<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Tech News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Mon, 02 Mar 2015 08:33:19 -0800 Mon, 02 Mar 2015 08:33:19 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Google Expansion Worries Hometown]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:58:37 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/google22.jpg

New expansion plans for Google headquarters, known as the Googleplex, has the city of Mountain View in a tough position as city leaders try to accommodate their biggest corporate taxpayer as well as non-Google residents who feel the tech giant is swallowing their town.

“I think most of us in Mountain View are concerned about where are we going to house the employees that work there, the new employees. How will they get to work given the traffic bottlenecks that already exist?” asked Mountain View councilman Lenny Siegel.

Reportedly, the new plans highlight a campus focused on walking or biking to work, which means one thing to Siegel: Mountain View must build new housing.

“We’re expecting as we put housing in north Bayshore and near north Bayshore that we’ll reduce the amount of miles traveled by commuters,” he said.

A mobile home park in the shadow of Google headquarters is also in the cross hairs.

“There is a mobile home park in north Bayshore, about 360 units and a growing number of Google employees are moving in there,” he said. “Now it’s unfortunately displacing some of the residents, they’ve been bought out basically.”

Gregory Legg, who lives in Mountain View said many of his neighbors are Google employees and they’re doing wonders for property values

“It’s actually bringing it up, the property values, which is good. It’s real good,” Legg said. “I mean, before, it was pretty low. And now it’s brought it up quite a bit.”

But with the higher prices, Rosemary Dozie Antoine said she will probably have to move.

“We would like to get out of here because everything’s too expensive for what I do,” she said. “And for what my husband does. So we need to kinda’ need to get out of here.”

The higher real estate is benefiting some, but pushing out others.

“It’s the housing and transportation issues that make me question the value of all this high-tech growth,” she said.

Siegel said opening up Moffett Field for a type of park-and-ride plan that would help alleviate street congestion could be in the works. But his main focus is discussing new housing developments around Google, something the council said no to last year.

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<![CDATA["Spring Forward": Apple Watch Expected at March Event]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:52:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/APPLE10.jpg

Could it be time for the Apple Watch's big debut?

In its typical mysterious style, Apple announced on Thursday it will hold a “special event” on March 9, in San Francisco. While the Cupertino company didn't mention the watch - it never publicly identifies the subjects of its much-ballyhooed unveilings - it did use a time pun in its sparsely written invitation, colored in pastels.

"Spring Forward," reads the text for the invitation-only event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, which kicks off at 10 a.m.

Bolstering the watch theory, the company bought 12 pages of ads in Vogue magazine to tout its new Apple Watch, which is set to be released in April. The ad features three versions of the new smartwatch: the leather standard model, the rubber Sport , and the high-end Edition, all in glossy print ads.

And keen industry observers, including TechRadar, MacRumors and the Wall Street Journal predict that soon most everyone who wants one will be walking around with a new Apple wearable on their wrist.

Photo Credit: Apple invitation]]>
<![CDATA[Uber and Starwood Hotels Partner]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 10:54:09 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/uber-safety.jpg

San Francisco-based ridesharing company Uber is partnering with a hotel rewards program for the first time.

On Tuesday, Uber announced a partnership with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, headquartered in Connecticut.

Now people in Starwood Hotel’s Preferred Guest program can earn hotel “points” at the chain every time they ride with Uber. The Starwood chain is made up of more than 1,100 hotels and nine brands including St. Regis, W, Westin, The Luxury Collection, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft, and Element.

According to Uber’s blog, 72 percent of the over 290 cities where Uber is available, you can also find a Starwood hotel.

This partnership includes larger promotional events around the world, including a day of special freebies and deals for San Francisco customers on Feb. 28.

While Uber is a popular ridesharing company, it has also been surrounded in controversy both in the Bay Area and around the world.  Uber has come under fire recently for its safety record, executive missteps, and for being embroiled in several lawsuits with local governments.

Riders will have to rack up quite a few Uber trips to earn their free stay. Starwood Hotel guests earn one “Starpoint” for each dollar they spend with Uber. Guests need a minimum of 2,000 of those “Starpoints“ to stay at the least expensive Starwood rooms.

<![CDATA[Google Teams Up with Wireless Carriers]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 20:09:54 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/186*120/google12.jpg

Aiming to undercut Apple's latest hit service, Google is teaming up with three major U.S. wireless carriers to prod more people into using its mobile wallet.

The counterattack announced Monday is just the latest example of how the competition between Google Inc. and Apple Inc. is extending beyond the technology industry's traditional boundaries. Besides payments, Silicon Valley's two richest companies are expanding into fields such as home appliances and cars to increase their power and profits.

