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    Ford and DJI's Developer Challenge will seek a design that launches a drone from a vehicle for emergency responders.

    When disasters like earthquakes or tsunamis strike, it can be difficult to bring supplies to remote locations via air, or even know what’s happening on the ground.

    To combat this problem, Ford and DJI are partnering to hold the DJI Developer Challenge, a $100,000 prize for the best drone that launches from the back of a Ford F-150, and captures information about the situation below..

    The first real-world use for the winning drone would be to gather information after natural disasters, but Ford says that in the future this idea could span agriculture, construction, forestry, and bridge inspection.

    The two companies imagine a world where a F-150 would drive into a disaster-struck area, and launch a drone with a specific GPS-directed flightpath. The drone would map survivors and potential hazards, while the truck moved to a new location, with the drone following after its work was done.

    The rules of the contest dictate that the drone must connect with Ford’s SYNC AppLink or Open XC, an open-source project run by Ford that allows developers to connect cars with devices like tablets (or drones).

    Launching drones from cars isn’t entirely new. Besides residing in the dreams of every comic book supervillain, a concept car announced last month has a very similar landing pad on the rear of the car. Then again, it also has a bookshelf and claims full autonomy, so take that with a grain of salt.

    Ford and DJI’s project would directly interface with the car, a slightly different concept.

    To apply now, click here.

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    Faraday Future—a secretive, California-based selectric-vehicle startup that’s been teasing a big reveal for weeks—finally pulled the sheet off its debut concept in Las Vegas Monday night, just ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show. We give them credit: It’s a looker, a striking, 1,000 horsepower LeMans-style racecar that seats precisely one.

    Now, this won’t be the company’s first production car—that will come in the next few years, and will most likely be a sedan meant to compete with Tesla’s Model S or smaller Model 3. The FFZERO1 is purely a concept, meant to show off the new brand’s nascent technology and the innovation Faraday claims lies within.

    This includes four electric motors—one at each wheel—to produce those 1,000 horses, and a slew of driver-centric amenities, including augmented reality and a majority of vehicle info displayed on the driver’s smartphone, which will sit mounted in the steering wheel. The car also has a dramatic tunnel through the chassis that channels air toward the batteries, keeping them cool.

    Though the reveal of the FFZERO1 was the big payoff of the hour-long presentation, the meat of it focused on Faraday’s broader vision of future mobility, which will manifest with its production vehicles. “We’ve assembled a team of 750 talented individuals from the likes of BMW, Tesla, Audi, Google, and Apple,” says Nick Sampson, Faraday’s senior vice president of R&D and product development. “Our goal is to make the world better by making mobility cleaner and more efficient.”

    To do that, Faraday will deploy a customizable “variable platform architecture” to allow a single chassis system to work for a variety of vehicles, from supercars like the FFZERO1 to compact sedans to SUVs and pickup trucks. Like Tesla, its batteries will be low and flat, improving handling and safety for all the vehicles, and the modular construction will permit easy adaptation to any vehicle configuration.

    The billion-dollar question, of course, is whether any of this actually happen. Tesla has struggled mightily for more than a decade to gain traction in the notoriously difficult automotive universe—and it also had roped in major talent from the beginning. What makes Faraday think they can start selling cars in just two or three years, as they suggested this evening?

    The workforce of 750 personnel (550 in the U.S., 200 abroad) would suggest they’re serious, as does the investment in a brand-new factory outside of Las Vegas.

    But where Tesla has always had to be creative and persistent about securing financing, Faraday has the apparent backing of some deep pockets from China, a technology powerhouse called LeTV.

    China is keen on producing electric cars to help confront its pollution and energy woes, and because they’re less complicated than internal-combustion vehicles, and LeTV pulled in auto-industry veteran Ding Lei—who spoke tonight, as well—to develop vehicles in China and support Faraday Future in the U.S.

    While the FFZERO1 is certainly an entertaining debut, the real test will be whether the company can produce affordable, practical electric vehicles for the mass market. Apart from some promising graphics showing the new modular chassis designs, we didn’t really see much of that tonight. We did, however, see a company that seemed quite serious about getting there.

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    Nvidia announced the Drive PX 2 at CES 2016, which aims to power future self driving cars.

    Nvidia is quickly making itself the mainstream computer option for artificial intelligence, especially for the cars of the future.

    In an announcement at CES today, the company announced an update to their computer chip specifically targeted towards powering self driving cars, called the Drive PX 2. The new chip is loaded with processing power, able to run 24 trillion deep learning operations per second. Deep learning is the industry’s most vogue stab at artificial intelligence, where information is processed by many layers of mathematical equations.

