Posts with «utility industry» label

Microsoft's Windows 11 beta testers may start seeing ads in the Start menu

Microsoft is exploring the idea of putting ads in your Windows 11 Start menu. To be specific, it's looking to place advertisements for apps you can find in the Microsoft Store in the menu's recommended section. I could hear you sighing in defeat if you've used Windows 10 extensively before — the older OS serves ads in the Start menu, as well, and they're also for apps you can download. At the moment, Microsoft will only show ads in this version if you're in the US and a Windows Insider in the Beta Channel. You won't be seeing them if you're not a beta tester or if you're using a device managed by an organization.

Further, you can disable the advertisements altogether. To do so, just go to Personalization under Settings and then toggle off "Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more" in the Start section. Like any other Microsoft experiment, it may never reach wider rollout, but you may want to remember the aforementioned steps, since the company does have history of incorporating ads into its desktop platforms. Last year, Microsoft also deployed experimental promo spots for its services like OneDrive in the menu that pops up when you click on your profile photo. 


This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Apple is selling its contested Watch models again after import ban pause

The Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 wearables are back on sale via the manufacturer. We knew this was coming yesterday, after a federal appeals court in Washington D.C. granted a temporary pause on an import and sales ban. The ban could be reinstated on January 10, when the International Trade Commission (ITC) decides on whether to grant Apple a longer pause.

It could also come back on January 13, which is when the same agency makes a decision regarding Apple’s redesign of both smartwatches. All told, the ban lasted little more than a day and really only impacted consumers purchasing directly from Apple, as the devices were readily available from third-party retailers.

Apple told Engadget it’s “pleased the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has stayed the exclusion order while it considers our request to stay the order pending our full appeal.” At the heart of the issue is a lawsuit issued by medical technology company Masimo, which alleges that the blood oxygen sensors used in newer Apple Watch devices violate two patents. The company also accused Apple of stealing trade secrets and poaching employees.

The ITC agreed with Masimo, which led to Apple scrambling to offer a software fix. However, it was ruled that this was a hardware issue relating to the actual sensor, leading Apple back to the drawing board. It’s expected to reveal a redesigned blood oxygen sensor by January 13. The budget-friendly Apple Watch SE was never part of this discussion, as it doesn’t have a blood oxygen sensor.

Apple has long held that the ban would cause “irreparable harm” to the company. To that end, the Watch side of Apple’s business generates around $17 billion a year, according to Bloomberg. We’ll keep you updated as this case moves forward. In the meantime, snap up the well-reviewed Apple Watch Series 9 while you still can.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Nintendo's new mobile game lets you pluck Pikmin on your browser

Nintendo has teamed up with Niantic for a new Pikmin mobile game that's mostly good for passing time than serious gaming. It's called Pikmin Finder, and as Nintendo Life notes, the companies have released it in time for the Nintendo Live event in Seattle. You can access the augmented reality game from any browser on your mobile, whether it's an iPhone or an Android device. We've tried it on several browsers, including Chrome and Opera, and we can verify that it works, as long as you allow it to access your camera. 

Similar to Pikmin Bloom, the game superimposes Pikmin on your environment as seen through your phone's camera. You can then pluck the creatures by swiping up — take note that there are typically more of the same color lurking around when you do spot one. Afterward, you can use the Pikmin you've plucked to search for treasures, including cakes and rubber duckies. You'll even see them bring you those treasures on your screen. 

Pikmin Finder

To play the game, you can go to its website on a mobile browser and start catching Pikmin on your phone. You can also scan the QR code that shows up on the website when you open it on a desktop browser.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Hitting the Books: Why nobody knows Hiram Maxim, inventor of the incandescent lightbulb

One detail that's often omitted from modern founders myths is whether or not said scion of capitalist success actually invented the thing they're famous for inventing. Just like Elon Musk didn't invent electric vehicles so much as be the first to successfully market them to the American public, Thomas Edison's contributions to the advent of electrified lighting too might be overstated. In the excerpt below from his latest book, The Things We Make: The Unknown History of Invention from Cathedrals to Soda Cans, Dr. Bill Hammack, YouTube's "The Engineer Guy," recounts the tale of Hiram Maxim, an irrepressible engineer and inventor whose novel filament production method would have made him a household name — had Edison not reportedly made "a clean steal" of his revolutionary technology.   

