MONEY Autos

This Car Safety Demo Went Terribly Wrong

The car may have lacked the auto-stopping feature

A demo for driver assistance features in a Volvo XC60 did not go as planned last week, when a dealer decided to test the system by driving into a group of onlookers expecting the vehicle to automatically stop.

Unfortunately, according to Volvo spokesperson Stefan Elfström, the car’s system is not meant to be used in this fashion and the vehicle barreled into observers. In the video, embedded below, viewers can see the Volvo slowly rolling backward, pausing, and then abruptly accelerating into two people watching the demonstration.

Luckily, both Volvo and the video’s description say the men seen here were bruised but not seriously hurt:

The original video, posted on Remolacha.net, suggests the car malfunctioned while trying to self-park.

However, Volvo tells MONEY the dealer in question was trying to demonstrate the XC60’s City Safety system, which helps avoid or mitigate rear end collisions with other vehicles at low speeds. This system is not able to detect pedestrians; the model in question lacked an optional $3,000 Pedestrian Detection system. But even if the vehicle had been equipped with a Pedestrian Detection system, the automaker says it still isn’t safe to deliberately drive into a group of people.

“In the video, the driver would anyway override any active safety system since he is actively accelerating towards to pedestrians,” explained Elfström in an email. “I would like to emphasize that Volvo Cars strongly recommends never to perform any tests towards real humans, only dummies or similar objects should be used.”

When asked whether the dealer who performed the demonstration would be disciplined, Elfström said Volvo has been “in contact with our sales representatives for this market and we are now looking into necessary actions to avoid something similar happening in the future.”

TIME apps

Why Your Next Tablet Might Come With Word and Excel

Microsoft PRO 3 Surface Tablet Launch
Steve Sands—Getty Images Microsoft Pro 3 Surface Tablet at Skylight Clarkson Sq on May 20, 2014 in New York City.

It's Microsoft's latest move in mobile

Microsoft has signed partnerships with 20 new hardware manufacturers to pre-install Skype and Office apps on a range of new Android devices, marking the company’s latest push to expand its mobile footprint beyond Windows devices.

Sony, LG and Haier are among several major manufacturers to sign the strategic agreement, joining Samsung and Dell as Microsoft’s leading partners. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype will roll out to Sony’s newest tablet, the Xperia Z4, within the next 90 days.

“Our aspiration is to continue to build and grow a vibrant community of billions of people who love and rely on Microsoft experiences, on any device, across all aspects of their daily lives,” Microsoft vice president Nick Parker wrote in an official blog post.

New Microsoft Office apps were first released as a free download for iPhone and Android users last year.

TIME facebook

How Oculus and Facebook Could Finally Work Together

Inside The 2014 E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images An attendee wears an Oculus VR Inc. Rift Development Kit 2 headset to play a video game during the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo

Researchers have proposed sci-fi tech that would let users of the social network interact through virtual reality

Facebook’s virtual reality arm, Oculus, may one day help people interact on the social network. The idea: use the technology to create a digital stand-in for users.

Researchers teamed up with Oculus found that they could read the smiles, frowns and other facial movements of people wearing the Oculus headset and then recreate them in an avatar. They theorized that Facebook could let users incorporate their doppelgangers into its service.

The researchers, including from University of Southern California, hung a 3D camera from an Oculus Rift headset to monitor the person wearing it. The software scanned the person’s facial expressions and copied them onto a digital stand-in, whose head moved and reacted as if alive.

As Pfsk noted, one of the biggest challenges is that the Oculus headset covers the upper half the face (the headset resembles big ski goggles). The team worked around this by attaching eight sensors to the foam liner inside the headset. The team then used software to capture the facial movements of the muscles under the headset, and combined that data with what the camera collected.

Facebook hasn’t gone into detail about how it plans to use the Oculus headsets after they become publicly available in 2016. But the gaming industry is particularly interested in the technology because of its ability to enhance interactivity. Digital chatting could also be a good fit. People in different places could talk in virtual face-to-face exchanges, although it’s unclear how that would be an improvement over video chatting.

Founded in 2012, Oculus first raised $2.4 million via a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, before raising an additional $91 million in venture capital. Facebook acquired the company in 2014 for $2 billion.

