<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Tech News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Wed, 06 May 2015 15:34:55 -0500 Wed, 06 May 2015 15:34:55 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[How a Drone Could Spoof Wi-Fi, Steal Your Data]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 22:45:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Gettyphoto.jpg

Drones are inexpensive, small and hard to detect when flying several hundred feet in the air. And security researchers warn the remote devices can also be outfitted to gather private information.

In a controlled environment, penetration tester Parker Schmitt and robot expert David Jordan attached a tiny computer to a drone to show how the device could be used for nefarious purposes. While in the sky, the drone poses as an open Wi-Fi network and tricks other devices to connect to it. Once the connection is made, any information that passes through -- credit card information, home addresses, and telephone numbers -- can be obtained.

"It adds a whole level of anonymity that these bad guys have thrived on," Parker explained.

The obscurity of the drone means users on computers and cell phones could make unwanted connections while in their own homes, a public place, or a place of business.

"It’s basically one way of stealing information," said Chicago attorney Whitney Merrill, who specializes in technology cases where the bad guy is often a hacker -- a phantom so to speak -- operating illegally in an anonymous world.

Merrill stressed how important it is that end users understand that open Wi-Fi is not secure.

"If you are on the same network as somebody else, they can be seeing the information that’s traveling across the network," she said.

How You Can Protect Yourself:

There are things device users can do to protect themselves against hackers. Avoiding open Wi-Fi networks is the first step. If you must connect to a public Wi-Fi network, make sure the web address you visit is correct and not a dummy site. Also be sure to only open websites that have “https” in the address. And when accessing a banking website, only continue if a lock appears indicating a secure, encrypted connection.

Both Schmitt and Jordan will be presenting at THOTCON, a Chicago hacking conference, on May 14. Merrill will also speak. 



Photo Credit: Moment Editorial/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Periscope Eyed Over Pacquiao Fight]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 09:24:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Pacquiao-Mayweather-3.jpg

This weekend’s fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was hyped as the fight of the century. Now, a new fight begins.

It cost viewers at home about $100 to order the pay per view event, but several hundred people used live streaming video apps like Meerkat and Periscope to broadcast it for free. They simply held the phone up to the TV. Now, those people could face legal action.

“The technology as a whole, I think, is going to be beneficial to consumers and broadcasters,” said attorney Mitch Stoltz.

Stoltz is an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which fights for consumer digital rights.
He believes live streaming companies shouldn't suffer when users rebroadcast licensed material.

“The makers of the technology, whether it's Sony in the case of the VCR, or Periscope with this new technology, isn't going to be responsible unless they were encouraging people to use it in illegal ways,” he said.

Saturday night after the boxing match, the Twitter CEO Dick Costolo tweeted:

“And the winner is…@periscopeco.”

Twitter recently acquired the live-streaming company.

Monday, Periscope issued a statement:

"Periscope operates in compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we respect intellectual property rights and are working to ensure there are robust tools in place to respond expeditiously. Unauthorized broadcasts of content that is protected by copyright is a clear violation of our content policy. It’s not the kind of content we want to see in Periscope."

A company spokesperson said of the 66 live streams red flagged by those who own the rights to the fight, Periscope shut down 30 of them within minutes. The remaining broadcasts had already ended and were no longer available.

As for why those broadcasters and advertisers would object? San Jose State University Advertising Professor John Delacruz said it’s not just about the lost money.

“I think the biggest problem that comes from allowing just anybody to broadcast live is that you can be damaging the brand itself," Delacruz said. "You can really leave yourself open to abuse."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Company Faces Backer Backlash]]> Mon, 04 May 2015 14:42:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CST-01.jpg

A watch designed in Chicago that garnered attention through a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2013 remains a work in progress that has run out of funding, resulting in scores of frustrated backers and pre-order customers who kicked-in more than one million dollars for the project.

Described as “the world’s thinnest watch,” the CST-01 is as thin as a credit card. Its designers layered a watch’s electronics, battery and E-Ink display on a thin piece of stainless steel. Early versions of the watch buzzed online and attracted a lot of interest.

