Apple is offering free battery replacement for some MacBook Pro units

Apple is offering free battery replacements for some 13-inch MacBook Pro (without Touch Bar) laptops that may have a faulty component.

The company announced recently that a limited number of these devices have a component that may fail, which would case the original built-in battery to expand. While Apple says this isn’t a safety issue, it wants to solve the problem as quickly as possible with free battery replacements.

The models that might be affected were manufactured between October 2016 and October 2017.

Think your MacBook Pro might be eligible?

Apple has set up a website for the replacement program where users can input their device’s serial number to check for eligibility. 

This isn’t the first time Apple has offered a battery replacement. In fact, Apple famously found itself in hot water last year when users learned that the company was slowing down older iPhones in an attempt to save power on older batteries. The company responded by offering $29 battery replacement in iPhones.

Facebook face-recognition error looks awkward ahead of GDPR

A Facebook face recognition notification slip-up hints at how risky the company’s approach to compliance with a tough new European data protection standard could turn out to be.

On Friday a Metro journalist in the UK reported receiving a notification about the company’s face-recognition technology — which told him “the setting is on.”

The wording was curious, as the technology has been switched off in Europe since 2012, after regulatory pressure, and — as part of changes related to its GDPR compliance strategy — Facebook has also said it will be asking European users to choose individually whether or not they want to switch it on. (And on Friday begun rolling out its new consent flow in the region, ahead of the regulation applying next month.)

The company has since confirmed to us that the message was sent to the user in error — saying the wording came from an earlier notification which it sent to users who already had its facial recognition tech enabled, starting in December. And that it had intended to send the person a similar notification — containing the opposite notification, i.e. that “the setting is off”.

“We’re asking everyone in the EU whether they want to enable face recognition, and only people who affirmatively give their consent will have these features enabled. We did not intend for anyone in the EU to see this type of message, and we can confirm that this error did not result in face recognition being enabled without the person’s consent,” a Facebook spokesperson told us.

Here are the two notifications in question showing the setting on versus the setting off wordings:

This is interesting because Facebook has repeatedly refused to confirm it will be universally applying GDPR compliance measures across its entire global user-base.

Instead it has restricted its public commitments to saying the same “settings and controls” will be made available for users — which as we’ve previously pointed out avoids committing the company to a universal application of GDPR principles, such as privacy by design.

Given that Facebook’s facial recognition feature has been switched off in Europe since 2012 “the setting is on” message would presumably have only been sent to users in the US or Canada — where Facebook has been able to forge ahead with pushing people to accept the controversial, privacy-hostile technology, embedding it into features such as auto-tagging for photo uploads.

But it hardly bodes well for Facebook’s compliance with the EU’s strict new data protection standard if its systems are getting confused about whether or not a user is an EU person.

Facebook claims no data was processed without consent as a result of the wrong notification being sent — but under GDPR it could face investigations by data protection authorities seeking to verify whether or not an individual’s rights were violated. (Reminder: GDPR fines can scale as high as 4% of a company’s global annual turnover so privacy enforcement is at last getting teeth.)

Facebook’s appetite for continuing to push privacy hostile features on its user-base is clear. This strategic direction also comes from the very top of the company.

Earlier this month CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg urged US lawmakers not to impede US companies from be using people’s data for sensitive use-cases like facial recognition — attempting to gloss that tough sell by claiming pro-privacy rules would risk the US falling behind China.

Meanwhile, last week it also emerged that Zuckerberg’s company will switch the location where most international users’ data is processed from its international HQ, Facebook Ireland, to Facebook USA. From next month only EU users will have their data controller located in the EU — other international users, who would have at least technically fallen under GDPR’s reach otherwise, on account of their data being processed in the region, are being shifted out of the EU jurisdiction — via a unilateral T&Cs change.

This move seems intended to try to shrink some of Facebook’s legal liabilities by reducing the number of international users that would, at least technically, fall under the reach of the EU regulation — which both applies to anyone in the EU whose data is being processed and also extends EU fundamental rights extraterritorially, carrying the aforementioned major penalties for violations.

However Facebook’s decision to reduce how many of its users have their data processed in the EU also looks set to raise the stakes — if, as it appears, the company intends to exploit the lack of a comprehensive privacy framework in the US to apply different standards for North American users (and from next month also for non-EU international users, whose data will be processed there).

