The ultimate driving EV? BMW launches all-electric i3 | The Verge

BMW i3 hero

This is the automaker’s first genuine, built-from-the-ground-up electric vehicle. As you’d guess, the car introduces a number of other firsts for the German company. Chief among them is a passenger compartment made from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic — a breakthrough design element that results in a weight of only 2,600 pounds. Today, at simultaneous events held in New York City, London, and Beijing, the company finally took the wraps off its production model i3. BMW says the EV is capable of maximum distances ranging between 80 to 100 miles, powered by a 170-horsepower electric motor. The i3 will arrive in the US in the second quarter of next year priced at $41,350 to start, but European drivers will begin seeing it this November.

  • On the eve of its public unveiling, the production BMW i3 remains hidden beneath a white cover. (Image credit: BMW Group)

  • BMW’s reveal of the i3 EV draws near as press begin to assemble for the company’s New York City event.

  • BMW held a live simulcast connecting New York, London, and Beijing to showcase the production model i3.

  • The cover finally comes off BMW’s i3 electric car, providing the first glimpse at a production model of the hatchback. (Image credit: BMW Group)

  • BMW’s senior executives were joined by a future driver for the i3 unveiling.

  • One of the BMW i3’s most unique features isn’t visible from the outside. Its passenger compartment is made entirely of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, leading to a much lighter vehicle that doesn’t sacrifice on safety.

  • BMW’s iconic logo is surrounded by the chrome wheels of the new i3 hatchback EV.

  • As soon as the white cover was pulled away, members of the press began snapping photos of the BMW i3.

  • On the roof of its New York City venue, BMW showed off another of the i3’s available finish options.

  • Backed by a 170-horsepower electric motor, the BMW i3 can take you from zero to 60 in seven seconds.

  • Unfortunately for journalists eager to sample the BMW i3’s interior, the car was locked.

  • BMW executive Peter Schwarzenbauer fields one of many press questions about the production i3 and its $41,350 price tag.

  • Back downstairs, BMW continues to showcase its brand new i3 EV as a special guest arrives.

  • Mayor Michael Bloomberg was on hand to praise the BMW i3’s environment-friendly engineering.

  • Bloomberg revealed that he once owned a BMW — before the private car that came with his current job.

  • Bloomberg, a major proponent of green initiatives, congratulated BMW on the i3’s unveiling.

  • BMW’s designers will tell you that the i3 is a vehicle built for the future, but blue accents are an immediate reminder of the automaker’s legacy.

  • From a performance standpoint, BMW’s i3 ranks similarly to the electric competition.

  • BMW finally opens the doors on the i3, granting onlookers a tour of the new EV’s interior.

  • There’s no shortage of electronics mixed in with the i3’s wood paneling and other refinements, but by designing an EV from the ground up, BMW has afforded the car a spacious interior.

  • When it comes to navigation, automakers still prefer building their own software rather than integrating a native Google Maps experience.

  • A touch display near the i3’s steering column offers quick access to gear selections and keyless ignition.

  • It’s not exactly a sports coupe, but the BMW i3’s hatchback design offers plenty of storage space.

  • BMW’s executive team and Mayor Bloomberg after B

Source: The Verge.

The Verge: Samsung under investigation for false advertising about HTC in Taiwan

Samsung is under investigation by Taiwanese authorities over allegations that it used deceptive advertising practices in the country, the AFP reports. The company reportedly hired students to write negative remarks online about HTC and to post promotional content for itself. Though it’s unclear what the actual content of these messages was, in a statement provided to The Verge, Samsung said that its Taiwanese branch “has ceased all marketing activities that involve the posting of anonymous comments.” It believes that the incident was an error due to insufficient training, and that it is not consistent with Samsung’s policies.

The AFP reports that the online campaign occurred through a local advertising agency hired by Samsung Electronics Taiwan, and that Samsung could be fined up to NT$25 million ($835,000) if the allegations are upheld. Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission has already fined Samsung at least twice in the past year. The jointly owned company Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology was penalized for price fixing in September 2012 along with LG, Sony, and Philips, and earlier this year Samsung itself was fined around NT$300,000 ($7,670) for misleading advertising of one model of its Galaxy Y Duos.
The Verge: Samsung under investigation for false advertising about HTC in Taiwan.

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Timeline designer Nicholas Felton leaves Facebook as Home for Android launches | The Verge

Two years after joining Facebook, designer Nicholas Felton is leaving the company. In aFacebook post yesterday, Felton said he was “extremely proud of the projects I worked on” and called his time at Facebook a high point in his career, but that he would be “moving on” and returning to New York. Felton is best known for working on the Facebook Timeline, a major overhaul that gave profile pages a new look and a new way of organizing information. He leaves just as Facebook introduces another new tool: Home, an Android launcher that makes Facebook posts and messaging central to a phone’s user interface.

