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20 Feb 15:29

Members of ransomware gang Lockbit arrested by law enforcement

by Katie Malone

International law enforcement, led by the UK’s National Crime Agency, have disrupted ransomware gang Lockbit's operation. The group behind notable hacks against aircraft manufacturer Boeing, chip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, sandwich chain Subway and thousands more had its site taken offline on Monday while authorities arrested major players behind the gang. "This site if now under the control of law enforcement," the website reads. According to malware repository Vx-underground, law enforcement took down at least 22 Lockbit-affiliated Tor sites.

"Through our close collaboration, we have hacked the hackers; taken control of their infrastructure, seized their source code, and obtained keys that will help victims decrypt their systems," National Crime Agency Director General, Graeme Biggar, said in a statement. “As of today, LockBit are locked out. We have damaged the capability and most notably, the credibility of a group that depended on secrecy and anonymity."

Lockbit admitted defeat, too. In a statement to Vx-underground, the group said "FBI pwned me." Operation Cronos, the name law enforcement used for their efforts, also resulted in the seizure of source code and other useful data related to Lockbit's operations. At the same time, authorities in Poland, Ukraine and the US arrested key members of the ransomware operation. There are sanctions out for two more Lockbit affiliates in Russia.

There's more good news for Lockbit victims, too: The operation obtained keys from Lockbit to create a decryption tool for victims to get their data back, according to US Attorney General Merrick Garland. The free decryptors can be found via the No More Ransom project

Since 2019 when Lockbit first entered the scene, it's squeezed victims for more than $120 million in ransomware payments, according to acting assistant AG Nicole Argentieri.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
08 Feb 12:39

Security firm now says toothbrush DDOS attack didn't happen, but source publication says company presented it as real


Hackers will use anything these days..

Around three million smart toothbrushes have been infected by hackers and enslaved into botnets. They caused millions of Euros in damages for a Swiss company, according to a newspaper report.
29 Jan 15:41

Amazon terminates $1.4 billion iRobot acquisition after EU veto threat

by Nathan Ingraham

Amazon and iRobot, maker of the Roomba vacuum line, just announced that they would be dropping their proposed merger. The potential acquisition was announced back in August of 2022 and was immediately the target of antitrust watchdogs, particularly in the EU. The European Commission (the EU's executive branch) officially announced it was looking into the $1.4 billion dollar deal last July and it raised formal concerns over the potential impact on competition in November. 

iRobot also just announced a large round of layoffs now that the deal isn't going through. The company says it is laying off about 350 employees, which represents 31 percent of iRobot's workforce. Colin Angle, founder, chairman of the iRobot board of directors and CEO is also stepping down as chairman and CEO, effective today.

While the companies didn't mention the pressure from the EU specifically, Bloomberg notes that a veto looked likely. And while that might not have immediately killed the deal, Amazon and iRobot appear to have decided to shut things down completely rather than work through any proposed changes to make the deal more palatable to regulators. The deal was also said to be under scrutiny from the FTC here in the US, but it never quite reached the level of attention it was receiving from the EU. 

Unsurprisingly, Amazon's statement on the matter blasts regulators for the "innovation" that would come with Amazon scooping up yet another company. "This outcome will deny consumers faster innovation and more competitive prices, which we're confident would have made their lives easier and more enjoyable," said Amazon SVP and General Counsel David Zapolsky in a statement. "Mergers and acquisitions like this help companies like iRobot better compete in the global marketplace, particularly against companies, and from countries, that aren't subject to the same regulatory requirements in fast-moving technology segments like robotics."

iRobot's statement was more muted. "The termination of the agreement with Amazon is disappointing, but iRobot now turns toward the future with a focus and commitment to continue building thoughtful robots and intelligent home innovations that make life better, and that our customers around the world love," said former CEO Colin Angle.

Earlier in January, the European Commission was said to have warned Amazon that the deal was on thin ice. However, according to Reuters, the company declined to offer any potential remedies to soothe the bloc's concerns over the acquisition. As outlined in the original agreement, Amazon is paying iRobot a $94 million termination fee now that the deal is dead.

This isn't exactly the first time Amazon and the EU have butted heads. They previously squared off over the company's handling of third-party seller information. In 2022, the two sides reached an agreement over Amazon's treatment of third-party sellers.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
28 Jan 07:35

Swarovski’s smart binoculars identify the birds you’re looking at

by Daniel Cooper

Swarovski has turned up at CES 2024 in Las Vegas with its first ever pair of smart binoculars that will identify the bird you’re looking at. All you have to do is point the gear at a bird and make sure the view is in focus, and then press down an action button. Within a few seconds, the system will overlay a bird’s name over your view, using data pulled from the Merlin Bird ID database. That has over 9,000 species tagged, and will even let you know the degree of certainty it has if the bird in question is in an unexpected location. And if this was the only feature these binoculars had, it’d be enough to justify the purchase, but that’s only the beginning of what these things can do.

Between the eyepieces, there’s a function wheel similar to one you would find on a camera that lets you cycle between various features. That includes a Wildlife ID version which hooks into its built-in Mammal, Dragonfly and Butterfly ID databases. Plus, there’s a camera which lets you send pictures and video to a paired smartphone, which would similarly be plenty to justify the expense. But the system is also designed to be expandable, with the focus wheel including space for any future custom databases you might need. For instance, one idea could be to build a database for stars, or airplane types for aviation fans to spot the make and model of what’s flying overhead.

Then there’s the discovery sharing feature, which enables you to share something you’ve found with whoever you’re outdoors with. All you need to do is tag whatever you’ve found, and then hand the AX Visio over to them, where a series of flashing arrows will guide them to where you were looking. Even in the busy halls of CES, one of the company’s representatives was able to pinpoint a far-off fire exit sign before handing me the binoculars and asking me to find it. All you need to do is follow the arrows straight to what you’re meant to be looking at with a system that’s as elegant as it is useful. There's even a built-in compass that'll let you identify which direction you're gazing toward to help you navigate.

You might notice from the pictures that there are three lenses, with the central one holding the 13-megapixel sensor shooting HD-quality (1,920 x 1,080) pictures and video. There’s 8GB storage, which should hold up to an hour of video or 1,700 photos before needing to be cleared off. Beyond the smarts, the binoculars magnify up to 10x with 88 percent light transmission, thanks to the company’s high-end lenses. Swarovski says its glassware offers almost flat, distortion-free images with plenty of contrast and color fidelity.

Now, here’s the thing, my father-in-law is a serious ornithologist who is respected, at least among his peer group. His ability to spot the genus and species of a bird in flight is extraordinary and I’m often left bewildered at the depth of his knowledge. I don’t think I’d have the ability, patience or time to even get within a hundred miles of his capability. But, with a device like this, it might mean that I can at least vaguely keep up with him when we’re out on the trails.

The AX Visio is, however, not messing around with price, and Swarovski is charging €4,600 (around $5,000) for you to get this into your hands. While bird fans often have to be patient, this should start arriving at people’s homes at some point in February.

We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
18 Jan 20:29

Peacock's NFL wild card game broke streaming records

by Sarah Fielding

1 game - 30 percent of internet traffic

There are few things as American as watching football on a Sunday. If anyone needs further proof, NFL and Peacock have it: The January 14 Peacock Exclusive AFC Wild Card has set a new record for the United States' most streamed live event in history. According to a joint release from NBC-owned Peacock and Comcast, the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Miami Dolphins game — the first playoff ever exclusively live-streamed — reached 27.6 million viewers.

Peacock also claims that the livestream is to thank for the most internet usage in a single day across the US, taking up 30 percent of internet traffic. However, the current data is courtesy of Nielsen's custom fast national live and same-day data, with official numbers coming out on Friday, January 19.

While the livestream was a good alternative to shivering in person during the fourth coldest NFL game in history, not everyone was happy about it. New York congressman Pat Ryan was among those who expressed their outrage over having to pay for another streaming service in order to watch a game that typically airs on cable. "How much more profit do [NFL commissioner Roger] Goodell and NBC need to make at the expense of hard working Americans?" Ryan wrote in a letter. "Congress granted the NFL an antitrust exemption in its broadcast deals with the expectation that you wouldn't use it to screw over fans. That was clearly a mistake."

