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Brilliant Dieting Software For People Who Are Too Lazy to Track Calories

Brilliant Dieting Software For People Who Are Too Lazy to Track Calories

If software is needlessly complex and tedious, almost no one is going to use it. This fundamental tenant of technology has been one of the biggest barriers for any kind of widespread embrace of calorie tracking. Researchers at MIT are looking to change things with a new voice-activated prototype for logging nutrition.

Counting calories requires either lots of dedication, or the use of intentionally simple methodology. Either you inconvenience yourself by logging what you consume in painstaking detail, or you opt to track simplified data, like noting whether you had a light, medium, or heavy meal. But Boston-based Tufts University and MIT are hoping to achieve the best of both worlds by developing language recognition software that’s tied into the USDA’s nutritional database. Simply tell the application what you ate and how much, and it automatically calculates your calorie intake. You can even verbally quantify how much you ate, or thumb through drop-down menus and type in entries manually.

Translating language into the right food categories can be difficult, considering instances where the same words can have a different meaning. For example in “oatmeal” and “oatmeal cookie,” the word “oatmeal” is both the food and the modifier of another kind of food. After overcoming those problems, the calorie counter can currently recognize over 10,000 different types of eats.

The web-based program is currently being showcased at a speech recognition conference in Shanghai, but the team says it will keep working on the system and begin testing it with people shortly. Hopefully, it will help break through the tedium barrier that keeps accurate calorie counting from helping millions of people stay healthy.

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This Is the Handwriting Robot I’ve Always Needed

This Is the Handwriting Robot I’ve Always Needed

Thanks to the number of computers in my childhood (and an unnaturally short attention span), my handwriting has always hovered between awful and indecipherable. So clearly, what I need is a machine to do my writing for me.

Axidraw is a “personal writing and drawing machine” created by Evil Mad Scientist. It can hold anything from a fountain pen to a Sharpie, and using a computer input, draw or write whatever you want on any A4-sized area.

Sure, that sounds suspiciously like a very simplified printer, but it’s smarter than that-you’d never have to smudge another thank-you note, or sign a cheque for that matter.

The Axidraw is primarily powered through free vector program Inkscape, but it’s also fully open-source, so you can write your own applications. Add on a camera so I can tap an area on a document, then add my signature without having to pick up a pen, and suddenly the $450 asking price really isn’t so bad.

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Here Are Nike’s First Power Lacing Shoes

Here Are Nike’s First Power Lacing Shoes

Ever since Back to the Future II, people have wanted shoes with power laces. Well, Nike has finally put power lacing in real shoes. In real life. As in, you’ll actually be able to buy them. And you’ll never have to tie a shoelace again. The Nike HyperAdapt 1.0 will be the first real Nike shoe to implement the adaptive lacing tech and it’s supposed to work just like it did for Marty McFly. Put them on, and it magically tightens up to your feet.
Tiffany Beers of Nike explains how the system works:

“When you step in, your heel will hit a sensor and the system will automatically tighten.”
The adaptive lacing technology isn’t fully automatic though. As in, it won’t just tighten and loosen at will. You’ll probably have to initiate the tightening system if it somehow gets looser. But the idea is that the shoe’s laces will give the same sort of consistent, scrunching and tightening every time. The Nike HyperADapt 1.0 comes out during the holidays of 2016.

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iPhone SE: All About Apple’s Tiny New Phone

iPhone SE: All About Apple’s Tiny New Phone

After a few years of big phone mania Apple’s finally giving us a phone that will fit comfortably in a woman’s pocket. It’s got the same guts as an iPhone 6s, minus the size and looks an awful lot like the iPhone 5s-to the point that all the comparisons in the announcement were to the 5s and not the 6s.
Design

This phone is, from the outside, just an iPhone 5s. Same 4-inch display and same glass back and vaguely industrial lines and none of that curved glass nonsense on the front that has led to the iPhone 6 and 6s breaking every time they even look at the ground.

Camera

There was a lot of back and forth over what kind of camera the SE would feature. Now we know. It’s got the same camera as the 6s, including a 12 Megapixel sensor and 4K video support.

That also means Live Photos, solid focusing speed via “focus pixels” and True Tone Flash-which brightens the display for better lit selfies.

Guts

The iPhone SE packs in an A9 processor and M9 co-processor so you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between it and the 6s. But for folks still clinging to their iPhone 5S this is a major, major upgrade.