TIME Innovation

Lab-Grown Burgers Could Get $330,000 Cheaper

Developer Of First Cultivated Beef Burger Mark Post
Simon Dawson—Bloomberg /Getty Images Mark Post, a Dutch scientist, poses for a photograph while holding the world's first beef burger created from stem cells harvested from a living cow following a Bloomberg Television interview in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013.

"I do think that in 20, 30 years from now we will have a viable industry producing alternative beef."

Cattle farmers are wringing their hands over a staggering drop in the price of lab-grown beef, with cost estimates plummeting from more than a quarter million dollars a patty to as little as $12.

Dutch professor Mark Post, who developed the world’s first “frankenburger” in 2012, will discuss the latest breakthroughs in lab-grown beef to a gathering of cattle farmers in Darwin (yes, Darwin) Australia, according to Australian broadcaster ABC News. The price drop, first spotted by Fast Company, could bring artificial beef within the same cost bracket of natural beef within one year, Post estimates.

However, the Maastricht University professor also estimated that the patty was still 20 to 30 years away from being served up on a mass scale. And early taste tests suggests it’s still a distant second to the natural beef patty. Still, that hasn’t stopped Google co-founder Sergey Brin from becoming an early investor in the alternative meat.

TIME college tuition

This Tech CEO Wants to Send his Employees’ Kids to College

college commencement
Getty Images

Boxed CEO Chieh Huang plans to pay for college tuition for his employees' children

Parents working at e-commerce company Boxed have one less expense to worry about after the CEO offered to pay college tuition for his employees’ children.

Boxed confirmed on Tuesday that CEO Chieh Huang plans to create a non-profit foundation that will be used to fund the project. He says he will personally donate $1 million in cash and shares in Boxed. Huang also hopes others affiliated with the company will contribute. The fund is intended to cover tuition costs, but not housing, books, or other associated costs.

Boxed currently employs around 100 people, most of which work in the online retailer’s warehouses. Those workers currently have about a dozen children, most of which have yet to reach college-age.

Huang told Forbes:

“‘Not all folks are equally fortunate,’ says Huang. ‘Why is it that someone makes a few bucks an hour and some tech execs make hundreds of millions of dollars?’ Referring to Boxed’s warehouse workers, he adds: ‘If nothing much changes, those families will still be in lower income jobs without access to upward mobility two or three generations from now.'”

Huang’s offer follows high-profile moves by large companies to cover the cost of their employees’ own college tuition payments. Starbucks [fortune-stock symbol=”SBUX”] started the ball rolling last year with an employee college tuition assistance program to help baristas complete their bachelor’s degrees online. And, earlier this month, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it would offer free tuition to nearly 120,000 employees at its U.S. dealerships.

Boxed is among the e-commerce startups looking to eat into market share held by big box club retailers, such as Costco [fortune-stock symbol=”COST”] and Sam’s Club, that have yet to develop much of a presence online. Huang’s company raised $25 million in a Series B funding round earlier this year.

TIME Google

This Is What Google Could Announce This Week

Inside The Google I|O Developers Conference
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps for Google Inc., speaks during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.

Google's I/O Conference agenda hints at a major update to Android and a push toward wearables, virtual reality and the internet of things

Google’s annual developers’ conference kicks off Thursday at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center. As always, the agenda hints at a slew of new product announcements, including…

Android M. Google wouldn’t let a developers’ conference go to waste without promoting the latest changes to Android, and this year the changes could be significant. A new operating system codenamed “Android M” may not release to the public until next fall, along with a batch of new Nexus devices, but Google is expected to offer developers a peek under the hood. The operating system may introduce several features that are now familiar to iPhone users, including one-tap payment and a fingerprint scanner to unlock devices.

Google also appears to have released an intriguing talking point, first spotted by 9to5 Google, that shows a new emphasis on Android’s business users:

“This opens huge new markets for hundreds of millions of devices to workers at small business, deskless workers, logistics and warehousing jobs,” read one item on the conference agenda shortly before it was taken down.

