Energy Storage

The best smart doorbell camera


This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commission. If you want to see who's on the other side of your door without having to get up and look yourself, then the Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the best choice for most everyone. It lets you screen (and record) visitors and keep an eye out for package deliveries. Motion and ring alerts to a smartphone are typically fast, audio and 1080p video are clear, and the Ring 2 can be powered by either standard doorbell wiring or a removable rechargeable battery. The Ring Video Doorbell 2 performs like a cross between a modestly aggressive guard dog and a trusty digital butler. In addition to notifying you--audibly and via smartphone--of activity, it records all motion events to the cloud, letting you view those recordings (as well as live video) on your phone or computer any time. It's also compatible with a good number of smart-home devices, platforms, and monitored security systems. Though video recording and storage require a subscription, the $30 annual fee (a mere 8¢ per day) for 60 days of unlimited video storage is downright cheap compared with the competition. We like the Ring Video Doorbell Pro for all the reasons we like the Ring 2. Additionally, it has a much slimmer and sleeker design that will fit in more doorframes and includes the option for customized motion-detection zones.

Rivian turned down GM investment so it could build EVs for others


Reports emerged last week that GM would not join Amazon in investing in electric vehicle startup Rivian, and now we have a little more clarity on why talks broke down. It seems GM wanted some exclusivity, but Rivian plans to build vehicles for other companies, as well as release up to six models under its own branding by 2025. Founder RJ Scaringe said Rivian is working on something related to the Amazon investment, but hinted to Bloomberg that it may not be a vehicle. He's open to selling his company's technology (it has developed long-lasting batteries) to other businesses for various products, including stationary batteries. So perhaps Amazon is interested in using Rivian's know-how for something other than vehicles, though it has also invested in a self-driving car startup.

India Goes Electric With Battery-Swapping Rickshaws


Pankaj Kumar drives his autorickshaw up to a charging station in a covered parking lot in Gurugram, a satellite city of New Delhi. He flips open a lid on the side of the box that was the driver's seat. One at a time, he pulls out the two batteries powering the small vehicle, each about a foot high, five inches wide, and weighing 26 pounds. A locker pops open, revealing a fully charged battery. He pops it in, then repeats the action for the second battery.

Europe's Ambitious ICT Agenda

Communications of the ACM

For Europe, investment in advanced ICT is a must. With an aging population and a shrinking workforce, Europe needs to tap artificial intelligence (AI), 5G wireless connectivity, quantum computing, and other ICT technologies that could drive the next step change in productivity. To that end, the region can build on a long-standing scientific tradition. Thanks in part to sustained public sector support, Europe is a leading producer of high-quality scientific research. Its scientists excel in aeronautics, transport technologies, and energy and construction, based on the number of widely cited publications.a

Ninety7 Sky Tote Portable Battery Base review: Take your second-gen Amazon Echo anywhere


Amazon's decision to design its second-generation Amazon Echo smart speaker with a removable sleeve makes the device customizable. But there's a hidden feature I wasn't aware of until I installed Ninety7's Sky Tote Portable Battery Base: a set of electrical contacts tucked behind a rubber plug on the bottom of the speaker. These contacts enable the Echo 2 to draw power directly from the Sky Tote's large battery, which is charged in turn by the AC adapter that comes with the Echo 2. Operating your Echo 2 on battery power allows you to take the smart speaker with you into any room in your home or even into the yard if your Wi-Fi network is strong enough to reach there. That's a much less expensive alternative to putting an Echo in every room for smart home control, or investing in a multi-room audio system so you can listen to music everywhere. You can also take a battery-powered Echo 2 on picnics and camping trips if you create a mobile hotspot with your smartphone.

A New Wave of Brainy Bikes Do Everything but Ride Themselves


The top of Monarch Crest trail outside Salida, Colorado, provides a stunning view, a 360-degree vista of the Continental Divide and the 14,000-foot Collegiate Peaks towering to the north. But as I clip into my mountain bike's pedals, I've got more than selfies on my mind. I flip open the compression damping switches on my suspension fork and rear shock. I lower my telescoping "dropper" seat post to move the saddle out of the way. I shift to a sprocket in the middle of the gearing range to keep chain tension high.

Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution – How does it affect you?


With billions of people and things connected by sensors and devices, and unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, the possibilities for innovation are endless. Advances in artificial intelligence are visible everywhere - from the Roombas that clean our homes, to the algorithms that suggest the movies we watch, to self-driving cars and drones delivering packages. Artificial intelligence is just one aspect of the explosion in technological breakthroughs including robotics, the Internet of Things, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.

3 New Chips to Help Robots Find Their Way Around

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Robots have a tough job making their way in the world. Life throws up obstacles, and it takes a lot of computing power to avoid them. At the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference last month in San Francisco, engineers presented some ideas for lightening that computational burden. That's a particularly good thing if you're a compact robot, with a small battery pack and a big job to do. Engineers at Intel are experimenting with robot-specific accelerators as part of a collaborative multirobot system.

Researchers use machine learning to more quickly analyze key capacitor materials


Capacitors, given their high energy output and recharging speed, could play a major role in powering the machines of the future, from electric cars to cell phones. But the biggest hurdle for these energy storage devices is that they store much less energy than a battery of similar size. Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology are tackling that problem in a novel way, using machine learning to ultimately find ways to build more capable capacitors. The method, which was described in February 18 in the journal npj Computational Materials and sponsored by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, involves teaching a computer to analyze at an atomic level two materials that make up some capacitors: aluminum and polyethylene. The researchers focused on finding a way to more quickly analyze the electronic structure of those materials, looking for features that could affect performance.

Andreessen and Gates invest in an AI startup that's looking for ethical cobalt


There's a good chance your smartphone contains tainted cobalt. The metal is a crucial ingredient in most of the lithium-ion batteries that power our devices, and 70% of it is mined in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where children are often deployed to work in toxic environments. Though global brands like Apple and Samsung are keen to clean up their supply chain, DRC's dominance of the cobalt market makes the task difficult. These brands are also pressured by growing demand for cobalt, which Citigroup estimates will outstrip supply by 2023. That's because lithium-ion batteries also power electric cars, and every car battery needs as much as 1,000 times the amount of cobalt of a smartphone battery.