Tech Review Top Stories

Subscribe to Tech Review Top Stories feed
Updated: 3 hours 4 min ago

Love of Labor

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:05

Automation makes things easier, whether it’s on the factory floor or online. Is it also eroding too many of the valuable skills that define us as people?

Messages move at light speed. maps speak directions. Groceries arrive at the door. Floors mop themselves. Automation provides irresistible conveniences.

2014 Inventors | Innovators Under 35

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:05

These people are inventing the devices and technologies that will redefine how we live and work.

2014 Humanitarians | Innovators Under 35

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:05

By applying technology in novel ways, they are improving lives and expanding opportunities.

In Praise of Efficient Price Gouging

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:05

Uber’s most important innovation is the way it prices its services. But that innovation has not been unreservedly welcomed by customers. They’re wrong.

Innovators Under 35 | 2014

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:01

Our 14th annual celebration of people who are driving the next generation of technological breakthroughs.

Robots Rising

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 00:00

Do robots kill jobs? Not necessarily.

The Man Who Really Built Bitcoin

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 00:00

Who cares about Satoshi Nakamoto? Someone else has made Bitcoin what it is and has the most power over its destiny.

In March, a bewildered retired man faced journalists yelling questions about virtual currency outside his suburban home in Temple City, California. Dorian Nakamoto, 64, had been identified by Newsweek as the person who masterminded Bitcoin—a story that, like previous attempts to unmask its pseudonymous inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, was soon discredited. Meanwhile, the person arguably most responsible for enabling the currency to swell in value to $7.7 billion, and with the most influence on its future, was hiding in plain sight on the other side of the country, in Amherst, Massachusetts.

The Man Who Really Built Bitcoin

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 00:00

Who cares about Satoshi Nakamoto? Someone else has made Bitcoin what it is and has the most power over its destiny.

In March, a bewildered retired man faced journalists yelling questions about virtual currency outside his suburban home in Temple City, California. Dorian Nakamoto, 64, had been identified by Newsweek as the person who masterminded Bitcoin—a story that, like previous attempts to unmask its pseudonymous inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, was soon discredited. Meanwhile, the person arguably most responsible for enabling the currency to swell in value to $7.7 billion, and with the most influence on its future, was hiding in plain sight on the other side of the country, in Amherst, Massachusetts.

A Chinese Internet Giant Starts to Dream

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 00:00

Baidu is a fixture of online life in China, but it wants to become a global power. Can one of the world’s leading artificial- intelligence researchers help it challenge Silicon Valley’s biggest companies?

Punk bands from Blondie to the Ramones once played in Broadway Studios, an age-worn 95-year-old neoclassical building surrounded by strip clubs in San Francisco’s North Beach. But early on this bright June morning, a different sort of rock star arrives. A small crowd attending a tech startup conference swarms around a tall, soft-spoken man in a blue dress shirt and navy suit who politely poses for photos. Andrew Ng, newly appointed chief scientist at Baidu, China’s dominant search company, is here to talk about his plans to advance deep learning, a powerful new approach to artificial intelligence loosely modeled on the way the brain works. It has already made computers vastly better at recognizing speech, translating languages, and identifying images—and Ng’s work at Google and Stanford University, where he was a professor of computer science, is behind some of the biggest breakthroughs. After his talk, the audience of about 200 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and tech workers sends him off with two rounds of applause.

Bendable Displays Are Finally Headed to Market

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 00:00

Flexible displays haven’t been usable as touch screens, or durable—those problems have now been solved.

By the end of this year, a startup called Kateeva will start shipping manufacturing equipment that could finally bring flexible displays to market.

Turning a Regular Smartphone Camera into a 3-D One

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 17:13

Microsoft researchers say simple hardware changes and machine learning techniques let a regular smartphone camera act as a depth sensor.

Just about everybody carries a camera nowadays by virtue of owning a cell phone, but few of these devices capture the three-dimensional contours of objects like a depth camera can.

Spotting Cancer in a Vial of Blood

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 12:40

He watched his brother die from a cancer that no drug could cure. Now one of the world’s most renowned cancer researchers says it’s time for Plan B.

The answers Bert Vogelstein needed and feared were in the blood sample. 

A Mouse with the Same Cancer as You

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 00:00

For $12,000, a company grafts a patient’s cancer into rodents and tests drugs on them.

At a laboratory in Baltimore, hairless mice kept in racks of plastic crates are labelled with yellow cards, each identifying a person fighting cancer. These mice are cancer “avatars”—the lumpy tumors visible under their skin come from actual patients.

Malware Traffic Spikes Preceded Russian and Israeli Conflicts

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 17:50

Government hackers apparently went to work as Israel and Russia ramped up military action this year.

A study of malware operating on corporate and government networks suggests that the communication patterns of these programs could warn of major conflicts.

Micro Chiplets

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 00:00

PARC’s technique of mincing chips into printer ink could revolutionize the way electronics are made.

In the same research lab where the ethernet, laser printer, and graphical user interface were born, engineers are forging an entirely new way to assemble electronic devices—a technique that could be faster, cheaper, and more versatile. 

IBM Chip Processes Data Similar to the Way Your Brain Does

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 12:53

A chip that uses a million digital neurons and 256 million synapses may signal the beginning of a new era of more intelligent computers.

A new kind of computer chip, unveiled by IBM today, takes design cues from the wrinkled outer layer of the human brain. Though it is no match for a conventional microprocessor at crunching numbers, the chip consumes significantly less power, and is vastly better suited to processing images, sound, and other sensory data.

Stacking Cells Could Make Solar as Cheap as Natural Gas

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 16:59

A novel manufacturing method could make it practical to stack solar cells and convert more of the energy in sunlight into electricity.

When experts talk about future solar cells, they usually bring up exotic materials and physical phenomena. In the short term, however, a much simpler approach—stacking different semiconducting materials that collect different frequencies of light—could provide nearly as much of an increase in efficiency as any radical new design. And a new manufacturing technique could soon make this approach practical.

Challenges Remain for Technologies to Fight Ebola

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 00:00

Efforts to contain Ebola in West Africa suffer from a lack of effective tools to treat and prevent the disease, although several are in development.

As of last week, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has claimed the lives of 88 percent of the more than 1,000 confirmed cases. While several technologies for controlling the spread of the disease are under development, deploying them will not be straightforward.

This Company Thinks Your Car Wants Google Glass

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 14:43

A heads-up display could be safer than glancing at your smartphone while driving—but some features may be more distracting than others.

If you own a smartphone, you’ve no doubt been tempted to take a look at a map or see what message just popped up on the screen while you’re behind the wheel of a car.

The Amazon Fire’s Fanciest Features Fail to Impress

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 00:00

The Amazon Fire Phone tries hard to impress, but often ends up just being annoying.

The Amazon Fire is a good smartphone, but not because of all the high-tech new features Amazon is touting. In fact, some of those features are more wearying than truly useful.

Pages