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MIT uses brain signals and hand gestures to control robots

The team harnessed the power of brain signals called "error-related potentials" (ErrPs), which naturally occur when people notice a mistake. The system monitors the brain activity of a person observing robotic work, and if an ErrP occurs -- because the robot has made an error -- the robot pauses its activity so the user can correct it. This happens via an interface that measures muscle activity -- the person makes hand gestures to select the correct option for the robot.

In one trial, the team used "Baxter", a robot from Rethink Robotics, to move a power drill to one of three possible targets on the body of a mock plane. With human supervision, Baxter went from choosing the correct target 70 percent of the time to more than 97 percent of the time. Critically, the system works with people it's never seen before, so organizations could deploy it in real-world settings without needing to train it on new users.

The project's lead author, Joseph DelPreto, said that the invention is particularly important because unlike traditional robotic management, users do not need to think in a prescribed way. "The machine adapts to you, and not the other way around," he said, adding that the system "makes communicating with a robot more like communicating with another person."

Being able to control robots in this way opens up new possibilities for how humans could manage teams of robot workers, but longer term, it could be useful for the elderly, or workers with language disorders or limited mobility. "We'd like to move away from a world where people have to adapt to the constraints of machines," said project supervisor Daniela Rus. "Approaches like this show that it's very much possible to develop robotic systems that are a more natural and intuitive extension of us."

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/20/mit-uses-brain-signals-and-hand-gestures-to-control-robots/

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Uber will pay drivers in some cities to use electric cars

The compensation varies, but don't expect to buy a Model 3 with your fare. The LA Times learned that drivers in Pittsburgh, San Diego and San Francisco are getting just $1 extra per ride, with at least San Diego drivers capping out at $20 per week. Sacramento drivers Suffice it to say this is more for part-time drivers who are thinking of signing up for Uber than full-timers who want to recoup the cost of their car.

There are other perks, though. Drivers get access to education and resources that can help them find every available rebate or other incentive program (not just federal level tax credits). In Canada, Quebec drivers will receive memberships to an EV advocacy group that can give them reduced insurance premiums. And wherever drivers operate, there will be EV-specific app features, such as a notification for longer trips (30 minutes or more) to help them plan their charging times.

As a passenger, you'll be alerted when you pair up with an EV driver if you're either in the US or Montreal, Canada.

Is this going to tip the balance dramatically in favor of Uber, or EVs as a whole? Not likely. It might influence an Uber driver's buying decision if an EV is in their price range, though. We'd add that there's a competitive motivation as well. Lyft plans to use EVs (particularly autonomous EVs) to help reach its climate goals, and it might cement its reputation as a kinder ridesharing service if it goes unopposed. Uber now has a talking point that it might use to reel in eco-conscious riders.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/20/uber-will-pay-drivers-to-use-electric-cars/

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Porsche invests in EV supercar-maker Rimac

Just recently, luxury automaker Porsche teased its electric Mission E sports car, showing its shadowy silhouette that's not unlike its other non-EV cars. Now, the company has shown that it's getting even more serious about electric vehicles and its Mission E development by teaming up with EV supercar-maker Rimac. Porsche has taken a minority shareholding of ten percent in Rimac Automobili, which you might know as the creator of Concept Two hypercar EV. In addition to manufacturing incredibly fast electric vehicles, Rimac also develops and produces EV components.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/20/porsche-rimac/

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Instagram could launch its ‘IGTV’ long-form video hub today

TechCrunch says the company met with online content creators over the past week to encourage them to shoot 10-minute videos. They're the ones who'll set the style and standard for the hub, which future IGTV creators will then have to emulate. If true, then the new hub will put Instagram in direct competition against YouTube instead of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, though its selection will obviously much smaller.

