This minivan lets you monitor your kids in the back (Darth Vader voice optional)


My son was sitting in the back of a 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite minivan (base price of $29,990), and he had no idea what was about to happen. Using a new feature called CabinWatch, I was able to monitor my two kids in the back of the vehicle. A screen shows a wide-angle view, and you can tap the touchscreen to zoom in on any part of the video image in real time.

Then, things got interesting.

When I pushed the CabinTalk button, I started using a Darth Vader voice — think the scene from Tommy Boy where the main character talks into a fan. It’s amazing how alert everyone in the minivan became suddenly, not knowing this was a feature in the Honda (I’ve never “heard” it was available in any other car). Interestingly, you can also hear what they say even in the second-row seats. And, when you talk, you can pick an option to use the speakers or interrupt their movie and speak through the headphones. When you do, the video they are viewing also pauses.

My kids are well-behaved, but I can see where a parent might use this feature to keep tabs on anyone in the back seats with this visual and audio monitoring system. Thankfully, it wasn’t too distracting. I could press the CabinTalk button and then focus on the road. My wife glanced at the screen a few times as well when we were on a longer drive.

It’s easy to imagine how much fun we had with CabinTalk. In a few cases, especially when I drove around with my nephew in the back, it was handy because we could discuss where we wanted to eat lunch without the typical “can you hear me now?” problems.

This is the first Honda to use its own Wi-Fi hotspot, and when we tested this feature, it became more obvious how a true helicopter parent might check on their kids — you can check the screen and see which device they are using and even visually inspect which app they’re using. I see CabinWatch and CabinTalk as deterrents mostly. Your kids know you can keep an eye on them.

Unlike monitoring systems that exist to check a lane or behind the vehicle, the interior-focused CabinView works at any speed. (Even on several other Honda makes and models, the live feed of the side angle when you change lanes or make a turn only works for a short time.)

At the 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite site, the CabinWatch feature page shows a small child in a car seat facing the opposite direction (as required), demonstrating that you can get a pretty good overhead view of a baby. This helps with peace of mind while driving. It also hints at how cars will work in the future, maybe showing a live feed of a crib at home or allowing you to hold a quick Skype call from the touchscreen in the backseat. Cars will become much more connected to each other, the surroundings, and other cars. Soon, we’ll be able to have a video chat with another driver, maybe someone who is part of a road trip convoy to a family vacation.

For now, the internal monitoring worked great — I liked how simple the controls were, letting the driver use them without fumbling around. It’s one step forward for connected cars.


Source: Venture Beat

Proxima b's chances of hosting life may have just dropped

Artist's impression of Proxima Centauri seen from the surface of Proxima b

A new NASA study has poured another bucket of cold water on hopes of one day discovering life on the closest exoplanet ever discovered – the Earth-sized world Proxima b, which is thought to orbit in the habitable zone of the red dwarf Proxima Centauri. A computer model is now asserting that the atmosphere of the exoplanet could have long since been destroyed by the intense levels of radiation emitted by the parent star.

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Continue Reading Proxima b’s chances of hosting life may have just dropped

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Source: GizMag

Model 3 review roundup: Tesla’s $35,000 car lives up to the hype

Model 3 Reviews

After years of speculation, intrigue, and a seemingly endless stream of rumors, Tesla’s highly anticipated Model 3 is finally here. Impressively — and perhaps somewhat surprisingly — Tesla actually managed to begin early deliveries of its $35,000 car on time, a welcome change of pace given the delays that plagued both the Model S and the Model X.

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Source: Boy Genius Report (BGR)

Bloomberg: Spotify is planning another big podcast push

Spotify started its new year getting into the podcast game when it announced it was bringing on its first original content in a trio of music-related shows. Then in March, it partnered with WNYC to bring its podcasts to the platform. While Apple stil…
Source: Engadget

Bluetooth Battery Level Indicators May Soon Be Coming To Android

The folks over at XDA Developers are reporting that Android may be getting a new feature that could help users identify how much battery life is remaining in their Bluetooth wireless headphones. The feature for “[retrieving] battery level information of [a] remote device” was discovered in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Android and Me reports: This hasn’t made it to final release just yet, but when it does, it will make it easy for users to quickly ascertain how much battery life is remaining in the Bluetooth headphones that are connected to their device. It doesn’t just mean support for Bluetooth headphones, either, as Bluetooth speakers and other accessories that run on battery power will be supported, too. Unfortunately there’s no telling on when this feature will see the light of day for the public. There’s no set timeframe between a feature that’s part of the AOSP and rolling out in a final, public release of the mobile operating system. Some manufacturers have already built support for this feature into their phones, including OnePlus, Samsung, and LG. So while it might not be a completely brand new feature on Android, it would still be good for the Android platform as a whole to support the feature in the stock build.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: SlashDot

More iPhone 8 leaks show Apple is finally catching up to Android resolutions


Earlier today, enterprising developers discovered clues about the iPhone 8’s design in firmware for the upcoming HomePod speaker. Turns out that firmware is still churning out important nuggets of information. Now Steve Troughton-Smith, who helped in the earlier leak, also found some code suggesting the iPhone 8 would have a resolution of 2436 x 1125. There are little tidbits in the OS suggesting upcoming iPhone will have a 3x screen at 1125×2436. Hard to gauge what that will mean for devs pic.twitter.com/SK8QjOAfDt — Steve T-S (@stroughtonsmith) July 31, 2017 That said, there are still a few open-ended questions. Previous rumors…

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Source: The Next Web

Sources: Spotify to double down on original content and fund a new batch of podcasts in coming months, as it promotes shows from established producers (Lucas Shaw/Bloomberg)

Lucas Shaw / Bloomberg:

Sources: Spotify to double down on original content and fund a new batch of podcasts in coming months, as it promotes shows from established producers  —  Streaming company promotes shows from established producers  —  Top music site tries to diversify offerings beyond songs


Source: TechMeme

Facebook acquires AI assistant startup Ozlo


Facebook has acquired AI assistant startup Ozlo to help build “compelling experiences within Messenger that are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning,” a Facebook spokesperson has confirmed to VentureBeat. A brief note on the acquisition and plans to join the Messenger team was also shared on the Ozlo website.

As part of the acquisition, Facebook will receive Ozlo’s tech and a majority of its team of about 30 employees, and Ozlo will shut down its apps and API services, according to Recode.

The Ozlo app for iOS and the web launched in October 2016 and was powered by an AI assistant of the same name. Ozlo initially focused on helping users sift through restaurant listings in a conversational format.

Ozlo offerings eventually expanded to include restaurants that serve foods for people with strict dietary restrictions, weather forecasts, and more local business services like movie listings. Similar to other assistants, Ozlo began to leverage APIs from apps like Yelp, Doordash, and others. In March, Ozlo started offering its own APIs.

The news comes a week after DigiTimes reported that Facebook is working on its own smart speaker to rival Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s HomePod.

A report by The Information earlier this year found that about 7 in 10 interactions intelligent assistant M had in private beta testing required intervention by a human, so instead of M acting as an assistant like Alexa or Siri, the first public iteration of Facebook’s intelligent assistant was M Suggestions.

Based on words used in a conversation, M can suggest that you create a calendar event, or hail a ride from Lyft or Uber. Earlier this month, M learned how to recommend recipes from Food Network’s bot, only the second use of M to recommend a bot experience.

CEO Charles Jolley, a former Facebook head of product, created Ozlo together with Mike Hanson in 2014. The company is based in Palo Alto, California.


Source: Venture Beat