Felton’s plans for the moment are unknown, but he has a long pre-Facebook history. His widely read Personal Annual Reports, a chart from which is shown above, collect details captured by relentless lifelogging, creating a revealing portrait of himself. Those reports would later be credited as an influence on Timeline. He’s also seen his brand of life-tracking and analytics become more popular; last year, he described his desire to put his data in context now that “half my friends are wearing FitBits.”

Source: The Verge.

Disappearing legal files lead to computer ban for Pentagon defense lawyers | The Verge

A series of mysterious and troubling computer breaches at the Pentagon has led to an order for military and civilian defense lawyers to cease use of their computers when working with sensitive information, reports Reuters. The order came last night following the gradual disappearance of three or four weeks worth of confidential documents, as well as the discovery that 500,000 legal files of varying sensitivity were made accessible to parties not authorized to view them. It’s unclear why these events have occurred, but they’ve all revolved around the legal proceedings of inmates being held at Guantanamo Bay, some of whose cases were about to begin pretrial hearings.

Both the prosecution and defense now want these hearings postponed until this issue can be resolved. Reuters reports that the incidents all involved the defense attorneys’ files, many of which are protected by attorney-client privilege. The disappearances began in February, and evidence has been discovered suggesting that third parties had monitored the defense’s emails and internet searches. The impact of these security breaches remains to be seen, but there’s currently no indication of wrongdoing on the prosecution’s part.

However, Guantanamo’s handling of the inappropriate file access has only raised further issues. Reuters reports that the detention camp’s legal advisor noted that hidden microphones had been present during private discussions between inmates and their lawyers, but that the conversations — which would be protected by attorney-client privilege — were not monitored. It’s not clear what the further developments around the defense’s privacy will mean for the inmates’ legal proceedings, but one hearing has already been pushed back two months, into June.

Source: The Verge.

Scientists build robotic ant colony to find out how real ants choose directions | The Verge


As anyone who’s ever observed an ant farm will attest, ants tend to pick the most efficient route through their maze to a food source, even when confronted with two seemingly identical routes. Scientists weren’t exactly sure how ants are able to do this, especially with limited vision and limited brainpower. So a team of researchers built a robotic ant army to find out.

For their study on swarm intelligence, researchers from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the New Jersey Institute of Technology turned to Alice, a type of tiny, wheeled cube robot developed several years ago by Swiss scientists. The researchers programmed the robots to mimic some basic ant behaviors, such as to avoid obstacles and to follow light trails, which were used to represent pheromone trails that real ants leave for each other. They discovered that relying on just these simple behaviors, the robots were able to select the shortest path through a maze most of the time (over 70 percent of trials), approaching ant-like levels of success.

The high level of performance of robots using only simple programs led the researchers to conclude that ants aren’t using any “complex cognitive process” to pick their route, and instead rely mainly on a loose obstacle-avoidance system and directions laid out by peers that have already successfully navigated the maze. The scientists published their results in an open access journal PloS Computational Biology this week. Their next step is to figure out how ants come up with the structure of their mazes in the first place. Don’t worry about any robotic ants getting loose, though — the researchers returned their robots to a supply company, as one of the scientists leading the group told The Verge.

Scientists build robotic ant colony to find out how real ants choose directions | The Verge.

Dragon Mobile Assistant for Android can now share your location and read your text messages | The Verge

Last year Nuance introduced Dragon Mobile Assistant for Android, its latest entry into the voice-activated smartphone assistant genre. Today the company has released version 3.0 of the app with an assortment of usability enhancements, including location sharing and the ability to dial users into scheduled calls automatically. As before, you can tap on the microphone icon in the app itself or call it into action simply by speaking the words “Hi Dragon.” From there, you can share your location with a voice command — “Tell Dieter where I am,” for example — and the recipient will then receive a message, complete with a link that pinpoints your location on a map. It works in the reverse as well; asking “Where’s Sam” will bring up a map showing their location, assuming they approve the request.


The app can also scan your calendar for any upcoming calls you have scheduled. When the time comes, it will ask you if you’d like to be dialed in automatically — a nice touch, particularly if you have a lot of calls scheduled from day to day. The emphasis on letting users take care of business without resorting to numerous swipes and taps also manifests itself in the enhanced text message features. Previous versions of the app let users dictate texts via voice, but version 3.0 will also read any incoming texts, allowing you to hear your messages and respond without having to take your phone out of your pocket (Bluetooth headset support is included now as well).

With hands-free use and anticipatory systems becoming an increasingly important part of the way we interact with mobile devices — one need only look to Siri and Google Now for the two most high-profile examples — the kind of small but eminently useful touches like the ones Nuance is rolling out here become increasingly important. The newest version of Dragon Mobile Assistant is a clear sign that no matter how stiff the competition may be, Nuance has no intention of giving up on this segment of the market anytime soon. If you’d like to try the new update out for yourself, it’s available now in the Google Play Store.
Source: The Verge.