Google officially reveals its latest robot

If there were an Olympics for robots, Boston Dynamics appears ready to enter.

The Google-owned robotics company officially unveiled its latest robot, Handle, in a YouTube video posted Wednesday that immediately captivated the Internet. Handle, which stands 6-foot-6, looks vaguely human with a torso, arms and legs that have wheels instead of feet.


Google’s new humanoid robot is 6’6″, has wheels for feet

Boston Dynamics described the combination of legs and wheels as the best of both worlds. The wheels make Handle energy efficient on flat surfaces. (It has a 15-mile range on one charge.) With legs it’s able to manage uneven terrain, and go nearly anywhere.

Related: Google shows off ‘nightmare-inducing’ robot

Handle shows an unusual amount of grace for a hulking robot. In the video Handle rolls down steps, jumps over barriers and onto tables. It boasts a vertical leap of 48 inches, which compares favorably to great human athletes like the winners of the NBA’s dunk contest.

In the 96-second video, Handle also shows speed and agility. It can quickly accelerate to 9 miles per hour. Handle is also capable of carrying heavy loads, displaying its strength in one clip in which it lifts 100 pounds.

boston dynamics handle 1

But don’t get too excited — the robot is still a research project. It’s unclear when, or if ever, we’ll see the robot operating in the real world. Boston Dynamics has long released eye-catching videos of its robots performing all sorts of feats. Building a robot that’s capable of working safely and effectively near humans is far more difficult than producing a slick demo video.

Handle first surfaced earlier this month, when a Silicon Valley investor posted footage of Handle that aired at a private event.

“This is the debut presentation of what I think will be a nightmare-inducing robot, if you’re anything like me,” Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert told the crowd at the time, drawing laughter.

YouTube TV is Google’s live TV service

The company wants you to watch what you want, when you want, how you want.

After many months of rumors, YouTube has officially announced its entry into streaming live TV. YouTube TV will let you access live and recorded content from major networks, both the big broadcast players as well as some options typically found on cable. All of this will be coupled alongside YouTube’s existing content, and it’ll work on nearly any screen that YouTube is available on. The new service be available later this spring to customers in the US for $35 a month with no contract; that lets up to six users access content whenever they want.

Available networks include CBS, Fox, NBC and CBS along with cable players USA and FX. Sports networks include ESPN, Fox Sports and NBCSN — there’s a total of 10 sports networks available. You can also add on Showtime for an additional fee. The local affiliates for your city will also be included, so you can news and programming broadcasts from the same channels you’d see over the air. All in all, the total of “more than 40 networks” is comparable to options like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, although each has service varies (YouTube TV’s channel lineup is below).

Still, there are a lot of major networks missing. Most notable are channels from Viacom, Discovery, A&E, AMC and Turner (including TBS and TNT). CNN is also notably absent from the news networks available. This is a place where PlayStation Vue has an advantage — the $35 plan from Sony includes CNN, TBS, TNT, AMC and a number of other channels that YouTube TV doesn’t offer.

YouTube TV includes unlimited cloud DVR storage, so you can add any series or sports team to your favorites and it’ll save all of them for you. Naturally, YouTube will also use the massive amount of data is has on your interests to help serve you recommendations thanks to its machine learning network. YouTube TV will also eventually work with Google Home, so you can ask Home to start playing a show on your Chromecast and it’ll “just work.”

The mobile app features three main sections: live, library and home. The live tab shows everything currently being broadcast organized by network. As you scroll, you’ll see a live preview of what’s being broadcast on each channel. If you want to watch, you can just tap and it’ll start playing. If you want to watch something later, you can tap the plus icon and start recording a show. When watching in portrait mode, you’ll see recommendations down below it, but you can of course flip the phone on its side to go into full screen mode. There’s also an ever-present “cast” button if you want to send video to your Chromecast or a compatible TV.

The app’s search page lets you see recommendations by genre and network as well as specific categories tailored to your viewing habits. You can also search for something like “time travel” and get a list of movies or TV shows that feature time travel in the plot. Typing in a specific show will take you to a page listing out all the episodes available to you at any given time. The library is pretty self-explanatory. It features all the shows you’ve recorded, sports teams you’re interested in and also lets you view everything scheduled to be recorded on your DVR.