As for how creators will earn from the hub, TechCrunch says the IGTV videos will have link-out options, allowing creators to drive traffic to their own websites or stores. Instagram is apparently planning to offer monetization in the future, but it has yet to finalize the details for it. We might not have to wait that long to see the hub for ourselves anyway: Instagram sent out press invites for an event on June 20th, 9AM PT/12PM ET.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/20/instagram-igtv-long-form-video-hub/

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The Morning After: Another all-screen phone

We'll give them $4.50 cash and five dollars in store credit.GameStop confirms buyout talks as downloads take their toll

In the wake of a Reuters leak, GameStop has confirmed it's in talks about a "potential transaction." While the retail chain is shy about what those discussions involve and isn't promising a deal, the sources claimed the chats were in response to "buyout interest" from private equity companies like Sycamore Partners.

Interesting.Porsche invests in EV supercar-maker Rimac

Just recently, luxury automaker Porsche teased its electric Mission E sports car, showing its shadowy silhouette that's not unlike its other non-EV cars. Now, the company has shown it's getting even more serious about electric vehicles and its Mission E development by teaming up with EV supercar-maker Rimac, creator of the Concept Two electric hypercar.

You can uninstall Listen.Google's dedicated podcast app for Android is here

After soft-launching as a web app linked to Google Search, there's finally a Google-made podcast player for Android again (after it abandoned the Reader-linked Listen app years ago). Google Podcasts works across not just phones but on all devices Google Assistant can reach. Right now, it's fairly basic, but the company is promising AI-driven enhancements including transcription and, of course, suggestions.

Enjoy some big names you missed the first time around.Some of the most popular PS4 titles now cost just $20

In keeping with the tradition set on its previous consoles, Sony has introduced a selection of best-selling PS4 games for a discount. 'PlayStation Hits' will offer titles like Metal Gear Solid V, Doom, Bloodborne and Uncharted 4 for $20. The game line will be available online and in stores -- just look for the red banner at the top of the box.

Another truly all-screen phone?Oppo's all-screen Find X hides a pop-up selfie camera

Like Vivo and the Nex, Oppo has decided to go notchless with its new flagship phone. The Find X tucks a motorized slide-out camera for selfies, face unlocking and Omoji behind its curved 6.4-inch 1080p display. The best news, though? This device is coming to North America.

It's listening.Amazon launches Alexa for hotels

Visitors to Marriott hotels will soon be able to use Amazon Alexa to make their stays more enjoyable. Alexa for Hospitality lets guests ask Alexa -- via an in-room Amazon Echo -- for help with hotel information, booking guest services, playing music and managing room controls, such as lighting and temperature. Alexa for Hospitality will eventually allow guests to temporarily connect their Amazon account to the Echo in their room so they can play their own music from services including Amazon Music and Spotify, or listen to audiobooks via Audible. When they check out, their account will be automatically disconnected from the device.

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Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/20/the-morning-after/

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Ford’s future transportation plans include an iconic Detroit train station

The expectation is that, along with its partners, there will be work on "autonomous and electric vehicles, and design urban mobility services and solutions that include smart, connected vehicles, roads, parking and public transit." It'll use the rest of the space for residential, retail and community space.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/20/michigan-central-station-ford/

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Steam lets game developers customize their homepages

Steam has put its new Creator Homepages into open beta, letting developers and publishers customize their homepages to better show off their game catalogs. There's a lot of flexibility -- publishers can divide their portfolios up however they wish, so they could split them by genre, or fan-favorites, for example. And for new creators, or those without an extensive catalog, the space can be also be used to announce new projects or showcase concept art. Fans can follow their favorite publishers directly from their homepage to get notifications when updates, announcements or new titles are released.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/20/steam-game-developers-customize-homepages/

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TouchPal built an AI for its alternative Android keyboard

I've been using TouchPal Keyboard Pro over the last few days, and overall, these features do make my life easier by saving me a few taps. "Swift Paste" in particular is one of my most-used features here: it delivers my copied text in a bubble as soon as I tap a new text field, and I can just poke that bubble to paste the text, which is a tad faster than the usual pasting method.

