MIT combines several vaccines in a single injection

To create the cups, they first had to make an array of silicon molds using a process called photolithography. Each large array can create about 2,000 cups, which are then filled with doses of vaccination using a custom-made dispensing system. Finally, they put a lid over each cup and apply heat until they fuse together and form a tightly sealed container.

The team’s microscopic cups can deliver doses at different times, because PLGA can be designed to break down at different rates if you manipulate its molecules. They tested their system by injecting mice with cups created to deteriorate at 9, 20 and 41 days after injection. It was a success — the containers remained leak-proof until the days they were supposed to break down.

The engineers believe their system will be especially useful in the developing world and could have many potential applications other than drug delivery. Team leader Robert Langer explained:

“We are very excited about this work because, for the first time, we can create a library of tiny, encased vaccine particles, each programmed to release at a precise, predictable time, so that people could potentially receive a single injection that, in effect, would have multiple boosters already built into it. This could have a significant impact on patients everywhere, especially in the developing world where patient compliance is particularly poor.”

However, they still have a long way to go to make sure their little containers can remain intact at body temperature for as long as a few months to a couple of years. They’re now conducting several more tests using a variety of drugs, including vaccines still in development.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/16/mit-vaccine-seal-tech/

Apple bans misleading apps on iOS

As soon as you get your shiny new iPhone 8, you’ll probably want to download some apps. So Apple took the opportunity to update its developer app review guidelines to make sure the App Store is in tip top shape. According to 9to5 Mac, it’s now officially cracking down on misleading apps.

The App Store has already had policies against such apps already, but the recent update makes it more explicit. The ban is against apps “including content or services that it does not actually offer.” As those fake antivirus apps don’t actually work, they’re definitely on this list. Apple has already removed a number of these apps from the App Store, but this new guideline makes the ban explicit so that they can’t get on in the first place.

In addition, the new guidelines also include clauses for ARKit and Face ID. Apple wants the ARKit apps you see in the App Store to be more than just one-note apps with single objects, adding that it needs to offer “rich and integrated augmented reality experiences.” As for Face ID, Apple added that it must offer an alternate unlocking method for children under the age of 13.

It’ll also now be possible for apps to offer 100 percent of funds to be gifted from one person to another without using In-App Purchases, thus bypassing the need to give 30 percent of it to Apple. The caveat is that giving said money must be an optional choice.

Last but not least, there is also a new clause that explicitly prohibits apps that “facilitate human trafficking and/or the exploitation of children.” They’ve always been illegal anyway, but Apple is simply adding language to make it more explicit that it will take legal action if it finds such apps.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/15/apple-bans-misleading-apps-on-ios/

Microsoft Pix uses AI to make whiteboard photos useable images

Microsoft’s Pix sets itself apart from other camera apps by using the power of artificial intelligence to correct your photos, learning new tricks over time. It can do things like add artistic flair to your images, turn photos shot in a row into “Live Images,” or just making sure the people in your photos look great. This week, the app got a new update out that adds yet another AI trick to the pile: The ability to capture whiteboards and turn them into useful images.

So, for example, if you’re at an important meeting, you can use Pix to take a photo of a diagram on the whiteboard to remember it later. The Pix app will then sharpen the focus, ramp up the color and tone, crop out the background and realign the image appropriately so that the diagram is shown straight-on.

According to Microsoft, this will work not just on whiteboards, but also documents and business cards as well. It’s a trick that’s very similar to what Microsoft’s own Office Lens app can already do, but while Office Lens is focused on productivity, Pix is more about using AI to recognize whiteboards and documents automatically. Basically, you don’t need to tell Pix that you want the photo of the document to be cropped and realigned — it’ll automatically recognize what it is and will do so without you having to intervene.

Microsoft’s Pix Camera update is available right now on the App Store.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/15/microsoft-pix-uses-ai-to-make-whiteboard-photos-useable-images/

The cost of off-peak UberPool trips is going up in London

The cost of trips in the ‘burb boroughs of Spelthorne, Elmbridge and Reigate & Banstead are also increasing to bring them more in line with London prices. The tweaks were noted alongside several improvements to Uber’s driver-facing app. These include an alert when a trip is expected to take longer than an hour, in-app messaging between drivers and passengers, and the ability for drivers to share real-time journey info (passengers already had this option). Uber says it’s also cooking up a feature that’ll tell drivers when and where is the best place to pick up jobs.

