Dual-Motor Tesla Model 3 Possibly Coming In July ( 71

According to Elon Musk, the dual-motor Tesla Model 3 is expected to be released in July. "Musk linked the release of the new Model 3 powertrain with the automaker achieving a production rate of 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week," reports Electrek. From the report: Earlier this year, we reported on Tesla registering 19 Model 3 VINs with dual motor powertrain with NHTSA in the latest batch of new VINs. It happened right after the Tesla Model 3 dual motor powertrain design leaked in the latest design studio update. Then in February, Tesla registered a new batch of Model 3 VINs, including two dozen Model 3 VINs with the dual motor powertrain. It raised Model 3 reservation holders' hope that the new configuration could soon become available, but now Musk confirmed that it is still a few months away in a series of tweets last night. The CEO also linked the timing with the release of the Model 3 white interior. Tesla currently only offers a single interior option with black upholstery. The dual motor Model 3 is expected to deliver a slightly longer range and offer a quicker acceleration than the current single motor rear-wheel-drive version.

Dial P for Privacy: The Phone Booth Is Back ( 110

As mobile phone use exploded and the pay phone was increasingly linked to crime, the booth began to disappear. But things are appear to be changing. From a report: Now, the phone booth -- or at least a variation of it -- is making a modest comeback. When the women-only club and work space The Wing opened its first location in the Flatiron neighborhood of Manhattan in October of 2016, the interior featured marble tables, pink velvet couches, and one small, windowless, reflective glass-doored room dubbed the Phone Booth. One year later, when another location of The Wing opened in Soho, eight built-in, glass-doored call rooms were included in the design. [...]

Other companies that have recently purchased Zenbooths include Volkswagen, Lyft, Meetup and Capital One. The Berkeley, Calif., company was launched in 2016, and its products range from $3,995 (for a standard one-person booth) to $15,995 (for a two-person "executive" booth). The one-person booth is a soundproof, eco-friendly, American-made box that's about 36 inches wide and 34 inches deep, with an insulated glass door, a ventilation fan, power outlets and a skylight -- and it can be assembled in roughly an hour. (It does not, however, contain an actual phone.) Sam Johnson, a co-founder of the company, said it produced "hundreds" of Zenbooths a month in 2017. This year, it's on track to quadruple that production. But he doesn't call them phone booths. "We're manufacturing quiet spaces and privacy," he said.

Zenbooth is not the only free-standing office phone booth in the game. Companies like Cubicall, Nomad, and TalkBox, among others, are offering up solutions to the modern office's privacy problem.


Tesla Adds An All-Glass Roof Option For Its Model S ( 76

Elon Musk has had roofs on his mind lately. Last week, Musk unveiled the residential "solar roof," consisting of glass roof tiles with integrated solar panels. Today, he announced that customers will be able to add a glass roof to the Model S sedan for an extra $1,500. Tesla said that the glass roof can give passengers the feeling of "an open expansive cabin" that makes the Model S interior "feel amazing." Fortune reports: The move is another example of how Tesla continues to add new features and technology to its four-year-old vehicle, the second to debut in its growing lineup. In particular, Tesla has routinely updated the Model S with technology that has also been available in more recent car models. For example, the company's upcoming fourth car, the Model 3, will come with a glass roof. The new glass roof option also shows off Tesl'a new investment in automotive glass technology. Earlier this week Musk revealed that the company had created an automotive glass division. In the tweet on Friday, Musk said that the Model S glass roof was "very hard to develop."

MIT's Ori Robotic Modular Furniture Is Designed To Make Small Places Feel More Roomy ( 68

An anonymous reader writes: MIT's Media Lab has produced Ori, a range of robotic, modular furniture designed to make small places feel more roomy. The Architect's Newspaper reports: "With its name coming from the Japanese word 'origami,' the furniture system combines robotics, architecture, and design to let interiors double-up as bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, and offices. Teaming up with Swiss product designer Yves Behar, founder and CEO of Ori and research scientist at MIT Hasier Larrea has his eyes set on fundamentally altering the 'experience and economics of the urban built environment.' Speaking in a press release, Larrea added that 'Ori's systems make possible the effortless and magical transformation of interior spaces, providing the totally new experience of having our interior space intelligently conform to our activities, rather than our activities being forced to conform to our interior space.' A movable mainframe, containing a variety of concealable furniture and storage, is the core concept in Ori's modular and mechatronic furniture. Using the wall mounted control panel, the module can move across the floor and deploy different pieces of furniture. This can all be done remotely through the Ori app as well." Ori is not on the market yet, but inquiries can be made via Ori's website.