Google's latest volley calls for its payment service to be built into Android smartphones sold by AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA later this year. Smartphone owners currently have to download the service, called Google Wallet, and install the app on their phone if they want to use it to buy something instead of pulling out cash or a credit card.
Apple's rival service, Apple Pay, already comes embedded in the latest versions of the company's mobile software.
Besides trying to make it more convenient to use Wallet, Google also is hoping to improve the nearly 4-year-old service. Toward that end, Google Inc. is buying some mobile payment technology and patents from Softcard, a 5-year-old venture owned by the wireless carriers. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Although Google and the wireless carriers got a head start with their digital wallets, the concept hadn't gained much traction until Apple Pay debuted last fall.
The service has become more popular than Apple expected, according to a recent presentation by CEO Tim Cook.

Just three months after Apple Pay's November debut, Cook said the service accounted for two out of every three dollars spent across the three major U.S. card networks, when no card was used. About 2,000 banks and credit unions have agreed to offer Apple Pay to its customers. Apple hasn't said how many merchants are set up to handle its mobile payment services.
Apple builds on that early momentum, the Cupertino, California, company could become the leader in what is expected to be a booming market. Nearly 16 million U.S. consumers spent about $3.5 billion on tap-and-pay services last year, according to the research firm eMarketer. By 2018, eMarketer predicts those figures will rise to 57 million U.S. consumers spending about $118 billion.

Companies that provide mobile wallets make money by collecting processing fees from merchants and banks.

Samsung Electronics, another major smartphone maker, may be ready to join the fray after buying a mobile payment startup called LoopPay. That deal, announced last week, fueled speculation that Samsung will include a digital wallet on its next phone.

Apple Pay's popularity probably helped forge the unlikely alliance between Google and the wireless carriers. Google traditionally has had a prickly relationship with the carriers, largely because it doesn't believe enough has been done to upgrade wireless networks and make them cheaper so more people can spend more time online. Media reports say Google is considering selling its own wireless plans to consumers.

The pre-installation of the Wallet app is similar to what Google already does with its search engine, Gmail and YouTube on millions of other phones running on Android -- an operating system that Google has been giving away for years to ensure people keep using its products on mobile devices. Google profits from the traffic by showing ads.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[App Hails Cabs to Compete With Uber]]> Thu, 19 Feb 2015 18:38:43 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/flywheel+app.JPG

A new smart phone app called Flywheel is promising to change the way you hail a taxi in San Diego, and it’s giving some taxi drivers real hope they can finally compete with Uber.

Flywheel, based in San Francisco, sent employees to the Gaslamp Quarter Tuesday night to promote the technology. Much like Uber and Lyft, Flywheel requires users to download the app and sign up with credit card information ahead of time. The app lets you orient to your current location and then hail the nearest cab.

“The big difference with us is we have no surge pricing and worked licensed vehicles in the cities, so you know the drivers have been well vetted by the city’s requirements,” said Ryan Nobrega, a Flywheel spokesperson.

Right now Flywheel is the only real player in the taxi smartphone app game. They say they’ve contracted with about 75 percent of local cabs and are optimistic the numbers will continue to grow. The company charges a $1 service fee on all exchanges.

“We lost business the last two years. Now we’re getting help” said taxi driver Bashir Warsame. “I think Flywheel is helping us as a business.”

Not everyone is as excited about the new technology however.

“On paper it sounds very good,” said Chris Morse with the United Taxi Workers of San Diego, a nonprofit dedicated to drivers’ rights. “We see an app like Flywheel coming in almost as another iteration of Uber coming in to provide its expertise in a way that might blind side some drivers into agreeing to terms not beneficial to their long term interests.”

The UTWSD is currently working on its own app, which they say will give drivers a better deal.

“We are 100 percent for the cab industry” said Nobrega. Flywheel is already operating in San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and Seattle.

The company’s San Diego launch took place at Tuesday night’s Mardi Gras celebration in the Gaslamp with free cab rides all night long to San Diegans.

Flywheel negotiated rates with cab drivers which they say are 33 percent lower than the typical fair you’d receive when hailing a taxi the traditional way.

<![CDATA[Dating App for Pot Smokers]]> Tue, 10 Feb 2015 05:49:48 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/High+There+App.jpg

Stoners looking for that special someone, rejoice: There is a new way to light up connections with others who share a love of weed.

High There! is a dating app, similar to Tinder, designed especially for marijuana smokers.

The Denver-based app is available for Android phones in states where use of marijuana is legal, according to its download page in the Google Play store.

High There! doesn't yet have an iPhone app, though several media reports say one is in the works.

Similar to Tinder, High There! lets users create profiles and swipe through potential matches. But the app also lets weed-smokers let others know what they like to do when high. A preview on Google Play shows the options to set your "energy level" to "low" if you like to veg out, or to "high" if you want to go for a run after you partake.

The app also matches people based on their preferences for consuming THC -- vaping vs. smoking, for example.

