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Weekly Rewind: AI for firefighters, bathrooms of the future, and more

top tech stories 08 21 2016 wr 8 head
USAF photo/Tech. Sgt. Rey Ramon
In the tech world, a lot happens in a week. So much news goes on that it’s almost impossible 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. Everything from a hands-on demo of Google Duo to AI for firefighters, it’s all here.

Is a Sprint and T-Mobile merger still possible? Softbank’s CEO thinks and hopes so


Remember when Sprint and T-Mobile were in talks to merge? That could still happen, if Softbank Group Corp.’s CEO has his way. CEO Masayoshi Son has a 300-year plan to build a sprawling business empire that would “endure through the centuries,” according to anonymous sources who spoke to Bloomberg. Softbank, which purchased Sprint in 2012, attempted to merge Sprint and T-Mobile in 2014, but the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice voiced their opposition to the deal. The Japanese company recently purchased British chipmaker ARM.

Read the full story here.

T-Mobile is giving unlimited data to every customer, but there’s a catch


T-Mobile, the self-styled Un-carrier of the cellular industry, announced a blockbuster of a promotion this morning: the elimination of data caps. That’s no joke. T-Mobile introduced the One plan on Thursday, a radical revamp of its offerings that does away with data buckets in favor of a single price and unlimited data. “The era of the data plan is over,” said Legere. “After Un-carrier 12, the wireless industry will never be the same again.” Sprint also unleashed an unlimited data plan to compete with the Un-Carrier.

Read the full story here.

Homes featured on HGTV’s ‘Fixer Upper’ drawing crazy interest on Airbnb


The Gaines, of the popular home repair show Fixer Upper, are tired of people putting the properties they have helped restore on rental sites like VRBO and Airbnb. They’re already talking about reworking their contract for next season, presumably, so this can’t happen. Many Fixer Upper homes can be found on Airbnb and VRBO, and attract guest from all over.

Read the full story here.

Hands On: Google Duo


It seems like ages ago that Google took the wraps off Duo, a video chat app for Android that eschews bells and whistles for a bare-bones, FaceTime-like focus on person-to-person video. Months after an unveiling at the company’s I/O Developer Conference in June, you can now download Duo on the Play Store for Android and the App Store on iOS. But was it worth the wait?

Read the full story here.

Time for a bathroom redo? Houzz unveils latest tech for toilets, tubs, and showers


How much actual business gets done in bathroom “offices”? That’s a fair question given the percentage (58) of people who use mobile devices in their home bathrooms, says the 2016 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Studyas reported on Silicon Beat. High-tech kitchen appliances, such as refrigerators and stoves, are understandable luxuries. Smart home systems connect devices in your home to your car, your wrist, the cloud, and beyond. But why do people want new tech in their bathrooms, and what are they looking for?

Read the full story here.

You’ll be able to sleep in the back of a Tesla Model 3 (if you’re not too tall)


If you want to save on a hotel room, or just take a nap, a Tesla Model 3 could do the trick with the room it has in the back. If you’re more than five and a half feet tall, you’ll have to sleep sideways or bend your knees, but it will work, as reported by Bloomberg. Recounting his experiences “camping” in a $145,000 Tesla Model S, Tom Randall also referred to the Model 3’s inside dimensions. With the back seats folded flat and a cover over the truck storage well, the full five and half feet of horizontal space will be ready for your nap — or your overnight.

Read the full story here.

What happens when anyone can edit genes at home? We’re about to find out


Right now, for just $140, you can get your hands on one of the most powerful gene-editing tools known to science. You don’t even have to go out of your way, either. The ODIN do-it-yourself CRISPR kit, as it’s called, will ship it to your front door. The project is the brainchild of ex-NASA scientist Josiah Zayner, who left the agency earlier this year to sell CRISPR kits from his Castro Valley, California apartment. After raising nearly $71,500 on Indiegogo, he turned to the ODIN full time.

Read the full story here.

Tiny ‘neural dust’ sensors may help scientists monitor your nerves in real time


The burgeoning field of bioelectronic medicine has been buzzing recently with Google affiliate Verily (previously Google Life Sciences) and medical company GlaxoSmithKline joining forces in a $715 million deal to launch Galvani Bioelectronics. By tapping into our bodies’ natural electrical signals, these tiny, implantable devices have the potential to support a new class of therapies known as “electroceuticals.”

Read the full story here.

The 2016 Rio Olympics should get a gold medal for online streaming


According to Nielsen, the first 10 days of competition at the 2016 Olympics produced more than 2 billion minutes (33 million hours) of online viewership. Those viewing numbers are more than the 1.46 billion minutes streamed of the entire 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. This year’s Olympics more than likely surpassed the last two Olympics’ totals well before the new, as this year’s Olympics surpassed one billion minutes of online streaming after five days.

Read the full story here.

AI ‘guardian angel’ may help firefighters keep their cool in burning buildings


Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are working to fill that gap with an artificial intelligence system that can collect relevant information from the environment and relay it back to firefighters in real time. AUDREY is integrated with the Internet of Things, which lets the system connect to wearable sensors and head-mounted displays on each firefighter, communicating data about temperatures, hazardous gases, and even GPS locations from one team member to another.

Read the full story here.

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