Air Hogs’ new racer is the Spider-Man of remote-controlled cars

Air Hogs’ new racer is the Spider-Man of remote-controlled cars

Spin Master’s AirHogs brand is, like it says in the name, primarily a toy aircraft line today. Remote-controlled planes, helicopters and, of course, drones. But occasionally it will hit the ground with some cool land vehicles like race cars, tanks or even the Batmobile. However, this year the company is bringing back a four wheel hit from a few years ago that, while it may not fly, is decidedly not confined to the ground. The AirHogs Zero Gravity Laser Racer is a car that can ride on the floor, then climb up the wall and even take a shortcut across your ceiling.

Gallery: Air Hogs Zero Gravity Laser Racer | 5 Photos

This wall-crawling magic is achieved by a small suction fan on the undercarriage that has just enough pull to keep the very lightweight car moving around on flat surfaces. You can also turn the fan down a notch if you want to drive it around on the ground and really pick up some speed.

The “laser” part of this product comes from its control scheme. Instead of messing around with a joystick or gamepad, there’s an included laser gun that you point at where you want the car to go, and it will follow like an overeager house cat. It’s not flawless — sometimes it can be a bit slow to turn — but it certainly gets the job done.

Air Hogs Zero Gravity Laser Racer

It’s actually the perfect method for something that will be changing direction constantly, as steering a remote car can often be tricky if the car is facing in a different direction from the person controlling it: We’ve all had those moments playing with an RC car where we forget that our left isn’t actually the vehicle’s left, and then we’ve steered into a wall by accident. (Oops.) With the laser pointer, the car’s relative direction doesn’t matter since you’re showing it where to go with a flickering red dot. In addition to the new vehicle frame the gun also got a redesign, with a much smaller, more lightweight build that doesn’t feel like you’re holding a power drill.

The original Zero Gravity Laser Racer cars used AA batteries, but the new model charges via USB, which is a lot cheaper in the long run. It takes about 25-30 minutes to charge for 15 minutes of play time, which isn’t exactly long, but at least you won’t have any frantic scrambles for fresh Duracells (and it’s also a lot cheaper). It’s still plenty of time to get in a few races and impress your friends over drinks — it’s certainly a great party trick. The new and improved Zero Gravity Laser Racer will be available in red and blue, and it comes out in August for a nice tidy $40.

Check out the rest of our coverage from Toy Fair 2019 here.

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Samsung’s thinnest ever tablet is the first with Bixby built in

Samsung’s thinnest ever tablet is the first with Bixby built in

Samsung has a surprise product announcement today, but it’s not the flagship phone we’ve been dying to hear about. Instead, the company is unveiling a new tablet — the Tab S5e. It’s a 10-inch Android 9 Pie device that the company says is its thinnest, lightest slate yet, coming in at just 5.1mm and 400 grams (or about 14 ounces). Plus, it’s the first tablet with Bixby 2.0 built in, so you can use the voice assistant to control your compatible Samsung or SmartThings appliances.

Samsung is also introducing an interesting new feature it’s named Call & Message Continuity that lets you make and receive your phone’s calls and texts on the tablet. Throw in support for the company’s DeX multitasking software, a Super AMOLED screen and four AKG-tuned speakers, and the Tab S5e has a lot to offer for its $400 price.

Gallery: Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e press pictures | 18 Photos

That’s a sweet deal, but there are, of course, some trade-offs. The “e” in the device’s name stands for “essential,” according to Samsung, and it sits in the middle of the company’s lineup of tablets. Although it features a premium-sounding metal unibody, the Tab S5e isn’t as high-end as the Tab S4, which costs $650. The Tab S4 has a faster Snapdragon 835 CPU that can better handle multitasking, while the Tab S5e uses a Snapdragon 670 that’s less powerful. That means it might only be able to manage one or two tasks simultaneously, compared to the up to 10 simultaneous processes that the S4 can smoothly execute.

Another difference between the two is that the S5e doesn’t support Samsung’s S Pen stylus, unlike its more premium brother, which also ships with the accessory. While both tablets have pogo pins to connect to keyboards, neither of them comes with one. You’ll have to pay the extra $150 for Samsung’s own offering or use your favorite third-party option.

