Back at Google I/O, Google announced : custom routines and schedules — both focusing on automating things you do regularly, but in different ways. The first lets you trigger multiple commands with a single custom phrase — like saying “Hey Google, I’m awake” to unsilence your phone, turn on the lights and read the news. Schedules, meanwhile, could trigger a series of commands at a specific time on specific days, without you needing to say a thing. While custom routines launched almost immediately after I/O, scheduling has been curiously absent. It’s starting to roll out today. As first noticed by , it looks like scheduling has started rolling out to users by way of the Google Home app. To make a schedule: Open the Google Home app Go to Settings>Routines Create a new routine with the + button Scroll to the “Set a time and day” option to schedule things ahead of time If you don’t see the “time and day” option yet, check back in a day or two. Google is rolling it out over the next few days (generally done in case there’s some bug it missed), so it might pop up without much fanfare. Want your bedroom lights to turn on every morning at 7 am on workdays? You can do that. Want that song from the Six Flags commercials to play every day at noon to get you over the hump and/or drive your roommates up a wall? Sure! Want to double-check the door lock, dim the downstairs lights and make sure your entertainment center is off at 2 am? If you’ve got all the smart home hardware required, it should be able to handle it. While a lot of things you might use Google Assistant for can already be scheduled through their respective third-party apps (most smart lights, for example, have apps with built-in scheduling options), this moves to bring everything under one roof while letting you fire off more complicated sequences all at once. And if something breaks? You’ll know where to look.
A multi-year contest to design a 3D-printable Mars habitat using on-planet materials has just hit another milestone — and a handful of teams have taken home some cold hard cash. This more laid-back phase had contestants designing their proposed habitat using architectural tools, with the five winners set to build scale models next year. — the (actual) second phase and teams took home quite a bit of money. The teams had to put together realistic 3D models of their proposed habitats, and not just in Blender or something. They used Building Information Modeling software that would require these things to be functional structures designed down to a particular level of detail — so you can’t just have 2D walls made of “material TBD,” and you have to take into account thickness from pressure sealing, air filtering elements, heating, etc. The habitats had to have at least a thousand square feet of space, enough for four people to live for a year, along with room for the machinery and paraphernalia associated with, you know, living on Mars. They must be largely assembled autonomously, at least enough that humans can occupy them as soon as they land. They were judged on completeness, layout, 3D-printing viability, and aesthetics. [gallery ids="1681791,1681792,1681829,1681793,1681794,1681828,1681795"] So although the images you see here look rather sci-fi, keep in mind they were also designed using industrial tools and vetted by experts with “a broad range of experience from Disney to NASA.” These are going to Mars, not paperback. And they’ll have to be built in miniature for real next year, so they better be realistic. The five winning designs embody a variety of approaches. Honestly all these videos are worth a watch; you’ll probably learn something cool, and they really give an idea of how much thought goes into these designs. Zopherus has the whole print taking place inside the body of a large lander, which brings its own high-strength printing mix to reinforce the “Martian concrete” that will make up the bulk of the structure. When it’s done printing and embedding the pre-built items like airlocks, it lifts itself up, moves over a few feet, and does it again, creating a series of small rooms. (They took first place and essentially tied the next team for take-home case, a little under $21K.) AI SpaceFactory focuses on the basic shape of the vertical cylinder as both the most efficient use of space and also one of the most suitable for printing. They go deep on the accommodations for thermal expansion and insulation, but also have thought deeply about how to make the space safe, functional, and interesting. This one is definitely my favorite. Kahn-Yates has a striking design, with a printed structural layer giving way to a high-strength plastic layer that lets the light in. Their design is extremely spacious but in my eyes not very efficiently allocated. Who’s going to bring apple trees to Mars? Why have a spiral staircase with such a huge footprint? Still, if they could pull it off, this would allow for a lot of breathing room, something that will surely be of great value during year or multi-year stay on the planet. SEArch+/Apis Cor has carefully considered the positioning and shape of its design to maximize light and minimize radiation exposure. There are two independent pressurized areas — everyone likes redundancy — and it’s built using a sloped site, which may expand the possible locations. It looks a little claustrophobic, though. Northwestern University has a design that aims for simplicity of construction: an inflatable vessel provides the base for the printer to create a simple dome with reinforcing cross-beams. This practical approach no doubt won them points, and the inside, while not exactly roomy, is also practical in its layout. As AI SpaceFactory pointed out, a dome isn’t really the best shape (lots of wasted space) but it is easy and strong. A couple of these connected at the ends wouldn’t be so bad. The teams split a total of $100K for this phase, and are now moving on to the hard part: actually building these things. In spring of 2019 they’ll be expected to have a working custom 3D printer that can create a 1:3 scale model of their habitat. It’s difficult to say who will have the worst time of it, but I’m thinking Kahn-Yates (that holey structure will be a pain to print) and SEArch+/Apis (slope, complex eaves and structures). The purse for the real-world construction is an eye-popping $2 million, so you can bet the competition will be fierce. In the meantime seriously watch those videos above, they’re really interesting.
Salto is a jumping robot that is all heart (and legs). A project originally launched in 2017 this tiny robot thrusts itself up and down and back and forth like a crazed grasshopper, jumping with absolute precision and loads of speed. Created by the , this little robot uses rotor-based thrusters and bouncy legs to do its tricks. Salto, which stands for “Saltatorial Locomotion on Terrain Obstacles,” is designed to mimic saltatorial – jumping – animals like kangaroos and bush babies. Sadly, this little robot doesn’t always survive its jumps. In this video, Salto basically destroys itself as it jumps, something all robots may need to fear as they reach for the sun (or ceiling.)