Lastly, the “home” tab is similar to what you currently see when using the basic YouTube experience. It’s full of things you’ve watched recently, recommendations based on what you watch, things you’ve been watching that you might want to resume, and so on.

The company also wants to offer excellent customer service, something a YouTube executive said is one of cable’s biggest pain points right now. You’ll be able to contact customer service through the YouTube app any time, either via text chat or voice chat.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that the company was doing this as a way to reach the many younger people who don’t want TV on a standard TV screen. People are watching plenty of TV content on YouTube already — particularly clips from late night shows and sports — but the company wanted customers to be able to get more TV content in that fashion. Wojcicki said that YouTube wants to offer customers TV “whenever they want, on any screen, on their terms.”

This is a separate product offering from YouTube Red, which the company launched in late 2015 as a way to give users an ad-free YouTube experience. It also features some original programming, but overall it’s been more in keeping with the personality-based content rather than longer, high-end productions you might find from the big networks. However, YouTube TV will contain all of YouTube Red’s original programming.

Despite the in-depth presentation YouTube gave today, there are a few questions about how YouTube TV will work in practice. Most over-the-top services have some restrictions about what episodes of shows from different networks are available or if you’l be able to save content indefinitely. There may end up being some catches, but YouTube said that users will be able to save “virtually” anything they watch on YouTube TV.

The company focused its big-screen conversation around streaming to your TV with a Chromecast, and in a follow-up conversation a YouTube executive said that would be the only way to get content to a TV for starters. Chromecast and cast-enabled devices will be compatible, but other devices like Apple TV, Roku, the PS4 and Xbox One will be excluded for starters. However, YouTube did indicate that it would work with other companies to get YouTube TV on other platforms in the future.

As for when this will get to consumers, YouTube isn’t saying just yet — it shouldn’t be too long, though. The company says YouTube TV will be available for customers in the next few months.

Update, 4:30PM ET: YouTube executives answered a few questions for the press during its event. The company confirmed that the service will only work in the US and noted that while you get access to YouTube Red content, you don’t get the full ad-free YouTube experience. The company also confirmed that because of Verizon’s deal with the NFL, you won’t be able to watch NFL games on your phone. You’ll be able to on the desktop or a TV, but not on mobile.

Fortunately for those of us who hate ads, you can fast forward or rewind DVR content, so you can skip right over commercials.

Google has no plans to release any more Chromebook Pixel laptops

Google has confirmed what has been assumed for some time; the company has no plans to launch any future versions of its high-end Chromebook Pixel laptops with its Chrome operating system. The news was revealed by Google’s hardware leader Rick Osterloh during a chat today with journalists at the 2017 Mobile World Congresstrade show.ADVERTISINGinRead invented by Teads

August 10, 2016

According to TechCrunch, Osterloh stated:

Chrome OS is a huge initiative in the company. Google hasn’t backed away from laptops. We have the number two marketshare in the US and UK — but we have no plans for Google-branded laptops.

It’s not much of a shock to hear this confirmation. The company’s second, and now final, laptop, the Chromebook Pixel 2, launched in 2015, and was officially retired in August 2016. There’s been no rumors about Google developing any new Chromebooks of its own since then, and now it looks like will be the case for the foreseeable future. Instead, Google has been helping other hardware makers optimize their new Chromebooks to work with Chrome OS and for them to run Android apps, such as the recently launched Samsung Chromebook Pro.

While Google is still selling the 64GB version of the Pixel C tablet, which launched over a year ago, it looks like the company won’t be making any more of those devices either and will likely stop selling the tablet completely once it gets rid of its current inventory. For the moment, it looks like the branding is being reserved for its first-party Android smartphones, the Google Pixel and Pixel XL. Osterloh said today that the phones have done well, but did admit they have had issues with keeping up with the current demand.

How do you feel about Google getting out of the Chromebook hardware market, at least for now? Do you think this is a wise move, or should the company continue to develop and sell its own Chromebook laptops? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Strava updates its Apple Watch app with GPS support

If you have an Apple Watch 2

Vjeran Pavic

The popular fitness network Strava has updated its iOS app so it can run independently on the Apple Watch 2 which features built-in GPS. The update comes a couple weeks after theAndroid Wear version of the app was updated with the same functionality.

