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Weekly Rewind: Apple’s Siri speaker, solar startups, Charlize Theron’s ‘Atomic Blonde’

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A lot can happen in a week when it comes to tech. The constant onslaught of news makes it nigh impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of this week’s top 10 tech stories, from what to expect from WWDC to a Tesla-inspired pet carrier — it’s all here.

Apple’s ‘Siri speaker’ may debut as early as next week

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It seems as if we’re just a few days away from Apple unveiling a Siri-enabled speaker similar to Amazon’s range of Echo devices and Google’s Home offering.

The Cupertino company has started manufacturing the device, “people familiar with the matter” told Bloomberg this week, and it could be shown off during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference which kicks off in San Jose, California, on June 5.

However, anyone keen to get their hands on the Siri-controlled smart speaker may have to exercise some patience, as the sources said it won’t be ready to ship until “later in the year.”

Read the full story here.

First clip from Charlize Theron’s ‘Atomic Blonde’ is as brutal as it is beautiful

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The first trailer for Charlize Theron’s upcoming film Atomic Blonde did not skimp on the action, so it’s no surprise that the first full clip from the July movie is one long, frantic, and impressively brutal fight sequence.

But if that’s the sort of scene you can appreciate, the clip really is a fantastic thing to behold.

Directed by John Wick co-director David Leitch (who’s also helming the upcoming Deadpool sequel), Atomic Blonde casts Academy Award winner Theron as a secret agent who will use anything at her disposal to complete a mission. The film’s script was penned by Kurt Johnstad (300Act of Valor), and is based on the graphic novel The Coldest City, created by writer Antony Johnston and illustrator Sam Hart.

Read the full story here.

This Tesla-inspired pet carrier lets your cat seethe in style

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Pet carriers are usually more functional than fashionable, but Waul Studio wants to change that. Inspired by a Devon Rex cat named Marvin who looks like a “little alien,” the team decided to make an ergonomic pet carrier that suited him. Waul Studio debuted a carrier that resembles a spaceship on Kickstarter in May, and the campaign quickly exceeded its initial goal.

The futuristic product doesn’t just look unique — it is designed to be more comfortable for both the pet that rides in it and the person who carries it. One of the upgrades animals will appreciate is an interior space that is designed to keep them entertained. Not only can they see outside the clear door, but there is also a built-in toy at the front of the carrier. A swirl-patterned ball in a track, the toy is meant to attract the animal’s attention and maintain it.

Read the full story here.

Amazon’s new retail bookstores have all of the books, but none of the charm

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Large book chains like Barnes & Noble have been shutting down bookstores for a decade now, which makes it a peculiar day when a new bookstore opens up in the heart of New York City. Even odder, it’s a physical store from Amazon, the online retailer whose Kindle ebook reader is a prime culprit in bookstore declines in the first place. But Amazon is always up to the task of transforming traditional experiences into opportunities that require you to use technology.

Opening a physical bookstore may seem strange in 2017, but it’s no different than the release of Dash buttons or the opening of Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh food outlets. Amazon isn’t just on the web these days, it’s everywhere. Sadly, it has yet to learn what makes a bookstore great.

Walking into NYC’s first Amazon Books location — the seventh bookstore it has opened nationwide — the 4,000 square foot space is packed with books, but barely feels like a bookstore. Sure, there are rows of books separated by genre, from Young Adult novels to cookbooks; and the space looks big, carrying thousands of titles, but it feels as packed as a train car during rush hour. The maze of bookshelves and extremely tiny seating area leaves no room to hide and zone out with a stack of comics or relax and absorb yourself in the prologue of a new novel.

Read the full story here.

Squeeze more out of your workouts with the best compression gear

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While many of the popular shooting sleeves we’ve seen slowly dominate NBA fashion as of late may be purely for aesthetic purposes, there are numerous pieces of compressive clothing on the market that come with actual kinesiological functionality. Compression gear increases blood flow to the muscles and may even minimize lactic acid build up, allowing you to recover faster while minimizing soreness during and after a workout.