has just announced the latest in its Labo series of whimsical cardboard accessories for the Switch gaming console, and this one looks like a must-have. Called for obvious reasons, the flat-pack, assemble-it-yourself add-ons include a steering wheel, gas pedal, “keys” that activate different vehicles, all of which work inside a cool-looking game that comes with. Frankly this just looks like a humongous bargain. Perhaps the most humongous of all time. $70 gets you a whole fold-up steering assembly with shifters on the sides; a pedal that I really hope stands up to some serious stomping; a joystick for piloting a plane, a weird thing that controls a submarine; and a “key” that your Joy-Con fits into, which itself slots into the various other setups to activate them. They’re all meant to be used in a game that, despite not having a name, looks insanely cool. It looks like a big island with secrets hidden all over the place that you just tool around in using your buggy, your submarine, and your plane, and whatever other weird vehicles you might come across. You can race, spray-paint your vehicles, blow up rocks and cut down trees. There’s also a two-player mode where you battle with cars that have extendable arms for some reason. Don’t think too hard about it. Of course you’ll have to put all this together yourself (I guess either I think kids read TechCrunch or our readers buy Nintendo gear made for kids), but so that shouldn’t be a problem. It’s a feature, not a bug. You’ll be able to buy this kit starting September 14 for $70, which, again, is obviously a steal. If any of us gets their hands on one ahead of that date we’ll definitely let you know.
is celebrating the third successful supersonic test flight of VSS Unity, the passenger spacecraft it intends to make available for space tourism in the near future. This flight took the craft higher and faster than ever, stressing the system and providing useful data for the rocket plane’s engineers. Virgin’s two-part flight system uses a traditional jet-powered plane, the WhiteKnightTwo-class VMS Eve, to carry the spacecraft up to about 45,000 feet, after which the latter detaches and zooms ahead (and upward) on rocket power. Each of Unity’s flights has pushed its specs a bit further: , in April, achieved Mach 1.6 and just over 84,000 feet of altitude. , in May, hit Mach 1.9 and reached 114,500 feet. Today’s went to Mach 2.47 and got up to 170,800 feet, touching the Earth’s mesosphere before gliding down to a soft landing. It’s still not nearly to space; the Karman Line, where space “officially” begins, is about twice as high. But at this rate it sure just seems like a matter of time before they get up there. (Max speed was originally reported as Mach 2 but updated in an email from Virgin Galactic.) Importantly, the rocket powering Unity’s flight burned this time for 42 seconds, well over the 30 seconds or so it’s been fired for until now. These tests necessarily have to advance degree by degree, but going from 30 to 42 is a big jump that the engineers are probably thrilled about. “Having been a U2 pilot and done a lot of high altitude work, or what I thought was high altitude work, the view from 170,000 feet was just totally amazing,” said one of the pilots, Mike “Sooch” Masucci, . “The flight was exciting and frankly beautiful. We were able to complete a large number of test points which will give us good insight as we progress to our goal of commercial service.” The team is working on analyzing the data from this flight, and of course inspecting and tweaking the spacecraft, and we can probably expect another test flight in the next few months.
Makula Dunbar Contributor Makula Dunbar is a writer with . More posts by this contributor Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with . When readers choose to buy independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and TechCrunch may earn affiliate commissions. One of the many ways to take full advantage of the summer is by attending long-awaited happenings and events. Summer festivals of all sorts come around every year, and they’re even better with a few friends — plus some extras to make the experience more memorable. No matter the type of event, having gear that allows you to kick back, keeps you hydrated and powered makes any festival day worthwhile. Photo: Kimber Streams Inflatable couch: Live Infinitely Inflatable Air Lounger For music festivals and events that have areas for camping or lounging (while waiting for the band you actually came to see), an will come in handy. The is 7 feet long, so it’s big enough to sit three people, or for one person to stretch out. It comes with a stake to keep it from blowing away when it’s not in use, stays inflated longer than other couches we tested and folds down into a portable pack. Use its side pockets to store your phone, a water bottle and other belongings while you kick back and . Instant Printer: Fujifilm Instax Share SP-2 Taking pictures to capture time spent at an exciting festival is a given. Though when attending with family or friends — especially those who you may not see often — having something tangible to take home makes the outing even better. The is the instant printer pick in our , and we like that it’s portable and produces old-school Polaroid prints straight from a smartphone or tablet. It works through the Instax Share app and allows for filters and borders to be added to your snapshots. You can print one picture in about 10 seconds, or print multiples of one image for passing out to your group. Lenses for iPhone Photography: Moment New Tele Lens & Moment New Wide Lens When you get tired of taking group selfies and want to capture videos and pictures of the main event, a good smartphone lens attachment can help with getting closer to the action. While some smartphone cameras produce good photos, a lens attachment can further expand your phone’s field of view or extend the optical zoom without distorting images. For photography enthusiasts who are fine attending events without a professional camera, our , the (for closer, high-quality shots) and the (for crisp, wide-angle photos) are great alternatives and offer more portability. They’re an improvement on the iPhone camera and are for lens attachments. Kyle FItzgerald USB Battery pack: Anker PowerCore 20100 Spending long days at a fair or similar event means your phone will likely run out of juice before you’re ready to go. Bringing along a ensures that you’ll be able to stay powered while you’re having fun — and long after when you need to round up friends or call a ride. The is small enough to fit in a backpack or purse and it has enough power to charge one smartphone everyday for nearly a week. It also can simultaneously charge two USB devices at full speed and will keep them powered for days before the battery pack itself needs to be recharged. Photo: Rozette Rago Growler: Miir 64 oz. Growler Since you can’t bring a or everywhere, it’s almost necessary to have a drink or two on hand when you’re outside in the heat for long periods of time. For events that allow outside beverages, carrying them in a is a great way to keep them fresh, cold or hot. We put eight growlers to the test and the had the best-tasting beer and fizzy drinks. We like the Miir’s design and that it’s easy to drink from, seal and handle. Its lid can be fully detached, which makes cleaning it by hand a bit easier. With a 64 oz. capacity, you’ll have more than enough of your favorite drink to last throughout the day, or to share. This guide may have been updated by . When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commissions.
today announced Alexa Cast to allow for better music control on Alexa devices. Users will be able to more easily transition from listening to through the Amazon Music app to listening to Amazon Music on an Alexa device. This is a much-needed function for Amazon’s core services. Before Alexa Cast, it can be messy switching between listening to Amazon Music on different devices. The service does not have the same sort of controls found on other services like . It sounds like Amazon is finally building out features that will turn Amazon Music into a legit music service and Alexa Cast is a good step forward. The service is available starting today. Users need to update their iOS and Android app to access the feature. Just like with Spotify Connect or Apple AirPlay users will need to tap on the Alexa Cast icon and select the device they want to playback the streaming music. It’s unclear from the initial announcement if Amazon will bring this functionality to other apps or let developers use it.
