A smart sensor to automate Apple households

This wireless motion sensor is part of Elgato’s lineup of HomeKit-compatible accessories and can be used to trigger “scenes” and rules based on your movement (or the lack thereof) around your house.


Like most HomeKit accessories, the Eve Motion is a snap to set up. It runs on two batteries and uses Bluetooth low energy (BLE) to communicate with your other iOS devices and Apple TV. No hubs or Wi-Fi setup required.

While you can use Apple’s Home app to configure the Motion, it makes more sense to download the dedicated Elgato Eve one, which gives you more options. After inserting the two included AA batteries into the sensor and launching the Eve app, you choose to add a new device and the Eve Motion should pop up immediately. After that, it’s simply a matter of scanning the unique HomeKit code on the sensor with your iPhone or iPad, selecting the room where you’ll be using it, and then updating the sensor’s firmware. All told, the process takes about six minutes.

You can also tweak the motion sensitivity and duration values during this initial app setup. The latter

Artificial intelligence now powers all of Facebook’s translation

Spend enough time on Facebook, and you’ll likely encounter a post written in a tongue that’s foreign to you. That’s because the social network has two billion users and supports over 45 languages. On Thursday, Facebook announced that all of its user translation services—those little magic tricks that happen when you click “see translation” beneath a post or comment—are now powered by neural networks, which are a form of artificial intelligence.

Back in May, the company’s artificial intelligence division, called Facebook AI Research, announced that they had developed a kind of neural network called a CNN (that stands for convolutional neural network, not the news organization where Wolf Blitzer works) that was a fast, accurate translator. Part of the virtue of that CNN is that instead of looking at words one at a time, it can consider groups of them.

Now, Facebook says that they have incorporated that CNN tech into their translation system, as well as another type of neural network, called an RNN (the R is for recurrent). Those RNNs, Facebook said in a blog item about the news, are better at understanding the context

This smart window uses electricity to quickly change from clear to dark

In a world where even mundane devices like water bottles and toothbrushes have become smart and connected, it’s easy to scoff at yet another attempt at smartifying practical gadgets. But new technology for smart windows, described today in the journal Joule, might actually be an intelligent idea. That’s thanks to their energy-saving potential: Dynamic windows that darken when the sun is shining on them could help reduce cooling costs in the summer, just like putting down the blinds does. And with the help of an internet connection and an intelligent schedule, these could be automatic, so you wouldn’t have to remember when to turn them on and off.

Windows that tint on demand already exist—one prominent class of them is known as electrochromic windows. In fact, if you’ve flown on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, you’ve seen electrochromic windows on the fuselage, which dim with a button’s press, either by the passenger or the flight crew. But a group of researchers at Stanford are aiming for a better, more dynamic one: Their prototype goes from transparent to opaque in less than three minutes. And it does

It’s all fun and games until robots take over

Good morning fellow campers! It’s another beautiful Monday here at Camp PopSci as we once again transition from warm sunshine to the familiar glow of our computer screens. Last week wasn’t big on hardware announcements—that’s expected in these warm summer months—but there’s still plenty of interesting stuff to check out before heading off to the arts and crafts tent to make an ashtray or macaroni necklace. See you all in the mess hall for lunch!

This week’s Musk-Read

Last week’s camp champion was camper OpenAI, an artificial intelligence bot backed by Elon Musk. The robotic gamer was able to beat some of the best players in the world at the super-popular and wildly complex video game, Dota 2. The conditions for the robotic victory still have to be pretty specific—it can only play as and against a specific character—but the learning capabilities seem very impressive. Elon showed some team spirit via Twitter about the victory.


Summer romances come to an end—hopefully with a touching musical number—and now Netflix and Disney are officially looking to break up. Disney’s

NASA is about to find out if a supercomputer

On Monday, at 12:31 p.m. Eastern time, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on a resupply flight for the International Space Station, and among its cargo, in addition to ice cream, was something else very cool: a supercomputer.

The machine, made by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and called the Spaceborne Computer, is capable of a teraflop worth of computing power, which puts it roughly in line with a late-1990s supercomputer. Made up of two pizza box-shaped machines in a single enclosure, the HPE supercomputer is a part of a year-long experiment to see how an off-the-shelf computer system can fare in space if protected in the right way by software.

Long space missions like a trip to Mars come with considerable communications delays, so equipping astronauts with a powerful supercomputer would allow them to solve complex problems without having to wait for the issue and the solution to be transmitted to and from Earth. But radiation on a trip like that can damage computers, so NASA and HPE are conducting this research to see if software can provide the necessary protection to keep things functioning correctly.

These are China’s plans for floating nuclear reactors

China is well on its way to becoming a world leader in nuclear power; its 37 reactors are already producing 32.4 gigawatts of electricity, and more than 20 more reactors are currently under construction.