Sourcebooks Inc

Excerpted from The Things We Make: The Unknown History of Invention from Cathedrals to Soda Cans by Bill Hammack, PhD. © 2023 by Bill Hammack, PhD. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

In November 1880, the reading room of the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company, located in the basement of one of the first skyscrapers, glowed with the light of a four-bulb chandelier and six bulbs in fixtures spaced along the walls. An observer characterized this electric light as “very much like that of a first-class oil lamp, steadier than gas, and of a yellow, clear pleasant quality” — nothing like the “ghastly blue” of a “flickering” arc light, nor was there the odor of burning gas; instead, the room’s atmosphere “remain[ed] perfectly cool and sweet.” His only complaint was that the bulbs flickered slightly with every stroke of the engine that powered the generator. This first commercial installation, a spectacular achievement, featured no bulbs manufactured by Thomas Edison, although he had proudly announced his invention of the light bulb only a few months earlier to great press attention. The bulbs at the Mercantile Company were those of the U.S. Electric Lighting Company, a company driven forward by their irrepressible and energetic engineer, Hiram Maxim. Edison called Maxim’s bulb “a clean steal” of his lamp. Yet Maxim had seventeen patents on incandescent lamps, and his company controlled the patents of several other inventors, also contemporary to Edison. Maxim thought of himself as the inventor of the commercial light bulb. “Every time I put up a light,” he complained, “a crowd would gather, everyone asking, ‘Is it Edison’s?’” This so irritated Maxim, who noted that Edison at the time “had never made a lamp,” that he considering killing “on the spot” the next person to ask him “Is it Edison’s?”

That the first commercialized light bulbs were not Edison’s surprises because we love stories of sole inventors whose spark of inspiration revolutionized the world. They give us narratives that are neat, tidy, and digestible but incomplete. These stories hide the engineering method; they bury the creativity of engineers, smooth over struggles, and sanitize choices that reflect cultural norms. Perhaps no story persists more than Edison and his light bulb, yet Edison was the tail end of a long list of light bulb innovators in a process of invention similar to that of the steam turbine in the next century.

In the forty years before Edison’s first successful prototype, at least twenty people presented, patented, and demonstrated incandescent lamps—using electricity to heat a filament until it glowed. The first recorded attempt was in 1838 (almost a decade before Edison’s birth) by a Belgian inventor whose bulb used a strip of carbon as a filament. A fair assessment of history would call these men inventors of the light bulb comparable to Edison, especially in a world where Edison, the so-called inventor of the incandescent light bulb, was forty years late to the idea of incandescent lighting. But unlike with Edison, we don’t remember the names of these men, because most of their bulbs burned for only a few seconds. They had the necessary but thankless job of creating links in a chain of incremental advances that didn’t yet produce an applicable or reproducible solution to the problem of darkness, which so far could only be dispelled with fire, until Edison created one of the links that did, transforming from method into narrative. Although Edison and his bulb end that length of the chain of innovators, his link was no more an exercise or example of the engineering method than those that came before; it only overcame a circumstantial threshold of usefulness.

In 1878, Edison focused the energy of his staff at the bustling Menlo Park Research Laboratory on finding a long-lasting filament for the incandescent light bulb. The staff worked to the rhythms of Edison, “the central originating and guiding mind and personality,” as one worker noted, describing work there as “a strenuous but joyful life for all physically, mentally, and emotionally.” Edison set the tone with long work hours into the night. He often napped on the workbenches in Menlo Park and ate sparingly in increments of small snacks he thought were better for digestion, although for his workers, he had brought in, often at midnight, hamper baskets loaded with hot dinners of meat, vegetables, dessert, and coffee. But when Edison stood, stretched, hitched up his waistband, and sauntered away, all knew that dinner was over and work should resume.