A pair of Canadian students making a simple, inexpensive prosthetic arm have , a global startup competition the company holds yearly. SmartArm will receive $85,000, a mentoring session with CEO Satya Nadella, and some other goodies. But they were far from the only worthy team from the dozens that came to Redmond to compete. The Imagine Cup is an event I personally look forward to, because it consists entirely of smart young students, usually engineers and designers themselves (not yet “serial entrepreneurs”) and often aiming to solve real-world problems. , I saw a pair of young women from Pakistan looking to reduce stillbirth rates with a new pregnancy monitor, an automated eye-checking device that can be deployed anywhere and used by anyone, and an autonomous monitor for water tanks in drought-stricken areas. When I was their age, I was living at my mom’s house, getting really good at Mario Kart for SNES and working as a preschool teacher. Even Nadella bowed before their ambitions in his appearance on stage at the final event this morning. “Last night I was thinking, ‘What advice can I give people who have accomplished so much at such a young age?’ And I said, I should go back to when I was your age and doing great things. Then I realized…I definitely wouldn’t have made these finals.” That got a laugh, but (with apologies to Nadella) it’s probably true. Students today have unbelievable resources available to them and as many of the teams demonstrated, they’re making excellent use of those resources. Congratulations to Team smartARM from , champion of today's ! Watch the live show on demand at — Microsoft Imagine (@MSFTImagine) SmartArm in particular combines a clever approach with state of the art tech in a way that’s so simple it’s almost ridiculous. The issue they saw as needing a new approach is prosthetic arms, which as they pointed out are often either non-functional (think just a plastic arm or simple flexion-based gripper) or highly expensive (a mechanical arm might cost tens of thousands). Why can’t one be both? Their solution is an extremely interesting and timely one: a relatively simply actuated 3D-printed forearm and hand that has its own vision system built in. A camera built into the palm captures an image of the item the user aims to pick up, and quickly classifies it — an apple, a key ring, a pen — and selects the correct grip for that object. The user activates the grip by flexing their upper arm muscles, an action that’s detected by a Myo-like muscle sensor (possibly actually a Myo, but I couldn’t tell from the demo). It sends the signal to the arm to activate the hand movement, and the fingers move accordingly. It’s still extremely limited — you likely can’t twist a doorknob with it, or reliably grip a knife or fork, and so on. But for many everyday tasks it could still be useful. And the idea of putting the camera in the palm is a high-risk, high-reward one. It is of course blocked when you pick up the item, but what does it need to see during that time? You deactivate the grip to put the cup down and the camera is exposed again to watch for the next task. Bear in mind this is not meant as some kind of serious universal hand replacement. But it provides smart, simple functionality for people who might otherwise have had to use a pincer arm or the like. And according to the team, it should cost less than $100. How that’s possible to do including the arm sensor is unclear to me, but I’m not the one who built a bionic arm so I’m going to defer to them on this. Even if they miss that 50 percent it would still be a huge bargain, honestly. There’s an optional subscription that would allow the arm to improve itself over time as it learns more about your habits and objects you encounter regularly — this would also conceivably be used to improve other SmartArms as well. As for how it looks — rather robotic — the team defended it based on their own feedback from amputees: “They’d rather be asked, ‘hey, where did you get that arm?” than ‘what happened to your arm?’ ” But a more realistic-looking set of fingers is also under development. The team said they were originally looking for venture funding but ended up getting a grant instead; they’ve got interest from a number of Canadian and American institutions already, and winning the Imagine Cup will almost certainly propel them to greater prominence in the field. My own questions would be on durability, washing, and the kinds of things that really need to be tested in real-world scenarios. What if the camera lens gets dirty or scratched? Will there be color options for people that don’t want to have white “skin” on their arm? What’s the support model? What about insurance? SmartArm takes the grand prize, but the runners up and some category winners get a bunch of good stuff too. I plan to get in touch with SmartArm and several other teams from the competition to find out more and hear about their progress. I was really quite impressed not just with the engineering prowess but the humanitarianism and thoughtfulness on display this year. Nadella summed it up best: “One of the things that I always think about is this competition in some sense ups the game, right?” he said at the finals. “People from all over the world are thinking about how do I use technology, how do i learn new concepts, but then more importantly, how do I solve some of these unmet, unarticulated needs? The impact that you all can have is just enormous, the opportunity is enormous. But I also believe there is an amazing sense of responsibility, or a need for responsibility that we all have to collectively exercise given the opportunity we have been given.”
Many people have talked about the over the past few days. But focuses on the A11 Bionic chip in its new TV ad. Named ‘Unleash’, this ad shows a young man walking down the streets of a Chinese city filled with Mobike and Ofo bikes. He’s playing a game on his phone, receiving text messages and watching a live stream on YouTube Gaming. The game quickly becomes bigger than his phone. He fights monsters and virtual characters in the real world. The tagline says “Unleash a more powerful you”. If you opened up the App Store today, you may have seen a promotion for in the Today tab. That’s because this ad is all about Vainglory, a multiplayer game that works more or less like League of Legends or Dota 2. Apple has been updating its system-on-a-chip every year to make it more performant. For the first time, Apple designed its own GPU with the A11 Bionic. This is one of Apple’s competitive advantage against generic Android manufacturers. The company now has a clear advantage when it comes to and gaming performance.