The problem is, if Facebook does not perform perfect segregation and management of these two separate pools of users it risks accidentally processing the personal data of Europeans in violation of the strict new EU standard, which applies from May 25.

Yet here it is, on the cusp of the new rules, sending the wrong notification and incorrectly telling an EU user that facial recognition is on.

Given how much risk it’s creating for itself by trying to run double standards for data protection you almost have to wonder whether Facebook is trying to engineer in some compliance wiggle room for itself — i.e. by positioning itself to be able to claim that such and such’s data was processed in error.

Another interesting question is whether the unilateral switching of ~1.5BN non-EU international users to Facebook USA as data controller could be interpreted as a data transfer to a third country — which would trigger other data protection requirements under EU law, and further layer on the legal complexity…

What is clear is that legal challenges to Facebook’s self-serving interpretation of EU law are coming.

A UK journalist is suing Facebook for defamation over fake ads

A high-profile British journalist and entrepreneur has announced he plans to sue Facebook for defamation over fake adverts published on the site. 

Martin Lewis, founder of consumer help site MoneySavingExpert.com, announced he’s issuing High Court proceedings for a “campaigning defamation lawsuit against Facebook.” 

According to a statement, Facebook “has published over 50 fake Martin Lewis adverts,” which he claims are “regularly seen, likely by millions of people” in the UK. The “scam” adverts feature “big pictures” of Lewis alongside his name, and a “raft of false promises or endorsements,” and some link to fake articles. 

“Enough is enough. I’ve been fighting for over a year to stop Facebook letting scammers use my name and face to rip off vulnerable people – yet it continues,” Lewis said in a statement. “I feel sick each time I hear of another victim being conned because of trust they wrongly thought they were placing in me. One lady had over £100,000 taken from her.”

Examples of the ads shown on Facebook.

Examples of the ads shown on Facebook.

Image: mse

Image: mse

Lewis said that he had told Facebook that he doesn’t “do adverts,” adding that he’s asked the social network “not to publish them,” or to “check their legitimacy.” 

“This shouldn’t be difficult – after all, it’s a leader in face and text recognition. Yet it simply continues to repeatedly publish these adverts and then relies on me to report them, once the damage has been done,” says Lewis. 

A Facebook spokesperson told Mashable that they had “explained to Martin Lewis that he should report any adverts that infringe his rights,” and the ads “will be removed.” 

“We are in direct contact with his team, offering to help and promptly investigating their requests, and only last week confirmed that several adverts and accounts that violated our Advertising Policies had been taken down,” the spokesperson continued. 

But, according to Lewis’ statement, reporting these ads hasn’t really helped.

“Even when they are reported, many have been left up for days or weeks. And finally, when they are taken down the scammers just launch a new, nearly identical campaign very soon afterwards and the whole rigmarole starts again,” says Lewis. 

His lawyers are seeking exemplary damages, and Lewis says he plans to donate any money paid to him to anti-scam charities. 

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Data scientist at centre of Cambridge Analytica scandal apologises for his role in it

The data scientist at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Aleksandr Kogan, has apologised for his role in it.

Kogan spoke to 60 Minutes on Sunday, maintaining that at the time, he believed he was doing everything correctly, and that he wouldn’t have done anything to destroy his relationship with Facebook. 

But Kogan apologised for thinking that people knew they were giving away their data.

“Back then we thought it was fine. Right now my opinion has really been changed,” he told the program.  

“And it’s been changed in particular, because I think that core idea that we had — that everybody knows and nobody cares — was fundamentally flawed. And so if that idea is wrong, then what we did was not right and was not wise. And for that, I’m sincerely sorry.”

Facebook has since expressed remorse, taking out full-page ads to say sorry too back in April. Mark Zuckerberg also said sorry in Congress

Of course, things weren’t so contrite amid revelations of the scandal, when the social media giant said Kogan “lied” to them. He said Facebook allowed it to happen, because it “clearly has never cared” nor enforced its developer policy. 

Kogan’s app had a terms of service which allowed transfer or sale of user data, despite it being in conflict with Facebook policy.

