The week in tech: tunnels, coolers, and bears. Oh my.

15 technology stories you might have missed this week

OtterBox cooler
OtterBox’s new Venture Cooler, and a bear. OtterBox

The tech world is looking ahead to next week’s Google I/O conference, but there was plenty going in the technology realm this week. Here’s some of the stuff you might have missed.

  • Elon Musk did a lot of Elon Musky stuff, like share a video of a sled racing through a tunnel as part of his Boring Company venture.
  • And one of his other companies, Tesla, is now selling high-tech shingles that produce electricity and include a warranty that spans “the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first.”
  • Amazon proudly announced that its Alexa-enabled family of products grew by one member with the unveiling of the Echo Show, which has a screen for doing things like making video calls.

  • Facebook’s AI research group said they had created a faster, better language translation system using a neural network.

  • Microsoft held its annual Build developer’s’ conference, where it talked about, among other things, forthcoming updates to Windows 10 and how it’s going to use AI to make workplaces safer (watch that jackhammer there!).

Touch-sensitive Jell-O brain
This brain made out of Jell-O is both touch-sensitive and edible. Carnegie Mellon University
  • Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University created a touch-sensitive Jell-O brain; the brain is part of a bigger project that permits regular objects (desks, steering wheels, you name it) to become touch-input devices.

  • Otterbox, maker of tough phone cases, now sells rugged coolers, which also happen to be bear-resistant— that’s good news for campers, bad news for ursines.

  • Google chat app Allo has a new feature: take a selfie, and then it will use machine learning to turn it into an adorable custom sticker.

  • A company called Cardiogram reported that they have trained a neural network to identify a heart problem called atrial fibrillation using Apple Watches; it works, they say, with 97 percent accuracy.

  • The Lighthouse is a new security device on the block that will leverage artificial intelligence and a camera to keep an eye on your home.

  • Something called the “Bow Wow Challenge” became a thing on Twitter, which is something to think about before fibbing on Instagram this weekend.
  • The Intercept reported that a server at NYU containing confidential documents pertaining to code-breaking and the Department of Defence was totally just online for anyone to see. Whoops.

  • Turns out that the vast majority of drone-sightings from airplanes were actually harmless events.

  • This 100-megapixel digital camera only shoots in black and white and costs $50,000, which doesn’t even include the lens.

Rob Verger

Rob Vergeris an associate editor at PopSci, where he covers aviation, the military, transportation, outdoor gear and gadgets, and other tech topics. A graduate of Columbia Journalism School, he's also written for The Boston Globe, Newsweek, The Daily Beast, CJR, VICE News, and other publications. Contact the author here.