This review took a lot of pork. Over the last few months, I’ve used the Traeger Timberline 850 several times a week. Cooking on this grill is easier than using an oven. With a little bit of planning, a person can simultaneously grill a flock of chickens, a couple of pork butts and a load of veggies and have them turn out perfectly. I did, and it was the best Mother’s Day ever. First the good. It’s simple: This grill can cook the perfect brisket every time. It doesn’t take any skill. Just follow the instructions, and in 12-14 hours, an award-winning brisket will melt in your mouth. And therein lies the rub. This grill turns barbecuing from an art to a science. My completely unscientific ranking of all the food I cooked on this grill: Brisket: 10/10 Pork butt: 10/10 Pork belly: 10/10 Short ribs: 10/10 Country style ribs: 10/10 Beer can chicken: 8/10 Spatchcock chicken: 8/10 Chicken wings: 8/10 Roasted chicken: 7/10 Hamburgers: 7/10 Cookies: 7/10 Flank steak: 6/10 Thick, general cuts of beef: 5/10 [gallery ids="1680115,1680114,1680117,1680118,1680123,1680132,1680128,1680120,1680121,1680148"] Everything from chicken to every cut of pork to every sort of vegetable comes out nearly perfectly. Just follow the instructions, set the temperature and walk away. As long as the pellet hopper has enough fuel, most food will be a blue ribbon contender. I cooked everything I could on this grill. It excels at long and slow. Items like ribs and pork shoulders and brisket are perfect for this grill. Poultry turns out picture perfect. The indirect nature of the grill makes a perfect tray of veggies. But the grill isn’t ideal for everything. Items that need high, direct heat aren’t great on this Traeger grill. Steaks and hamburgers aren’t as good as what comes off other grills. That’s to expected though. The grill uses little pellets of compressed wood as fuel. Loaded in a hopper on the side of the grill, they’re gravity-fed into an auger that methodically pulls the pellets to a small firebox on the bottom of the grill where they’re burned, providing the right temperature and amount of smoke. A control panel on the front of the hopper lets the user select the desired temperature in single digit increments from 165 to 500 degrees. Once the appropriate temperature is selected, the grill’s computer makes the necessary adjustments. Want to crank the heat from 220 degrees to 500? It takes about 10 minutes and just a twist of a dial. I found the built-in probe thermometer accurate. It registered within a degree of my Weber meat thermometer. More importantly during my time with the grill, the meat cooked on the grill was done when the thermometer said it was done. The Timberline 850 is one of Traeger’s largest grills though it’s not evident from the outside. That’s part of the beauty. It’s compact but can hold a crazy amount of food thanks to three deep trays. For Mother’s Day I cooked six chickens on the bottom level, a pork belly on the middle level and veggies on top, and for a little bit, they all shared the grill. Other times, I cooked four pork butts and two racks of ribs, and there was still plenty of room left. The grill’s vertical design allows it to hold a lot of food while minimizing hot spots. This design is what sets it apart from similar pellet grills. I didn’t experience a substantial difference in cooking ability on any of the levels. This grill comes with wifi. Traeger calls it WiFire because that’s fun. It’s handy, and I use it a lot more than I expected. The app lets users see and adjust the temperature of the grill and monitor the temperature of the meat probe. The connection is rock-solid. Past experiences with wifi-enabled appliances set the expectation that I would have to continually re-connect the grill to my network. That’s not the case. The app has never lost connection to my network. I wish there were an Alexa app so I can talk to my grill. And now the bad. This grill is expensive. It’s $1700. That’s crazy. I own several Weber grills, and after 20 years of practice, I can cook a chicken better on a Weber than on this Traeger grill. But it took years to get there. The Traeger makes cooking a great chicken possible from the first time. What’s more, there are a handful of Traeger competitors that offer grills with similar features for often half the price: Green Mountain Grills, Camp Chef, Z Grills, Pit Boss. Google Pellet Grills. Is this grill worth $1700 when compared to the others? No, I don’t think so though an argument could be made around its relativity small footprint compared to its capacity. A person can cook a lot on this thing, and it doesn’t take up more room than a standard gas grill. Still, unless you’re grilling for a family of 20 every Sunday, I would look at other modes while considering this one. I had some issues with the Timberline 850. Grease fires. I had two over the last few months. Both were my fault, but the grill suffered. One time I had a tray overloaded with oiled veggies. Some oil seeped behind the drip plate that guards the firebox and caused a fire out of my reach. The temperature blasted to over 700 degrees, tripping a sensor and shutting off the grill. But the fire raged on for a few minutes in the closed grill. Something similar happened when I had to cook 50 of those horrible frozen hamburger patties. Grease from one dripped down the back of the grill and started a fire. Same thing: the sensor tripped and the grill shut off. But look at the rear of the grill. The paint is peeling, and I fear the steel is damaged though it feels fine. The grill shutoff twice in the middle of an 8-hour pork butt. I caught the first time within a few minutes; the second time it ruined my pork butt. The hopper is to blame. The hopper in this model is poorly designed. In my mind, it’s reasonable to expect most of the hopper to empty itself without user intervention. That’s not the case. The auger easily grabs the pellets and pulls them in, but the hopper is too wide. This causes the pellets to sit on the side of the container where the auger can’t reach. By my estimate, nearly 1/4 of the pellets can sit on the sidelines, useless until the owner pushes them down into the path of the auger. To be clear if the hopper is more than half full, this is not an issue. It’s when the hopper is half exhausted that the owner needs to watch the levels. This grill does a lot of things right. It cooks like a pro. The Timberline 850 makes you, the cook, look like a pit boss. I like it a lot. Getting over the initial price is hard. $1700 is a lot for a grill when similar grills can be had for less than half. Without a direct comparison, all I can say is the Traeger Timberline 850 is a rock solid barbecue grill with a few flaws. Its design lets it hold a lot of food without taking up a lot of deck space. It excels at low and slow cooking, and for my money, that’s the best way to cook.