Chinese Conglomerate LeEco Wants To Give Away Its 'Tesla Killer' Electric Supercar For Free ( 67

Rishi Alwani, reporting for Gadgets 360 (edited and condensed for clarity): At an event in Beijing this week, Chinese technology conglomerate LeEco showed off its LeSEE self-driving electric supercar. A slide noted that LeEco's car can reach 130mph which is a fair bit behind of the Tesla Model S' top speed range of 140 to 155 mph. Nonetheless, the company said the final product should beat Tesla in "all aspects of performance." The car sports a rounded design with a giant LED screen plastered on the front of the vehicle. If the car is being used for cab services, for instance, the screen can show if it's available for hire or not. There's an arched transparent roof and what seems to be generous cabin space. The interior sported a futuristic-looking steering wheel with a lit-up centre that quite possibly would replace the traditional dashboard and was complemented by a monitor next to it. It also had ridged backseats that may look uncomfortable but is actually memory foam - a polyurethane material used in mattresses that can mould to the shape of a passenger's body for maximum comfort.

Perhaps the most interesting component of its LeSEE concept has nothing to do with the technology, but rather the business models involved. For one, the company believes it has a huge role to play in LeShare - a time-sharing electric vehicle platform that's present in Beijing and Shanghai with plans to expand to five more cities in China. Electric vehicles and charging resources will be shared between LeShare and LeEco-backed Uber competitor Yidao. In addition to this, LeEco believes that the car will eventually be free, in line with the same business model it has for some of its other hardware, charging users for content, subscriptions or memberships.
For a refresh, LeEco (LeTV) was founded in 2004, and has since become a major name in many technology-centric markets. It offers live-streaming, e-commerce, cloud, smartphones, TV set-top boxes, and smart TVs among many other products and services. The company has a market capitalisation of at least $12 billion.

Tesla Updates Model S With New Front-End, Air Filtration System, Faster Charging ( 123

An anonymous reader writes: The Model S has received several new features and improvements to help it stay relevant with the newer Model X crossover and recently released Model 3 electric vehicles from Tesla. It has a new-look fascia and adaptive LED headlights that hew closely to the design found on the Model X crossover which debuted late last year. In addition to a couple new interior finish choices, the Model S is receiving a version of the Model X's cabin air filtration system as an option, which promises to filter out "99.7 percent of particulate exhaust pollution and effectively all allergens, bacteria and other contaminants from cabin air." The Model S now has a 48-amp charger standard -- up from 40 amps -- which Tesla says will enable faster charging when connected to higher-amp outlets. Tesla's design language is trending toward a grille-less front end, possibly in an effort to squeeze as much aerodynamic efficiency out of the car as possible. What's missing in the update is the rumored 100kWh battery, which would improve the vehicle's range.

Man Builds 'Scarlett Johansson' Robot From Scratch ( 158

An anonymous reader writes: 42-year-old product and graphic designer Ricky Ma has spent more than $50,000 building a replica Scarlett Johansson robot from scratch. The robot, named Mark 1, responds to a set of programmed verbal commands spoken into a microphone and has moving facial expressions. Ricky said, "When I was a child, I liked robots. Why? Because I liked watching animation. All children loved it. There were Transformers, cartoons about robots fighting each other and games about robots. After I grew up, I wanted to make one. But during this process, a lot of people would say things like, 'Are you stupid? This takes a lot of money. Do you even know how to do it? It's really hard.'" Ricky has dressed Mark 1 in a crop top and grey skirt. A 3D-printed skeleton lies beneath Mark 1's silicone skin, covering its mechanical and electronic interior.

