Popular Science


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Popular Science

At the smaller, cheaper end of the scale, you'll find wee speakers like the Google Home Mini ($49 on Google) and the Amazon Echo Dot ($45 on Amazon). On the higher-quality, more expensive side, several options focus on audio quality and keep the AI assistant's smarts as well. Amazon also offers two more options in this middle category: the bigger, better-sounding Echo Plus ($150 on Amazon) and the smaller Echo Spot ($130 on Amazon), which has a smaller speaker but adds a miniature screen. While these groups offer a general way of categorizing the field of smart speakers, you can also try to determine audio quality by looking at specific features: Check the size and number of internal speakers, including woofers for bass sounds and tweeters for high sounds.


Five advanced Chromecast hacks to level up your streaming experience

Popular Science

To play music, movies, or shows--no tapping or selecting required--simply say "OK Google" and tell your Home device to play whatever you want to see or hear on whatever you've named your Chromecast.


Last week in tech: Alexa, tell me about all the gadget news I missed

Popular Science

Amazon gave the Echo smart speaker lineup a near-total refresh last week. Taking the place of the old $179 Echo are two new devices: an adorably small $99 Echo speaker, and a $150 Echo Plus--which has bigger speakers and more advanced smart home controls. The $129 Echo Spot comes with a small, round screen and a camera for making video calls. You don't need to buy a new Echo to get the speaker's best new feature, though.


Sylvania Smart Multicolor LEDs Review: Simple smart bulbs for HomeKit users

Popular Science

Unlike some other smart lights, installing Sylvania's LED bulbs is as easy as, well, screwing in a lightbulb. Once you've screwed them in and powered them on, you simply go into Apple's Home app, select the " " sign in the upper right-hand corner and add each bulb. We tested three of Sylvania's Smart bulbs over the course of a week, adding two of them to an overhead entryway light fixture and a third to an office lamp. As with all HomeKit devices we test, we also created new scenes in Apple's Home app, issued plenty of Siri voice commands, and set up a variety of schedules and automation to see how well the bulbs performed.



$2 million competition aims to make jetpacks a reality by 2019

Popular Science

While the laws of aerodynamics and engineering drove planes into long aluminum tubes with wings, fiction maintained the dream of a personal flying tool that people could strap to their back, ride through the air, and then arrive intact and on-time at work. For the first phase, teams will submit a written report by April 18, 2018 and a preliminary design, with 10 winners selected for a $20,000 prize each. The four best entries from phase two will earn each winning teams $50,000. Importantly, teams don't have to win in Phase I to be eligible for Phase II, and don't have to win in Phase II to be eligible to compete in Phase III.


Robotic ships from Rolls-Royce (not that one) could carry out naval missions without a crew

Popular Science

In 2016, the Navy christened Sea Hunter, a 132-foot-long, fully autonomous vessel designed to patrol the ocean and look for submarines lurking beneath the surface. Rolls-Royce (not the car company) released a concept for an autonomous naval vessel last week, one that would be powered by Rolls-Royce engines and controlled by its own systems. "If navies want to seriously start to move into this space, this is what that ship would look like," says Edgar Wright, a senior engineer at Rolls-Royce, "We're already seeing smaller unmanned surface vehicles performing missions like patrol and minehunting, but what the larger platform gets you is creased range and persistence." There is already a thriving ecosystem of smaller, unmanned and remotely controlled aquatic vessels.


The Plimp is a plane-blimp mashup that promises safe air transport

Popular Science

With a rigid, winged body held underneath a massive helium-containing envelope, their craft is billed as a fusion of both airplane and blimp technology. Egan Airships, the company formed by twin brothers James and Joel Egan, debuted their Plimp at the InterDrone exposition earlier this month. The first model is unmanned, making it a plane blimp drone, built within FAA limits. Because half of the weight of the vehicle is offset by the helium envelope (the big, blimp-like pouch on the top of the vehicle), the craft is larger than a typical drone: 28 feet long, and 7 feet in diameter.


20 percent off a smart car charger and other good deals happening today

Popular Science

For the first time, the Anker Roav SmartCharge Car Kit is on sale for 20 percent off. If you put the code ANKERFMA at checkout, you can save $6. Beyond charging your devices, it uses Bluetooth and FM radio to connect to your car's stereo, so you can play music and answer phone calls. It's got two USB quick-charging ports, and let's you use the Roav app to find your car in case you've forgotten where you parked it.


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Popular Science

Here's how her newest voice came into the world: Someone read aloud from a book, and Apple recorded it. Apple's goal with those recordings was to gather natural-sounding words and phonemes, or the sounds that comprise our words. To better understand the qualities of Siri's new voice, I sent clips of her speaking American English to Molly Babel, an assistant professor in the department of linguistics at the University of British Columbia. Babel asked me to record Siri saying specific words--among them pasta, pool, and boot--and a passage, well known in linguistics, that contains a plethora of word-sounds.