Weekly Rewind: The new Moto, a 12-year-old’s lead-detection invention, and more

top tech stories 10 19 2017 weekly rewind 20 17 gitanjali rao feat
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 Digital Trends 2017 Home Awards to what we know about Bohemian Rhapsody — it’s all here.

After a 2-year hiatus, the Moto X returns with an all-glass design

best Moto X4 cases
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Once upon a time, the Moto X was the crown jewel of Motorola’s (and its parent company Lenovo’s) lineup. But that was back in 2015. Last year’s modular Moto Z shifted the manufacturer’s strategy a bit, and now Lenovo’s trying to rekindle some of the magic with a refreshed, revamped fourth-gen Moto X4.

Just like its predecessor, the new Moto X4 won’t break the bank. In the U.S., the Moto X4 costs $400 from Google’s Project Fi, Fry’s, B&H, Best Buy, Jet.com, Newegg, Motorola.com, Republic Wireless, and Ting. It’s available for pre-order starting October 19, and ships a week later on October 26.

Read: After a 2-year hiatus, the Moto X returns with an all-glass design

Middle school student wins $25k award for device that detects lead in water

water-testing device

A seventh grader that we featured in July for inventing a lead-testing device in drinking water has won a prestigious award for his invention. Gitanjali Rao, who competed in a distinguished science competition in the United States, won the 3M-sponsored science competition and was awarded the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist,” along with a $25,000 prize.

Her invention, a sophisticated method for testing for lead contamination in water, could significantly improve the response to chemical disasters like the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. In fact, Rao’s water-testing device was partially inspired by stories of chemical contamination such as the situation in Flint.

Read: Middle school student wins $25k award for device that detects lead in water

Everything we know about ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ the Queen biopic

One of the most iconic musicians of the modern era, Queen frontman Freddie Mercury is the focal point of the upcoming band biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Mr. Robot star Rami Malek is portraying the multifaceted singer, songwriter, and producer, widely regarded as one of the greatest vocalists of all time.

Set to be directed by X-Men franchise veteran Bryan Singer from a script penned by Academy Award nominee Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything), Bohemian Rhapsody will chronicle the period between the band’s formation in the 1970s and Mercury’s tragic death in 1991. Queen band members Brian May and Roger Taylor are serving as producers on the film.

With Bohemian Rhapsody now scheduled to hit theaters December 25, 2018, here’s everything we know about the film so far.

Read: Everything we know about ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ the Queen biopic

Digital Trends 2017 Home Awards

hestan cue

The ever-expanding list of smart home products — from security systems to smart locks, lightbulbs, ovens, smoke alarms, and baby monitors – presented us with a unique problem when we set about choosing winners for the 2017 Home Awards: How do we compare the newest appliances to products like Wi-Fi connected vacuum cleaners or BBQ grills? Does a better dryer beat a connected egg timer? What if it’s a really great timer?

In the end, we opted to focus on the one thing that makes all the products on this list award-worthy: innovation.

Our 2017 Home Awards recipients are game-changers in their respective fields. They don’t just improve on their predecessors; they change our expectations entirely.

Read: Digital Trends 2017 Home Awards

Just in time for Halloween, this spooky robot mask will help teach you to code

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There are plenty of cool educational robotics projects we see rolling out on a regular basis but, to the best of our knowledge, only one promises to give you a creepy Phantom of the Opera-style mask to learn to code with. The makers of Nova have presented this spooky gift to the world with their new Arduino-based artificial intelligence robot, now available on Kickstarter.

Creoqod’s Nova is a do-it-yourself kit that lets users build their own artificially intelligent robot, while practicing their coding and engineering skills. It’s compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux, and promises to be both a great tool for newcomers, and also a fun testing platform for seasoned professionals. Building it will provide a good overview of various engineering and computer science concepts, ranging from computer vision and image processing, to kinematics and control theory. The finished robot can recognize and track faces, identify colors, measure distances, and move in five different axes — all while looking like a cross between The Terminator and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s aforementioned scarred musical maestro.

Read: Just in time for Halloween, this spooky robot mask will help teach you to code

GM plans to send its self-driving cars onto the manic streets of Manhattan

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madrabothair / 123RF Stock Photo

Drivers in New York City may soon have to ask themselves the profound question: If the car in front is a self-driving one, is there any point in honking my horn?

General Motors’ (GM) self-driving unit, Cruise Automation, could soon begin tests of its modified Chevy Bolts in a move that would see “fully autonomous” Level 4 vehicles tooling along the busy streets of Manhattan for the very first time.