Tesla Announces Dual Motors, 'Autopilot' For the Model S 283

SchrodingerZ writes: Nine days after Elon Musk hinted about a new project, Tesla Motors has unveiled the P85D Sedan. This is Tesla's latest car design, capable of feats not yet seen in electric vehicles. The four door luxury car is able to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in a mere 3.2 seconds, an acceleration similar to the McLaren F1 super car. While the exterior remains the same build as the standard Model S, the interior will have a second motor in the front of the car to complement the rear motor. The D models will also have a slightly greater range of 275 miles on a single charge, 10 miles more than the 85 and P85 cars. Safety features have also been enhanced, adding "adaptive cruise control and the ability to read speed limit signs, stop itself if a crash is imminent, stay in its lane, and even park itself in a street spot or in your garage." Musk explains at the inaugural event, "this car is nuts. It's like taking off from a carrier deck. It's just bananas." The "D" version is available for the 60kWh, 80kWh, and P85 cars, and are expected to start shipping in December of this year.

Google Rumored To Be Making 3D-Scanning Tablets 55

According to The Wall Street Journal, Google may be planning to commoditze 3-D scanning by building the tech of its Project Tango project (essentially, thus far, a phone-sized handheld with 3-D sensing capabilities) into tablets. The Register speculates: "Given that Google has already announced the Project Tango smartphone, it seems likely that it would extend the technology to tablets, and the seven-inch form factor would tie in nicely with the existing Nexus 7 design. ...Google is hoping that developers can build applications to use the scanning capabilities of the Tango hardware. Suggested topics include providing guides for visually impaired people, building gaming maps based on actual rooms, and possibly augmenting Google Maps with interior details – Street View becoming Home View perhaps?" Setting aside what brand it might bear, how would you employ a portable 3-D scanner?

Boeing Unveils Cabin Design For Commercial Spaceliner 74

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) writes " Did you enjoy your flight, Dr Heywood Floyd?" Boeing unveiled a new concept for the cabin of a future commercial spaceliner, based on the blue-lit Boeing "Sky" interior of the company's modern airliners, as well as work on the company's CST-100 space capsule. "Provided there is a destination for them out there, how will that passenger want to go back and forth?'" said Chris Ferguson, a former astronaut who commanded NASA's final space shuttle mission in 2011 and now serves as Boeing's director of crew and mission operations for the commercial crew program. Boeing developed the CST-100 capsule to compete for NASA's space station crew launch business after the agency retired its space shuttle fleet. The capsule is designed to launch on an expendable Atlas 5 rocket. NASA will be selecting one or more companies in August of this year, with the aim of reaching flight operations in 2017."

How Ford's Virtual Reality Lab Helps Engineers 49

cartechboy (2660665) writes "Facebook bought OculusVR and the world tilted a little on its axis. But good old Ford has been using VR all along without much fanfare. VR tech effectively gives Ford engineers X-ray vision, so they can — virtually — see through a vehicle's structure, which helps to design mechanical hardware, and spot issues with designs that might interfere with vehicle 'hard points.' Ford's engineers also use VR headsets to check out exterior and interior designs of cars that don't exist in the physical world — at least not yet. Team members walk around virtual cars to preview designs, or "get in" to check if interior layouts will work in the real world."

Google I/O 2013 Underway: Watch For Updates 115

Google's I/O annual conference is ramping up at San Francisco's Moscone Center. Last year, in the conference keynote, the company took its biggest-yet dive into hardware when it introduced the Nexus 7 tablet, Google Glass, and the ill-fated Nexus Q. The secret is out on Glass, of course: this year, there's a pavilion inside the conference center where I'm sure they'll be showing off applications for it. (Quite a few of the people in the endless lines here are wearing their own, too.) Anticipating the announcements at I/O is practically its own industry, but it's easy to guess that there will be announcements from all the major pots in which Google has its many thousands of (tapping) fingers. Android, search, Chrome, mapping, and all the other ways in which the behemoth of Mountain View is watching what you do. You can watch the keynote talk (talks, really) streamed online from the main conference link above, but this story will be updated with highlights of the announcements, as well with stories that readers contribute. Update: 05/15 16:22 GMT by T : Updates below. Update: 05/15 19:02 GMT by T :Update details: Notes (ongoing) added below on maps, gaming, the Play store, Google+, and more. And, notable, Larry Page is (at this writing) on stage, with an unannounced Q & A session.