    Nvidia claims that the Drive PX 2 is about as powerful as 150 MacBook Pros—all that power is used to handle up to 12 video camera inputs, as well as LiDAR, radar, and ultrasonic sensors. Then, there’s the computation, which means the computer has to look at all of the data, dozens to hundreds of times per second, and discern what move to make next.

    To prevent the chip from overheating, the system is water cooled.

    If Nvidia wants to sell these chips, it’s logical to try and make this the easiest computer to specifically use for autonomous cars. Along with the chip, Nvidia is releasing DriveWorks, a host of software tools and modules that facilitate testing and car functionality.

    Developers will be able to use this software to help stitch together images from the 12 potential video feeds, synchronize data inputs, and calibrate sensors.

    As the number dictates, this is the second card Nvidia has pitched at autonomous cars. The company claims that since their first model last year, the Drive PX, 50 car manufacturers, developers, and research institutions have started to use it. Facebook also recently announced that they're using Nvidia GPUs in the servers that power their widespread artificial intelligence operations.

    Nvidia says that the system will be generally available in late 2016, but special partners will get early access.

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    If you’re planning on buying a Volvo, there might finally be a reason to pick up a Microsoft Band.

    At CES today, Volvo and Microsoft are announcing a partnership where users would be able to start their car, initiate GPS, and turn on the heat, all by remotely talking to their Microsoft Band 2. The integration will also be able to trigger the car’s horn, lock the doors, and flash the lights. (The technology seems primed for practical jokes.)

    Volvo compares their system to KITT from Knight Rider, although it doesn’t look like the app will have the same winning personality.

    Microsoft and Volvo have collaborated before. In November 2015, the two companies used Microsoft’s HoloLens to show off Volvo’s new cars to customers.

    The integration will be available in spring 2016, but no information is out detailing which cars will be able to utilize the feature, and in which regions.

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    Bison are tough. Each one is a six foot wall of muscle, fur, and bone adding up to about a ton. They're strong, shaggy beasts, and almost nothing can stop them, not even lightning.

    Meet Sparky, a bison that was struck by lightning in 2013. Sparky lives at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa.

    A few years ago, Karen Viste-Sparkman, a biologist with the United States Fish And Wildlife Service (USFWS) noticed a bison bleeding, standing apart from the herd. Upon closer inspection, she realized that he'd been struck by lightning. Viste-Sparkman and others kept track of him, watching as against all odds, the newly-named "Sparky" recovered from his injuries.

    Lightning, which happens all over the world, has been known to kill herds of cows, giraffes and even strike other bison.

    Sparky is now 11 and weighs 1,600 pounds, walking with a limp, according to an announcement made today by the USFWS. Here's hoping lightning won't strike the same bison twice!

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    Bigger isn't always better. In a study published this week in Scientific Reports, Christopher Anderson, a biologist at Brown University found that the smallest chameleons had the most powerful tongues.

    Usually, when people think of chameleons they think of their extraordinary ability to change color, a skill that they get from crystal-like structures in their skin.

    But they also have pretty incredible tongues, capable of snagging their dinner from a distance.

    Anderson looked at 20 species of chameleon, luring each to display their skills in front of a high speed camera with a tasty cricket. Using the footage, he was able to determine how fast each chameleon's tongue accelerated out of its mouth.

    He found that the smaller chameleons had tongues that could accelerate faster out of their mouths, with more power, and could even extend longer distances compared to their body size. Anderson writes that while all chameleons have the same kind of mechanism for powering their tongues, it may be proportionally more powerful in the smaller chameleons, because of their smaller body size.

    The fastest tongue of the 20 chameleons examined by Anderson belonged to the tiny Rhampholeon spinosus which could fling its tongue out at its prey at stunning accelerations. Its fastest acceleration that researchers recorded was 2.59 meters per second per second, which allowed it to reach speeds of about 11 miles per hour in a fraction of a second--that's the equivalent of a car going from zero to 60 miles per hour in roughly 0.01 of a second.

    Dinner is caught

    Christopher Anderson

    Dinner is caught

    Researchers found that this chameleon, Rhampholeon spinosus, can stick out its tongue with a peak acceleration 264 times greater than the acceleration due to gravity (9.8 m/s-2-).

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    Autonomous Ford Fusion with sensor data


    Autonomous Ford Fusion mapping the Mcity streets

    Ford President and CEO Mark Fields had a lot to say at the CES 2016 opening press conference, but there was one significant thing he did not say: when he listed the partners in the company’s autonomous car program, he pointedly did not mention Google.

