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The Morning After: Friday, June 23rd 2017

Welcome to your Friday morning. As we prepare to phone in the rest of the day, read about how a lensless camera is possible with math, how car buyers aren’t quite sold on autonomous vehicles, and how one company’s working on a Photoshop for your voice.

Math and optical sensors instead of a lens.
Caltech’s lensless camera could make our phones truly flat

While phones get thinner, there’s one spot that keeps sticking out: the camera lens. Taking good pictures and being able to focus at multiple distances requires a layer of glass that’s a certain size, but there’s really no getting around it — or is there? Researchers at Caltech have devised an "optical phased array" chip that uses math as a substitute for a lens. By adding a time delay — down to a quadrillionth of a second — to the light received at different locations on the chip, it can change focus without a lens.

‘Final Fantasy’, ‘Hyper Light Drifter’ and more are at least half off.The latest Steam summer sale might leave you broke

The first of twelve days of discounted titles includes the Final Fantasy franchise and 70 percent off underwater indie charmer Abzu. Hyper Light Drifter has been discounted by half as well, and if you wanted to explore Mafia III’s world of crime and violence, you can do so for $15. Who needs the outdoors?

You’re probably still better off with a Moto G5.
Motorola’s new Moto E4 isn’t exactly thrilling, but it’s cheap

Motorola is as well known for its budget phones as it is for flagships, so no one was surprised when it revealed its fourth-generation Moto E, earlier this month. Motorola’s E line always felt like a curiosity, as though the company was challenging itself to build a phone for as little as possible without turning it into a smoldering pile of garbage. Its track record speaks for itself: Motorola does fine work on the cheap, and that hasn’t changed. The frills here are few, but after a little hands-on time, the Moto E4 seems to be a strong option for just $130.

Facebook’s testing a profile-picture guard in India.
It’s trying out a feature that stops profile-photo theft

In India, Facebook has begun testing new tools that prevent anyone from sniping your profile picture for who knows what purpose. If you live in the country, you might see an option to turn on "profile-picture guard" next time you visit your News Feed. When you have the guard up, other people will no longer be able to save your pic or even screenshot it with an Android device. People not in your friends list won’t be able to tag anyone or themselves in your profile picture regardless of your tag settings, as well.

At least not if they’re anything like adaptive cruise control or collision-avoidance systems
Car buyers aren’t thrilled about semi-autonomous features.

JD Power’s latest research into the likes and dislikes of car owners has two big takeaways: People love Kia and are pretty lukewarm about self-driving technology. Or, at least those components that most drivers can gain access to right now.

Your regular Echo will also pipe a camera’s audio into your room.
Amazon’s Echo Show displays your smart camera’s live video feed

Amazon’s Echo Show is getting another new trick, err, skill. Now the gizmo will link with the cameras on your home network and display their feeds when you say something like, "Alexa, show the front door." This will work with cameras from the likes of Arlo, August, EZVIZ, IC Realtime, Nest and Vivint. If you don’t have a Show, saying the command phrase will give you an audio feed on your Dot or Echo. Better yet, Amazon has released the camera-control API into the wild, so developers can get cracking on even more implementations for it.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Trump’s infrastructure proposal includes rural broadband expansion
  • Hackers reportedly altered and stole voting data before 2016 election
  • One company is trying to create Photoshop for your voice
  • An involuntary manslaughter case could have a big impact on how cyberbullying is addressed
  • LG’s latest OLED display is flexible, transparent and gargantuan