Strava says Apple Watch 2 users will be able to record their time, pace, distance, speed, and heart rate directly on the Watch. To access the new untethered features, just update the Strava app on your iOS device.


Today is Raspberry Pi’s fifth birthday: it’s five years since we launched the original Raspberry Pi, selling a hundred thousand units in the first day, and setting us on the road to a lifetime total (so far) of over twelve million units. To celebrate, we’re announcing a new product: meet Raspberry Pi Zero W, a new variant of Raspberry Pi Zero with wireless LAN and Bluetooth, priced at only $10.

Multum in parvo

So what’s the story?

In November 2015, we launched Raspberry Pi Zero, the diminutive $5 entry-level Raspberry Pi. This represented a fivefold reduction in cost over the original Model A: it was cheap enough that we could even stick it on the front cover of The MagPi, risking civil insurrection in newsagents throughout the land.

MagPi issue 40: causing trouble for WHSmith (credit: Adam Nicholls)

Over the ensuing fifteen months, Zero grew a camera connector and found its way into everything from miniature arcade cabinets to electric skateboards. Many of these use cases need wireless connectivity. The homebrew “People in Space” indicator in the lobby at Pi Towers is a typical example, with an official wireless dongle hanging off the single USB port: users often end up adding a USB hub to allow them to connect a keyboard, a mouse and a network adapter, and this hub can easily cost more than the Zero itself.


Zero W fixes this problem by integrating more functionality into the core product. It uses the same Cypress CYW43438 wireless chip as Raspberry Pi 3 Model B to provide 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.

To recap, here’s the full feature list for Zero W:

  • 1GHz, single-core CPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • Mini-HDMI port
  • Micro-USB On-The-Go port
  • Micro-USB power
  • HAT-compatible 40-pin header
  • Composite video and reset headers
  • CSI camera connector
  • 802.11n wireless LAN
  • Bluetooth 4.0

We imagine you’ll find all sorts of uses for Zero W. It makes a better general-purpose computer because you’re less likely to need a hub: if you’re using Bluetooth peripherals you might well end up with nothing at all plugged into the USB port. And of course it’s a great platform for experimenting with IoT applications.

Official case

To accompany Raspberry Pi Zero W, we’ve been working with our friends at Kinneir Dufort and T-Zero to create an official injection-moulded case. This shares the same design language as the official case for the Raspberry Pi 3, and features three interchangeable lids:

  • A blank one
  • One with an aperture to let you access the GPIOs
  • One with an aperture and mounting point for a camera

Three cases for the price of one

The case set also includes a short camera adapter flexi, and a set of rubber feet to make sure your cased Zero or Zero W doesn’t slide off the desk.

New distributors

You may have noticed that we’ve added several new Zero distributors recently: ModMyPi in the UK, pi3g in Germany, Samm Teknoloji in Turkey, Kubii in France, Spain, Italy and Portugal, and Kiwi Electronics in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Raspberry Pi Zero W is available from all Zero distributors today, with the exception of Micro Center, who should have stock in stores by the end of this week. Check the icons below to find the stockist that’s best for you!

The quest for one of science’s holy grails: Artificial blood

Mark Scott, a scientist at UBC’s Center for Blood Research, was quoted in an article in the Boston Globe about the development of artificial blood.

Scott said the small size of ErythroMer, a blood substitute, increases the risk that it could leak from the bloodstream into surrounding tissue.

The story, originally published on Stat, also appeared on Business Inside U.K.

Hearing aid recycling program up and running

TC Media
Published on February 27, 2017

Hearing aid recycling program up and running

Hear, Hear PEI

Islanders who need hearing aids from low-income households are now able to apply for hearing aids through the Hear, Hear P.E.I. hearing aid recycling program.

The program was launched in January by Charlottetown couple Rose and Mike Barbour.

“Thanks to the hearing aid donations that came in, and to Steve Wong, a board-certified hearing instrument specialist, we are ready to go,” said Rose Barbour.

P.E.I. Hearing Consultants, owned by Wong, is the program’s first partner clinic. Wong will refurbish the donated hearing aids, work with clients to have them fitted properly and provide the follow-up care.