Central Standard Timing, the Chicago-based designing team behind the CST-01, took to Kickstarter in early 2013 in an attempt to raise $200,000. The crowdfunding campaign exceeded its goal and raised $1,026,292 from backers who pledged to help bring the CST-01 watch to life. Pre-order customers raised another $322,000 for Central Standard Timing.

"It just looked pretty sleek so that’s why I chose to back it," said William Chung, who pledged $129.

Those who pledged certain dollar amounts were offered CST-01 watches in return. Chung said he expected his watch to be shipped later that year.

"I thought it would be a really nice birthday gift for myself to have a really nice watch pre-dating Apple Watch," Chung said.

After the crowdfunding campaign, Central Standard Timing posted updates on its Kickstarter page and spent the following months fine-tuning the CST-01. However, the watch’s supporters said estimated shipping deadlines were not being met and production updates were getting less frequent.

"There’s growing pains and there’s issues, but I think the communication or lack thereof was the biggest issue for me,” said Vishal Bhuta, who pre-ordered a CST-01 in September of 2013.

Last month, Central Standard Timing posted an update that production numbers and speed of production were "much lower than estimated."

Central Standard Timing co-founder Dave Vondle told NBC 5 Investigates that as of April 2015, only eighty units had been shipped, while 8,243 watches would need to be manufactured and delivered in order to satisfy all Kickstarter backers and pre-order customers.

“We deeply apologize for the fact that they don’t have a watch,” Vondle said.

Vondle explained that unexpected issues related to the battery, display and manufacturing resulted in Central Standard Timing using all of its money on parts, tooling and tests. The company said it has the majority of the parts needed, but it is struggling with the yield and costs involved to assemble them into final units. According to Vondle, the cost to produce a single watch ballooned from $70 to around $300.

Vondle said the company is working with its attorney regarding order fulfillments.

“We are doing everything in our power to get these units out to our customers,” Vondle said.

According to Vondle, 135 units are sitting at a warehouse in California. He said they will also be working on an additional 200 units.

Many backers are posting angry comments on message boards related to the delay. Some said the money was squandered. Others are taking a more sympathetic tone toward Central Standard Timing, underscoring the risks backers take when pledging money to crowdfunding projects.

Kickstarter’s rules prevent it from intervening in disputes between “creators” and “backers”. A spokesperson for the six- year-old crowdfunding platform said Kickstarter is not a store. Rather, the company describes itself as a place where people can take risks to help bring new, innovative ideas to life.

The Better Business Bureau, which performed an in-depth study on crowdfunding for charitable causes, urges consumers to research a project before they pledge money.

"You should never give any money that you can’t afford to invest and probably look at it, generally, as a donation," said Tom Joyce of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.

Ethan Mollick of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania researched crowdfunding and found that while the majority of creators fulfill their obligations to funders, more than 75 percent of the creators deliver products later than expected.

"You are getting a discount on a product that doesn’t yet exist and you get to support creators doing something worthwhile," Mollick said. "But you’re taking a risk."

Mollick said crowdfunding campaigns headed by industry veterans increase the chances of a product being delivered.



Photo Credit: Chicago Standard Timing]]>
<![CDATA[Tech Gifts for Mother's Day]]> Mon, 04 May 2015 10:28:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_momgifts0430_1500x845.jpg From tiles that beep and to find your keys to self-contained watering and growing pots for plants, here are some high-tech gifts for Mother's Day.]]> <![CDATA[Slack to Replace Work Email?]]> Mon, 04 May 2015 13:18:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/computer+generic1.jpg

Most people may know Stewart Butterfield as one of the founders of Flickr, who sold the company off to Yahoo for $25 million in 2005. Now his new company, Slack, a new team communication platform, is valued at $2.8 billion.

The impetus behind Slack is that email is too clunky, and worker drones need a better way to see what everyone is saying and have archive access. "By organizating people into channels or specific projects, you get an ambient awareness," Butterfield told Press:Here.

Instead of sending a ticket to a company's help desk to fix something, the department could notice a lot of chatter online about a computer problem. Instead of waiting for a fix-it ticket, the tech team could proactively try to fix it -- all because they were able to see what the rest of the company was talking about.

