a cruise ship or remodel a barge in into a pirate island that would provide living accommodations, working space and entertainment facilities for approximately 1,000 customers paying between $1,200 and $3,000 each per month. Read on for more. More →
A number of Google shareholders are asking for the Internet giant to follow in Apple’s footsteps and return part of its $44.6 billion in cash to investors, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. Google has more cash as a percentage of market value than five of its largest competitors, including Apple. The iPhone maker recently reinstated a dividend and unveiled plans for a $10 billion stock buyout last month. Google is currently the only U.S. technology company with a market value of more than $125 billion that doesn’t offer a regular shareholder payout. The Mountain View-based company’s cash has almost doubled since 2009, and it has increased by between $2 billion and $3 billion each quarter. A dividend would ease the tensions between the company and its investors, who have endured a 1.5% decline this year. “There’s a pattern here that makes sense, and I’m sure Google will figure out the right thing to do,” said Michael Holland, chairman of Holland & Co., a New York investment firm that oversees more than $4 billion in assets. “It’s a little bit of a victory dance, if you will, to be able to have the sort of cash surplus that a company like Apple does and Google does. To share some of it is sharing the victory dance.” More →
A joint survey conducted by ABC News and The Washington Post found that Google beat out Apple, Facebook and Twitter to win the title of most popular tech brand. The poll revealed that a whopping 82% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Google, with 53% expressing a “strongly” favorable opinion of the Internet giant. Only 9% of respondents had an unfavorable opinion of the Mountain View-based company. Apple followed closely behind Google with 74%, however 13% of respondents had an unfavorable view of the company and only 37% expressed a “strongly” favorable opinion. Facebook and Twitter rounded out the survey with 58% and 34% approval ratings, respectively. Facebook had an unfavorable rating from 28% of those polled, while 36% of respondents had an unfavorable view of Twitter. The survey was conducted from March 28th through April 1st and 1,007 adults were polled. More →
AT&T on Monday announced that it is relaunching its AT&T Aspire program designed to help students graduate from high school and prepare for college and careers. AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson announced the news during a keynote address at this year’s Building a Grad Nation Summit, where he revealed that the nation’s No.2 wireless carrier has pledged $250 million over the next five years to its AT&T Aspire program. ”AT&T Aspire works toward an America where every student graduates high school equipped with the knowledge and skills to strengthen the nation’s workforce,” Stephenson said. The program will include a wide range of efforts, many of which will focus on providing under-served communities with technology and more modern educational tools. AT&T’s full press release follows below along with a video about the program. More →
Mercedes-Benz has unveiled plans to integrate Apple’s Siri voice assistant into its A-Class vehicles, according to a report from PSFK. The integration would allow drivers to access their iPhone apps using voice commands. The feature is being called the Drive Kit Plus program and will work in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz’ Digital DriveStyle app to translate the iPhone’s screen onto the in-car display. The program will feature compatibility with popular apps such as Twitter and Facebook pre-installed, and drivers will be able to listen to music, change radio stations, update their status on social networks and send text messages using voice commands as well. According to the report, the car’s integrated Garmin navigation system will be also compatible with Siri commands. Mercedes-Benz is the first car maker to integrate Apple’s voice assistant into a vehicle, with the feature reportedly set to debut at the 2012 Geneva auto show next month and a rollout to all A-Class vehicles scheduled to begin this fall. More →
A patent filed by Google showcases a new technology that could enable users to control Google TV-equipped devices using their voices, reports Patently Apple. Using a specific smartphone app, users could be able to speak commands or queries that are then acted upon by a television, a set-top box, a DVD player or another device equipped with Google TV, according to the patent filing. The patent documentation also mentions an interesting feature where “the provision of the query to the television may occur when the user is within a set distance of his home also (e.g., by determining with GPS functionality on the smartphone that he is within 1/4 mile of the home), and the television may be turned on automatically as he approaches the home, with the television tuned to a channel that is determined to be most relevant to the query.” Google’s technology can also be applied to music, allowing users to remotely set up a playlist to be streamed on a TV or other device. Whether or not we can expect Google TV products to launch with the functionality described in this patent is unknown. More →
