Posts with «conglomerates» label

The Nintendo Switch Lite and 'Animal Crossing: New Horizons' bundle drops to $179

If you want a solid but small portable game console to play as you travel around (or comfortably sit in bed), then you're in luck as our pick for best handheld gaming console for commuting is currently on sale. The Nintendo Switch Lite is discounted to $179, down from $200 — and it comes with Animal Crossing: New Horizons. This sale at Walmart brings the bundle to a record-low price.

The Nintendo Switch Lite came out in 2019, and we gave it a 90 in our review. As the name suggests, it's lightweight and more comfortable to hold than the bulkier Switch. The Switch Lite has a 5.5-inch screen, compared to the regular Switch's 6.2-inch, and both have a 720p display. It also offers four hours and 15 minutes of continual use before the battery life runs out.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is all about creating a new civilization right on a deserted island. You can make your own "island paradise" and slowly build a relaxed world for yourself. Plus, the Switch Lite has a Timmy and Tommy Aloha theme to go with the game. A new Switch is rumored to drop in 2025, but this sale is a good opportunity if you've yet to pick one up or need a good gift for someone.

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Valencell promises blood pressure monitoring in a finger clip

Valencell, best known around these parts for making optical heart rate sensors for fitness tech, has turned up to CES with something new. The company is showing off a new fingertip monitor that, it says, will offer “cuffless” blood pressure monitoring. Rather than inflating a sleeve around the top of your arm, you’ll be able to monitor your blood pressure with a fingertip clip. That’s currently commonly used to measure your heart rate both at home, and in medical settings.

The as-yet unnamed device is pending FDA clearance, but Valencell has explained that it uses PPG sensors to measure blood flow patterns. This information is then run through an algorithm which calculates the movement against both a dataset containing 7,000 patient records. That’s then run up against the user’s age, weight, gender and height to produce a blood pressure measurement. And you’ll get both Diastolic and Systolic results presented on the device’s built-in screen, and pushed to the companion mobile app.

Much as Valencell say its work is unique, we’ve seen at least one other system that uses PPG and algorithms in place of a cuff. At the start of 2022, the University of Missouri showed off its own finger clip that harnesses a pair of PPG sensors, one on either side of the finger. That system was, by its creators own admission, far less accurate for diastolic measures, given the need to control for a person’s age, gender and weight.

Valencell seems to suggest that it has solved those issues with more data, to the point where you won’t need to calibrate its monitor with an initial cuff reading. That’s either some staggering bravado, or a sign that we’re getting better at the nitty-gritty of healthcare monitoring. The company says that it could offer a new weapon in the war against hypertension, and it hopes to offer it for use in clinical settings for remote patient monitoring or chronic care management.

But that’ll all have to wait until the FDA has run its cautious eye over the hardware — which could take much of the year — but if it offers its blessing, Valencell says it’ll sell the product for $99.

Robots are learning to brace themselves against walls to avoid falling

So much for giggling at robots falling down. Researchers at the University of Lorraine have developed a "Damage Reflex" system (aka D-Reflex) that has a humanoid TALOS robot prop itself against a wall when one of its legs is broken, much like a human who just lost their balance. The neural network-based system uses its experience (in this case, 882,000 training simulations) to quickly find a point on the wall most likely to provide stability. The robot doesn't need to know how it was damaged, and can reach out roughly as quickly as a person.

The result, as IEEE Spectrumnotes, is the anti-comedy you'd expect. Instead of a tumble to the ground, the robot braces itself against the wall like someone who just sprained their ankle. It's not particularly graceful and requires that the robot stops its hand the moment it makes contact, but it's effective in three out of four tests.

D-Reflex isn't guaranteed to prevent a fall, if partly because it can't account for every possible position or surface. It also doesn't help the robot recover once it averts catastrophe — you won't see the automaton limping along a wall until it finds help. The current approach is also based around a stationary bot, and won't help if an actuator fails mid-stride.

