TIME Innovation

Saying ‘Open Sesame’ Actually Unlocks Doors Now

A new app wirelessly unlocks doors by a classic spoken command

The expression “open sesame” was popularized by a folk tale in One Thousand and One Nights, but it’s taken roughly three centuries for the expression to start opening doors in real life.

MIT graduate student Dheera Venkatraman calls his “Sesame” app for Android Wear smartwatches an “exceedingly simple project” to unlock a door using spoken commands. The wearer simply needs to shout into the watch face, “OK Google, open sesame” to open the app. It then wirelessly transmits a command via Bluetooth to turn an Internet-connected lock.

Of course, the lock itself has to be outfitted with a fair amount of hardware. Venkatraman fastened a small rotating cuff to a deadbolt handle. The apparatus is still very much an early build with a few exposed wires running along the door. Still, Venkatraman has shared instructions on his website so hobbyists can gather up the components, copy the code and add their own refinements to an idea that’s been some 300 years in the making.

TIME Security

Google Will Now Pay You to Kill Bugs Year-Round

Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of
AFP—AFP/Getty Images Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome, speaks at Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, in San Francisco on June 28, 2012.

Up to $50,000 in individual rewards

Google is making its annual contest to find vulnerabilities in Chrome a year-round affair.

The security contest known as “Pwnium” previously awarded cash prizes to developers once a year who found bugs in the Chrome browser or the Chrome operating system. Now the company is offering “infinity million” dollars on an ongoing basis to people that identify bugs (the company clarifies in a blog post that the contest can be modified at any time).

Individuals can be awarded between $500 and $50,000 for each bug they discover.

Google says the change in structure is an effort to prevent “bug hoarding,” in which coders would wait to disclose vulnerabilities until they could claim a reward once a year. “By allowing security researchers to submit bugs all year-round, collisions are significantly less likely and security researchers aren’t duplicating their efforts on the same bugs,” Google wrote in its blog post.

The new rules for Pwnium go into effect Wednesday.

TIME Innovation

Meet the Kid Who Made an Unbelievable, Real-Life Batsuit

It withstands punches and cuts

A Philadelphia University student designed a real-life Batsuit that withstands punches, baseball bats and even blades.

The industrial design student, Jackson Gordon, created the 25-pound suit in his spare time and unveiled it earlier this month at Katsucon, an anime convention, USA Today reports. Gordon started on the first prototypes last September, and raised over $1,000 on Kickstarter in November to buy supplies.

Gordon says it’s not quite done yet. “Designing is never finished,” Gordon told USA Today. “You either run out of time or you run out of money.”

[USA Today]

TIME Companies

Google Is Planning a Massive New Headquarters

Google
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A man walks past a painted Google sign in the reception area of the Google Inc. office in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

But some locals worry that the search giant is taking over their town

Google is planning to unveil plans for a sprawling new headquarters this week, according to The New York Times, but some residents of the company’s hometown of Mountain View, Calif. aren’t happy about it.

The new Googleplex would include “canopylike buildings,” the Times reports, as well as bike and pedestrian paths. However, a new facility to accommodate Google’s ever-growing workforce (nearly 54,000 at the end of 2014) could place even more strain on the overcrowded Mountain View. Traffic gridlock is now common and housing prices have increased thanks to the influx of well-paid tech workers.

Mountain View’s city council appears split on how much leeway to allow Google as it builds out. Some see Google’s expansion as an opportunity to turn Mountain View into a world-class city, while others worry that if more Google residents begin living in Mountain View itself rather than San Francisco, they’ll be able to to create a strong enough voting block to effectively control the local government.

The full proposal for Google’s headquarters is expected to be submited Friday, according to the Times.

TIME space

This Is How Incredible (and Terrifying) Space Looks in Virtual Reality

New first-person space exploration game takes you far above the Earth

Soon you’ll be able to float around in space…in virtual reality. Design studio Opaque Multimedia unveiled on Tuesday a trailer for Earthlight, an upcoming first-person space exploration game. Using Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that is expected to debut this year, and Microsoft Kinect 2, a motion sensor, Earthlight lets you play an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, 268 miles (431 km) above the Earth you’re actually standing on. It looks like a startling, if slightly disorienting, experience.

TIME Web

Watch Hundreds of Fireworks Explode Over Beijing From the Air

See Chinese New Year unfold from the sky

A passenger flying into Beijing at midnight on Chinese New Year recorded the fireworks exploding all across the city—a spectacle that puts 4th of July to shame.

Though China has been toughening regulations on fireworks due to air pollution—Beijing’s smog has already reached hazardous levels—it’s clear that they haven’t stopped these traditional celebrations.

TIME iPhone

The 5 Best iPhone Apps of the Week

Try Storm, Do Camera and Short

It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found five apps worth downloading this week.