“And they tell you that they can monitor it. And they can audit. And can let you know if you do anything wrong. I had a terms of service that was up there for a year and a half that said I could transfer and sell the data. Never heard a word [from Facebook],” he said.

“The belief in Silicon Valley and certainly our belief at that point was that the general public must be aware that their data is being sold and shared and used to advertise to them. And nobody cares.”

Kogan maintained he was being singled out by Facebook, even though he believes the problem is much bigger. He pointed to a former colleague, Joseph Chancellor, who now works for Facebook but said they “did everything together” for the Cambridge Analytica project and has escaped blame.

Facebook even worked with Kogan between 2013 and 2015, where he said he was brought in to teach staff about what he learnt from the data he collected from Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook confirmed to 60 Minutes that he did some “research and consulting” work with them, but wasn’t aware of Kogan’s Cambridge Analytica activities.

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Slite raises $4.4M to create a smarter internal notes tool

Slack exposed the demand for a dead-simple internal communications tool, which has inspired a wave of startups trying to pick apart the rest of a company’s daily activities — including Slite, which hopes to take on internal notes with a fresh round of new capital.

Slite is more or less an attempt at a replacement for a Google Doc or something in Dropbox Paper that is sprawling and getting a little out of control. An employee might create a Slite note like an onboarding manual or an internal contact list, and the hope is to replace the outdated internal wiki and offer employees a hub where they can either go and start stringing together important information, or find it right away. The company today said it has raised $4.4 million in a new seed funding round led by Index Ventures after coming out of Y Combinator’s 2018 winter class. Ari Helgason is joining Slite’s board of directors as part of the deal.

“We now have to develop this product enough to show we can actually replace large amounts of things,” co-founder Christophe Pasquier said. “Today we have more than 300 active teams, and we have to show that we can make it scale. In the short term is just we’re replacing Google Docs because these tools ahven’t evolved and we’re bringing something super fresh. The longer-term vision of really bringing all the information that has value from a team and becoming this single source of truth for teams.”

Slite tracks permissions and changes to the notes in order to allow companies to do a better job of maintaining them, rather than sharing around links and having different people jump in and make changes. The part about sharing links is one in particular that stung for Pasquier, as even larger companies can have issues with employees asking in Slack what policies are — or even for links to parts of the internal wiki where that important information is buried.

Getting there certainly won’t be easy. Companies like Dropbox continuing to invest in these kinds of collaborative note-taking tools — that could easily evolve into internal hubs of information. And as Pasquier tries to liken the development arc to Slack, which showed employees wanted some more seamless tool for communication, that company is also working on making its search tools smarter, like helping employees find the right person to ask a question. It doesn’t look like an asynchronous notes tool just yet, but if all the information is somewhere in Slack already, a smart search tool may be the only thing necessary to find all that information.

How this AI platform is taking over the business world

Despite the pop culture fiction that artificial intelligence is a far-away puzzle just waiting to be unlocked, the truth is that AI is already a tool that most use often, some of us even every day. 

Just think about it: every time you stop to ask Siri or Google Home or any of our friendly neighborhood pocket assistants for directions or help finding the nearest coffee spot, you’re interfacing with an elegant example of easy-to-use AI. 

For businesses, using chatbots as the first line of defence against customer complaints is now common, providing a handy way to triage queries and customer needs. Again, AI is already an efficient solution to an everyday problem. And while it’s easy to imagine moments where the lives of everyday people intersect with artificial intelligence, and even find examples of our interactions with AI within smaller businesses, for global enterprises the reality of large-scale AI has yet to unfold. 

Enter Genpact. This global professional services firm looks to do just that: leverage artificial intelligence, at potentially massive scale, to ultimately bring us closer to making that future a reality. In this effort they’ve unveiled Genpact Cora, an interconnected platform of best-in-class technologies that span from robotic automation to advanced data visualization to artificial intelligence.  

What global business hasn’t dreamed of a future where artificial intelligence can realistically help solve challenges, at a scale? Just think about it: in the same way that we use virtual assistants in our daily lives to help us navigate a busy schedule or find quick solutions to our everyday problems, there could be tech just on the horizon that helps businesses operate more smoothly, in much the same ways. 