And now China wants to take the lead in building nuclear power plants in open waters. These floating plants could power oil rigs and islands off the coast, or travel to disaster-struck coasts to provide relief.

Bobbing nuclear power plants are often mounted on a broad-beamed hull, and typically have 25 percent the capacity of their larger, land-based brethren. Those floating reactors can be positioned to coastal and offshore areas that quickly need power (such as areas devastated by tsunamis), or rented out to customers who urgently need a ready supply of electricity.China National Nuclear Power (CNNP) is partnering with Chinese shipyards and electric machinery companies to develop a $150 million project. The combination of nuclear reactor suppliers and a shipyard suggests that floating nuclear reactors are going to be the main focus of the joint venture.


China’s brand new, souped-up tanks

Last week, China’s dominant fighting vehicle manufacturer, China North Industries Corporation (Norinco), displayed a bevy of export armored vehicles as part of its Armor Day celebrations. These festivities, now in their second year, laud the power of Chinese military and offer an occasion to show off to senior foreign military officers, who were likely there as potential buyers.

The day began with a parade of armored fighting vehicles, led by the VT-4 main battle tank, which has already found a repeat buyer in the Royal Thai Army. Spotted: usual suspects like the VT-4 main battle tank, VT-5 light tank, and VN-12 IFV, as well as several new Chinese systems and fighting vehicles.

The star attraction was the GL-5 hard-kill active protection system (APS), which destroyed a guided missile attacking a tank in a live fire exercise. The GL-5 system consists of four radars and fixed projectile launchers, which are attached to a tank turret for 360 degree coverage (each launcher covers a quadrant).

The radars pick up incoming enemy rockets, missiles, and shells, causing the computer to select a munition and fire it. Each munition is capable of destroying incoming munitions at a range of 33-39 feet. The use of fixed-launcher, radar-guided munitions

Here’s what you need to know about the Samsung Note8 smartphone

It carries on the Note name despite the catastrophic Note7

The first thing to know about the Note8 device is that it exists, and it’s called the Note8. Following the Note7 recall debacle—you know, that whole combusting batterynightmare—it wouldn’t be shocking if the company had decided that it was the end of the line for the Note series. But the Note line endures.

In a statement, DJ Koh, the president of Samsung Mobile, said that they “appreciate the relentless passion of the Note community.” (Would it be safe to call it a burning passion? Sorry.) In short, the company says it continued the Note series because of customer passion for it.

Samsung has already explained why those Note7 batteries exploded and revealed an 8-point battery safety check to make sure that going forward, its lithium-ion batterieswon’t combust.

The battery on this latest device is 3,300 mAh, making it slightly smaller than the Note7, which was 3,500. In addition to the normal battery safety checks that the company does, they say that Underwriters Laboratories, better known as UL, is being even more thorough when testing the battery on the Note8.

The hardware hasn’t changed

Mayweather and McGregor’s 8-ounce boxing gloves have started a science fight

Trash talk has been a fundamental part of the run-up to the August 26 match between undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather and Mixed Martial Arts champion Conor McGregor. A few weeks ago, Mayweather turned his attention to the weight of their fight gloves on social media. He proposed the pair battle while wearing gloves that weigh 8 ounces each, instead of the usual 10-ouncers required for their weight class, which is 154 pounds. McGregor’s response was positive (and obscenity laden), and the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which is sanctioning the bout, has granted the opponents a one-time exception to use lighter gloves. What this means, however, is a topic of much debate in the boxing community. Those 2 ounces have caused a big stir, especially in a time when the scientific data about brain injuries in sports grows more troubling.

“They’re supposed to use 10-ounce gloves,” says Larry Lovelace, president of a group called the Association of Ringside Physicians, which advocates for the safety of fighters in combat sports. “There’s not a lot of scientific research to say that’s where the cutoff should be. But, the question that I have is, why is

This budget-friendly bot is a total neat freak


Like most robot vacuum cleaners, setting up the RoboVac 11 is easy. You flip it over, snap on a couple side brushes, connect the charging base to an outlet, set the vacuum on the station, and then wait a few hours for it to fully charge.

The RoboVac 11 doesn’t have Wi-Fi or a dedicated app like many of its more expensive competitors. It does, however, come with a remote control that lets you do many of the same things: create cleaning schedules, start and stop the vacuum, and send it back to its charging cradle (the bot does that automatically as well when its battery is low).

Using the remote, you can choose between one of six cleaning modes: Auto, Edge, Spot, Max, Single Room, and Manual. Auto tailors the bot’s cleaning pattern to the individual room it’s in. Edge cleaning is what it sounds like—the RoboVac slows down when it reaches a wall and then follows it cleaning the perimeter of the room. Spot cleaning sends the vacuum off in a spiral cleaning pattern that’s meant for areas of concentrated dirt, and Max has increased suction for carpets.