    Rumors had been swirling that Ford and Google were working together to develop driverless vehicles, sparked by a report from Yahoo Tech. Fields acknowledged the rumors while a slide naming partners in the project, including the University of Michigan, State Farm Insurance, and Velodyne sensors, was on the screen behind him.

    What we did learn about Ford’s autonomous vehicle project at CES 2016 is that it’s currently on its third generation. The first generation was a pickup truck fitted with an array of huge sensors that took on the DARPA challenge in 2005 and 2007. The second was a Ford Fusion hybrid with four much smaller, but still obtrusive, Velodyne LiDAR sensors on the roof.

    This third generation, also a Fusion, uses Velodyne’s latest puck-shaped LiDAR sensor, called the Ultra PUCK. These are small enough to fit into the side-view mirrors rather than poke up from the roof like the plates along a stegosaurus’s back. Their range is extended by 200 meter over the previous Velodyne sensors, and they have increased precision.

    Ford’s Chief Technology Officer, Raj Nair, said Ford is tripling its autonomous test fleet to 30 vehicles and using Mcity, the University of Michigan’s proving ground for driverless vehicles.

    The goal, according to Nair, is to reach SAE Level 4 autonomy, where the driver is taken out of the loop completely, but only in defined conditions, such as highway driving or in smart cities. Level 3 is where the current cutting edge is for consumers, with advanced driver assist technologies that still require driver intervention, while Level 5 vehicles would be fully autonomous anywhere, any time.

    Fields also hinted that when Ford’s autonomous cars are ready for the market, they’ll be affordable rather than carrying luxury-level price tags.

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    Xavier Harding

    Samsung at CES 2016

    Samsung has updated its watch lineup, now offering rose gold and platinum

    Samsung's CES 2016 press conference introduced new features to many devices across the board. From mobile products like smartwatches and tablets, to appliances like refrigerators and washing machines, many of Samsung's signature products saw potentially useful updates.

    Along with making life simpler for TV owners, smartwatch users and laundry-doers, there were a few smaller updates thrown into the company's big event as well. The South Korean tech and appliance maker brought a lot to the #SamsungxCES2016 event, but here's what was coolest.

    Xavier Harding

    Samsung TabPro S

    Galaxy TabPro S

    Samsung took to CES 2016 to unveil its Galaxy TabPro S, Windows 10 machine. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 competitor provides Windows users with a familiar convertible design: one part tablet, one part laptop. Magnetic connectors on the bottom of the tablet allow it to connect to the keyboard case.

    Making use of integrated magnets, Samsung’s Galaxy TabPro S has two modes during use as a laptop. Notebook users can stand the screen nearly at a right angle or lean it back further at their leisure.

    Xavier Harding

    Samsung TabPro S

    Offered in white and black, the TabPro S offers 4GB of RAM with options between 128GB or 256GB of SSD storage space. The 12-inch, Super AMOLED display measures in at 2160x1440 pixels. Front and rear megapixel cameras are 5 megapixels each. But the most important detail surrounding the Galaxy TabPro S—price tag—will be revealed at a later date.

    Xavier Harding

    Samsung Gear S2

    Rose gold and platinum

    Samsung Gear S2

    Samsung is updating its popular Tizen smartwatch with some new features for the new year. Named simply the new Gear S2, the 2016 version of Samsung’s wearable now offers Near Field Communications (NFC), an industry standardized wireless specification, for making quick payments from your wrist. The South Korean phone company is betting on its Samsung Pay system in a big way, and including near-field communication in its flagship smartwatch will only allow more owners to make use of Samsung Pay.

    Also coming to the Gear S2 line is a new color option: rose gold will be available in addition to the black and white face options, for those folks who want greater choice in hues for their smartwatch. Though unlike the rose gold version of the Apple Watch unveiled last year, Samsung’s rose gold is of the plated variety—making it (most probably) cheaper to sell to users.

    Samsung Gear S2 new colors unveiled at CES 2016


    Samsung Gear S2 new colors unveiled at CES 2016

    The company's flagship smartwatch got a big color update with the additions of rose gold and platinum.

    In addition, a platinum version of Samsung’s Gear S2 will also be made available.

    New band options of ivory and black leather will also arrive with the rose gold and platinum options, respectively. Prices for both are unknown at the moment.

    In a coming update, Gear S2 hopefuls who don’t own a Samsung device will soon be accommodated. Compatibility for iOS will come to the Samsung Gear S2.

