TIME innovations

This Bionic Lens Could Give Everybody Perfect Vision

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Tim Flach—Getty Images

"When you get the Bionic Lens you can see the clock at 30 feet away"

A British Columbian optometrist has invented an artificial lens that he says not only corrects a patient’s sight, but offers a level of clarity three times greater than natural 20/20 vision.

Garth Webb, an optometrist in British Columbia, has spent eight years and more than $3 million in funding to develop the Ocumetics Bionic Lens, CBC News reports. The bionic lens, which was designed to replace the eye’s natural lens, is surgically implanted in the eye in an eight-minute procedure.

“If you can just barely see the clock at 10 feet, when you get the Bionic Lens you can see the clock at 30 feet away,” Webb told CBC News.

Webb said arrangements for clinical trials on animals and blind patients were already underway. He expects the product to become commercially available within two years.

 

TIME Companies

Even More Zappos Employees Are Being Offered Money To Leave

Inside The UPS Worldport Facility Ahead Of Earnings Figures
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A package from Zappos.com moves down a conveyor belt during the afternoon sort at the United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) Worldport facility in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

Earlier in May, 14% of the company accepted exit pay

Only days after 14% of Zappos’ employees accepted a severance offer from the company, even more employees are being offered the opportunity to quit for cash, according to Quartz.

Zappos has reportedly told 9% of the company they can leave and be paid for it in what’s being called the “SuperCloud offer.” That deal, which was extended to many on Zappos’ tech team, comes as Zappos’ backend technology is being replaced with parent company Amazon’s tech. Sources told Quartz there are a “significant” number of employees accepting the second offer.

The initial offer to employees came earlier in May after the company said it would transition to a management structure called Holacracy, in which employees manage themselves. About 210 workers, or 14% of the company’s 1,500 total employees, accepted that offer, which included three months of severance pay.

TIME A Year In Space

Watch This Stunning Video of Astronauts Docking at the Space Station

It took six hours and 100,000 miles to get there

Commuting to work isn’t easy in space. After Scott Kelly, Gennady Padalka and Misha Kornienko blasted off from Kazakhstan aboard their Soyuz spacecraft in the early morning hours of March 29, it took them six hours to reach the International Space Station.

Six hours doesn’t seem like much—barely a flight from New York to London. But New York to London is a trip of only 3,459 miles (5,567 km). The Soyuz crew had to make four complete revolutions of the Earth–putting a cool 100,000 miles (161,000 km) on the odometer, in a high-speed chase that, at the end, turned into a delicate pas de deux.

NASA has now released the video footage of the final 15 minutes of that approach, shot from the cockpit of the Soyuz. The clip has been sped up here to just two and a half minutes, but even at that rate, it reveals what a precision job a rendezvous and docking is.

The spinning object in the foreground of the image is the Soyuz’s docking radar. The red light that flashes in the window midway through the clip is a reflection from the camera that is recording the approach. What you can’t see are the crewmembers, both in the Soyuz and aboard the station, who were responsible for the cosmic choreography. Their work has to speak for itself—and that work was remarkable.

TIME apps

Playboy’s New App Isn’t at All What You’d Expect

You can read it at work, on the subway or in plain view of children

Playboy will show some skin — but only some — in a new mobile app that will display a PG-13 rated blend of light reading, interviews and listicles.

The new app, Playboy Now, is targeted at a growing mobile readership, who comprise roughly 80% of the 19 million unique visitors to Playboy.com each month, USA Today reports. The app will repackage content from the website for touchscreens and, crucially, strip out nude images that might not be appropriate for reading on the go.

“We want to give them the best experience possible when they are out and about,” Phillip Morelock, Playboy senior vice president told USA Today.

TIME Executives

Watch: Proof Bill And Melinda Gates Are Ice Cold Under Pressure

 

Red nose day—a U.K. campaign launched this year in the U.S. by NBC to “[raise] money for children and young people living in poverty by simply having fun and making people laugh,” culminated Thursday night in a three-hour television special that featured celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Will Ferrell.

But it wasn’t just walkers of red carpets that got in on the action. Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates and his wife Melinda also filmed a video pitch in support of red nose day and it’s poverty-fighting mission, though things didn’t quite goes as they planned.

TIME Video Games

How to Play Pac-Man for Free on Its 35th Anniversary

Pac-Man arcade game.
Dennis Hallinan—Jupiter Images/AP Pac-Man arcade game.

