This robot bird will scare real birds away from airports

 Birds are bad news for airports. As well as the risk of a "bird-strike" downing a plane, they cause material damage estimated to run into billions of pounds a year.

To control the populations of birds, airports use pyrotechnics, sound cannons, lasers and other technological systems. But birds get used to them over time and learn to fly around them.

That's why roboticists from the University of Twente have developed a lifelike robotic bird that will patrol the landing strip, scaring real birds away at Edmonton International Airport in Canada.

The bot, which has been codenamed "Robird", mimics the appearance and flight of a falcon. It's the creation of Clear Flight Solutions – a spin-off company from the University – which collaborated on a Canadian drone services firm called Aerium for the project.

Drone Project

 Robird is part of a large-scale drone project at Edmonton, which will not only keep planes safe but also observe wildlife, inspect buildings and take 3D measurements. For three months, Robird's effectiveness at scaring away birds will be carefully monitored.

‘This is a historic step for the Robird and our company,’ says Nico Nijenhuis, the CEO of Clear Flight Solutions.

“We currently operate our Robirds in a variety of places, but taking the step towards full integration within daily operations at an airport is huge. For years, there has been a lot of interest from airports. To now officially start integrating our operations at a major Canadian airport is absolutely fantastic.” 

Source: ( techradar )

Microsoft denounces government agencies in wake of WannaCry attack

In light of the recent WannaCry (WannaCrypt) ransomware attacks, which saw an NSA-owned virus stolen and used in an attack that brought UK hospitals to its knees, Microsoft has issued a statement on its official blog asking for “a new Digital Geneva Convention” to avoid the hoarding of malicious vulnerabilities by government agencies.

The statement made by Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft, begins by describing the nature of the global attacks and expounding any relevant context on the issue. It then goes on to assure us that the company will assess the attack and strengthen its capabilities as a result, but also urges businesses and members of the public to ensure their systems are kept up to date with the latest patch.

Smith’s third point is to denounce the “emerging pattern” of global governments stockpiling viruses such as WannaCry, only to have them leak into the public domain and be used in widespread attacks. He finds the threat so severe as to liken it to “the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen” and points to the need for something like a Digital Geneva Convention that he had proposed in February.

Overall, Smith’s statement is an urgent call for a united front — the tech sector, customers, and governments — against cyberattacks, but the biggest wake-up call is by far the message to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA. 

Source: ( techradar )

Dick Smith celebrates one year of being online with massive sale

It’s been over a year since icon Aussie retailer Dick Smith succumbed to liquidation. The brand was bought up by Kogan, who relaunched the store online in May last year and, to celebrate, there’s a sale on with massive savings.

“People thought the Dick Smith brand could not be revived,” said Dick Smith CEO Ruslan Kogan, “and we knew it was a mammoth task. Many had written the business off, but we crunched the numbers and knew we could make it work – and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

There’s a total of 62 products on the celebration sale which includes everything from smartphones to home appliances and everything in between. There are security systems, tablets, headphones and a refurbished DJI drone that could save you $200.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is also $200 cheaper with the latest flagship from the South Korean manufacturer on sale for $999, while the 32GB Apple iPhone 7 is listed for $879, dropped down from $1,079.

If you’d like to save some dosh and bag yourself a shiny new toy, head to Dick Smith’s website and take a look at the products on sale.

  • If you can’t find what you’re looking for on sale at Dick Smith, take a look at the other Aussie tech bargains we dig up for you three times a week.

Source: ( techradar )

Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda is reportedly coming to smartphones

Following the overwhelmingly successful release of Breath of the Wild, Nintendo will be bringing the 30-year-old Legend of Zelda franchise to the smartphone, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Although the details are a bit thin and come from “people familiar with the matter”, we can apparently expect the game to come hot on the heels of the mobile launch of Animal Crossing, which itself is due in the latter half of this year. 

Nintendo has already made a splash in the mobile games world with its Fire Emblem Heroes and Super Mario Run entries and, as both of these have different payment strategies (in-app purchases and one-off payments respectively), it’s unclear how users will be charged for this mobile Zelda title. According to the report, Nintendo is looking to bring in new fans and new money with its mobile releases, hoping it will entice casual gamers to buy its hardware.

