Skylanders has long been the king of video game / toy hybrids; it’s a franchise worth billions and a genre that’s becoming increasingly popular (cf. Amiibo, Disney Infinity, Lego Dimensions). Every iteration of the series adds one twist to its formula. For this year’s Skylanders: Superchargers, which is set for release September 20th for pretty much every console and iPad, it’s cars. And motorcycles. And boats. Also tanks, helicopters, jets, submarines, and more.
As with previous Skylanders titles, players “import” playable characters into the game by placing physical figurines on a plastic “Portal of Power” connected to the console. The game itself is very tongue-in-cheek action / platformer (the Big Evil Weapon here is called the…
Round two of Humanity vs Particle Physics has finally kicked off, with scientists at CERN announcing this morning that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is once again delivering data for the first time in 27 months. The world’s largest particle accelerator started running again last month after nearly two years of maintenance work, but at 10:40AM local time today, operators declared they had produced the “stable beams” necessary for experiments. Thanks to various upgrades, collisions can now be carried out at energy levels of up to 13 trillion electron volts (TeV) — almost double the 8 TeV achieved during its initial run from 2010 to 2013.
Selfies are hard, aren’t they? You have to lift up your arm, wipe the ennui off your face, and press a button to make the selfie happen. Too much work, says Asus. What you need is the help of a Selfie Swing! It’s a simple swinging arm that attaches to the new ZenFone Selfie smartphone and can be flexed out to serve as a stand to hold the phone upright. To be fair, an integrated stand is not the worst idea in the world, but why Asus felt the need to tie it to self-portrait photography is beyond me.
Microsoft, in the midst of showing off Windows 10 at the Computex trade show in Taiwan this week, has revealed a new range of new PCs, laptops, and tablets designed to work with its newest operating system. In addition to the Asus Transformer Book T100HA shown off earlier this week, also detailed on stage was a new version of Dell’s 15-inch XPS laptop on the way that borrows the “virtually borderless” InfinityEdge display from its 13-inch sibling, and a new HP tablet with “revolutionary note-taking capabilities.”
Nick Parker, VP of Microsoft’s Original Equipment Manufacturer Division, also lifted the lid on another HP product — a 2-in-1 device with a magnetic hinge that makes it flexible, and — like the tablet — the 2-in-1 device has…
Retail giant Amazon will now offer free shipping in the US on a range of small and cheap items without requiring customers place a minimum order. Called “Fulfillment by Amazon Small and Light,” the new service — detailed by Bloomberg yesterday — allows customers to place orders for items that weigh no more than 8 ounces (230 grams), with delivery taking between four and eight business days from a new shipping hub in Kentucky. Previously, buyers would need to place an order worth $35 or more, or have an Amazon Prime subscription to qualify for free shipping.
Ford announced that it would open-source its AppLink connected car platform at CES two years ago; at the time, it seemed unlikely that any global automakers would bite, considering the industry’s persistent heel-digging on differentiation in the dashboard. But the landscape has changed: Android Auto is in production cars, CarPlay is rolling out, and now, Toyota has announced that it is “exploring” the use of SmartDeviceLink — AppLink’s open-source cousin — in future models.
President Barack Obama has signed the USA Freedom Act bill into law, reinstating the Patriot Act’s controversial Section 215 but curbing some of the NSA’s broad surveillance powers.
The bill was passed by the Senate earlier today following a political standoff. Although the House passed the bill last month, the Senate only was able to pass it one day after the Patriot Act’s provisions expired, following a major debate where several proposed amendments to the Freedom Act were shot down.
Google confirmed today that it is currently testing a health software suite it calls the “Study Kit,” made up of Android and iOS apps, and a Chrome extension, as a part of its Baseline Study project, developed by Google’s experimental Google X wing and first detailed last July. According to TechCrunch, the testing comes ahead of a wider launch for the project scheduled for later this year. Baseline Study, which began as a limited trial at Stanford and Duke Universities, will take medical data from thousands of individuals to build a picture of ideal human health.
Jean Carlomusto’s sympathetic portrait of the writer and activist Larry Kramer premieres June 29th at 9 PM ET on HBO, but you can see the trailer right now. Larry Kramer in Love & Anger is a fascinating look at an important figure in LGBT history, and it’s also a mesmerizing sketch of gay life over the past 40 years. It’s most effective in showing how the Kramer-founded Gay Men’s Health Crisis and, later, ACT UP, dragged gay men out of the closet and into political life. The documentary was one of our favorite movies at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.