In the late 1870s, Edison and his staff produced bulbs that looked much like a modern bulb: a glass envelope fastened to a wooden base covered with copper strips, and, at its center, a thin, long, delicate spiral of platinum. Yet these bulbs failed. Some yielded light as bright as a small bundle of today’s Christmas lights for a few hours, but most burned out quickly. As Edison learned, the temperature for the incandescence of platinum wire was near that of its melting point—any fluctuations in the current and the platinum would melt. Edison and his team tested an astonishing array of materials, by some count sixteen hundred types. They tested metals like platinum, iridium, ruthenium, chromium, aluminum, tungsten, molybdenum, palladium, manganese, and titanium; elements that sometimes behaved like metals, including silicon and boron; then a grab bag of materials—cork, wax, celluloid, and the hair from his employees’ beards. After these, his team moved to slivers of wood, broom corn, and paper. Tissue paper covered with lampblack and tar and rolled into a rod glowed astonishingly well and for a good amount of time. Edison refined this idea by “carbonizing” cotton thread, heating it without oxygen until the length of thread was blackened throughout. From this thread, he formed a long filament. On October 21, 1879, a bulb with a filament of this thread, with all the air removed from the glass enclosure, burned for more than half a day. They were approaching the beginning of the commercial light bulb.

Seven months after that bit of carbonized thread showed promise, they tried a piece of bamboo: a six-inch strip burned for three hours and twenty-four minutes at seventy-one candlepower (about the brightness of a standard sixty-watt bulb today). “The best lamp ever yet made,” an Edison associate noted, “here from vegetable Carbon.” From there, Edison’s team tested two hundred species of bamboo until they found a variety that was the best for manufacturing carbon filaments, grown near Yawata, Japan, where Edison is still celebrated with a street named “Edison-dori,” a bust of Edison in the town center, and, near a shrine, a large monument dedicated to Edison. With his specialized bamboo supply and method of manufacturing in place, Edison was ready to light the world, but Hiram Maxim beat him out of the gate.

Maxim’s bulbs, installed at the Equitable Life Building, out-classed Edison’s. “They have a rich golden tint, resembling that of a wax taper,” said one reporter. Another noted that Maxim “has invented a lamp which surpasses, I believe, even Edison’s dreams.” When comparing the lamps, reporters noted that Edison’s had lower brightness than Maxim's, or, when of the same intensity as Maxim’s, they burned out in only a few hours. By Maxim’s own estimate, the filaments in his bulbs could last forty days. The dimness and shorter life of Edison’s bulbs were the same thing: Edison’s bulbs could not tolerate as much current as Maxim’s, so if run at the same current, Edison’s bulbs would burn out quickly, and to make them last longer, Edison’s were run at a lower current and thus were dimmer.

That Maxim could achieve this was unbelievable to Edison’s staff—an outraged member of the Menlo Park staff ranted that it must be apparent to “any sane person that” Maxim’s bulb must be “but a copy” of Edison’s. Surely, thought Edison’s employees, only a well-oiled machine like that of Menlo Park could produce a light bulb. Inside Menlo Park, glassblowers, machinists, engineers, chemists, and physicists churned out inventions like appliances on an assembly line, while Maxim’s ham-handed U.S. Electric Lighting Company struggled to find enough resources to survive; employees thought it likely to shut at any minute, and even its own president described it as “helpless.” Their technical expertise was so low that they could not figure out, as one employee later noted, what “size wire would carry a certain number of lamps without overheating,” adding that “a number of mysterious fires about this time were probably the fruits of our ignorance.” Compared with Edison’s factory-line Menlo Park model, Maxim’s method of invention seemed scattershot.

Maxim was the classic American tinkerer, once describing himself as a “chronic inventor.” Although self-taught—one biographer describes him as “semiliterate”—over his lifetime, he invented an astonishing array of tools and toys. Maxim developed methods to separate metals from their ores, instruments to measure wind velocities, vacuum cleaners, novelty items that produced “illusionary effects”—a rotating sphere with concave paraboloidal floor, mirrors, and a bicycle track, presumably to create the illusion of riding a bike long distances—gear to prevent the rolling of ships, riveting machines, feed water check valves, steam generators, wheels for railroads and tramways, an inhaler to treat bronchitis, boot and shoe heel protectors, hair curling irons, a method for demagnetizing watches, a type of pneumatic tire, a coffee substitute, a method for extinguishing fires in theaters, and most surprising of all, new advertising methods—a rotating sign that works “even in very light airs.” And near the end of his life, he invented the world’s first successful machine gun.