Slack actually came out of another startup by Butterfield, a video gaming site called Glitch, which never really caught on. After a while and $17 million in venture capital funds, Butterfield realized it was never going to be a moneymaker. However, his team realized it  wanted to keep using the same messaging platform they created. This made Butterfield pivot to Slack as a new startup for companies who want a more open communication platform.

Butterfield said the name comes from his attempt to lessen the tension around office communications. "Having slack gives people room to play and explore," he said.


 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Student Gets New 3-D Printed Hand]]> Sat, 02 May 2015 03:56:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/3-d+hand.jpg

A South Florida graduate student is getting a helping hand, thanks to a fellow classmate and some innovative technology.

Chad Coarsey was born without a left hand — but after a little ingenuity with a 3-D printer, he now has one.

Like many other 25 year olds, Coarsey loves to stay active and play sports.

 

"As I was wrestling in high school I got kind of the nickname, 'The Nub,'" said the Florida Atlantic University graduate student. "It's a big part of my personality, so it's a big part of how people identify who I am," Coarsey said.

Although his parents had offered to buy him a prosthesis many times, Coarsey was okay without one. Then he met his classmate and fellow graduate student, Charles Weinthal.

"I noticed he didn't have a hand," said Weinthal. "So I asked him, 'Chad would you like a hand?' And he looked at me for a moment and just smiled brightly and said 'Yes, I would,'" said Weinthal.

So why now?

"Well probably my curiosity and openness to science and seeing what I can actually make," Coarsey said.

The collaboration for their FAU class project then quickly began. They used FAU High School's high-tech lab and a 3-D printer to make Coarsey's hand.

Here's how 3-D printing works: Guided by a computer model, a plastic filament melts to create the object layer by layer. The 3-D printed prosthetic hand takes less than 24 hours to print.

"This device costs less than $100 to make," Weinthal said.

"When I put it on and started grabbing things and picking up things... for me it was just very surreal," Coarsey said.

It's no surprise these two passed their intro to bioengineering class with flying colors. The next step for "the Hulk hand," as Coarsey jokingly calls it, is for the plastic fingers to move individually.

"I can get another hand and be up to par... but why not push it further and get a hand that's better than what two handed people can do?"

Since this prosthesis has made a difference in Coarsey's life, both men now plan to give a hand to hundreds of amputees in need. They hope this quick and affordable alternative can extend far beyond the walls of their lab.

"It's important that everyone has a hand and that's part of giving. Because you give and get," Weinthal said.

"Despite having a limitation... if there's the motivation you can overcome it yourself," added Coarsey.

The students don't intend on making a business out of the creation. At this time, a foundation is in the works so that they can help thousands of people who may be in need of 3-D printed prosthetics.



Photo Credit: NBCMiami.com]]>
<![CDATA[How Old Do I Look? Website's Photo Guesses Go Viral ]]> Fri, 01 May 2015 12:08:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/computer_generic_laptop_5_640x480.jpg

People pondering the age-old query of "how old do I look?" are finally getting an answer, for better or for worse, thanks to a new website that's gone viral. 

Developers at Microsoft launched a website this week that claims to guess a person’s gender and age based on a photo upload.

Corom Thompson and Santosh Balasubramanian launched the website, How-Old.net at a tech conference Thursday, not knowing it would go viral.

"We sent email to a group of several hundred people asking them to try the page for a few minutes and give us feedback - optimistically hoping that at least 50 people would give it a shot," they wrote in a blog post.

But within a few hours, they wrote they had already seen hits from more than 35,000 users from across the world. 

While the answers are far from 100 percent accurate, many people are taking to social media to share the "age" guessed by the site. 


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<![CDATA[Apple Watch Hits the Streets]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 09:47:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_applewatch0423001.jpg The first customers to sign up for the new Apple Watch will begin receiving their devices today.]]> <![CDATA[Feds to Airlines: Look Out for Hackers]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 18:40:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/airplane-hacking.jpg

Federal authorities this week issued an alert to airlines warning them to be extra vigilant about protecting their systems from tampering and intrusions. 

The alert from the TSA and the FBI was sent privately to airlines just days after a security researcher claimed to have hacked into a United Airlines flight, Wired reported Tuesday.

"I did not think it would create quite the controversy that it has done," the researcher, Chris Roberts, told NBC News. 