The game was available to Miami and Kansas City viewers on local NBC affiliates. Anyone else interested in watching had to sign up for a Peacock subscription, starting at $6 per month. Peacock's plan to stream the wild card game was first announced last May, with NBC reportedly paying $110 million for the rights to it.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
10 Jan 09:07

Star Wars Fans Are Reeling Over Surprise Announcement of Jon Favreau Movie, Ahsoka Season 2

by Adam Bankhurst

Fans of that galaxy far, far away were surprised by the announcement on Tuesday morning that a new movie starring and called The Mandalorian & Grogu will be the first Star Wars film since 2019's The Rise of Skywalker. As if that wasn't enough, it was also confirmed that Season 2 of Ahsoka was officially in development.

We didn't learn too much about these projects, but that didn't stop the internet from sharing their excitement over the big reveals, and we're here to gather some of the best ones:

'My Heart Is RACING!!!'

Grogu has been a hit ever since we were calling him Baby Yoda, but fans have long wanted to see all that cuteness (and, sure, Pedro Pascal's Mandalorian too) on the big screen. Don't get us wrong, the TV format was a great way to introduce the story of The Mandalorian but, as Nicole Kidman said in that legendary AMC Theaters commercial, "We come to this place for magic." And Din Djarin and Grogu in theaters sure sounds like magic to a lot of fans.

"My heart is RACING!!!" @acrossthestars wrote on X/Twitter. "I can’t wait to watch The Mandalorian & Grogu on the big screen! The article also confirms Ahsoka Season 2! I’m thrilled! I knew that with the success of the show, it had to happen but it’s such a great feeling to know it’s official now."

@djarinsaber is so excited they already want to plan outfits for the premiere - you know, like how we all wore pink for Barbie.

@spoiler4you couldn't wait to go all Sherlock Holmes and get psyched about everything there is to know about The Mandalorian and Grogu. We're rooting for you to get that award, Ly!

Even IGN's Ryan McCaffrey can't wait for The Mandalorian & Grogu to usher us into a new era of Star Wars.

"YESSSSSSS! The Mandalorian and Grogu," McCaffrey wrote. "Now THIS is what I'm talking about. Leave the Skywalkers behind! Let's get some NEW Star Wars on the big screen. I have full confidence in Favreau!"

@jtimsuggs is not only excited about The Mandalorian & Grogu, but also the potential of what this film and all the others in the works at Lucasfilm mean.

"The best part about this news is that it shows with upcoming Star Wars theatrical projects, there’s quite literally something for everyone," @jtimsuggs wrote. "Fan of The Mandalorian? Here’s a movie about Din and Grogu together! Fan of The Sequels? Here’s a Rey film about her building a New Jedi Order! Fan of Rebels and Prequel stuff? Here’s a New Republic Era event film with Ahsoka as a leading character. Fan of the mysticism and origins of The Force and Jedi Order? Here’s a film all about the Dawn of the Jedi.

"If you’re going to pioneer Star Wars beyond the Skywalker Saga, I feel like this is the best possible option."

Not everyone is convinced, however. Some are a bit confused, like @cap_rexofthe501, as to whether this means The Mandalorian Season 4 is now this movie or if it is something totally separate.

@ewansobi is also a bit upset The Mandalorian "gets a feature length film but not Obi-Wan." Never say never!

Wait... Ahsoka Season 2 Is Also On Its Way?!

The big news of the day was obviously The Mandalorian & Grogu, but tucked away in the press release was the expected but still exciting confirmation that Ahsoka Season 2 is officially in development.

@AndyReveles took the timely video of Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift at the Golden Globes to portray their excitment over the news.

@Lunaraie summed our reaction up perfectly when they said, "AHSOKA SEASON 2 CONFIRMED ALONGSIDE THE MANDALORIAN MOVIE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE."

While the excitment is high, @REYSKYGOAT wants to remind the show's creators that there will be trouble with Ezra actor Eman Esfandi's beard doesn't return in Season 2.

During Ahsoka's first season, many fans fell in love with Shin Hati and Sabine Wren and wished for nothing more for them to eventually get together. As it turns out, the actors themselves are all in for this #WolfWren relationship to bloom in Season 2, as seen in the comments of a collection of fan art Sabine actress Natasha Liu Bordizzo shared on her instagram.

Even Rosario Dawson took the time to leave a comment that says, "been obssed with everyone's obsession. More please! #WolfWren for the win."

@tjlyasalem echoed this excitement with the news, saying "AHSOKA SEASON 2 CONFIRMED. #WOLFWREN RISE." @milevengood is just very happy with the news and that, relationship or not, these two will be back.

@DonovanMeade is overjoyed for another reason, as they said, "The most important thing about this is that we’re getting more Huyang, which is all that matters!"

As you can clearly see, the excitment is high for both The Mandalorian & Grogu and Ahsoka Season 2. How do you feel about the news? Let us know in the comments below!

For more, check out every other upcoming Star Wars movie and TV show and our breakdowns of the endings of both The Mandalorian Season 3 and Ahsoka Season 1 so you can remember where we left off before we jump to the future!

Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to

Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.

10 Jan 08:28

Netflix's 3 Body Problem Gets First Trailer At CES 2024, Watch It Now

Netflix has finally released an in-depth look at its upcoming sci-fi series, 3 Body Problem, in a newly released trailer. Adapted from Liu Cixin's acclaimed Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy, the show delves into the repercussions of humanity confronting an imminent alien invasion. The trailer premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and Netflix has made it available online as well.

Alexander Woo, one of the show's creators, emphasized the team's dedication to capturing the essence of Cixin's novels on screen. "What we are hoping to do is to convey the experience--if not necessarily the exact details--of the novel onto the screen," Woo told Netflix's "What stayed, we hope, is the sense of wonderment and the sense of scope, of scale, where the problems are no longer just the problems of an individual or even a nation, but of an entire species." Check out the trailer below.

Netflix also surprised fans with a character guide, introducing the actors behind the roles in 3 Body Problem for the first time. The ensemble cast features Jovan Adepo, John Bradley, Rosalind Chao, Liam Cunningham, Eiza González, Jess Hong, Marlo Kelly, Alex Sharp, Sea Shimooka, Zine Tseng, Saamer Usmani, Benedict Wong, and Jonathan Pryce.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
09 Jan 13:14

Mark Hamill Finally Met His Star Wars 'Mother,' Natalie Portman, at the Golden Globes

by Katie Reul

Luke Skywalker may never have the opportunity to meet his mother, but at least Mark Hamill could for him.

The 72-year-old actor, best known for playing the Jedi protagonist of the original Star Wars trilogy, posed for a photo after finally meeting his on-screen mother, Natalie Portman, at the 2024 Golden Globes: "Now I have finally met my "mother", thanks to the @goldenglobes," Hamill posted on X/Twitter the next day.

Despite both holding key roles in Star Wars films, the two actors never starred in the same movies, so their paths never crossed on set. That changed when Hamill and Portman were asked to present at this year's Golden Globes award ceremony.

To fans of the franchise, this meeting of minds is far more significant than a viral photo-op. For years, Hamill and Portman have been eager to get together in person, but it hasn't happened until now. And there's a comical long-running feud that goes along with it.

Back in June 2018, the official Star Wars Twitter account posted on Twitter wishing a happy birthday to Portman, who played Padmé Amidala in the prequel trilogy. In response, Hamill shared the post with the caption, "FUN FACT: I've never met this woman."

Later that month, the Black Swan actor was a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and didn't hesitate to clap back to Hamill's call-out — with the grace of a ballerina, of course.

"It's such a shame, I would love to meet him," Portman said on the talk show. "Mark, I would love to meet you, come over," she said, staring into the camera. Colbert and Portman then proceeded to laugh about how Hamill's message, although in response to a post about her birthday, neglected to actually wish her a happy birthday.

