<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - Tech News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/tech http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.png NBC 10 Philadelphia http://www.nbcphiladelphia.comen-usThu, 27 Jul 2017 14:36:51 -0400Thu, 27 Jul 2017 14:36:51 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[TSA to Implement New, Stronger Airport Screening]]> Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:55:25 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_TSA_NEW_MEASURES_072617_1-150109909395300001.jpg

The Transportation Security Administration is rolling out new and stronger screening methods for carry-on baggages at airports across the United States.

<![CDATA[Dead Heavy Metal Icon Ronnie James Dio Will Tour as Hologram]]> Wed, 26 Jul 2017 13:19:44 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/ronnie-james-dio.jpg

Late heavy metal icon Ronnie James Dio is set to tour again in hologram form.

Rolling Stone reports the "Dio Returns" world tour kicks off in Helsinki on Nov. 30 and comes to the U.S. in the spring. Dio's widow, Wendy, says the hologram "gives the fans that saw Ronnie perform an opportunity to see him again and new fans that never got to see him a chance to see him for the first time."

Dio died of stomach cancer in 2010 at the age of 67.

In addition to his self-titled band, Dio fronted Black Sabbath for a time.

Dio isn't the first dead performer to return to the stage as a hologram. Holograms of Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur and Eazy-E have been showcased in recent years.

Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Zuckerberg and Musk Spar Over Artificial Intelligence]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 15:17:23 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/muskzuckerbergnew.jpg

Tech giants Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are feuding on social media on the impact of artificial intelligence.

The Facebook CEO referred to Musk's beliefs on AI as "pretty irresponsible" in a Facebook Live session on Sunday, according to NBC News. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO is known for his "doomsday" views and believes that AI could become humanity's "biggest existential threat" if left unchecked.

When asked about Zuckerberg's comment, Musk said he had discussed the subject with the Facebook CEO.

"I’ve talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited," Musk wrote on Twitter.

<![CDATA[The 'Inner Power' of Music]]> Wed, 26 Jul 2017 14:49:52 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Inner_Power_Records.jpg

Inner Power Records is a free student run record label that is based in the Honickman Learning Center Comcast Technology Labs in North Philadelphia. Mikel Lewis and Paul Dunnaville are in studio to talk about the program and it's talented young artist.

<![CDATA[Microsoft Paint Is 'Here to Stay,' Despite What You Heard]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 10:57:50 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/microsoftpaintlove.jpg

Despite nostalgic articles and disappointed tweets mourning the end Microsoft Paint, the apparently beloved application is not going anywhere.

The application, which has been featured on every Windows release since 1985, was listed as "Deprecated" in the company’s Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

While Microsoft did not say specifically that MS Paint would be removed, the company defined features and functionalities that are "Deprecated" as those that "are not in active development and might be removed in future releases."

Outcry from users and coverage by news organizations about the loss of the classic image-editing application prompted Microsoft to set the record straight.

"MS Paint is not going away. In addition to the new 3D capabilities, many of the MS Paint features people know and love like photo editing and 2D creation are in Paint 3D - the new app for creativity, available for free with the Windows 10 Creators Update," a Microsoft spokesperson said.

"In the future, we will offer MS Paint in the Windows Store also for free and continue to provide new updates and experiences to Paint 3D so people have the best creative tools all in one place."

On Monday, a blog post shared by Windows Experiences acknowledged the "incredible outpouring of support and nostalgia" around the application.

"MS Paint is here to stay."

Photo Credit: Microsoft]]>
<![CDATA[Twins Born Conjoined at the Heart]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 10:55:49 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Joined_at_the_heart-150093339088500001.jpg

Twin baby girls Paisleigh and Paislyn Martinez were born conjoined at the chest, with their hearts fused together. Doctors from University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital used groundbreaking technology to separate them.

<![CDATA[Wisconsin-Based Company Offering to Microchip Employees ]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 14:28:43 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/cyborg-swed.jpg

The fear once was Big Brother might be watching you. Now? Big Brother might actually be inside of you.

Wisconsin-based Three Square Market (32M) is offering implanted chip technology to all of their employees on Aug. 1, 2017. Employees will be implanted with a RFID chip allowing them to make purchases in their break room micro market (aka vending machines), open doors, log in to computers, and use the company copy machine. The program, offered by 32M, is optional for all employees.

Three Square Market designs modern vending machines that various businesses put in company break rooms across the country. So now, instead of digging through your pockets for change to get that bag of chips or pack of gum, employees with the chip simply have to wave their hands in front of a machine's biometric sensors to pay for their snacks.

The company is expecting over 50 staff members to be voluntarily chipped. 32M is partnering with BioHax International and Jowan Osterland, CEO, based out of Sweden.

The chip, about the size of a grain of sand, according to Fortune, is implanted between an employee's thumb and forefinger and will cost roughly $300, which the company will pay for. The embedded chip reportedly uses the same sort of near-field communications (NFC) technology that allows people to hold up their phones to a device to make payments.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Pokémon Go Fest Attendees Refunded as Glitches Plague Event]]> Sun, 23 Jul 2017 12:19:05 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Pokemon+Go+Fest+-+10005609_28152926.png

Thousands of people descended on Chicago Saturday for Pokémon Go Fest – an event that was billed as a celebration of the smartphone game’s first year but instead became a debacle plagued by massive lines and connectivity issues.

