Asus unveils Tinker Board single-board PCs with RK3399Pro and i.MX8M processors

Asus unveils Tinker Board single-board PCs with RK3399Pro and i.MX8M processors

Asus is continuing to expand its line of single-board computers aimed at makers and developers. The original Asus Tinker Board launched in 2017 as a Raspberry Pi-like mini PC powered by a Rockchip RK3288 processor. The next year the company unveiled the Tinker Board S with 16GB of eMMC flash storage built in.

Now Asus is adding three new models to the lineup: the Asus Tinker Edge R and Tinker Edge T and the CR1S-CM-A.

It’s interesting to note that Asus is sticking with the Tinker name for some models, but also adding “Edge” to suggest that the company sees its new boards as solutions for “edge computing,” which basically means that, as opposed to cloud computing, data and applications are stored and run closer to where they’re needed.

The Tinker Edge T and CR1S-CM-A both feature an NXP I.MX8M quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 processor and Google’s Coral Edge TPU system-on-module for artificial intelligence/machine learning.

Both feature 1GB of LPDDR4 RAM, 8GB of eMMC flash memory, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, a USB-C port, two USB 3.0 ports, and a 40-pin Raspberry Pi-compatible header.

But the CR1S-CM-A also supports Power over Ethernet, an M.2 expansion slot, a SATA interface, and a few other features that CNX Software notes could make it a better fit for industrial applications.

The computers measure about 3.4″ x 2.2″.

The Asus Tinker Edge R, meanwhile, features a Rockchip RK3399Pro hexa-core processor with two Arm Cortex-A72 CPU cores and four Cortex-A53 cores as well as a dedicated neural processing unit for AI tasks.

With 4GB of LPDDR4 system memory and 2GB of LPDDr3 memory for the NPU and 16GB of eMMC flash storage plus a microSD card reader, this model packs a lot of power into a small space.

It also features HDMI and 3.5mm audio jacks, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, and USB 3.1 Type-c and Type-A ports plus a 40-pin header that’s compatible with the original tinker Board.

Measuring 100mm x 72mm (3.9″ x 2.8″), the Tinker Board R is a little larger than the other models (or a Raspberry Pi), but it’s still pretty tiny for a PC.


Amazon has revealed new ways to delete the personal recordings that it keeps of you, while launching a new version of its Echo Show.

The new feature will allow users to simply ask Alexa and have it get rid of the various – often intimate and unexpected – snippets of audio that it collects around your house.

Saying “Alexa, delete everything I said today” will force it to do so. Soon, Amazon will allow people to ask “Alexa, delete what I just said”, too.

The feature could be a response to increasing concern about what Amazon is doing with the recordings that it takes of people who own its Alexa devices. The company says it collects them to improve the performance of its voice assistant, but reports have drawn attention to the ways that some people could listen in to them.

Amazon has always offered the ability to listen to and delete voice recordings, but it requires digging through the device’s settings.

The company is also launching an “Alexa Privacy Hub” which will allow people to learn about Amazon’s approach to privacy and how to change the settings that dictate what information Alexa is collecting.


The new feature was revealed alongside the Echo Show 5, Amazon’s new Alexa device which like its predecessors contains a screen.

It also has a privacy focus of its own. For the first time, Amazon has added a camera shutter, allowing people to manually cover up the lens inside the Alexa box to stop it taking video recordings.

The new version is smaller and comes at a relatively cheap price of only £79.99. The existing, larger Echo Show costs £219.99.

“Since we launched the first Echo Show device, customers have told us that they love asking Alexa to show them things—whether it’s asking for their favourite recipes to cook along with, their shopping list, or music lyrics. With Echo Show 5, we’ve made it even easier and affordable for customers to add a smart display to every room of their house,” said Jorrit Van der Meulen, VP Amazon Devices EU.

“The compact form factor is perfect for a bedside table or desk, plus it has a camera shutter for added peace of mind, and new Alexa privacy features that are coming soon to the UK for even more control.”

Study could lead to ‘cognitive therapy in your pocket’

Study could lead to 'cognitive therapy in your pocket'
CBM-I via smartphone app could help patients with depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions Credit: McLean Hospital

Based on a study by McLean Hospital researchers, individuals with anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions may soon be able to use a smartphone app to deliver on-demand cognitive bias modification for interpretation (CBM-I), a way to change mental habits without visiting a therapist.

The study, “Translating CBM-I Into Real-World Settings: Augmenting a CBT-Based Psychiatric Hospital Program,” was published in the journal Behavior Therapy. It shows the potential effectiveness of CBM-I when combined with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) in an acute psychiatric setting. It also points the way for adapting this therapeutic approach for use outside the hospital.