    Samsung Smart Fridge

    Samsung Smart Fridge at CES 2016

    Popular Science

    Samsung Smart Fridge at CES 2016

    The company showed off its latest internet-connected appliance at its big event at CES 2016.

    It's clear Samsung has put some thought into this refrigerator. The company has included a 21.5-inch touchscreen on the front of the fridge and cameras within that snap a photo every time you close its doors. An app you can control with your phone gives you a window into your refrigerator, allowing you to keep an eye on what has and hasn't spoiled--even when away from the kitchen.

    The touchscreen isn't just for show. Samsung is letting owners order food from sources like FreshDirect and ShopRite right from their fridge. You may not be able to close the thing with your feet like LG's, but Samsung's offering could still prove useful.

    A Washing Machine?

    Samsung Smart Washing Machine

    Popular Science

    Samsung Smart Washing Machine

    The killer feature is the ability to add laundry after the washing cycle has already started, as presented at CES 2016 in Las Vegas.

    Samsung also showed some love to the often-forgotten washing machine. On its face, these appear to be standard laundromat devices we've come to know. Though Samsung has added a new feature that promises to be useful, especially for those who are forgetful: the ability to add in a piece of laundry after the load has started washing. This one feature could be a defining one for washing machines in 2016.

    The company had other smaller improvements to announce to existing products, including a sound bar that outputs Dolby Atmos, an ultra surround sound system that includes sound coming from overhead as well.

    The company's upcoming flagship SHUD TV's will offer a one-remote solution to control all your entertainment center options. Game consoles like the Xbox One or Playstation 4 will be available to control within Tizen on the television.

    With the amount of thought Samsung has put into even its fridges and washers, fans of the company may have a lot to look forward to at this year's "Unpacked" Galaxy flagship announcement, anticipated later this year.

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    The Cassia Hub can control 22 Bluetooth devices from up to 1000 feet.

    Bluetooth is great, until you walk more than about 50 feet away from any of your devices.

    The Cassia Hub, announced at CES today, wants to make Bluetooth better. It takes the router’s idea of a central device that can talk to every other connected device in the home, and bridges it to Bluetooth, which is more popular for things like small speakers.

    Cassia claims that their device can work up to 1000 feet with 22 devices, which is far, far more than the standard range for Bluetooth. The Hub itself also connects to the internet, so some simple Bluetooth devices can be controlled remotely.

    Founder and CEO Feliz Zhao formerly worked as an engineer as Cisco, and then did a stint as an executive at Aruba before developing the protocol that the Cassia Hub operates on.

    "We developed the Cassia Hub because we noticed there wasn’t a universal standard of communication between the ever-growing pile of Internet connected devices,” Zhao said in a press release.

    Bluetooth itself is getting an overhaul in a few months. In November 2015, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group promised four times the range, double the speed and mesh networking in 2016, in an update to Bluetooth 4.2.

    Bluetooth works from about 30-50 feet depending on the device right now, and maxes out around 25 Mbps. Adding mesh networking means that Bluetooth devices would be able to look for other devices and relay signals, extending the range of the group.

    But the new Bluetooth 4.2 won’t work on devices you already own, so if you already own a bunch of things that you would like to connect to the internet at a distance, the Cassia Hub might be your best bet.

    The Cassia Hub will begin shipping in Q1 2016, and Cassia is also selling a bunch of devices made to work with the Hub, like LED lights, speakers, and smart outlets to control the flow of electricity to non-smart devices.

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    Nikon KeyMission 360

    Courtesy of Nikon

    Nikon KeyMission 360

    Nikon's new 360-degree camera will be optimized for most virtual reality headsets. The footage it captures can also be uploaded to YouTube and Facebook.

    You've probably heard about 360-degree videos. You've also probably heard about action cameras. Today, Nikon announced its going to combine the two in a new camera called the KeyMission 360.

    The KeyMission 360 is compact like a GoPro, durable like a GoPro, and it also shoots 4K video like a GoPro. But what makes the KeyMission 360 truly unique is the the fact that it can take a beating while filming or photographing in all directions.

    At the time of the announcement earlier today at CES 2016, very little information was available about the camera's technical specifications. Here's the little information that we know: it's waterproof to approximately 100 feet (30 meters), dust-proof, shock-proof and survives low temperatures without a hitch.

    We still have no idea how much this device will cost, but it's safe to say it will likely be on the pricier side. Right now, GoPro's 360-degree camera rigs cost more than $1,000 including the cost of each camera. Nikon's solution appears to be much simpler, though we expect that functionality to come a premium.