Thirty Years of Clamshell Computing 135

harrymcc writes "2012 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Grid Compass 1101, the first portable computer with a briefcase-like case with a keyboard on one side of the interior, a flat screen on the other, and a hinge in the middle--the 'clamshell' design that eventually became standard for all portable PCs. It's proven to be a remarkably useful and durable design, and only with the advent of the iPad has it faced serious competition."

Canadian Company Plans Solar-Powered Heavier-Than-Air Airships 218

savuporo writes "By crossing airships with airplanes, Solar Ship is planning to build a craft that can carry heavy loads long distances with a tiny carbon footprint. Filled with helium, they soak up rays from the sun to provide the energy for forward motion and fulfill its original design challenge – carry 1,000 kilograms (2,205 lbs) of payload 1,000 kilometers (621.4 miles). The craft is heavier than air, and uses a combination of helium filling its interior and its lifting body delta wing shape to stay airborne. Solar Ship shows plans for a range of different size craft for different duties."

Book Review: Build Mobile Websites and Apps For Smart Devices Screenshot-sm 18

Michael J. Ross writes "With the proliferation of handheld devices that allow access to the Web, more business owners and other technology decision-makers are demanding that their organizations' websites be fully accessible on those devices, and even be repackaged as new web-based applications. But designers and developers who may be quite proficient in making non-mobile websites and web apps, can feel uncertain as to how to craft those products, or even where to start the process of learning how to do so. Recently, several books have been published to address this need, including Build Mobile Websites and Apps for Smart Devices, authored by Earle Castledine, Myles Eftos, and Max Wheeler." Read on for the rest of Michael's review

What Makes a Photograph Memorable? 60

Hugh Pickens writes "Researchers have developed a computer algorithm that can rank images based on memorability. They found that in general, images with people in them are the most memorable, followed by images of human-scale space — such as the produce aisle of a grocery store — and close-ups of objects. Least memorable are natural landscapes. Researchers built a collection of about 10,000 images of all kinds for the study — interior-design photos, nature scenes, streetscapes and others, and human subjects who participated through Amazon's Mechanical Turk program were told to indicate, by pressing a key on their keyboard, when an image appeared that they had already seen. The researchers then used machine-learning techniques to create a computational model that analyzed the images and their memorability as rated by humans by analyzing various statistics — such as color, or the distribution of edges — and correlated them with the image's memorability. 'There has been a lot of work in trying to understand what makes an image interesting, or appealing, or what makes people like a particular image,' says Alexei Efros at Carnegie Mellon University. 'What [the MIT researchers] did was basically approach the problem from a very scientific point of view and say that one thing we can measure is memorability.' Researchers believe the algorithm may be useful (PDF) to graphic designers, photo editors, or anyone trying to decide which of their vacation photos to post on Facebook."
Data Storage

Quebec Data Center Built In a Silo 113

1sockchuck writes "A supercomputing center in Quebec has transformed a huge concrete silo into the CLUMEQ Colossus, a data center filled with HPC clusters. The silo, which is 65 feet high with two-foot thick concrete walls, previously housed a Van de Graaf accelerator dating to the 1960s. It was redesigned to house three floors of server cabinets, arranged so cold air can flow from the outside of the facility through the racks and return via an interior 'hot core.' The construction and operation of the unique facility (PDF) are detailed in a presentation from CLUMEQ."

Electric Cars and Their Discontents 348

The most hotly contested issue raised by yesterday's post about the lithium-ion battery-powered Tesla roadster is only tangentially related to the car itself; instead, it's the energy generation and storage required for electric cars more generally to operate. Read on for the Backslash summary of the conversation, including several of the comments that defined the conversation.

Lawsuits Fly Over Google Founders' Party Plane 238

Mr. Soxley writes to tell us that the Boeing 767 recently purchased by Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page is at the heart of what promises to be quite a legal battle. From the article: "Now the Delaware holding company that technically owns the 767, Blue City Holdings LLC, is embroiled in multiple lawsuits with an aviation designer hired to plan and oversee the massive plane's interior renovation. [...] But last October, Blue City terminated Mr. Jennings's contract, saying he wasn't doing his job properly. Mr. Jennings then filed a nearly $200,000 lien against the aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration for payment he hadn't received. He later filed a complaint related to the matter against Blue City and Gore Design Completions Ltd., the San Antonio executive-jet outfitting firm that worked on the plane, in District Court in Bexar County, Texas."

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