There is, however, a distinct lack 3D Touch discussed-so that might be out. Those 5S owners won’t even notice, but they’ll likely be all about the improved Wi-Fi, the SE includes updates to AC Wi-FI, and improved LTE speeds-allegedly 50% faster that the iPhone 5s.

Price

The 16GB iPhone SE will go for $399 while the 64GB variation will go for $499. The 16GB version will be free with a 2-year contract or $17 a month over two years that puts it at the bottom end of the price spectrum of iPhones, despite being a little more powerful that the iPhone 6.

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Google Is Reportedly Selling Its Crazy Robotics Lab, Boston Dynamics

Google Is Reportedly Selling Its Crazy Robotics Lab, Boston Dynamics

It’s been a little over two years since Google (now Alphabet) decided to scoop up robotics lab Boston Dynamics. Now it’s putting the company that built terrifying robots like BigDog and Atlas up for grabs.

Bloomberg reports unnamed sources who say that Google parent Alphabet is giving up on Boston Dynamics. Some speculate the move could be part of Alphabet’s larger restructuring efforts being at odds with the long runway necessary to build the future of robotics. The larger division which Boston Dynamics was a part of within Google-Replicant-was started by since departed executive Andy Rubin, and has now been folded into Google’s advance research group.

Possible acquirers as reported by Bloomberg include Amazon.com, Google and Toyota Research Institute (whose program research CEO once ran DARPA’s Robotics Challenge).

From the very beginning, it was odd that Google was interested in acquiring a company that’s effectively designing war robots for the government , and indeed, as Bloomberg points out that Google was keenly aware that there was a negative public perception of the bots. This coupled with the long-term challenges in bringing a robot like this to market just proved too much.

We’ve reached out to Google for comment on the possible sale.

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Know How Loud Eaters Can Shed Weight Easily

Know How Loud Eaters Can Shed Weight Easily

If you want to eat less, pull out your earbuds, stop the music system and switch off the television before heading to the dining table, and tune into the sweet sound of your food while it is being chewed.

Researchers have found that the noise your food makes while you are eating can have a significant effect on how much food you eat.

Therefore, watching loud TV or listening to loud music while eating can mask eating sounds that keep you in check.

“If people are more focused on the sound the food makes, it could reduce consumption,” said one of the researchers Ryan Elder, assistant professor of marketing at Brigham Young University in Utah, US.

The study was published in the journal Food Quality and Preference.

The researchers carried out three separate experiments on the effect of that “food sound salience”.

In one of the experiments, the researchers discovered that people eat less when the sound of the food is more intense.
(Image: Thinkstock)

In that study, the researchers compared how much participants ate while listening to loud music to those who were not disturbed by music while eating their snacks.

They found that the louder noise masked the sound of chewing and that group ate more — four pretzels compared to 2.75 pretzels for the “quiet” group.

“When you mask the sound of consumption, like when you watch TV while eating, you take away one of those senses and it may cause you to eat more than you would normally,” Elder said.

“The effects many not seem huge — one less pretzel — but over the course of a week, month, or year, it could really add up,” Elder explained.

The findings suggest that being more mindful of not just the taste and physical appearance of food, but also of the sound it makes can help in “nudge” consumers to eat less.

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The Surprising Reason Our Planet Isn’t Heating Up Even Faster

The Surprising Reason Our Planet Isn’t Heating Up Even Faster

In research that adds new truth to the phrase “every cloud has a silver lining,” scientists are reporting that sulfate aerosol emissions have offset roughly a third of global warming over the Earth’s land, by scattering sunlight back into space.
What’s more, reductions in European air pollution may be contributing to the rapid Arctic warming we’re witnessing right now.

This isn’t exactly a novel concept-in fact, the idea of seeding clouds with sulfate particles to cool the planet was first popularized by geoengineering proponents years ago, garnering enough mainstream attention to inspire climate disaster movies like Snowpiercer. The geoengineering concept, while highly controversial, stems from the observation that in Earth’s geologic past, sulfate emissions from volcanic eruptions seem to be tied to global cooling episodes. But the degree to which air pollution can offset carbon pollution has never been quantified, until now.

Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, Yale geophysicist Trude Storelvmo and colleagues analyzed data on atmospheric carbon concentrations, temperature, and surface radiation at 1,300 sites around the world. Using a statistical tool to separate temperature changes from greenhouse gas emissions and aerosol emissions between 1964 and 2010, the researchers estimate that aerosol particles, predominately sulfate, have temporarily masked some 30 percent of continental warming over the last half century.

