In the tech world, a lot happens in a week. Too much, in fact, for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of the top 10 tech stories from this week. From everything that’s happened from the show floor of IFA 2015 to a potential health risk that could affect over 6 million Americans and everything in between — it’s all here.
Berlin is a city known for its bohemian art culture, surreal relics of the Cold War, and for one week a year in September, for being the center of the technology universe when IFA comes to town. So far, the Digital Trends team has seen the innovative Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch, LG’s amazing flatscreen OLED, Motorola’s new Moto 360, Samsung’s SmartThing Hub, the first 4K UHD Blu-ray player, Acer’s gaming computer setup, and much more. The team has been reporting live from the show floor since the event started on September 2, and they will continue to share all the news through September 9.
Some mistakes have the nasty habit of following you around, even if they’re made with the most innocent of intentions. And while total innocence may not quite be the case in one 14-year-old’s adolescent faux pas, he certainly couldn’t have intended for his sexy Snapchat to land him in a police database for “making and distributing an indecent image of a child.” The boy, whose identity has not been released, learned that sending a nude selfie to a female classmate (who made a screenshot of the image and further distributed it) is no laughing matter. While no one has been formally charged or arrested, both the boy, the female student, and another minor were named in a crime report, and their names may remain in the criminal database for up to 10 years..
Six NASA recruits began the longest U.S. isolation experiment to simulate life on Mars by locking themselves into the HI-SEAS dome habitat in Mauna Loa, Hawaii. The international team is comprised of a French astrobiologist, a German physicist, and four Americans civilians including a pilot, an architect, a doctor/journalist, and a soil scientist. The year-long trial is one of four HI-SEAS experiments with the space agency previously researching Mars cooking techniques, as well as conducting shorter-term cohabitation experiments lasting four and eight months. The isolation experiments are designed to simulate the cramped conditions and environmental stresses astronauts would experience on a multi-year mission to Mars.
Humanity is living in the golden age of rideable technology right now. In the past few years, electric motors have become smaller and more powerful, and batteries have become more capacitous and long-lasting — two trends that have coalesced and kicked off a renaissance in personal mobility devices. Case in point: These ridiculously badass electric mountain bikes from Australian upstart Stealth Electric. With a lightweight design, built-in shock absorbers, 5,200 watts of peak power, and a top speed of 50 miles per hour, the bikes effectively blur the line between mountain bike and electric motorcycle.
You expect the water that you drink will be healthy and not harmful to your body, but for 6.5 million Americans in 27 states, that may not be the case. A recent study from two environmental scientists suggests the industrial chemical PFOA is a much more serious contaminant than previously thought. PFOA, a component used in the manufacturing of Teflon, is the subject of several class-action and personal injury lawsuits due to its link to cancer, birth defects, and other illnesses in those exposed to the chemical.
Next page: 5 more tech stories you might have missed this week
In a new interview, an Apple Music exec admits that the service has its work cut out for itself to fully satisfy users. While the service has a amassed a reported 11 million subscribers since it launched at the end of June with a three-month free trial, many have complained about its confusing user interface and compatibility issues with iTunes. The International Vice President of iTunes Oliver Schusser explained to the Guardian that the Apple Music team is still working out kinks ahead of its launch on Android and Sonos systems this fall.
Bad news for those who hope to stave off a hangover after a night of drinking with a heavy meal or a several glasses of water. According to researchers from Canada and the Netherlands, these common hangover cures are ineffective at preventing the inevitable ill feeling you get after consuming too much alcohol. About the only thing that does work at lessening a hangover is – unfortunately – drinking less alcohol the night before, reports the New Zealand Herald. Researchers in the Netherlands and Canada questioned more than 800 Dutch students and 789 Canadian students about their drinking habits and the resulting hangover severity in the past month. Based on the survey results, neither the food nor water had any significant effect on how the person rated the severity of their hangover.
Japan is building a fully-automated indoor farm capable of producing 30,000 heads of lettuce per day
Japan’s Spread Vegetable Factory is working on a novel way of producing high quantities of lettuce using factory automation, reports the Wall Street Journal. Starting next year, the company will begin construction on a large-scale, fully-automated lettuce factory that’ll cost up to 2 billion yen to build ($16.5 million USD). According to the Kyoto-based company, its automated process will be able to produce 30,000 heads of lettuce in a single day starting in summer 2017 with a goal of 500,000 heads of lettuce with five years. Except seeding and germination that require visual confirmation, most of growing process is automated, requiring minimal human intervention to take the lettuce to harvest.
If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of BB-8 ever since the adorable little droid made his debut on the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we’ve got good news for you — Disney has partnered up with Sphero to make the droid a reality. The droid, which is sure to be a hot-ticket item this holiday season, is pretty much everything we could’ve hoped for in a Star Wars toy. It’s not nearly as big as the full-size robotic version used on the Force Awakens set, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in pure awesomeness. The toy is slated to go on sale for $150 and will be available both online and through a number of different brick-and-mortar retail locations.
We want to be there — on the battlefield with the soldiers, in the recording studio with the musicians, or smack in the middle of the the crowd at a live concert. Technology thus far has struggled to thrust us beyond the two-dimensional realm and into a three-dimensional sound experience so real, you forget you’re sitting in your living room. Until now. German audio outfit, Sennheiser, has helped crack the code. To celebrate its 70-year anniversary, Sennheiser revealed a mysterious — yet clearly luxurious — audiophile headphone system called Sennheiser 3D (it’s a working title), a new 9.1-channel, 3D audio experience.