Promptly after the episode's release, Hamill took to social media again, apologizing for being a "thoughtless, ungrateful son."

A year prior, Hamill had the chance to link up with his on-screen father, Hayden Christensen at a 2017 Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. Christensen, who played Anakin Skywalker in Episodes I-III, and Hamill were among several cast members present from the first two Star Wars trilogies.

It's more than likely we'll never see Hamill reunite with his canonical parents again in future Star Wars films, as the actor has made it clear he is done with Luke Skywalker for good, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Christensen, on the other hand, has returned to the Star Wars universe for projects like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka and has expressed interest in doing more: "I'd love to get too continue with Star Wars," he told Entertainment Weekly in a December 2023 interview. Portman, too, is not opposed to the idea of returning to the franchise: "No one has ever asked me to return, but I'm open to it," the Academy Award winner told GQ last May.

Katie Reul is a freelance journalist whose entertainment reporting has been featured in IGN and Variety.

08 Jan 16:03

Ryan Reynolds Dresses as Deadpool in Emmy's Thank You Video After Welcome to Wrexham Wins Big

by Ryan Dinsdale

Football documentary Welcome to Wrexham took home five awards at the 2023 Creative Arts Emmys and Ryan Reynolds appeared in a thank you video dressed as Deadpool.

As reported by the BBC, a clip posted to Reynolds X/Twitter appears to be a heartfelt thank you video featuring Rob McElhenney — who stars in the documentary alongside Reynolds as the pair take over the small town Welsh football club — before none other than Deadpool appears with the award and dressed in a suit.

"Wow, an Emmy, what an incredible honour," McElhenney said. "There's so many people to thank. I've been waiting for this moment for 16 years so I've got a lot to say. I'd like to start by thanking..."

It's at this moment Reynolds, who plays Deadpoll in the trilogy of Marvel films, takes over in character. "First and foremost, Wrexham, we love you," he said. "Thank you for letting Rob and the other guy tell your story.

"Cymru am byth, b***hes," he added, Welsh for "Wales forever, b***hes". Reynolds then continued with plenty of more jokes, embodying the spirit of the anti-hero character. "I'd also like to thank The Academy for this honour, and for not asking us to attend the televised awards show with the real celebrities.

"I'd also like to thank FX and Disney for their support and in exchange, Mr Lively promises to not f**k up my next movie." This referred to Deadpool 3, which will star Reynolds and Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman when it premieres July 26, 2024.

"Lastly, The Oscars, you're on notice motherf**kers," Reynolds added. "Maybe we can get a token VFX nod next year. The amount of work on Hugh and Ryan's face alone is at least worth a nod."

Welcome to Wrexham won awards for Outstanding Picture Editing For An Unstructured Reality Program, Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program, Outstanding Directing For A Reality Program, Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Reality Program (Single or Multi-Camera), and Outstanding Cinematography For A Reality Program.

HBO's The Last of Us adaptation was the only show to take home more awards, earning eight at this year's Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony.

These awards included Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series (for Storm Reid), Outstanding Picture Editing For A Drama Series, Outstanding Sound Editing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (One Hour), Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (One Hour), Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Special Visual Effects In A Season Or A Movie, Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup, and Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series (for Nick Offerman).

Image Credit: Ryan Reynolds on X/Twitter

Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelance reporter. He'll talk about The Witcher all day.

05 Jan 14:04

BRAD WILK Says RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE 'Will Not Be Touring Or Playing Live Again'

by Blabbermouth

Don't like.. But people are getting old

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE drummer Brad Wilk says that the iconic band will not play any more shows. Earlier today (Wednesday, January 3), the 55-year-old musician took to his Instagram to write: "I know a lot of people are waiting for us to announce new tour dates for all the canceled RATM shows. I d...
02 Jan 20:07

Marvel's What If...? Head Writer Breaks Down Every Episode of Season 2

by Alex Stedman

Warning: The below article contains full spoilers for What If…? Season 2.

The December 30 drop of "What If... Strange Supreme Intervened?" marks the end of the nine-day event release of Marvel Studios What If...? Season 2. The daily release schedule was a first for the studio and Disney+ streamer, which gave audiences a last run of MCU stories for 2023.

Covering everything from period pieces to introducing the origin story of Kahhori (Devery Jacobs), an original indigenous superhero, What If...? Season 2 had plenty to offer, especially for those who have a soft spot for the underdogs of the MCU. To get some insight about how the sophomore season was constructed and any “what ifs” that didn’t make it into the final episode count, IGN got on the phone with Season 1 and Season 2 head writer/showrunner, A.C. Bradley (Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia, Ms. Marvel), to get some exclusive stories about the making of the season.

Due to the long production cycle demands of animation, work Marvel Studios What If...? started way back in 2018. Bradley tells IGN they were already deep into Season 2 before audiences got to see Season 1 of the series. Thus working in a vacuum away from the fandom’s eyes, Bradley and, at the time, story editor Matthew Chauncey and script coordinator Ryan Little, approached the second season as an opportunity to get weirder while honoring characters that existed a bit on the periphery.

With Season 1, there was a push to use the headliners... But with Season 2, we had a bit more freedom.

“With Season 1, there was a push to use the headliners, to do the Tony Stark episode, to do the Black Panther episode and Doctor Strange,” Bradley explains. “But with Season 2, we had a bit more freedom. At the end of the day, we're not writing the big blockbuster, 100 million dollar movie. We're not even showrunning the live action TV shows. We're the scrappy, little animation show slipping under the Marvel machine radar. So, it was really subconscious but I think we veered toward the scrappy characters in Season 2. We started with the second stringers, the undervalued and overlooked, like Nebula (Karen Gillan), Darcy (Kat Dennings), and Hela.”

Season 2 was also fully the COVID season of the series, with all of the scripts being written between January 2020 and October 2020. They worked remotely for almost all of the script-writing, voice records, and animatic development, which inevitably impacted the tone of the second season.

“It felt like the world was already ending and we didn't need to add to it,” Bradley says. “And so it became kind of an escape and a fun release. However, I did write an episode, which is forever going in a drawer, that was very, very dark. I was calling it ‘Children of Men with Spider Man.’ “

Below, Bradley shares how all of the episodes took shape.

"What If... Nebula Joined the Nova Corps?"

Writer: Matthew Chauncey

A Blade Runner-inspired noir episode, Bradley says the idea for the episode was born from the room’s love of Nebula actress Karen Gillan. “That episode came from Karen being the most talented and brilliant actress around,” Bradley says. “In Season 1, she came to play. And so going into Season 2, we definitely wanted to do an episode with her.”

The episode posits Nebula becoming a Nova Corps investigator with close ties to Nova Prime (Julianne Grossman), who tasks her with finding the murderer of Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker). “This idea of doing like a darker detective episode came into our minds and then Matt ran with it,” Bradley remembers. “It was funny; Matt was writing that episode during the early days of the pandemic and he called me at one point. He's like, ‘It's darker.’ The first draft was really dark. It almost ended in a tragedy. And then we lightened it up.”

"What If... Peter Quill Attacked Earth's Mightiest Heroes?"

Writer: Matthew Chauncey

“This was one of the episodes, and the loglines, I was given to pitch on the show to get the job,” Bradley reveals. She remembers being given a brief from Marvel Studios about them wanting to do an ‘80s version of the Avengers.

“The idea that Kevin [Feige] and the team already had was: Peter Quill comes to Earth and what happens next?” Bradley explains. “My take to get the job was that they needed to make it about Hope van Dyne. I said, ‘you already have the world and the heroes, what you don't have is the heart. You make it about two kids who just lost their mothers pretty much at the same time, which is all canon.’ ”

This pitch, amongst others, earned her the job but it ultimately didn’t make it into the Season 1 selections. “It was an idea that we loved from Season 1 that we got to revitalize in Season 2. Then Matt did the lineup. And I will say, he's admitted it publicly, that it was his idea to add Annette Bening's [Mar-Vell] because of his love of The American President,” she laughs.

And I said, 'Poor on the sugar! We'll have earned it by this point.'