Moreover, the authors predict we’ll reach the dreaded-but-arbitrary 2 degree Celsius warming benchmark when atmospheric carbon concentrations double over their pre-industrial level, something that’s expected to happen this century.

Sulfur dioxide, a gas produced by coal and oil-fired power plants, factories, and combustion engines, is broken down in our atmosphere into tiny aerosol particles called sulfates. In polluted regions, these particles can number in the thousands per square inch of air, acting like a microscopic screen and blocking out some of the Sun’s rays.

But despite the fact that our planet desperately needs a little sunscreen right now, we don’t really want to be adding sulfate particles to the atmosphere. Sulfur dioxide is also linked to acid rain , which kills forests, damages soil, and harms aquatic ecosystems. The discovery of acid rain in the 1960s and 70s prompted a spate of new environmental regulations, and sulfur dioxide emissions have been falling in the west ever since.

It feels truly ironic that by cleaning up our air, humans may be unleashing additional global warming. A companion paper, also published in Nature Geoscience today, uses models to show that thirty years of reduced sulfate emissions over Europe could have contributed an additional 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming over the Arctic. “As you reduce sulfate emissions, you warm the atmosphere, and that energy can be transported [from Europe] to the Arctic,” said Thorsten Mauritsen, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology who was not involved with the study.

But to those who’d argue that we should be pumping aerosols into the air to shield our planet from the scorching sun, a word of warning: the cooling effect is short-lived. Aerosol particles typically only reside in the atmosphere for days to weeks, so as soon as we stop releasing them, any benefits disappear.
The carbon dioxide we pump into our atmosphere, however, is expected to last for centuries, and its effects will be borne out over thousands of years . So we’ve either got to devise a much more permanent heat shield-I personally like Futurama’s idea of blasting the Earth into a slightly wider orbit around the Sun-or we’ve got to clean up our act.

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Samsung Galaxy S7 Review: Inching Toward Perfection

Samsung Galaxy S7 Review: Inching Toward Perfection

Samsung fucks up. A lot. Snooping smart TVs, insane VR demos-you name it. Even its most cherished gadget-the Galaxy smartphone-has seen its share of flaws. But with the seventh iteration the Galaxy S, Samsung inches ever closer to a perfect smartphone.

I don’t use the term lightly. There’s something positive to be said about almost every feature of this phone, from the camera and the battery to the display and processor. When I picked up the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge back in early February, I knew Samsung had something here. I just didn’t know what.

Now I do-and I’m impressed.

The S7 Edge (yes, I have an email problem). (Image: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo)
This phone hits you like “woah”

Aside from a less bulbous camera on the back, you could easily confuse the S7 with last year’s S6. It’s got the same glass-and-metal design, the same color palettes, even the font is the same-still etched in silver.

On the regular 5.1-inch S7, the round sides feel particularly iPhone-ish. The S7 Edge is somewhat different, with both sides of the screen sloping toward its metal bezel. But this year the Edge phone is Goldilocks-not too small like the S7 or too big like last year’s 5.7-inch 6 Edge+. The S7 Edge instead comes in at 5.5 inches, and it makes a big difference, because the S7 Edge is the best feeling phone I’ve ever picked up. Samsung keeps elegance in design, but avoids being super slippery like the iPhone 6s. Though, alas, that sure-handedness comes at a very smudgy price. (Editor’s Note: Our photographer nearly murdered this phone due to its persistent smudginess.)

But fingerprints aside, the Galaxy S’s design has gone from lagging to leading. On the surface, Samsung’s decided to double-down on the much criticized Apple-like design that premiered on the S6. It’s impossible to deny that the iPhone’s DNA is mixed in with the S7’s makeup-just look at the speaker grill and bubble glass edges.

Fixing past mistakes

It’s easy to dismiss Samsung’s latest as “been there done that.” Especially as it remains influenced by the iPhone’s design. But the most amazing thing about the S7 is that it subtly improves on its own design and imbues the device with much-needed utility, like waterproofing and memory expansion.

I even dropped the phone in a sink full of water after overcoming what I can only describe as an innate, heart-pounding fear of purposely destroying such an expensive gadget. Though the S7 is near useless when submerged (water activates the screen’s capacitive sensors), it’s a million times better than being out $700+ and having a sore throat from screaming endless obscenities. While using the S7 Edge, I kept my phone perilously close to the edge of a sink or shower and didn’t need to worry about water damage. It’s the same amazing peace of mind I felt when using Sony’s Xperia Z smartphones, the only other decent-looking waterproof phone out there.