Celebrate the anniversary by playing the iconic game

Happy birthday, Pac-Man! The world’s favorite hungry yellow orb turns 35 today. The arcade game was a sensation from the time it launched in 1980, eventually inspiring an animated series, a top-10 single and a never-ending cycle of sequels and spinoffs.

Today, thankfully, you no longer need a pocketful of quarters to enjoy one of the world’s most iconic video games. Here are a few ways you can play Pac-Man for free right now:

Google

For Pac-Man’s 30th anniversary, Google made one of its most famous Google Doodles, turning the logo on the search engine’s homepage into a customized version of the arcade game. The game, which marked the first time Google ever made its logo interactive, is still available to play in the company’s Doodle archives.

Pac-Man Lite

Bandai Namco, the creator of Pac-Man, is offering a limited version of original game for free on iOS. Users only get a limited number of continues before they have to either have to pay for additional tokens or watch video ads to unlock more levels. But all 256 levels of the original title are here waiting to be conquered.

Pac-Man + Tournaments

The Android version of Pac-Man features the classic game available for free as well as weekly tournaments featuring new mazes that players can pay to access. In some modes the classic Pac-Man ghosts are replaced with Android robots.

Read Next: This Is What Pac-Man’s Creator Thinks 35 Years Later

TIME Security

Adult Website Adultfriendfinder Confirms Massive Data Breach

Nearly 4 million users' data is at risk

Adult website AdultFriendFinder has confirmed it’s working with law enforcement and data security experts following a data breach, USA Today reports.

The breach was first reported by U.K. news outlet Channel 4, which said information from nearly 4 million AdultFriendFinder users was lost in the incident. Hackers reportedly stole data about users’ sexual preferences, email addresses, usernames, dates of birth and zip codes.

AdultFriendFinder told USA Today that it has “begun working closely with law enforcement and launched a comprehensive investigation with the help of leading third-party forensics expert, Mandiant.” Channel 4 reports that some of the data was linked to users who had attempted to delete their profiles on the site.

AdultFriendFinder can best be described as an adult-themed social network meant to connect individuals for short-term encounters.

TIME Video Games

This Is What Pac-Man‘s Creator Thinks 35 Years Later

TIME talked to the creator of one of the most important characters in gaming history

He’s made billions off slot-fed quarters, starred in 15 mobile games since 2008, featured in that goofy Bud Light commercial at this year’s Super Bowl, and even appeared his own Google Doodle. Who would’ve thought 35 years on that we’d still be raving about a banana-colored, dot-noshing disc with a love/hate ghost fixation and a more-than-mild fruit fetish?

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Pac-Man‘s arrival in Japan on May 22, 1980, an arcade game whose eponymous character remains the most recognizable in the annals of gaming. We caught up with Pac-Man‘s Japanese creator, Toru Iwatani, who reminded us of what inspired the character, then told us how he feels about the game today.

Iwatani first saw Pac-Man in a pizza

It’s a long-told tale, but in case you haven’t heard it, Iwatani says his inspiration for the Pac-Man character came from one of the most popular dishes in the world.

“While thinking about the word ‘eat’ when taking a piece of pizza, I saw that the rest of pizza looked like a character, and that’s how Pac-Man’s iconic shape was created,” says Iwatani. “I realized that although keywords such as ‘fashion’ and ‘love’ would appeal more to women, my opinion is that the word ‘eat’ is universally appealing and would attract their attention as well. That’s why I went with this idea.”

At the time, arcades were basically boys clubs

“In the late 1970s, there were a lot of games in arcades which featured killing aliens or other enemies that mostly appealed to boys to play,” explains Iwatani. “The image of arcades was that they were darkly lit and their restrooms were dirty.”

Iwatani wanted to make arcades into date hangouts

“This perception [of arcades as dude hangouts] was similar in Japan,” says Iwatani. “I wanted to change that by introducing game machines in which cute characters appeared with simpler controls that would not be intimidating to female customers and couples to try out … and couples visiting arcades would increase.”

35 years later, Iwatani sees the game as plausibly feminist

“My opinion is that Pac-Man became popular with everyone, from youngsters to elders to men and women because of our original idea to make a game that spoke to both female customers and couples,” he says. “Empowering Pac-Man to chase the ghosts gives players a refreshed perspective on the game’s core gameplay, and I think this idea also appeals to a new generation of female players who have grown up empowered and want to be the pursuer rather than being the pursued.”