    Nikon KeyMission 360

    Courtesy of Nikon

    Nikon KeyMission 360

    An angled view of the new omnidirectional action camera.

    Nikon KeyMission 360

    Courtesy of Nikon

    Nikon KeyMission 360

    A right-side view of the new omnidirectional action camera.

    Nikon KeyMission 360

    Courtesy of Nikon

    Nikon KeyMission 360

    A view from the top of the new omnidirectional action camera.

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    Marc Leonard

    Popular Science technology editor Michael Nunez tries the HTC Vive Pre.

    The last thing the internet needs is another tech reporter waxing poetic about their experience with virtual reality. No matter the prose, everyone I’ve argued with about virtual reality has agreed that no article is going to replicate the experience. Love it or hate it, VR just doesn’t work if it’s described in text format (on the upside, this article won’t make you physically nauseous).

    Virtual reality isn’t going to be huge at first, partially due to the problem I just described and partially due to the fact that the graphics card needed to run real VR costs at least $300. But it is undoubtedly the future of gaming, and 2016 is when that future will start to be realized. Both the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, which is supported by gaming company Valve, will be available for purchase this year. That means it's the first time virtual reality will be available to anyone with a computer that can handle it. But despite my opinion that this technology is going to be huge, there's a lot of fear surrounding virtual reality. Will there be any reason to buy it once the headsets are on sale? Will gamers have any games in 2016?

    An HTC technician told me earlier today, “The hardware is ready, but the software just needs to catch up.”

    He was referring to the software for the Vive, but his comments gets to the heart of the gamble with virtual reality in 2016. If you accept that I know what I’m talking about and I'm blown away by virtual reality nearly every time I strap on those silly goggles, the next question is “Once I have it, will I have anything to do with it?”

    VR might not be ready in 2016, but it’s worth the gamble because it’s inevitably the future.

    For the purposes of this article, the term virtual reality is constrained to the HTC Vive Pre and Oculus Rift. The Samsung Gear VR is actually a subset I call mobile virtual reality, separated arbitrarily because, while impressive, it just isn’t truly immersive. There are others in the market, but pragmatically, they’re not really a factor at this moment. Asus said they’re going to make a headset sometime, but there’s not much motion. 3Glasses is high resolution, but lacks the native Windows or Steam support needed to really make it appealing.

    So how do we talk about VR in a way that makes sense to you, someone who has never tried it? As a news organization there’s an implicit expectation that you trust the information we provide. But right now, I’m personally asking you to trust me that virtual reality right now is technically sound, but only awesome when the content is designed by the right companies.

    And you probably won’t have much at first.

    As a jumpstart, the Oculus will ship with EVE: Valkyrie, which is the closest experience you can have to being in a real space battle. There’s also Bullet Train, a first person shooter that relies on in-game, player-controlled teleportation to move around the map. This might be to avoid nausea, or maybe it was just the constraints of a demo. The whole thing is like Half-Life meets Dishonored. There’s also Adr1ft, an atmospheric space-based game where your space station has been destroyed and you need to piece together what happened to your crew before running out of oxygen. It will also be available on launch, but I got nauseous when playing it today.

    The HTC Vive will integrate with Valve’s game platform, Steam. Right now, Steam looks great in VR. But I just don’t know what complete, big-name games will take advantage of the hardware. Demos rely heavily on tiny, pre-built worlds to explore. The wow-factor of being able to walk around the Vive Pre’s hallmark 3D virtual space is immense at first, and even a simple 3D drawing app is an insane creative tool. But neither you nor I will spend more than a few hours enrapt in a painting app for entertainment.

    When games do come to the device, they’re going to need a lot of power. Nvidia says that normal, 1080p games transmit about 60 MB of visual data per second. That number is much higher for virtual reality, because the video needs to be sent to each eye individually, and operate at a higher frame rate (that means more rendered pictures per second). The two big graphics card companies, AMD and Nvidia, both suggest nearly top-tier GPUs as a baseline for VR. AMD recommends the R9 390, which costs around $339, and Nvidia recommends the GTX 970, which runs about the same price. That’s at the low end. The demos that most journalists have tried run on rigs with Nvidia GTX Titan Xs, which retails for $999.

    The thing is, a lot of gamers already have this kind of gear. The people right now that can run The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt or Star Wars Battlefront on Ultra resolution can hit those VR benchmarks. A community does exist with the power to run virtual reality games.

    That gets us back to the gamble. Will game makers embrace the hardcore gaming audience until computers just naturally get good enough to run the basic VR we have right now? I think they will, and even if it’s rocky at first, this technology will define 2016.