Roberts was on board a United Airlines flight on April 15 when he posted a Tweet joking about accessing the plane’s computer and oxygen masks.

 

He was pulled from the flight by the FBI. Other tweets he sent seem to show actual airline data pages. United Airlines last weekend banned him from flying.

"It is definitely possible with the research we’ve done and others have done to manipulate the electronics through in-flight entertainment system and satellite communications," said Roberts.

NBC 5 Investigates last year first reported about the possible flaw in the in-flight entertainment system that allows some planes to be hacked.

"We can disrupt satellite communications, potentially modify the data that goes through those channels," said Spanish Cyber Researcher Ruben Santamarta during a 2014 interview in Las Vegas.

Santamarta showed exactly how a plane could be hacked.

"At this point all those vulnerabilities are really dangerous so they need to change the way they are implementing these devices," he explained.

With the federal alert, it appears authorities are following that advice. Just last week a government watchdog group warned that cockpit computers and air traffic control systems could be vulnerable.

"What we found was the potential for risk," Gerald Dillingham, the Director of Civil Aviation for the Government Accountability Office, told NBC Chicago.

Gerald Dillingham was one of the authors on the report and warned that the FAA needs to do more to protect airline passengers.

"The Federal Aviation Administration, as in many countries around the world, are switching from a point-to-point, more traditional way of controlling aircraft, to a more Internet-based way of controlling air traffic," he said. "And as a part of that, the aircraft becomes a node in the Internet, and as we all know there’s always the possibility of hacking not only the aircraft but all of the other systems that are going to be in the national airspace system."

The FAA said it was unaware of any successful attacks.


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<![CDATA[Motorola Shows Off New Police Tech]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 22:58:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/motorola-police-drone.jpg Schaumburg-based Motorola has developed gear that improves communication, connectivity and law enforcement.

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Google Launches Wireless Phone Service]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 15:15:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP125290752356.jpg

Google is offering a wireless phone service designed to pressure major carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless into lowering their prices.

The service, called "Project Fi," will cost $20 per month and only charge customers for the amount of cellular data that they use each month instead of a flat rate. Each gigabyte of data will cost $10 per month. That means a customer could sign up for a plan offering three gigabytes of data and get $20 back if only one gigabyte was used in a month.

Most wireless phone carriers allow their customers to roll over unused data into another month of service without refunding any money.

Google's service initially will be available only on the Nexus 6, a Motorola phone made with Google's help.

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<![CDATA[Man Tears Tendon Playing "Candy Crush": Medical Journal ]]> Fri, 17 Apr 2015 08:24:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/candy-crush.jpg

Spending too much time playing “Candy Crush Saga” really can have consequences, according to a new case report on a San Diego man who injured his thumb after many weeks of playing the puzzle game on his smartphone.

Dr. Andrew Doan, head of addictions research at Naval Medical Center San Diego, co-authored the case report, “Tendon Rupture Associated with Excessive Smartphone Gaming,” published this week in the JAMA Internal Medicine medical journal.

According to the report, a 29-year-old San Diego man played “Candy Crush Saga” on his smartphone all day for six to eight weeks. As a result, he suffered chronic left thumb pain and loss of active motion.

“He played with his left hand while using his right hand for other tasks, stating that ‘playing was kind of a secondary thing, but it was constantly on,’” the report said.

When doctors examined him and performed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of his thumb, they found he had ruptured the tendon. He had to undergo surgery to repair the damage, Doan said.

According to the report, the patient claimed he felt no pain while playing the video game, and only noticed the injury many weeks later.

Doan told NBC 7 research shows video gaming can cause the release of hormones in the body that help reduce pain perception. That means one could sustain an injury from repeated smartphone use, but not necessarily notice the pain right away.

“Are we experiencing physical injury now because we’re not experiencing pain?” he said. “This case illustrates what we believe video gaming can do.”

Doan said video games are a type of “digital painkiller” with both negative and positive effects on health.

He said clinically, video games can be used to help children undergoing painful medical procedures, including pediatric patients during burn treatments.

The visual distraction and “natural painkiller” effect could help a patient feel less pain, Dr. Doan said. In some cases, Dr. Doan said video games could be used in place of medication.

Though video gaming could aid in a patient’s recovery, the doctor noted it’s important not to overuse video games or smartphones.