"High There! solves the problem many cannabis consumers face in connecting with similar people," according to the app's download page. "Whether looking to connect with new friends, current friends, fellow patients, or simply to find that special someone who understands and supports your choice to consume, High There! helps by giving you a safe place to express yourself."

CEO Todd Mitchem told Mashable the app is designed for more than just dating.

"A lot of people say we're the Tinder of weed, but that's only one facet of the whole thing. It's so much bigger," he said.

Mitchem said the app can help users find recommendations for local medical marijuana dispensaries, or just make friends. (Presumably, friends with some weed.)

Photo Credit: High There! Screen Grab from Google Play]]>
<![CDATA[Google Now Calculates Your Mortgage]]> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 13:22:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*121/GoogleMortgageCalculator.JPG

Google now has a mortgage calculator for users who don't want to bother looking up a mortgage site.

Apparently it was created to capture those searching for a mortgage calculator because it shows up in the search results, much as its regular calculator does, according to Search Engine Land. From Google Plus:

Preparing for homeownership just got a bit easier. Starting today you can ask Google things like “How much can I borrow at $200 a month?” or “At 5% APR how much can I borrow over 10 years?” You can even adjust the mortgage amount, interest rate, mortgage period and more to see which financial options fit your needs.

Google's plan is to keep eyeballs on the site, and providing free online tools has been their successful way of doing just that. Its other tools, such as Google's currency converter and Google Translate are also ways to keep people using the search engine and coming back for more.

Photo Credit: Google]]>
<![CDATA[Google Takes on Uber]]> Tue, 03 Feb 2015 09:29:36 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/uber-illustration-451549230.jpg

Uber, Lyft -- and now Google.

With no drivers, to boot.

The Mountain View search engine and advertising giant is reportedly working on an Uber competitor, with Google employees already using an app-hailed ride service, according to Bloomberg Business.

Google is working on multiple ventures, including a driverless, self-driven car. Google is also an Uber investor, after the company sank $258 million in Uber in 2013.

Bloomberg believes that Google's ride-hailing service will be launched "most likely in conjunction" with the "driverless car project."

The project is so real that Uber is close to asking David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer who has sat on Uber's board since 2013, to resign his position, Bloomberg reported.

Multiple companies are working on driverless cars, but Google's emergence as an Uber competitor rather than a partner might spell trouble for the San Francisco-based Uber.

Photo Credit: Illustration/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Using Drones to Map Emergency Disaster Routes]]> Tue, 03 Feb 2015 22:05:07 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/451783648.jpg

If a disaster were to strike San Diego, a map showing damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure would be crucial for emergency crews to send out help.

So San Diego State geography professor Doug Stow has made it his mission to get that information as soon as possible with the latest aerial technology: drones.

With a $365,000 grant in hand, Stow is building a program that will create a before-and-after map in just minutes.

The first step is in the hands of emergency officials. Stow asks them to identify critical emergency locations like power stations, bridges, hospitals and dams. Stow and others then send out unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and piloted light sport aircraft (LSA) to take pictures of those places from above.

As they take pictures, the drones also record their GPS locations, which are saved in a computer program.

During a disaster, emergency personnel could use the same coordinates to send UAVs back to the essential spots and see if they have been damaged. The program is supposed to analyze the before-and-after images to spot the differences and highlight them to managers.

Stow hopes the program will detect crumbling walls, collapsed ceilings and buckled roads, among other things.

“The goal is for these images to look like they were taken by a stationary security camera, even though they were taken by an aircraft hundreds of feet overhead,” he said in a press release.
If the UAVs and LSA can be launched quickly, emergency crews could have a damage map within an hour or two after a disaster, Stow said.

But the project is not without its kinks. Stow and SDSU researchers, students and graduates are still trying to figure out how to exclude ordinary changes – like shadows or moving cars in a parking lot – from a damage map.

The San Diego County Office of Emergency Services and its counterpart in New Mexico are helping the researchers test out the software through simulated incidents, the school says.

“We think the UAV imaging market is about to explode,” Stow said. “Our technology can play an important role in its future.”

SDSU officials say the program builds on existing research from the school’s Center for Earth Systems Analysis Research for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Navy Postgraduate School.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Super Bowl 2015: Top Moments on Twitter, Facebook]]> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 11:00:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/brady-belichick-sb49-win-462644256.jpg

Sunday’s Super Bowl battle between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks was the most-talked about NFL championship ever on Twitter and Facebook, the social media giants said Monday.

There were more than 28.4 million global tweets about the game and halftime show, surpassing last year’s 24.9 million tweets during the Super Bowl, Twitter said.

For Facebook, 65 million people wrote some 265 million Super Bowl-related posts, comments and likes.

Some of the game's highlights generated more buzz than Katy Perry's halftime performance and dozens of commercials.

