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Weekly Rewind: AI predicts your death, Britney gets hacked, NASA’s new Mars Rover

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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 happened at WWDC to how Britney Spears got hacked — it’s all here.

New iMacs at last! And the $5,000 iMac Pro is the most powerful ever

Apple held its 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this week, and as usual revealed a slew of new features coming for its various platforms. While WWDC tends to focus on software, Apple’s Mac hardware wasn’t left out of this year’s event.

The iMac is one of Apple’s more important MacOS hardware products, representing the tech giant’s main presence on PC users’ desktops. While the Mac Pro remains in limbo, the iMac got some serious love at the event, with refreshed models available today and a sneak peek at an upcoming iMac Pro.

Read the full story here.

The best fuel efficient car you can buy

When it comes to saving fossil fuels, we now have quite an array of choices. Automakers currently offer a slew of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric cars, and even a couple of hydrogen fuel-cell models (in California, at least). But the good ol’ internal-combustion engine isn’t done yet.

Even without electric assist, gasoline and diesel engines can achieve impressive fuel economy, and this list proves it. What we have here is a diverse array of vehicles — including a hatchback, a convertible sports car, a luxury sedan, a pickup truck, and a small SUV — each of which emphasizes fuel efficiency and best-in-class gas mileage without sacrificing performance or practicality.

These vehicles do not feature hybrid or electric powertrains, but if either of those options sounds more appealing to you, feel free to check out our best hybrids and best electric cars lists.

Read the full story here.

For the first time since the 1980s, we’re excited about a music synthesizer

Roli, the London firm best known for its iOS apps and portable MIDI controllers, went all-in with its Seaboard series three years ago. The soft-touch music keyboards, which swap out tactile piano keys with continuous-touch, silicon “keywaves,” are among the most customizable musical instruments on the market. But they aren’t exactly affordable synthesizers around — the cheapest model, the Seaboard Rise, starts at $800 (the Seaboard Grand is $3,000). Later this month, though, that’ll change with the introduction of the Seaboard Block.

The Seaboard Block, which Roli announced on Thursday, is the smallest, lightest, and most compact Seaboard yet. It’s also the first to be compatible with Roli’s modular Blocks system and, at $300, it’s also the company’s most accessible synth yet.

Read the full story here.

NASA’s Mars Rover concept looks like it was designed by Bruce Wayne

When automakers want the public to get excited about the future, they build concept cars. Now NASA is proving that idea works not only for next year’s sedans and SUVs, but for Mars exploration as well.

NASA’s Mars Rover concept won’t actually turn a wheel on the Red Planet, but its eye-catching design will get people’s attention. The vehicle will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to promote the complex’s “Summer of Mars” program, according to a NASA blog post. The program was created to educate the public on NASA’s Mars exploration efforts.

The Mars Rover concept was built by Parker Brothers Concepts, a Florida-based outfit that previously built a replica of the “Tumbler” Batmobile, which a Saudi team unsuccessfully tried to enter into the Gumball 3000 rally. The Tumbler seems to have influenced the design of the six-wheeled Mars Rover, which looks decidedly more macho than real-life space vehicles.

Read the full story here.

Airbnb is making it easier than ever for you to host a person in need

Airbnb is making it easier to be a good samaritan. On Wednesday, the short-term rental company launched Open Homes, a platform that allows hosts to volunteer to give shelter to a person in need. Whether a guest is displaced due to a natural disaster, an immigration ban, or has just fallen on hard times, Airbnb wants to help put a roof over his or her head. And now, you can help.

This is by no means the first time the company has allowed its vast community to demonstrate their benevolence. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy left tens of thousands homeless on the east coast of the U.S., and Airbnb hosts made moves to provide lodging for those affected by the disaster. Similar acts of kindness have taken place since then, largely with the help of the company’s Disaster Response Tool. But with Airbnb’s latest tool, relief organizations can connect those in need directly with Airbnb volunteer hosts, which ought to lead to a more efficient process.

Read the full story here.