Maxim’s contribution to the light bulb was to improve the manufacture of filaments. Filaments, whether of bamboo or cardboard, as in Maxim’s case, were converted to carbon by heating at high temperatures in the absence of oxygen until the cellulose in the material broke down, leaving a hard carbon skeleton, but uneven carbonization caused thinner sections to become much hotter when lit with an electrical current and burn out more quickly. Maxim’s insight was to place a carbonized filament into a hydrocarbon atmosphere, then pass through it an electrical current that heated the filament to a bright red. The thinner and hotter parts of the filament would break down the vaporous hydrocarbon surrounding them and deposit pure carbon on the filament, building up layers of carbon on the thinner parts and resulting in a filament of uniform thickness and greater life span. As Maxim gloated, “it is absolutely impossible by mechanical means to make a carbon filament that is of uniform resistance” without his patented method, adding that Edison “had to use my process or give up the job.”

Maxim’s attitude was prompted by the rivalry that burned between the many engineers competing in a world eager for the magic of electrical lighting, but it also shows us the problem with crediting any individual with the complete “invention” of any technology. We tend to tell the stories of inventors who, through their unique intellect and drive, produce an equally unique marvel at the climax of a story with a beginning, middle, and end. That is often how this book has told it, out of deference to individual humans’ need to relate to the stories of other individual humans. But the engineering method is uninterested in this “great men” historical framework. It cares only about the accumulated knowledge, heuristics, rules of thumb, intuition, and anything else that drives problems in the direction of solutions as fast as possible, the sum of which, even for a single solution, is beyond unthinkable for a lone person to create themselves. This web of information is so vast, incomprehensibly vast, so we make it comprehensible and moving by telling the stories of individual inventors, even if this distorts the unknowable true web of invention.

Maxim is likely unrecognized as an inventor today because he lacked Edison’s agile self-promotion and because, in a sense, Edison “won” and thus told the story of the light bulb’s invention. But did Edison “invent” a light bulb when his company produced a brilliantly glowing but short-lived electric light? Perhaps. When we think of an invented technology, we typically imply technology that not only exists but is reproducible in a way that can fulfill the needs of those whose problem it solves. That is, it can be manufactured or mass-produced. A handful of working light bulbs in the late 1800s is a marvel, but it doesn’t light the world. In this sense, the invention of the light bulb was a decades-long process of incremental changes to create a filament that can be manufactured reliably and extended beyond Edison and Maxim alone. To tell only a “great man” story hides the contributions of others who were essential to a technology’s development. We can see that in the evolution of the manufacturing techniques of Maxim’s light bulbs: he had on staff an artistic draftsman turned engineer whose contributions to reliable manufacturing have long been overlooked.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Renewable power generation overtook coal in the US last year

Renewables are already producing more energy than fossil fuels in Europe, and now the US is approaching that milestone. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has determined that renewable power generation overtook coal in 2022, with 4,090 million megawatt-hours coming from solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass and geothermal technology. These green sources leapt past nuclear in 2021, but widened the gap last year. They have about 21 percent share combined.

The shift came through the combination of increasing renewable capacity and coal's years-long decline. Wind was the dominant source of clean electricity, with the capacity jumping from 133 gigawatts in 2021 to 141 gigawatts a year later. Hydro was second, followed by utility-level solar, biomass and geothermal. Coal dropped to 20 percent share due to both the closure of some plants and the reduced use of others. Nuclear has remained relatively steady, but the shutdown of Michigan's Palisades powerplant saw it dip to 19 percent.

It might not surprise you to hear which states dominated certain renewable energy sources. Sunny California was the leader in solar power generation with 26 percent of the output, while Texas had a similar slice of wind generation. Texas also has the largest shares of coal and natural gas, although its lead in those areas is only slight.