The most popular moment on Facebook was the Patriots' win (1.36 million people-per-minute). This had the second highest volume on Twitter with 379,000 tweets per minute. Katy Perry’s “Firework” finale at halftime was the second most talked-about moment on Facebook (1.02 million people-per-minute); Perry's halftime show was third on Twitter with 284,000 tweets per minute.

When Malcolm Butler intercepted a pass by Russell Wilson one yard from the goal line with 20 seconds left in the game, Twitter exploded with 395,000 tweets per minute to become the top moment of the night. Butler’s move was the third most popular moment on Facebook, which sparked some 676,000 conversations per-minute.

Women between ages 25 to 34 were the most represented demographic in the conversation about the game on Facebook. The social media platform added that Tom Brady was the most-discussed New England Patriots player, and Marshawn Lynch from the Seahawks.


Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Cutting Class? New App Could Blow Your Cover]]> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 08:49:22 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/smart+phone+generic+.jpg

Want to see if your college student is skipping class? There’s an app for that.

For $200 a year, parents, professors and campus administrators can use Class120 to check to see if a student is in class at the scheduled time.

The minds behind the app, which was debuted by start-up Core Principle this month, say the accountability app could help students stay on track with their studies and prepare them for being punctual once they enter the workforce. But some students say it gives parents too much control over the lives of their adult children.

Jeff Whorley, founder and CEO of Core Principle, developed the app after a conversation he had with a college professor that left him thinking that if colleges treated all students the way they treat Division 1 athletes, whose attendance in class is closely monitored, then graduation levels would rise.

“If we could get students everywhere to attend at least 90 percent of their classes, over 80 percent would graduate,” Whorley told NBC Owned Television Stations.

The app tracks if the student is in class, and sends an alert to the student’s parent or teacher if they do not show up to class for two days in a row. Core Principle can also call the student directly if a parent or teacher does not feel comfortable contacting the student. The app must be downloaded by the student, and it can only be used to track if a student is in class, not at parties or other activities.

Still, some have criticized the app for being too controlling over students who should be treated like adults.

"I would probably be more annoyed than anything," Natalie Pike told NBC affiliate WTHR. "I would feel like my life is being pried into."

But Whorley argues that in the post-college world, a recent grad will face immediate consequences if they do not show up or even show up late to work. More students, he says, need to be treated with similar consequences by having a teacher or parent point out that they are late and help get back on track before the entire semester goes down the drain.

“We don’t think this app is anti-adult," Whorley said. "It’s an introduction to the real economy.”

The app has made recent headlines, with coverage in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. In the last four days alone, the start-up has seen a huge increase in traffic from parents in Europe and Asia looking to track their children who are studying abroad in the U.S., he said. So far the app is available for close to 2,000 college campuses across the country that the company has geomapped.

Whorley hopes that in the future this app can work to take class attendance.

“The future of taking attendance is Wi-Fi or GPS where a professor looks down at a piece of smart technology instead of calling roll," he said.

<![CDATA[College Students Will Have a Harder Time Cutting Class ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:04:25 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_attendanceapp0129001_1500x845__677564.jpg College students will have a much harder time trying to skip class now that parents and professors can track if they're in class or not. ]]> <![CDATA[Newsweek Criticized for Silicon Valley Cover]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:19:30 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Newsweek+sexism+in+tech+cover.jpg

Newsweek's latest exposé has social media in a frenzy over the choice of cover art.

To illustrate the "What Silicon Valley Thinks Of Women" article, the American news magazine created a cover illustration showing a computer cursor lifting up the skirt of a woman in a red dress.

Billed by Newsweek as a report of the "sordid, shocking and systemic" sexism in the Northern California technology hub home to Apple, Google and Yahoo, the attention-grabbing art has pundits and social media users questioning its appropriateness.

"Clickbait, designed to piss off women while pretending to investigate sexism in tech. Fail--but you know it," tweeted Jennifer Pozner, executive director of the analysis group Women In Media and News.

Newsweek editor Jim Impoco has not directly responded to the outcry but instead tweeted a line of approval taken from an Adweek review of the article, and also retweeted one commenter's reworking of the cover art to show the woman kicking the cursor away and her expletive-filled thought over the incident.


Photo Credit: Newsweek
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<![CDATA[Instagram Down for a 2nd Time This Week]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:15:21 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/158539421.jpg

The photo-centric social media site Instagram was down Wednesday night, just two days after it suffered a similar outage.

The website Is It Down Right Now showed the site as being down shortly after 10:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday. By 10:40 p.m. ET it said the site was back up and reachable.

The site went down on Tuesday around the same time that Facebook, which owns Instagram, suffered a widespread outage lasting roughly 40 minutes.

Instagram has about 300 million users, compared to Facebook's 1.25 billion.