The company isn’t expecting people to use the Tab S5e for hardcore productivity, though. It’s targeting this at people who want a larger canvas than their phone screens to watch movies or play games on. For that audience, the Tab S5e’s edge-to-edge 2,560 x 1,600 screen and four speakers should provide a good multimedia experience. But they’ll also get what Samsung is calling “smarter connectivity” with the built-in Bixby feature and Call & Message Continuity. The latter works even if you’ve left your phone at home while out at a cafe, so long as the Tab S5e is connected to the internet (over WiFi or LTE).

Samsung’s promising about 14.5 hours of battery life out of the Tab S5e’s 7,040mAh power cell, so you can use it throughout most long-distance flights. Though, expect the runtime estimate to be different on the LTE models. You’ll have to wait for carrier-connected versions of the Tab S5e to be available (later this year), but the regular WiFi flavor will ship in the second quarter of 2019.

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DJI updates geofencing system in Europe after Gatwick airport scare

DJI updates geofencing system in Europe after Gatwick airport scare


Matthew Horwood via Getty Images

Drone manufacturer DJI announced today that it is updating the geofencing system it uses in Europe to prevent drone pilots from flying the unmanned aircraft in places where they don’t belong. The updated Geospatial Environment Online (GEO) 2.0 system will be introduced in 19 European countries and is expected to roll out over the course of this month.

According to DJI, the GEO 2.0 system creates stronger boundaries around airports to keep drones from interrupting flight plans. It will place 3/4th of a mile boundaries around runways and will fence off flight paths at the end of the runway where planes take off and land. The geofenced boundaries are based on recommendations from the Civil International Organization’s standards for airspace safety. DJI also said it consulted with aviation organizations to determine the best way to restrict access around airports.

DJI’s decision to update its geofencing system and add more defined boundaries around airports comes after drone sightings at London’s Gatwick airport resulted in multiple days of canceled flights. The incident, which happened between December 19th and 21th, grounded over 1,000 flights and caused more than 140,000 passengers to have to alter their holiday travel plans. The airport has since taken the matter into its owns and purchased anti-drone systems to deal with any future incidents.

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TCL S325 Roku TV review: Small size and price, superior streaming

TCL S325 Roku TV review: Small size and price, superior streaming

The trend in TVs today is bigger and bigger screen sizes, and I’m the first reviewer to tell you get a larger TV. For years my TV buying guide has included the following line: “Bigger is better: More than any other ‘feature,’ stepping up in TV screen size is the best use of your money.”

But what if money is tight? What if you can’t fit a 55-inch TV in that spot? What if a 32- or 40-inch TV — positively puny by today’s standards — is plenty?

If that’s the case for you, start with the TCL S325 series, reviewed here along with its larger brother the S425. 

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: Their picture quality is mediocre. They can’t compete with more expensive sets for black-level performance, contrast or pop. If you want a home theater-worthy image in a budget set, start with the Vizio E-Series. Unfortunately, it’s not available in sizes under 43 inches. Put another way: Don’t expect great image quality in any TV under 43 inches.

On the other hand, mediocre might be good enough for you, especially if you’re buying a smaller set for secondary viewing or you just want the cheapest smart TV you can get. As long as you don’t expect too much, you might be perfectly satisfied with a TCL 3- or 4-Series, especially for the price. And if nothing else, I predict you’ll like its built-in Roku.

TCL 3- and 4-Series sizes and models

There are a lot of different models in these series, so before we get into it, here’s a breakdown.

TCL 3- and 4-Series TVs (2017-2019)

32-inch 40-inch 43-inch 49-inch 50-inch 55-inch 65-inch
S305 (2017, HD) 32S305 40S305 43S305 49S305
S325 (2019, HD) 32S325 40S325 43S325 49S325
S405 (2017, 4K HDR) 43S405 49S405 55S405 65S405
S425 (2018 and 2019, 4K HDR) 43S425 49S425 50S425 55S425 65S425

Even though the oldest TVs are from 2017, TCL told CNET that the only difference between them and the 2018/2019 models is in cosmetic design. They have the same picture quality and features. (These models are not available in the UK and Australia.)

We’ve reviewed the S305 and S405 in 2017 and for this review we compared them with two new 2019 review samples, the 43-inch 43S325 and the 50-inch 50S425. Yes, the cosmetics are slightly different, with the newer sets having black stand legs instead of silver, and slightly different frames around the picture. We also saw some minor differences in image quality (see below for details). But overall not much has changed in two years, and the CNET ratings are the same for all of them.