confirmed on Twitter this morning that it recovered the from the latest Falcon 9 launch. Shortly after launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California at 7:39AM ET this morning, the booster stage landed on the Just Read The Instructions drone ship. The company will now try to catch the rocket’s fairing with a giant net attached to the ship Mr. Stevens. Despite challenging weather conditions, Falcon 9 first stage booster landed on Just Read the Instructions. — (@SpaceX) SpaceX has become more adept at landing its booster rockets but it’s still a spectacle every time it happens. This landing is extra special as the winds were gusting around the time of the launch. The rocket company has so far been less successful with catching the payload shrouds. SpaceX’s high-speed recovery boat Mr. Steven took to the seas this time around with a larger net in the hopes of recovering the fairings. Reusing as much as possible is critical to SpaceX’s mission to lower the cost of space flight. Today’s launch was SpaceX’s seventh mission for the company’s client Iridium who contracted with SpaceX to launch 75 satellites into orbit. According to SpaceX, today’s payload of Iridium satellites so far deployed without an issue. SpaceX is contracted for one more launch with Iridium. This was SpaceX’s 14th launch of 2018. Developing…
Did you know is making a pair of self-balancing roller shoes? It is! The company has been tinkering with all sorts of new form factors since it was acquired by , from half-sized Segways to kick scooters. Next up: inline… shoe… platform things. Called the Segway Drift W1s, they sorta look like what would happen if you took a hoverboard (as in the trendy 2016 hoverboard-that-doesn’t-actually-hover “hover”board, not Marty McFly’s hoverboard), split it in two and plopped one half under each foot. It released a video demonstrating the shoes a few weeks back. Just watching it makes me feel like I’ve bruised my tailbone, because I’m clumsy as hell. Pricing and availability was kept under wraps at the time, but the company has just released the details: a pair will cost you $399, and ship sometime in August. Oh, and they’ll come with a free helmet, because you’ll probably want to wear a helmet. also sheds some light on a few other previously undisclosed details: each unit will weigh about 7.7lbs, and top out at 7.5 miles per hour. Riding time “depends on riding style and terrain,” but the company estimates about 45 minutes of riding per charge. I look forward to trying these — then realizing I have absolutely no idea how to jump off and just riding forever into the sunset.
is a storied dive watch company and their most popular watch, the Sub, has just gotten a 2018 overhaul. The watches were made famous by writer Clive Cussler whose character, Dirk Pitt, consulted his beefy Doxa on multiple occasions. This new model is made in collaboration with gear manufacturer Aqua Lung and features a 42mm steel case with 300 meters of water resistance, a Swiss ETA movement, and a unidirectional diving bezel. It will cost $2,190 when it ships in August. The SUB 300 ‘Silver Lung’ continues the yearlong 50th anniversary celebration for DOXA Watches, whose pioneering SUB would first plumb the ocean depths in 1967 as the first purpose-built dive watch for the emerging recreational scuba diving market. Lauded for its bright orange dial and professional-grade build quality and dependability, the SUB quickly became the benchmark against which all other dive watches were measured, and ultimately won the approval of the pioneers of modern diving. This included those at Aqua Lung, who would soon distribute the watches under the US Divers name before consolidating into the singular name Aqua Lung in 1998. Why is this important? First, it’s a cool-looking watch and priced low enough for a Swiss movement and case to be interesting. Further, it has real history and provenance and is a little known brand. If you’re a diver or just want to pretend to be one you could do worse than this beefy and very legible piece.
The European Union’s antitrust authorities have a series of penalties, fining consumer electronics companies Asus, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer more than €110 million (~$130M) in four separate decisions for imposing fixed or minimum resale prices on their online retailers in breach of EU competition rules. It says the four companies engaged in so called “fixed or minimum resale price maintenance (RPM)” by restricting the ability of their online retailers to set their own retail prices for widely used consumer electronics products — such as kitchen appliances, notebooks and hi-fi products. Asus has been hit with the largest fine (€63.5M), followed by Philips (€29.8M). The other two fines were €10.1M for Pioneer, and €7.7M for Denon & Marantz. The Commission found the manufacturers put pressure on ecommerce outlets who offered their products at low prices, writing: “If those retailers did not follow the prices requested by manufacturers, they faced threats or sanctions such as blocking of supplies. Many, including the biggest online retailers, use pricing algorithms which automatically adapt retail prices to those of competitors. In this way, the pricing restrictions imposed on low pricing online retailers typically had a broader impact on overall online prices for the respective consumer electronics products.” It also notes that use of “sophisticated monitoring tools” by the manufacturers allowed them to “effectively track resale price setting in the distribution network and to intervene swiftly in case of price decreases”. “The price interventions limited effective price competition between retailers and led to higher prices with an immediate effect on consumers,” it added. In particular, Asus, was found to have monitored the resale price of retailers for certain computer hardware and electronics products such as notebooks and displays — and to have done so in two EU Member States (Germany and France), between 2011 and 2014. While Denon & was found to have engaged in “resale price maintenance” with respect to audio and video consumer products such as headphones and speakers of the brands Denon, Marantz and Boston Acoustics in Germany and the Netherlands between 2011 and 2015. Philips was found to have done the same in France between the end of 2011 and 2013 — but for a range of consumer electronics products, including kitchen appliances, coffee machines, vacuum cleaners, home cinema and home video systems, electric toothbrushes, hair driers and trimmers. In Pioneer’s case, the resale price maintenance covered products including home theatre devices, iPod speakers, speaker sets and hi-fi products. The Commission said the company also limited the ability of its retailers to sell-cross border to EU consumers in other Member States in order to sustain different resale prices in different Member States, for example by blocking orders of retailers who sold cross-border. Its conduct lasted from the beginning of 2011 to the end of 2013 and concerned 12 countries (Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway). In all four cases, the Commission said the level of fines were reduced — 50% in the case of Pioneer; and 40% for each of the others — due to the companies’ co-operation with its investigations, specifying that they had provided evidence with “significant added value” and had “expressly acknowledg[ed] the facts and the infringements of EU antitrust rules”. Commenting in a statement, commissioner who heads up the bloc’s competition policy, said: “The online commerce market is growing rapidly and is now worth over 500 billion euros in Europe every year. More than half of Europeans now shop online. As a result of the actions taken by these four companies, millions of European consumers faced higher prices for kitchen appliances, hair dryers, notebook computers, headphones and many other products. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. Our decisions today show that EU competition rules serve to protect consumers where companies stand in the way of more price competition and better choice.” We’ve reached out to all the companies for comment. The fines follow the Commission’s ecommerce sector inquiry, which reported in , and showed that resale-price related restrictions are by far the most widespread restrictions of competition in ecommerce markets, making competition enforcement in this area a priority — as part of the EC’s wider Digital Single Market strategy. The Commission further notes that the sector inquiry shed light on the increased use of automatic software applied by retailers for price monitoring and price setting. Separate investigations were launched in and to assess if certain online sales practices are preventing, in breach of EU antitrust rules, consumers from enjoying cross-border choice and from being able to buy products and services online at competitive prices. The Commission adds that those investigations are ongoing. Commenting on today’s EC decision, a spokesman for Philips told us: “Since the start of the EC investigation in late 2013, which Philips reported in its Annual Reports, the company has fully cooperated with the EC. Philips initiated an internal investigation and addressed the matter in 2014.” “It is good that we can now leave this case behind us, and focus on the positive impact that our products and solutions can have on people,” he added. “Let me please stress that Philips attaches prime importance to full compliance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations. Being a responsible company, everyone in Philips is expected to always act with integrity. Philips rigorously enforces compliance of its General Business Principles throughout the company. Philips has a zero tolerance policy towards non-compliance in relation to breaches of its General Business Principles.” Anticipating the decision of the EC, he said the company had already recognized a .