All good news for drivers, not so much for passengers. Just last week, Uber said it was slapping an extra 35 pence on any non-UberPool trip in London to top up the coffers of its “Clean Air Fund.” This pot will be used to give drivers up to £5,000 towards a new hybrid or electric car. The ride-hailing service has set several green goals, including making its London fleet purely electric by 2025.

With prices increasing in the capital, it’s the perfect time for rival Taxify to shine. Taxify promised to be a cheaper alternative to Uber, but it’s currently offline while it butts heads with Transport for London over its private hire licence, or lack thereof depending on which side you’re listening to.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/15/uber-london-price-increases/

Nike’s secret weapon against sneaker bots: Augmented reality

Earlier this year, Nike began experimenting with AR to sell limited-edition shoes through its SNKRS app for iOS. The implementation was fairly simple: To unlock the sneakers, you just had to go to the product page in the application, tap on a 3D model of them and then point your camera at a menu of David Chang’s Fuku restaurant in New York City. (The sneaker being sold was a collaboration with the renowned chef, dubbed the Nike SB Dunk High Pro “Momofuku.”) If you didn’t have access to a physical menu, you also had the option to point your device at a web version of it or special SNKRS posters located across NYC.

When Nike launched the feature, it didn’t advertise it as a tool to combat bots. But, whether it was intentional or not, AR seems to have helped the cause. According to Heidi O’Neill, president of Nike’s direct to consumer business, who spoke at Recode’s Code Commerce event on Thursday, the use of the tech in the SNKRS app “has come very close to eliminating bots, and taking the sneaker hunt [to] as close to a fair game that I think it is anywhere in the industry.”

Although she didn’t specify how exactly AR is able to do that, or share any statistics to back up her claims, it’s not hard to decipher the potential of the technology. Especially because in most scenarios it would require some sort of physical interaction, like you having to head to a specific location to gain access to a release. “We don’t want to disappoint,” she added. “While it’s a game, we don’t want our members and people who love the brand and love sneakers to feel like they’ve lost.”

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/14/nike-augmented-reality-bots/

Hyperloop One is closer to deciding its first planned route

There are ten winners across five countries, and each proposal was judged by a panel of experts in infrastructure, transport and technology. Now, each one will be examined in extreme detail as Hyperloop One works out the best place to break ground on its first full-bodied line. Factors to be taken into consideration include the economic benefits, regulatory environment and proposed routes.

Notable routes include a line connecting Chicago, Columbus and Pittsburgh, joining up a population of nearly 14 million people. The Texas Triangle, meanwhile, would bring Dallas, Laredo and Houston within mere minutes of each other for harried business commuters. But it’s not just the US that is getting the love from the Hyperloop One team, in the UK, routes joining up London and Edinburgh, as well as Glasgow and Liverpool, are under serious consideration.

India, meanwhile, has two routes, the relatively short Bengaluru – Chennai line, covering 208 miles, and the Mumbai – Chennai journey, which spans 685 miles. Mexico and Canada round out the list, with proposed lines connecting Mexico City to Guadalajara and Toronto to Montreal.

Of course, none of these routes are going to be built unless Shervin Pishevar and Rob Lloyd can catch lightning in a bottle. Because the company will need to get local governments, investors and the public all singing from the same hymn sheet. Not to mention all of the people who may be annoyed that the view from their back garden will be interrupted by a vacuum tube shooting people around at near-supersonic speed.

In addition, the company is also announcing a deal with the state of Colorado (and AECOM) to begin investigating the possibility of bringing Hyperloop to the Centennial state. This partnership is still pretty nebulous, but also shows how serious some places are taking this potential new form of mass transit.

