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Amazon UK to deliver fresh food with new Morrisons deal

The partnership should benefit both companies. For Amazon, it's a chance to quickly expand the number of products available through Pantry, thereby making it more useful and a viable replacement for supermarket sites. With a brand that customers recognise, the deal should also encourage new customers to sign up for Prime and try the delivery service. For Morrisons, it's a new way to sell its wares as a wholesale provider, while handing off the responsibility of managing an online platform.

Morrisons has its own site, but at the moment all of its orders are fulfilled by Ocado, a UK specialist in supermarket deliveries. The two are locked in a 25-year deal but an "amended agreement" announced today could change the terms. Morrisons wants to grow its own website and the new pact means that it can take out space in Ocado's new customer fulfilment center in Erith, southeast London. Alongside the Amazon deal, these are small but important moves that could make Morrisons more competitive with some of the UK's other supermarket giants, like Asda and Tesco.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/29/amazon-pantry-uk-morrisons/

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‘Ex Machina’s’ Oscar win is a triumph for low-budget VFX

If you haven't seen it, and you really should, Ex Machina is the story of a turing test being carried out on a robot played by Alicia Vikander. It's a fascinating examination of both what it means to be human, and also how making artificial devices in our image can create conflicting emotions in people. Most of the effects are centered around turning Vikander into a robot, using a combination of excellent makeup and CGI. It just goes to show, too, that canny filmmaking and a smart script can beat back Disney's endless pockets of cash.

Oh, and there's a touching end-note to this, too. Andrew Whitehurst, who created the effects for the film, recently wrote an impassioned defense of CGI over at The Guardian. The self-effacing Brit even ended his piece by saying "When Star Wars wins the best visual effects Oscar on Sunday, it will look to the casual observer as if it is business as usual." He's probably pinching himself this morning.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/29/ex-machina-oscar-vfx/

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Moth eyes inspire solar cells that work indoors

As a rule, most solar cells need to catch direct sunlight. Even those that work indoors can only do so much to generate power from artificial light sources. However, British researchers have found a clever (and decidedly) unusual way to harvest energy while inside: by imitating moths. They've created a graphene-based material that traps electromagnetic waves much like a moth's eye, making it one of the most energy-absorbent substances to date. With the right antennas, it could produce energy from not just sunlight, but any device that emits microwave or radio waves -- your smartphone could help power your smartwatch.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/29/moth-eyes-inspire-solar-cells/

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Netflix steps up proxy blocking to celebrate Oscars weekend

While Netflix has been slowly blocking VPNs and DNS workarounds over the past couple of months -- Australia was first to feel the pinch -- this weekend has seen a slew of complaints from around Europe. Users in Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic and the UK have all reported being blocked. Anecdotally, Engadget writers have seen access revoked for using a VPN that doesn't actually "change" locations -- a UK-based VPN while in the UK, for example.

An error shown while attempting to watch Netflix on a UK VPN from the UK.

It seems like if you're using a VPN or DNS region changer, your days watching Netflix are numbered. The service says it's implementing the blocks due to the "historic practice of licensing content by geographic territories," shifting the blame to the movie and TV industry. However, given that the changes also affect viewers who are merely using a VPN for privacy or work reasons, it's drawing ire from a wider audience than necessary.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/29/netflix-blocking-more-proxies/

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Snapchat Stories come to the browser with Oscars roundup

Snapchat is immensely popular, but at the moment its plentiful Snaps and stitched Stories are trapped inside the mobile app. If you're on a laptop or PC, or want to share a Snap on another social network, there's no obvious way of doing so. That state of affairs started to change last night, however, when Snapchat slapped a live Story up on its website. It meant anyone could get a taste of what people were posting at the event, including, perhaps most importantly, people that aren't already on Snapchat.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/29/snapchat-oscars-web-player/

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Thorpe Park’s VR ghost train will open on May 6th

Derren Brown is a master of illusion and psychological manipulation. He's earned a reputation through a number of live shows and TV specials that challenge what people think is humanly possible. Guessing the UK's National Lottery numbers, beating (at least some) chess champions, sticking people to their chairs at home -- you get the picture. The ride at Thorpe Park seems equally mysterious and unique, promising a 10 to 15 minute ride "the like of which guests will never have taken before." Visitors will apparently play a part in the proceedings, pushing the creaky train through one of 12 possible journeys and two distinct endings.

HTC's VR headset is involved in some capacity, but based on the early trailers it's difficult to discern how they'll be implemented. Like everyone else, we'll just have to wait until the ride opens in May.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/29/vr-ghost-train-may-6/

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Hive feels the heat after smart thermostat glitch

British Gas-owned Hive confirmed the issue in a statement to The Memo: "We are aware of a temporary glitch affecting a very small number of customers, where a certain sequence of commands in the Hive iOS app can cause the thermostat temperature to rise to 32°C." It also noted that the problem could be easily fixed by manually turning the temperature down using "the app, web dashboard or the thermostat itself."

