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Weekly Rewind: Apple AR goggles, Fisker’s Tesla killer, tiny robot surgeons

top tech stories 08 25 2017 wr 8 24 17 header
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 tech stories, from the best photos of the 2017 solar eclipse to Fisker’s electric EMotion car  — it’s all here.

Check out these stunning photos of the total solar eclipse

In case you’ve been living under a rock … actually, no, even cave-dwellers must have heard about Monday’s solar eclipse. At about 11:19 a.m. PT, the moon fully eclipsed the sun, an event that many Americans celebrated by taking a week off of work and driving out to the middle of nowhere to experience an rare occurrence that lasted for about half an hour.

Those within the eclipse’s ominous-sounding “path of totality” had a front-row seat (assuming they had a pair of eclipse glasses, or certain welding goggles, or some sort of home-brewed device), but the vast majority of us settled for a few minutes of weirdly dim daylight. Luckily, images are popping up everywhere, from generous Flickr users and NASA photographers alike. We’ve put together an assortment of the best solar eclipse photos, just for you. Enjoy!

Read: Check out these stunning photos of the total solar eclipse

Google and Walmart team up to take on Amazon with voice assistant ordering

Google does not want Amazon to have all the fun, so it is teaming up with one of the largest brick-and-mortar retailers in an attempt to beat the digital retail giant. Pay close attention to your spending habits because as big tech competes for your business, they are only making it easier for you to pull out that plastic.

The latest tactic comes in the form of a partnership between Walmart and Google, which promises to “bring you hundreds of thousands of products at Walmart’s Every Day Low Prices … that you can buy through voice with your Assistant on Google Home or on the Google Express website or app.” Sound familiar? That is because you can already do the same through Amazon with Alexa and the various Echo devices.

In addition, Google Express has done away with its membership fees, which means that you no longer have to pay either $10 a month or $95 a year to get free delivery in one to three days. That, if nothing else, puts the service above Amazon, whose famed Prime membership probably will not be free anytime soon.

Read: Google and Walmart team up to take on Amazon with voice assistant ordering

Fisker’s electric EMotion will cost $130,000 and make its debut at CES 2018

Henrik Fisker is nothing if not persistent. After leaving his namesake Fisker Automotive (which has since been resurrected as Karma Automotive), the car designer who helped shaped cars like the BMW Z8 and Aston Martin DB9 started a second company to build another flashy luxury car, the Fisker EMotion.

The new Fisker Inc. announced plans to build the EMotion EV last year, and now it is revealing more details about the vehicle. Fisker previously said the EMotion would have a 400-mile range and 161-mph top speed, and now we know that capability will cost $129,000. Fisker noted that this is the price for cars with the “ultra large battery pack,” indicating that, like Tesla and Lucid Motors, it will offer multiple battery pack sizes.

The first teaser images for the production model show that it is toned down a bit from the prototype Fisker unveiled last year. But with an unusual array of shapes in place of a traditional grille, unusual-looking headlights, and other details, the EMotion will likely still be a wild design.

Read: Fisker’s electric EMotion will cost $130,000 and make its debut at CES 2018

This miniature robot arm could be the future of keyhole surgery

U.K. engineers have developed a miniature keyhole surgery robot arm, which is able to carry out a range of minimally invasive laparoscopic operations including hernia repairs, colorectal operations, prostate surgery, and more. While robots are already used for keyhole surgery, the Versius is a third the size of the robots which are currently used — and significantly cheaper, too.

“Versius is CMR’s first surgical robot and will be the smallest the world has ever seen,” Martin Frost, CEO of manufacturer Cambridge Medical Robotics, told Digital Trends. “The robot’s remarkable dexterity, flexibility, and reach means that it can carry out more procedures more easily than any existing robot on the market. Its flexibility, together with its portability, means Versius is designed to be kept constantly busy, improving outcomes for patients and offering a more cost effective solution for health systems.”

Read: This miniature robot arm could be the future of keyhole surgery

Apple AR glasses: News and rumors about ‘Project Mirrorshades’

Apple talked about ARKit, a new augmented reality platform, at its annual Worldwide Developer Conference earlier this year, but the iPhone maker might have far more interesting tech plans up its sleeves.

According to three alleged Foxconn employees who published details about upcoming Apple products recently, the Cupertino company’s skunkworks has been working on Project Mirrorshades, its term for Google Glass-like AR glasses with motion detectors, transparent displays, and integrated touch panels. Apple AR glasses, it would seem.

Here’s everything we know so far.

Read: Apple AR glasses: News and rumors about ‘Project Mirrorshades’

Chocolate Construction lets you build a 3D-shaped dinosaur, then eat it

It’s not much of a debate: Tyrannosaurus rex is cool. Its daunting size and powerful jaws make it the king of the dinosaurs. This adoration also makes it the most identifiable dinosaur all the way down to its bones. Now with Chocolate Construction, kids and adults can immortalize their favorite tyrant lizard in chocolate, at least until they get hungry.

Chocolate Construction is a durable silicone mold with nine distinct cavities for the various bones making up a T. rex. Sharp teeth, a jagged spine, long tail, ribs, and little arms make up the pieces used to construct the beast.

Read: Chocolate Construction lets you build a 3D-shaped dinosaur, then eat it

Hacked smart devices double as surveillance tools, new research finds

Hackers can turn smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs into surveillance tools by exploiting their built-in microphones, according to a new study out of the University of Washington. With the device hijacked, the attacker can detect body position and movement of people within its vicinity, raising additional concern about the security of smart devices, which made the news earlier this year with revelations about the ease with which they can be comprised.