Route Length (km) Length (miles) Urban Centers Population
US Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh

Team: Midwest Connect

785 488 3 13,800,000
US Dallas-Laredo-Houston

Team: Texas Triangle

1030 640 5 18,771,000
US Cheyenne-Denver-Pueblo

Team: Rocky Mountain Hyperloop

580 360 10 4,831,000
US Miami-Orlando

Team: Miami/Orlando Hyperloop

414 257 2 8,500,000
India Bengaluru-Chennai

Team: AECOM India

334 208 6 17,710,000
India Mumbai-Chennai

Team: Hyperloop India

1102 685 10 43,190,000
UK Edinburgh-London

Team: HypED

666 414 4 19,151,514
UK Glasgow-Liverpool 545 339 6 9,715,488
Mexico Mexico City-Guadalajara

Team: Mexloop

532 330 4 33,530,000
Canada Toronto-Montreal

Team: HyperCan

640 400 3 13,326,000

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/14/hyperloop-one-global-challenge-winner-routes/

Bodega’s tone-deaf vending service won’t kill your corner store

Following all of today’s criticism, the company released a statement saying that it’s not really aiming to kill mom and pop shops. “Challenging the urban corner store is not and has never been our goal,” wrote co-founder and CEO Paul McDonald.” Corner stores have been fixtures of their neighborhoods for generations. They stock thousands of items, far more than we could ever fit on a few shelves. Their owners know what products to carry and in many cases who buys what. And they’re run by people who in addition to selling everything from toilet paper to milk also offer an integral human connection to their patrons that our automated storefronts never will.”

It’s the sort of statement that any businessperson would make upon realizing they stepped into a shitstorm. He goes on to say that he hopes to “bring commerce to places where commerce currently doesn’t exist.” And McDonald also hopes to create jobs, rather than take them away. Even if he’s being sincere, though, basic economics tells another story. If people are buying products at a Bodega box, instead of a corner store, that’s less money for the store. Bodega currently has 80 locations on the West Coast, and the company plans to go national soon, with the hopes of reaching 1,000 spots by the end of 2018.

Like Juicero, Bodega seems like an overcomplicated solution to a problem nobody is having. But even if the company’s expansion plans don’t work out — and given the typical failure rate of most startups, it likely won’t — its technology could eventually be repurposed into existing vending machines. The combination of image recognition and web connectivity could make it much easier to grab a candy bar, without worrying about it getting stuck.

No, Bodega won’t kill your bodega. But hopefully it’ll make future startup founders, and the investors who support them, think a bit harder about the ideas they pursue.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/13/bodega-vending-machine/

The iPhone X leaves a home button-shaped hole in my heart

Now, with the iPhone X, that option appears to be going away. Instead of pressing a button to unlock your phone, you’ll be swiping up from the bottom of the screen. This triggers a cascading window of apps to appear, which you have to drag down and flick away to get to the home screen. According to Senior Mobile Editor Chris Velazco in his brief hands-on with the device, he found it incredibly natural to use, despite the fact he’s been using an iPhone for years.

I don’t doubt his experience, but color me skeptical. I’ve also been an iPhone user for years — ever since the iPhone 3G — and I’m not convinced touchscreen gestures will ever replace the convenience and the practicality of a home button. For one thing, having to swipe up and then swipe again to get to the homescreen doesn’t sound like it’d be much faster than a single button press.

And then there’s the issue of Touch ID going away. Instead of using fingerprint sensors to unlock your phone, the new iPhone X will use Face ID, a facial recognition system that uses a combination of infrared light, the phone’s front-facing TrueDepth camera and specialized neural networks to authenticate your identity. According to Apple, this is a far more secure way of locking your phone. It states that while there’s a 1 in 50,000 chance for someone to steal your Touch ID phone, the chances drop to one in a million with Face ID.

I’ll concede that it does seem pretty cool that you can just look at your phone to unlock it. However, this also requires you to have the phone in front of you. I know for me, I often unlock the phone in my pocket before I even bring it up to my face to look at it, just so I have it ready to go.