Organized by the game’s developer, Niantic, the all-day festival in Grant Park was the company’s first official live event for players of the augmented reality game.

However, upon arrival, the roughly 20,000 attendees were met with hours-long lines to enter the festival, and then technical problems preventing play once inside the event.

Niantic’s chief marketing officer addressed the crowd to boos in the late morning, citing three specific problems that rendered attendees unable to access the game.

“One is a network issue. One of the providers is trying to pump in some more bandwidth so that’s something that we’re working with them closely on,” CMO Mike Quigley said onstage.

“The other two issues are on the Niantic side. There’s a crash bug issue that we’ve identified. I know some of you have had that issue, as well as an authentication issue, so we’ve got it completely pinpointed to those three things.”

Quigley said the company would offer players a refund on the $20 ticket price, as well as $100 in the game credit Pokecoins.

However, even with a refund, many attendees – some of whom traveled to Chicago from around the world – will only receive a fraction of what they actually paid.

Tickets to the festival, which promised rare Pokémon encounters, special challenges and exclusive rewards, sold out in just minutes last month.

Many were then listed for resale on sites like eBay for as high as $400.

Despite the connectivity issues, the festival was scheduled to continue as planned while the engineering team worked on a fix, Quigley said.

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[How Would the East Coast Hyperloop Compare to World’s Largest Tunnels?]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:05:23 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_TUNNELS_LONGEST_072117_2-150066193265500001.jpg

Elon Musk’s proposed Hyperloop from New York to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., would stretch over 250 miles. If built, how would that compare to the world’s largest tunnels?

<![CDATA[Fun Apps to Stop the Summer Slide]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 11:44:57 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Fun_Apps_to_Stop_Summer_Slide.jpg

NBC10's Vai Sikahema and Tracy Davidson hear from an expert about fun ways to keep your kids sharp during summer by using technology.

<![CDATA[Mom Bitten by Shark Gets High-Tech Prosthetic Arm]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:17:32 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Hand0721_MP4-150064505952500001.jpg

Tiffany Johnson lost her arm to a shark while on vacation in the Bahamas back in June. Only a month later and the mother of three keeps a positive attitude about the incident and continues to make progress with her responsive prosthetic arm.

<![CDATA[6,000 Pound Mars Rover Concept Vehicle Starts Tour]]> Thu, 20 Jul 2017 17:19:36 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_MARS_ROVER_072017_1-150058425058900001.jpg

A Mars rover concept vehicle is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The electric vehicle seats four and maxes out at 6 mph. The vehicle was commissioned by the Kennedy Space Center to inspire the public about space exploration.

<![CDATA[Elon Musk Claims 'Verbal' OK for NY-Philly-DC Hyperloop]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:50:29 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/hyperloop+one+1.jpg

New York to Washington in 29 minutes? Elon Musk says it's possible and he has the government's approval to do it (though it's anyone's guess how long it would take to build). 

"Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins," the billionaire inventor and entrepreneur tweeted Thursday afternoon.

"City center to city center in each case, with up to a dozen or more entry/exit elevators in each city," he said in another tweet. The Boring Company is Musk's tunneling venture. 

"Still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval, but am optimistic that will occur rapidly," Musk said about an hour later. He waited until Friday morning to acknowledge, again via Twitter, that the verbal approval was at the federal level only.

"Still a lot of work before formal, written approval, but this opens door for state & city discussions," he added.

In a statement to News 4 New York on Thursday, a Boring Company spokesperson said the company has had a number of promising conversations with local, state and federal government officials. 

"With few exceptions, feedback has been very positive and we have received verbal support from key government decision-makers for tunneling plans, including a Hyperloop route from New York to Washington," the person said, adding the company hopes to "break ground later this year." 


Passengers traveling via Hyperloop would board magnetically levitating pods moved by electric propulsion.

The U.S. Department of Transportation referred inquiries about the project to the White House. The Trump administration acknowledged Musk's tweet while not getting into any specifics about a possible project.

"We have had promising conversations to date, are committed to transformative infrastructure projects, and believe our greatest solutions have often come from the ingenuity and drive of the private sector," a White House spokesman said.

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Representatives for both the New York City and Washington, D.C. mayors said they were unaware of approvals for the project. 

"This is news to City Hall," tweeted Eric Phillips, a spokesman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"This is the first we’ve heard of it, but we can't wait to hear more," said LaToya Foster, spokeswoman for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. 

The D.C. Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to an inquiry. The Federal Transit Administration deferred to the Transportation Department.

In February, Musk tweeted photos from a tunnel in D.C., sparking a flurry of speculation. NBC Washington learned he toured the 2 1/2-mile-long Anacostia River Tunnel and saw the tunnel-boring machine that created it. A spokesman for Musk declined to speak at the time about the purpose of the tour.

Baltimore officials, in statements to local media, said they supported the project and would not stand in its way. 


Skeptics wasted no time in challenging Musk on the details of his announcement Thursday, including the BBC's Silicon Valley reporter, who asked whether the CEO was announcing prematurely in a bid to drum up support.

"Support would be much appreciated!" he replied. 

In a later response to an inquisitive follower, Musk did say the work on the New York-to-Washington tunnel would run in parallel to an existing project to build tunnels in Los Angeles.

"Then prob LA-SF and a TX loop," he tweeted. He gave no estimate for how long any of these projects would take or what they might cost. 

He also indicated that adding Boston and Providence to the NY-DC route would be a "natural extension," and said his company had been approached by Chicago officials about an O'Hare-to-downtown tunnel as well. 

Musk is best known for his electric car company Tesla and his space venture SpaceX, as well as co-founding PayPal.

The inventor first proposed the Hyperloop electromagnetic tube system in 2013. Earlier this year the California tech company Hyperloop One unveiled a plan for a NY-to-DC system.

Musk's system appeared to be different from theirs, though.

In April, former D.C. Department of Transportation head Gabe Klein said he thinks Hyperloop will happen.

"I think it's going to become a reality," he said. "I think it may take longer than people think to get through all the right-of-way clearances and the sort of government regulations. But I think we are in for a sea change in terms of long-haul transportation."

<![CDATA[New Apps Used by Children Spark Safety Concerns ]]> Thu, 20 Jul 2017 00:26:13 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Roblox+App+_24412068.jpg

Smartphone apps have the power, now more than ever. From setting up dates to playing games with people around the world, users are more connected.

But when it comes to kids, how far is too far for these apps?

According to a report published by research firm Influence Central, the average kid receives their first smart phone at 10 years old. The report also found the average child gets their first social media account at 11 years old.

Two new platforms are testing those limits.

One of those apps is Roblox. It’s a gaming app with user created content, so players can sign up and immerse themselves into countless evolving worlds.

The concern comes from the chat feature. As NBC10’s Keith Jones discovered, it only took a couple minutes to make a username, set a password, and put a random birthday in. Just like that, he had the capability to message the 50 million plus people that use Roblox every month.

The issue becomes more complex with the rise of Yellow. Designed to help users find and make new friends on Snapchat, the app has been criticized as being “Tinder for kids.”

Like the popular dating app, kids swipe right or left to decide if they want to “match” with someone and start a new friendship. Yellow is rated 17+ in the app store, but accepts any age above 13.

"It leaves them out to predators. Someone could say that they're their age, I'm 11, I'm 12, they could be 35-years-old," Anthony Carter Sr. said.

Carter works in cybersecurity, and his 11-year-old son Anthony is debating whether to use the app. He says it’s scary to know that everyone’s ages and locations are out in the open.

"You could like talk to them and it also shows their age and where they live at, their area,” Anthony said.

NBC10 talked to marine intelligence officer Kevin Hyde, who used to work for the NSA. He says when it comes to kids using these apps, parents need to be involved.

"Your child should have the expectation that you're going to supervise their activity, that they're going to ask you,” Hyde said. “They shouldn't have an expectation of privacy.”

NBC10 reached out to Yellow with questions about the safety of their app. They stressed that safety is their “top priority” and are exploring ways to prevent people from lying about their age.

Their safety efforts also include using software to detect fake pictures and profiles, and they are using a team of human moderators to review reported content. Their full statement can be found at the bottom of the page.

Cell phone carriers are also playing a role in online safety. Every major carrier has a plan, at an extra cost, which helps parents monitor or limit their child’s activity.

How can parents step in? Experts say that open communication is vital, but turning off the device’s real time geo-location is one way to preserve privacy. For parents still feeling uneasy, experts also suggest that they delete the app.

Yellow's Full Statement

I'm Marc-Antoine Durand, COO at Yellow, in charge of safety.

As Yellow is a social media to make online friends with more than 10 million users, safety is a topic that really matters to us.

We take our users' safety very seriously and are constantly developing R&D to always enhance our detection of wrongdoings. So this is definitely a topic that matters to us at Yellow !

Yellow is a member of the ICT Coalition for Children Online which helps us shape our approach to these important issues.

Here are some points we would like to explain, following your questions about fake identity. We are definitely willing to answer other questions you could have about this topic!


Users are required to register for the service and their mobile number is recorded and verified as part of the registration process. When users register for the service they receive a clear statement of the Community Rules that inappropriate pictures or videos will not be tolerated and users are encouraged to report any suspicious or abusive behavior or concerns.

Regular Alerts to users about ‘faking who they are'

Users receive an alert at regular intervals reminding them if they are sharing content that is inappropriate or if they are faking who they are, such as being younger or older their account will be removed from Yellow. Yellow also created a software technology to detect fake pictures.

Age of Users

Like all other social media services, Yellow relies users giving their real age, this is critical for the tools and processes social media companies like Yellow puts in place to be effective. Yellow is following industry standards already set in this area.

Minors cannot see adults on Yellow and adult cannot see minors. There are two separate apps.

Verifying Users changing profile to ‘over or younger than 18 years

Any user wishing to change his or her age on their profile after registering with Yellow have to send official proof of their ID for verification to the company, if they are under 18 years and want to change it to being18 and over, and similarly for anyone registered as 18 years wanting to change it to being under 18 years. This supports keeping fake profiles off Yellow and users pretending to be someone they are not.

Reporting and Blocking

Yellow like all social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter relies on users reporting concerns or difficulties they are experiencing.

A simple and effective reporting abuse feature is embedded in every profile for users to report abuse or concerns directly to Yellow and are responded to. Users can also ‘unfriend’ other users that are bothering them in any way like other social media services.

When registering for the service receive a clear statement of the community rules that inappropriate pictures or videos will not be tolerated and are encouraged to report any suspicious or abusive behavior to Yellow.

Responding to parents' concerns

If a parent contacts Yellow with concerns through the email address in the settings feature of the app hello@yellw.co or website www.yellw.co they will receive a dedicated contact form, so they can describe any concerns they have and these reports are prioritized by the Yellow team.

We answer every parents in less than 24 hours.

Fake Profiles

Yellow uses technology to detect fake images. A special form has been created to allow users to inform Yellow that someone impersonated someone else on the app. Users can also report fake profiles when using the app.

Every reported content is analyzed by the Yellow moderation team and by their software.

Moderation - technical

Yellow uses software to automatically to block inappropriate contents. Yellow has also created a database of fake pictures and created a software to detect these pictures in profiles and block them.

Moderation - Human

Yellow has a team of human moderators who review content reported but also user profiles for suspicious behavior 24/7, and particularly those that maybe fake where users are 'not who they say they are’. And users who do create fake profiles or share inappropriate content are blocked and removed from Yellow.

Yellow Safety Centre - available in the settings section on the App. 

Yellow like other social media services and in line with good practice in this area is developing a safety centre with clear and simply information for users, parents and educators. Also in development is a law enforcement guide to help with their data requests when investigating crime

Please find attached a number of screen shots to illustrate the App and accessing the safety tools and safety centre which is done directly through the settings feature on the app, similar to other App providers such as Instagram.

I'mMarc-Antoine Durand, COO at Yellow, in charge of safety. 

AsYellow is a social media to make online friends with more than 10 millionusers, safety is a topic that really matters to us.  

Wetake our users' safety very seriously and are constantly developing R&D toalways enhance our detection of wrongdoings. So this is definitely a topic thatmatters to us at Yellow ! 

Yellowis a member of the ICT Coalition for Children Online which helps us shapeour approach to these important issues.

Hereare some points we would like to explain, following your questions about fakeidentity. We are definitely willing to answer other questions you could haveabout this topic! 


Usersare required to register for the service and their mobile number is recordedand verified as part of the registration process. When users registerfor the service they receive a clear statement of the Community Rules thatinappropriate pictures or videos will not be tolerated and users are encouragedto report any suspicious or abusive behaviour or concerns.

RegularAlerts to users about ‘faking who they are'

Usersreceive an alert at regular intervals reminding them if they are sharingcontent that is inappropriate or if they are faking who they are, such as beingyounger or older their account will be removed from Yellow. Yellow also createda software technology to detect fake pictures.


Ageof Users

Likeall other social media services, Yellow relies users giving their real age,this is critical for the tools and processes social mediacompanies like Yellow puts in place to be effective. Yellow is followingindustry standards already set in this area.

Minorscannot see adults on Yellow and adult cannot see minors. There are two separateapps. 


VerifyingUsers changing profile to ‘over or younger than 18 years

Anyuser wishing to change his or her age on their profile after registering withYellow have to send official proof of their ID for verification to the company,if they are under 18 years and want to change it to being18 and over, andsimilarly for anyone registered as 18 years wanting to change it to being under18 years. This supports keeping fake profiles off Yellow and users pretendingto be someone they are not.


Reportingand Blocking

Yellowlike all social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter relies on usersreporting concerns or difficulties they are experiencing.

Asimple and effective reporting abuse feature is embedded in every profile forusers to report abuse or concerns directly to Yellow and are respondedto.  Users can also ‘unfriend’ other users that are bothering them in anyway like other social media services.

Whenregistering for the service receive a clear statement of the community rulesthat inappropriate pictures or videos will not be tolerated and are encouragedto report any suspicious or abusive behaviour to Yellow. 


Respondingto parents' concerns 

If aparent contacts Yellow with concerns through the email address in the settingsfeature of the app hello@yellw.co orwebsite www.yellw.co theywill receive a dedicated contact form,  so they can describe any concernsthey have and these reports are prioritised by the Yellow team.

Weanswer every parents in less than 24 hours. 



Yellowuses technology to detect fake images. A special form has beencreated to allow users to inform Yellow that someone impersonated someone elseon the app. Users can also report fake profiles when using the app. 

Everyreported content is analyzed by the Yellow moderation team and by theirsoftware.


Moderation- technical 

Yellow uses software to automatically to block inappropriatecontents. Yellow has also created a database of fake pictures and created asoftware to detect these pictures in profiles and block them. 


Moderation- human

Yellowhas a team of human moderators who review content reported but alsouser profiles for suspicious behaviour 24/7, and  particularly those thatmaybe fake where users are 'not who they say they are’. And users who do createfake profiles or share inappropriate content are blocked and removed fromYellow. 


YellowSafety Centre - available in the settings section on the App - see http://safety.yellw.co/

Yellow likeother social media services and in line with good practice in thisarea is developing a safety centre with clear and simplyinformation for users, parents and educators. Also in development isa law enforcement guide to help with their data requests wheninvestigating crime

Pleasefind attached a number of screen shots to illustrate the App and accessingthe safety tools and safety centre which is done directly through thesettings feature on the app, similar to other App providers such as Instagram.

Photo Credit: NBC10 ]]>
<![CDATA[Company Develops Bulletproof Tape]]> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 16:52:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/NC_bulletprooftape0718_1920x1080.jpg

A company in Maryland has come up with a plastic adhesive that is being used to make regular windows bulletproof.

The company's CEO showed the product off on Monday, literally standing behind his work.

The guy standing behind the glass is Peter Fabian, president and ceo of advanced coatings engineering or ace.

His company makes this paper thin plastic adhesive that can stop just about any weapon in its tracks.

"It's designed in a manner that when a projectile hits the glass, hits the window, be it a bomb blast, shrapnel or bullets, the adhesive absorbs the energy and disperses the energy across the whole surface of the window," said Fabian.

Monday, at a Rockville shooting range, Fabian showed off just how the product works.

"We've been doing this in Iraq, Afghanistan let's bring this technology home for America that's what we're doing," Fabian said.

For years ace has been outfitting military vehicles and now that has shifted to public and private buildings and first responders given the recent murders of law enforcement around the country.

"It could be that courthouse, the post office, the police station it could be the hospital and if you live near there you may be the victim," said Fabin.

It costs about $2,000 a window in a car which is much cheaper than bullet resistant glass.

Seems like a small price to pay to save lives.

"Now that window that was a window of vulnerability becomes a shield of life," said Fabin. 


Photo Credit: WBAL]]>
<![CDATA[New iPhone Feature Would Help Users in Distress]]> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 15:54:53 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/TLMD-iphone7-iphone-7-sep-2016-GettyImages-599948224.jpg

A new feature from Apple would allow iPhone users to discreetly call emergency services with a fingerprint touch, with the goal of helping people in distress evade potential attackers.

CNBC reports on the patent application published Tuesday for a technology that would sense the “manner” in which a fingerprint hits the iPhone screen to trigger a 911 call. The smartphone could recognize a particular sequence of fingerprints, for instance, or even the particular cadence of taps to the screen, the filing says.

When the user activates this “panic command,” the phone would provide the user’s location to responders. It could also livestream video or audio from the phone, the report says.

Apple, which rarely acknowledges new product features prior to their release, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[World Emoji Day: A Huge Amount Is Shared Daily on Facebook]]> Mon, 17 Jul 2017 12:46:01 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/armus-emojis.jpg

About 5 billion emojis are sent each day on Facebook Messenger, the social media giant said on Monday, World Emoji Day.

Many of those emojis might be kissing winky faces, the most popular one on Messenger in the United States, according to statistics released by Facebook to mark the day, which was first proclaimed by Emojipedia in 2014.

On Facebook, which sees just 60 million emojis posted each day, Americans (and Indonesians, too) preferred the rolling on the floor laughing emoji. Facebook users in Brazil and Mexico go gaga for the heart-eyes emoji, while the face throwing a kiss is popular in Italy and Spain. Globally, the tears of joy face was most used.

In the privacy of Messenger, the love seems to come out. Both Americans and Indians use the kissing winky face the most, while various heart emojis are the most popular in the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Brazil and Thailand.

The first World Emoji Day was celebrated three years ago on July 17 because it's the date that appears on the calendar emoji, according to the official website.

This year, Twitter is expected to crowdsource ideas for new emojis, while the Empire State Building will be lit up yellow at night.

Photo Credit: David Becker/Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Watch: Fake Video of Obama Looks Exactly Like The Real Thing]]> Fri, 14 Jul 2017 16:59:06 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/obama+la+street.JPG

Identifying "fake news" may have just gotten more difficult.

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed an algorithm that can take an audio clip and convert it into an artificial video of someone speaking those words.

This week, the team behind the technology released a video of a synthesized President Obama that they created by pulling audio from his past speeches.

“These type of results have never been shown before,” said one of the researchers, Ira Kemelmacher-Shilzerman, in a statement.

This technology has been around for years, but past attempts yielded more robotic-looking looking results.

“If you don’t render teeth right or the chin moves at the wrong time, people can spot it right away and it’s going to look fake,” Supasorn Suwajanakorn, another researcher on the project, said in a statement.

The team at University of Washington was able to overcome this by inputting hours of footage of Obama into a special computer system called a neural network. The network then tracked what shape his mouth made depending on which sound he made. Those mouth shapes were then superimposed onto an existing video of the President’s face. This combination of tactics resulted in a more authentic simulation that takes into account Obama’s distinct mannerisms.

While the developers behind this method think it could one day be used as a more efficient alternative to video chatting (streaming audio uses less bandwidth than streaming video), critics are concerned that the potential for abuse outweighs any positive outcomes.

“It introduces a new question in viewers’ and voters’ minds as to whether what they’re watching is real or whether it’s created artificially,” said Morley Winograd, a Senior Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy who studies the intersection of politics and technology in the information age. “The last thing we need is more suspicion in our sources of information in our political world these days.”

The researchers claim that a new algorithm to help determine whether a video is real or not could be developed by reversing their method and feeding video rather than audio into the neural network. But whether this would be effective in actually stopping the spread of rumors has yet to be determined.

“There’s no regulatory scheme that I can think of that would be adequate for policing the internet,” said Winograd.

Despite this, the researchers have already taken some precautions to try and ensure their technology will be not be used for sinister purposes.

“We very consciously decided against going down the path of putting other people’s words into someone’s mouth,” researcher Steve Seitz said in a statement. “We’re simply taking real words that someone spoke and turning them into realistic video of that individual.””

<![CDATA[Amazon, Netflix and More Sound Off for Net Neutrality]]> Wed, 12 Jul 2017 15:47:08 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/netneutrality1.jpg

Visit the Netflix and Amazon home pages Wednesday and you'll find more than just TV shows, movies and things to buy. They and other major websites are using space on their home page to draw attention to net neutrality, which some feel is under threat by the Trump administration.

"The internet's less fun when your favorite sites load slowly, isn't it?" reads a message on Reddit's home page that loads letter by letter.

Led by three grassroots organizations — Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund and Demand Progress — more than 100,000 websites, online services and internet users have signed on to Wednesday’s "Battle for the Net," according to a press release from Fight for the Future.

Net neutrality is the idea that everyone should have equal access to a free and open internet, as opposed to one in which people can pay more for faster service. The principal was affirmed by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015 when it implemented regulations barring internet service providers from giving faster access to certain websites and blocking or slowing down access for others.

But new FCC chairman Ajit Pai proposed reversing those regulations, citing the unnecessary burden they place on providers, and in May, the first step in that process passed.

"We propose to put technologists and engineers, rather than lawyers and accountants, at the center of the online world," Pai said in an address before the commission at the time.

But supporters of net neutrality see it differently. 

"Pai has consistently voted against pro-internet user, pro-competition positions in favor of handing control of the network to a small number of powerful companies,” said Candace Clement, campaign director for the Free Press Action Fund, in a statement.

Sites like Netflix are displaying messages urging users to send their comments in support of net neutrality to the FCC and Congress.

“The FCC needs to listen to the public, not just lobbyists from big cable companies,” Fight for the Future’s campaign director Evan Greer said in a statement. “Today, the Internet is showing its political power.”

This is not the first time a grassroots effort has been put forth to protect online egalitarianism.

In 2014, "Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver called on viewers to submit comments to the FCC in opposition to a proposal that would have allowed internet service providers to create internet "fast lanes" for higher-paying users. The FCC's website subsequently crashed.

That same year, the organizers behind "Battle for the Net" as well as advocacy group Engine put together an internet slowdown day. Participants spread awareness by displaying a symbolic loading symbol on their home pages along with a call to action for users to submit comments to the FCC, similar to Wednesday's initiative.

The deadline for open comments to the FCC is July 17.

Photo Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Prime Day 2017 Was Amazon's Biggest Shopping Event Ever]]> Wed, 12 Jul 2017 10:08:26 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/armus-amazon-prime.jpg

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big shopping days on Amazon, but the online retailer's own shopping holiday, Prime Day, has them both beat, the company said Wednesday. 

The July 11 event that saw 3.5 million toys purchased around the world was "the biggest day ever in Amazon history," Amazon said in a news release.

Only Prime members can make purchases as part of the day, and tens of millions did so this year, according to the statement, more than half again as many as the of Prime members made a purchase on Prime Day 2017, more than 50 percent higher than the prior year — though Amazon didn't give specific numbers.

Amazon's Echo Dot was the most popular item globally, while the most popular non-Amazon products purchased in the United States were a programmable pressure cooker and the 23andMe DNA test.

Some deliveries came incredibly quickly — in Sunnyvale and Berkeley, California, and Kirkland, Washington, people who ordered snacks, writeable DVD packs and a Samsung hard drive through Prime Now received their purchases in 12 minutes, according to the company.

Photo Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP Photo, File]]>
<![CDATA[How and Why Amazon Ships So Many Packages So Quickly]]> Tue, 11 Jul 2017 07:07:43 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/armus-amazon-prime.jpg

Amazon’s Prime Day, a carefully fabricated “retail holiday” meant to take advantage of the company's vast shipping network, takes place in a time of year when the busy holiday shopping season is still a ways off.

“If you had to build a machine that could handle peak operations, and it was idle for 10 months of the year, Prime Day now lets you leverage that machine for profit,” said Marc Wulfraat, the president of supply chain consulting company MWPVL.

Indeed, an Amazon spokesperson told NBC in a statement that the day is “nothing out of the ordinary for a summer sale.”

The company has not released information about last year's sales, but analysts estimated $500 million to $600 million in total, according to CNBC.

For the past five years, Amazon has been busy creating a network of warehouses, trucks — and now, planes — that can handle the surge in orders expected on Prime Day. Wulfraat said the company has made big strides in increasing the "level of control they have over the outbound transportation operations."

"They've made tremendous gains to...get close to the customers,” Wulfraat said.

In addition to its massive distribution hubs, which are known as “fulfillment centers,” Amazon has built at least 58 warehouses specifically for Prime deliveries in dense urban areas.

One of these hubs — each of which is around 50,000 square feet — is inside a corporate tower in midtown Manhattan. Inside, employees called "pickers" weave through mazes of the company’s 10,000 top-selling products, TIME reported.

