<![CDATA[NBC Boston - Tech News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcboston.com/news/tech http://media.nbcboston.com/designimages/clear.gif NBC Boston http://www.nbcboston.comen-usSun, 23 Apr 2017 19:40:06 -0400Sun, 23 Apr 2017 19:40:06 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[MasterCard Rolls Out Cards With Fingerprint Sensor]]> Thu, 20 Apr 2017 11:07:55 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/MasterCard-34123792165_e987246927_o.jpg

MasterCard is testing payment cards with fingerprint sensors in South Africa and hopes to roll it out to the rest of the world by the end of the year, the company said Thursday. 

The technology works in the same way as it does with mobile phone payments: users must have their finger over the sensor when making a purchase. Upon cardholders' registration, their fingerprint is converted to an encrypted digital template. 

Tech experts have said that while using fingerprints is not foolproof, it is a "sensible" use of biometric technology, the BBC reported.

"Whether unlocking a smartphone or shopping online, the fingerprint is helping to deliver additional convenience and security," Ajay Bhalla, president ofenterprise risk and security, said in a press release. "It’s not something that can be taken or replicated and will help our cardholders get on with their lives knowing their payments are protected."

The biometric verification can only be used for in-store purchases. Online and other so-called "card not present" transactions will still require further security measures, according to the BBC. 



Photo Credit: Courtesy MasterCard]]>
<![CDATA[Here's How Some Fortune 500 Companies Are Going Green]]> Thu, 20 Apr 2017 10:02:11 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/212*120/wind+farms+usa.jpg

It's Earth Week, and with much of the world focused on going green, NBC checked in with a few of the nation's most valuable companies to see how they're tackling the issue.

Renewable energy was a major focus among the five companies that outlined their plans for us. Microsoft, for example, has a data center in Wyoming that is powered entirely by wind energy, and the computer giant is committing to running even more of its data centers on renewable energies such as wind, solar or hydropower.

Facebook's data centers get 35 percent of their power from clean, renewable energy sources, the company said. Its data centers are also designed to use 50 percent less water than typical data centers and are entirely cooled with outdoor air.

Its next seven data centers will be completely powered by renewable energy, Facebook said.

Meanwhile, oil company ExxonMobil said its researchers are trying to develop a new source of renewable energy: biofuels made from algae. The company says it could increase energy supplies and also reduce emissions.

Emissions were another focus. Microsoft said it's reduced emissions by 9.5 million metric tons since 2012, and ExxonMobil said a new filter used in a plastic-making process would reduce carbon emissions by 45 million metric tons, as well as making energy costs cheaper worldwide.



Photo Credit: David McNew/Getty Images, File ]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Is Working on Letting You Type With Your Brain]]> Wed, 19 Apr 2017 17:43:20 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/AP_17108732801091.jpg

Facebook on Wednesday unveiled a research project that will allow people to type using their thoughts, or hear through their skin, NBC News reported.

Such a product could allow the deaf and blind to communicate more easily — or allow everyone else "to type five times faster than you can on a smartphone," according to Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook's Building 8 research.

These efforts raise hard questions related to patient privacy, as any brain-to-text system will essentially read a person's unspoken thoughts.

Dugan, speaking at the company's annual developer conference in San Jose, California, acknowledged some of these issues in her talk, which was laced with terms more akin to a science fiction movie or a conversation among physicists.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Noah Berger]]>
<![CDATA[Zuckerberg: Facebook Has More Work To Do on Safety]]> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 18:57:06 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/FACEBOOK0418_MP4-149255458523900001.jpg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made his first public comments since the Cleveland murder case, saying that the social media giant has more work to do when it comes to policing disturbing content online and making its online community safer. 

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<![CDATA[April the Giraffe YouTube Channel Almost Sets Record]]> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 09:25:13 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/AP_17105737948344.jpg

The long-awaited arrival of April the giraffe's baby has made Animal Adventure Park the second most live-viewed channel in YouTube's history.

April's livestream had more than 232 million live views and 7.6 billion minutes of live watch time since February, second only to League of Legends eSports, which has been around since 2012, YouTube said on Monday.

The channel had its biggest day on Saturday, with more than 14 million live views. More than 1.2 million viewers were watching the livestream simultaneously on YouTube when April gave birth Saturday morning, making it one of the Top 5 most-watched moments.

The not-yet-named male baby giraffe was running around with its mother within three hours of birth at the private zoo in Harpursville, a village 130 miles northwest of New York City.