Read: GM plans to send its self-driving cars onto the manic streets of Manhattan

Asics wants to microwave you a custom, crazy-colored pair of sneakers

asics microwave sole
Asics

Getting voted best dressed is a lot harder when you’re wearing the same thing as everyone else around you. Luckily, Asics is here to ensure that you never commit such a fashion faux pas again. For its next trick, the athletic company is unveiling a new giant microwave intended not for your culinary pleasure, but rather for your customization needs. In just 15 seconds, these large microwaves will be able to “bake” a pair of custom soles for eager customers, giving them the ability to customize their footwear on-site in stores.

Read: Asics wants to microwave you a custom, crazy-colored pair of sneakers

Using drones to charge your EV while you’re driving is Amazon’s latest idea

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Whether or not Amazon’s R&D team comes up with most of its ideas during Friday night drinks is immaterial. The reality is that, possibly on a Monday morning, it files those ideas with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). And after a period of time, the USPTO grants Amazon the patent.

Some of those patents will be forgotten by the Seattle-based company over time and therefore never see the light of day, but as technology develops, others may eventually come to fruition.

Read: Using drones to charge your EV while you’re driving is Amazon’s latest idea

Innovative new spray-on cement helps old buildings survive earthquakes

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University of British Columbia

Earthquakes can cause massive amounts of devastation. Using modern building materials and designs, architects have created a number of impressively reinforced buildings around the world that are able to survive quakes that would level many structures. However, what can you do to earthquake-proof an existing building? That’s a question that civil engineering researchers at the University of British Columbia took on in a recent project.

As a result of the research, they’ve developed a new type of concrete that can be sprayed onto walls, which will successfully protect buildings from being damaged in the event of even major quakes. This is possible thanks to a fiber-reinforced design which allows the concrete to bend, rather than fracture, when it is violently shaken. In simulation tests, the “eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite” (EDCC) was able to withstand an earthquake with a magnitude equal to the 9.0 – 9.1 quake that hit Tohoku, Japan back in 2011.

Read: Innovative new spray-on cement helps old buildings survive earthquakes

Web

Encryption-busting law passed in Australia may have global privacy implications

Controversial laws have been passed in Australia which oblige tech companies to allow the police to access encrypted messages, undermining the privacy of encryption with potentially global effects.
Digital Trends Live

Jobbatical’s Lauren Proctor discusses the future of jobs for tech experts

Today on Digital Trends Live we had Jobbatical's Lauren Proctor to talk about the future trends for finding tech jobs abroad, including a Digital Nomad Visa, which allows tech experts to travel from country to country much easier.
Music

The best new music this week: Josh Homme, Domo Genesis, and more

Are you looking for the best new music? Each week, we scour the internet to find the most compelling new releases just for you. On tap this week: Josh Homme, Domo Genesis, Eddie Palmieri, and Jacob Collier.
Mobile

A render video gives us a 360-degree look at the midrange Pixels

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL.
Mobile

Honor to out-megapixel the competition with 48MP camera on upcoming View 20

After its phenomenal success with the View 10 in 2018, it looks like Honor is getting ready up the ante with its forthcoming Honor View 20. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Mobile

Xiaomi is preparing to set records with 48-megapixel phone camera

Bigger doesn't always mean better, but it certainly makes headlines. Chinese mobile giant Xiaomi is set to release a phone camera with a staggeringly large 48 megapixels on a single sensor.
Apple

Patent highlights Apple's sky-high ambitions for AirPower wireless charger

At its September event last year, Apple unveiled the AirPower -- its new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.
Deals

Check out the best Green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn't mean you've missed your chance of finding a great deal. We're talking about Green Monday, of course, and it falls on December 10.
Mobile

Google Fit app finally gets a widget, among other new features

Google Fit hasn't received any new features since its redesign. This week, the company is rolling some new tools; users will be able to add a widget to their Android home screen, adjust the intensity of their workouts, and more.
Home Theater

Step aside set-top boxes, the best streaming sticks are tiny and just as powerful

Which streaming stick reigns supreme? We pit the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra against the Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K to help you decide which one will be the best fit in your living room.
Home Theater

Boy dies after being electrocuted through his headphones

A 16-year-old Malaysian boy appears to be the latest victim in a growing list of people who have been electrocuted by their smartphones via their headphones. It's believed that a faulty charging cable is the culprit.
Social Media

Walkie-talkie voice messaging finally comes to Instagram

In its latest grab from messaging apps, Instagram now lets you send walkie-talkie style voice messages. Apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage have offered the feature for some time.
Deals

Sign up for Verizon Fios Triple Play and get an Amazon Echo and Amazon Prime for a year

Verizon is now offering its Fios Gigabit Connection Custom TV and Phone service with Amazon Prime tossed in. While valid, you can sign up for the company’s Triple Play package, which includes all three Fios services, for $80 per month.
Deals

19 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great stocking stuffer ideas), we've rounded up 19 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth…