Our weekly roundup of the top news stories in the world of tech for the week beginning February 15th, 2016.
Nissan’s intelligent parking chairs
The sign of good technology is when it makes a tricky task look easy and that’s what Nissan wanted to demonstrate with its latest creation. The Japanese automotive giant found a novel way of showcasing its cars’ Intelligent Park Assist feature, using office chairs.
The introduction video the company pushed out on Monday shows office rooms with chairs strewn about the place that then tuck themselves away under desks with a simple clap of the hands. The technology scales from small conference rooms to entire office floors and the modified Okamura chairs never bump into each other or wind up getting stuck.
The technology behind it actually relies on motion-tracking cameras and WiFi to relay commands to the chairs and each one has four motorised wheels hidden at its base. Whilst it’s unlikely that we’ll see Nissan’s Intelligent Park Assist ever make its way to a boardroom near you, it’s already available on a number of the company’s cars, including the Qashqai. Watch to the end to see the making-of video. Find out more here.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 will be expandable and waterproof
Whilst we don’t have long to wait until we officially meet ‘the next Galaxy’ (February 21st to be precise), leaked information, photos and video of Samsung’s forthcoming flagship smartphone continue to flow and these latest titbits give us the clearest look yet at what the phone will be capable of.
Someone at Samsung Indonesia likely got a slap on the wrist earlier this week when a video that appears to feature both the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, cropped up on its YouTube channel.
The video never identifies the phone by name, simply making reference to the #TheNextGalaxy hashtag, however it’s pictured in use during heavy rainfall, despite a caveat in the description stating, ‘This product is not water resistant and it should not be exposed to and/or submerged into water/liquid.’ Nice try Sammy. Find out more here.
The second, less official image was shared with Android Authority and shows an extended SIM tray that looks like it’ll give the S7 one of the most requested features that the S6 lacked, expandable storage. Thankfully we don’t have long to wait. Find out more here.
New Nerf blasters shoot rounds at 68 mph
This week Manhattan played host to the annual New York Toy Fair and one of the biggest head-turners at the show was the latest
gun blaster from Hasbro-owned Nerf. The company’s Rival line just got a new top dog in the form of the Khaos and it packs a serious punch.
It’s the largest blaster in the lineup, sporting a huge magazine that holds up to 40 high-impact Rival rounds at once (not to mention a smart reloading mechanism). The blaster’s internal flywheel design is where things get a little hairy however, as the Khaos can apparently launch these rounds at up to an insane 68 miles per hour. Even though it’s only firing yellow foam balls, at those speeds we suggest wearing some protection before choosing a side.
The Nerf Rival Khaos comes in the line’s signature red and blue colourways, with an expected launch window of autumn this year and a price tag of around $69.99 (£50).
Kanye’s Tidal-exclusive new album is a Pirate Bay favourite
Mr West is making headlines for weird reasons yet again this week, starting with the launch of his new album – The Life of Pablo. Following the album’s unveiling, Yeezy tweeted out that it would never be made available on Apple’s music streaming service, Apple Music and instead fans would have to get the album exclusively on Tidal, the awkwardly positioned streaming service headed up by rapper/producer Jay Z.
Despite Kanye’s Tidal-only policy however, users of popular torrent websites including The Pirate Bay had a different idea. Whilst Kanye’s move initially pushed Tidal up the app download charts for the week, Torrent Freak published some significant numbers, suggesting that the album had been downloaded via torrents some 500,000 by Tuesday. Find out more here.
Ultimate Ears’ UE Megaboom now comes in a new Red Bull flavour
We’re pretty fond of Ultimate Ears’ portable speakers. The Boom 2 and Megaboom leverage a distinctive 360-degree design and can be had in a range of eye-catching colour combinations with names like Greenmachine and Brainfreeze to choose from. The Megaboom Shockwave Edition is something a little different.
It’s the first special edition speaker in the Megaboom lineup and comes out of a partnership with Red Bull Music Academy, an international travelling festival with a focus on influential artists and creativity through music. The Shockwave Edition costs the same as the standard UE Megaboom at £249.99 and is available now. Find out more here.
Apple denies FBI access to San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone
On December 2nd last year, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik shot and killed 14 people and left 20 wounded at a Department of Public Health holiday party in San Bernardino, California. The couple were subsequently killed in a shootout with police four hours after the initial attack, which US President, Barack Obama later stated was considered an act of terrorism.
Following the attack the FBI launched an investigation, which in part involved the need to gain access to Farook’s encrypted iPhone. Unable to gain entry to the device a US magistrate ruled that Apple would be required to offer ‘reasonable technical assistance’ to the FBI in order to unlock the phone, which would otherwise wipe itself if too many unsuccessful password attempts were made.
Rather than simply complying, on Tuesday Apple CEO, Tim Cook posted an open letter to customers stating the company’s intentions to oppose the ruling, whilst highlighting the importance of encryption. Providing the FBI with access in this one specific instance would set a precedent that would undermine data security for everyone. “The U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.”
At the time writing, Apple has four remaining business days to respond to the request. Find out more here.