That didn't stop some customers from taking to Twitter to voice their surprise and frustration:

Although the glitch appears pretty simple to rectify, Hive's support team says the company is already working on an update that will patch the issue and ensure that customers will no longer be baked beyond their preset limit.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/29/hive-thermostat-fail/

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Microsoft’s HoloLens is now ready for developers

Microsoft is stressing in today's announcement that its AR headset is still far from a consumer reality. This is in line with recent comments made by Alex Kipman, the engineer behind Kinect who, according to Recode, said he was "in no rush" to ready the headset for a commercial release, the reason for this being there just aren't enough compelling applications to justify the current high price point. Which is why Microsoft's making six dedicated HoloLens applications freely available to developers as soon as they receive their units this spring.

Kudo Tsunoda, who heads up the Windows App Studio at Microsoft, said in a blog post today that this suite of AR apps is designed to "highlight unique capabilities of HoloLens and to illustrate for developers how they can be used in everyday applications." To that end, the company's readied a mix of communication, creation and gaming apps. This includes a special version of Skype aimed at developer collaboration; HoloStudio, which showcases the ability to create 3D holo-objects, as well as program gaze, voice control and gesture commands; and HoloTour, a sort of virtual tourism app that makes use of the headset's spatial audio.

A mock-up of design app HoloStudio

As for its gaming bundle, there's the repackaged Project X-Ray, now known as RoboRaid, a shoot'em up where you have to take down renegade alien insects as they crawl out of your walls; Young Conker, a platformer that maps itself to your environment so that every play through is slightly different; and, finally, Fragments, a crime drama that places AR characters in your living room for a game of "whodunnit."

Microsoft also has one additional AR app waiting in the wings, but it won't be made available until this summer. That app, Actiongram, is focused on digital storytelling and will allow "creative coders and content creators" to make mixed-reality videos.

In all, today's news is a strong sign that Microsoft's keen to avoid repeating mistakes with innovative tech, like the now-shelved Kinect, that are not quite ready for prime time. By investing wisely in its developer community, the company can ensure that whenever it does make HoloLens available for the masses, it will have a clear and obvious purpose.

Hardware Details:
· See-through holographic lenses (waveguides)
· 2 HD 16:9 light engines
· Automatic pupillary distance calibration
· Holographic Resolution: 2.3M total light points
· Holographic Density: 2.5k radiants (light points per radian)

· 1 IMU
· 4 environment understanding cameras
· 1 depth camera
· 1 2MP photo / HD video camera
· Mixed reality capture (link to blog)
· 4 microphones
· 1 ambient light sensor

Human Understanding
· Spatial sound
· Gaze tracking
· Gesture input
· Voice support

Input / Output / Connectivity
· Built-in speakers
· Audio 3.5mm jack
· Volume up/down
· Brightness up/down
· Power button
· Battery status LEDs
· Wi-Fi 802.11ac
· Micro USB 2.0
· Bluetooth 4.1 LE

· Battery Life
o 2-3 hours of active use
o Up to 2 weeks of standby time
o Fully functional when charging
· Passively cooled (no fans)

· Intel 32 bit architecture
· Custom-built Microsoft Holographic Processing Unit (HPU 1.0)

· 579g

· 64GB Flash

What's in the box
· HoloLens Development Edition
· Clicker
· Carrying case
· Charger and cable
· Microfiber cloth
· Nose pads
· Overhead strap

OS and Apps
· Windows 10
· Windows Store

What you need to develop
· Windows 10 PC able to run Visual Studio 2015 and Unity 5.4

Image credits: Microsoft

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/29/microsoft-hololens-developer-preorders/

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Stretchy circuits will make for better wearables and robots

The hybrid material is based on both liquid metal and solid metal alloys. The team first created a film using silicone-based substrate called polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). They then formed a metallic bi-layer by evaporating gallium onto a sputtered gold film a mere 60 nanometers thick. When the solid part of the gold alloy is stretched, cracks can form, but they're quickly filled by the liquid gallium, which has a melting point of 29.8 degrees Celcius (85.6 degrees F). Best of all, the final material can be lithographed onto any surface in complex patterns just like regular electronic circuits.

Without the need to print circuits on a board, the team has dreamed up all kinds of usage scenarios. "We can integrate conventional electronics into assemblies that stretch and carry power, we can use it in soft robotics and smart clothing... but we can also use it to construct actuators that give tactile feedback," says graduate student Arthur Hirsch. In other words, electronics can finally work with our squishy human bodies or help researchers create more life-like robots with liquid metal circuits. Hm, wait a second ...

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/29/stretchy-circuits-will-make-for-better-wearables-and-robots/

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HoloLens’ official PC app streams live video from your headset

You know that Microsoft's HoloLens will do a fair amount on its own, but what can it do in harmony with your PC? Quite a bit, actually. Fans have noticed that Hololens' official companion app for Windows 10 lets you download media, remotely launch apps and even watch a live stream from the augmented reality headset. The app is free to grab if you're curious, although it clearly won't be very useful unless you're willing to plunk down $3,000 for the developer headset -- think of this more as a peek at what you'll get when the eventual mainstream model hits shelves.

Article source: http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/29/hololens-official-pc-app/

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