Citing a study by Andrew K. Przybylski, PhD, titled “Electronic Gaming and Psychosocial Adjustment,” Doan said one hour or less per day of video gaming could be beneficial for the psychological adjustment of children between 10 and 15 years old.

Three hours or more, however, could have negative effects on children, according to that study.

“The key is moderation here,” Doan told NBC 7.

He said monitoring overuse of video games is important in both adults and children, but because children are still developing, it’s especially crucial to watch their use.

“When a young child spends too much time in Internet faming on Internet activities, there can be significant problems,” said Doan. “The child needs time, boundaries, and intensive face-to-face attention to program the other areas of the brain that have been neglected.”

In the case of this adult patient, Doan said the man was not diagnosed with an addiction to “Candy Crush,” rather he just played the game as a way to pass the time after leaving the military and being between jobs. He  said this was one of the strangest cases he's seen in his research career.

 

 



Photo Credit: Flickr / m01229]]>
<![CDATA[What Tech Experts Are Saying About the Apple Watch ]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 09:41:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/465696900.jpg

Pre-orders for the highly anticipated Apple Watch start online today, two weeks before the high-tech time piece hits the stores.

But is the wearable gadget worth the price tag, which ranges from $349 for a basic model to more than $10,000.

Early reviews from some of tech's leading voices praised the smartwatch as a product with potential, but some room for improvement post-launch.

Lance Ulanoff, chief correspondent and editor-at-large for Mashable, called it a “breakout star” and a “gorgeous, smart, fun, extensible, expensive and an object of true desire.” Yet he said the app store is an area that “needs the most improvement,” because the apps “took forever to install.”

Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times echoed a similar tone in a review about the third-party apps, which he said “are useless right now.” He wrote that “the Apple Watch works like a first-generation device, with all the limitations and flaws you’d expect of brand-new technology.”

CNET.com Senior Edior Scott Stein, who wore the watch for a week, said it’s a “clever invention” that can help you in four areas: communication, fitness, information and time. He used it to order lunch, track daily activities, play his favorite tunes and hail a car from Uber. When it came to the last task,  he said using the app on iPhone offers a better view of cars in the area.

Here's a recap of what reviewers found to be the top features — and drawbacks — of the device:

What’s good about it?

  • Many tech experts, including "Today" show contributor Katie Linendoll, agree that the “comprehensive device” is more functional than fashionable. It allows users to check the weather, calendar appointments, make calls, send text messages and play music.
  • The watch's “Fitness Tracker PLUS” feature monitors your heart rate if you’re jogging or taking a walk.
  • If you're not adapted to the selfie stick, you can use the device to take a selfie even though it doesn't have a camera. Simply sync your phone, tap the watch screen and say "cheese."

What’s bad about it?

  • You need to have an iPhone 5 or a newer version in order make calls, send text messages and check emails using your watch.
  • Some reviewers concluded that the biggest red flag about the gadget is its “bad battery life.” They said it has to be charge every day if it's used often.
  • It only allows you to read or discard emails; you can’t reply.
  • It is not waterproof.

If you’re still unsure about getting a watch, you could rent one for as low as $45 a week to test if it’s worth the investment, through a service offered by the San Francisco-based gadget rental start-up called Lumoid
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Apple's Racially Diverse Emojis]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 05:05:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Apple-Emojis.jpg

Apple has released its latest iOS update with plenty of new features, including the highly-anticipated racially diverse characters. 

The iOS 8.3's enhanced keyboard comes with 300 new emojis and users can finally choose from six different skin tones.

There's also a larger variety of country flags and emojis to represent different types of families, plus the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch have been added to the catalog.

"Apple supports and cares deeply about diversity, and is working with The Unicode Consortium to update the standard so that it better represents diversity for all of us," an Apple spokesperson said in a statement in February.

The different skin tones can be changed by holding down and tapping the icon.

iOS 8.3 also brought new languages to Siri, including Russian, Danish, Dutch, Thai, Swedish, Turkish and Portuguese. Numerous bug fixes were also included in the update.

The update is available for free in the Settings app or in iTunes.


