Last week in tech: A robot ate my iPhone
Apple's new recycling bot, Nike's new 3D-printed shoe, and Chrome finally shuts up auto-play videos.
If you watched last night’s season two premiere of Westworld on HBO, your robot-induced anxiety may be heightened today, but fear not. While there are several robots mentioned in this week’s tech recap, they’re all friendly and helpful, rather than self-aware and murderous.
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We hit a couple milestones on the LWIT podcast this week. The most exciting development was our first non-PopSci guest. Peter Rubin is the author of a book called Future Presence about the coming wave of virtual reality tech that will soon crash into our collective lives. He gave us some insight into upcoming VR technology as well as how we can expect it to affect our quirky human brains.
This is also the first episode in weeks in which we don’t have to talk about Facebook!
Apple’s new robot, Daisy, eats iPhones and spits out recyclable parts
Apple’s Daisy robot
We took a trip out to Texas to get an exclusive look at Apple’s new robot that recycles iPhones, and we also talked with Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP for environment, policy and social Initiatives and former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Daisy can break apart 200 smartphones an hour into pieces that are easy to recycle. It’s not as handsome as the Westworld robots, but it’s a lot more efficient.
The new version of Chrome blocks auto-playing videos with sound (sometimes)
The latest version of Google’s Chrome browser includes a long-awaited feature that prevents videos with sound from auto playing when you visit a website. There’s a catch, though. If Google thinks you have had a “meaningful interaction” with a site, that will override the block and it will be allowed to assault your ears when the site loads. You can see the list of sites with which you’ve had a “meaningful interaction” by going opening Chrome and pasting “chrome://media-engagement” into the address bar.
Nike hacked a 3D printer to make its sneaker for elite marathon runners
We sat down with Nike to talk about its new 3D-printed shoe for elite marathon runners. It’s an interesting bit of tech that Nike immediately proved effective when Eliud Kipchoge wore it to clock a winning time of 02:04:17 in the London Marathon.
Government websites have been having a rough couple weeks
Income taxes were due in the US last week, but the online filing system crashed on tax day, causing the government to issue a one-day extension so people could file. Just a few weeks before that, the New York State standardized testing website failed, eating some students’ work when they tried to submit their English language arts exams.
EverCam is a wireless security camera has a giant battery and AI
Anker Eufy security camera
In its apparent quest to make relatively affordable versions of just about every consumer electronic, Anker and Eufy launched a KickStarter to fund its new indoor/outdoor wireless security camera, EverCam. Each camera has a built-in 13,400 mAh battery that can last up to a year if it’s in standby mode. It also has AI features like facial recognition to allow users to tweak alerts and notifications depending on who enters its field of view. The product is already fully funded, but you can still pre-order on the Kickstarter page now.
Amazon is reportedly working on robots to help out around the house
According to a recent Bloomberg report, Amazon is ramping up its efforts to create a robot that will live in your home. The program is reportedly part of Amazon’s Lab126 hardware division, which has been adding staff with specific robotic skills. There are almost no specific details about the hardware yet, but that shouldn’t stop you from fantasizing about what it would be like to yell “Alexa, do the dishes,” and have it actually happen.
A professional photography hosting site bought Flickr
It was a big deal back in 2005 when Yahoo! bought Flickr for $35 million. Since then, the once-mighty photo sharing site has stumbled with some questionable redesigns and a re-tool of its overall business model. Now, Flickr’s old parent company Verizon (which owns the conglomeration of Yahoo! and AOL known as Oath) has sold Flickr to professional photography hosting site, SmugMug. It’s a surprising move, since Flickr seems so much larger than SmugMug in terms of photo volume and overall users, but the company says it will keep Flickr running as a stand-alone community.
Netflix might buy some physical movie theaters
For many kids in 2018, Netflix has only ever existed as a streaming service. They will never know the pain of crawling around on the living room floor looking for the red DVD envelope you know you dropped down there. If recent reports pan out, however, people could someday file into Netflix-owned movie theaters to watch the company’s content. The report claims Netflix considered buying some brick-and-mortar theaters. The first deal fell through, but it could resurface in the future. The concept seems very cool, though. Binging the new season of Stranger Things in a theater seat with food and a bunch of other fans could be a lot of fun.