I'm also a fan of the GIF prediction feature, which offers a menu of related GIFs whenever I type in common internet slangs like "LOL," "WTF" and "LMAO," or even just simple reactionary words including "wow," sad," "cool" and more. But of course, if I need more specific GIFs, I can always just load up TouchPal's built-in GIF search engine or text-to-GIF generator -- both of which are just two taps away.

The dining recommendation has been hit-or-miss for me, but that's only because the feature has yet to be optimized for Hong Kong. This "restaurants nearby" bubble shows up whenever you type food-related words -- be it "breakfast," "lunch," "dinner," "meal," "hungry" or simply "food" itself. Tap it and you'll be given a list of restaurant recommendations within your city, then tap "send" and TouchPal will paste the restaurant's name, address plus its Yelp link in your text box for sharing.

This is no doubt a neat feature, though at the time of writing this article, some of the recommended eateries I saw were a bit far out, and there was no way for me to sort the list by distance. A TouchPal rep said that his team will be working closely with Yelp to fix this in the near future, so stay tuned.

In addition to the aforementioned assistant features, TouchPal Keyboard Pro also comes with its very own AR emoji feature, which uses just the front-facing camera on almost any recent Android device to animate one of the four cartoon faces -- my favorite one is the Gingerbread Man, though obviously the more the merrier. Much like the ones on Apple's iPhone X or Samsung's Galaxy S9 series, TouchPal's AR emoji feature lets you record your own animation, and then share it in the form of a short video message. As gimmicky as it is (though TouchPal reckons that kids still love it), this feature works fine on my OnePlus 6; just don't expect the same kind of face-tracking accuracy as you'd get with the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X.

Much like its existing app, TouchPal Keyboard Pro is available as a free download supported by ads. Alternatively, you can subscribe to a premium account for $4.99 per year which not only removes ads, but also vastly expands the keyboard's local Neural Language Model's capability with a cloud prediction engine. (It's worth noting that existing paid users can already use the ad-free Pro version once logged in.) Still, TouchPal may have a bit more work to do here in order to convert more users to the premium side -- it could do with a few more AR emojis and better dining recommendations, but still, it's a good start.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/20/touchpal-keyboard-pro-talia-assistant-ar-emoji/

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Up close with the Galaxy S9 in ‘Sunrise Gold’

You'll get the same storage options (64GB, 128GB or 256GB) and features like the Dual Aperture camera, AR Emoji and Bixby updates are there too. The particular shade of gold on the S9 looks closer to a bronze in some light and almost brown at some angles, but for the most part it looked like a deep champagne.

Samsung offering different color and design variants months after launching a flagship is a typical move by now. Earlier this year it launched an Olympic edition of the Galaxy Note 8, and it's been making rose gold and pink versions of its phones for years. Other companies have been doing this too, like OnePlus, BlackBerry and more. It would have been more exciting to see Samsung introduce a different finish, like the gorgeous Twilight gradient on the Huawei P20 Pro, but meanwhile, I'm not going to complain about having more options to choose from.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/20/samsung-galaxy-s9-sunrise-gold/

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A closer look at the BlackBerry KEY2’s new dual camera

Much better. Up to a point, the KEY2 actually does fairly well with limited light — most of the Japanese characters on that whiskey body remain readable, and there's relatively little grain littering the scene. One thing seems clear, though: you probably shouldn't buy a KEY2 if you're keen on capturing photographic evidence of your late nights out.

We still have a lot of testing to do before we're ready to issue a final verdict, but after using the phone for a few days, I'm not convinced TCL/BlackBerry Mobile really needed a dual camera here. Sure, those camera setups are growing more popular by the day, and we're probably not too far from the point where people buying a new smartphone would naturally expect one. Even so, it's not like people have historically flocked to BlackBerrys because they knew the cameras would be great — the brand is built on a foundation of reliability, and I'd argue a reliable single camera is more valuable than a pretty good dual camera.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/20/a-closer-look-at-the-blackberry-key2s-new-dual-camera/

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