Renewables weren't the top power source in 2022 — that distinction went to natural gas, which claimed a 39 percent share. However, it's evident that clean tech has a firm foothold in the US despite attempts to undermine it through regulation. We'd expect the trends to continue, too. President Biden's administration has heavily promoted renewable electricity, including the approval of the first large offshore wind farm in the country, while the EIA expects coal use to shrink to 17 percent. Natural gas may retain a comfortable lead, but it now has a new chief rival.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Elon Musk says Twitter is fixing its Elon Musk tweet problem

If you've been using Twitter's "For You" instead of the chronological "Following" tab as God intended, you may have noticed a problem. A number of users have remarked that the algorithmic feed has been showing a lot of Elon Musk's tweets and replies, whether they follow him or not. Twitter's CEO effectively confirmed the matter, tweeting "please stay tuned while we make adjustments to the uh... 'algorithm.'"

I'd assume that by putting "algorithm" in quotes, Musk is joking that a person, possibly himself, may actually be responsible for the change. That's not too far-fetched, considering that the Elon-forward feed arrived shortly after Musk complained about a drop in his own engagement and even reportedly fired an engineer over the issue. 

Please stay tuned while we make adjustments to the uh .… “algorithm”

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 14, 2023

Following that episode, Musk tweeted that a fix was coming after a "long day at Twitter HQ with eng team." He said that 95 percent of his tweets weren't getting delivered to the Following feed due to an issue with something called "Fanout," so that's now been shunted to another service. He also noted that the Recommendation algorithm wasn't working correctly, "causing accounts with many followers to be dumped." 

There's no word yet on why Twitter went from "Musk lite" to "all Elon all the time," but it appears that issue is being addressed. In the meantime, you could either mute Musk (at least temporarily) or simply use the Following feed to see only the tweets you want to see, precisely when they happen. 

Amazon told lawmakers it wouldn’t build warehouse storm shelters

Amazon told lawmakers it wouldn’t build storm shelters in its warehouses after a December 2021 tornado killed six employees at an Illinois location. Although the company changed its severe-weather response strategy after the incident, it essentially told the elected officials that since building storm shelters isn’t required by law, it won’t do that.

The company responded to lawmakers Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Cori Bush (D-MO), who sent a letter on December 15th, questioning the company’s lack of storm shelters or safe rooms at its warehouses. “Amazon’s apparent unwillingness to invest in a storm shelter or safe room at its Edwardsville facility is made even more concerning by the fact that installing one could be done by Amazon at relatively low cost,” the lawmakers wrote. “This cost is negligible for a company like Amazon, which brought in more than $500 billion in revenue over the 12-month period ending September 30, 2022 and clearly has the resources necessary to protect its workers should it have the will to do so.”

Company vice president of public policy Brian Huseman responded (via CNBC), “Amazon requires that its buildings follow all applicable laws and building codes. We have not identified any jurisdiction in the United States that requires storm shelters or safe rooms for these types of facilities.”

Lawrence Bryant / reuters

Huseman added that Amazon follows Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Weather Service guidelines and will continue using a “severe weather assembly area” for sheltering in place instead of the requested storm shelters. The six employees and contractors who died at the warehouse tried to protect themselves in a bathroom; the surviving workers took refuge in an assembly area.

OSHA investigated the incident last April and ordered Amazon to review its severe weather policies, but it fell short of penalizing the company for its response. Additionally, Amazon hired a meteorologist, launched an internal center for monitoring severe weather and created emergency cards pointing out evacuation points and assembly areas.

Amazon reportedly began rebuilding the warehouse last June. The families of two of the employees killed there have sued the company for wrongful death.

The best sleep apps and gadgets for a better night's sleep

Every year, many of us put things like “eat better,” “stress less” and “get in shape'' on our New Year’s resolutions lists. And sleep can play a big part in achieving all of those goals. Missing out on rest makes us eat junk and pumps up stress hormones to the detriment of pretty much every other way we try to better ourselves. Thankfully, technology can help; in addition to just reminding us to take enough time to sleep, as the bedtime modes on your iPhone or Android device do, there are other gadgets that can help make the sleep you do get deeper and more restful. For those who need a little extra help getting some shut-eye in 2023, here are a few gadgets to help you sleep that we've tried that could work for you, too.