Users took to social media on Wednesday night to report the problem and the pain of not being able to post their photos.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA["Room" – Inside a Tesla – Offered on Airbnb]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:44:23 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/164*120/teslamain.JPG

Not every hotel room can claim to be zero emissions. 

Then again, not every hotel room is actually a car.

But, thanks to the Silicon Valley creations of Tesla and Airbnb, you can now sleep inside a car for $85 a night. Specifically, you can rent out the inside of a Tesla Model S for $85 a night on Airbnb.

Popular Mechanics reports this "boundlessly optimistic" arrangement is available in Phoenix, Arizona, but it doesn't appear that the keys are included with the rental.

But, as host Steve Sasman notes, "How often do you get to sleep in a $118,000 Electric Car?" The answer could be "every night," depending on your financial plan (or lack thereof).

Sasman is also the author of the book, "How Anyone Can Afford a Tesla," in which he talks about the five best ways to make money owning a Tesla.

On the Airbnb website, Sasman touts the amenities that come with renting the "world's first Tesla hotel": An airbed that accommodates two in climate-controlled comfort all night, clean sheets, pillows and blankets, and remote-controlled candles to "help set a fun camping mood in the Tesla."

"Sorry, NO NBA Players allowed. Despite my love for basketball, the Tesla is just too small for anyone over 6' 6". Please...stop asking," Sasman writes.

He says the car is securely parked in his garage and that guests also get access to the kitchen, living room, TV, and private bathroom and shower in his condo.

"As the Tesla is of course my transportation, I would request that you are up by 8 a.m. so I can get to work," Sasman notes, adding, "however, this is very flexible and we can agree on a time the night before of course! You are free to hang out in the condo and even sleep-in longer on the big comfy couch if you like."

House rules: No smoking or pets in the Tesla or condo. "It's a pretty quiet condo unit so expect the same from quests (sic)," Sasman adds.

Photo Credit: www.airbnb.com]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Promotes MLK Day Volunteerism]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 07:06:15 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/8-22-2013-MLK-on-MEET-THE-PRESS.jpg

Apple is defending its policy on Martin Luther King Day, which will be observed nationally on Monday Jan. 19, after a Silicon Valley media blog called out the company for not making it a paid holiday.

The suggestion is that Apple is making a misstep, especially as tech companies are striving for greater diversity.

NBC Bay Area reached out to Apple, which confirms, while Monday is not a paid holiday, the company has encouraged employees to volunteer as a way to honor Dr. King. In turn, Apple, through its matching gifts program, is contributing $50 for every employee hour worked.

MLK Day is a federal holiday, which means government workers will have the day off.

In its article, Valleywag notes Bay Area-based companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Yahoo all give employees the holiday off.

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Feds Partner With Facebook, Bing For Amber Alerts]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 14:41:58 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/211*120/Facebook-generic-1.jpg

Facebook and the federal government announced that they are working together to fight child abduction. Get ready to see an Amber Alert pop up in your news feed.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday - National Amber Alert Awareness Day - that it is teaming up with the tech giant as well as search engine Bing to expand the reach of the Amber Alert system.

Attorney General Eric Holder released a video message Tuesday morning and in it said the Amber Alert system has been key as an early warning system to find abducted children.

It’s been nearly 20 years since the system first started and it is credited with the rescue and safe return of more than 700 abducted children.

The alert has already been expanded to highway signs and mobile phones, and now the attorney general and the tech companies say social media is a logical place to send alerts and increase the number of children returned safely.

“Facebook’s geo-targeted alerts and Bing’s online broadcast tools will give Amber Alerts an expanded social media and Internet presence – extending our web of child protection resources into new and critical areas,” Holder said in the video. “I am grateful for their involvement, and for the participation of so many organizations and agencies that have helped to make the Amber Alert system such an important public safety asset.”

The Attorney General went on to say that finding an abducted child and returning them to safety depends on a fast response, and nothing is faster than the Internet.

“When an Amber Alert is activated, think of Facebook as the world’s largest neighborhood watch,” said Emily Vacher, Facebook’s Security, Trust & Safety manager.

“We’re sending detailed, relevant, timely information to people who use Facebook so they can open their eyes, they can look around their community, and hopefully find that one tip that will bring the child home.”

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Evolving Car Tech on Display at CES]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 15:22:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/driverless-car.jpg

The largest show of its kind is not a revolution, but an evolution of technology.

As I crisscrossed the three football fields worth of gadgets, curved TVs and self-driving cars at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it became clear that consumer technology is evolving into a personal, connected space that is banking on you not only wanting it, but feeling like you need it.

Curved television is a perfect example. The new technology gives you a theater-like perspective, but at a high price tag even the most committed techie wonders if there is a need.

"I'm not sure how many consumers really care about this product," said Mark Hung, Gartner analyst. "I think it is really up to the company to come up with a value proposition that is attractive to customers."