There’s a key difference between Genpact Cora and the helpful virtual assistant in your pocket, however. Nitin Bhat, Senior Vice President at Genpact, explains that because Cora is built on AI and other advanced technologies, it can learn and prescribe what actions are needed for business clients to improve their processes and improve their competitive position in the market.

The implications of this are huge. For businesses eager to bring AI into the fold, it’s not about flashy new products and dazzling tech, but more importantly about using those tools work harder to meet businesses’ goals and prove out the value inherent to the tech itself. 

While AI continues to fundamentally change the way businesses at the enterprise level engage with both customers and other businesses, the truth is that it is largely an unmet need. Genpact estimates that more than 70 percent of enterprise processes can be can be automated, for example, by robotic process automation or through machine learning and intelligent automation. 

More than 70 percent of enterprise processes can be can be automated.

While this type of technology is readily available, adoption depends a lot on a company’s culture and DNA. So many functions may be ready for AI-driven automation, while others would benefit more greatly from robotic automation, for example. 

“With the explosion of new digital technologies and solution options, leaders are struggling to determine how to best exploit these disruptive digital innovations in a pragmatic, industrialized (at scale) and risk-mitigated manner,” Bhat says. Just like with the virtual assistants we use in our daily lives, businesses too must rely on the harmony between machine and humans to ensure that things run smoothly. 

 “Math, science and data analytics will still have a huge role to play, but as machines do more of that work, it will have little value without the human connection of creativity, emotion, judgment, and relationships,” Bhat says. Ultimately, a command and control center that is led by humans and powered by AI can reduce risk of possible errors in how these tools are used. 

There’s still so much remaining to be discovered in the future of AI, but Genpact believes it is on the cutting edge of the industry, being the first to combine automation, analytics, and AI engines in one platform that is designed to bring humans and machine together. As with many new tech tools, there’s still a lot of hype and unrealistic expectations of what the technologies can do, but AI adoption at the large-scale enterprise level is now more real than ever, and Genpact is leading the charge in that effort. 

“Digitization, AI, and other emerging technologies are forcing companies to refresh the way they serve their customers. Just like what we’re seeing in the Twitter universe with real time, the most successful companies are the ones who adjust their strategies in real time to reflect current needs and upcoming trends,” Bhat says. 

Find out more about the implications of AI and Genpact Cora here.

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The best iPad (2018) screen protectors

apple ipad 9 7 inch 2018 hello
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The new iPad comes with a shiny Retina screen, the signature Apple polish, and Pencil support, all for the bargain price of $330. But with Apple taking aim at classrooms in particular, it’s easy to see that 9.7-inch screen getting smashed, scratched, or otherwise damaged over time. A sturdy screen protector is a good way to enhance the odds of your new iPad‘s display lasting. But which screen protectors are worth your time and money?

We’ve done the research and dug through piles of products to find the screen protector that’s right for you, whether that’s a scratch-resistant and thin film screen protector, or a shatterproof tempered glass beast. As a brief note before we begin, since the new iPad is very similar to last year’s iPad and the iPad Pro 9.7, lots of the screen protectors designed for those tablets will fit the new iPad, too.

Moshi iVisor AG ($30)

best ipad 2018 screen protectors moshi

If you’ve shopped for any iOS accessories at all in the last few years, then Moshi‘s name is probably familiar. The iVisor AG is one of Moshi’s most popular screen protectors, and it’s fairly easy to see why. The surface coating reduces glare on the screen, resists smudges and scratches, and has the toughness you should expect from a tempered glass screen protector. The application process is simple and straightforward — but what really sets Moshi’s screen protector apart from the rest is that it’s washable and reusable. That’s right — you can take it off your iPad, wash it under the tap, and reapply it once the adhesive has dried.

Buy one now from:

Amazon Moshi Mobile Fun

UAG Glass Screen Shield ($45)

best ipad 2018 screen protectors uag

A big name in protective cases, you shouldn’t pass up UAG‘s screen protection options, either. UAG’s Glass Screen has a 9H hardness rating. It’s highly resistant to scratches and helps absorb the blow should the worst happen. It’s easy to apply and comes with an oleophobic screen coating that resists fingerprints and oils, and stops them from smudging the view. It’s also exceptionally thin at only 0.2mm thick. It’s certainly on the expensive side, but if you want great protection that’s so thin as to almost not be there, then UAG is your bag.