Oura Ring

Oura’s smart ring tracks your activity during the day and your sleep at night (or whenever it is you go to bed), giving you an overall score from one to 100 each morning. Using temperature, movement, blood oxygen and pulse sensors, Oura gains insight into how long you stay in the various sleep stages and uses that data to offer suggestions on ways to get better quality rest. When we tested it out, we called it the “perfect wearable for people who don’t like wearables,” appreciating the data it provides while slipping seamlessly into everyday life. After a few days of wearing it, our reviewer quickly started to ignore its presence, which means you’re probably much more likely to wear it to bed than a fitness band.

Since it doesn’t have a screen, all of Oura’s information comes to you via the companion app. That lack of screen is also the reason you can squeeze up to seven days of battery life out of it, an important feature since no device can track your sleep if it has to spend its nights on a charger.

Fitbit Inspire 3

If you prefer a wearable with a screen, a fitness tracker is arguably better than a smartwatch when it comes to sleep tracking since they tend to be less obtrusive and have longer battery life. That means you’re more likely to wear it to bed many nights in a row, until it eventually has to be recharged. Far more affordable than the Oura, Fitbit’s Inspire 3 is our budget pick for the best fitness tracker right now, and it does a good job tracking your Zs.

It runs for around $100 and has similar sensors to the Oura, including heart rate, temp, movement and blood oxygen. The company has put a lot of effort into expanding their sleep metrics, and the app can offer you detailed insights into how long you’re spending in each stage of sleep. Even without the premium membership, you’ll get a sleep score each morning. With the $10-per-month membership, you get a more detailed breakdown of the score, so you can better track your sleeping trends over time. Along with that, the alarm on the Inspire 3 can wake you up when you’re in a lighter sleep stage so coming back online isn’t as jarring.

Eight Sleep Pod 3

If you don’t want a wearable at all, the Sleep Pod 3 from Eight Sleep will track your metrics and give you a sleep score. It also heats or cools your side of the bed and wakes you up with a subtle rumble beneath your chest. The mattress-and-cover combo goes for between $3,000 and $4,400, depending on the size and thickness of the mattress, which puts it well above any traditional wearable in terms of affordability. The bulk of the cost is in the cover, which conceals tubing through which warm or cool water flows from an external base, regulating the temp, while sensors in the cover monitor your sleep.

You can buy the cover alone and that will save you between $900 and $1,900 off the sticker price, but it’s still not cheap. You’ll also need a $19 per month subscription to access all the sleep tracking features. But in our review, with a score of 81, our reviewer (and new dad) Sam Rutherford said the Pod 3 has delivered some of the best sleep he’s ever had.

Hatch Restore

Part sunrise alarm clock, part audio machine, the Hatch Restore made the cut in our guide to smart lights for its ability to help out before, during and after sleep. To get you to dreamland, the Restore offers guided exercises and sleep stories, and to keep you asleep once you get there, you have your pick of white or pink noise sounds. To wake up, the gentle sunrise alarm slowly brightens, mimicking the sunrise and priming your brain for morning. The caveat here is that you’ll need a subscription to access the library of sleep meditations and guides, and that currently goes for $5 a month or $50 per year.


Personally, the best thing I’ve done for my sleep is banishing my phone from the bedroom, so it may seem ironic to add a smartphone app to this list. Headspace, however, has the opposite effect on sleep that social media does. Like the Hatch Restore, this app has an extensive library of meditations and exercises to help you relax and fall asleep.

I prefer the shorter, wind-down segments that last a few minutes and help you do a full body scan to relax. Longer “Sleepcasts” run around 45 minutes and tell you stories in calm voices – there are even a few Star Wars-themed tales, but those just made me want to get up and watch more Andor. Sleep music and soundscapes combine ambient sounds with tones and melodies, lasting up to 500 minutes. And perhaps most critically, there’s a “Nighttime SOS” page, with guided exercises to help you get back to sleep if you wake up with bad dreams, work stress or something else.

A subscription goes for $70 a year or $13 a month. In addition to sleep content, you also get daytime meditations and sessions that help you breathe, focus and manage stress, which can also help with sleep. If you do decide to bring Headspace into the bedroom, make sure you have your phone’s sleep focus or bedtime mode turned on before you do, otherwise nighttime spam emails and Messenger alerts will undo all of the good work your sleep app just rendered.

