Skybox joins Google, HP introduces The Machine, Facebook leaks Slingshot app + more—The Friday 5

Amelia Baer
  • Amelia Baer
  • June 13, 2014
Skybox joins Google, HP introduces The Machine, Facebook leaks Slingshot app + more—The Friday 5

1. Skybox Imagery joins Google

This week, Google acquired satellite imaging company Skybox Imaging. Maps are serious business for the tech giants, and it seems as if every week they are buying smaller niché companies that focus on specific aspects of mapping.

“Skybox’s satellites will help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery. Over time, we also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to help improve internet access and disaster relief—areas Google has long been interested in,” Google said.

The two companies have reported excitement in joining forces, as both believe in making information accessible to everyone. Skybox stated in their blog, “Skybox and Google share more than just a zip code.” The plan for the satellites is still developing. What we do know is that the Skybox team will be integrating into several divisions within Google, like the Access and Energy team.

2. Pocket-sized SCiO molecular sensor

Mobile health is hot. Consumer Physics is attempting to make an immediate impact with their SCiO device. The SCiO reads the chemical makeup of materials or physical objects using near-Infrared spectroscopy. Even further, as the SCiO scans more and more materials it will develop smarter detection skills. The use cases for this technology are endless, but it’s getting a lot of attention for its ability to scan foodstuff and deliver the nutritional information to a partner mobile app via Bluetooth. The handheld device has the potential to turn something completely physical, into its digital counterpart for consumer use and learning.

3. “The Machine” by HP

HP has been flying under the radar, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been dormant. In fact, the company has been busy working on a solution for the future of computing. As the Internet of Things bridges consumer and industrial processes in ways that were never thought possible, HP is unveiling The Machine. No, it’s not the latest Terminator prototype, but a processing architecture designed to handle the increasing flood of data in today’s modern data center. HP Labs, the company’s R&D division, is tasked with creating a computer that can process much more data at a lower cost, and lower power consumption.

Part of their project includes developing a new form of memory called memristors that can store data permanently (instead of temporary RAM); and silicon photonics that transfer data using light instead of copper wires. A Machine server could “address 160 petabytes of data in 250 nanoseconds; HP says its hardware should be about six times more powerful than an existing server, even as it consumes 80 times less energy.” Check out HP’s video on their initiative into cloud and data management. HP predicts that the first devices using The Machine are expected to ship in 2018.

4. Facebook Slingshot App

Facebook’s latest attempt at capturing some of the ephemeral chat market resulted in their Slingshot app, which lets users share videos, photos, and messages with a single friend or a group of people—just like Snapchat. But where Slingshot differs is that, in order for users to access the content, friends have to both send something to each other to unlock new shots. A receiver has to “sling” something back to the sender. Similar to Snapchat, the original “sling” won’t be available after it’s viewed. Facebook made a small mistake this week with a preemptive release that was immediately pulled.

“Earlier today, we accidentally released a version of Slingshot, a new app we’re working on. With Slingshot, you’ll be able to share everyday moments with lots of people at once. It’ll be ready soon and we’re excited for you to try it out,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

See some screenshots of the app right before it was taken down.

5. Mozilla to sell $25 smartphones in India, Indonesia

Did you know Mozilla has a mobile operating system? It’s called Firefox OS. Aside from being known for its desktop browser, Mozilla has been keeping an eye to emerging international smartphone markets—namely India and Indonesia. Mozilla Chief Operating Officer, Gong Li said, “One U.S. dollar means a lot of things to consumers in emerging countries.” He added, “it’s difficult to sell smartphones that cost more than US$50 in those markets.” Mozilla is collaborating with Chinese chip maker, Spreadtrum Communications, to integrate chipsets into these $25 smartphones. Overseas consumers can expect Mozilla’s smartphones to roll out within the end of the year.


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