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

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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 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

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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

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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

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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