To qualify for the program, Islanders must meet the financial criteria for household income: $20,000 or less for a single person, $30,000 or less for a two person family and add an additional $10,000 income allowance for each dependent child. They also cannot by eligible for hearing aid coverage under any other program such as P.E.I. Disability Support. Hear, Hear P.E.I. is a last resort for people who cannot get coverage anywhere else.

To apply, a referral for a hearing test is needed from a family physician, nurse practitioner, and public health nurse or speech language pathologist in order for the cost to be covered by the Province.

Hear, Hear, does not cover the tests.

Applications will only be available through hearing healthcare professionals.

There is no fee upon application, but recipients will pay a $100 non-refundable fee to help offset the costs of the program.

For more information on the Hear, Hear PEI program, email, visit or call 902-940-5175.

Overhyped ‘Miracle’ Metal Hydrogen Miraculously ‘Disappears’

Image: R. Dias and I.F. Silvera/Gizmodo

Lots of people went wild last month at the news that scientists had suddenly discovered some sort of physics holy grail: metallic hydrogen, hydrogen that turned into a metal. Gizmodo didn’t buy the hype. Well, according to ScienceAlert, that metal hydrogen sample has now disappeared.

Many scientists don’t believe metallic hydrogen was created to begin with. And yet, somehow, many of the same media outlets that reported this story credulously last month are now reporting that this possibly nonexistent jewel has mysteriously vanished.

Here’s a quick recap of what the Harvard scientists behind the hydrogen hullabaloo said they saw, in results published recently in the journal Science:

The observation was made by a team of Harvard researchers, while they were squeezing hydrogen between diamonds at temperatures just above absolute zero, 5.5 Kelvin or -450 degrees Fahrenheit. As the scientists cranked up the pressure, they observed transparent hydrogen turn black. Finally, at a pressure 5 million times our own air pressure, the hydrogen turned reflective. The researchers presented this as proof that the hydrogen atoms had arranged into a regular, 3D structure like a metal, a behavior first predicted by physicists Hillard Huntington and Eugene Wignerin in 1935.

As first reported last week, the team’s lead researcher, Isaac F. Silvera, told ScienceAlert that while testing the sample earlier this month, the diamonds holding it cracked. He told them the sample disappeared, because it was either very small, or had turned back to gas. 🤔

But other scientists don’t believe that Silvera’s team had put forth sufficient evidence that they’d created metallic hydrogen at all.

“Maybe they had something in the first place,” Alexander Goncharov, staff scientist at the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington DC, told Gizmodo, “but it wasn’t metallic hydrogen.”

Goncharov and others have written several responses to Silvera’s paper. In one, Goncharov says the results don’t match the conclusion—the researchers saw a shiny material in the cell, but didn’t track whether there was actually hydrogen present the whole time. “How do they know they actually had hydrogen at the time [during the experiment],” he asked me. “Hydrogen can escape at any pressure. Based on their photographs, I cannot say that” there was any hydrogen in the diamond vice.

Even Mikhail Eremets at the Max-Planck-Institut fur Chemie in Germany, who previously claimed to have created metallic hydrogen, took issue with Silvera’s paper. Eremets thought that the Harvard researchers’ pressure measurements were unreliable. Plus, even non-metallic hydrogen would reflect well at high pressures, he wrote.

I will not outright say that Silvera’s lab didn’t create metallic hydrogen, because we simply don’t know. I will say that plenty of scientists were not convinced by his paper—and a disappearing sample in the face of so much dissent would certainly be a convenient excuse to try your experiment again under less scrutiny.

I have reached out to Silvera for comment and will update the post if and when I hear back.

Nano-Sized Hydrogen Storage System Boosts Efficiency

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists have collaborated with an interdisciplinary team of researchers, including colleagues from Sandia National Laboratories, to develop an efficient hydrogen storage system that could be a boon for hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Hydrogen is an excellent energy carrier, but the development of lightweight solid-state materials for compact, low-pressure storage is a huge challenge.

Complex metal hydrides are a promising class of hydrogen storage materials, but their viability is usually limited by slow hydrogen uptake and release. Nanoconfinement — infiltrating the metal hydride within a matrix of another material such as carbon — can, in certain instances, help make this process faster by shortening diffusion pathways for hydrogen or by changing the thermodynamic stability of the material.