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<![CDATA[Top Cars at 2015 New York Auto Show]]> Fri, 03 Apr 2015 14:52:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/car+show+new.jpg A collection of photos taken at the 2015 New York Auto Show.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Smartphone Livestreaming App]]> Fri, 03 Apr 2015 08:41:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/0402-2015-Periscope.jpg

Add Periscope as the latest company allowing people to broadcast live from their smartphones.

"Our vision for Periscope was it would feel like a teleportation experience where you can just sort of travel the world through someone else's eyes in real time," co-founder Kayvon Beykpour said.

San Francisco-based Twitter acquired the company last month and launched the app this week.

"I think the biggest plus is being able to see what's happening anywhere in the world," said Ben Parr, author of "Captivology."

And, like the web itself, there is no limit to the reach in real time.

"Something like Periscope will take all these people that you know that are in the far reaches of the Twitterverse and shrink all those distances and bring all those connections closer to you," said Jasmine Bina, a Periscope user.

Thanks to apps like Periscope and Meerkat, anyone can follow and stream their every move.

The numbers for Periscope have been especially high these days because the service is under Twitter, which has tens of millions of people broadcasting every minute.

The app's popularity is exploding.

"Ringo Starr was on Periscope yesterday and Aaron Paul the actor from Breaking Bad takes us into his living room for acoustic guitar concerts," Beykpour said. "The creativity of how users have been playing with Periscope has been nothing short of mind-boggling."

But using the app does come with some risk of seeing indecent exposure or bullying.

"I think the big negative is the combination of the trolling and the lack of control," Parr said. "I think you will see something bad happen at some point."

Periscope said if bullying or indecent exposure were to happen, there are measures in place.

"Periscope is not a place for harassment and abuse. It's also not a place for pornography," Beykpour said. "We have tools in place and teams in place to make sure that policy is being adhered to as much as possible."

Beykpour said they are constantly working to improve the apps' uses and options.

For now, he hopes people enjoy the sights and sounds across the world on your phone.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[2015 April Fools' Day Pranks: Selfie Car, Twelfie Stick and More]]> Thu, 02 Apr 2015 03:29:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/selfie+car.JPG

Celebrities and companies did not disappoint this April Fools’ Day. Some unique pranks surfaced this year that you may not have noticed. Here's a look at some of the most creative.

The Honda Selfie Car

Honda says it prides itself for being on the forefront of the latest automobile technologies. The company "rolled out" its 10 camera-equipped HR-V that is equipped to take selfies. They said the technology uploads photos hands-free to social media sites via HondaLink.

'Twelfie Stick'

Twitter unveiled its "Twelfie Stick" Wednesday, a "highly sophisticated and first-of-its-kind device" that the company says would allow users to tweet out "selfie" pictures directly. Twitter said the device will be available in time for the holiday shopping season for $39.99.

Army Drones to Deliver Pizzas

The U.S. Army proposed using drones to deliver 3-D printed pizzas to men and women on the front lines across the world. Calling this "an expected breakthrough," the Army said the first drone pizza deliveries are to be made by April Fools' Day 2016.

Sam Smith is Straight

The "Stay with Me" singer tweeted that he is straight, which had a female fan asking, "Can you date me now?" One hour later, he posted that is was all a joke.

A Samsung Smart Knife?

Samsung presented its Galaxy BLADE edge, "the world's first smart knife with smart phone capabilities." The phone features a "razor-sharp diamond edge that is tough enough to cut through a lobster tail and sharp enough to slice through tender heirloom tomatoes."

Selfie Shoes

Are selfie sticks too much to handle? Why not get Selfie Shoes from Miz Mooz? The company said the tool adds functionality without sacrificing "comfort our women on-the-go have come to love about our footwear." How does it work? Just insert your phone into the port at the front of any shoe, raise your photo to the perfect angle and click the internal button with a tap of your toe to take a selfie.

Pac-Man Returns?

Google announced in celebration of April Fools' Day that you can now play Pac-Man on Google Maps. How does it work? Open maps in your browser, scroll to the bottom left and click on Pac-Man. Before you know it, you'll have something to eat.


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<![CDATA[Google Maps Introduces Pac-Man Feature ]]> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 03:51:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/photoGoogle+Maps+PAC+MAN.jpg

Let the office productivity fall even more.