For the villain of the piece, Bradley says they always wanted Ego (Kurt Russell) to have another go at taking over the universe. “And we definitely wanted Ego because it kept it simple. Peter and Ego, we know that story and therefore we can then focus on the ensemble of it all,” she explains.

Speaking of which, the final sequence, which features the triumphant alt-Avengers line-up breaking bread at Hank Pym’s (Michael Douglas) table (sans shawarma), was a visual culmination for this found family. “I remember the earliest we were talking about the episode and the ending, Matt and I had done another show together, so I said, 'It's a family dinner episode, Matt. Get them around the table.' He said, ‘It's gonna be a little saccharine-y.’ And I said, 'Poor on the sugar! We'll have earned it by this point,’ ” she laughs.

"What If... Happy Hogan Saved Christmas?"

Writers: A. C. Bradley & Matthew Chauncey

“That was the episode that we were writing when the world shut down,” Bradley says, referring to pandemic lockdowns. “Actually, our last day in the office was [Matt and I] watching the Quentin Tarantino episodes, ‘The Box" (Parts I and II),’ of Alias. We had it on because we just both love Alias so much and it's kind of their dark Die Hard episode. So we were watching that as we were breaking the show, and that was literally our last time together.”

Bradley says because of that turmoil, they decided to write it together as an escapism exercise. They also had a mandate, direct from Jon Favreau, to write an episode where he could voice the comics character The Freak.

"He had a moment where he went, ‘Wait a minute, am I Hans Gruber?’

“He read the two episodes that he would be appearing in Season 1 and he called up and said, ‘I'll do the show. But here's the deal. I want to headline Season 2, and I want to be The Freak.’ And we're like, 'Okay! Let's figure this out,’ ” Bradley remembers.

“Honestly, I wasn't familiar with The Freak beforehand. It's a very deep cut,” she admits. “But as we were talking about Favreau and The Freak, we were like, ‘Favreau did Elf, one of the best modern Christmas movies, so we pitched it as Die Hard, and Marvel let us do this as a Christmas episode.”

Bradley also praises actor Sam Rockwell for getting the homage immediately when he returned to voice villain Justin Hammer. “He was so great,” she says. “I wasn't at his voice-records, however, I was told that while he was doing the record, he had a moment where he went, ‘Wait a minute, am I Hans Gruber?’ There was a slight reluctance to tell him that this was a Die Hard homage but they said, ‘Yeah.’ And he said, ‘Perfect!’ “

"What If... Iron Man Crashed Into the Grandmaster?"

Writer: A. C. Bradley

Also known as the “lost episode” of Season 1, this script was moved to Season 2 due to production delays. Bradley says the idea was born from their very early brainstorming discussions about having The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) be the villain of the second season.

“It was going to be ‘what if The Grandmaster got the Infinity Gauntlet?’ “ Bradley reveals. “But at that point, we were knee deep in the animation and we’d closed animatics for Season 1. Plus, this idea of bringing back Strange Supreme kept bubbling up, especially after we decided to do a Captain Carter arc.”

Instead, The Grandmaster was adjusted to be the bane of Tony Stark’s (Mick Wingert) existence after the wormhole keeps him from returning home post Chitauri victory. Meant to be a “The Odyssey” homage, the episode then bloomed into an action-centric mash-up of Death Race and Mad Max: Fury Road. “[Executive producer] Brad Winderbaum took [the pitch] to the Marvel Parliament and they suggested instead of the gladiator games, that it's some other kind of game. And I was like, ‘We'll do race cars!’ ”

"What If... Captain Carter Fought the Hydra Stomper?"

Writer: A. C. Bradley

This episode is a payoff to the Season 1 finale mid-credits cliffhanger where Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Natasha Romanoff (Lake Bell) discover the Hydra Stomper on a cargo vessel. Having loved crafting the friendship between the two women in the first season, Bradley says this expanded adventure for the pair came out of a work trip to France.

“I was on the train to visit our animation studio to see early stuff for Season 1 and I just kept thinking, what would the world be like if a woman ended WWII?” she explains. “What if we all grew up with a female hero, and not just like a female Superman, but if the real hero of our world was a woman? The Feminist Revolution would have happened two or three decades earlier. Plus, getting to show two strong women who have each other's back. Their relationship isn't fraught with anxiety or worry or anything. It's actually just based on fun and enjoying each other's company.”

I just kept thinking, what would the world be like if a woman ended WWII?

Their rapport in fact set up a perfect foil with the reveal of Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) as the orchestrator of an elaborate trap to lure the women to the Red Room. “The Red Room aspect actually came from Matt and I when we were in a small writers room that they had put together for Black Widow right before they started filming.”

Big fans of the Red Room storyline, Bradley says it revived her life-long obsession with spy novels and helped this episode take shape. “I actually have my undergraduate degrees in International Politics with a concentration on Eastern Europe and Ethics…because that really prepares you for a career in animation,” she jokes. “But there have always been stories of 1950's model Russian neighborhoods where they trained their spies. Our head of story was Aram Sarkisian, who led our storyboard artist team which was stacked with heavy hitters, and Aram really brought his own flair to it, especially when it comes to the fight with the robots.”

"What If... Kahhori Reshaped the World?"

Writer: Ryan Little

This episode marks the first time a What If…? series episode has introduced an original character into the MCU with Kahhori. But that wasn’t the initial goal when they first started breaking this episode.

“Even in the first days of Season 1, there were conversations about doing an episode that wasn't anchored around a character, but an MCU artifact,” Bradley reveals. “There were conversations of doing like a The Red Violin episode seeing the Tesseract history over 2000 years. Then for Season 2, we talked about what if the Vibranium meteor landed somewhere else? And so we combined those two ideas.”

Bradley says separately they talked about doing an indigenous story. In developing the idea, they decided to set it in North America so they wouldn’t step on the toes of Namor’s reveal in Wakanda Forever. Then they further drilled down on specifics based on their east coast origins.

“Ryan is from Pennsylvania and I'm from New York, which is a big part of Mohawk Territory,” Bradley says. “We actually grew up learning bits of their history during field trips. Then Ryan, during Christmas 2019, did some very rudimentary research back home in Pennsylvania and he came in and pitched the notion of The Sky World, the Fountain of youth and the Tesseract.”

"The last thing you want to do is repeat — however well-intentioned — mistakes of the past.

After writing an outline, they reached out to the Disney diversity team to seek actual indigenous collaborators. “Early on there was this moment where someone, none of the writers, but someone in the building mentioned, ‘Let's make our own version of Last the Mohicans.’ And that got scary because the last thing you want to do is repeat — however well-intentioned — mistakes of the past,” she says with candor. “So we called up Disney diversity and they called the Smithsonian the same day. And they had the Rolodex. Historian Doug George was our main consultant. But there were so many who stepped in because we also realized that we couldn't just have one person representing the Mohawk. We ended up needing a dozen people. We even had two to three separate translations of the script because no one knows exactly how Mohawk was spoken back then.”

Proud of how the story evolved to the final episode, Bradley says the intentions by Marvel Studios and writer Ryan Little to do the very best version of Kahhori’s origin they could gave the Mohawk nation the confidence to want to be involved collaborators. “They really helped with everything from music to design to costumes,” she says. “They were in the middle of it.”

As to the character’s future outside of the series, Bradley says, “My hope is that she is not a one off character. I believe that's also the hope of many of the people on the production. We fell in love with her. We fell in love with the Mohawk community and we hope she lives a long, beautiful, butt-kicking life.”

"What If... Hela Found the Ten Rings?"

Writer: Matthew Chauncey

Actress Cate Blanchett returns to give Hela her own story and a redemption arc next to fellow villain, Xu Wenwu (Feodor Chin). Bradley says this episode's idea was always about finding a story for Hela.