Philips Hue Smart Lights

We think Philips Hue White + Color are the best smart light bulbs you can buy, and certain features can even help with sleep, such as programming them to change to a warmer color when it's getting close to bedtime. You not only get a subtle hint that it’s time to wind down, but also the warmer tones have lower levels of sunlight-mimicking blue light and can help your brain prepare for sleep. You also have the ability to control them using your voice, so instead of getting out of bed to shut off the lights, you can ask Alexa or the Google Assistant to do it for you.

Felix Gray blue light blocking glasses

Speaking of blue light, it’s not great for sleep. But the habit of staring at screens isn’t going anywhere, which is why blue light-blocking glasses exist. I’ll admit I first thought they were a gimmick, but have since come to rely on the pair I bought from Felix Gray. The science seems to check out and do I notice a difference with my sleep patterns when I wear them versus when I don’t. I initially only wore them in the evening hours, when I was working past 5PM or otherwise still using my computer. Now I wear them basically all day because I feel like they help my eyes feel far less tired. They come with or without your prescription and in enough styles to make them your own.

Bearaby weighted blanket

You’ve probably met someone who swears by their weighted blanket. Our colleague Nicole Lee is one of them. As someone plagued by insomnia, she finds she’s “nodding off faster and staying asleep longer” with the Bearaby weighted blanket and recommends it as one of our top self-care gifts. Unlike other weighted blankets that are filled with glass or plastic beads, Bearaby comforters are hand-knit from a heavyweight cotton, Tencel or eco-velvet, looking more like enormous scarves than a bland sleep aid.

Manta sleep mask

While blue light is bad before bed, any type of light hitting your eyelids can keep you from reaching those deeper levels of sleep. Along with blackout curtains and shutting off the nightlight, we recommend this sleep mask from Manta. There are a ton of sleep masks out there, but Engadget weekend editor Igor Bonifacic finds this one to be better than the rest and recommends it for travelers in our guide. It has removable, repositionable eye cups for a customized fit and they stand up to their claim of blocking out 100 percent of ambient light. You can also buy additional eye cups that you can microwave to provide a warming effect, or eye cups wrapped in silk that will be gentler on your skin and others.

Apple's rumored electric car may not be fully self-driving after all

Apple isn't done scaling back its plans for an electric car, apparently. Bloombergsources say the EV, codenamed Project Titan, is no longer a fully self-driving machine. It will reportedly have a conventional wheel and pedals, and will 'only' drive itself on highways. The company has also pushed the launch back by a year to 2026, the tipsters claim.

The rumored vehicle will supposedly offer enough autonomy that you can play games or watch video on the highway, but ask you to take control when it's time to drive on city streets or through adverse weather. Apple may debut the hands-free tech in North America at first and expand access "over time," the insiders add.

Apple has already declined comment. Titan has been in development for years, and has suffered numerous setbacks as well as major strategy shifts. The tech firm may have had doubts as early as 2015, and was said to have scuttled the vehicle in 2016 in favor of a licensed self-driving platform. Executive shuffles and layoffs didn't help, either. While the company did return to making a full-fledged vehicle, according to rumors, it had little success courting production help from brands like Hyundai.

More modest ambitions wouldn't be surprising. Full Level 5 autonomy (where a vehicle can drive itself in any circumstance) still isn't a practical reality, and even Waymo's robotaxis are only allowed to operate in good weather in California. There's also the question of legal permissions. While states are increasingly receptive to self-driving cars, there isn't yet a framework that would let the general public use completely autonomous vehicles. Even if Apple solved all the technical challenges, it couldn't realistically sell a truly hands-off car any time soon.

A switch to a semi-autonomous design could lead to fiercer competition. While Tesla has long been considered Apple's main rival, the EV market has grown rapidly in recent years. Brands like Ford, Hyundai, Volkswagen and Rivian have all made capable electric rides. Apple would be entering a crowded field, and there's no guarantee the company will stand out.

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.

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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

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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.
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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.

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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.


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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.