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    L'Oreal announced its new wearable, My UV Patch, at CES 2016.

    CES gives companies a platform to show the best possible future of their product or field. Usually, this means putting screens on everything. Samsung unveiled a kitchen rife with touch-sensitive displays, and car manufacturers like Ford and Toyota are teaming up to bring apps into your car. But sometimes, these innovations don’t quite hit the mark.

    L’Oreal, the company that makes shampoo and not electronics, announced a smart patch today that measures UV radiation on the wearer’s body, called My UV Patch. It’s applied to the skin, and is basically a sticker coated in special dye.

    When light from the sun (or presumably even a UV light) hits the patch, the dye reacts and changes color depending on the intensity of light and how long it’s been exposed. Wearers can then use the associated smartphone app to take a picture of the patch, and more accurately gauge their exposure.

    This is great for people who have never been in the sun before, or people who are forgetful about the fact that they have skin that can get burnt. For the rest of us, though, it just seems like a stretch.

    L’Oreal’s project originally held a lot of potential, and still does. Earlier this year, the company told Popular Science all about potential wearables that used ultra-slim electronics to measure blood flow, skin hydration, or even measure unseen pollutants.

    This isn’t to say that limiting sun exposure isn’t important, though. Skin cancer and connective tissue damage can be caused by UV radiation, according to the Center for Disease Control. We just don’t need an app for it.

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    More than 4 billion people in the world can’t read this article. That’s not necessarily because they can’t read, although illiteracy is an issue affecting nearly 10 percent of the world’s population, but because they don’t have access to a computer. Mark Zuckerberg has been tackling the issue of connectivity with, but people still lack affordable hardware.

    That’s where Endless comes in, with their $79 dollar computer called the Endless Mini. The company’s entire pitch is that internet access is already widespread, but people need low-cost hardware that still works if the internet cuts out.

    This isn’t Endless’ first product. In 2015, the startup launched the Endless computer, which costs $229 dollars. The idea is about the same for both, which is to pre-load a bunch of really useful information, like Wikipedia and Khan Academy, into the PC as apps, so even without internet the device is useful.

    But the big twist for the Endless Mini is that the company isn’t making any profit on their hardware. Their game instead is to become a content provider, giving access to easy-to-use apps that work online and offline.


    Endless announced its new Endless Mini computer today at CES 2016.

    The Endless Mini runs on an ARM Cortex A5 processor, which are usually found in entry-level smartphones, wearables, and internet-connected devices. It comes in 24 GB or 32GB options, and runs a custom Linux-based operating system.

    A computer running on a low-power ARM processor is going to be a little slow when fetching data, which the Endless Mini was at times during the demo. However, apps like the word processor launched incredibly quickly, and apps like Khan Academy worked without a hitch.

    The device outputs video to HDMI or RCA, so it just needs a keyboard, mouse, and almost any TV to work. It also sports a gigabit ethernet port, and 3.5mm audio jack.


    The Endless Mini can send video through an HDMI or RCA cable, making almost any TV a computer monitor.

    The Endless Mini will be available in late February 2016 online, and the company is using this product to specifically expand their presence in Mexico, Guatemala, and other parts of South America.

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    Sam Ward

    Medical marijuana is being used to treat more conditions, especially as its growing legality and acceptance makes studying it easier.

    It’s now easier to buy marijuana in the U.S. for personal consumption than it is for scientists to procure it for research: 23 states and D.C. have legalized it (at least as medicine), and several others may have it on the ballot in 2016. Researchers hope the barriers to studying the plant will likewise crumble so they can finally probe its full therapeutic potential.

    Scientists have long known that marijuana can treat nausea and pain. But they only recently figured out why: Chemicals in marijuana called cannabinoids can activate receptors on brain cells, changing the messages they send to one another. While THC is the best-known cannabinoid, researchers suspect others might be useful in treating the symptoms of diseases such as cancer, fibromyalgia, epilepsy, and autism.

    So far, even in states where medical marijuana is legal, scientists have had to wait months or years for approvals from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Food and Drug Administration, and National Institute on Drug Abuse. In June, the White House took one step out of the complex process: They no longer need permission from the Public Health Service too.

    In November, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would remove marijuana from the list of substances regulated by the DEA—a move that would take it out of the company of heroin and make it much easier for a lab to buy.

    This article was originally published in the January/February 2016 issue of Popular Science, as part of our Big Ideas Of 2016 feature.