Meet the Travel Backpack 45L. It’s latest creation and the company to bring it to life. This product marks the eighth Kickstarter campaign for Peak Design — all of which have been wildly successful. Peak Design turned to Kickstarter in 2014 to launch the first generation of its Capture camera clip. Over 5,200 people pledged support to bring that product to life. Since then, Peak Design used Kickstarter to launch several camera straps and mounts and, most notably, the Everyday Backpack, Tote and Sling, which saw pledges from 26,000 people for over $6 million. Peak Design collected over $15 million in pledges through its seven previous Kickstarter campaigns and is now the most active crowdfunded company — miss you, Pebble. Crowdfunding is deeply lodged into the Peak Design’s ethos, the company tells me. For one, Peak Design feels crowdfunding helps with the costs associated with bringing new products to market. The company offers pre-sale discounts through Kickstarter campaigns, which covers the costs of the product and lets the company use the extra to develop the next product. Second, Peak Design says it leverages the two-way communication Kickstarter provides to tweak product design, clean up messaging and ensure a high-level customer experience. [gallery ids="1677373,1677374,1677376,1677379,1677380,1677382,1677384,1677385,1677387"] The $299 Travel Backpack 45L is the company’s largest bag to date and is designed with a traveler in mind. The bag is constructed from 400D weather nylon and the inside is coated to provide additional water resistance. The bag has compression and expansion straps to let it grow or shrink as needed. A bevy of lockable zippers and access points seem to be positioned in a smart way around the bag. TechCrunch loves Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack. . Both sizes can handle a 15-inch MacBook Pro and they have the right mix of storage and access. I trust this new bag was designed with a similar level of competency. Along with the backpack, Peak Design also released a series of packing cubes, each designed to address a different travel need. These are sold separately from the Travel Backpack and start at $29.95. There are six different types: standard packing cubes, a toiletry bag, an electronic bag, a camera bag, a shoe pouch, and a rain cover that’s made out of 200D rip-stop nylon. What’s Peak Design Founder and CEO Peter Dering’s favorite part of the new bag? “The entire back panel,” he says. “Not only does it beautifully conceal all the straps, it’s also got a beautiful grab handle that, for some reason I don’t understand, just makes you feel like a badass when you use it. It kind of feels like when Neo grabs that bag of guns in the Matrix, only my bag is full of drones, mirrorless cameras, and underwear. We’re all in agreement that any character Keanu Reeves plays is an aspirational character, right?” I guess he’s right. The $299 Travel Backpack 45L and packing cubes are available for pre-order on Kickstarter now and the company expects them to be in major retailers by the holiday season. Bag design with Peak Design
Although this isn’t a stationery news site (how I should like that!), , so technically I can write about it. There’s even a phone case and a rolltop backpack! It’s pretty much exactly what you expect: the usual solid Moleskine notebooks with a flourish. They’re all -related, but have different styles: a cartridge and Game Boy for the pocket-size notebooks, and stylized NES graphics on the larger ones. Unfortunately there’s no planner (hint hint, Moleskine). “It’s a newstalgic mixture of contemporary technology and timeless paper,” reads the press release. “Nostalgic” already implies both new and old so there’s no need for a portmanteau, and a Game Boy isn’t exactly “contemporary,” but they got the paper thing right. Actually, the notebooks have some pretty dope detailing. The small ones are embossed with cartridge ridges and Game Boy controls. All of them have internal illustrations and come with a sticker pack. I would have loved to have these in the old days, though some SMB3 gear would probably have been more timely. In addition to the notebooks, there’s a solid-looking, candy-red phone case that you can only get in stores and a truly backpack. Look at these details (click for the gallery): [gallery ids="1676828,1676829,1676827,1676831,1676830"] Wear that at E3 and people will bow down. Well, it’s better than carrying around a giant swag bag from Atlus, anyway. ; you’ll have to find Moleskine dealers to get that for some reason.