If March Madness wasn’t enough of a distraction, people can now play Pac-Man from the convenience of their desks.

Google Maps introduced a new online rendition of the classic arcade game on Tuesday in celebration of April Fools' Day. Click on the Pac-Man icon in the lower left corner beside the Earth icon, and use your keyboard arrows to move your little yellow man through the maze.

Not all addresses typed into Google Maps are playable areas. Cities, including New York, N.Y., appear to work best because of the number of roads. Pac-Man can’t play in some rural and suburban areas such as Hoover, Alabama, and Burlington, Massachusetts, because there aren’t enough roads for Pac-Man to get around.

Click here to try your hand at Pac-Man and see how high a score you can earn. Just make sure your boss isn’t looking.

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<![CDATA[Tech Offers Car More Anti-Theft Security]]> Tue, 31 Mar 2015 12:12:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/web-vod-eye-lock.jpg EyeLock has developed a system that scans the iris of the person in the driver seat to ensure that the person who is authorized to drive the car is actually behind the wheel. NBC News' Phil LeBeau reports]]> <![CDATA[Tesla Branching Out Beyond Cars, Says CEO]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:03:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/elonmuskmarch.jpg

Tesla Motors is about to take a detour from making cars.

CEO Elon Musk tweeted Monday that a major new product line that's not a car would be shown for the first time on April 30 at Tesla's Hawthorne Design Studio. 

The vague missive indirectly invited social media users to guess what Tesla's next creation would be; popular choices to date on both Twitter and Reddit include a motorcycle and a home battery.

A parody Twitter user called BoredElonMusk suggested a product called, "GitHub for tracking where other people in your house put stuff that you now can't find."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jay Z's Music Streaming Service Set to Relaunch]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:00:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jay-z-454627193.jpg

Watch out, Spotify – there’s a new streaming service in town.

Music streaming service Tidal is set to officially relaunch Monday under new ownership by rapper Jay Z. The company will hold a press conference at 5 p.m. ET where its new owner “will announce a commitment to a new direction for the music industry from both a creative and business perspective.”

Tidal boasts 25 million tracks with “high fidelity sound quality, high definition music videos and expertly curated editorial" features. It could give competitors such as Spotify and Beats a reason to be concerned. Its plan of attack also includes getting first releases of tracks by big-name artists before other digital streaming services, according to TechCrunch.

Unlike Spotify, Tidal does not offer a free streaming option. The music streaming service – which Jay Z reportedly acquired for $54 million – costs subscribers $19.99 per month for high quality streaming compared to Spotify’s premium, ad-free price of $9.99 per month.

Tidal subscribers also have the option of “standard definition service” matching Spotify’s premium price of $9.99.

Tidal currently has 35,000 subscribers – a smaller amount than Spotify’s 15 million paying subscribers as of January.

Spotify has run into controversy with big-name artists such as Taylor Swift and Jason Aldean taking their entire catalogs off the service after claiming its failure to fairly compensate musicians. TechCrunch reports that Tidal is offering musicians “payouts of twice as much as its rivals.”

The Jay Z-owned streaming service has already garnered support from big-name musicians including Madonna, Kanye West, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj.

West and Rihanna were just two of the musicians using social media to support Tidal by using the hashtag #TIDALforALL and changing their Twitter profile pictures to the same shade of cyan.

A teaser video featuring musicians supporting the service was released March 30 to coincide with the relaunch.

Tidal currently offers a 30-day free trial for new users.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Apple's Tim Cook: "Religious Objection" Laws Are "Very Dangerous"]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:22:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tim-cook-apple-fortuna.jpg

Apple CEO Tim Cook slammed Indiana's new "religious objection" legislation over the weekend, penning a Washington Post piece warning that “there’s something very dangerous happening in America.”

The piece, which was posted late Sunday night, said the openly gay executive, who was raised in a Baptist home in the South, was "deeply disappointed" in the recently passed "Religious Freedom Restoration" law in Indiana that shields business owners who turn away customers for religious reasons.

"This isn’t a political issue," he wrote. "It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous."

Cook called this new wave of legislation "very dangerous," noting there are about 100 similar bills under consideration in two dozen states. And he added that they "go against the very principles our nation was founded on" and "have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality."

