People with disabilities want better tech and they know how to build it

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Eyes flickering along the alphabet, I can “type” my name without lifting a finger.

The sight-controlled keyboard following my gaze is being showcased by the Australian startup Psykinetic as part of the City of Sydney’s Unlimited Possibilities: Disability and Science Fiction Expo.

Nick Temple, a software engineer at Psykinetic, guides me through the process of calibrating the system. I explode red dots on a computer screen by concentrating my gaze, so the eye tracking system can get to know my habits. 

After that, I’m able to type short sentences in only tens of seconds.

More about Tech, Psykinetic, Remarkable, Disabilities, and Australia

Amazon Go is coming, so it’s time to learn how to bag your own damn groceries

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Amazon Go is coming, and that means you’re finally going to have to bag your own groceries.

*gasp*

On Monday, Amazon released its new app that aims to revolutionize in-store shopping by allowing users to swipe their phones upon entering a store, scan items along the way and then, well, to put it simply… leave.

Sounds convenient, right? Well, not if you’re a stranger to the self-checkout line and have relied on cashiers to bag your groceries all these years.

With the new Amazon Go app, shopping (like so many other things in life) is about to become totally centered around your smartphone. With Amazon Go’s new “Just Walk Out” technology, customers won’t have to wait in those pesky checkout lines, which means there will no longer be a need for cashiers. Read more…

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Genius builds robot that communicates in GIFs

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Sometimes it may feel like only GIFs truly understand you. Well now you can make a bot that will always catch your drift.

A user on Imgur by the name of Shekit, created a custom robot that can respond to your voice with GIFs.

Peeqo, the name of this GIF-tastic bot, is truly a marvelous hybrid of design and code — and while its inventor writes that creating him was a “complex build,” all of Peeqo’s materials are easily available online.  

In Shekit’s words, “Peeqo is a personal desktop robotic assistant who expresses himself through GIFs. Think of him as the love child of Amazon Echo and a Disney character. He has a conversational UI, so he responds to voice commands but answers only through GIFs.”  Read more…

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Brace yourselves — we might be getting a new iPhone color next year

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Let the Apple fanboy freakouts commence: we might be in line for a brand-new iPhone color. 

According to Japanese Apple blog Macotakara, a site that’s had a decent track record on Apple rumors, the 2017 version of the flagship device will be available in a red casing option. The outlet was also the first to float rumors of the removal of the headphone jack in the iPhone 7. 

That news, of course, wound up being very true (and a very big deal). 

Along with the new color, the report either confirms or quashes other rumors that have been floated through the news cycle.  Read more…

More about Colors, Iphone 8, Rumors, Apple Iphone, and Tech

These hanging light sculptures bloom like flowers

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Shylight‘ is a light sculpture made up of individual elements that unfold and retreat from the ceiling, mimicking the rhythmic movement of flowers to light. 

The beautiful kinetic sculpture was designed by Studio Drift and it took five years of research.  Read more…

More about Mashable Video, Design, Lighting, Real Time Video, and Tech

India’s Paytm announces toll-free mobile number to serve offline users

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India’s Paytm app, which recently reported more transactions on its platform than all plastic cards combined in the country, has found a way to further bolster its reachability. 

The ecommerce player announced Wednesday a toll-free interactive voice response (IVR) number that users with any kind of phone — be it a feature phone — can dial in to make use of Paytm’s digital wallet service. The toll-free number for the IVR service is 1800-1800-1234.

When a user dials in the number, they are asked to create a security code (Paytm PIN), which once set allows them to enter the registered mobile number of the person to whom they wish to send money.  Read more…

More about India, Money, Wallet, Paytm, and Tech

Apple Music hits 20 million paying subscribers

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Apple Music has hit an important milestone. The service now has more than 20 million subscribers, Billboard reported Tuesday. 

This is a 15% increase from September, when Apple said the service had 17 million paying customers. 

Apple’s SVP of internet software and products, Eddy Cue, told Billboard that 60 percent of Apple Music users have not bought any content from the iTunes Music Store in the last 12 months. 

Cue also touted Apple’s partnership with Chance the Rapper, whose Apple Music-exclusive album Coloring Book performed well on the Billboard charts.  Read more…

More about Apple Music, Apple, Tech, Music, and Apps Software

This smart home appliance will make it easier to grow weed at home

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As cannabis use becomes normalized, the tech industry is finally starting to innovate the seed to weed growing process.

A venture capital-backed company called LEAF just announced a new “Plug-N-Plant” grow system on Wednesday, making it easier for consumers to grow their own pesticide-free pot at home without having to maintain it like you would growing it the old fashioned way. 

Image: LEAF

Recreational marijuana use is now legal in eight states and Washington, D.C., thanks to the recent election, and medical cannabis is allowed in some form in 29 states, returning cannabis as a major cash crop for the United States. In many of these areas and all states where cannabis has been legalized, you’re allowed to grow your own pot for your own personal use, but growing weed has its fair share of headaches.  Read more…

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GE integrates Alexa into its first desk lamp

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Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant technology, is branching out from its first home, the Echo series of devices, and finally starting to show up in third-party products. So far, we’ve seen a watch and an intercom, but GE may have the brightest idea yet: an LED lamp.

GE, which announced the new “C by GE” desktop lamp on Wednesday, says the illuminator is just the first in a series of connected products to come. 

Looking a little like a silver Amazon Echo with a glowing ring attached to it, the C lamp integrates the Alexa voice service and backs it up with a microphone array and speakers. It is the first Alexa-connected lamp that does not need another third-party hub to work or control other smart-home devices that work with the ever-growing list of Alexa Skills. You can also, of course, control the lamp itself with your voice. Read more…

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Android app updates will get drastically smaller, again

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Updating apps on your mobile device isn’t just a matter of a few seconds anymore; with apps (games, especially) steadily rising in size, a larger set of updates can easily grow into gigabytes of data and many minutes of downloading. 

Google addressed the issue earlier this year by switching to a new compression algorithm, which the company says reduced the size of app updates by 47 percent on average. 

Now, the company has made even bigger progress by using an app updating technique called File-by-File patching which makes app updates 65 percent smaller on average compared with the full app.

More about Apps, Android, Tech, Apps Software, and Mobile