The has a thermal issue. YouTuber Dave Lee found out that the top-performing MacBook Pro can’t operate at full speed for a long time because it gets too hot. According to him, a video export in Adobe Premiere Pro is taking longer on a brand new MacBook Pro with an Intel Core i9 CPU than on a 2017 MacBook Pro with an Intel Core i7 CPU (previous Intel generation). Sure, if you look at benchmarks, the new MacBook Pro previous models, and even many iMacs. But Apple is throttling the speed of the CPU so that it doesn’t get too hot under heavy load. tested the performance of the new MacBook Pro with a Core i7 and Core i9 model. In both instances, the clock speed of the CPU started to drop drastically after a while. For the i9, the CPU dropped from 4.17 GHz to 2.33-2.9 GHz after some tests. The i7 dropped from 3.8 GHz to 2.3-2.6 GHz under load. Some users on also got a new laptop and noticed the same issue: We’ve reached out to for comment and didn’t hear back. If all those benchmarks are true, the MacBook Pro might have a ventilation problem. You will never get perfect CPU performances on a laptop compared to a desktop computer due to size contraints. But it becomes an issue when you buy a laptop expecting great performances and it doesn’t deliver.
An internal document distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers and obtained by and confirms that there’s a membrane under the keyboard to “prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism”. This is the first time Apple acknowledges that the third generation butterfly keyboard tries to fix unreliability issues. “The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism. The procedure for the space bar replacement has also changed from the previous model,” the internal document says. When Apple introduced the , the company told that the keyboard had been updated for quieter typing. But iFixit that the company actually added thin silicon barriers under each keycap. It’s clear that Apple didn’t want to publicly state that there is a reliability issue with its recent 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro models. The company doesn’t want to fuel . But if you’ve been using a MacBook Pro or a 12-inch MacBook, you know that the butterfly keyboard isn’t ideal. While some people love typing with it, the main issue is that it’s not reliable. Sometimes, keys become stuck, you can’t use a letter, or it inserts two letters every time you press that key. Even worse, if you try to bring it to an Apple Store to get it fixed, it’s an expensive process that involves replacing a good chunk of the computer. Dust, sand or hair can render your computer unusable. It’s still too early to say if the 2018 MacBook Pro is more reliable. But Apple needs to update the 12-inch MacBook right away because it’s outrageous that they still sell a laptop with a broken keyboard.
Creatures that live in the depths of the oceans are often extremely fragile, making their collection a difficult affair. A new polyhedral sample-collection mechanism acts like an “underwater Pokéball,” allowing scientists to catch ’em all without destroying their soft, squishy bodies in the process. The ball is technically a dodecahedron that closes softly around the creature in front of it. It’s not exactly revolutionary, except in that it is extremely simple mechanically — at depths of thousands of feet, the importance of this can’t be overstated — and non-destructive. Sampling is often done via a tube with moving caps on both ends into which the creature must be guided and trapped, or a vacuum tube that sucks it in, which as you can imagine is at best unpleasant for the target and at worst, lethal. The rotary actuated dodecahedron, or RAD, has five 3D-printed “petals” with a complex-looking but mechanically simple framework that allows them to close up simultaneously from force applied at a single point near the rear panel. “I was building microrobots by hand in graduate school, which was very painstaking and tedious work,” , “and I wondered if there was a way to fold a flat surface into a three-dimensional shape using a motor instead.” The answer is yes, obviously, since he made it; the details are published in Science Robotics. Inspired by origami and papercraft, Teoh and his colleagues applied their design knowledge to creating not just a fold-up polyhedron (you can cut one out of any sheet of paper) but a mechanism that would perform that folding process in one smooth movement. The result is the network of hinged arms around the polyhedron tuned to push lightly and evenly and seal it up. In testing, the RAD successfully captured some moon jellies in a pool, then at around 2,000 feet below the ocean surface was able to snag squid, octopus and wild jellies and release them again with no harm done. They didn’t capture the octopus on camera, but apparently it was curious about the device. Because of the RAD’s design, it would work just as well miles below the surface, the researchers said, though they haven’t had a chance to test that yet. “The RAD sampler design is perfect for the difficult environment of the deep ocean because its controls are very simple, so there are fewer elements that can break,” Teoh said. There’s also no barrier to building a larger one, or a similar device that would work in space, he pointed out. As for current applications like sampling of ocean creatures, the setup could easily be enhanced with cameras and other tools or sensors. “In the future, we can capture an animal, collect lots of data about it like its size, material properties, and even its genome, and then let it go,” said co-author David Gruber, from CUNY. “Almost like an underwater alien abduction.”