In other words, you’re fine buying the 2017 (S305 and S405) versions for as long as they remain on the market. TCL’s representative said they’d be slowly phased out and replaced by the newer models (S325 and S425) this year.

04-tcl-s325-s425-series

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Sarah Tew/CNET

4K HDR in 40 and 43 inches: Not worth the extra $$$

Here’s where I mention that the S305 and S325 models have 720p in the 32-inch size, and 1080p resolution (aka full HD) in the 40- and 43-inch sizes, and they can’t do high dynamic range (HDR). Meanwhile the S405 and S425 models have 4K resolution and HDR capability.

As you can see on the chart, for most sizes there’s no overlap: The 32- and 40-inch sizes are HD only, while the 50-, 55- and 65-inch sizes are 4K HDR only. Most people choose a TV size first, then worry about everything else, so there’s not much of a choice in those sizes.

Where sizes overlap (43- and 49-inch) there’s typically a $30 to $70 difference. For most buyers in this price range, I don’t think it’s worth paying that difference. You’re better off saving the money and getting the 1080p, HD, non-HDR versions instead of the 4K HDR versions. Yes, you could see some improvement in image quality with some 4K HDR material, but it will be minor at best. See the image quality section below for more.

11-tcl-s325-s425-series

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The Roku TV remote is simple.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Roku reigns

The best thing about the 3- and 4-Series TVs is built-in Roku. It gives you dead-simple access to just about every streaming app available, including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Sling TV, Pluto TV and more.

Since the apps are built in, you can get to them faster and more easily than via an external streamer, which requires switching inputs and probably juggling a second remote. Of course you can connect other gear (like game consoles or Blu-ray players) to these Roku TVs too, and they have some cool features for people who use an over-the-air antenna to get free TV.

Roku TV’s main competitor is Amazon’s Fire TV Edition sets by Toshiba and Insignia. Amazon has its advantages, especially when it comes to voice control with Alexa. But I still like the Roku platform better overall because its menu system is more neutral — it doesn’t force-feed you Amazon Prime TV shows and movies.

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Woody Allen sues Amazon for backing out of film deals

Woody Allen sues Amazon for backing out of film deals


Gary Gershoff via Getty Images

Woody Allen filed a $68 million lawsuit against Amazon Studios today. The suit, filed with the Southern District Court of New York, claims Amazon backed out of a multi-film agreement with the controversial director over what Allen calls a “25-year-old, baseless allegation” stemming from accusations of sexual assault and abuse that have been levied against him by his daughter, Dylan Farrow.

Allen’s action against Amazon Studios comes after the company decided to shelve his film A Rainy Day in New York. The romantic comedy starring Timothée Chalamet, Selena Gomez, Jude Law and Elle Fanning has been complete for more than six months, but Amazon has declined to distribute it. The company hasn’t set a release date for the project, which it paid $15 million to secure the rights for. Amazon also struggled to find theatrical distribution for Allen’s 2016 film Wonder Wheel. The film came out while Allen was once again under scrutiny for sexual assault allegations, making the director’s work toxic to most parties.

Amazon Studios entered into an agreement with Allen back in 2016 that was supposed to cover five films and a TV show. The company has since reneged on that agreement, though has not commented publicly on it. Allen claims there is “no legal basis” for Amazon Studios’ decision and contends that the allegeations against him were known at the time the initial agreement was reached.

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Foot Locker invests $100 million in online sneaker seller GOAT

Foot Locker invests $100 million in online sneaker seller GOAT


GOAT Group

Foot Locker announced today that it is investing $100 million into GOAT Group, the operators of the massive secondary sneaker market GOAT. In addition to providing an influx of cash, the companies said they plan to work together to leverage Foot Locker’s brick and mortar presence with GOAT’s digital marketplace.

The partnership between the companies makes sense, as they both operate at different ends of the same market. GOAT has become one of the most popular secondary sellers for in-demand sneakers. The company claims its top sellers made more than $10 million on the platform last year. GOAT Group claims its storefront has more than 750,000 listings from 150,000 vendors, all selling to more than 12 million customers. Foot Locker, meanwhile, has more than 3,000 physical locations. GOAT Group co-founder Eddy Lu suggested those store could become “physical access points” for GOAT’s digital marketplace.