The Galaxy S’s design has gone from lagging to leading.
Expandable storage was the other major feature abandoned on last year’s S6. The S7 brings storage back and supports microSD cards up to 200GB. That’s all thanks to its hybrid SIM tray-it squeezes a microSD card slot into the SIM tray. Yet Samsung’s only half-committed to integrating microSD into the S7. The company left out a key feature from the latest version of Android. Flex Storage, also known as adaptable storage, allows Android devices to treat external SD cards like built-in storage. That means you can hold more than photos and videos on the card itself, and it encrypts the SD card and links it to the specific device, so it’s much more secure.

So instead of some cutting edge hassle-free storage, you get the traditional “Would You Like To Save This App To External Storage” hassle. You’ll still need it though. The S7 shoots 4K, which is always a storage eater. The S7 also takes photos gorgeous enough that you’ll be scrambling for more room. Seriously. This camera is amazing.

This camera is really amazing

In the beginning, the iPhone was the king of mobile photography and Android was great at catching blurry garbage photos you’d cringe at seeing on Facebook. It’s incredible how much Android has caught up with iOS when it comes to mobile photography, and the S7 may be its biggest achievement yet.

From launching to using to shooting, the S7 nails it every step of the way. It keeps the quick camera opening feature introduced on the S6: you launch the camera app by double-tapping the home button. For Apple enthusiasts you can also open the camera by swiping up on the lock screen.

The Apple enthusiasts, and general photographers, will be pleased by the expansive shooting modes introduced in the S7. You can then shoot in a stripped down “Auto” mode that will often be good enough. Or you can opt for more control with “Pro.” This option allows you to adjust nearly everything an actual photographer would want to adjust, including metering, focus, white balance, ISO, aperture, and other photo-y insider terms.

But what really matters are the results, and the S7 speaks for itself.

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Last Night’s Solar Eclipse Looks Stunning in These Captivating Images

Last Night’s Solar Eclipse Looks Stunning in These Captivating Images

A few hours ago the rare astronomical event that is the total solar eclipse was witnessed in Indonesia, while other parts of Asia experienced a partial eclipse. Because you probably missed it, here’s a quick photo roundup so you can start the day in awe.

The narrow path of our Moon’s shadow-and the total eclipse with it-stretched across 12 Indonesian provinces, crossed three times zones, and could be seen by about 40 million. In other parts of the Indonesian archipelago, and in several Asian countries-such as India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Singapore-a partial eclipse was visible.

Air Asia passenger plane flies as a partial solar eclipse occurs Wednesday, March 9, 2016 as seen from Taguig city, east of Manila, Philippines. Phot Bullit Marquez/AP
A partial solar eclipse is seen behind a passenger capsule of the Singapore Flyer. Phot Wong Maye-E/AP

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Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit Another Disturbing Milestone

Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit Another Disturbing Milestone

Global temperatures aren’t the only thing rising faster than anyone can remember . The same goes for the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, according to the latest dispatch from the Mauna Loa Climate Observatory in Hawaii. It’s almost as if the two phenomena are related or something.
From February 2015 to February 2016, the atmospheric carbon concentration at Mauna Loa-long held as the benchmark for global CO2 levels-rose 3.76 parts per million, marking the largest increase in a 12-month period since the famous Keeling Curve began in 1958. The previous record for a 12-month CO2 increase was made in 1997-1998, when atmospheric carbon concentrations rose 2.82 ppm. That was also the only year in history with an El Niño event that can measure up to this year’s Godzilla Niño.

CO2 concentrations at Mauna Loa over the past year. Image Credit: NOAA
In 2013, global atmospheric CO2 concentrations rose above 400 ppm for the first time in approximately 3 million years. Since then, we’ve been hitting that 400 ppm milestone earlier with each passing year.
One could argue that 400 ppm, as well as the 2 degree Celsius warming milestone we recently surpassed in the northern hemisphere, are just that: milestones. They are. Soon, the days when CO2 concentrations ever fall below 400 ppm will be behind us, marking a fundamental shift in our atmosphere that will persist for thousands of years to come. What’s scary is the future these milestones represent-and how quickly we seem to be blowing past them with very few people taking note.