Weekly Rewind: Goodbye to Bowie, Braille Kindles, smart guns, and more

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In the tech world, a lot happens in a week. So much news goes on, in fact, 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 the second week of January. Everything from tributes to David Bowie and Alan Rickman to smart gun technology and a Kindle for the blind — it’s all here.

Goodbye, David Bowie, you beautiful, chameleonic rock god

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David Bowie, one of the most unique and influential figures in the history of modern music, died at age 69 from cancer. The artist released his new album, Blackstar, just two days before his death, and though it had been reported he would no longer tour, it was not publicly stated the halt was due to health issues. Bowie battled the cancer that would take his life in relative silence for a reported 18 months. We pay tribute to the rock legend and his many musical and stylistic transformations throughout the years.

Read the full story here.

Lyft introduces a new service for senior citizens who don’t have smartphones

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The on-demand industry has long hung its hat on the notion of accessibility — anyone anywhere at any time can take advantage of these services … provided they have a smartphone. And while an ever-increasing proportion of Americans fall under this umbrella, one vital demographic remains on the fringe: our senior citizens. But now, Lyft is finding a way around this wrinkle in their plans, partnering with National Medtrans Network in New York City to provide older individuals with rides to and from non-emergency medical appointments.

Read the full story here.

A Kindle for the blind? U.S. researchers working on an affordable Braille tablet

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“Imagine having a Kindle that isn’t a visual Kindle but instead has a tactile surface that can be read by a person who’s blind using Braille,” ponders Sile O’Modhrain, a performing arts professor who is visually impaired. It’s a fascinating proposition, and one O’Modhrain and researchers at the University of Michigan are working to solve.

Read the full story here.

From Hans Gruber to Severus Snape: 10 times Alan Rickman ruled the silver screen

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Alan Rickman was more than just a perfect Severus Snape. The revered British actor, who sadly passed away at the age of 69, was a versatile performer who could employ his talents to play a wide variety of roles. Cast often as the villain, Rickman absolutely shined in despicable roles, but he was equally as eloquent in creating passionate, quirky, and sometimes hilarious on-screen characters. In honor of his tragic passing, we’ve compiled a chronological list of some of our favorite roles he embodied, and a little bit about what he did to make each character special.

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Apple’s iPhone 6S outperforms every Android phone in a major benchmark test

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Benchmark and performance enthusiasts look forward to AnTuTu’s Global Top 10 Best Performance Smartphones each year, but it’s a little different this time around. Past reports only included Android phones, but thanks to AnTuTu 6.0, which was released last year as a cross-platform app, the iPhone can now be included in the test. Sadly for Android fans, the iPhone 6S won by a landslide in the performance test.

Read the full story here.

Next page: 5 more tech stories you might have missed this week

New smart gun technology may help with gun safety in the US

The debate on guns is one of the most divisive in the country, and President Barack Obama’s recent executive action has only deepened the rift between two sides that often seem to be speaking past one another. But on one aspect of the argument, everyone seem aligned — gun safety is important. And now, following Obama’s executive action announcement this past Tuesday, renewed attention is being paid to the notion of “smart guns.”

Read the full story here.

ISIS is testing a deadly remote-controlled car bomb that fools infrared sensors

The Islamic State (ISIS), one of the deadliest terrorist groups on the planet, is developing a remote-controlled car bomb that’s capable of fooling infrared detectors, a new report finds. A video published by British television station Sky News shows members of ISIS’ research and development arm testing a home-brewed, remote-controlled car in a former equestrian center located near the group’s headquarters in Raqqa, Syria.

Read the full story here.

Set the date! Google I/O runs from May 18-20 in Mountain View, California

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai already announced the dates for this year’s Google I/O conference on Twitter. This year, it will take place at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California from May 18 to May 20. The annual event is a place for Google to unleash all of its software and service announcements, but it also allows developers to get in touch with the creator of the biggest search engine and mobile operating system.

Read the full story here.

Watson at the Wheel: How IBM plans to power your drive

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“It’s the biggest reinvention going on since the invention of the wheel.” That’s the general consensus of pretty much everyone in the automotive industry, but those specific words came from David Taylor, director of connected services for IBM-partner Panasonic. Taylor joined an IBM panel at the Detroit Auto Show to highlight the complete reinvention of the supply chain, business model, and more that is currently underway in the industry.

Read the full story here.

NASA’s newest branch has one job: Protect the Planet from humongous asteroids

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No, it’s not something out of Armageddon — NASA really is serious about so-called near-Earth objects (NEOs). It’s so serious, in fact, that there is now a whole office within the agency dedicated to tracking potentially threatening asteroids and comets. Not only does the new Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) track these objects, but it’s also tasked with working with other governments on potential mitigation strategies should a threat arise.

Read the full story here.

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