Washington Post


This may be the most important Nintendo Switch release so far

Washington Post

That makes Arms -- Nintendo's completely new multiplayer, motion-controlled game -- perhaps the most important Switch launch so far. It's essentially a boxing game -- but one that gives players cybernetic limbs and the chance to brawl it out in a high-tech arena. Players put one of the Switch's palm-sized Joy-Con controllers in each hand, which makes the punching motion feel fairly natural. When you punch with your real arms, your character punches on-screen with extendible cybernetic limbs.


The latest NSA leak is a reminder that your bosses can see your every move

Washington Post

The answer, according to some former NSA analysts, is that the agency routinely monitors many of its employees' computer activity. It is a $200 million-a-year industry, according to a study last year by 451 Research, a technology research firm, and is estimated to be worth $500 million by 2020. Employee monitoring recently came to light in a high-profile lawsuit involving Uber and Waymo, the self-driving car company owned by Google's parent firm, Alphabet. Privacy advocates have been pushing for years to have Congress review various communications privacy laws in light of updates to technology.


Tim Cook teases more details on Apple's car project

Washington Post

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has shed more light on his company's automotive efforts, revealing that the company is "focusing on autonomous systems," according to an interview with Bloomberg News published Tuesday. Are we looking at a future with two major autonomous vehicle systems just as we currently have two major smartphone systems? Automotive analysts say that building lots of working cars, and quickly, can be a far more complex endeavor than building a smartphone or laptop. All that could help explain why Apple, despite being one of the world's wealthiest companies, appears to be focusing more heavily -- for now -- on self-driving software.


Google spinoff Waymo has built its own self-driving sensors

Washington Post

Google's autonomous driving spinoff, Waymo, has developed sensors that pair with its self-driving software, potentially opening the door for the company to sell a comprehensive system that automakers build into future car models. It has been previously reported that Google was rolling back plans to build its own car, although the company initially developed a self-driving prototype, called Firefly, that had no pedals or steering wheel. "To solve these challenges, we're thinking bigger than a single use case, bigger than a particular vehicle, bigger than a single business model," Krafcik said. Google set out to create self-driving technology in 2009, and Krafcik said the sensors unveiled Sunday are the latest iteration of that research and development.


Can Alexa help solve a murder? Police think so -- but Amazon won't give up her data

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While police have long seized computers, cellphones and other electronics to investigate crimes, this case has raised fresh questions about privacy issues regarding devices like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home, voice-activated personal command centers that are constantly "listening." When it detects the wake word, it begins streaming audio to the cloud, including a fraction of a second of audio before the wake word, according to the Amazon website. Undeterred by Amazon's refusal to turn over Bates's Echo data, detectives sought the help of a far closer source: the Bentonville utilities department. According to police records, a city utility billing and collections manager told detectives that, on the night of Collins's death, 140 gallons of water were used at Bates's home between 1 and 3 a.m., an amount of water usage that exceeded all other periods there since October 2013.


Did you just open a brand new home hub? Read this first.

Washington Post

Focusing on Amazon's Echo (or the smaller Echo Dot) and Google's Home devices, we've put together a few basic tips to help you go beyond the setup menu and get the most from these gadgets: One of the first things you should figure out is where it's best to place them. You can link your Netflix account to Google Home now, as well as YouTube. The bottom line is that if you want to get your money's worth, then you should connect the smart speakers to an Amazon or Google account if you have one. On Google Home, head into the settings menu for the hub and tap "More" to get a full list of the things your hub can do and the services with which it can connect.


Mark Zuckerberg builds an artificial intelligence assistant to run his house -- and entertain his toddler

Washington Post

Mark Zuckerberg has a new housemate: Jarvis, an artificial intelligence assistant he created this year that can control appliances, play music, recognize faces and, perhaps most impressively, entertain his toddler. The Facebook founder spent 100 hours putting together the virtual assistant -- named after the artificial intelligence system in "Iron Man" -- which understands spoken commands as well as text messages, he wrote in a 3,000-word Facebook post Monday. The virtual assistant texts Zuckerberg images of visitors who stop by during the day and opens the front door for those it recognizes. The year-long project was part of an effort to learn about the state of artificial intelligence, Zuckerberg wrote, and also an opportunity to experiment with cutting-edge technology at a time when voice-activated assistants like Amazon's Echo and Google Home are gaining widespread popularity.


Amazon makes its first drone delivery to a real customer

Washington Post

Amazon.com has long talked about its ambitions for using drones to deliver small parcels to its legions of customers. On Wednesday, the company said that it has made its first autonomous drone delivery -- an order for an Amazon Fire TV streaming device and a bag of popcorn -- to a shopper in the United Kingdom. It is not surprising that Amazon's first Prime Air drop-off took place in the United Kingdom. Amazon has stated for a while now that it intends to use drones for delivering small parcels weighing no more than 5 pounds.


Your company's human resources department could get less human

Washington Post

Some of the questions you ask your human resources department could soon be answered by, well, non-humans. That's the concept behind Talla, a Boston-area start-up that has developed a chatbot to do some of the more mundane tasks that HR departments carry out on a daily basis. In fact, he says the introduction of chatbots to HR allows the human staff to focus on tasks that require a greater degree of intellect and touch. "What's actually going to happen is you're going to allow the human resources department to be more human by automating away a lot of their grunt work," he said.


Watch this 'gun' take down a flying drone

Washington Post

Government agencies, airport operators and law enforcement agencies looking to ground drones can now put the flying devices in their crosshairs. The company says it could thwart drones carrying explosives intended to carry out a civilian or military attack, or stop those that venture illegally into restricted airspace or onto prohibited property. Because commercial drones operate on publicly accessible radio frequencies, the DroneGun could be used to jam other consumer-grade electronics, such as Internet routers or remote-controlled toy cars. DroneShield, which also makes sensors to detect drones, markets its products primarily to airports, prisons, governments and large commercial venues.