Researchers hope to make a system that's useful on the move, however, and envision robots that can grab chairs and other complex objects when a fall is imminent. This could save the cost of replacing worker robots that would otherwise plunge to their doom, and might lead to more 'natural' bots that learn to use their environments to their advantage. One thing's for sure: if the robopocalypse happens, tripping the machines won't stop them for long.

Eight Sleep Pod 3 review: The high price of great sleep

I've always tried to get as much sleep as possible, but now that I have a one-year-old to look after, anything that can help maximize what little rest I do get is priceless. So when I heard that Eight Sleep was coming out with a new version of its smart mattress topper that offers better sleep tracking and temperature controls, I was curious to see how well it worked. And while the Pod 3 Cover is pricey, after a few months of testing, I never want to go back to a regular standalone mattress.

The Eight Sleep system

The company's core offerings consist of two main components: The Pod 3 Mattress and the Pod 3 Cover. The mattress itself is relatively straightforward. Its features a medium firmness that's a bit stiffer than something like the original Leesa mattress and it includes various additional layers for better heat distribution.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Then there's the Eight Sleep Pod 3 cover, which is both the heart and the brains of the company's two-pronged approach. In order to deliver your perfect sleep temperature, the cover features what Eight Sleep calls an Active Grid, which is essentially embedded tubing that carries cool or warm water to your side of the bed. There are also sensors built into the Active Grid that can monitor things like your heart rate, sleeping respiratory rate, how much you toss and turn and more, with Eight Sleep claiming that the Pod 3 offers significantly more accurate tracking than its previous offerings. And then attached to the Active Grid is the Hub, which serves both as a reservoir for the water in the Pod Cover and as a place to house important tech like WiFi, which unlike previous models now supports 5GHz networks.


While the thought of having to plug wires and hoses into your bed might seem like a bit much, getting everything working is actually pretty simple. Like a lot of foam mattresses, Eight Sleep's option arrived compressed in a box — all you have to do is remove the plastic wrapper and give it a few minutes while it expands. The nice thing is that you don't need to buy one from Eight Sleep at all, as the Pod Cover is designed to work pretty much any mattress up to 16 inches thick.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

That's because while the standard Pod Cover comes with zippers that line up with matching teeth on the company's mattress, you can also order the Pod Cover with PerfectFit, which includes an encasement that accommodates third-party beds. So if you already like your current mattress, you don't need to toss it to install the Pod Cover. Not only does this lower the price of entry, it's also a welcome move toward general flexibility. Which is good because starting at $2,045 (for a full), this thing definitely ain't cheap.

Once the Pod Cover is attached to your mattress, Eight Sleep's app provides simple step-by-step instructions on how to connect the hose, fill the reservoir and power it up. Admittedly, there's not a lot to mess up (aside from maybe not leaving enough room behind your bed to prevent the hose from kinking), but the guide removes all the guesswork. And while the hub itself does take up a little space, the hose is long enough that it's not too difficult to find a spot for it. From there, you can set up or sign into your account, enter your WiFi info and that's it. All told, it took me less than 20 minutes to put everything together after unboxing it.

The tech

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

While the Pod 3 Cover isn't a huge departure from previous models, it does pretty much everything really well. The sensors made easy work of tracking my sleeping heart and respiratory rates. And thanks to charts and graphs that are available inside the app, it's easy to see how various factors impact your sleep. You even have the ability to add tags for things like stretching, caffeine intake and others to better correlate your daytime activities with the amount of rest you get. And every day, the app spits out a sleep score to tell you how you did.

The other big part of the Pod Cover's kit is its heating and cooling tech. The cover supports dual-zone controls, so you can set the temp for each half of the bed independently. That's really nice because while I typically prefer things on the cool side, my wife is often chilly at night and has her side set to warm. Honestly, even without all the sleep tracking, the Pod Cover is worth it for its cooling and heating alone.

In the Eight Sleep app, you can adjust the Pod Cover's temperature settings manually or let the Autopilot feature make suggestions automatically, though sadly you'll need to pay for the company's $19-a-month subscription for the latter.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

At this point, the science is pretty clear, your thermal environment has a huge impact on how well you sleep. Too hot or too cold and you're almost certainly going to wake up feeling less rested. But with the Pod Cover, you can select your perfect temp and set a schedule for controlling heating and cooling levels throughout the night. For me, it's like laying on the cool side of the pillow, except all the time and across the entire mattress, which makes a huge difference in both how fast I fall asleep and how I feel the next morning.