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    A raw ribeye steak

    Robo-butchers may be coming soon

    Robots have taken over lots of dangerous, repetitive jobs that used to be done by humans, such as putting together cars or sorting packages. But for the most part, they haven’t replaced butchers, many thousands of which staff beef-packing plants all over the world. That may soon change, however—in November, JBS, the Brazilian company that is the world’s largest producer of meat, bought a majority share of Scott Technology, a New Zealand company that specializes in industrial robots. The collaboration might make beef-chopping robots feasible, as NPR reports. That would provide respite for workers in dangerous jobs and might eventually save the companies money in the process.

    Though robots have taken over butchering most of the billions of chickens processed in factories every year, the same hasn’t happened for beef. Butchering cows requires fine-motor skills that robots simply don’t yet have. No two cows are alike, so butchers have to feel the carcass to divvy up the proper cuts of meat. Cutting into the bone can lead to the spread of disease, like Mad Cow; cutting too far from it leaves meat behind, costing the company money. The butchering robotsalready developed rely upon vision, usually in the form of 3D scans. But without a sense of touch, JBS representatives tell NPR, those robots aren’t equipped for beef.

    Neither JBS nor Scott Technology has disclosed just how they will make a beef-cutting robot, but presumably it would have some way for the robot to feel or image the different consistencies of bone, tendon, and muscle on the animal.

    Some workers and economically minded people might be upset about the continuous wave of automation that is changing many industries, but it’s better for workers to turn over jobs in meatpacking plants to robots. The meatpacking industry puts workers at serious risk, as it has for centuries; workers experience “exposure to high noise levels, dangerous equipment, slippery floors, musculoskeletal disorders, and hazardous chemicals (including ammonia that is used as a refrigerant),” according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Human Rights Watch notes that workers often receive, “cuts, amputations, skin disease, permanent arm and shoulder damage, and even death from the force of repeated hard cutting motions,” with little to no compensation for their injuries.

    For now, workers are still better beef butchers than robots, and they’re less expensive for companies to employ. That doesn't look like it will change in the immediate future. But as robotic technology advances, the shift towards robotic butchers may not be far behind.

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    Goanna/Monitor Lizard

    Goanna/Monitor Lizard

    'I will not eat the toads. I will not eat the toads.'

    We all have to learn a hard truth at some point: just because something looks delicious doesn't mean that it is.

    That's the lesson that researchers in Australia have been teaching goannas, Australian monitor lizards that are distantly related to Komodo dragons. In a paper published today in Biology Letters researchers revealed a new way to combat the effects that the highly toxic and invasive cane toad has had on local lizard populations.

    Some native Australian species, like frogs and snakes, have learned to avoid the toxic toads through trial and error, trying a few and deciding the food poisoning just wasn't worth it. But the goannas that encountered the cane toads were dying in droves, as they were going after the largest, most tempting (however also most toxic) toads. After eating their tasty treat, they would promptly die, not ever getting a chance to learn from their mistake.

    So some scientists decided to teach them a lesson. They gave a group of wild goannas small, less toxic, cane toads to chew on. The lizards got ill, but didn't die, and the survivors avoided the larger, more toxic cane toads like the plague. Goannas that didn't go through the experiment weren't so lucky.

    "We saw the goannas that had not had a negative experience with the small toad died very quickly. They all died within three months of the natural cane toad invasion arriving at the site. At the end of the study, every untrained goanna had died."Georgia Ward-Fear, from the University of Sydney told the BBC.

    Cane toads were introduced to Australia in 1935 as a way to control pests in sugar cane fields. Unfortunately, the toads soon became pests themselves, adapting quickly to their new land. They're now spreading across the country advancing at a stunning rate of 37 miles every year. This high speed rate means that more and more populations of native Australian species are having their first encounter with the cane toad every year.

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    Seismograms Of North Korean Blasts

    Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

    Seismograms Of North Korean Blasts

    Seismograms of tuesday's nuclear test in North Korea (top, in red) North Korea's February 2nd, 2013 nuclear test (second from top, in black) North Korea’s May 25, 2009 nuclear test (third from top, in black), and October 9th, 2006 test (bottom, in black).

    North Korea tested a nuclear weapon last night, and did so with traditional bombast. Their English-language newswire wrote“Through the test conducted with indigenous wisdom, technology and efforts the DPRK fully proved that the technological specifications of the newly developed H-bomb for the purpose of the test were accurate and scientifically verified the power of smaller H-bomb.” Scientists outside of North Korea remain deeply skeptical that this was, in fact, a successful hydrogen bomb test, but there is clear evidence that North Korea is at least making larger explosions than their first weapon.