Smart Home Devices. This may be the year the “Internet of Things” at last becomes a thing, especially if Google releases a new development platform that could seamlessly connect Android devices to everything but the kitchen sink.

Google is reportedly working on a new platform codenamed “Brillo” that would enable anything from locks to lightbulbs to garage doors to wirelessly connect to the Internet, offering Android users a new measure of control through their mobile devices.

The announcement could steal some thunder from Apple’s highly anticipated launch of HomeKit, a new smart device platform expected to go live with its first compatible products this June.

Virtual Reality. The darling of last year’s conference was Google’s startlingly low-tech answer to virtual reality headsets: Cardboard, a corrugated cardboard enclosure for a smartphone, with two eyeholes cut out for viewing virtual reality apps. This year Google may double down on the virtual reality apps for Android, or it may at last offer a clue of what’s going on at Magic Leap, a virtual reality company that lured Google into a $500 million funding round last year. At least one conference session will focus exclusively on how virtual reality “may change our lives.”

Wearables. The Apple Watch may have superseded Google’s release of Android Wear smart watches last summer, so Google may attempt to rejuvenate its wearables line with a few product improvements, including rumors of stronger batteries and smarter fitness tracking sensors. One conference session, spotted by CNET, will hone in on health data generated by Google Fit, an app that rolls up fitness data into one comprehensive dashboard.

TIME Smartphones

The iPhone Is About to Change in a Big Way

Apple's new "Force Touch" technology could introduce a whole new range of gestures for the smartphone

Apple’s Force Touch technology will reportedly debut on the next generation of iPhones, enabling a range of new pressure-sensitive taps for the touchscreen.

Apple is incorporating the technology into a new display that will resemble the iPhone 6, albeit with a new sensitivity to how much pressure the user applies to the screen, company insiders have told 9to5 Mac.

The “taptic feedback” system could eliminate the need for more finicky gestures, such as the double tap and the tap-and-hold. Apple is reportedly developing new gestures for iOS 9 and encouraging app developers to follow suit with new methods of scrolling, highlighting and navigating through content.

It will feel familiar to Apple Watch users, who were among the first users to get their fingers on the new technology. Apple has also incorporated force touch technology into the trackpad of the newest MacBooks, which went on sale last week.

TIME the big picture

Why You Should Care About Apple and Google’s Next Big Events

Apple Hosts Its Worldwide Developers Conference
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook walks off stage after speaking during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at the Moscone West center on June 2, 2014 in San Francisco, California.

New product announcements incoming

Over the next three weeks, Google and Apple will gather thousands of their respective developers together in San Francisco, Calif. to encourage them to go out and create great apps for their platforms. Spring is the optimal time to hold developer conferences, so these companies can get their partners and developers ready to introduce new products, apps and services in time for the all-important holiday buying season.

Microsoft kicked off the developer conference season with its April 28-May 1 event called Build. Its major focus was on the new version of Windows, which will be released this summer, and an updated operating system strategy that encompasses Windows’s PC’s, tablets and phones with the goal of bringing greater harmony across them. The side hit of the show was Microsoft’s Hololens project, an augmented reality headset that’s drawn much fanfare.

Google’s I/O developer conference will start later this week, drawing about 5,000 developers from around the world to get an update on Android. Android is the top smartphone operating system, used by over 100 hardware vendors selling products in almost every country on the planet. We should expect Google to give us an update on the next version of Android and, more importantly, how it plans to make the Android world less fragmented.

Google will likely also update the world on its strategy around wearables, a market that’s changed dramatically since the Apple Watch launched. Developers will also get news about Google’s virtual reality headset, shown last year as a cardboard prototype. News about Google’s smart home and Android TV setups should be delivered as well. One thing we will not see at Google I/O is an update on Google Glass, as the project is now in hibernation with an unclear future.

Two weeks later, Apple will begin its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), which will be held from June 8-12. At WWDC, Apple developers will get an update on the next versions of OS X and iOS, the operating system used in iPhones and iPads. Both of these operating systems should soon get a major upgrade with many new features. Apple is always tight-lipped about what it will announce in the way of new OS updates, but you can expect to see a greater level of consistency between OS X and iOS. We also expect iOS to add support for things like Force Touch, a standout feature of the Apple Watch.