“America's business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business,” he wrote. “At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers' lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That's why, on behalf of Apple, I'm standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I'm writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement.”

Cook, who was baptized in a Baptist church and grew up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s.  He publicly disclosed that he is gay in October. Last week, Cook announced that he will give his fortune away.



Photo Credit: NBC NEWS]]>
<![CDATA[PlayStation's Spotify-Powered Music Service Starts Today]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 05:54:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/72271665.jpg

Spotify's music service is coming to PlayStation game consoles and replacing Sony's own Music Unlimited.

Spotify hits the PlayStation 3 and 4 on Monday, with a new app adapted for large television screens. Sony says partnering with Spotify brings a music service to more countries, as well as better tools for playlists and music discovery.

Spotify's music app is available on some Internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes, but Spotify says it worked closely with Sony to optimize its service for the PlayStation. Among the notable features: the ability to listen to music while playing a game and still listening to sound effects.

The service is free with ads, or costs $10 a month for a premium ad-free version.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Store Employees Learn How to Be Fashion Stylists]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:19:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/apple-watch-new-event.jpg

Apple Watches will come in a variety of styles and prices, and the company's retail division is reportedly being instructed on how to give fashion advice to customers.

9to5Mac published what appears to be a visual training guide for Apple retail employees to help them suggest the right Apple Watch to prospective customers based on fashion, lifestyle and job cues.

Among the tips: "Don't focus on price as a reason to recommend an option because many customers may be willing to spend more for a model that makes them feel good."

The tech media is already casting a side eye.

"The notion that a plainly dressed, modestly paid worker could become a fashion expert is a bit silly, and Apple's example customers don't always make sense," wrote Engadget. "What kind of waiter makes enough money to drop $1,000 on a steel smartwatch without flinching?"           

Apple Watch goes on sale on April 24, with a suggested retail price range of $349 to $1,049. There is also an 18-karat gold "Apple Watch Edition" option that starts at $10,000.

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<![CDATA[Driverless Car Starts Journey from San Francisco to New York]]> Sun, 22 Mar 2015 23:44:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/autonomous-driving-vehicle-turning-into-traffic-for-delphi-drive-cross-country-road-trip.jpg

A driverless car took off from the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge for its cross-country trip to New York.

The 10-day, 3,500-mile trip will be the first and longest coast-to-coast drive by an automated vehicle. The Delphi will navigate highways and other roadways with no human hands on the wheel.

But there will be an operator in the driver's seat at all times in case of trouble.



Photo Credit: Delphi]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Launches Money Transfer Tool]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 07:54:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/payments.png

Facebook is launching a new tool to let users transfer money in its Messenger application, competing with services like Venmo and Paypal.

As seen in the video above, users will be able to tap a dollar sign in the app, select an amount, and then tap send. It will be available across Android, iOS, and desktop.

Although the money transfer happens immediately, Facebook said it can take one to three business days for the funds to become available to use, depending on your bank.

Users will need to link their Visa or MasterCard debit card to Messenger the first time they send or receive money. Once added, users can also create a pin to make transactions more secure.

The company insisted that personal information will be protected in each transaction.

“We use secure systems that encrypt the connection between you and Facebook as well as your card information when you ask us to store it for you,” Facebook wrote in a blog post. “We use layers of software and hardware protection that meet the highest industry standards.” 


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<![CDATA[Self-Flying Rideshare Cars?]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 10:25:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/201*120/aeromobilprototype.jpg

Imagine a car that flies in the air and dispenses passengers to the ground via parachute in case of emergency.

It may be closer to reality than you think: a European company called AeroMobil has created a prototype for a self-flying car and would like to put a taxi service in the air in the next two years.

"The sharing economy is excellent for us," AeroMobil CEO Juraj Vaculik said to Mashable after delivering a keynote at the South By Southwest Interactive conference in Austin. "People will have this opportunity to call a 'flying Uber,' which will not just deliver you to the airport, but to your final destination."

With a projected date of 2017 to put them in the air, AeroMobil could land in the Bay Area long before the San Francisco to Los Angeles bullet train, which isn't scheduled to be completed until 2029.



Photo Credit: AeroMobil]]>