Animal Adventure Park owner Jordan Patch said the baby was healthy and April was recovering "perfectly."

April and the baby will be introduced to the public when the park opens for the season next month.

"We're going to see that baby and mom really develop a beautiful bond," Patch said.

The zoo is holding a contest to name the baby, charging $1 per vote, with proceeds being split among wild giraffe conservation efforts, zoo upgrades and support for families of children experiencing unexpected medical expenses.

April's fans can continue to watch mother and baby on livestream now. But eventually, after the baby is weaned, it will move on to be paired with young females at another zoo, where it will produce calves of its own, Patch said.



Photo Credit: Animal Adventure Park via AP
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<![CDATA[Astronaut Brings the Solar System to Earth in 'Miniverse']]> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 15:03:39 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Miniverse-Hadfield.jpeg

Former Commander of the International Space Station Chris Hadfield speaks with NBC on the importance of space exploration, what being an astronaut taught him about perspective on Earth and why Pluto was kept in the solar system line-up for new space documentary "Miniverse." In it, Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space, hosts astronomers and physicists on a road trip from the tip of Long Island, New York, to California's Santa Monica Pier in a scaled down model of the solar system transposed across the United States. The "Miniverse" documentary airs on new science and technology streaming service CuriosityStream.



Photo Credit: CuriosityStream]]>
<![CDATA[New Green Tech That Could Change the World (at Least a Bit)]]> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 07:22:17 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/tesla-press_solar_roof.jpg

Companies around the world are taking steps to create cleaner, more sustainable ways of living through innovative technologies that might just change everyday activities.

Tesla is no stranger to such technology. The California-based electric automaker also dabbles, with its sister companies, in battery production, hyperfast train travel and rockets, and it's now getting ready to take orders on a new technology: the solar roof.

Several months ago, Tesla announced it developed glass tiles that add a bit of fashionable flair compared to the average shingle, but also allow homeowners to harness the sun's energy. Consumers should be able to place orders this month.

With Earth Week underway, here's a closer look at the tiles, plus six other promising green tech innovations happening around the world.

Solar panels, shrunk down
Tesla's solar tiles aim to create a durable, more stylish option for those seeking to power their homes with solar energy. The goal of the tiles is to create what Tesla calls "the most beautiful and efficient roof ever."

"Would you like a roof that looks better than the normal roof, lasts twice as long, costs less, and by the way, generates electricity?" the company's CEO, Elon Musk, said in November. But even if the roof tiles are more sleek than the average solar panel roof, there's no definite answer on whether the tiles will be better than traditional solar panels when it comes to generating power.

Village-powering solar roads
If solar-gathering roofs aren't hi-tech enough, France unveiled its first solar-powered road in Normandy in December. The idea behind the road, which is made of photovoltaic panels, is to gather enough power to supply a nearby village. Normandy's stretch is part of a promise to install 1,000 km of solar roadways throughout France over the next few years.

It’s not the first of its kind, though. The Netherlands debuted a solar-powered bike path in 2014, called SolaRoad. It generated enough electricity to power a small house for a year, which was better than expected, Forbes reported. 

Pop-in electric bike wheels
Electric bicycles are gaining popularity among the environmentally conscious, but UrbanX's Drop-in Wheel is a lot less expensive than most of the other options out there. That's because it's just a battery-powered wheel that bicyclists can pop into almost any existing bike frame.

But the Drop-in Wheel hasn't hit the market yet — it's the result of a crowdfunding effort on Kickstarter, where it's described as a "60 second solution to convert your traditional bike into an electric bike with a 30 mile range and a 20mph top speed." There are six different wheels for backers to choose from, and the estimated delivery date is this summer.

Methane-detecting Street View cars
You may have seen Google's Street View cars roving the roads, photographing the area for the 3D component of Google maps. But the cars have a new mandate, according to the Washington Post: detecting methane gas.

The greenhouse gas is emitted during the transportation and production of coal, natural gas and oil, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The cars will be equipped with methane sensors to help pick up on spills in the surrounding areas, the Post reported in March. It's unclear when the program is set to start; Google didn't respond to a request for comment.

Baking soda-making coal plants
A coal plant in India is making what could be a major advancement in the fight to find a use for carbon emissions by converting them into baking soda, the Guardian reported in January. The plant, Tuticorin Alkali Chemicals, captures carbon dioxide from its coal-powered boiler and converts it into the household cleaning agent, the plant says.

