Who’s there? It’s this week’s episode of Pop Tech Jam, with ideas for coping with the current state of the world. From SEC hackers to Nest’s new indoor/outdoor security system to Equifax still doing harm to its customers, it’s been a busy seven days. But hey, NASA has a free illustrated ebook on the recent Cassini mission you can download, so the week wasn’t all bad and El Kaiser offers up a review of two audio amplifiers to make your tunes sound better through your headphones when you’re on the go. In light of Mother Nature’s recent activities, J.D. shares a few lists of places you can send money to help earthquake and hurricane disaster recovery efforts in Mexico, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the other Caribbean islands.
PTJ 248 is here to help!
The ThingMaker printer wasn’t the only geekworthy news Mattel made at the Toy Fair. The company also announced an update to its View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer. The 2.0 model has been reworked to handle varying sizes of smartphones without the need for an adapter, and it also has improved access to the phone’s headphone jack.
Speaking of virtual reality, the technology is also starting to turn up as a tool for real-estate brokers to sell you an apartment. As a recent story in The New York Times explains, companies like Halstead are using virtual reality headsets to let prospective buyers look around apartments for sale or rent. Thanks to contractors like Virtual Xperience and ArX Solutions who create a VR rendering of the future space based on architectural plans, prospective tenants can get a feel for the place — even if it hasn’t been built yet.
The notion of turning smartphones and their sensitive motion detector chips into earthquake sensors isn’t original, but there’s a new Android app called MyShake out from UC Berkeley Seismologicial Laboratory that has some research cred. The app sits quietly in the background until it senses the earth rumbling, and then it uploads a small amount of data to the centralized database created by the seismologists as an earthquake early-warning system. According to the companion paper its creators published on the Science Advances site, the app analyzes motion to see if the “newly incoming data are similar to previously defined human activities.” If it’s not a toddler birthday party or loud music, the data is sent along for further possible-earthquake analysis.
“Breaking Bad” rides off into the desert sun leaving El Kaiser wondering how it fared against other famous TV series swan songs and J.D. fills us in on the quickest ways to digitize business cards. In the news Amazon quietly releases two new Kindle models; Lenovo debuts an all-in-one desktop computer with a 29-inch display; Microsoft has a good week; Facebook expands its Graph Search results; Apple deals with more security issues; researchers develop a robotic prosthetic leg that is controlled by brain function; and Intelligent Glasses that can translate languages on the fly.