Of course, you can change things as needed, which really came in handy when I started running a fever. So instead of having my side cold as normal, I was able to pump up the heat to help combat the chills — something that made being sick just a bit more tolerable. In less extreme circumstances, the adjustability also means you can tailor your temps depending on the season, as I found I prefer things a bit colder in the summer and a bit warmer in the fall and winter.

On top of that, Eight Sleep takes its temperature control and sleep tracking tech a couple steps further with its Autopilot and Sleep Insight features. Autopilot uses data gathered by its sensors to automatically make your bed hotter or colder as needed. In my case, after noticing in the summer I was tossing and turning more often, it suggested a slightly cooler temperature schedule, which later resulted in higher sleep scores.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

But what might be even more powerful is Sleep Insights, which are observations based on your metrics that tell you how well (or badly) you slept. It's kind of like a robo-coach that sorts through your data to provide tips so you don't have to. While reports generally amount to notifications about your sleeping heart rate being higher or lower than normal, I appreciate that it calls attention to things like eating late or having a drink or two before bed which can negatively impact your sleep. Annoyingly, both Autopilot and Sleep Insight are locked behind the company's optional 8+ Pro subscription that costs $19 a month, which is frankly just too much. I know companies these days are looking for steady revenue streams, but these features really ought to be free.


Of course, all the fancy tech in the world doesn't mean much if this thing is uncomfortable, and thankfully it's not. It's actually quite the opposite. One of my gripes about the original Pod Cover is that you could feel the tubing inside. But on the Pod 3, you can only tell that it's more than a dumb mattress topper when you touch it with your hands; laying on it, the tubing is almost impossible to discern. Admittedly, the topper makes your mattress feel a touch firmer than it would otherwise, but aside from that, it feels a lot like a bed with a thin foam egg crate pad – just slightly pillowy.


Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The thing that made me realize what a huge impact the Pod 3 Cover had on my sleep was how much I missed it while traveling. Even the softest, coziest hotel bed couldn't make up for the lack of temperature controls. Other additions like the Pod Cover's upgraded WiFi make the smart topper even easier to set up while more precise sleep tracking helps you better figure how well you’re sleeping and what you can do to improve.

The only real downside (and it's kind of a big one) is that with a starting price of over $2,100, it’s out of the reach of most people. And that doesn't even include the optional 8+ Pro subscription, which feels like an unnecessary tax required to unlock all of its features. That said, even without Autopilot and Sleep Insights, the Pod 3 Cover has delivered some of the best sleep I've ever had.

Boom's supersonic jet is facing a lack of interest from engine suppliers

Boom recently lost its jet engine partner for the Overture supersonic jet, and other major engine manufacturers aren't interested in the project either, Insider has reported. After Boom signed an "engagement agreement" with Rolls-Royce for supersonic jet engines back in 2020, the latter announced last week that it had left the project. Now, other major jet engine manufacturers including Pratt & Whitney, GE Aviation, Honeywell and Safran Aircraft Engines have told FlightGlobal they're not currently interested in supersonic aircraft.

Boom said that the project is still on track, though, and that it will soon announce an engine partner. "We can reconfirm our intention to announce Boom's selected engine partner and transformational approach for reliable, cost-effective, and sustainable supersonic flight, later this year." Boom told Insider. The company has 20 airplanes on order from American Airlines and 15 from United. It plans to build build a factory in California and start flying passengers by 2029.

For its part, Rolls-Royce said that "after careful consideration... [we] have determined that the commercial aviation supersonic market is not currently a priority for us and, therefore, will not pursue further work on the program at this time."

After careful consideration, Rolls-Royce has determined that the commercial aviation supersonic market is not currently a priority for us and, therefore, will not pursue further work on the program at this time.

There are a limited number of other manufacturers capable of developing a supersonic jet engine, and all of the biggest ones said that it's not in their plans. Honeywell, Safron and GE shut down the idea, while Pratt & Whitney stated that supersonic travel is "tangential" to its business.