The inventors of the chemical used to strip carbon, Carbon Clean, say that the new method needs less energy and is less corrosive than current carbon capture and storage chemical amine, according to the Guardian. According to Carbon Clean's website, "Carbon capture is estimated to reduce about 20 percent of the total global greenhouse emissions within the next four decades."

Battery-electric buses 
Buses that run on electricity, rather than gas, are gaining popularity across the United States. In Antelope Valley, California, electric buses with the ability to travel more than 160 miles debuted last year. Nearby Long Beach also recently started integrating similar buses into its fleet of public transit. Even some school buses are going electric.

Electric buses can reduce pollution. Massachusetts and New Jersey are among the states also working toward instituting more electric buses.

The first hybrid boat
Toyota is known for its cars, but now the company is testing out what it says is the first hybrid boats. Like the Prius car, the prototype uses two types of power generators, an engine and an electric motor, according to a company news release.

The electric vehicle mode has the potential to lower emissions and raise fuel efficiency. A feasibility study of the boats is being conducted from July 2018 through March 2021 in Tokyo, Toyota says. Tokyo's Metropolitan Government will provide Toyota with data on the boat's performance, and to verify its convenience and areas of potential improvement. 



Photo Credit: Courtesy Tesla
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<![CDATA[Facebook Shuts Down 30K Fake Accounts Tied to France]]> Sat, 15 Apr 2017 04:54:56 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/facebook-logo2.jpg

Citing deceptive content and misinformation, Facebook has shut down 30,000 fake accounts tied to France ahead of the country's presidential election this month, NBC News reports.

The social media giant revealed ramped up efforts to stop the spread of fake news, hoaxes and spam through fake accounts, which "enabled [the company] to take action" against the French accounts, Facebook said in a statement.

New technology allows the company to recognize "inauthentic accounts more easily by identifying patterns of activity — without assessing the content itself," like detecting "repeated posting of the same content, or an increase in messages sent," according to the statement.

After facing harsh criticism for the lack of intervention for the spread of fake news ahead of the U.S election, which critics said may have helped sway the results in favor of Donald Trump, Facebook upped its efforts in December.



Photo Credit: Sean Gallup, Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla Pickup Truck to Debut in September]]> Fri, 21 Apr 2017 09:03:43 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/elonmusk3.jpg

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the company was planning to introduce a new semi-truck in September, with an electric pickup truck to follow in about 18 to 24 months, NBC News reported.

The big truck was first hinted at last July, when Musk unveiled his "Master Plan, Part Deux." He had previously expressed interest in a pickup several years ago, about the same time Tesla began searching for a site for its Gigafactory battery plant.

"Tesla Semi truck unveil set for September," Musk said on Thursday, the tweet adding, "Team has done an amazing job. Seriously next level."

Exactly how big the truck will be is unclear. A Tesla spokesperson confirmed there would be no additional information beyond what was in the Musk tweets.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Moon Orbiting Saturn Could Sustain Life: NASA]]> Thu, 13 Apr 2017 20:43:25 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/DIT+OCEAN+WORLDS+THUMB.jpg

A moon orbiting Saturn has all the right ingredients to sustain life. NASA scientists say “Enceladus,” Saturn’s sixth largest moon, could theoretically sustain microbial life, in an exciting development for researchers. (Note: all graphics are artist renderings courtesy of NASA)

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<![CDATA[Uber Used Secret Program to Track Lyft Drivers: Report]]> Thu, 13 Apr 2017 17:49:05 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/AP_16139670373261.jpg

A new report says Uber used a secret program dubbed "Hell" to track Lyft drivers so that the company coud maintain an edge over its biggest competitor. 

Only a small group of Uber employees, including CEO Travis Kalanick, knew about the program, according to a story in the technology trade publication The Information, that cited an anonymous source who wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

Between 2014 and 2016, Uber was able to track how many Lyft drivers were in service, see if they were driving for both ride-hailing services and otherwise stifle competition.

The program was discontinued in early 2016, according to the report.

It's the latest embarrassing revelation for Uber, which has faced a series of executive departures and accusations of sexism and sexual harassment.

A representative for Uber did not respond to messages for comment Thursday. Lyft said in a statement to the publication that "if true, the allegations are very concerning."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Drone Captures Incredible Footage Above Active Volcano]]> Wed, 12 Apr 2017 21:06:22 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/drone-guatemala.jpg

Scientists at the University of Cambridge and University of Bristol are using drones to capture footage and data above an active volcano in Guatemala.