The secondary sneaker market has become fiercely competitive and profitable in recent years. While GOAT is one of the most popular options out there, competitors like StockX and Sneaker Con have significant footholds of their own. GOAT has been making plays to stand out from the crowd, including inking a deal with NBA player Kyle Kuzma. The new partnership with Foot Locker might give the company a leg — or at least a foot — up on its competition.

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Vivo’s new phones include a 32-megapixel pop-up selfie camera

Vivo’s new phones include a 32-megapixel pop-up selfie camera


Vivo

Chinese electronics manufacturer Vivo announced today that its upcoming Vivo 15 Pro smartphone will feature a 32-megapixel pop-up selfie camera. The phone will be the company’s second crack at elevating front-facing camera and will be officially announced on February 20th, just ahead of the annual Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Spain.

Details on the phone are still pretty sparse, but what is known is that the pop-up camera will be getting a significant upgrade. Vivo first debuted the concept on the Nex S, released last year. While the concept of the elevated camera was interesting, the fact that it was just an 8-megapixel sensor meant the photos left a lot to be desired. The 32-megapixel camera appearing on the Vivo 15 Pro should be a better test of the pop-up camera concept.

Beyond the camera, Vivo also confirmed the V15 Pro will use a fingerprint scanner built right into the display. The company used the same feature on its Nex S device. No price for the handset has been announced yet, but the new phone is scheduled to be officially announced on February 20th and more details should be made available during that event. The company is aso expected to show off its Apex smartphone, an all-glass device with no ports.

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A bunch of BioWare classics are coming to console this year

A bunch of BioWare classics are coming to console this year


Beamdog

Game developers and publishers Skybound Games and Beamdog announced today that they will be working together to bring a collection of classic PC roleplaying games to consoles. The companies will be breathing new life into a number of titles set in the Dungeons and Dragons universe.

The selection of titles that will be making the move to console includes several originally published by BioWare. Games from the Baldur’s Gate series including Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate ll and Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear will all come to consoles. Neverwinter Nights will also make the jump. Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment, two games that originally used BioWare’s Infinity Engine, will arrive on a new platform this year, as well.

There is no set release date for any of the titles and no official word on which consoles will get the times, but Skybound and Beamdog said they plan on releasing the titles over the course of 2019. The games will be available in both physical and digital formats. Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights both received enhanced editions for PC before, but this will be the first time these games will be available on console.

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‘Assassin’s Creed III Remastered’ release date is set for March 29th

‘Assassin’s Creed III Remastered’ release date is set for March 29th


Ubisoft

The Revolutionary War never looked so good. Ubisoft announced today that it will be reaching into its vault and giving Assassin’s Creed III a fresh coat of paint with a remastered edition, set to drop on March 29th. The new, higher resolution version of the classic title will be available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC — though there’s been no mention of a Nintendo Switch version for the time being.

According to Ubisoft, Assassin’s Creed III Remastered will offer 4K and HDR support that will make the title, first released in 2012, look like a modern release. The game has also received some tweaks and improvements to gameplay mechanics that should squash some of the clunkiness present in the original release. The game itself will be the same, following an assassin named Connor as he fights a secret war taking place in the backdrop of the American Revolution.

Assassin’s Creed III Remastered will include the full original game as well as all of the post-launch content. That includes the Benedict Arnold and Hidden Secrets missions and the “Tyranny of King Washington” story that imagines an alternate reality where George Washington turns dictator. The title will also feature a remastered version of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, which follows a fight for freedom that takes place in 18th century New Orleans.

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Spotify’s quest to become the king of podcasts

Spotify’s quest to become the king of podcasts

Today, Spotify announced that it was finally making a profit, and it would use its cash to go on a spending spree. The streaming music platform was buying blockbuster podcast studio Gimlet Media as well as creation app Anchor. In doing so, Spotify can now lay claim to every part of the podcast sausage-making process that could have huge ramifications for your ears.

Spotify CEO Daniel Elk outlined a new business manifesto, titled Audio First, to explain the next step in its evolution. As online video advertising fizzles, and people want to spend less time on their devices, audio becomes an attractive proposition. “This opportunity starts with the next phase of growth in audio — podcasting.”

Between Elk’s words, Spotify’s two new purchases and its pursuit of podcast exclusives and it’s clear that the company wants to own podcasting. And, if this works out, it’ll be able to control the process from the moment a show starts to the point it becomes a blockbuster. Spotify could wind up going from being a platform to becoming a talent scout, studio and broadcaster in one.