“When I was writing the Season 1 Party Thor episode [‘What If... Thor Were an Only Child?’], Hela’ name came up a few times, like ‘is there a way to put Hela in here?’ “ Bradley remembers. “Matt and I had both recently rewatched Thor: Ragnarok, which we love. However, our girl got done dirty,” she laughs. “We couldn’t get her in Party Thor because she doesn't belong in that world, so let's do a redemption story. It was pretty much a very quick thing of exploring what if she was banished, instead of banished to hell?”

"Matt and I had both recently rewatched Thor: Ragnarok, which we love. However, our girl got done dirty.

Bradley continues, “At the same time, we were starting to read the Shang-Chi script which was about to go into production but had been paused because of the pandemic. I gotta give a shout out to [Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings writer] Dave Callaham because his script was just so much fun and so brilliant. Now because the movie had actually been paused in production, we realized we had to set this in the past and we can't use the actual Shang-Chi. From there, you start playing around with the story and the visuals of getting to see this time period in China you don't often get to see.”

In their minds, getting Blanchett to return to voice Hela was always the make-or-break of this episode going into production. “She apparently signed on pretty fast. I sent her the script, and thank God, because I don't think anyone can play Hela. Not with her wit and darkness,” Bradley assesses. “With only using her voice, she gives you such a juicy character arc. So, we were very lucky she said yes.”

"What If... the Avengers Assembled in 1602?"

Writers: A. C. Bradley & Ryan Little

Many Marvel comics readers will know the Neil Gaiman 1602 story arc from 2003, but this episode is more of a riff than an adaptation. “1602 became a game of me and Ryan brainstorming fun things we wanted to write,” Bradley explains. “One of my hobbies is adapting Shakespeare, so part of the impetus for this episode was to see if I could get Tom Hiddleston to do his famous Hamlet soliloquy and he did!” she laughs.

“Then, weirdly enough, me and Ryan are both big fans of the original Robin Hood story,” she continues. “We both studied it in college, so this is us wanting to take the Robin Hood myths and play with them. It’s a loose adaptation of [the comic] 1602 because we would never be able to do the whole story in one episode, and the original does go more into the history, where we do not.”

“1602 became a game of me and Ryan brainstorming fun things we wanted to write.

It’s also the continuation of the Captain Carter cliffhanger that closed the “Hydra Stomper” episode. “I just love this friendship between Peggy and The Watcher (Jeffrey Wright),” Bradley explains. “He sees her as a friend. She's the one human that he has formed a bond with, because she never backs down from him. She's able to see the bigger picture — not quite as big as he's able to see — but she does. And she always tries to do the right thing and will intervene in places that he can't.”

And for those wondering about The Freak’s return in 1602, Bradley says that it was a “happy, joyous accident” that gave them the chance to bring Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk back. “We were storyboarding the Happy Hogan episode, which was so much fun, that we decided to throw him into this episode too, to have a Freak versus Hulk fight.”

"What If... Strange Supreme Intervened?"

Writers: A. C. Bradley, Matthew Chauncey, and Ryan Little

For Part 2 of the season finale, Bradley says it was an all hands-on deck collaboration with Matt and Ryan writing the first draft when she was in Atlanta producing Ms. Marvel.

“When we were talking about bringing back Peggy, there was also about Strange Supreme and where would his story go?” Bradley details. “I was very adamant that we wouldn’t redeem him because he's made his choices. And he's a tragic character; the Shakespearean definition of tragedy is that they never learn to make a different choice. They repeat the same mistake over and over again, which is what I wanted for Strange Supreme.”

That stands in juxtaposition with Captain Carter, who will always make a choice that she thinks is for the greater good. “She'll always make the choice, even if it's at her own expense, which is why she's the hero,” Bradley says. “And why she is the one who had to go up against Strange Supreme.”

“I was very adamant that we wouldn’t redeem him because he's made his choices.

Bradley says the surprise reveal of Kahhori as Peggy’s support against Strange was to show that she is part of the MCU now. “She's not just a one off, and she can hold her own against these villains, and alongside our greatest heroes,” she explains. “And I think she's absolutely amazing at it.”

The episode is also ripe with Easter eggs as the universe killers and heroes make appearances as Strange tries to remake a perfect universe for him and Christine. Bradley says being able to roll out so many cameos, from Killmonger to Surtur, is a perk of the animation medium.

“The fun part of animation is that the cost is always in the building of the characters,” she explains. “When it came to this one, we were like, ‘Just put them all in! Empty our file folders!’ We said let’s take every asset, design build, everything that even if we didn't get to use it as much as we wanted to or almost at all in the show, let's throw it in here. Let’s give it a big send off because we didn't know yet if there was going to be a Season 3.”

What If…? Season 3 Teaser

Bradley confirms to IGN that the What If…? Season 2 season finale is her swan song on the series, with Matthew Chauncey taking over Head Writer duties for Season 3. However, Marvel Studios released an extended teaser of the Red Guardian episode penned by her that was moved from Season 2 to Season 3.

“I ended The Watcher and Peggy relationship in a place I'm very proud of, and I'm excited to see where the show goes as a viewer,” Bradley says of the finale. “But I will say that the Season 3 episode is probably my absolute favorite episode I've ever written for Marvel. And not just because it features Alexei, who my cat is named after.”

What If… Season 2 is now streaming on Disney+.

30 Dec 07:47

The first EV with a lithium-free sodium battery hits the road in January

by Will Shanklin

JAC Motors, a Volkswagen-backed Chinese automaker, is set to launch the first mass-produced electric vehicle (EV) with a sodium-ion battery through its new Yiwei brand. Although sodium-ion battery tech has a lower density (and is less mature) than lithium-ion, its lower costs, more abundant supplies and superior cold-weather performance could help accelerate mass EV adoption. CarNewsChina reports that the JAC Yiwei EV hatchback deliveries will begin in January.

Yiwei is a new brand in 2023 for JAC. Volkswagen has a 75 percent stake in (and management control of) JAC and owns 50 percent of JAC’s parent company, Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Holdings (JAG). The Chinese government owns the other half of JAG, making for one of the auto industry’s stranger pairings.

The Sehol E10X, revealed earlier this year. The yellow hatchback sits in a city parking lot with parked cars and buildings behind it.
The Sehol E10X, which the new Yiwei EV appears to be a rebranded version of.
JAC via CarNewsChina

The Yiwei EV appears to be a rebranded version of the Sehol E10X hatchback (above), announced earlier this year. CarNewsChina describes the Sehol model as having a 252 km (157 miles) range with a 25 kWh capacity, 120 Wh / kg energy density, 3C to 4C charging, and a HiNa NaCR32140 cell. When JAC revealed the Yiwei brand in May, it said it would drop the Sehol label and rebrand all its vehicles to either JAC or Yiwei, leading us to this week’s EV reveal. JAC hasn’t yet said whether the Yiwei-branded model will keep the E10X moniker.

In April, JAC showcased a separate EV called the Yiwei 3 at the Shanghai Auto Show. That model launched in June with an LFP lithium battery, promising the sodium-ion variant would launch later.

JAC via CarNewsChina

The new Yiwei EV reportedly uses cylindrical sodium-ion cells from HiNA Battery. JAC assembles the batteries in the company’s modular UE (Unitized Encapsulation) honeycomb structure, similar to CATL’s CTP (cell-to-pack) and BYD’s Blade. The layout can provide for greater stability and performance.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
30 Dec 07:47

Xiaomi says its SU7 EV can outperform Porsche and has more tech than Tesla

by Richard Lai

Xiaomi, a Chinese brand once synonymous with affordable smartphones, is now attempting to make an even bigger splash with its first-ever electric car. Unveiled at a Beijing event earlier today, the Xiaomi SU7 — pronounced "soo-chee" in Chinese — is a sedan based on the company's very own Modena Architecture with HyperEngine electric motors of up to 21,000rpm, as well as chassis stamped by its die casting machines with a clamping force of 9,100 tons — beating that of Tesla's apparently. The line will come in two flavors: the dual-motor all-wheel-drive SU7 Max, and the single-motor rear-wheel-drive SU7.