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<![CDATA[Kids Gaming Site is Breeding Ground for Predators, Mom Warns]]> Fri, 07 Apr 2017 12:17:12 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/roblox+video+game+warning.jpg

A Louisiana mother is sounding the alarm about a popular online gaming site for kids, telling NBC 4 New York's I-Team she believes her son was "groomed" by a sexual predator who was lurking in the virtual adventure world.

The 8-year-old boy met the alleged predator on Roblox, a gaming community which boasts nearly 50 million users a month. It also allows players to chat with each other, which is how the boy was allegedly targeted.

The mother says the alleged predator portrayed himself as a child in the virtual world, and became “play partners” with her son after repeatedly finding him the same games.

The conversations quickly escalated with questions about the boy’s school, his home address – and then photos.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Google Adds 'Fact-Check' Tool to Search Results]]> Fri, 07 Apr 2017 11:51:12 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Google+Fact+Check.jpg

Google debuted a fact-checking tool for its search and news results Friday, amid mounting pressure on internet firms to police content it hosts online and criticism the company helps spread misinformation, CNBC reported.

The new functionality adds relevant "fact-check" tags to stories in Google News from services like PolitiFact and Snopes. The tag identifies pieces that had been established to be truthful.

The move follows similar action taken by social networking titan Facebook, which has also taken steps to tackle fake news content including its own fact checking tool which tells users who are about to post a link to an article, whether the claims in the article have been disputed.



Photo Credit: Google]]>
<![CDATA[A 3D Device is Changing the Way Amputees Swim]]> Thu, 06 Apr 2017 14:31:51 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/the-fin_marine.jpg

A 3D-printed device is helping amputees swim again, "Today" reported.

After losing part of his left leg in Afghanistan, Dan Lasko, a former United States Marine, never thought he'd be able to swim the way he used to — until coming across "The Fin," a 3D-printed device that can be attached to his prosthetic leg, allowing him to swim the way he could before his injury.

Before using The Fin, Lasko would have to take his prosthetic leg off before swimming. Without any good prosthetics, it was easier for him to swim without his. But with The Fin, he's been able to swim so hard that the device slipped off his leg and had to be reattached.

"It's kind of like having my leg back," Lasko said. "As I kick, I can feel the propulsion of the water. It feels very free."



Photo Credit: Courtesy Northwell Health
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<![CDATA[Google Releases 'Ms. Pac-Maps']]> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 17:27:45 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/DIT+MS+PAC-MAPS+THUMB.jpg

As part of April Fools' Day, Google has released a special Ms. Pac-Man game you can play using Google Maps. The browser game works on computers and mobile devices. It will be available until April 4.

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<![CDATA[Here's What Gets Left Behind in Uber Cabs Most Often]]> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 10:23:51 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/UBER-Logo-AP_437426747470.jpg

The most forgetful American Uber users are found on either coast, the company said Wednesday, and they leave behind some weird things. 

Los Angeles and New York City are the two most forgetful cities in North America, according to the ride-sharing company's "Lost and Found Index," a catalog of commonly forgotten items found in its cars and SUVS announced as Uber rolls out a new tool for recovering lost belongings.

Phones, rings and keys are what people most commonly leave behind, but Uber also gave a look in a news release at some of the most surprising items left in its vehicles.

One rider got out of an Uber without their sweet potato care package. Others left behind valuable Nordic walking poles, an elf cut-out and a violin, the company's release said, without getting into detail.

The index also shows that items are most commonly reported lost on Sunday, Saturday and Friday, in that order, and the day before Halloween, October 30, ranks as the "most forgetful day in 2016."

Uber even went as far as looking into the frequency that some lost items were reported missing, and when they’re most likely to be reported.

For example, Sundays see the highest spike in lost wedding dresses, while Saturdays hold the crown for the biggest spike in lost plane tickets. On Tuesdays, Uber's data shows a lost swimsuits making the biggest wave.

Uber rolled out the data as it announced a new feature on its app that allows users to retrieve their lost items. Users can click "help" on the app's menu and select "report an issue with this trip." From there, they can contact their driver directly to arrange a time and place to pick up whatever's been left behind.