Pratt & Whitney cited efficiency as an issue for supersonic jets, and other manufacturers said they're focused on reducing fuel-burn. That's the primary direction for the industry right now, given criticism of air travel's contribution to global warming. In addition, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recently criticized supersonic travel, noting in a report that it would use 7-9 times more fuel per passenger, per kilometer, than subsonic jets. 

Boom has said that it would offset its carbon output through the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). However, the ICAO report said that would be a poor use of scarce SAF fuels, given the high fuel burn compared to a regular jet. It also noted that "the high cruise altitude of supersonics increases the residence time of emissions significantly."

Xbox Series X/S users can now pin games to resume quickly

The March Xbox update is rolling out, and it brings a few useful features to Microsoft's consoles. Xbox Series X/S players can now pin two games to the Quick Resume group.

That could be useful if you're the type of person who, say, likes to play a quick round of Halo Infinite multiplayer or enjoy a Forza Horizon 5 race if you need a break from an Elden Ring boss. Pin a couple games to Quick Resume (by pressing the menu button when you highlight a game tile) and it should be easier to hop between them.

Games you pin to the group will stay there unless you remove them manually or they have a required update. If you already have two pinned and want to add another, the console will ask which one you want to replace.


If you don't tend to use the Share button often, you might get more out of it if you change its function. You can reassign a different action to the button, such as muting the volume, opening your friends list or achievements or bringing up the search menu. Microsoft says there are more actions available for Elite Series 2 Controllers, Xbox Adaptive Controllers and other devices too via the Xbox Accessories app. There's also a Xbox controller firmware update, which should improve performance on Xbox One controllers with Bluetooth support, among other things.

Elsewhere, there's a new audio setup wizard for Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One. You'll find it under the "volume and audio output" area of the general settings. It should help you find the optimal settings for your speaker setup.

Scientists study a 'hot Jupiter' exoplanet's dark side in detail for the first time

Astronomers have mapped the atmospheres of exoplanets for a while, but a good look at their night sides has proven elusive — until today. An MIT-led study has provided the first detailed look at a "hot Jupiter" exoplanet's dark side by mapping WASP-121b's altitude-based temperatures and water presence levels. As the distant planet (850 light-years away) is tidally locked to its host star, the differences from the bright side couldn't be starker.

The planet's dark side contributes to an extremely violent water cycle. Where the daytime side tears water apart with temperatures beyond 4,940F, the nighttime is cool enough ('just' 2,780F at most) to recombine them into water. The result flings water atoms around the planet at over 11,000MPH. That dark side is also cool enough to have clouds of iron and corundum (a mineral in rubies and sapphires), and you might see rain made of liquid gems and titanium as vapor from the day side cools down.

The researchers collected the data using spectroscopy from the Hubble Space Telescope for two orbits in 2018 and 2019. Many scientists have used this method to study the bright sides of exoplanets, but the dark side observations required detecting minuscule changes in the spectral line indicating water vapor. That line helped the scientists create temperature maps, and the team sent those maps through models to help identify likely chemicals.

This represents the first detailed study of an exoplanet's global atmosphere, according to MIT. That comprehensive look should help explain where hot Jupiters like WASP-121b can form. And while a jovian world such as this is clearly too dangerous for humans, more thorough examinations of exoplanet atmospheres could help when looking for truly habitable planets.

Renault's Megane E-Tech Electric could help rescue workers put out battery fires faster

Renault unveiled the Megane E-Tech Electric at the IAA Munich Motor Show on Monday. While the specs seem decent enough, it's the safety functions that are the most eye-catching aspect of this electric vehicle.

The Fireman Access feature stems from a partnership between Renault Group and French firefighters that stretches back for over a decade. The EV includes special access to the battery for rescue teams. Renault claims this can allow first responders to put out a battery fire in five minutes, compared with between one and three hours for most EV battery blazes. There's also a switch under the rear bench that lets rescue teams disconnect the battery.