The lead researcher of the study is Courtney Beard, Ph.D., director of McLean’s Cognition and Affect Research and Education (CARE) Laboratory.

Beard described CBM-I as a “class of interventions designed to shift people’s interpretations of ambiguous situations in either a more positive or more negative way.” She explained that “CBM-I tries to address interpretation bias, a mental habit that is implicated in many .”

To do this, individuals undergoing CBM-I treatment can be presented with a series of word association questions that address everyday situations.

For example, the CBM-I task may show a patient a situation about a person yawning during their conversation. Then the patient is asked whether that person is “tired” or “bored.” The individual who answers “tired” is told the response is “correct,” and “bored” is incorrect. Through repetition, this type of CBM-I therapy helps the person reframe or reassess these daily ambiguous situations.

“People face countless interactions like this every day in their lives,” Beard said. “If you have a tendency to jump to a threatening or negative conclusion, it can have a huge impact on how you’re feeling and on what you do and how you react. You can get stuck in a cycle that can maintain anxiety or depression.”

For their study, Beard and her colleagues developed and implemented CBM-I to augment CBT-based treatment in a partial hospital setting. They presented with word-sentence associations that encouraged patients to endorse positive interpretations and reject negative interpretations.

Study results showed that CBM-I was practical and acceptable to acute psychiatric patients. Many stated that CBM-I bolstered their primary CBT-based care. The study also found that that the word association exercises were successful in helping reframe potentially negative situations.

Based on these results, Beard and her team are moving forward with a National Institute of Mental Health-backed study to develop a smartphone version of CBM-I.

“With the , we can offer CBM-I to many more people at one time,” Beard said. “With the app, they can practice new skills, create healthy mental habits, and stop automatically jumping to negative conclusions. And they can do it on demand.”

Beard stated that the app could be particularly helpful for individuals who have just been discharged from a treatment program. “They can use it during the month transition period after they leave the hospital, which is a risky and challenging time for them,” she said.

Beard sees great promise for app-based CBM-I therapy. “It quickly shows people what their brain is doing,” she explained. “The patient sees hundreds of situations in a short amount of time. So, they see how often they jumped to a negative conclusion, and that can be very powerful. It’s kind of like cognitive therapy in your pocket—but a little different and a lot faster.”

Explore further

Computerized anxiety therapy found helpful in small trial

More information: Courtney Beard et al. Translating CBM-I Into Real-World Settings: Augmenting a CBT-Based Psychiatric Hospital Program, Behavior Therapy (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.beth.2018.09.002

Journal information: Behavior Therapy
Provided by McLean Hospital

MIT’s sensor-packed glove helps AI identify objects by touch

It could give robots a more precise grip.

Researchers have spent years trying to teach robots how to grip different objects without crushing or dropping them. They could be one step closer, thanks to this low-cost, sensor-packed glove. In a paper published in Nature, a team of MIT scientists share how they used the glove to help AI recognize objects through touch alone. That information could help robots better manipulate objects, and it may aid in prosthetics design.


The “scalable tactile glove,” or STAG, is a simple knit glove packed with more than 550 tiny sensors. The researchers wore STAG while handling 26 different objects — including a soda can, scissors, tennis ball, spoon, pen and a mug. As they did, the sensors gathered pressure-signal data, which was interpreted by a neural network. The system predicted the objects’ identity on touch alone with up to 76 percent accuracy, and it was able to predict the weight of most objects within about 60 grams.

The data also allowed researchers to see how different regions of the hand work together. For instance, when someone uses the middle joint of their index finger, they rarely use their thumb. Information like that will be critical to helping robots handle items, and it could help customize prosthetics to specific tasks and objects. “We’ve always wanted robots to do what humans can do, like doing the dishes or other chores,” said MIT researcher Subramanian Sundaram. “If you want robots to do these things, they must be able to manipulate objects really well.”

This isn’t the first glove to gather pressure data in this way, but most cost thousands of dollars and contain closer to 50 sensors. STAG is made from commercially available materials, and it costs a mere $10 to produce. The glove is laminated with a conductive polymer, which changes resistance to applied pressure. Researchers sewed conductive thread through holes in the polymer, and the threads overlap in a way that turns them into pressure sensors.

This follows on the heels of MIT’s “RoboRaise,” which studies muscle activity so that robots can help humans lift things. And it adds to MIT’s other technology, like that which can control robots with brain signals and hand gestures. As this team perfects STAG, it will likely combined the glove with others sensors to give robots an even better sense of what they’re handling.