Gimlet Media is an “award winning narrative podcasting company” that was founded in 2004 and attracts big names, like Catherine Keener, Alia Shawkat and Kristen Wiig, to its platform. Operating more like a broadcaster than a podcast studio, it had the intention of becoming the “HBO of audio” and even announces seasonal programming slates for its shows. And it’s in the spotlight, too, after ts show Homecoming was adapted into an Amazon Prime series.

Meanwhile, Anchor is a one-stop podcast app that enables anyone to make their own show, automating production, distribution and hosting. It is designed for anyone to use, and offers basic analytics and the opportunity to monetize shows by acting as an ad broker. In addition, Anchor offers Patreon-esque “membership” that allows fans to financially support their favorite shows.

Given the majority of podcasts are essentially just people talking, they’re a great investment compared to, say, an album. They’re also cheaper to license compared to the fees a music label can demand, and can build an audience that’s just as big. Not to mention that podcasts can arrive on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, further reducing the cost. If you had $1 million to spend, would it go on a single, 60-minute album, or 20 podcasts pumping out 52 episodes each year?

But, aside from a few notable exceptions, advertisers were never sure if podcasting was worth spending money on. It was only possible to measure how many times an episode had been downloaded, not how many times it was listened to. In the last few years, that information black hole has started to change, and with it, the money people have gotten interested.

In 2017, Apple announced that it was adding analytics to its iOS podcasts app to let creators see some basic data about listening habits. A year later, when the data started filtering out, the news was even better than many people could hoped. Podcast listeners were advertisers’ holy grail: Patient, loyal and rarely bothered to skip 30-second mid-show ads.

Advertisers are desperate to get their product in front of those ears, and so have begun to spend big in podcasts. The IAB believes that advertising expenditure for podcasts is going to skyrocket, from $169 million in 2016 through to $659 million by 2020. A share of that prize pot will go, naturally, to any company that owns, controls and broadcasts podcasts.

And Spotify has plenty of room to grow since, according to Anchor, Apple’s default iOS podcast app has a staggering 52 percent of the market. Spotify is number two, with just 19 percent, while other apps and platforms make up the rest of the figure. “Users love having podcasts as part of their Spotify experience,” wrote CEO Daniel Elk. And, according to him, podcasts are a draw for those folks who “previously thought Spotify was not right for them.”

Which explains why the company has gone in hard to both open its platform to other shows, and pursue exclusives. That includes shows from DJ Semtex, Joe Budden, Jemele Hill, and My Dad Wrote a Porno, amongst others. And you can assume that any hit shows that Anchor creators build will be encouraged to make their show a Spotify exclusive in the future. That will make Spotify happy, it should make Spotify’s advertisers happy, and will keep audiences locked in.

Owning the analytics, creation and broadcasting process can also help Spotify identify gaps in the market. Much in the same way that Netflix can develop movies and TV shows to satisfy a specific niche, Spotify will know exactly when you get bored. That’s a lot of power to have, and it could mean that podcasting stops being the one medium that was beyond big tech’s clutches.

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Facebook bans four groups spreading violence in Myanmar

Facebook bans four groups spreading violence in Myanmar


Facebook

Facebook announced today that it has removed four groups based in Myanmar that it has determined to be dangerous from its platform. The Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Kachin Independence Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army have been removed from Facebook, and the company said all “praise, support and representation” for the organizations will also be subject to removal.

Those groups are now considered to be dangerous under Facebook’s policy, a label that is reserved for individuals and organizations that engage in terrorist activity, organized hate, mass or serial murder, human trafficking or organized violence. Facebook said the groups are armed and said there is “clear evidence” they have engaged in offline harm and violence in Myanmar. By removing them from Facebook, the social network company hopes to disrupt any attempts to organize acts of violence.

Facebook has been doing a considerable amount of damage control in Myanmar in recent months after reports indicated the company’s platforms and tools were being used to enable an ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in the country. Facebook has pulled some of its tools from the market and has launched an internal investigation into its role in the violence. Last December, the social network announced it was banning hundreds of pages connected to the conflict.

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Facebook finally lets you unsend messages in Messenger

Facebook finally lets you unsend messages in Messenger


Facebook

Facebook announced today that all users can now remove messages sent on Messenger — a feature that had previously only been used by Facebook to delete messages sent by company executives. Users will now have a 10-minute window to unsend any message delivered through Messenger, whether it was sent to a single person or to a group chat.

