On the day before Thanksgiving this year, international stun gun and cop-cam company Taser International, Inc. announced it had given up its fight in two major legal battles over “suspect injury or death.” In a 275-word statement submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the company’s chief financial officer said it would pay a total of $2.3 million in settlements to plaintiffs who had sued the company in product liability cases.
Mac and iPhone owners can say goodbye to unlocking their computer with a password thanks to the new app Knock. Launching today for $3.99, Knock allows a Mac to be unlocked just by knocking on a paired iPhone. The two devices connect over Bluetooth LE, allowing a phone to automatically detect when it nears a paired computer. Though the knocking effect can also be achieved by waving an iPhone in the air, Knock suggests just tapping on it through your pants’ pocket, so you never have to pick up the device.
If I had known that last weekend was going to be robbed from me by the lighting industry, I probably would’ve just slept through it.
It all started, innocently enough, on Saturday. In the past couple weeks, my home — built in the latter half of the last decade but still lit entirely by old-school incandescent bulbs — had a couple lights burn out, so I trekked to Home Depot in search of replacements. It occurred to me once I got there that I should probably be buying something other than incandescent, given the proliferation of CFL and LED alternatives; they use dramatically less energy, and theoretically, they can last a lot longer. And traditional incandescents are going the way of Google Reader: Wattage restrictions imposed by the federal government means they’re probably going to disappear over time, so you’d better start finding alternatives and making sure the electrical equipment in your home can handle them.
Google has updated its map imagery with a new set of images from NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite, creating a world the company promises is “virtually cloud-free” and more detailed. In a blog post, the Google Maps team outlined a comprehensive revamp of the satellite maps used in Earth and Maps. Starting with satellite images, Google splices different shots together to create a smooth composite without any clouds obstructing the view, even in areas that will always have at least some clouds over them. The image on the right below shows the new images, placed alongside Google’s old satellite photo on the left.
A new project combining the collective talents of four French design studios literally allows you to see sound in a whole different light. Murmur is a device that allows passers-by to interact with an LED light wall, turning their voice into visible sound waves. Building a “luminous bridge between the physical and virtual worlds,” it transfers sound waves towards the wall using an LED strip, displaying the movement of each spoken word.
Hey Vine, I am disappointed, you can do much better
The Liberator pistol, first revealed barely a week ago, has caught the eye of federal authorities. Cody Wilson, head of gun-printing group Defense Distributed, says he received a letter from the US State Department, asking him to remove files for the Liberator and other gun parts from the site and officially apply for a ruling on whether he can distribute them.
The Boston bombings, shootings, car chase, and manhunt found the ecosystem of information in a strange and unstable state: Twitter on the rise, cable TV in disarray, Internet vigilantes bleeding into the FBI’s staggeringly complex (and triumphant) crash program of forensic video analysis. If there ever was a dividing line between cyberspace and what we used to call the “real world,” it vanished last week.
Dropbox has announced that it has acquired email app Mailbox after the app hit the market nearly one month ago to critical acclaim. “Rather than grow Mailbox on our own, we’ve decided to join forces with Dropbox and build it out together,” Mailbox CEO Gentry Underwood wrote in a blog post. “To be clear, Mailbox is not going away. The product needs to grow fast, and we believe that joining Dropbox is the best way to make that happen.”
A new type of glasses developed by 2AI Labs can help people with red-green deficiency to see colors more correctly. The glasses were initially developed as tools to help detect blood oxygenation and flow beneath the skin, allowing a nurse to more easily detect veins for an injection, for example. But when tried on by normally colorblind people, the company realized they could also help the 8 percent of men and 0.5 percent of women who suffer red-green deficiency.
One drawback of the glasses is that they may impair the perception of yellows and greens. As the company puts it, the glasses “spread the color confusion more evenly around the color-wheel, rather than having it concentrated only on red-green”. For this reason, the glasses should not be worn while driving, and are meant only as tools to be worn in certain situations.
Other interesting uses for the glasses in normal-sighted people include being able to easily identify emotions in others just by looking at them, using the glasses to identify color and flow changes in blood beneath the skin:
The O2Amps could help caregivers and police officers do their jobs better, help the colorblind to see reds and greens, maybe even make poker players better at calling someone’s bluff.