Amazon Echo users can now ask Alexa to delete stored voice recordings


Thanks to a seemingly endless number of privacy scandals involving Facebook and other entities, tech users across the board have recently become much more privacy-minded. In turn, tech companies have become far more pro-active about empowering customers and assuring them that their data isn’t being misused or improperly stored.

As a prime example, Amazon today is making it a lot easier for Echo users to delete voice recordings that reside on Amazon’s servers. In a press release issued today, Amazon notes that Alexa users can now say, “Alexa, delete everything I said today,” and not have to worry about their voice commands living on for eternity. While it was previously possible to delete voice recordings from within the Alexa app, the new voice command streamlines the process considerably.

Amazon further notes that Alexa users will soon be able to delete their most recent request by saying, “Alexa, delete what I just said.”

The new voice command was announced alongside the introduction of the Echo Show 5, a compact and relatively affordable smart display with a 5.5-inch display that will retail for $90.

And not surprisingly, the Echo 5 has its own share of built-in privacy frameworks.

Echo devices are built with multiple layers of privacy protections. As with all Echo Show devices, the new Echo Show 5 includes a microphone/camera off button that electronically disconnects both the microphone and camera, and a clear visual indicator that shows when audio or video is streaming to the cloud. Plus, Echo Show 5 has a built-in camera shutter so you can easily cover the camera, while still being able to talk to Alexa.

Speaking of privacy, you may recall that Amazon got into a little bit of hot water last month when word surfaced that the company has thousands of employees who actively listen to Alexa recordings. The impetus, of course, is to improve overall reliability, but the company’s lack of transparency on the matter naturally rubbed many the wrong way.

CRISPR enzyme protects bacteria by turning infected cells on themselves

CRISPR enzyme protects bacteria by turning infected cells on themselves
In the genome editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9, RNA (blue) forms a complex with the protein Cas9 (bumpy structure). Cas9 unwinds target DNA (red) and acts as a molecular scalpel, slicing both strands. Cas13, a related protein, cuts RNA instead of DNA. Credit: HHMI BioInteractive, CRISPR-Cas 9 Mechanism & Applications

What doesn’t kill a bacterium makes it stronger.

An  that bacteria use to fight off viruses works by targeting not just the , but also the bacterium itself. It sends the bacterium into a dormant state and makes it an inhospitable place for viruses to reproduce. That protects bacteria from mutated viruses that slip past other immune defenses, researchers report May 29, 2019, in the journal Nature.

Disarming or killing host cells is a common immune system strategy, but the new work is the first to demonstrate it for bacterial CRISPR defense, says molecular biologist Luciano Marraffini, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the Rockefeller University.

The enzyme, Cas13, was discovered in 2015 and is part of a family of proteins that includes Cas9, an enzyme best known for its role in gene editing. In the popular tool, CRISPR, for example, scientists have used Cas9 to insert or modify specific genes. In nature, Cas proteins are a key part of bacterial immune systems. They disable viruses that infect bacteria by snipping the invaders’ DNA or RNA.

Scientists already knew Cas13 was a bit of an oddball in its family. If Cas9 is a scalpel, Cas13 is more like a machete. It cuts in specific, targeted locations, but also slashes off target. And unlike most Cas proteins, it cuts RNA, not DNA.

“Cas13 has already become a very powerful diagnostic tool,” says study coauthor Alexander Meeske, also at Rockefeller. Researchers can use it to quickly identify viruses in patients’ blood, even those present at very low levels. “What we didn’t know,” he says, “is how Cas13’s behavior affects bacterial immunity.”

CRISPR enzyme protects bacteria by turning infected cells on themselves
When viruses invade bacteria, as shown in this illustration, bacteria fight back. The enzyme Cas13 helps protect bacteria against viruses that might evade other immune responses. Credit: Cells

Now, he and his colleagues have found that Cas13’s seemingly random snips are a valuable bacterial defense tool. While most Cas enzymes protect bacteria by stopping viruses from reproducing, Cas13 disables the bacterial host itself.

That’s important because viruses can easily evade CRISPR systems—just a single genetic mutation in the region that the Cas enzyme targets can make the virus invisible to the immune system. Cas13 can catch those would-be “escapee” viruses, the researchers showed.

First, Meeske and his colleagues analyzed how Cas13 affected RNA. The enzyme cut RNA extensively, they found, breaking down RNA produced by the virus and the host cell. Even when Cas13 snipped regions of RNA that were totally disposable for the virus, the viruses still couldn’t reproduce. That suggested that the  was somehow shutting down viral reproduction.