New gadgets bask in the post-eclipse glow

How are your eyes feeling? Lots of people hit up Google about eye problems after last week’s eclipse, but hopefully, they’re feeling better now. If so, you can use your healed-up eyes to check out the stuff that happened in the tech world last week. Listening to the new Taylor Swift single on repeat while you read it is totally optional.

Tight fit

 Fitbit released a new smartwatch and fitness tracker called the Ionic. It promises an impressive four days of battery on a full charge, as well as a new platform for third party apps, and will cost $299 when it launches in October. That makes it more expensive than the original Apple Watch, so it has some work to do if it wants to impress the wearables crowd.

Cookie robot

The new version of Android is officially named Oreo and will start rolling out to devices in its final version soon. If you have a phone that runs a stock version of the OS, like the Google Pixel, you’ll likely be in the first wave

Look at all these sweet ‘Star Wars’ toys

Labor Day 2017 is upon us, which means summer is over and so is the latest season of Game of Thrones. However, that also means we’re getting into new gadget season, and the kickoff party is in Germany at the IFA trade show. There’s a lot of new stuff to see on this list, including a whole heap of new Star Wars toys that are ready to eat up your kids’ college funds.

Apple picking

First things first, we learned that the next Apple event will be happening on September 12th. We’re expecting to meet the new iPhone, as well as a revamped Apple TV, but details—as always—are sparse beyond that. There are currently plenty of places on the internet to read and argue about rumors, but I can tell you with certainty that it’s a bad way to spend your Labor Day. Or any day, really. Don’t do that.


Perhaps the coolest new Star Wars toy comes from Lenovo. This mixed reality headset lets you have an all-too-real light saber battle in the comfort of your own home. It looks like a

How we’ll nap our way to Mars

Imagine a road trip that lasts six months—no pit stops, black night the whole way. That’s how long it would take you, and how monotonous it would be, to fly to Mars. To avoid the boredom (and its cousins depression and anxiety), you could spend part of your trip in artificial hibernation, or torpor, as it’s medically known. NASA is funding research into this method for future planet hoppers, and not just to reduce the games of I Spy. Because metabolism slows during slumber, you would require less food and water, reducing a mission’s cargo weight, fuel needs, and price tag. Also, you wouldn’t want to kill your crew mates. Here’s how you might go nighty-night and save your sanity on your 34-million-mile flight.

Step 1: Pod People

You enter the torpor pod. Using an IV placed in a central vein in your chest, a crew mate injects a sedative similar to propofol to prevent shivering, then tapes sensors to your skin. These will monitor heart rhythm, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and other stats.

Step 2:

China’s looking to one-up Elon Musk’s hyperloop

Hyperloops, the developing mode of transit that promises to zip people frictionlessly in pods and tubes, have long been associated with the innovations and dreams of billionaire Elon Musk. More recently, however, it’s captivated the imaginations of others, including, now, a Chinese aerospace giant. The China Aerospace Science and Industrial Corporation (CASIC), a well-heeled newcomer to the mass transit industry, is betting big on its supersonic T Flight ‘flying train.’

The company announced on August 30 its plans for an intercontinental hyperloop train with a top speed of over 2,300 miles per hour, or Mach 3.  For comparison, Elon Musk’s initial proposal called for a 745 miles per hour hyperloop to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco. And the current fastest bullet trains, in Germany and China, have top speeds in the range of 180-215 miles per hour.

What makes CASIC think this is possible? For one, its got 150,000 employees. Last year it made $30 billion, with a profit of $1.5 billion. It’s got the resources.


Let’s talk about the

Metal-detecting essentials for your next treasure hunt

The lure of treasure hunting is not that of striking proverbial gold (although some still do search for it), but that you never know what historical holdovers the ground will produce. At the right local spot—an old battlefield or remote beach—these tools will allow you to burrow back in time.

1. Search the area

First, you need a metal detector. The Teknetics Patriot can spot booty up to a foot underground, and its display will estimate the object’s depth and material. Audible beeps let you know when metal distorts the electromagnetic field generated by the ­11-inch head. $399

2. Dig a tidy hole

A hand trowel is great for small digs, but if you need to bust through roots or tough dirt, the serrated edges of the 3-foot-long Ground Hawg Shovel will help you cut. Four jabs with the 7.5-inch blade will create a cube-shaped plug of earth that’s easy to replace. $70

3. Be more aggressive

Rocky terrain requires more hardcore tools like the Garrett Retriever II Pick. At 19 inches long, the steel pickaxe features a flat blade for moving earth and a point

It’s new iPhone eve

School is starting, apples (the ones made of fruit) are ripening, and it’s almost time for a new iPhone to come springing out of Cupertino at tomorrow’s Apple event. It must be fall. There has already been a lot of talk online about what we’re going to see from Tim Cook and his crew tomorrow, but check back here tomorrow if you want to follow along with us as we watch the announcement. Until then, here’s a look at what was happening last week in the world of tech.