    When North Korea tested their second nuclear device in 2009, Seismologists Paul Richards and Won-Young Kim from the Earth Institute of Columbia University compared the readings with data from North Korea’s first nuclear test, in 2006. The Earth Institute wrote at the time:

    Richards and Kim took data only from a handful of stations that monitored the 2006 test, as well as earlier known chemical explosions and natural earthquakes in the same area that could be used for comparison. This included readings from the closest station from which data is available, in Mudanjiang, China, some 370 kilometers north of the test site. Much Chinese seismic data is unavailable to other countries, but Mudanjiang, operated with the U.S. Geological Survey and an international consortium of universities, transmits readings to researchers worldwide almost in real time. Kim and Richards also obtained information on signals from stations in South Korea, Australia, Alaska and Kyrgyzstan. Each showed amplitudes three to seven times higher than in 2006, leading to the conclusion that the new test had a yield roughly five times larger than the previous one.

    For this latest test, Won-Young Kim says "Based on a standard formula between body-wave magnitude and yield (on hard rock site and fully coupled explosion), it would be about 3.35 kilotons." North Korea’s first atomic weapon, tested in 2006, was no more powerful than 1 kiloton. Their second, in 2009, was around 2.4 kilotons. The previous test in 2013 is widely estimated to be between 6 and 7 kilotons. This latest plast registered the same on a richter scale as the 2013 explosion, meaning it is unlikely to have been substantially more powerful. While it takes time to precisely figure out just how powerful the explosion was, hydrogen bombs are orders of magnitude more powerful than atomic bombs.

    The first American hydrogen bomb was 500 times more powerful than the first American atomic bomb, and the first deployable Soviet hydrogen bomb was over 72 times more powerful than their first atomic weapon. North Korea appears to be capable of making bigger bombers, but from what we know of the blasts so far, they are just incrementally bigger, not revolutionary advances in weapons technology.

    Update: An earlier version of this article used an image comparing seismograms of earlier North Korean tests to an earthquake. That image has since been updated, and corrections made to the text.

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    The Mcor Arke prints using paper and ink to construct 3D models.

    If there's a material, somebody is going to 3D print with it.

    Mcor's claim to fame is using paper, and at CES today the company announced a new 3D printer, the Mcor Arke, that creates full-color objects that are entirely recyclable.

    This isn't Mcor's first paper printer, but this one is markedly cheaper and smaller than the company's flagship model, the Iris HD. The Arke costs only $5,995, and can sit on a tabletop weighing only 110 lbs, compared to the Iris HD which costs $36,400- $47,600 and weighs 330 lbs.


    The Mcor Arke 3D printer can print in full color, and the models are fully recyclable.

    The idea behind making a 3D printer so much cheaper than their typical model for commercial use is for use in education. Mcor's goal is to get a 3D printer into every classroom.

    Mcor has been working with schools to try and provide students with 3D printing experiences, with some success.

    “These students are exceptional spatial thinkers, so they very much appreciate the opportunity to hold in their hands something they’ve conceived in their brains and shaped in the software," says Adam Truncale, an instructor at Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown, Texas, that used an Mcor printer in his architecture class.

    Since paper is the main material used, the cost of printing also drops. Mcor estimates that their paper costs only 10-20% of typical nylon or resin materials, and is completely recyclable. In fact, even the printed models can be recycled through traditional means.

    The Arke will be available in Q2 2016, and has already garnered more than 2,500 pre-orders.

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    What happens in Vegas doesn't stay there during the week of CES, the annual Consumer Electronics Show. That's especially true in the age of social media. And at this year's CES 2016, which runs from January 4 through January 9, the Popular Science crew was busy capturing videos of the strangest and most wonderful sights from the big gadget convention to share with you on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and of course, here on the website. Enjoy the videos we've assembled so far, and be sure to check back later at the end of the show for even more footage of the coolest and weirdest gadgets we saw.

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    CES 2016 brought a lot of recycled drone designs, and most of them copy DJI's original Phantom. But every once in a while, there's an outlier.

    Fleye breaks the typical drone mold, a white quadcopter with little legs, and instead opted for a floating sphere. Up close, the drone looks like a well-designed oscillating fan that's been turned sideways. Oh, and for the pleasure of piloting a volleyball, you have to cough up a hefty $1200.

    Despite its shape, the Fleye handles shockingly well, and it's totally safe because all the blades are enclosed inside the styrofoam casing.

    The Fleye is still actively recruiting funding on Kickstarter, and has already surpassed its goal of $185,837 with 8 days to go.

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