Dozens of companies are hoping that easier transportation is attractive and necessary. Boosted Boards, OneWheel and Bosch Bicycles are enhancing standard skateboards, unicycles and bicycles with powerful motors that gives you enough boost to leave the car at home and use the low-carbon footprint transportation to get to work.

Boosted Boards gets six miles on a single charge. Its high-end $1,500 model lets you go at an almost frightening speed.

Bosch's new electric motors makes pedaling uphill almost as easy as going downhill.

And OneWheel puts a new spin on the unicycle with gyroscopes and technology that lets you stand tall and zoom down streets, gravel or even grassy areas with ease. It retails at $1,500.

But a true Angeleno is really about their car. We love them. And car companies are banking on that love and our need to get across the hill to the valley in comfort, luxury and most importantly convenience. BMW is developing not only self-driving cars, but cars that park themselves.

In the land of few parking spots and high-priced valet, a self-parking car seems like almost a need. So, we took a BMW up on a test park and it made me not fear going to West Hollywood to find a space. The "ActiveAssist" technology is an automated valet system.

BMW uses a Samsung smartwatch to send the i3 to find a parking space, and then have it return. With no driver, it heads down a line of cars until it identified a parking spot and backs into it. And when you need to go, there is no need to walk to the car. Just talk into the watch "BMW pick me up" and the car pulls out of the space and heads your way. BMW says the technology is still seven years away.

Valeo thinks its automated driving technology is only two years away, but after we took a test drive live during the NBC4 News at Noon, it could be a little longer. The Cruise4U technology can be added to any car and, as long as there are lines on the road, the car does an amazing job of following the road, speeding up and down in traffic and turning lanes when prompted by the driver. Where things went wrong was when the car entered intersections and lost the lines. The car swerves slightly to the right.

Luckily, the engineer corrected and avoided a collision. The technology is still being worked on and engineers say they are tweaking it to accommodate intersections and recognizing human beings and bicycles that enter the traffic flow.

The great thing about CES is that you can see the technology in the process of being perfected, even if that perfection is still years away.

<![CDATA[Sony Set to Release New High Quality Sound Walkman]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 10:10:43 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ZX2_close_up.jpg

Is the Walkman back?

Sony has unveiled a new Walkman that it says will deliver a "pure sound quality for a more authentic, emotionally involving musical experience." But that experience will cost you.

The new ZX2 Walkman, revealed at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, will provide an "unparalleled listening experience" at a price of $1,119.99.

How will the device deliver such a high quality sound? The new walkman has an S-Master HX processor that enables it to carry songs in “high resolution,” meaning each song will be around 150MB, according to Time.

Most CD’s and MP3 players carry compressed versions of songs that are a fraction of that size.

The larger size will allow songs to have more detail, and consequently the device will provide “a more authentic, emotionally involving musical experience,” Sony said in a statement.

The Android-powered device also features a 4-inch touchscreen and a battery life of up to 60 hours.

It will also be able to reach apps through Google Play, though it isn’t meant to be a competitor of smartphones, according to Business Time.

The first Walkman, a portable cassette player, went on sale on July 1, 1979, and went on to become a defining product for Sony in the pre-Apple iPod and smartphone era. Other Walkman-branded players were later created for CDs, the Mini-Disc and MP3s.

More recently, an '80s-era Walkman was prominently featured in the blockbuster "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Sony's new Walkman ZX2 is set to hit the markets this spring, Time reported. 

Photo Credit: Sony]]>
<![CDATA[First LG Phone with New Snapdragon Processor]]> Tue, 06 Jan 2015 07:57:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/LG-Flex-phone-010515.jpg

LG Electronics unveiled the first phone to have Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor at its heart.

The South Korean mobile phone maker showed off the new device on Jan. 5 at the 2015 International CES, the big annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.

Hidden away in the LG G Flex2 is the 810 processor, which has an eight-core, 64-bit central processing unit. Qualcomm announced the chip in April.

Outside, the phone makes a fashion and ergonomic statement with its slightly curved profile.

LG said the phone will be available in South Korea at the end of the month. Other markets will follow.

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<![CDATA[All About That Bass: Music at CES]]> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 23:43:09 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/IMG_2038_speaker.JPG

"Hey, Mrs. Carter."

Whoever it is that calls out to Beyonce in the song has never sounded better.

And neither has a ton of bass.

I'm listening to the newest speaker from the French company Devialet, and it's a revelation. In a CES that will no doubt be dominated by drones, and droning on, it's a pleasure to have just a little time alone with some terrific sounding music.

"Billie Jean," for example, is a song I've heard 435,000 times. It's a classic. But today I heard parts of it I never knew existed. Something about a high-end speaker from a company that builds them, and sells them for more than $20,000 a piece.