It'll be a few more months before Xiaomi announces the prices, but it's already claiming that the SU7 Max has a range of up to 800km (497 miles; according to China Light-Duty Vehicle Test Cycle aka CLTC), as well as a 0-100km/h acceleration of just 2.78s, both of which apparently beating Tesla's Model S and Porsche's Taycan Turbo. This is partly thanks to battery maker CATL's generous 101kWh 800V high-voltage platform, which offers a 220km range with just a 5-minute charge, or 390km in 10 minutes, or 510km in 15 minutes. The base model, however, only supports 400V charging for its smaller 73.6kWh battery, which has a range of up to 668km or 415 miles.

Xiaomi SU7

Xiaomi hired talents from the auto industry to realize this project. Most notably, CEO Lei Jun claimed that Tianyuan Li, formerly of BMW's iX series and iVision concepts, offered himself to Xiaomi's auto design team. Li was also joined by James Qiu, who had previously worked on Mercedes-Benz's Vision EQXX design. They later recruited Chris Bangle, a BMW veteran, to be their design consultant.

The SU7 is about the same size as the BMW 5 series, coming in at 1,440mm tall, 1,963mm wide and 4,997mm long. You get three color options: the signature "aqua blue," gray or olive green. In his event, Lei highlighted the seemingly generous leg room as well as trunk spaces — 517L in the back and 105L in the front.

At the launch event, Lei highlighted details like the "water droplet" head lamps, each of which resembled the Chinese character for "rice" (which is the "mi" in "Xiaomi"), as well as the halo rear brake light consisting of 360 LEDs. The exec also pointed out that his team went with the half-hidden door handles, because the more flush handles are apparently harder to use in cold weather.

Xiaomi SU7

Just as Xiaomi teased earlier, the SU7 offers a HyperOS in-car entertainment system, which is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8295 processor and takes just 1.49 seconds to boot. You can access your media, adjust your seats or even control your Xiaomi appliances via the 16.1-inch 3K central screen, as well as optional Xiaomi Pad tablets which can be mounted on magnetic ports (up to 22.5W output) behind the two front head rests. The UI on the central screen allows for up to three split windows for multitasking, and you can even cast your Xiaomi phone's screen to it for a seamless experience. As for music and video entertainment, it'll be complemented by the 23 internal Dolby Atmos speakers.

Lei also mentioned opening up the Xiaomi CarIOT ecosystem to third parties, with one example being a smart booster car seat which can remind you if its seat belt isn't fastened. The exec added that even iPhone users can tap into some of the Xiaomi car features, with support for wireless CarPlay and AirPlay connectivity, as well as iPad-mounting for rear passengers.

Much like Volkswagen, Xiaomi already knows that car owners still prefer to have some physical buttons, so it's kept a few for climate control, as well as two extra buttons — one for toggling the spoiler (Lei said this is largely for showing off), and one for adjusting the body height (to avoid scratching the bottom, if needed). You can also get an optional row of buttons mounted beneath the central display.

Xiaomi Pilot

The SU7 will have autonomous driving capabilities, too, thanks to its Xiaomi Pilot platform powered by up to two NVIDIA Drive Orin processors (the base model only has one) and an array of sensors. These include a top-mounted Lidar, with a visual range of up to 200m and pixel accuracy of down to 0.1m — the latter meaning better detection for thinner and smaller obstacles. In a series of video demos, Xiaomi showed how the SU7 could navigate through a busy live street with mixed obstacles, as well as performing valet parking on its own, and even parking itself in a robotic car park with tight spaces. Being a Beijing-based company, Xiaomi claims that the SU7's sensors can cope with snowy and rainy climates, too.

Lei added that his company aims to complete autonomous driving tests in 100 cities across China by the end of 2024, though it's unclear how soon the local authorities will open up autonomous driving nationwide.

In addition to future software updates, Xiaomi also teased its upcoming HyperEngine V8s with a record-breaking 27,200rpm, all tucked inside a stronger silicon steel housing to keep the motor in check. This is apparently already mass-production-ready, with plans to equip this in cars by 2025. The company then teased further with a next-gen electric motor tech based on carbon fiber, which will apparently be capable of a whopping 35,000rpm, but this won't be ready any time soon, apparently.

Xiaomi SU7

Xiaomi has yet to share prices for the SU7 line, though Lei already hinted that they will be expensive — which is subjective, of course. We shall find out in a few months' time, and hopefully by then we'll know about availability outside China as well, but we wouldn't count on a US launch any time soon, if ever. Meanwhile, you can get the Xiaomi 14, 14 Pro smartphones and the Xiaomi Watch S3 eSIM in their limited edition colors — either aqua blue or olive green — to match the upcoming SU7.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
23 Dec 16:05

This USB Type-C dongle uses heat to relieve mosquito bites

This odd yet useful dongle takes advantage of USB Type-C's form factor to relieve mosquito bites and similar stings, controlled with an app made for both Android and Apple
17 Dec 07:26

Researchers demo 'Thought-to-Text' AI system that doesn't use invasive, permanent, and surgically-implanted devices like Elon's Neuralink

The University of Technology Sydney demonstrated an AI system that translates brainwaves to text using removable headgear with sensors, showing a potential widespread use of this technology in multiple fields
15 Dec 14:59

Apple is adapting the Hugo Award-winning sci-fi book series Murderbot

by Steve Dent

The Hugo Award-winning The Murderbot Diaries books from Martha Wells are becoming a 10-episode Apple TV+ series starring Alexander Skarsgård, Apple announced. It will follow a self-aware "SecUnit" robot that must hide its free will in order to complete a dangerous assignment and comes from About a Boy creators Chris and Paul Weitz. 

"Murderbot is an action-packed sci-fi series, based on the award-winning books by Wells, about a self-hacking security android who is horrified by human emotion yet drawn to its vulnerable 'clients,'" Apple wrote. "Murderbot must hide its free will and complete a dangerous assignment when all it really wants is to be left alone to watch futuristic soap operas and figure out its place in the universe."

The Weitz brothers will write, direct and produce the series, while Skarsgård will also serve as executive producer. Apple TV+ currently offers other sci-fi series including Silo, For All Mankind, Invasion and others. The streaming service needs to keep the content flowing as it has doubled Apple TV+ prices in just over a year. At the same time, Apple is looking for the right kind of content as it aims to avoid hot-button topics following the cancellation of The Problem with Jon Stewart

Several Murderbot chapters have made Engadget's gift guides and recommended reading lists. We called the Fugitive Telemetry novella a "banger" with "space intrigue and robotic mysteries" and recommended the earlier novella series in our 2019 holiday guide

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
26 Nov 23:08

China's begins building underwater data center with performance equal to 6 million PCs — aims to save nearly ten soccer fields of land and 122 million KWh of electricity

China Central Television reports that China has added another data module to the country's commercial underwater data center (UDC) off Hainan Island.
23 Nov 09:22

Broadcom closes its $61 billion megadeal with VMware

by Steve Dent

Broadcom's mega $61 billion VMware acquisition has closed following considerable scrutiny by regulators, the company announced in a press release. With China recently granting approval for the acquisition with added restrictions, the network chip manufacturer had secured all the required approvals. 

"Broadcom has received legal merger clearance in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, Israel, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and foreign investment control clearance in all necessary jurisdictions," the company said. "We are excited to welcome VMware to Broadcom and bring together our engineering-first, innovation-centric teams."

The Broadcom/VMware deal lacked the glamour of tech's other mega acquisition involving Microsoft and Activision. However, San Jose-based Broadcom's products form the structure of much of the internet, as they're widely used for data centers, cloud providers and network infrastructure. VMware, meanwhile, makes virtualization and cloud computing software that allows corporations to safely link local networks with public cloud access. 

That made VMware a logical target for Broadcom, but it also placed the acquisition in the crosshairs of regulators in multiple regions. The European Commission, for one, was concerned that Broadcom could harm competition by limiting interoperability between rival hardware and VMware's server virtualization software. It also worried the company could either prevent or degrade access to VMware's software, or bundle VMware with its own hardware products.