Aneesh Chopra will step down from his position as the United States chief technology officer. The move is expected to be imminent and, while it’s unclear what Chopra’s next step will be, Fedscoop says sources have speculated Chopra is interested in running for political office or working as the head of a major technology firm in the Washington, D.C. area. Chopra was appointed U.S. CTO in April 2009 by President Obama. Fedscoop said possible replacements for Chopra’s position include Veteran Affairs CTO Peter Levin, Homeland Security chief information officer Richard Spires or Department of Health and Human Services CTO Todd Park. More →
The International Trade Commission on Thursday reversed an earlier decision in a patent case that could cost camera maker Kodak hundreds of millions of dollars from Apple and RIM. Kodak had filed suit against both firms, claiming that their mobile devices infringed on multiple patents owned by the Rochester, NY-based company. An initial ruling in favor of Kodak was under ITC review, and the commission on Thursday reversed parts of the decision that had previously been ruled in Kodak’s favor. Other parts of the original ruling were sent to be examined by a judge of administrative law, and a final ruling is scheduled to be made on August 30th. More →
Looking to scoop up one of Apple’s ultra-light notebook offerings? You may want to hold on to your wallet for a few more weeks. According to the latest report, Apple is preparing to update the notebook line in the not-too-distant future. “The Taiwan-based supply chain for Apple products will begin shipments of new 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch MacBook Air models featuring Sandy Bridge platform and Thunderbolt interface in late May for launch in June or July,” reads a report filed by DigiTimes. The article goes on to note that the updated Air will be assembled by Quanta Computer, with Catcher Technology, Auras Technology, Shin Zu Shing, Simplo Technology, and Dynapack all supplying components. The report echos earlier prognostications made by Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The current iterations of the MacBook Air were first revealed in October of 2010, just 7-months ago. More →
An International Trade Commission (ITC) judge has ruled that Kodak did not infringe upon camera patents held by Apple. Reuters is reporting that an administrative law judge rejected the Cupertino-company’s claims, with a final decision by the ITC due on September 19th. Kodak, although not as prominent as it once was when film reigned supreme, still holds a treasure-trove of patents. “Many investors see Kodak’s value in its lucrative portfolio of intellectual property,” reads the report. “It has more than 1,000 patents and it made an estimated $630 million in 2010 from its licenses. But analysts have said this revenue from licenses is unpredictable and the portfolio might eventually dwindle.” Kodak has a pending suit filed against both Apple and Research In Motion, again surrounding smartphone camera technology, that is set to be decided upon on May 23rd. More →
The business of smartphone production is starting to look more like the a John Grisham legal novel. While handset makers try to out-innovate each other with high-end, spec-heavy handsets consumers will flock to, lawyers are trying to out-flank each other with patent suits and red-tape. No longer can you have an armada of talented engineers and a driven executive team, you also must possess a war chest of hardware and software patents to prevent your company from entering litigation limbo — just Google the words Nokia, Apple, and patent if you don’t know what we’re talking about. More →
Since it is Thanksgiving here in the United States, we thought it would be appropriate to cover a piece of kitchen technology in this week’s installation of Throwback Thursday. Today, in honor of the holiday, we’re covering a gadget invented over forty years ago that may be part of your T-Day celebration today, the electric carving knife.
Patented in 1964 by Jerome L. Murray, the high-tech piece of cutlery looks like a cross between a standard hand-mixer and a pair of electric hedge trimmers. The knife works its magic by rapidly moving two serrated blades back and forth over a central plane. The appliance gained popularity in the late 1960′s after is was manufactured by companies like Black & Decker, although it is less popular today thanks to one major drawback: maintenance. Electric knives have to be taken-apart and cleaned after every use to prevent the growth of bacteria between the blades and in the motor housing, making the convenience of such an appliance negligible.
Although not as popular as it once was, the knife is still used to cut the traditional Thanksgiving squab in houses all around the U.S.
Keep your ears open today, and if it sounds like someone is trimming a rhododendron bush in your kitchen… know that Mr. Murray’s electric knife is hard at work. Happy Thanksgiving!
BGR’s Throwback Thursday is a weekly series covering our (and your) favorite gadgets, games, and software of yesterday and yesteryear.