Tech

Nomad’s new wireless charging hub is a traveler’s best friend

If you spend any meaningful amount of time in hotels, you’ll know that many of them are still living in the age of the 30-pin adapter, even though most of us have already moved on to Lightning, wireless charging and USB-C. So it’s essential to pack charging equipment to handle any need that might arise — and usually that means a lot of dongles. Nomad’s new wireless USB hub really cuts down on clutter, and makes it easy to charge what you need to charge, when you need to charge it. The hub looks a bit like a sleek bag burger designed by someone who makes luxury car interiors for a living. It sounds like a weird description, but it’s not a bad thing — the black puck is basically at home in any decor, so it’s a good bedside companion for home as well as away. On top, the hub has a wireless ch...

Nintendo’s bringing DIY robots and more to the Switch using cardboard

[embedded content] Nintendo’s big new surprise interactive experience for the Switch is now official, and it’s basically a maker kit for the portable console that uses cardboard component pieces to allow people to build a range of different creations and play with them using the console to power games that interact with the DIY components. NintendoLabo is like a next-level LEGO, with kits that let you do things like build working pianos that interact directly with Switch software, and even make your own robots. Nintendo shows off an interactive fishing game with a real, build-it-yourself cardboard fishing rod you can use to catch stuff in-game, and a rolling bot you can remote-control with the Switch’s touchscreen, as just a couple of examples. It actually looks super fun, and there’s a va...

Chariot expands to Columbus, Ohio with JPMorgan Chase commuter shuttle

Ford’s Chariot shared commuter shuttle service is expanding to its latest new market: Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus launch is in partnership with JPMorgan Chase, and initial service in the area will be specifically a shuttle for the company’s 400 Corporate Center employees located within the city. Chariot will operate daily shuttles for these employees starting on January 22, and they’ll provide both morning and evening commute options using Wi-Fi equipped, 14-seat Ford Transit vans. The vans will have service between 6 AM and 10 AM daily, and also between 4 PM and 8 PM, which is a big range for both getting in and leaving the office. It’ll offer six different routes to cover different residential areas for employees. This is specifically part of the growing Enterprise segment of Chariot’s ...

Volumetric photogrammetry — big words, bigger impact on VR

Ben Bloch Contributor Ben Bloch is a Los Angeles-based serial entrepreneur. He is best known for his focus on emerging business opportunities at IBM, followed by contributing his leadership in three startup exits, including clean-tech company Econation, which he co-founded in 2009 and sold in 2012. Virtual reality: By this point, most people have at least a rudimentary understanding of what the term means. Once enjoyed and developed for niche techie and gaming audiences, brands have quickly realized VR’s limitless potential, and, as a result, every interest group from interior design to makeup to apparel is jumping on the immersive content bandwagon. For consumers, VR generally means strapping on a head-mounted display (HMD), stepping into a new world and enjoying the experien...

Google is rolling out a fix for those Home-related WiFi issues

In the latest of a recent spate of bugs plaguing Google’s most recent hardware offerings, a number of Home and Chromecast users have been reporting issues around their devices’ WiFi connectivity this week. Google has since acknowledged the issue on its support page, noting that “In certain situations, a bug in the Cast software on Android phones may incorrectly send a large amount of network traffic which can slow down or temporarily impact Wi-Fi networks. The specific impact to the network will vary depending on the router.” The company will be offering up a fix for the issue, which is set to start rolling out to its devices via a Play services update starting tomorrow. Initial reports appeared to center around TP-Link’s popular line of routers, and the networking company has since issued...

The Last Mile is launching its coding program at a women’s prison in Indiana

The Last Mile, a coding program that first launched inside California’s San Quentin State Prison, has expanded to its first out-of-state prison. Yesterday, The Last Mile announced its plans to launch at the Indiana Women’s Prison with support from Governor Eric J. Holcomb. “We had a desire to go outside of California this year,” The Last Mile co-founder Chris Redlitz told me over the phone. “It just happened sooner than we thought. It was really [Gov. Holcomb’s] motivation and his team, but ironically, Indiana is very red state and we come from a blue state. It really shows the non-partisan approach to this that regardless of political preferences or whatnot, it’s an issue that really transcends that.” Gov. Holcomb envisions The Last Mile transforming the lives of incarcerated women and he...