When Meeske then engineered mutated viruses that Cas13 couldn’t recognize, the viruses flourished inside Listeria bacteria. But adding normal, unmutated viruses along with mutated viruses actually protected the cells from infection—they made Cas13 switch on and chop up all the RNA in the cell, he says. “This was so counterintuitive and surprising!”

Without RNA, the bacterial cells couldn’t continue to grow and function. And in non-functioning cells, the mutant virus couldn’t multiply.

It’s unclear whether cells can bounce back from this dormancy or whether they ultimately die, Meeske says. But by stopping  from replicating, those  are protecting the larger bacterial population from the threat.

Explore further

New CRISPR tool targets RNA in mammalian cells

More information: Alexander J. Meeske et al. Cas13-induced cellular dormancy prevents the rise of CRISPR-resistant bacteriophage, Nature (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1257-5

Journal information: Nature

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nReal’s Magic Leap-like AR smartglasses cost $499, arriving by end of year

Powered by phones, and they fold up like sunglasses.


nReal’s original mixed reality glasses, demoed at CES in January.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Lightweight AR glasses haven’t been a real thing yet, despite the promises of glasses-sized, more limited smartglasses such as the Vuzix Blade, or bigger, more expensive setups like the Magic Leap. But nReal’s pair of phone-connected, sunglasses-sized, folding mixed reality glasses coming this year could bridge the gap.

nReal Light, which we’ve had a chance to demo earlier this year, feels like a convincingly shrunken down version of what Magic Leap and HoloLens deliver. The glasses, which used to have their own hip-pack processor, will connect through USB-Cwith an approved range of Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 phones. The Black Shark 2gaming phone is the first phone that will work with nReal’s glasses.

$499 will get you the nReal Light “Consumer Kit,” which consists of a folding pair of AR glasses that connect with USB-C, nothing more. A developer kit, which costs $1,199, comes with the nReal glasses, plus a single handheld 3DoF controller (which can point and control things, but doesn’t accurate track motion in space like Magic Leap’s controller can), and a plug-in processing pack. The nReal developer kit will arrive in September, while the consumer version will arrive by “end of year.”

Watch this: Nreal Light headset is a small Magic Leap One

nReal’s glasses have dual displays that show 3D images layered into the real world, and do a surprisingly good job considering their size. But they lack a few key things that HoloLens and Magic Leap’s hardware offer: namely, they don’t have true depth sensing in the front cameras, which means that the ability to move around and use more advanced controllers isn’t yet possible. But their 3D capabilities are a step up over other small-size, lower-power smartglasses.

nReal’s glasses are another USB-C connected device in Qualcomm’s large-scale strategy to make lots of VR and AR headsets work with next-gen phones. Expect a lot more like them in the next year.

Circadian clock and fat metabolism linked through newly discovered mechanism


Apple’s Radical New iPhone Design Suddenly Takes Shape

Apple has three new iPhones coming later this year and their contentious designs are already well known. But the company is also openly working on a far more ambitious device and now it is quickly taking shape.

Apple is working hard to develop a folding iPhone (concept pictured)

Apple is working hard to develop a folding iPhone (concept pictured)


Spotted by the ever-alert Patently Apple, the US Patent and Trademark Office has this week granted Apple new patents for a “foldable cover and display for an electronic device.” And helpfully, it reveals both how Apple will do it and the radical folding configurations it is considering.

We learn Apple’s work centres on creating a display which has a flexible region and a cover layer using ceramics, such as toughened glass or sapphire. This is a step up from anything we have seen from Samsung and Huawei’s flexible devices, which simply use plastic panels (the former is suffering for that mistake already).

Moreover, with its alternative approach, Apple shows it is possible to build significantly more radical folding form factors than the phones we have seen to date, possibly due to increased structural integrity. Yes, the standard fold is indeed shown but Apple also illustrates radical dual and triple folding designs.

Traditional and radical folding form factors from Apple's new folding display patent

Traditional and radical folding form factors from Apple’s new folding display patent


And, if you were left in any doubt about Apple’s intentions, it is worth noting this is just the latest in a flurry of folding iDevice patents the company has submitted over the last year. Including one which reveals subtle heating below the display so the bend doesn’t stiffen or crack in cold weather. As usual, Apple isn’t first into the ring but it looks ready to make a big splash on arrival.

When can we expect to see the so-called iPhone Fold? While the first folding phones have already hit the market, sadly Apple’s 2019 iPhones are not that interesting. There will be a major iPhone redesign in 2020, which may prove a more likely timeframe but, as all Apple fans know, the real answer is: When it’s ready.


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