Headphone jack of all trades

The next iPhone won’t have a headphone jack unless something crazy happens. An ex-Google engineer, however, managed to add a headphone jack to his iPhone 7. It took months of work and cost thousands of dollars, but there’s nothing quite like the reward of seeing a project through to the end.

Extra range rovers

Some Tesla owners looking to flee Florida before the destructive force of Hurricane Irma came through found that they had some extra battery juice to power their evacuation. Tesla’s cars have built-in 75 KHW batteries, but they’re limited to 60 KHW or 70 KHW

How to find legitimate deals on tech

We all want to get our hands on the latest in shiny new gadgetry. Unfortunately, the newest tech tends to come with the most premium prices. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. By keeping an eye out for seasonal price changes, annual product cycles, special offers, and refurbished devices, you can make sure you’re buying your hardware at the best price point possible. If you want the best value from your future tech purchases, check out some of the tricks in this guide.

Become a web detective

Good news for eager bargain hunters: Plenty of online retailers are willing to slash prices in order to attract your business. To find these discounts, head to price comparison sites such as Google Shopping and PriceGrabber, which will list where something is selling for the cheapest price. Before you start your purchase though, check to see how extras like shipping charges and warranty costs will add to your total cost.

Don’t forget the biggest online retail behemoth out there. This guide to saving time and money on Amazon has lots of useful advice, such as tracking

Researchers just figured out how to get robots

Power Rangers had Megazord. Voltron had, well, Voltron. Individual robots that combine to form one larger, cooler—dare we say, more badass—automaton have been a mainstay of science fiction for decades. But a new study in Nature Communications suggests that morphing robots may finally outgrow the limits of fiction and find their way into our reality. The researchers were able to get autonomous modular robots—robots that have the ability to control themselves, like the Roomba vacuum cleaner—to join forces and make one cohesive megabot. The future is now.

Researchers who study swarming insects like termites and ants know that these animals can accomplish things in coordinated groups that they could never manage on their own: carrying large objects, taking out predators, and creating intricate structures. Termites in particular are known for their prodigious ability to build complex homes, or termite mounds, without a blueprint. Swarm robots could potentially do the same.

“Take moving on a very rocky terrain, for example,” says lead author Marco Dorigo, a research director at IRIDIA, the artificial intelligence lab of the University Libre de Bruxelles. “One alone would get stuck, but attached to each other they become more stable and they can move on the rough terrain.”


Apple’s new Face ID system uses a sensing strategy

On Tuesday, in addition to three shiny new iPhone models, Apple announced Face ID, a slick new way for people to biometrically unlock their phones by showing it their, well, face. The system relies not only on neural networks—a form of machine learning—but also on a slew of sensors that occupy the real estate near the selfie camera on the front of the handset.

The kind of facial recognition that Apple is doing is different from what, say, Facebook does when it identifies a photo of you and suggests a tag—that’s taking place in the two-dimensional landscape of a photograph, while the latest iPhone is considering the three dimensions of someone’s face and using it as a biometric indicator to unlock (or not) their phone.

Alas, you’ll need to pony up the $999 for an iPhone X, as this feature only works on the company’s new flagship smartphone. Among the sensors that comprise what the company calls the TrueDepth camera system that enable Face ID are an infrared camera and a dot projector. The latter of those projects a pattern of more than 30,000 infrared dots on the user’s face when

The best camera gear for making hyperlapse video

A single image can capture a discreet moment, but stringing dozens or hundreds together into a time-lapse can tell an hourslong story in one spectacular sequence. Start with something simple, like tracing a flower’s bloom over the course of a morning, and, with a little practice, you’ll be able to catch more complex and captivating motion, such as the stars wheeling across the night sky. Here’s what you need to fast-forward time like a pro.

1. Camera

The 24.2-megapixel sensor on Nikon’s D5600 DSLR is large enough to capture spectacular night skies that won’t be overwhelmed by ugly pixel noise, and the included zoom lens is ideal for covering landscapes. $900

2. Control

The Pulse Camera Remote sits atop your camera and communicates via Bluetooth with a phone app. Use it to dial in detailed commands, like the interval between each shot and the time frame you want to shoot. $99

3. Rotating Mount

Add an extra layer of motion to your time-lapse videos with the Syrp Genie Mini, a motorized turntable that rotates the camera as it’s shooting. It’ll make even a static scene, like a cityscape, look more dramatic. $249