“We were curious about the privacy threats that these devices can expose users to,” Shyam Gollakota, senior author of the study and UW associate professor of computer science and engineering, told Digital Trends. “So we asked the question, ‘How about a simple task of playing music on these devices? Can we use music to achieve surveillance on people?’”

Read: Hacked smart devices double as surveillance tools, new research finds

SpaceX’s slim new spacesuits look straight out of sci-fi

We’ve known about Elon Musk’s ambitions to send human beings to Mars for quite some time. On Wednesday, Musk’s aerospace transport company made another giant leap toward these goals by revealing the SpaceX spacesuit it hopes to use to transport astronauts to and from outer space.

In 2014, NASA announced it awarded government contracts to both Boeing and SpaceX to ferry American astronauts to and from the International Space Station. SpaceX has already proven its ability to launch and land recycled rockets, not to mention the viability of the Dragon Capsule its plans to use to ship astronauts to and from the ISS. However, despite leaked unverified images on Reddit, we had yet to see a fully functional spacesuit — a crucial aspect of any space-faring aims.

Read: SpaceX’s slim new spacesuits look straight out of sci-fi

The Coolala is a $400 portable AC unit that you can take outside

For all the claims our portable air conditioners make about being movable, it’s time to be honest with ourselves — they’re only portable if you’re a giant, or have a house that is nothing but windows. Just because these AC units aren’t mounted doesn’t exactly make them bastions of mobility. You can’t really take your “portable” air conditioners anywhere. Until now, that is. Meet the Coolala, a new Kickstarter project that claims to be “the only solar powered air conditioner that’s truly portable, so you can stay cool anywhere, anytime.”

Part of its portability is derived from its diminutive size. Measuring just 16 by 3.5 by 12 inches, this is a truly mini AC unit. But rest assured, it’ll do a lot more for you than a hand-held fan. It weighs in at 7 pounds and comes complete with wheels and a handle (in case you don’t feel like carrying it). And most importantly, it claims 3,500 BTU of cooling power, which means that you can cool an area of up to 150 square feet. Once the sun has fully powered up its battery, the Coolala claims to be able to provide some relief from the heat for between six to eight hours.

Read: The Coolala is a $400 portable AC unit that you can take outside

Editors' Recommendations

The Pixel 8 just leaked, and it has one big thing I can’t wait for
Google Pixel 8 in depicted in white.

For another year, Google’s next-gen phones are out in the wild months ahead of their grand reveal at a fancy event. Just a day ago, the Pixel 8 Pro was unceremoniously leaked, and now, the standard Pixel 8 has also received the same treatment. OnLeaks and MySmartPrice have shared reported renders and a 360-degree video depicting the upcoming Google phone from all angles.
The design changes are subtle, but easy on the eyes. Just like the Pixel 8 Pro, the corners are once again more rounded on the Pixel 8. The frame is metallic, and there’s a horizontal camera strip at the back with a metallic luster on top. Akin to the Pixel 7, we get two cameras on the Pixel 8, sitting in a pill-shaped cutout.

Another small aesthetic tweak is the earpiece grill at the top, which is now more prominent than what we saw on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. If the current-gen Pixels are any indication, the Pixel 8 is going to offer an excellent in-hand feel. Talking about in-hand feel, though, it appears that Google is once again pandering to the small phone loyalists.

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The Google Pixel Fold may launch a lot sooner than you expected
Alleged dummy model of the Google Pixel Fold.

Google is apparently closer to launching its first foldable phone a lot earlier than leaks had predicted. WinFuture, citing information received from sellers, reports that the Pixel Fold is lined up for a market release in June. It appears that Google will at least give a brief teaser of the phone at its I/O developers conference in May, alongside the budget-centric Pixel 7a.

The report adds that Pixel Fold is the official marketing name of the foldable phone, and it will at least be up for grabs in the European markets in the second week of June. The eagerly awaited phone will be sold in a sole 256GB storage configuration, while color options on the table are Carbon and Porcelain.

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First Google Pixel 8 Pro renders reveal some surprising changes
Leaked render of the Google Pixel 8 Pro.

Once again, and in an unsurprising turn of events, Google has missed the leak train. Leakers @OnLeaks and SmartPrix have leaked rumored renders of the upcoming Pixel 8 Pro. Going by the Pixel 7's launch date, the next Pixel flagship has leaked a good six months ahead of its official introduction.
Google's terrible track record aside, let's discuss the leaked renders. It looks like the company's design team is favoring rounded edges again. The Pixel 7 duo was an improvement over the boxy looks of its predecessor, and the Pixel 8 Pro only appears to add more of that rounded corner profiling. It actually looks good, albeit a bit wider.

The overall design remains more or less the same. Google is sticking to the dual-tone approach with glass on both sides, and a metal frame that also extends over at the back to form the horizontal camera strip. Another change compared to the Pixel 7 Pro’s dual cut-out design is that the Pixel 8 Pro only has single elongated pill-shaped outline housing all three camera sensors.
This triple-lens setup likely includes a primary high-resolution snapper, an ultra-wide angle camera, and a periscope-style telephoto zoom shooter. There’s another round cutout right below the LED flash, but it’s unclear if it’s a macro or depth camera, or some kind of IR or a specialized photosensitive sensor. 

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