“We have high-tech algorithms that we have taken from our normal fulfillment centers, and we use them in this smaller building,” Stephenie Landry, Amazon's worldwide director of Prime Now, told TIME. "It takes the picker on the fastest path possible to grab all of the items.”

The much larger fulfillment centers are usually a few hundred miles from cities, but these smaller Prime-only facilities like the one in New York mean that Amazon can deliver products to many of its Prime customers within an hour or two.

Amazon used to rely mostly on FedEx and UPS to transport goods from its warehouses to customers’ doorsteps, but this process was sometimes unreliable and often expensive, Wulfraat said.

Shareholder data shows that between 2010 and 2014, the company spent more on shipping than what it made in shipping revenue, according to Quartz. Taken as a share of product sales, these expenses rose from about 8 percent in 2009 to 17 percent two years ago.

To cut down on shipping costs, Amazon also has been trying to take over more of the actual shipping process — with planes that can fly Prime products from one coast to another — and more warehouses that can pass on packages to postal workers, who are cheaper and more efficient than FedEx might be, Wulfraat said.

This complex system is only filled to capacity during the holidays — when Amazon gets up to 8 times more orders than during the rest of the year — so Prime Day is a chance to operate these systems at full capacity and make some profit.

“Amazon is trying to shift some of the shopping towards the average part of the year in order to leverage all of the investment they’ve made for peak operations during the holidays,” Wulfraat said.

Photo Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP Photo, File]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Prime Day Now Backed by Cargo Plane Fleet]]> Mon, 10 Jul 2017 21:55:30 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/armus-amazon-airplane.jpg

For this year's Prime Day, Amazon is taking to the skies. 

A fleet of cargo jets will be used in the company's annual day of online deals for the first time in the U.S., it said in a press release Monday.

As anticipation builds for Prime Day shopping deals, background operations look to make sure every order on the company's busiest day of the year arrives on time.

By the end of last year, Amazon had leased about 40 planes from cargo partner Atlas Air and had been flying them between at least 10 airports, Fortune reported

While the company's plans to deliver packages by drone have drawn plenty of attention — and scrutiny — these Amazon planes are the first functional piece of Prime Air operations.

Photo Credit: Ted S. Warren/AP Photo, File]]>
<![CDATA[More Retailers Hope to Take a Bite Out of Amazon Prime Day]]> Mon, 10 Jul 2017 20:04:25 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-696679794.jpg

Amazon's annual Prime Day kicks off Monday night, but the online superstore isn't the only retailer hoping to capture your business during a regularly sleepy month for retail.

Stores such as Toys"R"Us, Target, Sur La Table and more are jumping on the bandwagon, hoping to take a swing at Amazon by staging their own versions of this summer twist on Black Friday, which for Amazon runs from 9 p.m. July 10 to the early hours of July 12.

Unlike Amazon's sales event, these retailers are opening their deals to anyone, not just subscribers. It will pay to comparison shop; keep multiple tabs open to find the best deal.

"July is not a traditional shopping window," said Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School. But, he said, Amazon has "called the party and invited all sorts of people who might not otherwise be interested in shopping in July."

Amazon gave shoppers a window into most of its Prime Day deals starting Sunday, and Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us followed a similar strategy. Customers can receive 20 percent off their entire purchase online for 36-hours starting Monday at 6 p.m., said Joseph Contrino, spokesperson for Toys"R"Us, via email on Monday.

Best Buy waited until Monday to announce it will mark down prices on technology such as Apple Watches, iPads and select computers starting Tuesday, said Boua Xiong, Best Buy spokesperson, via email. Some deals will be available all week in stores and online.

"That's a strategic move on the retailer's part," said Henry Fonvielle, president of Rappaport, a retail leasing management and acquisition company focused on the D.C.-area market. "If they announce what they're doing ahead of time, Amazon will out price them before they go live. It's also creating a sense of discovery, that sense of 'ah ha, I've found this.'"

Sears is promoting a Summer Splash event, boasting deals online only on Monday and Tuesday -- the same time span as Prime Day -- all with free shipping, said Brian Hanover, spokesperson for Sears, via email. The store is also discounting clothes, mattresses, tools and bikes Monday through Saturday.

Kitchenware store Sur La Table will introduce a one-day shopping event called Lime Day, launching July 10. The tagline: Get primed for Lime Day. The day will feature more than 300 items on sale for up to 75 percent off, according to its Facebook advertisement.

Others are jumping in on the action:

  • Target is offering "season-long low prices" on back-to-school items, with specifics available in their circular, said Target spokesperson Shandra Tollefson. The deals began Sunday.
  • Newegg, an online tech retailer, will launch the Fantastech sale beginning Tuesday at 12 a.m. PDT.
  • Macy’s is promoting up to 60 percent off clearance items online. They promoted up to 70 percent off clearance items with a one-day sale last Friday and Saturday.

With Prime Day, Amazon is "going to take all the legacy retailers down the rabbit hole with them, who will have to compete in price," Cohen said.

Consumer interest might drive sales for retailers trying to compete with Prime Day, but the added volume may not translate into profit, Cohen said. Brick-and-mortar stores can offer high-quality value, service, convenience and quality to keep customers loyal, Fonvielle said.