To use the feature, tap on the message you want to remove. A menu should appear with an option that reads “Remove for Everyone.” If you select that option, the message will disappear from the chat. Messenger will replace the removed chat bubble with text notifying the group that a message has been removed. You can also choose to simply remove a message for yourself. Doing so will leave the content available for everyone else in the chat.

Nearly a year ago, Facebook promised to implement this feature for all users after it was discovered that the social networking giant was quietly removing old messages sent by CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other higher-ups within the company. Facebook copped to the practice of wiping old messages and promised that it would stop doing so until everyone had the ability to delete past conversations.

Messenger isn’t the first chat app to get an “unsend” feature. Telegram has allowed users to remove messages for years, and last year the Facebook-owned Whatsapp added the ability to unsend texts within an hour of being sent.

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How McCormick and IBM will use AI to create the next big spice

How McCormick and IBM will use AI to create the next big spice


Besjunior via Getty Images

It’s not easy crafting the next taste sensation. Nobody hops out of bed in the morning, thinks to themselves, “Today, I’m going to invent the next Oreo,” and actually follows through on it. Even training in the skills necessary to become a professional food product developer can take the better park of two decades, much less creating and testing the thousands of flavor iterations needed to dial in on the perfect taste that will finally unseat Cool Ranch Doritos. But thanks to IBM’s Philyra AI, spice manufacturer McCormick & Company’s R&D the team is leveraging machine learning to cut the time it takes to develop new flavors by up to 70 percent.

Last October, IBM Research unveiled the Philyra AI as a tool to accelerate the creation of new and novel scents for the fragrance industry. “It is a system that uses new and advanced machine learning algorithms to sift through hundreds of thousands of formulas and thousands of raw materials,” Dr. Richard Goodwin, Principal Researcher and Manager of IBM’s Computational Creativity Research Group wrote last October, “helping identify patterns and novel combinations.”

For example, the system can account for alternative raw material complements and substitute them into formulas if the original ingredients aren’t available, adjust formulas based on the intended user reaction like “pleasantness” or “gender appropriateness,” and even changing the recommended dosage levels based on usage patterns.

The jump from melding fragrances to mixing spice is not a large one and, with the McCormick partnership, the Philyra AI was easily repurposed for the new task. In fact, the Philyra AI was first put to use helping the Symrise company to produce a pair of new perfumes for O Boticário, a global beauty company, which will be released later this year.

Currently McCormick relies on a 5-step Stage Gate system to create flavor profiles for its various products — ideation, development, testing, scale up, commercialization and maintenance — with a majority of the effort going into the first two steps. For example, if McCormick’s R&D department is working on a new Tuscan Chicken recipe, researchers will first search the company database for previous Tuscan Chicken recipes and use that as a jumping off point before tweaking the flavors and beginning the iterative process of fine tuning the recipe into the final product. That testing can involve hundreds of tries lasting anywhere from 6 to 18 months.

The Philyra algorithm drastically reduces that testing time because, well, computers. The AI not only accesses the existing database of flavor formulae and spices, it also integrates sales and marketing data, enabling the company to tailor their recipes to specific regions and customer demographics. This way Kosher, Halal, vegan or low sodium versions of products will taste as close to the originals as possible.

“This machine system would allow us to really look for the one that has such a broad hedonic acceptance that it could become the next icon,” Dr. Hamed Faridi, McCormick’s Chief Science Officer, told Engadget. Not only that, it will enable the 500-plus members of the company’s R&D department spread across the globe to integrate their various skills and expertise into a singular development effort. With that McCormick hopes to create the next iconic food product: the next Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Pringles chip, Tootsie Roll, or A1 steak sauce.

“The search for an icon is like a search of a needle in a haystack,” Faridi explained. But this AI should help cut through the chaff. “If I’m a developer and I want to develop something that I think needs a cheese flavor, I have two or three of my favorite cheese flavors that have worked in the past. I try to use them first [because of their previous success].” However the AI has no such biases and will instead weigh the various cheese flavors present in McCormick’s database to find the hedonically “best” one.

McCormick has already leveraged the AI to develop three new Recipe Mix flavors, Tuscan Chicken, Bourbon Pork Tenderloin and New Orleans Sausage, which it plans to release by mid-year. The company plans to expand access to the algorithmic system to its entire R&D workforce by 2021.