Buy one now from:

UAG Amazon

InvisibleShield Glass ($50)

best ipad 2018 screen protectors invisibleshield

Made with four layers of protection, the InvisibleShield Glass is industry veteran InvisibleShield’s premiere offering for the new iPad. A special oleophobic coating makes sure that skin oils are kept away from the screen and are easy to clean off, while also providing a super-smooth surface that mimics the feel of your iPad’s own Retina screen. Application is easy too — just line it up, press it down, and let it go. It’s rated up to a hardness of 9H, and should protect against most knocks and bumps. However, it’s the most expensive option on this list.

Buy one now from:

InvisibleShield

Targus Screen Protector ($20)

best ipad 2018 screen protectors targus

If you’re not a fan of the feel or thickness of tempered glass, but still want some protection on your iPad, then film screen protectors might be for you. This PET film screen protector from Targus hits all the right notes, offering protection against scratches, smudges, and fingerprints, while also maintaining screen clarity. It’s easy to install and doesn’t rely on any weird installation methods. It also helps to remove glare when out in direct sunlight. Unlike a glass screen protector, it won’t protect as well against heavier knocks or drops, but it should hold up admirably against a variety of smudges and minor scratches.

Buy one now from:

Targus

Anker GlassGuard ($9)

best ipad 2018 screen protectors anker

You might know Anker for its range of top-quality mobile accessories, but you might not know that it has since expanded into cases and screen protectors for mobile devices. The GlassGuard is smudge-, scratch-, and fingerprint-resistant, and it also uses a unique system to reduce breakage during moments of stress. Instead of using a single layer of reinforced glass at the top of the protector, Anker employs four separate pieces to help spread some of the energy of impact away from your iPad, and lessen the chances of the protector breaking. It does all this while still being as clear as any other protector.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Laut Prime Glass ($35)

best ipad 2018 screen protectors laut

Calling itself the “Rolls-Royce of screen protection” is a big claim to make, and we can’t verify Laut‘s boasts. However, this is a finely polished glass screen protector that comes with all the usual accompaniments you’d expect, including hardened glass, an oleophobic coating that resists fingerprints and grease, and resistance to shattering. Slightly rounded edges prevent that hard edge feeling when you reach the sides of the protector, making this feel slightly more luxurious. All in all, it’s a great screen protector — but we won’t blame anyone who finds it hard to justify the high cost.

Buy one now from:

Laut

Olixar Tempered Glass Screen Protector ($24)

best ipad 2018 screen protectors olixar

Something of an up-and-comer in the accessories biz, Olixar has quietly been making a name for itself with its range of mobile accessories. This tempered glass screen protector is again on the slightly expensive side, but it comes with an anti-shatter film, 9H hardness, and a thickness of just 0.33mm. It’s ultra-clear, letting through 95 percent of light (compared to the usual 80-percent), and it’s really easy to apply. Not a bad choice for the money.

Buy one now from:

Mobile Fun

RhinoShield Tempered Glass Screen Protector ($30)

best ipad 2018 screen protectors rhinoshield

Unsurprisingly for a product named after a rhino, RhinoShield‘s tempered glass screen protector specializes in taking the brunt of impacts, with RhinoShield claiming that each protector can absorb up to five times more impact energy than Gorilla Glass 3. We can’t verify that, but we can say the six-layer construction (including two dedicated layers for impact dispersion and protection) does help to give the RhinoShield a bit more oomph than a standard tempered-glass screen protector.

Buy one now from:

Rhinoshield Amazon Mobile Fun

Supershieldz Anti-Glare Film Protector (4 pack) ($8)

best ipad 2018 screen protectors supershieldz

There’s a lot to be said for quality, but sometimes quantity suits you just as well. Thankfully, Supershieldz is able to supply a bit of both, with screen protectors made from Japanese film. They’ll protect well against scratches from keys, coins, and most objects left on top of an iPad. This screen protector will also remove some of the glare from direct sunlight, making it easier to use your iPad outside. But the real selling point here is the fact that you’ll get four of these bad boys for just $8. That’s just $2 each, making these a great value for money.