He “modeled” the sound effect Pac-Man makes when swallowing to sound designer Toshio Kai himself

“I asked for a game version of the typical Japanese mimetic words ‘Paku Paku’ that’s commonly used to describe people eating food,” explains Iwatani. “I described the ‘swallow’ sound effect that I wanted to Kai-san by eating fruit, and by making actual gurgling sounds.”

He sees Pac-Man as one of the medium’s exemplars

“It might be a bit of a stretch to use a Beatles comparison, but if the song “Yesterday” is looked at as THE standard musical number for music, then I think Pac-Man is THE standard for games. Thus, Pac-Man will be loved forever, and I’m proud of that.”

And there’s still more he’d like to do with the character

“Outside of the original Pac-Man within the maze-game concept, there was the Pac-Land arcade game in which Pac-Man appeared as more of a full character with hands and feet giving him more abilities (the game also took him out of the maze),” says Iwatani, reflecting on some of Pac-Man’s later appearances. “And there’s Pac-Man World, when Pac-Man entered a 3D world.”

“I’ll keep working on ideas for Pac-Man,” he says, then slyly adds “Perhaps there’s room for a singing Pac-Man in the future.”

 

TIME technology

A Brief Guide to the Tumultuous 30-Year History of AOL

Time Warner To End Deal With AOL, Spinning It Off Into Separate Company
Mario Tama—Getty Images AOL corporate headquarters on Broadway May 28, 2009 in New York City

The dial-up Internet pioneer was founded on May 24, 1985

It was May 24, 1985 — 30 years ago this weekend — that the company now called AOL first came into existence. In honor of that anniversary, which comes just after the oft-derided company returned to headlines, here’s a quick look back at its turbulent history:

In 1983, Steve Case was a recent college grad with a home computer and modem who got a job at a company called Control Video, which sold Atari games. It collapsed shortly after he arrived. “Out of the ashes, Case crafted Quantum Computer Services,” TIME later reported. “His idea was to create an online bulletin board for owners of Commodore 64 computers. It wasn’t a sexy niche, but he thought it might have potential. From 1985 onward, Case nurtured Quantum from a few thousand members to more than 100,000.”

In 1991, Quantum was renamed America Online. By 1993, AOL introduced its own email addresses, a Windows version and access to the rest of the Internet for its users. Those moves led to some backlash—which soon became a recurring theme for the company.

At that time, one of the biggest sources of tension was that the Internet had previously been available mostly for people affiliated with colleges and universities. Users were used to dealing with “newbies” in the fall, as freshman acclimated to protocol, but now there were new users flooding in every day. “But the annual hazing given clueless freshmen pales beside the welcome America Online users received last March, when the Vienna, Virginia-based company opened the doors of the Internet to nearly 1 million customers,” TIME reported.

By the time AOL went public, the service had fewer than 200,000 subscribers, but TIME later reported that number soon climbed. In 1997, AOL announced they’d acquired CompuServe, riling many loyal CompuServe users. The backlash was echoed the following year when AOL picked up Netscape. The company faced more pushback from users when they switched from an hourly to a monthly pricing plan and launched a major membership drive that led to a traffic surge that couldn’t be handled by AOL’s existing modems. Still, it was, TIME noted, “a novel problem—too many customers,” and the company continued to grow.

By 2000, AOL was the nation’s biggest Internet provider and worth $125 billion. The company merged with Time Warner (then the parent company of TIME), and executives of the combined firm announced that they expected AOL Time Warner to grow 33% in the next year.

By 2002, it was clear such grand predictions were unrealistic. “Despite its powerful brand and unrivaled global member base of 34 million, the AOL division has seen its once stratospheric subscriber growth slow, its ad revenue fall and its international operations bleed money,” TIME reported. “The much ballyhooed broadband move–in which networked homes will enjoy high-speed connections to movies and music whenever they want–is off to a rocky start.”

The following year, Case—who had already taken a diminished role in order to spend time with an ill family member—resigned. “As the Internet bubble burst and advertising slid into recession, the company’s executives were slow to adjust their lavish profit-growth promises to Wall Street, which struck back hard,” TIME reported. “Having tumbled from a high of $56.60, the price of AOL Time Warner’s widely held stock stood at $14.81 at the end of last week, representing an almost $200 billion collapse of shareholder wealth. Levin was forced out. So was chief operating officer Bob Pittman, who had come from AOL. And now goes Case himself.”