Broadcom gained EU approval for the deal in the summer though, mainly by providing IP access and source code for key network fiber optic components to its main rival, Marvell. The EU also concluded that fears of VMware bundling were unfounded and that Broadcom would still face competition in the storage adapter and NIC markets. 

There were also concerns that tensions between China and the US could scuttle the deal, after the Biden administration announced new rules in October making it harder to export high-end chips to China. However, approval in that market was announced yesterday, with conditions imposed by China on how Broadcom sells products locally. Namely, it had to ensure that VMware's server software was interoperable with rival hardware, China's regulator said in a statement. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
22 Nov 12:26

Microsoft hires OpenAI co-founders Sam Altman and Greg Brockman to lead advanced AI research team

Ousted OpenAI chief executive lands at Microsoft less than two days after being fired from the company he co-founded.
16 Nov 09:20

Researchers use magnetic fields for non-invasive blood glucose monitoring

by Malak Saleh

Synex Medical, a Toronto-based biotech research firm backed by Sam Altman (the CEO of OpenAI), has developed a tool that can measure your blood glucose levels without a finger prick. It uses a combination of low-field magnets and low-frequency radio waves to directly measure blood sugar levels non-invasively when a user inserts a finger into the device.

The tool uses magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), which is similar to an MRI. Jamie Near, an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto who specializes in the research of MRS technology told Engadget that, “[an] MRI uses magnetic fields to make images of the distribution of hydrogen protons in water that is abundant in our body tissues. In MRS, the same basic principles are used to detect other chemicals that contain hydrogen.” When a user’s fingertip is placed inside the magnetic field, the frequency of a specific molecule, in this case glucose, is measured in parts per million. While the focus was on glucose for this project, MRS could be used to measure metabolites, according to the Synex, including lactate, ketones and amino acids.

Synex Medical diagnostic
Synex Medical

Matthew Rosen, a Harvard physicist whose research spans from fundamental physics to bioimaging in the field of MRI, told Engadget that he thinks the device is “clever” and “a great idea.” Magnetic resonance technology is a common technique used for chemical analysis of compounds, however, traditional resonance technologies operate at high magnetic fields and they're very expensive.

Synex found a way to get clear readings from low magnetic fields. “They’ve overcome the challenges really by developing a method that has high sensitivity and high specificity,” Rosen says. “Honestly, I have been doing magnetic resonance for thirty years. I never thought people could do glucose with a benchtop machine… you could do it with a big machine no problem.”

Professor Andre Simpson, a researcher and center director at the University of Toronto also told Engadget that he thinks Synex’s device is the “real deal.” “MRI machines can fit an entire human body and have been used to target molecule concentrations in the brain through localized spectroscopy,” he explained. “Synex has shrunk this technology to measure concentrations in a finger. I have reviewed their white paper and seen the instrument work.” Simpson said Synex’s ability to retrofit MRS technology into a small box is an engineering feat.

As of now, there are no commercially available devices that can measure blood glucose non-invasively. While there are continuous glucose monitors on the market that use microneedles, which are minimally invasive, there is still a risk of infection.

But there is competition in the space for no-prick diagnostics tools. Know Labs is trying to get approval for a portable glucose monitor that relies on a custom-made Bio-RFID sensing technology, which uses radio waves to detect blood glucose levels in the palm of your hand. When the Know Labs device was tested up against a Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor in a study, readings of blood glucose levels using its palm sensor technology were “within threshold” only 46 percent of the time. While the readings are technically in accordance with FDA accuracy limits for a new blood glucose monitor, Know Labs is still working out kinks through scientific research before it can begin FDA clinical trials.

Another start-up, German company DiaMonTech, is currently developing a pocket-sized diagnostic device that is still being tested and fine-tuned to measure glucose through “photothermal detection.” It uses mid-infrared lasers that essentially scan the tissue fluid at the fingertip to detect glucose molecules. CNBC and Bloomberg reported that even Apple has been “quietly developing” a sensor that can check your blood sugar levels through its wearables, though the company never confirmed. Founder and CEO of Synex, Ben Nashman, told Engadget that eventually, the company would like to develop a wearable. But further miniaturization was needed before they could bring a commercial product to market.

Rosen says he isn't sure how the sensor technology can be retrofitted for smartwatches or wearables just yet. But he can imagine a world where these tools complement blood-based diagnostics. “Is it good enough for clinical use? I have to leave that for what clinicians have to say.”

Update, November 16 2023, 10:59 AM ET: This story has been updated to clarify that a comment from the company was made by the CEO of Synex and not a company representative. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
15 Nov 09:43

AI is starting to outperform meteorologists

by Malak Saleh

A machine learning-based weather prediction program developed by DeepMind researchers called “GraphCast” can predict weather variables over the span of 10 days, in under one minute. In a report, scientists highlight that GraphCast has outperformed traditional weather pattern prediction technologies at a 90% verification rate.

The AI-powered weather prediction program works by taking in “the two most recent states of Earth’s weather,” which includes the variables from the time of the test and six hours prior. Using that data, GraphCast can predict what the state of the weather will be in six hours. 

In practice, AI has already showcased its applicability in the real world. The tool predicted the landfall of Hurricane Lee in Long Island 10 days before it happened, while the traditional weather prediction technologies being used by meteorologists at the time lagged behind. Forecasts made by standard weather simulations can take longer because traditionally, models have to account for complicated physics and fluid dynamics to make accurate predictions.

Not only does the weather prediction algorithm outperform traditional technologies to forecast weather patterns in terms of pace and scale, GraphCast can also predict severe weather events, which includes tropical cyclones and waves of extreme temperatures over regions. And because the algorithm can be re-trained with recent data, scientists believe that the tool will only get better at predicting oscillations in weather patterns that coincide with grander changes that align with climate change.

Soon, GraphCast, or at least the basis of the AI algorithm that powers its predictions, might pop up into more mainstream services. According to Wired, Google might be exploring how to integrate GraphCast into its products. The call for better storm modeling has already paved a path for supercomputers in the space. The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) says it has been working to develop models that will provide more accurate readings on when severe weather events might occur and importantly, the intensity forecasts for hurricanes.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at
15 Nov 08:10

Doom Patrol Was The Perfect Weirdo Superhero Show We All Needed

2012's Arrow started a flood of superhero shows on network television and streaming alike that brought us hits like Daredevil, long-running stories like The Flash, and ambitious experiments like Crisis on Infinite Earths. One of the weirdest and best shows from that time, though, was DC's Doom Patrol. With the show having just wrapped its fourth and final season, we now say goodbye to Cliff, Larry, Rita, Jane, and the other weirdos they met along the way.

The premise of Doom Patrol bears a striking resemblance to that of the X-Men at the surface level: A wise old man in a wheelchair lives in a mansion with a bunch of frustrated but superpowered individuals who have to come together as a team--despite their trauma and drama--to rise to the call of heroism in a world that hates them. But the similarities end there. Where X-Men claims to be a story about people living with their differences in the real world, though, it's ultimately about extremely hot people having interpersonal drama, mostly with sexy powers. Truly different characters like Beast were vastly outnumbered by those like Cyclops, Jean Grey, Gambit, and Rogue.

Doom Patrol didn't ask its characters to be sexy or even to be heroes, but it still loved them and wanted the best for them. Despite venturing deeper into weirdness than most shows are willing to even tease, Doom Patrol loved its characters first and foremost.

Continue Reading at GameSpot
27 Oct 14:41

Jack Black Stripped Off While Singing Taylor Swift’s Anti-Hero At Actors Strike Fundraiser

by Ryan Leston

It seems Jack Black took requests at a SAG-AFTRA fundraiser on October 25, and the Kung-Fu Panda himself ended up stripping off while singing Taylor Swift’s Anti-Hero.

A hilarious clip captured by fans on Twitter has revealed the School of Rock star entertaining the crowd following a stand-up set during the Give Back-ular Spectacular! fundraiser at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles.

One audience member suggested a song, to which he replied: “I know that. Yes, I know that one. I can’t do that one. We’re in a strike.” However, when another suggested Swift’s hit single from the 2022 album Midnights, Black was all in. “I know that one,” he added. “Everyone knows that f**king song.”