Apple greenlights new Reese Witherspoon-backed comedy series starring Kristen Wiig

Apple has landed its first half-hour comedy series, according to a new report from The Hollywood Reporter out this afternoon. The series, which will be exec produced by and star SNL vet Kristen Wiig, hails from Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. This is the third project from Hello Sunshine that Apple has now picked up to aid in its streaming TV ambitions. Others include a Jennifer Aniston and Witherspoon drama, focused on a fictional version of the morning TV show world, and a thriller starring Octavia Spencer called “Are You Sleeping,” which will delve into America’s love affair with true crime podcasts. Apple also recently greenlit a documentary series about extraordinary homes, a revival of “Amazing Stories” exec produced by Steven Spielberg and a new space drama from “Battlestar Gala...

Giphy builds transparent GIF library for Instagram Stories

Instagram now lets some users slap background-less GIFs sourced from Giphy onto their Instagram Stories. Rolling out for wider testing with a Giphy-branded design, the new GIF sticker engine could further differentiate Instagram Stories from Snapchat, which has yet to embrace the animation trend. It appears that Giphy has worked with Instagram to create a special search engine for a library of GIFs designed to be overlaid over photos and videos rather than being shared by themselves. The backgrounds and transparent bits of these GIFs have been cut out so they mesh into your imagery. Instagram’s new transparent GIF search engine, powered by Giphy Facebook and Giphy have been working more closely recently on custom GIF databases, as the two built a child-safe, handpicked set of animations to...

Study shows software used to predict repeat offenders is no better at it than untrained humans

COMPAS, a piece of software commonly used in the justice system to predict which offenders will find themselves behind bars again, is no better than soliciting random people on Mechanical Turk to determine the same thing, a new study has found. Oh, and they’re both racially biased. Julia Dressel and Hany Farid of Dartmouth college looked into the system amid growing skepticism that automated systems like COMPAS (Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions) can accurately predict something as complex as recidivism rates. To test this, they recruited people on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to review an offender’s sex, age, and criminal record (minus, of course, whether the person did eventually recidivate, or reoffend). The people were then asked to provide a positive (wi...

Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin exits COO role, now filled by former Pandora COO Sara Clemens

Twitch today announced its co-founder Kevin Lin will be stepping down from the COO role at the company, amid a series of new executive hires. Lin will continue to work at Twitch in a newly developed, and still unnamed, role leading “Culture, Strategy & Innovation,” which reports directly to Twitch CEO Emmett Shear. Replacing Lin as COO is former Pandora COO Sara Clemens, who has joined Twitch alongside two other new exec hires: Mark Weiler, who joins from Rubicon Project to become SVP, Head of Platforms & Services at Twitch; and  Amir Shevat, VP of Developer Experience, who joins from Slack. Clemens resigned as Pandora COO back in December 2016, after more than two years with the streaming service. Her exit had come around the time that buyout rumors were flying about, pegging Siri...

Amazon’s Echo, Alexa and Music Unlimited are hitting Australia and New Zealand next month

Amazon announced its intentions to launch the Echo down under during its big AWS Re:Invent show back in November. Details were pretty light on the offering at the time, but now the company’s back with specifics a few weeks ahead of availability. The new Echo, Echo Plus and the Echo Dot are currently up for pre-order and will be launching in in Australia early next month, priced at $149 AUD, $229 AUD and $79 AUD, respectively. The company’s also offering up a limited time deal, discounting all three by $30 AUD. The smart home speakers also are launching with a regional version of Alexa, featuring a voice for Australia and New Zealand, local knowledge offerings and skills created by developers in the region. Amazon’s Music Unlimited also is launching along with the hardware, priced at $5 a m...

Apple pledges $350 billion investment in US economy over next five years

Apple is about to give the US economy a huge boost in the form a $350 billion five year investment. As part of that, it will commit $55 billion this year alone and plans on adding 20,000 new jobs over that timeframe. Following in the footsteps of Amazon, it also plans to add a new campus somewhere in the US this year. There is a lot of news here. Let’s start with the big picture investment of $350 billion, which Apple says does not include ongoing tax payments, the tax revenues generated from employees’ wages or the sale of Apple products. It will however involve taxes on repatriation of some of Apple’s cash reserves, which are currently in the $256 billion range. They anticipate $38 billion coming from repatriation taxes, but much of it will be capital expenditures on the part of the comp...