Buy one now from:

Amazon

Still looking for more iPad suggestions? Put that Pencil to work with the best drawing apps for the iPad, or dive into our exhaustive list of the very best iPad apps in existence.

Editors’ Recommendations

AT&T brings ‘5G Evolution’ to more than 100 new markets

AT&T is currently working on getting more than 100 cities ready for its roll-out of 5G service. On Friday, the company announced that it was rolling out its “5G Evolution” service to parts of 117 new markets, bringing the total to 141.

The cities include larger metropolitan areas like Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, and smaller cities like Knoxville, Tennessee, and Anchorage, Alaska. AT&T hopes to expand the program to 500 cities by this year’s end.

5G Evolution is not true 5G service, however — It simply lays the groundwork for AT&T’s efforts to offer true 5G service in the future. That being said, 5G Evolution isn’t purely marketing speak, either. AT&T says its service is capable of delivering “theoretical peak speeds for capable devices of up to 400 megabits per second.”

“The upgraded markets will provide double the speed and it’s the stepping stone to full 5G promised for later this year,” Roger Entner of Recon Analytics told CNET.

While those peak speeds are theoretical, 5G Evolution will likely still offer faster speeds than current mobile networks. Unfortunately, there are some limits as to how many people will benefit from this plan. Currently, only select phones such as the Samsung S8 and S9 have the technology to make use of this new network. Apple fans are also out of luck, as none of the current models of the iPhone support this service.

True 5G will take a bit longer to reach fruition, but we may soon see it in some cities. AT&T has said that it plans to launch true 5G service in a dozen markets by the end of this year. More markets are expected to come within the following years.

Verizon is also hoping to get its 5G service up and running sometime this year, though it is taking a slightly different path. Verizon is hoping to offer 5G service as a replacement for its current broadband service, with a mobile network to follow.

The United States’ other two major mobile carriers, Sprint and T-Mobile, are planning on setting up 5G service this year. However, they aren’t expected to begin providing 5G service until sometime next year.

Editors’ Recommendations

Good guy with no gun James Shaw Jr. disarmed Waffle House shooter

James Shaw Jr., center.
James Shaw Jr., center.

Image: Jason Davis/Getty Images

Tragedy struck the Antioch neighborhood of Nashville early Sunday morning when an armed man shot two individuals outside of a Waffle House before proceeding inside and killing two more. 

In the face of that horror, reports the Tennessean, one Waffle House customer, 29-year-old James Shaw Jr., managed to wrestle an AR-15 rifle free from the shooter and likely saved lives in the process. 

Now, although Shaw is quick to brush the claim aside, he is being hailed as a hero. 

“I don’t really know, when everyone said that (of being a hero), it feels selfish,” the Tennessean reports Shaw as saying. “I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it.”

Image: Jason Davis/Getty Images

But the local police very much agree with the term “hero.” 

“[Shaw] is the hero here, and no doubt he saved many lives by wrestling the gun away and then tossing it over the counter and prompting the (gun)man to leave,” CNN reports Metro Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron saying.

Many on Twitter have praised Shaw, and noted that — contrary to the oft-repeated claims of the NRA — he was unarmed when he managed to stop the attacker. 

Meanwhile, Shaw remains humble. 

“I don’t want people to think that I was the Terminator or Superman or anybody like that,” CNN reports him as saying. “I figured if I was going to die, he was going to have to work for it.”

The alleged shooter, 29-year-old Travis Reinking, has yet to be apprehended. 

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Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Haptic bass straps, musical rings, and more

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the fidget spinners and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

April 22nd

OneUp — throwable life preserver

[embedded content]

We covered this one last week, so here’s an excerpt from Luke Dormehl’s full story: “When you’re talking about a potentially life-saving device like a life preserver, it should ideally fit a couple of criteria: ease of transport and quick, easy deployment. This combination means that, should disaster strike, you’ll be in the best possible position to do something about it. The designers of a new life preserver called OneUp have apparently taken these crucial points into consideration when developing their new device. The result is a gadget the size and shape of a large can of soda, but which promises to rapidly inflate into a full-sized polyurethane float in just a couple of seconds.