AOL was down, but not out. The company split with Time Warner in 2009 and continued to chug along, making money off of its dial-up business and acquiring media properties like the Huffington Post in 2011. Now, AOL is the one being acquired.

Read more about how AOL is coming “back from the dead” here

Read a profile of AOL from 1997, here in the TIME Vault: How AOL Lost the Battles but Won the War

TIME Amazon

5 Secret Amazon Prime Perks You Don’t Know About

The subscription service is about much more than free shipping

Every year when my Amazon Prime membership is about to auto-renew, like the tens of millions of other members, I take a step back and wonder if the $99 per year price is worth it. To be sure, I wring that much value out of the service simply through its free two-day shipping alone. But with that benefit also comes the guilt of shopping online and not in my own community.

So what keeps me re-upping my subscription? There’s a slew of other Amazon Prime benefits that, when all added up, are worth much more than the shipping savings alone.

Here are five of the lesser-known Prime perks:

Unlimited Photo Storage: If you’re the digital, yet sentimental type, this one Amazon Prime add-on is worth the entire year’s subscription price. Utilizing the company’s cloud storage offerings, Prime members can archive all of their photos to Amazon’s servers for free. With no limit on the amount of pictures nor any restriction on how many photos you can upload per month, this is a crazy deal that every Prime user should take advantage of. Photos can be uploaded through your web browser, with the Amazon Cloud Drive app, or with the Cloud Drive Photos app, available for Android, iOS, and of course through Amazon’s own app store.

Music: From Spotify’s updated offerings to Apple’s impending new service to the celebrity backed Tidal, everyone is after your streaming music money. But Amazon customers may want to pause for a beat before subscribing elsewhere, because with Prime Music they’re already getting access to more than a million songs, more than a thousand playlists and hundreds of stations.

To be fair, the competition has 20 or 30 times more tracks, but if music isn’t your main jam, Prime Music is at least a good, inexpensive way to stream ad-free and at your convenience. From classics like Simon & Garfunkel to catchy tunes like Uptown Funk, it’s a varied collection that definitely out-rocks your iTunes library.

Streaming Video: In the good old days of television, you used to be able to pick up the remote, flip through the channels, and find at least one thing worth watching. Today, despite a dizzying number of cable channels, that seems like a distant memory. But Amazon’s Prime Instant Video has an unexpectedly great selection of movies and television shows ready to watch on everything from TV-connected streaming boxes to tablets.

‘For instance, Inside Amy Schumer and Broad City, two Comedy Central shows drawing rave reviews, are up on Prime, ready for downloading. A deal between Amazon and HBO means the cable channel’s entire back catalog of great original programming (like The Wire) is at Prime members’ fingertips. And Amazon is pushing as hard as Netflix to make its own programming. The company even won two Golden Globes for its comedy Transparent. Not bad, for a throw-in feature. Oh, and Prime members flying JetBlue can also watch their Amazon-streamed content while airborne, for free.

Prime Now: In my experience, Amazon’s free two-day shipping with Prime is plenty fast, but I’ve never tried to use it in a pinch, like to refill an empty container of dishwashing detergent or to buy deodorant after forgetting to apply it in my morning routine. But Prime customers in select locations from Atlanta to Austin can avail of this ultra-quick delivery at no extra charge — so long as you can wait for two hours. (One-hour delivery is available for $7.99.) So how does the company deliver items as varied as peanut butter and headphones? If your answer is “drones,” you’ve been reading too many rumor websites. The actual answer is underground, not through the air.

Members-Only Deals: “Membership has its privileges” might be an old American Express tagline, but Amazon has given the concept new life in the 21st century by offering its shoppers a wide range of perks. For instance, some of Amazon’s most aggressive discounts come via its Lightning Deals, and beginning last holiday season, Prime members got early access to some of these sales.

MyHabit, an Amazon-owned website that offers up to 60% off designer brand clothing and home goods, runs daily events that start at 9 a.m. Pacific, but Prime subscribers get access a half-hour before the online crowds. And in the future, Prime subscribers will get exclusive access to Amazon Elements, a line of staples made by the company with input from its customer reviews. And you better believe these goods will be great; Amazon already removed the Elements diapers because they weren’t working out for parents and babies. That leaves only baby wipes in the line for now, but they beat Costco’s Kirkland brand wipes in a price-per-sheet showdown. But expect more products to come in the future — another reason to renew, I suppose.

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