In addition, Renault put a QR code on the windscreen. The idea is that rescue teams can scan the code to see details about the car's structure. They can find out the locations of the battery and airbags, as well as information about where it's safe to cut into the vehicle. Renault says this information can help first responders save up to 15 minutes when attempting to free a crash victim, which could help save lives.

#IAA21 | Welcome to the future with our all new Megane E-TECH 100% #electric:
✔️"Made in ElectriCity" 🇫🇷
✔️Unique with an innovative design
✔️At the cutting edge of technology
To know more:

— Renault Group (@renaultgroup) September 6, 2021

No two EVs are built the same, and first responders won't necessarily know the intricacies of each vehicle. So, providing information about the Megane E-Tech Electric's structure using a QR code is a smart move that it'd be nice to see more automakers adopt. The same goes for easy access to the battery to help put out fires faster.

The latest iteration of the Megane line is built on Renault's CMF-EV platform. For the body, designers took inspiration from the Morphoz concept the company showed off last year. There are two powertrain options, as CNET's Roadshow notes: a base model with 130 horsepower and a more advanced alternative with 215 hp and 221 pound-feet of torque.

You can choose between two battery packs as well. The 40 kWh option has a range of 186 miles (300 km), and the 60 kWh pack should get you up to 292 miles (470 km) of driving on a single charge, according to Renault. The company based the estimates on the European WLTP testing procedure. Plug the Megane E-Tech Electric into a 130 wW fast charging station, and you can add up to 186 miles of driving range in 30 minutes of charging time.

Elsewhere, the OpenR infotainment system is based on Android Automotive OS, so you'll have access to Google apps and Google Assistant. While you're on a longer trip, the system can help you locate charging stations that minimize your journey time, Renault says. The Megane E-Tech Electric orders open in February 2022, and sales start the following March.

Hyundai's Genesis brand will switch entirely to electric powertrains in 2025

Hyundai has bet big on EVs and that gamble is paying off with the Korean automaker pacing ahead of many larger companies in the industry in the race towards electrification. The company continued that trend Tuesday when its luxury brand, Genesis, announced that every new model made after 2025 will be an electric vehicle. The company expects to have eight EV models available for sale in 2030 and sell around 400,000 of them annually. 

These models won't necessarily be straight plug-ins as the company is pursuing a "dual-fuel" strategy, developing both battery electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion cells and those powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology. The GV60 will be Genesis' first true EV when it hits the streets later this year. Built on the same E-GMP platform as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, the GV60 is rumored to have between 226 and 436 HP, depending on model type, and offer both 2WD and AWD options, though Genesis has not officially released specs yet.

‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ is coming to Blu-ray in the US for the first time

If streaming the Neon Genesis Evangelion saga on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video has made you an acolyte of the hit anime, then we have good news. The original series is coming to Blu-Ray for the first time in North America. 

Own the legendary series NEON GENESIS EVANGELION on Blu-ray in North America for the first time ever with the Ultimate Edition.#EVANGELIONUltimate

— GKIDS Films (@GKIDSfilms) August 19, 2021

But, this isn't just a regular physical release. Billed as "Neon Genesis Evangelion: Ultimate Edition," the box set is spread across 11 discs, contains over 7 hours of bonus features, along with extras that span a 156 page book, art boards and limited edition artwork, a Sachiel resin paperweight and a NERV ID Card with lanyard. 

The release includes the official and classic dubs and subtitled versions, plus the follow-up films, Evangelion: Death (True)² and The End of Evangelion. All of that will cost you $275 during the current pre-order period, which ends December 7th. Afterwards, you'll have to fork out $350 for the special release. As of now, the Blu-Ray is listed as sold out in the US, probably because fans quickly snapped up the 5,000 copies that were available. Though it still appears to be in stock in the UK, where it's limited to just 2,500 copies.


Despite all the riches on offer, what you won't get here is the series' "Fly me to the Moon" ending theme, likely due to licensing issues. As fans will know, the song was also missing from Neon Genesis Evangelion on Netflix. The streamer opted to replace it with "Hostility Restrained" from the show's score. Those feeling wistful can listen to it in the video below.