Photo Credit: AP, File
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<![CDATA[Samsung Unveils New Galaxy Smartphones]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:20:10 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/DIT+TECH+SAMSUNGGALAXY8+032917.00_00_24_05.Still001.jpg

Samsung unveiled its latest smartphones, the Galaxy 8 and 8+, at an event in New York City on Wednesday.  This is Samsung's first major phone release since issues with battery fires forced the company to recall all Note 7 smartphones.

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<![CDATA[5 Millennial Jobs That Parents Just Don't Understand]]> Mon, 27 Mar 2017 07:51:07 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/millennial-generic.jpg

Millennials tend to have head-scratching job titles that just don't make sense to their parents, NBC News reported.

To be an "influencer" or "app developer" is a relatively new trend that might lead some to believe their millennial friend or family member doesn't have a real job.

Take, for example, the up-and-coming position of social media manager. A social media manager is involved with managing and growing a brand's social media presence. Responsibilities usually include creating content, managing partnerships, strategizing ad campaigns and interacting with customers.

NBC News rounded up four other "millennial jobs" that it turns out are actually pretty important.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Uber Suspends Self-Driving Car Program After Crash]]> Sun, 26 Mar 2017 01:24:21 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/AP_16349000708921-Uber-Self-Driving-Cars.jpg

Uber Technologies Inc. suspended its pilot program for driverless cars on Saturday after a vehicle equipped with the nascent technology crashed on an Arizona roadway, the ride-hailing company and local police said.

As Reuters reports, the accident, the latest involving a self-driving vehicle operated by one of several companies experimenting with autonomous vehicles, caused no serious injuries, Uber said.

Even so, the company said it was grounding driverless cars involved in a pilot program in Arizona, Pittsburgh and San Francisco pending the outcome of investigation into the crash on Friday evening in Tempe.



Photo Credit: Eric Risberg, AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[How Can You Keep Your Internet Searches Private?]]> Sat, 25 Mar 2017 19:08:44 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/google+%281%29.png

The Senate passed a joint resolution on Thursday, barring the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing rules passed last year that would ban internet, cable, and mobile providers from selling your data without your consent, NBC News reported.

Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com told NBC News the best way to protect yourself is by installing a VPN — that's a virtual private network. This piece of software will encrypt your data on the internet. 

You'll also want to start paying attention to cookies — those little pieces of data sent by a website and stored on your browser.

Kate Tummarello, a policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation said that if enacted, the new rule would be a "crushing loss for online privacy," essentially prioritizing profits over privacy.

NBC News is a division of NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable provider.



Photo Credit: Google]]>
<![CDATA[Robot Helps Boy Go to School]]> Sat, 25 Mar 2017 03:10:33 -0400 http://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Max+Robot.jpg

Despite a degenerative disease that makes going to school a life-threatening situation, a three-year-old Maryland boy attends classes every day thanks to technology allowing him to connect with his classmates, make friends and even join them for lunch.

Max Lasko and his mother operate a Beam telepresence robot from home, several miles from school.

“When Max first started, every time Max would beam in on the robot, they would be really excited and yell, ‘It's the robot! It's the robot!’” teacher Allyson Levine said. “But after about a week or two, it became, ‘Max is here.’”

Max was born with spinal muscular atrophy, which makes it difficult for him to move, breathe and eat. He can’t be in a classroom for fear of catching a cold or flu, which could be life-threatening for him.

“We felt that it was really important -- since Max's cognition is fully intact, his social intelligence is fully intact -- we wanted him to be able to interact with his peers but we wanted to do so safely,” said his mother, Kristen Lasko.

Max's mother is a teacher, and his father, Jonathan Lasko, is a computer scientist. They applied for and won a grant to cover the costs of the robot, and they asked the Bender Jewish Community Center in Rockville to accept Max into class.

“What our role is is just to be accepting of everyone,” said Ora Cohen Rosenfeld, head of the Bender JCC Early Childhood Center. “And I think this is teaching our children to see Max as a child just as they are with the same needs. He’s different and yet he's very much the same.”

Max is on a ventilator, and his mother puts "angel arms" on him so he can move his hands and participate in activities like coloring for a friend’s birthday picture book.

Max vocalizes but lacks strength for articulation. His mother understands everything he says.

Asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Max surprised his mother when he replied he wants to be a teacher like she is.

“A teacher?” his mother reacted. “You want to be a teacher? I didn’t know that. Wow.”

“I’m glad he has these teachers as role models,” Jonathan Lasko said. “He's looking ahead and imagining himself in the role of teacher, and just like any of us, he's not going to let his different abilities get in the way of doing what he is passionate about.”



Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>