Devialet chose CES to bring its system to the masses. Well, the well-heeled masses. The "Phantom" is still going to about $2,000. Much less than the high-end model, but it's really made for audiophiles who want a stylish speaker to go with their pumping Bass. (Although, to be fair, it's not just the stuff I listen to that sounds great. Segueing into "The Girl From Ipanema" proves that quiet, smooth music can be improved with a quality system, too).

Devialet boasts dozens of patents to bring you the music. The speaker actually moves as the sound changes, thanks to air being pushed inside. It's cool to watch. But away from the technology, they say music is really about what you feel. Quentin Bernard, Devialet Product Manager, says "by bringing the product to a larger market, people will be able to rediscover the emotion of music. This is our goal."

It's a good goal, and the speaker sounds great. It's wifi-enabled, so you can stream your iTunes playlist, or your Spotify. Buy a few of them, and you can wirelessly listen to movies in your home theatre.

And if you can afford it, my advice is: Crank it up. Even fancy speakers are made to blast your "Yonce.

Scott Budman will be cruising CES. Get his updates by following him on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: Scott Budman / NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Lending Club, Zendesk, GoPro On List of Top IPOs]]> Sat, 03 Jan 2015 08:02:25 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP604453903069.jpg

It was a fine year to be a Silicon Valley investor.

And it was an even better year to be an early employee of some select Bay Area firms who had solid IPOs in 2014.

A total of 35 companies backed by venture capital doubled in value -- or gained even more -- after going public in 2014, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Lending Club, the credit marketplace company, had the biggest IPO at $1 billion, the newspaper reported, for a year-end gain of 69 percent.

Compare that to TubeMogul, which gained 240.4 percent after the video advertising firm went public on July 18.

The other top gains in 2014:

Avalance Biotechnologies, IPO at $17, ended the year at $54 for a gain of 217.6 percent;

Zendesk, IPO at $9, ended the year at $24.37 for a gain of 170.8 percent;

GoPro, IPO at $24, ended the year at $63.22 for a gain of 164.3 percent.

Atara Biotherapeutics, IPO at $11, ended the year at $26.75 for a gain of 143.2 percent.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[PlayStation, Xbox LIVE Seem Vulnerable After Hack]]> Fri, 26 Dec 2014 18:18:26 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/452458923.jpg

Gamers and console users were left with much to desire of Sony and Microsoft after a cyber attack shut down their online gaming networks Christmas Day, with some users still having issues Friday.

A cyber group called "Lizard Squad" claimed responsibility for the attack on an online forum, saying they did it for laughs at first, but when they realized how vulnerable the gaming networks really were, they wanted to show both company's inability to protect users' information.

"It was scary because I got my information on my PlayStation," said PlayStation Network user Kristian Imaga. "I buy games and I buy movies online."

Imaga said he regularly uses his credit card to make PSN purchases and was scared his information could have been compromised.

Lizard Squad said they intend to force both companies to upgrade their security.

Xbox LIVE did not comment on the hack, but released a statement announcing their network was back up and running Friday. Sony's PlayStation Network was still down as of this report, however.

In a tweet, PlayStation said, "We are working to restore full network services for all platforms - thanks as always for your patience!" They also did not comment on the hack.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Minecraft Creator Outbids Jay-Z For $70M Home]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:57:13 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*160/52_104_fbc455ce9dee11e2b74c22000a9f14277.jpg

This isn't the first massive dream home Markus "Notch" Persson has built. But it's the first time the Minecraft creator outbid American royalty.

Persson, the creator of the world's best-selling video game, is the proud new owner of a $70 million Beverly Hills mansion, according to reports in Curbed.

Persson, more-commonly known as "Notch," is the 35-year-old Swedish creator of Minecraft, which has sold 17 million copies worldwide. Although of late, he's moved onto other pursuits: in September, he sold the game and its company to Microsoft for $2.5 billion.

The home, the most expensive single-family home ever sold in the exclusive LA enclave, has eight bedrooms and 15 bathrooms with a long list of outrageous additional opulence, from a "candy room with M&M tower" to the "54-foot glass door" through which you access the "dramatic cliff's edge pool."

The agent who closed the sale noted that Persson may have picked himself up a bargain: "trophy properties" in LA are "underpriced," according to a report on SFGate.com's real estate blog.

Photo Credit: the_minecraft_squad123/Instagram
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<![CDATA[LA Taxis May Get Apps as Ride-Shares Get LAX Nod]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 10:44:31 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/generic+traffic+taxi+vg.jpg

Imagine using an app on your smartphone to hail — not a ride share car — but any taxicab in Los Angeles.

Imagine a ride share car being permitted to drop off passengers at LAX — just like a taxi — because the ride-share company has agreed to be regulated.

