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BMW wants you to know when traffic lights change

Traffic lights are supposed to help keep driving orderly, but they often create more tension than they resolve. How do you know that the green light won't turn yellow before it's too late to slow down? BMW thinks it can help. It's the first automaker to offer in-car support for Connected Signals' EnLighten iOS app, which predicts when lights will change based on position and speed. All you need to do is keep an eye on your car's infotainment display -- it'll tell you whether or not you should hit the brakes. The software is useful even if you're stopped, as it'll use your turn signals to show when a necessary light will return to green. This is the definition of a luxury feature when you need a BMW with ConnectedDrive Services just to give it a shot, but it could be entirely worthwhile if it spares you from an accident or a ticket.


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Comcast’s X1 box automatically records extra-long events

There are few things worse for DVR-toting sports fans than to realize that a game is going into extra time that they can't record -- just ask Red Sox and Yankees fans, who may have missed 10 innings this April. Thankfully, Comcast might save you from similar TV tragedies in the future. It's planning an upgrade to its X1 set-top box that can automatically extend recording in half-hour increments when a live event runs past its scheduled end. The extension feature is currently only useful for major sports leagues (MLB, NASCAR, NBA, NCAA basketball and football, NFL, NHL and soccer), but it should be reaching other live events in the future.

There's more waiting in the wings, too. One test (shown above) gives you the option of skipping to the highlights of a sports event you've recorded. You might not have to worry about missing scoring moments just because you're short on time, in other words. Another trial, Welcome Back, catches you up on both your DVR recordings and what's hot. There's no mention of when these features might move past the testing phase, but they're useful enough that we could see them rolling out quickly.


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Empire State Building projection shines a light on endangered animals

If you were hanging around midtown Manhattan this weekend, you may have noticed some exotic animals projected on to the side of the Empire State Building. What was that all about? As it turns out, that was one of the more ambitious examples of tech-powered advocacy in recent memory. It was Projecting Change, a collaboration between the Oceanic Preservation Society and Obscura Digital that used striking imagery to highlight the plights of endangered species, such as snow leopards and manta rays. The piece relied on 40 stacked projectors to beam 5K video on to the legendary New York City skyscraper. At 33 floors tall, the resulting image was clear within about 20 blocks' radius -- you could have had a good view at 14th Street. There's sadly no talk of repeating the event in the near future, but there are replays both on YouTube and Discovery if you want to see what happened.

[Image credit: Joel Sartore and Ron Robinson/Obscura Digital]


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AT&T’s first DirecTV plans include a $200 phone-and-TV combo

ATT isn't waiting long to take advantage of its DirecTV acquisition. The telecom giant is introducing its first plans that incorporate the satellite TV provider, including a promo plan that could save you money if you need to get both cellphone and TV service at the same time. The offering gives you basic TV service for four receivers (through either DirecTV or U-verse) and four phone lines with 10GB of shared data for $200 per month over the first year. You'll need to agree to a 1- or 2-year TV contract and sign up between August 10th and November 14th, but you could save up to $600 in those initial 12 months -- no small amount, even though the rate is likely to change in the long run.

If you're not taking advantage of that specific promo, you'll still have some options that include DirecTV. ATT's new All in One plans range between $50 to $125 for TV alone, and again let you pick whether you're on DirecTV or U-verse. If you need phone service for your family, you tack on $160 to get the same cell service from the promo. And yes, you can bolt on internet access -- promo pricing for that ranges between $30 to $50 per month for the first year. This could ultimately prove to be expensive if you're getting everything at once, but it's not often that you can spring for a single promo that theoretically covers all your needs.

[Image credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]


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Call Windows’ Cortana assistant with this Bluetooth button

Now that Microsoft's voice-guided Cortana assistant is up and running in Windows 10, you might be eager to trigger it without leaving the "hey Cortana" feature on (which might sap battery life) or staying within reach of your computer. If so, Satechi might just come to your aid. It's releasing a Bluetooth Cortana button that will trigger the Halo-inspired helper on Windows PCs and phones from a distance. You can use it to more quickly ask about the weather from across the room, for instance, or leave your phone in your car's cupholder when you start a call. At $23, it won't be the cheapest single-purpose peripheral when it ships later in August. However, that purchase might pay off if you'd rather not get that chatty with your devices.

Microsoft Windows 10

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/08/03/satechi-cortana-button/%3Futm_medium%3Dfeed%26utm_source%3DFeed_Classic%26utm_campaign%3DEngadget%26ncid%3Drss_semi

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The German car industry is buying Nokia’s Here maps

Nokia is selling its Here maps service to a group of German car makers for €2.8 billion (roughly $3.07 billion). The consortium is comprised of Mercedes' owner Daimler, BMW, and Audi. As the latter is a VW subsidiary, the buyers essentially represent the entire German car industry -- or at least all the big hitters. It was previously reported that Uber was interested in purchasing the service, but the car companies clearly brought the most attractive offer to Nokia's table.

Although Here might not be a popular mobile mapping app, it remains the in-car entertainment navigation service. Last year, Nokia said that four out of five new vehicles sold with built-in navigation were being powered by Here. New owners VW, Daimler and Mercedes all utilize the service, as have many other manufacturers, including Ford, Toyota, and aftermarket GPS companies like Garmin.