There are also times when I need to unlock my phone when it’s charging — in order to install updates, for example — and I reach out to where my phone is sitting on its dock to press the button. When I’m cooking and constantly referring to a recipe on my phone, I like being able to unlock the phone without picking it up — I just touch my thumb on the button to bring it up again. Sure it won’t take that much longer to hover my face over the phone for Face ID, but there’s something about being forced to look at my phone to unlock it that strikes me as needlessly annoying.

Then there’s the issue of using it for Apple Pay. In the demo Craig Federighi did on stage, he had to press the side button twice, look at the phone and then place it on the terminal for Apple Pay to register. Right now, all I have to do get Apple Pay to work is to put my phone on the terminal with my thumb over the home button. It’s unclear if the side-button press is necessary in all instances of Apple Pay, but if it is, that sounds like a small nuisance as well.

These minor pet peeves aside, the main reason why I hold the home button dear to my heart is its simplicity. You press it to do everything — to unlock your phone, to pay for things, to get back to the home screen after watching YouTube for far too long, to turn off the alarm, to trigger Siri and to get out of a crashed app. There’s something comforting about a tactile physical failsafe button that no fancy soft touch gesture could ever replicate.

When Apple got rid of a tactile home button and replaced it with a haptic version for the iPhone 7, I was unnerved for a few days, but adjusted. When I found out the iPhone 7 didn’t have a headphone jack, I was incredibly annoyed (and still am to an extent), but I learned to live without it. And I know, that if I used the iPhone X for a few days, I’ll eventually get used to not having a home button too.

But a home button wasn’t a problem that I needed to be solved. For extra screen real estate that I never asked for. Of course, there’s always the option of the iPhone 8 for those who want a new phone and still desire a home button. And we really don’t know if the button-less design of the iPhone X will trickle down to the rest of the line. And yes, when push comes to shove, I’ll probably get used to not having that button. But I’d miss it all the same.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/13/iphone-x-no-home-button/

Relive your best wolfy Zelda moments with ‘Okami’ remaster

For the uninitiated, the Japanese folklore-inspired Okami follows the wolf goddess Amaterasu’s journey to purge ancient Japan of evil along with her tiny, magic brush-wielding pal Issun. It follows standard Zelda progression — adventure, gain powers, defeat bosses — but in tranquil nature rendered in absolutely stunning ink-and-watercolor design. Developer Clover Studios originally styled the game realistically, but pivoted to its now-iconic painterly look. Unfortunately, Okami was a critical but not commercial success, and following an exodus of Clover’s top staff, parent company Capcom closed the studio shortly after the game’s release.

The game became a much-beloved cult classic and was ported to the Wii (making spotty use of its motion controls for the brush gameplay) and was later remastered for PS3 in 2012. The newest version out this December, Okami HD, will feature 4K resolution on the Xbox One X, PS4 Pro and PC. Don’t be discouraged, vanilla PS4/Xbox One console owners: This game is worth picking up if you’ve never had the pleasure. All formats will be digital-only releases for $20, so download ’em while they’re hot.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/12/okami-remastered-december-12th/

Audi’s Aicon concept car is all about autonomous luxury

The autonomous EV will have a range up to 800 kilometers (497 miles). There’s also the luxurious interior (the automaker compares it to first-class seating) which has swivel chairs that lean back and have integrated touch controls and it’s perfect for overnight long-distance driving. Or just cruising through the countryside.

To keep you in the know, the Aicon also uses Audi’s artificial-intelligence assistant PIA to offer up services before the passengers ask for them, based on situations and historical learnings. But that’s not all, the car would also have eye tracking, with support for voice commands and gesture controls. Basically, it’s all the things crammed into a silver tourer.

The company also envisions a world filled with sensor-heavy cars avoiding each other and obstacles so well, that restraint systems (seat belts) will no longer be needed. That of course relies on all cars being as safe and it’s going to take a very long time (if ever) for that to happen.

Still it’s not hard to imagine a world where luxury autonomous cars cater to the same people that fly first class and have AMEX black cards. The Aicon may seem like pie-in-the-sky science fiction today, but in a few decades, it could be how the rich tour the countryside.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/12/audi-aicon-concept-car/