Makula Dunbar Contributor Makula Dunbar is a writer with . More posts by this contributor Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with . When readers choose to buy independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and TechCrunch may earn affiliate commissions. Read Wirecutter’s continuously updated list of deals . Prime Day this year, despite its , and . And now that it’s over, we found some deals you can still take advantage of. Asus ROG Swift PG279Q 27 Inch Street Price: $740; Deal Price: $690 A new low price on our gaming monitor pick for Nvidia graphics card users. While it only beats our previous low by a few bucks, this monitor has been stubborn about sticking to $740. The is our G-Sync pick in . David Murphy wrote, “Our pick had the best contrast ratio and lowest measured black levels among our finalists, which helps bring out detail in movies and games; it has all the input connections you need, as well as a built-in USB 3.0 hub; and it’s incredibly adjustable.” AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (15 foot) Street Price: $11; Deal Price: $7 At $7 for a 15 foot cable, this is a new low price. We haven’t seen any discount for this particular size since 2017 and the street price typically sticks to $11. The is the top pick in . “The AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable is a no-frills HDMI cable, but with HDMI, frills aren’t necessary,” Geoffrey Morrison wrote. “The cable is sturdily built and works with any video signal of today (and probably ones into the near future). Both the 3- and 15-foot lengths passed all our tests, including HDR tests.” DJI Spark Fly More Combo Street Price: $550; Deal Price: $500 Down to $500 in all available colors, this is a solid drop from a typical price of $550 for the , a bundle that includes the Spark, controller, extra battery and other accessories. The DJI Spark is our entry-level pick for drone photography in . “If all you want is something to capture aerial footage on occasion for personal use and social-media sharing, you can save several hundred dollars by getting the DJI Spark,” Mike Perlman wrote. “Despite weighing half as much as the Mavic and folding up to about the size of your hand, it has all the important features you need from a video drone: 1080p video recording, image and flight stabilization, collision-avoidance technology and an included controller, and smart-flight modes like ActiveTrack (tracks and follows a subject) and gesture controls all come standard.” Lutron Caséta (2 of our top in-wall wireless light switch and dimmer pick + control hub + 2 remotes) Street Price: $160; Deal Price: $120 If you’re looking for a this is a good deal on one that includes two switches, one bridge and two remotes. Usually priced at $160, the price drops to $120 at checkout, this matches the lowest price we’ve seen. The Lutron Caséta Wireless In-Wall Dimmer and the Lutron Caséta Smart Bridge are the top picks in . Rachel Cericola wrote, “After spending more than 30 hours swapping out switches, flipping switches, programming timers, and talking to experts, we’ve decided that the Lutron Caséta Wireless In-Wall Dimmer is the best wireless in-wall dimmer switch for most people. It’s phase-adaptive, so it can work with any lighting load; it’s the easiest to physically install; and like the other eight units we tested, it features straightforward remote control and scheduling.” Philips Hue White A19 4-Pack 60W Street Price: $50; Deal Price: $40 For those of you who want a set of smart LED light bulbs but don’t want or need the added price for color, a 4-pack of is an excellent deal matching the previous lowest price on the white variant of our top pick for . “Setting up Hue lights requires a few simple steps, much like any other smart-home device. The gateway connects to your home router or network switch via a wired Ethernet port,” Grant Clauser wrote. “This connects the system to your network and allows you to control the lights with a smartphone or tablet connected wirelessly to the same network.” Q Acoustics 3020 Street Price: $270; Deal Price: $243 At $243 from a street price of $270, this is the lowest price we’ve seen for a pair of in either the American Walnut finish or graphite color. These colors are typically priced lower than the black and white colors, but if you absolutely must have either of those, they are also down to the lowest price we’ve seen at $289 from $320. The Q Acoustics 3020 is the top pick in. “The Q Acoustics 3020 pair reproduces music of all genres with great detail and clarity on a wide soundstage. Despite each speaker’s compact size, the set delivers both strong bass and accurate vocals,” Chris Heinonen wrote. “These speakers are efficient, too, which means they can play louder with less-powerful receivers and amplifiers. The compact, rounded-corner design comes in four finishes to help this set fit in with a wider variety of decors.” Roku Streaming Stick Street Price: $45; Deal Price: $35 Recently we’ve been seeing a lot of price fluctuations between $40 and $50, so it’s nice to see this media streaming device down to a new low price of $35. Prior to this deal the best price we’ve seen is $39. The is the runner-up pick (if you don’t need 4K) in . Chris Heinonen wrote, “If you don’t need to stream UltraHD 4K content, the Roku Streaming Stick is the best option available today. It is almost identical to the Streaming Stick+, but supports only 1080p resolution and doesn’t have the external Wi-Fi antenna. If you know you aren’t going to get a 4K TV in the future, or are just looking to upgrade an existing 1080p TV or projector, it offers the same content selection, search, and performance of our main pick.” Fujifilm X-T2 Street Price: $1500; Deal Price: $1,100 The high-end Fujifilm camera we recommend is down to a new low price of $1,100 from a street price of $1,500. The deal is for the black color and only the body without a lens. Prior to this sale the lowest price we’ve seen is $1,400, although there were some deals around Black Friday for the camera with a lens. The is the top pick for experienced shooters and pros in . Amadou Diallo wrote, “The Fujifilm X-T2 represents a significant investment into your photography, and that’s before you even consider adding any of Fujifilm’s well-regarded lenses. But its sensor outperforms what you get in many DSLRs, providing impressively detailed images in even very dark lighting conditions.” ChargeTech Portable Power Outlet Street Price: $190; Deal Price: $130 w/ code AMUZISNW Use the code AMUZISNW to get this price. It’s the lowest price we’ve seen so far, and only $8 more than our top pick, but with 30 percent more mAh/charge. The is our runner-up pick for laptop charging in our guide to . “If our top pick is unavailable or you need a little more power to keep a larger laptop going, get the ChargeTech Portable Power Outlet,” Mark Smirniotis wrote. “It has the same 85 W output as the Jackery PowerBar, so it can power the same types of laptops and electronics, but with an extra 25 percent capacity, this ChargeTech model will last a bit longer—handy if you’re frequently on long-haul flights or working in the field.” littleBits Rule Your Room Kit Street Price: $80; Deal Price: $40 Down to $40 when typically it’s priced around $85, this is an all-time low price for this electronics kit. Prior to this deal the lowest price we’ve seen is $56. We doubt this deal will last more than a few days, at most, so don’t wait — grab it at this low price if you know a would-be inventor. The is the upgrade pick in . “Kids can create a piggy-bank alarm, a catapult, or an invention of their own using modular pieces that snap together magnetically. Each project takes more time and produces a more satisfying, practical device than those in the other kits we tested,” Signe Brewster wrote. “The Rule Your Room Kit comes with the fewest pieces and sample projects among our field of competitors, but because littleBits encourages the incorporation of everyday items into the projects, the kit feels like it offers more possibilities than other kits of similar size.” Acton Blink Lite Street Price: $225; Deal Price: $200 Back down to $200, this is a nice deal on this recommended electric skateboard. The is our budget pick for lighter riders in our guide to the . If you’re a sub-180-pound rider who isn’t looking to spend a ton, this is a good opportunity to save some cash. While the street price has dropped in recent months, it’s still a solid discount. “The Acton Blink Lite may not be the most powerful board around, but it’s a phenomenal value considering its price, and it would be a good gift for the young skater in your life,” Jack Smith wrote. “But despite the lack in power, we found riding the Blink Lite to be a blast, largely due to its nimble mini-cruiser design and small size. It’s also significantly cheaper than most other boards available.” Because great deals don’t just happen on Prime Day, and we’ll send you the best deals we find every weekday. Also, deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, .