The sale will leave Nokia as a two-business company focused on network infrastructure, new technology development, software, and licensing. It still has a large portfolio of patents and also licenses its name out to other manufacturers for use in consumer electronics. As usual, such a big-money deal is subject to regulatory approval, but the acquisition is likely to go through sometime later this year.


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​This interactive map crams in American literature’s greatest road trips

People love road trips. Some like 'em more than others. And some like them perhaps a little bit too much. This interactive map from Richard Kreitner and Steven Melendez crams the locations mentioned in twelve road-tripping books including Mark Twain's Roughing It and Jack Kerouac's On the Road. That total's 1,500 entries, paired with the most appropriate coordinates the author could assign. You might take issue with some of the book choices, but we'll only accept complaints after you've tackled the entirety of this cartographic labor of love. You'll find the bibliography after the break.

  • Wild, Cheryl Strayed
  • The Cruise of the Rolling Junk, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails With America's Hoboes, Ted Conover
  • A Walk Across America, Peter Jenkins
  • Cross Country: Fifteen Years and 90,000 Miles on the Roads and Interstates of America with Lewis and Clark, Robert Sullivan
  • The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson
  • Blue Highways: A Journey into America, William Least Heat Moon
  • On the Road, Jack Kerouac
  • Roughing It, Mark Twain
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig
  • Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck
  • The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe


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London’s police vans are getting fitted with CCTV

London's police forces are adopting cameras and other recording equipment in earnest. Twenty-thousand officers are already in the process of receiving body-worn cameras and soon, every police van will be equipped with CCTV too. The initial target is to have at least one vehicle fitted with the technology -- five cameras, three microphones and two monitors -- in every London borough within the coming months. Roughly 120 vehicles have already been kitted out and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) says all future vans will come with the gear as standard. Recording begins as soon as the ignition is switched on and all data is overwritten after 22 days. Should the footage be required as evidence in a trial, however, it can be downloaded from the system and stored for longer periods.

Capturing the moments after a person has been arrested and bundled into the back of a police van should, in theory, provide greater transparency about the Met's day-to-day operations and, subsequently, improve public confidence. The equipment not only acts as a pre-emptive measure to discourage wayward police behaviour, but it could also help officers to prove their case should they ever feel they've been incorrectly accused.

[Image Credit: Martin Deutsch, Flickr]


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Sony’s new mid-range phones take 13-megapixel selfies

These are dark days for Sony's smartphone business. The division saw sales drop 16.3 percent over the past year, and is losing money faster than PlayStation is making it. The answer to this problem, according to Sony, is to release two new mid range smartphones to this month, the Xperia C5 Ultra and the Xperia M5. Both focus heavily on imaging, with the C5 Ultra offering two 13-megapixel Exmor RS cameras (one on the front, one on the back) that will hopefully capture some impressive shots. The front-facing camera has a 22m wide-angle lens for all your #welfie needs, and even a front-facing flash. Cameras aside, the C5 Ultra (pictured above) has a 1.7GHz octa-core processor, a 6-inch 1080p display, and a 2,930mAh battery that Sony claims is good for two days use.

The Sony Xperia M5.

The M5 is likely to be the snappier of the two, with a 2GHz MediaTek X10 processor paired with 3GB of RAM, a 5-inch 1080p display, and IP65/68 water- and dust-resistance. It bumps the main camera up to a 21.5-megapixel Exmoor RS sensor capable of shooting 4K video with faster phase detection autofocus, and has the same 13-megapixel sensor at the front. Its 2,600mAh battery is apparently good for the same two days use as the C5 Ultra.

Both phones will run Android 5.0 Lollipop and include a microSD slot for expanded storage. They'll be available later this month in various markets around the world, but pricing has yet to be announced. If this is all Sony has to offer this year, it's unlikely to do much to reverse its fortunes. The IFA trade show just around the corner, though, and it's historically a launchpad for Sony's new mobiles and tablets. so we may see something more impressive from the company before the month is out.


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Apple Watch now works with August’s designer smart lock

Unlocking a door with your smartphone feels like the future, but you still have to fish something out of your pocket to do it. If you happen to own one of the Yves Behar designed August smart locks, however, you can open it with something on your wrist -- an Apple Watch. You can now lock and unlock the device "with just a swipe and a tap" on a Watch, according to August. In addition, you can view a log of who has come and gone, and get a notification when someone locks or unlocks your door.

Using a smartwatch with a smart lock makes sense, and hopefully it'll also solve some of the quibbles we had about August's $250 lock. We found that it could take awhile to pair via Bluetooth LE using an iOS or Android smartphone, for instance, though it's not clear if Watch will improve that situation much. Nevertheless, it's one of the more useful apps we've seen on Apple Watch for the few people who've splurged for one so far. There's no word on whether August will also support Android Wear devices.

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Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2015/08/03/apple-watch-august-smart-lock-yves-behar/%3Futm_medium%3Dfeed%26utm_source%3DFeed_Classic%26utm_campaign%3DEngadget%26ncid%3Drss_semi

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