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The Morning After: Samsung’s Galaxy S10 will support next-gen WiFi

The Morning After: Samsung’s Galaxy S10 will support next-gen WiFi

Hey, good morning!

Today is a day of leaks, federal investigations and collaboration break-ups. Samsung’s incoming Galaxy S10 will pack next-gen WiFi, WhatsApp adds TouchID and FaceID for security and Facebook doesn’t just have a problem with fake political news…


While a Bloomberg reporter watched from a nearby gelato stand.FBI’s reported Huawei sting operation happened at a burger joint

The startup behind a super-hard smartphone glass made partially of synthetic diamonds took part in an FBI sting on Huawei, during CES last month, while a Bloomberg Businessweek reporter watched from a nearby gelato stand. The embattled Chinese company had ordered samples of the “Miraj Diamond Glass” from US startup Akhan Semiconductor in 2017, only to return them badly damaged. Suspecting Huawei of intellectual property theft, Akhan’s founder Adam Khan reportedly contacted the FBI, which drafted him to take part in its Huawei investigations.


The 15 biggest stories from its first 15 years.Facebook at 15: The long road to social media dominance

Facebook’s come a long way since it launched 15 years ago today, on February 4th, 2004. The service has gone from a “directory of information for college students” to a social media giant with more than 2.32 billion users every month. We broke down the 15 biggest stories since its debut.


Your battery should last a bit longer if you’re connected to a WiFi 6 router.Samsung’s Galaxy S10 phones will support next-generation WiFi

Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S10 phones are set to support next-generation WiFi amid a broader expansion of WiFi 6 this year. Three versions of the phone, including an S10+ and cheaper S10E, should be compatible with the standard, according to FCC filings spotted by Droid Life.

The phones will be some of the first to offer WiFi 6, which aims to offer sturdier, faster internet (particularly if you have a ton of connected devices in your home), while also straining your new smartphone battery less.


A study found that seven of the 10 most shared health articles were misleading or wrong.
Don’t trust all of those health articles you see in your Facebook feed

Facebook’s battle with fake news stories goes beyond political news. According to fact-checking site Health Feedback, seven of the ten most shared health stories on Facebook in 2018 contained false or misleading information. The top 100 stories fared slightly better, but stories with misinformation were shared 12.3 million times. Well-sourced and accurate stories were shared 11 million times. Facebook has launched several initiatives with the goal to weed out fake news, though most are focused on political stories.


Supreme Italia isn’t for hypebeasts.
Samsung ends its sketchy Supreme collaboration

It’s not a huge shock. The initial reaction to the collaboration was immediate skepticism and controversy. Supreme NYC (the one you actually want) doesn’t have the authorization to sell and market in China. And that’s where Supreme Italia snuck in. The “legal fake” in Italy manages to exist through a bunch of intellectual property law loopholes, and has license to sell its unofficial wares in China. For now, however, it won’t include any Samsung products.

But wait, there’s more…


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Mozilla will mute auto-playing videos in Firefox

Mozilla will mute auto-playing videos in Firefox


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Mozilla announced today that its Firefox web browser will start automatically blocking auto-playing video and audio later this year. The feature will appear in the release of Firefox 66 for desktop and an update to Firefox for Android, both of which are scheduled to be released on March 19th.

According to Mozilla, the upcoming release will prevent any audio or video from playing without a prompt from the user. That means you’ll have to click on a “play” button or something similar to allow the content to start. Otherwise, it’ll sit idly by while you browse the web uninterrupted. From the looks of it, that will include sites that you’re probably used to playing automatically including video streaming sites like YouTube and Netflix.

Firefox 66 autoplay content blocker

Users will be able to opt out of this blocker for sites that they don’t mind playing by default. There will be an icon that pops up in the URL bar to indicate that auto-playing media has been blocked, and clicking on it will bring up a menu that will allow users to change settings. Firefox will also automatically allow autoplay video on sites that the user has granted access to their camera and microphone. These sites are typically for video conferencing, so it makes sense to allow them to work uninterrupted.

Mozilla has been working toward blocking all auto-playing content for a while now. Last year, the company announced that Firefox would no longer allow auto-playing audio in an attempt to cut down on annoying advertisements that would blare out their message without permission. Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Edge, and Apple’s Safari browser also have taken steps to limit auto-playing media.

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