  • Storm by Weather Underground

    Storm
    Storm

    Understanding the way storm systems work can be a pretty useful skill. Not only does Storm offer detailed maps, but it also has radar images, storm tracking, and expanded forecasts. Chances are, by using this app, you’ll become the person your coworkers rely on to tell whether or not everyone should just work from home that day.

    Storm by Weather Underground is free in the App Store

  • Do Camera

    Do Camera
    Do Camera Do Camera

    If This Then That’s camera app allows you to set a particular action based on your iPhone’s camera. For instance, you can set it up so when you snap a photo, your phone’s camera immediately corrects for color balance, emails your snap to mom, or posts the pic to Facebook. Handy!

    Do Camera is free in the App Store

  • Short

    Short
    Short

    For those with only fleeting moments of spare time for reading the news, Short curates quick articles from different sources. It also has a night mode for those truly deprived of downtime. It’s a good way to keep up with your favorite topics without setting aside chunks of the day to reading the entire A-section of a newspaper.

    Short is free in the App Store

  • Weafo

    Weafo
    Weafo

    Weafo allows quick, easy file transfers between iOS devices and other handhelds. The receiving device doesn’t need to be running iOS, nor does it need to have Weafo installed. Downloading Weafo automatically adds the option to send files through Weafo to your iPhone. You can then add as many media files as you wish into a compressed zip file. Weafo is faster and easier than emailing single files from your iPhone.

    Weafo is free in the App Store

  • Keadle

    Keadle
    Keadle

    Keadle is one part geocaching, one part Snapchat. First, you take a photo. Then you add text and select a location on a map. Once your friend enters the physical zone you’ve selected, the message will appear. It’s a digital photo treasure hunt with great potential to send your friends on a search around the city.

    Keadle is free in the App Store

TIME Social Media

The Definitive Guide to Weird Facebook

Yes, Weird Facebook is definitely a thing

Weird Facebook shouldn’t exist.

Wait, let me back up a minute, if you have no idea what I’m talking about. You know when something like this pops up in your Facebook feed?

1_Fieri-620x375
The Kernel

That’s what we’d call Weird Facebook: a loose conglomeration of pages that post bizarre image macros. Fodder for the dumb guys you hung out with in high school.

The groups vary widely in the number of followers they attract. The biggest group I could find was Freddy Yolo, which has around 70,000 followers. S*** Memes has about 40,000, and Creme de la meme clocks in at 35,000. Below that tier, there are a handful of pages with 10,000 to 15,000 followers, and further down still, a vast array of groups with several thousand followers. Not a throng, but nothing to shake a stick at.

Those numbers are all the more impressive considering that Facebook doesn’t do anything to encourage the existence of these groups.

I’ll give you an example: Say someone recommends that you check out @fart on Twitter. Within 10 minutes, the similar accounts feature will take you to the top 20 or 30 pages that constitute Weird Twitter.

Read the rest of the story at the Daily Dot.

TIME Gadgets

This Is the Best All-in-One Printer You Can Buy

WorkForce+WF_3640_Head+On+w_print+sample_ee5f210a-dd36-4385-be69-662554f6610f-prv
Epson Epson WorkForce WF-3620

Epson WorkForce WF-3620 is the winner

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article below at TheWirecutter.com.

the wirecutter logo

Personal inkjet printers are a money pit, and you should think twice about buying one. But if you work from home or have kids in school, a color printer, scanner, copier, and fax machine bundled into one desktop package might actually make your life easier. After nearly 100 hours of research and testing with help from a print expert, we determined that the $130 Epson WorkForce WF-3620 is the best you can do right now.

How we decided

If you print less than once per week, don’t buy a color all-in-one. Inkjet models waste ink on cleaning cycles when they sit around too long between uses (and at up to $9,600 per gallon, every squandered drop is painful). Color laser printers don’t waste toner, but the cost of a multifunction machine is awfully steep, and if you only print occasionally, it’ll take years before you see any savings compared to an inkjet.

With that in mind, we looked at 110 all-in-ones, and a mid-range inkjet is as good as it gets for a home or home office. For around $150, you can expect an automatic document feeder, two-sided printing and scanning, Wi-Fi connectivity, and native support for mobile standards like AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. Pay more, and you mostly get features that only matter in offices, like extra paper trays and speedier output. Pay less up front, and you’ll spend a lot more on ink in the long run.

Our pick

The Epson WorkForce WF-3620 ($110) is a jack of all trades, able to handle the typical printing, scanning, copying, and faxing jobs that most people do from their homes and home offices, and works with both Mac and PC. It’s built to handle a few hundred pages of letter-sized copy paper per month, but it’s versatile enough to venture into photo printing, envelopes, and many other stocks, sizes, and use cases.