Black soon began his own rendition of the song, belting it out for an adoring crowd. “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.” Black strutted around on stage, performing a signature kick or two as he posed for the enraptured audience. Even as he forgot the lyrics somewhat, he managed to keep the room captivated, stripping down to his boxers in the process.

Other performers at the event included Rachel Bloom, LeVar Burton, Nicole Byer, Bryan Cranston, Lil Dicky, Lindsay Dougherty, Simon Helberg, Janelle James, Michael McKean, Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswalt, June Diane Raphael, Andrea Savage, Dax Shepard, and Julian Velard.

The light-hearted moment was part of a fundraiser to raise emergency relief funds for both union and non-union crew members in need during the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. The strike, which has been in place since July 14, has ground Hollywood productions to a halt as the actors bargain with the AMPTP to strike a new deal.

Meanwhile, it looks as though SAG-AFTRA may have made some progress in ending the strike, with the union delivering its latest proposal to the AMPTP on October 26. According to Variety, talks will resume on October 27 with both sides now trying to avoid a complete breakdown in negotiations.

Want to read more about the actors’ strike? Check out why Deadpool 3’s release date is at risk due to the strike and read the AMPTP’s shocking proposal for actors and AI.

Image credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.

29 Sep 08:01

Spy Thriller Argylle From Kingsman Director Gets First Trailer With John Cena, Henry Cavill, And More Big Names

Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn's next movie, Argylle, now has its first trailer--and it's a pretty wild ride. A spy thriller with a twist, Argylle tells the story of reclusive author Elly Conway and her cat Alfie. Conway loves a quiet night at home with her cat, but she's thrust into a new world of action and adventure when her spy novel comes to life.

Conway becomes the subject of her own story when she teams up with Aiden (Sam Rockwell) to chase down a real spy organization. The movie also stars Henry Cavill, John Cena, Ariana DeBose, Dua Lipa, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O'Hara, Sofia Boutella, and Samuel L. Jackson. In case you were wondering, Alfie the cat is played by Chip, a cat owned by supermodel Claudia Schiffer, who is married to Vaughn.

The screenplay for Argylle was written by Wonder Woman's Jason Fuchs. "When I read this early draft manuscript, I felt it was the most incredible and original spy franchise since Ian Fleming's books of the 50s. This is going to reinvent the spy genre," Vaughn said previously.

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26 Sep 09:38

Thrawn's Stormtroopers In Ahsoka Aren't Actually Stormtroopers

by (Ryan Scott)
Thrawn's troopers on Ahsoka are a new class of stormtroopers known as night troopers ... and they could be a big part of his plan to take down the New Republic.

26 Sep 09:06

The Continental: All The Best John Wick Easter Eggs And References

by (Jeremy Mathai)
The new John Wick spinoff series The Continental has arrived on Peacock, and there are a handful of franchise Easter eggs for fans to pick up on.

26 Sep 09:01

How The Continental Expands The World Of John Wick

by (Bill Bria)
The Continental is the first John Wick spinoff to make it to streaming or the screen, and it expands upon the rich Wick lore in numerous, intriguing ways.

28 Aug 16:40

Video Friday: Robot vs. Door

by Evan Ackerman

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

IEEE RO-MAN 2023: 28–31 August 2023, BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA
IROS 2023: 1–5 October 2023, DETROIT
CLAWAR 2023: 2–4 October 2023, FLORIANOPOLIS, BRAZIL
ROSCon 2023: 18–20 October 2023, NEW ORLEANS
Humanoids 2023: 12–14 December 2023, AUSTIN, TEXAS

Enjoy today’s videos!

Loco-manipulation planning skills are pivotal for expanding the utility of robots in everyday environments. Here, we propose a minimally guided framework that automatically discovers whole-body trajectories jointly with contact schedules for solving general loco-manipulation tasks in premodeled environments. We showcase emergent behaviors for a quadrupedal mobile manipulator exploiting both prehensile and nonprehensile interactions to perform real-world tasks such as opening/closing heavy dishwashers and traversing spring-loaded doors.

I swear the cuteness of a quadrupedsusing a lil foot to hold open a spring-loaded door just never gets old.

[ Science Robotics ] via [ RSL ]

In 2019, Susie Sensmeier became one of the first customers in the United States to receive a commercial drone delivery. She was hooked. Four years later, Susie and her husband, Paul, have had over 1,200 orders delivered to their front yard in Christiansburg, Va., via Wing’s drone delivery service. We believe this sets a world record.

[ Wing ]

At the RoboCup 2023, one event was the Dynamic Ball Handling Challenge. The defending team used a static image with the sole purpose of intercepting the ball. The attacking team’s goal was to do at least two passes followed by a goal. This procedure was repeated three times on three different days and fields.

[ B-Human ]

When it comes to space, humans and robots go way back. We rely heavily on our mechanical friends to perform tasks that are too dangerous, difficult, or out of reach for us humans. We’re even working on a new generation of robots that will help us explore in advanced and novel ways.

[ NASA ]

The KUKA Innovation Award has been presented annually since 2014 and is addressed to developers, graduates, and research teams from universities and companies. For this year’s award, the applicants were asked to use open interfaces in our newly introduced robot operating system iiQKA and to add their own hardware and software components. Team SPIRIT, from the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics at the German Aerospace Center, worked on the automation of maintenance and inspection tasks in the oil and gas industry.

[ Kuka ]

We present tasks of traversing challenging terrain that require discovering a contact schedule, navigating non-convex obstacles, and coordinating many degrees of freedom. Our hybrid planner has been applied to three different robots: a quadruped, a wheeled quadruped, and a legged excavator. We validate our hybrid locomotion planner in the real world and simulation, generating behaviors we could not achieve with previous methods.

[ ETHZ ]

Giving drones hummingbird performance with no GPS, no motion capture, no cloud computing, and no prior map.

[ Ajna ]

In this video we introduce a new option for our Ridgeback Omnidirectional Indoor Mobile Platform, available through Clearpath Robotics integration services. This height-adjustable lift column is programmable through ROS and configured with MoveIt!

[ Clearpath ]

How do robots understand their surroundings? How do they decide what to pick up next? And how do they learn how to pick it up?

[ Covariant ]

Our Phoenix robots can successfully and accurately perform tasks that require the dexterity of two hands simultaneously, also known as bimanual object manipulation!

[ Sanctuary AI ]

By this point, I should be able to just type O_o and you’ll know it’s a Reachy video, right?

[ Pollen Robotics ]

28 Aug 16:34

moment of silence for everyone who relied on AI chat bots for research when it’s going around saying…




moment of silence for everyone who relied on AI chat bots for research when it’s going around saying shit like this.

[image description: search that reads “country in africa that starts with K”. the featured snipped is from and reads “While there are 54 recognized countries in Africa, none of them begin with the letter “K”. The closest is Kenya, which starts with a “K” sound, but is actually spelled with a “K” sound. It’s always interesting to learn new trivia facts like this.” /end ID]

16 Aug 09:13

First look at Toxic Avenger Remake Starring Peter Dinklage And Kevin Bacon

The first wave of Fantastic Fest was announced today, and the Austin-based genre festival revealed a surprise for its opening night. Legendary's all-new version of the Troma Entertainment classic, The Toxic Avenger will have its worldwide debut debut on September 21. The film comes from writer/director Macon Blair, who was most recently seen in Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer.

The reimagining of the 1984 horror-comedy stars Peter Dinklage as Toxie, as well as Jacob Tremblay, Taylour Paige, Elijah Wood, Sarah Niles, Julia Davis, Julian Kostov, and Kevin Bacon. The story is about a toxic accident transforming mild-mannered janitor Winston Gooze into a radioactive solider of the future, who wields a mop he shares a telepathic bond with.

Legendary released a teaser image of Dinklage with his mop's radioactive glow, but mostly obscured in the darkness, so we still have a little bit of time before his ghastly face is revealed.

Continue Reading at GameSpot