Although MIT researchers are already working on the next generation of microbial-enhanced “living clothing” to boost performance, there are plenty of compression garments currently available. From products designed to keep you cool during a workout, to responsive fiber networks designed to aid mobility and joint support, here are seven of our favorite pieces of compression gear.

Read the full story here.

Audi snags the first automated vehicle testing license in New York

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Fresh off its announcement at CES 2017 of a self-driving car by 2020, Audi said Wednesday that New York state had approved its application to test autonomous vehicles. The license is for Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) Level 3 vehicles, which is reserved for cars capable of automated driving at highway speeds if certain conditions are met.

To satisfy New York state regulations, two trained engineers will be in the car at all times, one in the driver’s seat and another in the back. These engineers will monitor the system and ensure the car is operating safely. So far, the company says the company has logged “thousands of miles” in its concept cars without an incident.

Audi is the first automobile manufacturer to win a license to operate autonomous cars in the state, less than a month after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state would begin accepting applications. The test period runs through April 1, 2018, but comes with some fairly onerous stipulations to participate.

Read the full story here.

Switzerland’s new ‘air-scrubbing’ plant sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere

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A company in Switzerland recently unveiled the world’s first commercial so-called “air-scrubbing” plant designed to capture atmospheric carbon dioxide. At the 2015 Paris climate conference, 195 countries adopted the legally binding global climate deal aimed at limiting the rise in temperature to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit and air-scrubbing technologies are pivotal to this overall objective.

The first of its kind direct air capture (DAC) unit utilizes 18 Climeworks carbon dioxide collectors on top of a waste utilization plant, KEZO, to filter CO2 from the atmosphere. This concentrated CO2 is then supplied to a greenhouse — located just a quarter mile down the road — where it is used as fertilizer to grow tomatoes and cucumbers. The DAC itself is powered by low-grade waste heat generated by the KEZO complex.

Read the full story here.

Google uses ‘Wonder Woman’ to inspire next generation of female programmers

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A recent study co-published by Google and Gallup states that just 48 percent of girls between seventh and 12th grade are “very confident” they could learn computer science, compared to 65 percent of boys.

Clearly there’s an imbalance that has pervaded the field. And although tech companies have made strides in terms of representation, there’s still much work ahead. Even Google, it must be said, has come under fire in recent years for failing to do enough to fix the lack of diversity within its walls — especially where equal pay is concerned. And that brings us to this week.

On Friday, Wonder Woman hits theaters, and Google is using the opportunity to take action.

Read the full story here.

Dragonflies are being genetically engineered into cybernetic drones

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Cybernetic insects may sound like something out of dystopian fiction, but they’re being developed in labs around the world. And their uses may be more beneficial than you’d expect. Some researchers have proposed remote-controlled insects for surveillance, while others think they can help sniff out explosives and aid in search and rescue missions.

Up until now, these insects have mainly been controlled by firing electrical impulses through electrodes plugged into the little invertebrate — a technique that’s been effective but clunky and energy hungry.

 Now engineers at Draper and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at Janelia Farm have begun work on DragonflEye, a project to develop a more sophisticated technique that may usher in an evolution for cybernetic insects.

Read the full story here.

Startup’s solar roof is cheaper, more efficient, and easier to install than Tesla’s solar tiles

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The solar roofing competition is heating up, and one company in particular is looking to challenge Tesla head-on. Californian upstart Forward Labs has its own solar roof design, and not only is it cheaper than Tesla’s, but it allegedly installs in half the time as well.

Technologically speaking, Forward Labs’s solar roof is slightly different than Tesla’s. The startup’s innovative design uses monocrystalline solar cells, which have a higher energy density than most other solar products. As such, these solar cells can achieve 19 watts per square foot compared to 11W per square foot for other solar cells.

Aesthetically, the overall design of the Forward Labs roof is notably different from Tesla’s as well. The Tesla roof is designed to mimic the classic rooftop shingle model, with each solar shingle made from three basic layers: a solar cell, a masking film, and a top layer of tempered glass. Conversely, Forward Labs’s design uses a single, fully-integrated standing-seam metal design with a similar tempered glass top layer.

Read the full story here.

Lulu Chang
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Fascinated by the effects of technology on human interaction, Lulu believes that if her parents can use your new app…
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