This particular WWDC should be very interesting, as many believe Apple will use it to finally update developers on its TV strategy. Before his death, late Apple CEO Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he’d “like to create an integrated television set. It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.” This comment was made a year before his death, and has caused great interest and speculation — speculation that might finally be put to rest.

Developers will also be highly interested to hear any updates on Apple Watch and developer tools for it. Many researchers are now forecasting even stronger Apple Watch sales than they predicted before the launch, with Morgan Stanley now suggesting Apple will sell 36 million units in the first year, compared to the 21-22 million number that was floating around before the launch. High demand for the Apple Watch means creating innovative native apps for the device could be a huge opportunity for developers in the coming year.

Even though developers’ conferences are billed as industry events, what comes out of them will impact everyone that has a smartphone or tablet. New features, user interface enhancements and expanded services will give users of these devices more functionality and capabilities and make their products smarter.

Tim Bajarin is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists, covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc and has been with the company since 1981 where he has served as a consultant providing analysis to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry.

 

MONEY Companies

5,000 Reasons Why Apple Needs Jonathan Ive

One number that shows how important the newly-promoted design guru is to Apple's success

Apple announced Monday that its legendary designer Jonathan Ive would take on a new role at the company as Chief Design Officer. The iPhone-maker’s hardware and software design will now be led by Richard Howarth and Alan Dye, while Ive will move to supervisory role that will expand to include overseeing the look and feel of the company’s retail stores and new campus.

The promotion has worried some Apple watchers who think the designer’s new position could take away from his current focus on product design. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Ive has his name on 5,000 design and utility patents. Ive doesn’t personally own that intellectual property, but the sheer number of inventions with his byline proves beyond a doubt that the newly crowned Design Officer’s fingers have been in a huge portion of the company’s innovations.

Some, like Business Insider‘s James Cook, think this diffusion of responsibility could even be an “exit path” for Ive, who, after working at Apple full-time for 23 years, may be looking forward to spending more time with his wife and two sons. (The Telegraph article that first reported Ive’s promotion said “Jony will travel more,” which Apple pundit John Gruber takes to mean “live in England.”)

It’s all speculation at this point, but if Ive does indeed step back from product development, he would be nearly impossible to replace. Since joining the Apple in 1996, Ive has worked on everything from the design of the iPod, iMac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch to details like the MagSafe charging connector and the iPad’s Smart Cover. He has won multiple prizes for his work, including a National Design Award, a prestigious Red Dot award, and was even knighted by the British Crown for “for services to design and enterprise.”

TIME

Mercedes is Partnering with this Chinese Tech Giant on Cars

Newest Innovations In Consumer Technology On Display At 2015 International CES
David Becker—Getty Images A Mercedes-Benz F 015 autonomous driving automobile is displayed at the Mercedes-Benz press event at the 2015 International CES on Jan. 5, 2015 in Las Vegas.

Mercedes-Benz welcomes technology from "China's Google" onto its car dashboards

German automobile manufacturer Daimler announced a partnership Monday with Chinese search giant Baidu [fortune-stock symbol=”BIDU”].

The companies plan to work together to integrate software from Baidu, sometimes referred to as “China’s Google,” into the dashboard of Chinese Mercedes-Benz cars, Reuters reports

The partnership could make it easier for drivers to use the web while in the car by connecting through their smartphones. “The Mercedes-Benz cars will include Baidu software that allows users to access content from their smartphones via their dashboards, such as music and Internet services,” Reuters reports. “The companies did not say when the first cars including the Baidu application would be produced.”

Interest in connected cars has surged lately, and the competition between companies to develop autonomous vehicles has intensified. For instance, Nokia is auctioning its maps business, a critical technology for companies hoping to push into self-driving cars. Multiple bidders have emerged, including a $3 billion offer by Uber.

Reuters describes the connected car revolution as a “three-way race.”

It has become a three-way race between German carmakers Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen’s Audi on the one hand, competing with a consortium including Uber and Baidu, and a third group including China’s Tencent and Navinfo, people familiar with the process have told Reuters.

More news about autonomous autos and connected cars can be found on Fortune.com.

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