Both perhaps unexpected prospects moved forward Thursday as two different Los Angeles City commissions took steps to advance Mayor Eric Garcetti's policy "to ensure equal competition among transportation platforms."

Within a handful of years, the emerging ride share industry — think Uber, Lyft, Sidecar — has grown to take as much as one-third of the fares that once went to traditional taxis.

Taxi companies are licensed by the city and subject to stringent regulation that ride share companies maintain do not apply to them. The taxi industry sees an unfair situation.

"It needs to a level playing field," said Simon Gevorkian, a taxi driver who also is a part owner of two taxi companies.

"We should be on the same level — under the same rules," said Andrey Primushko, President of United Taxi.

Ride-sharing has flourished through smartphone apps that enable riders to connect directly with nearby drivers, without any need to go through a dispatch service.

In response, several of the major cab companies, as well as tech companies, have developed so-called "e-hail" apps for taxis.

E-hail apps enable a rider to view a map showing all the available taxis in his area, and to choose by clicking. Advocates say the more taxis logged-on, the more likely one will be close to the rider, making the service more appealing.

"You need to see twenty cabs around you," said Sachin Kashal, chief product officer for Flywheel, an e-hail app. "If you have only a two minute, you'll call."

At this point, such e-hail programs are used by fewer than half of the city's cabdrivers, according to Eric Speigelman, the president of LA's Board of Taxicab Commissioners.

A motion introduced by Spiegelman proposes making it mandatory for all drivers and all taxis.

"E-hail technology has the potential to allow the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to enforce minimum standards of quality, safety, and equal service more efficiently than methods currently available," reads his motion in part.

Meantime at LAX, the airport commission heard from a series of travelers asking for the option of using ride share services for ground transportation after landing.

The city-owned airport has permitted ride shares — formally known as "transportation network companies — to drop off travelers, but not to make pickups, as taxis line up to do.

The commission directed staff to develop plans for a program that would allow ride shares to operate at the airport and promote "a level playing field."

Significantly, the ride shares would have to agree to observe city regulations — and possibly even pay fees — in order to participate.

Though the ride shares have sought to define themselves as different from transportation services subject to regulation, the lucrative airport pickup market may be sufficient inducement to persuade them to relent.

Photo Credit: Valeria Gonzalez]]>
<![CDATA[Experts: WWIII Looks Like Sony Hack]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 06:03:12 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/N6P-SONY-KOREA-HACK-PKG---03282609.jpg

The term “cyber warfare” has been thrown around for years, with security experts wondering what the effects of a damaging cyber attack might look like. Now we know: a Hollywood studio left paralyzed, and the center of the tech world is wondering what's next.

As the billboards advertising Sony Pictures' "The Interview" were pulled down in Hollywood on Thursday, concerns about cyber terrorism shot up in Silicon Valley.

"World War III looks like this,” said Michelle Dennedy, Intel Security's chief privacy officer. She said technology is the new battlefield, and our gadgets are all potential targets.

"This is the wave of the future,” Dennedy said. “Bank robbers robbed banks because that's where the money was. Data is currency. Hackers are going for it because it's valuable."

What happened at Sony should, according to cyber security experts, be a warning to us all.

"This is the first time we've seen it at this scale,” said Truman National Security Project’s Mike McNerney.

The goal of hackers is not just disruption, it's fear, McNerney said. "This is different. The way they were able to combine this online attack that got them the attention they wanted, and then mix this with threat of physical violence, it's something we really haven't seen before."

But it’s likely something we'll see again, as hackers try to invade banks, retailers, anything with an easy to open virtual door.

"I think everyone needs to be worried about this," McNerney said, “whether it's an organization, government entity, or an individual.”

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[New App to Detail Wait Times at Border]]> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:44:33 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/border+wait+times.jpg

A new application announced Tuesday will give people traveling across the border more information on the wait times they would be facing.

The new mobile application, Border Wait Time, gives people access to border wait times at various ports of entry around the county and the status of open lanes at land ports of entry on-the-go, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officials said.

Wait times for pedestrian, passenger and commercial vehicles are broken down by lane type, the CBP said. Through the application, users can locate the three closest ports of entry and map the best route to their selected crossing.

The application does not require the individual to register or provide any personal information. Additionally, CBP does not have access to or store personal information from travelers.

Users can download the application for free on Android's Play Store and the iTunes App Store.

<![CDATA[Odd Google Searches That Trended in 2014]]> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 08:21:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/453920462.jpg

Google has released its 2014 list of its most common search requests. Many popular searches weren't surprising, like The World Cup, Robin Williams, and Disney's “Frozen.”

However, the search engine also revealed other searches that were also, somehow, popular this past year. People of the web turned to Google for odd info about dogs, beauty, diets, memes, fashion and famous selfies.

Take a look at searches that also trended in 2014: 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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