However, the Livermore-Sandia team, in conjunction with collaborators from Mahidol in Thailand and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, showed that nanoconfinement can have another, potentially more important consequence. They found that the presence of internal “nano-interfaces” within nanoconfined hydrides can alter which phases appear when the material is cycled.

The researchers examined the high-capacity lithium nitride (Li3N) hydrogen storage system under nanoconfinement. Using a combination of theoretical and experimental techniques, they showed that the pathways for the uptake and release of hydrogen were fundamentally changed by the presence of nano-interfaces, leading to dramatically faster performance and reversibility. The research appears on the cover of the Feb. 23 edition of the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces.

“The key is to get rid of the undesirable intermediate phases, which slow down the material’s performance as they are formed or consumed. If you can do that, then the storage capacity kinetics dramatically improve and the thermodynamic requirements to achieve full recharge become far more reasonable,” says Brandon Wood, an LLNL materials scientist and lead author of the paper. “In this material, the nano-interfaces do just that, as long as the nanoconfined particles are small enough. It’s really a new paradigm for hydrogen storage, since it means that the reactions can be changed by engineering internal microstructures.”

The Livermore researchers used a thermodynamic modeling method that goes beyond conventional descriptions to consider the contributions from the evolving solid phase boundaries as the material is hydrogenated and dehydrogenated. They showed that accounting for these contributions eliminates intermediates in nanoconfined lithium nitride, which was confirmed spectroscopically.

Beyond demonstrating nanoconfined lithium nitride as a rechargeable, high-performing hydrogen-storage material, the work establishes that proper consideration of solid-solid nanointerfaces and particle microstructure are necessary for understanding hydrogen-induced phase transitions in complex metal hydrides.

“There is a direct analogy between hydrogen storage reactions and solid-state reactions in battery electrode materials,” says Tae Wook Heo, another LLNL co-author on the study. “People have been thinking about the role of interfaces in batteries for some time, and our work suggests that some of the same strategies being pursued in the battery community could also be applied to hydrogen storage. Tailoring morphology and internal microstructure could be the best way forward for engineering materials that could meet performance targets.”

Other Livermore researchers on the study include Keith Ray and Jonathan Lee.

The research is supported through the Hydrogen Storage Materials Advanced Research Consortium of the Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

Source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

No driver required: Here’s your first look at Roborace’s self-driving Robocar

Maybe they can put one in Formula 1 and finally put a stop to Lewis Hamilton.

Approximately 14 months after it was initially announced, Roborace has finally unveiled the Robocar, the first driverless electric race car.

Roborace promises to be the first entirely autonomous racing series, and the Robocar will be the car that its teams will field. The Robocar has been teased in the past, but this is its final form, unveiled today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Robocar is positively loaded with tech. Each of its four electric motors puts out about 400 horsepower, its battery capacity is 540 kWh and it will be capable of speeds over 200 mph. It will drive itself using five lidar emitters, two radar emitters, 18 ultrasonic sensors, six cameras and two optical speed sensors. Nvidia’s Drive PX2 computer will be responsible for crunching all that data.

Thankfully, it isn’t capable of taking over humanity.


Despite all those components, the car weighs just 2,150 pounds, which is less than a 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Sounds like every car will be the same, right? They will be, sort of. Roborace will provide the cars themselves, but it will be up to each individual team to provide the software that will get the cars around the track. Roborace will establish an open AI platform, off which those teams will build that software. As you can see, there’s no space for a driver — if the software doesn’t work, the car won’t compete.

“Roborace opens a new dimension where motorsport as we know it meets the unstoppable rise of artificial intelligence,” said Daniel Simon, Roborace’s chief design officer. “We take special pride in revealing a functional machine that stays true to the initial concept shared, a rarity in automotive design and a testament of our determination. It’s a great feeling to set this free.”

Originally announced in December 2015, Roborace moved quickly, showing off its DevBot prototype last August. The final product stays true to its concept, with a positively futuristic style that looks like part Formula 1, and part “Minority Report.” Roborace hopes to get off the ground this year.