‘Me too!’ With the HomePod, Apple’s legacy of audio innovation is dead

Monday at Apple’s WWDC 2017 saw plenty of new updates, upgrades, and even some shiny new toys for Cupertino fans worldwide to ogle during CEO Tim Cook’s exhaustive presentation. But the big-ticket item, Apple’s highly anticipated new smart speaker, was saved for last. Dubbed the HomePod (not the Apple Speaker) Apple’s new device boasts voice-activated smarts, Wi-Fi integration, and Homekit functionality to manage everything from your drapes to your door lock.

Apple’s tagline for the HomePod is that it offers “The chance to reinvent the way we enjoy music in the home,” but there’s an obvious problem with that claim: the way we enjoy music in the home has already been reinvented, and it wasn’t by Apple.

Read the full story here.

Facebook launches ‘disaster maps’ to provide vital data in the midst of a crisis

In an effort to bridge the gap between obtaining crucial information quickly during a crisis and acting accordingly, Facebook has announced the launch of “disaster maps.” The company is partnering with multiple organizations such as UNICEF and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, among others, to gain feedback on the most useful data to aggregate.

Disaster maps serve the purpose of providing a more concrete visual for relief organizations to work off of when making important decisions during an emergency. The data used to create the maps is shared at regular intervals — not quite in real time, but close to it — as a disaster unfolds.

Tracking this information can potentially better identify where resources such as food and water are needed, the directions most people are heading to find safety, and congested areas to avoid in order for help to arrive at the scene quicker.

Read the full story here.

By scanning CT scans, this AI can predict who will die in the next 5 years

This AI will tell people when they’re likely to die — and that’s a good thing. That’s because scientists from the University of Adelaide in Australia have used deep learning technology to analyze the computerized tomography (CT) scans of patient organs, in what could one day serve as an early warning system to catch heart disease, cancer, and other diseases sooner, so that intervention can take place.

Using a dataset of historical CT scans, and excluding other predictive factors like age, the system developed by the team was able to predict whether patients would die within five years around 70 percent of the time. The work was described in an article published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“The goal of the research isn’t really to predict death, but to produce a more accurate measurement of health,” Dr. Luke Oakden-Rayner, a researcher on the project, told Digital Trends. “A patient’s risk of death is directly related to the health of their organs and tissues, but the changes of chronic diseases build up for decades before we get symptoms.”

Read the full story here.

Hackers use Britney Spears’ Instagram to hide instructions for malware attack

Hacking groups are always working on new ways to perpetrate attacks, and now there’s evidence that a Russian outfit known as Turla has figured out a method of using Instagram to carry out its activities. Earlier this week, a report was published that suggests Britney Spears’ account on the photo-sharing service was used as a staging area for a Trojan attack.

The information published by antivirus developer Eset revolves around a Firefox browser extension, according to a report from Ars Technica. The extension purported to offer enhanced security, but in fact served to give the hackers a method of seizing control over an infected system.

A URL directed the extension toward its command and control server, but the address was not actually present in its source code. Instead, it was hidden away in a seemingly random comment on one of Spears’ Instagram posts.

Read the full story here.

The bedbugs won’t bite thanks to this smart IoT track-and-trap device

From smart thermostats that intelligently control the temperature in a room to smart devices like the Roomba vacuum cleaner that hoover up dirt, connected devices are capable of carrying out all sorts of functions in the places we sleep. Here’s one we’ve not come across before, though: a Wi-Fi enabled system smart device that’s designed to alert you of any bedbug outbreaks in the making.

Developed by the company Delta Five, the currently available Automated Insect Monitoring System takes the form of a small, 3-inch box that monitors for insects around the clock. The device uses heat, vapors, pheromones, and other odorless methods to attract insects. It then captures them by closing its chamber door, takes a picture of the bug to identify it, and sends an alert to the relevant person, either via text message or email.

“Given our initial focus on hospitality, and our core competencies in robotics, unattended sensors, computer vision, and machine intelligence, we recognized a significant gap between available products and actual need as it relates to bedbugs,” Jason Janét, Delta Five’s CEO, told Digital Trends.

Read the full story here.

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