"The reason why there's the gold rush is because the people that get the largest market share are going to ultimately going to lead the next evolution of retail sales," Fonvielle said.

Amazon, however, benefits twofold from Prime Day, Cohen said. They sell both product and subscriptions, generating loyal customers who are likely to return to Amazon to use their Prime memberships in the future -- including during the holiday season.

"Amazon is doing this and everyone is paying attention because they're not used to it," Cohen said. "This is a new toy to play with."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[An Instagram Bug Is Making Users Think Their Accounts Are Deleted]]> Thu, 06 Jul 2017 20:26:48 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Instagram-Generic1.jpg

Instagram said it is working on a glitch that is causing some users to think their accounts have been deleted. 

Users on Twitter and Facebook expressed concern that their Instagram accounts had been deleted on Thursday. The company tweeted that they were aware of the issue that users are being logged out and are working to resolve it as soon as possible.

Some businesses, public figures and aspiring social media stars rely heavily on their Instagram accounts and said the issue could hurt their presence online. 

It's not clear how long accounts have been experiencing issues, but some users started sending complaints to Instagram via other social media platforms in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Earlier on Thursday, Instagram announced that they've added a new feature to the app that allows users to reply to "stories" with a photo or video.  

Instagram users with a technical problem can follow steps to report a problem here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Qualcomm Seeks to Ban iPhone Imports, Sales]]> Thu, 06 Jul 2017 17:10:52 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/iphone6-6plus.jpg

Chipmaker Qualcomm is asking U.S. trade regulators to ban iPhone imports, according to a new lawsuit.

Apple has allegedly infringed on six of Qualcomm's patents that improve iPhone battery life, according to Qualcomm. Now San Diego-based Qualcomm wants Apple to pay damages, CNBC reported.

"Apple continues to use Qualcomm's technology while refusing to pay for it," Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm, said in a statement.

Qualcomm ultimately wants regulators to investigate which phones use cellular processors from Qualcomm's competitors, and halt sales of iPhones that violate the patents.

CNBC was seeking a response from Apple. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Weds Man 3 Years After Twitter Joke About Marrying Him]]> Mon, 10 Jul 2017 10:14:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/armus-twitter.jpg

Twitter, she married him. It just took a while.

Almost three years after Llia Apostolou sent a joking message on Twitter in search of a blind wedding date, she and the stranger who answered her made it to a different wedding: their own.

Apostolou, a social media manager from London, explained the romantic saga on her blog. She and a friend went to a pub on Valentine's Day in 2014 to "distract ourselves from our singleness" when she saw a photo of Paul Gibson pop into her Twitter feed.

"I can’t explain what happened next, I felt something shift in my heart," Apostolou said on the blog. "Perhaps it was the whiskey, but I wanted to know you."

A few months later, still in search of a date to her sister's wedding the coming weekend, Apostolou sent that joking tweet.

Gibson responded almost immediately, and the two exchanged light-hearted messages about the idea, even joking about getting married themselves.

She writes, "So our conversation moved from tweets, to direct messages, to long and rambling emails about our lives."

And three years later, that Twitter exchange took them to the altar — and Apostolou's callback to the moment when their romance took off has gone viral, getting retweeted more than 15,000 times.

Apostolou said in another Twitter message that she and Gibson are unavailable to speak to the media because they are on their honeymoon.

Photo Credit: Bethany Clarke/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Microsoft Plans to Cut Up to 3K Jobs in Sales Staff Overhaul]]> Thu, 06 Jul 2017 12:40:37 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_16300626710205windows.jpg

Microsoft is planning a restructuring Wednesday that will include thousands of layoffs, largely in the sales department, CNBC reported.

Most of the cuts will be in jobs located outside of the United States, and the cuts will amount to less than 10 percent of Microsoft's sales force, according to a statement.

"Today, we are taking steps to notify some employees that their jobs are under consideration or that their positions will be eliminated. Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time-to-time, re-deployment in others," a Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC.

Previous reports suggested the move was in the works, and that the tech giant would focus on selling its cloud services product, Azure. That business has been booming, with Azure's sales nearly doubling last quarter.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Richard Drew, File]]>
<![CDATA[At 10, the iPhone Is Still Changing Everything: Analysis]]> Thu, 29 Jun 2017 15:42:30 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/72955624-Steve-Jobs-iphone.jpg

It's been 10 years since Apple launched the iPhone, puzzling critics with its all-glass screen without a raised keyboard.

Today, the first model seems tiny and and low-powered, NBC News reports, but at the time we didn't know just how right Steve Jobs was when the Apple CEO called it a "truly magical product."

But the iPhone "fundamentally changed the way we thought about phones as well as defining what the industry considered a smartphone," said Tuong Nguyen, principal research analyst at Gartner.

And the revolution it began — the $1.3 trillion app economy — is still in full swing, giving anyone with coding skills the chance to strike it rich and changing other industries, as Uber and Lyft did transportation.

Photo Credit: David Paul Morris/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Happy Birthday, iPhone!]]> Thu, 29 Jun 2017 11:08:54 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/NC_iphone0629_1500x845.jpg

Thursday, June 29, marks the 10-year anniversary for the Apple iPhone. Since 2007, Apple has sold over a billion iPhones and changed the way we communicate through features like Facetime and HD cameras.