‘OneUp is a portable life float which is automatically inflated in two seconds once in contact with water,’ Saul de Leon, CEO and founder of OneUp, told Digital Trends. ‘It is lightweight, portable, and easy to throw. You don’t need to do anything [special] to activate it, you just need to throw it [into] the water.’

The device’s cylindrical case houses the deflated float, a CO2 canister, a salt pod, and a spring. The moment the device comes into contact with water, the salt pod dissolves, releasing the spring, and triggering the CO2 canister to inflate the float, which subsequently bursts out of its container. According to its creators, it can support swimmers weighing up to 330 pounds. Once used, you can then replace the CO2 canister and salt pod in order to recycle the device.”

Back Beat — haptic feedback for bassists

Remember those Rumble Packs that Nintendo sold as an attachment for the N64? They were a clever peripheral that allowed the player to feel in-game events in the form of vibration. The more intense the event was, the more the rumble pack would vibrate. Now that this kind of haptic feedback is built into just about every standard game controller, designers are taking the idea and applying it to other devices. Case in point? This vibrating amplifier pack designed for bassists, named Backbeat.

“Designed in Detroit, BackBeat is a wearable subwoofer designed to meet the performance and practice needs of the serious bass player,” the creators explain on Kickstarter.  “When you play a string on your bass, BackBeat turns the sound you make into a vibration you can feel. Clip it to your strap, connect it to your bass, feel what you play. Plug your headphones into the BackBeat for a complete auditory and tactile immersion experience. BackBeat allows you to play with confidence by providing instant feedback directly to your body.

Natede — plant-powered air purifier

Keeping a bit of greenery around your house works wonders for keeping the air in your home fresh, but with the addition of a bit of technology, the purifying power of plants can apparently be supercharged. That’s the idea behind Natede, a new product from San Francisco-based startup Clairy. It’s essentially a living air filter that accelerates room pollutants through the soil/root system of a plant to continuously clean and oxygenate your home’s atmosphere.

Here’s how it works: once you’ve got a living plant growing happily inside the chamber, just switch it on and a small fan will draw in air from the top and suck it down through the soil. The soil works almost like a charcoal filter, trapping airborne pollutants. Microbes on the plant’s roots will then metabolize the toxins and break them down. A tray of water underneath the soil produces humidity that keeps the plant moist and traps additional toxic molecules. And once the air has run through this all-natural filtration gauntlet, a vent on the side recirculates it into the room.

Cyborg Drummer — robotic prosthetic for drummers

A few years ago, Digital Trends published a story about a man named Jason Barnes, who lost his right hand and forearm due to an electrocution accident in 2012. Initially, Barnes thought his drumming career was over — but after seeing a video of a robotic marimba player online, he had an idea. He reached out to the creator, professor Gil Winberg of Georgia Tech, and the two began working on a bionic arm designed specifically to help Barnes to play the drums again. Now, they’re on Kickstarter to get extra funding for development.

“By supporting the Cyborg Drummer project, you would help amputee drummer Jason Barnes get his own robotic drumming prosthetic,” the Kickstarter campaign page explains. “This revolutionary technology would not only allow Jason to play like he used to before his injury, but also enable him to push what’s humanly possible, with unbelievable speed and virtuosic capabilities. With the new arm we will compose, record and perform new music to which you will get exclusive access.”

Neova — connected ring for musicians

The piano is arguably one of the most dynamic musical instruments ever created — but it does have its own set of limitations. While playing the piano, a musician can only use existing keys and produce specific, fixed notes. This is notably different than say, the guitar, where a player can bend the notes, or the French horn, where a player can use their breath to shape the tone. The piano is not quite as free and expressive.

Sure, modern keyboards have helped overcome this limitation somewhat, but they often do so via peripheral buttons and sliders that require the musician to take his fingers off the keyboard itself.

Neova aims to change that. “Neova is a MIDI ring controller that lets musicians control any musical effect with natural hand gestures,” the creators explain on Kickstarter. “The ring comes with a hub that connects via USB to the computer or via MIDI with instruments that supports it. Neova is designed with 9 motion sensors which have highly accurate gesture recognition algorithms. They enable to control musical effects naturally and only when intended to. We imagined Neova with the simple idea of creating the shortest path between your musical intention and music creation.”