The paper handling features are faster, smoother, and more versatile than they ought to be for the price, so printing term papers and scanning tax documents is no sweat. Print expert Dean Turpin of shootdigital studios in Manhattan helped us evaluate the print quality, and found that it’s a big step up from previous generations of affordable all-in-one printers, too. Unless you’re a serious graphic designer or photographer, the WF-3620 is as good a printer as you’ll need.

Little flaws (not dealbreakers)

This is still an inkjet printer, so you’ll wince every time you shell out for fresh ink. With the XL cartridges, a black-and-white page costs about 3.2 cents and a color page is 11.4 cents. That’s average for the category, and as long as you print somewhere between 25 and 250 pages per month, it’s worth the cost of ownership.

8_color_booth
The WirecutterThe color-balancing booth where test prints were evaluated.

The runner up

The Epson WorkForce WF-3640 is a sister model to our main pick. The only difference is an extra paper tray, which is useful if you alternate between, say, letter paper and photo paper. It usually costs $20 more than the WF-3620, but sometimes it’s actually cheaper. Follow your wallet on this one.

For heavier workloads

If your small office has a more diverse or higher-volume workload than the Epson is meant to handle, check out the Brother MFC-J6920DW. It’s better at handling non-letter-sized media, like stacks of envelopes, and can print, copy, and scan sheets as large as 11”x17” (ledger size), even in the document feeder.

It costs about $100 more than any of the other all-in-ones we tested, but the ink is so cheap that if you print more than 300 pages per month, it pays for itself in about a year. On the downside, it’s huge, and the print and scan quality aren’t particularly good.

In closing

If you already have a printer that works for you, keep it. But if you’re in the market for a new one, the Epson WorkForce WF-3620 is the best one we’ve found. Any printer is going to make you mad at least some of the time, but this Epson is one of the few that’s worth the frustration.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to The Wirecutter.com.

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Backs Strongest Net Neutrality Rules

Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives the keynote speech during LeadOn:Watermark's Silicon Valley Conference For Women at Santa Clara Convention Center on Feb. 24, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.
Marla Aufmuth—Getty Images Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives the keynote speech during LeadOn:Watermark's Silicon Valley Conference For Women at Santa Clara Convention Center on Feb. 24, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate voices support for Title II

Hillary Clinton said at a Silicon Valley conference for women leaders Tuesday that she supports President Barack Obama’s call for the strongest possible rules to safe guard net neutrality.

That includes, Clinton said, reclassifying broadband providers under what’s known as Title II of the Communications Act, the most controversial option available to the government. It’s the first time the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate has voiced support for the Title II option.

Clinton’s speech and interview at the Lead On Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women marked the first time she has spoken publicly in the country this year. And while she didn’t directly address any 2016 plans, it was the closest she’s come to saying that she’ll run.

In an interview with longtime tech journalist and Re/Code editor Kara Swisher after her speech, for which she was paid handsomely, Clinton admitted she’s “obviously” thinking about running, but has to check a few more things of her list before making a decision.

“I have a very long list. I’m going down it. And I haven’t checked off the last couple of things yet,” she said, cheekily. The crowd, dominated by women entrepreneurs, applauded in approval.

While the former secretary of state’s prepared speech traded largely in platitudes about equal pay for women and breaking glass ceilings, the interview with Swisher afterward was one of the most substantive public discussions Clinton has had in months. Swisher asked primarily about technology-related policy issues, like net neutrality, encryption, and privacy.

Clinton was most precise in her policy position about whether the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) should reclassify broadband providers under Title II of the Communications Act—a controversial move that puts Internet companies in the same category as more highly-regulated industries, like mobile phone companies and public utilities.

“For the FCC to… create net neutrality as the norm, they have to have a hook to hang it on,” Clinton said. “[Title II] is the only hook they’ve got.” The FCC will vote Thursday on whether to use Title II to regulate net neutrality rules.

With regards to former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, Clinton acknowledged that while she can’t condone his decision to leak secret documents about the agency’s surveillance programs, she said her own position is mixed. She called on the NSA to be more transparent with the public—”I think a lot of the reaction about the NSA was that people felt betrayed,” she explained—but added later that some surveillance is necessary. “I do want to get the bad guys,” she said.

As for the threat of ISIS in the Middle East, Clinton said she supports the Obama administration’s efforts against the Islamist militant group. “I think the right moves are being made,” she said, before underscoring the complexity of the issue. “It’s a very hard challenge because you can’t very well put American or Western troops in to fight this organism. You have to use not only air force but also army soldiers form the region, and particular from Iraq.”

Clinton laid blame on former U.S. ally, ex-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, for stoking sectarian conflict in Iraq and “decimating” the country’s army, which helped allow ISIS to become “a metastatcizing danger” in the region.

The interview ended with a couple softball questions. If Clinton could wave a magic wand and change anything she wanted in the country, what would it be? Swisher asked.

Clinton said she would “get us back to working together cooperatively again.” The crowd roared.

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