We’re not sure what role the game will play in the saga’s epic timeline – will it be a canonic mainstay like Ocarina of Time, or a whacky distraction such as Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland? 

Bring on the Tingle. 

Source: ( techradar )

Australian streaming service Guvera at death’s door as co-founder leaves

Music streaming startup Guvera is in bad shape after investors were told that a co-founder and primary investor have walked away from the project, and that the business  has shut down all operations.

Guvera was founded in 2008 and had the intention of providing free and legal music to its users via desktop browsers and apps. Since then it has experienced various transformations and turmoil, even briefly shutting down its Australian operation and running as an advertising tracking tool for the Indian and Indonesian markets in 2016.

Around 3,000 private investors have so far assisted in the raising of $185 million for the company in the last nine years, but they were told in a meeting on Friday that co-founder Claes Loberg and major investor Steve Porch have walked away from the business. 

The Future

The remaining director, Darren Herft, addressed the meeting and asked for any volunteers in replacing the departing members, hoping to rebuild the company. This seems unlikely, however, given the business narrowly escaped insolvency after losing $81 million in the last financial year (leading to the aforementioned tracking tool revenue raiser) and also had a $100 million IPO turned down by the ASX.

Herft is optimistic for his shareholders at least, claiming the company still holds valuable intellectual property that can be sold off, and is also owed $6 million in tax. As for the service itself, the future looks bleak. 

Source: ( techradar )

Microsoft sends out a Windows XP patch to block new ransomware

With businesses and organizations across the globe reeling from a major ransomware attack – including the NHS in the UK – Microsoft has taken the unusual step of releasing a security patch for Windows XP, some three years after support for the antiquated OS was officially stopped.

The WannaCry ransomware is currently causing a headache for IT managers at Renault in France, the NHS in the UK, Telefónica in Spain, and dozens of other companies. It works by exploiting an unpatched bug in Windows XP, the 16-year-old operating system which is still limping along in many a corporate office.

Microsoft stopped issuing global patches for XP in April 2014, though it does still provide essentially security updates for the OS to companies who stump up extra cash for the privilege. The WannaCry attack is so serious, though, Microsoft has decided to take action.

Your money or your files

"We are taking the highly unusual step of providing a security update for all customers to protect Windows platforms that are in custom support only, including Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003," says Microsoft. "Customers running Windows 10 were not targeted by the attack today."

Meanwhile the spread of WannaCry has been slowed down somewhat after a security researcher registered one of the domain names mentioned in the program's code, the Guardian reports. The ransomware apparently doesn't spread itself if the domain is active, which it now is – it looks like a hidden 'kill switch' added by the developer.

WannaCry is the latest in a long, long line of lessons to keep your software updated and patched up. The security block for this ransomware was pushed out by Microsoft back in March, but won't have reached OSes that are no longer supported – like Windows XP.

Source: ( techradar )

Tesla's new moonshot is solar energy — here's why it might just work

Tesla is a powerhouse in the modern tech world, and for good reason. The company's push for electric cars has captivated consumers, investors and industry observers, and the result is that Tesla is now the most valuable American car company. CEO Elon Musk has even set his sights on overtaking Apple one day in terms of company worth.

More recently, Tesla's focus has broadened, and it's made a different kind of push, one that aims to capture energy from the sun and use it to power people's homes.

The move makes sense. Tesla isn't just a car manufacturer; it's a multi-pronged company aiming for unseen heights in renewable energy. Tesla wants to radically transform how we access and use energy in our everyday lives, and to that end it's spearheading two different products: solar panels and solar roof tiles, also known as the Tesla Solar Roof

Tesla's solar products are remarkably different than what we're used to seeing. Not only are the designs sleeker than traditional solar panels, but Tesla claims they are also cheaper, and that's before the savings you can expect on your power bill.

There are, of course, plenty of questions. How does Tesla plan to implement this new wave of solar power products? Is its technology really cheaper and more effective than traditional solar panels? Can Tesla pull off completely transforming home energy consumption, forever?

Tesla and solar energy: a brief history

Tesla's mission in solar and beyond is clear: the company wants to re-imagine how we consume energy. You might not know, however, that this plan actually isn't new. 

In the 'Secret Tesla Motors Plan (just between you and me),' a blog post written in 2006, Musk described his grand vision to transform Tesla into more than a car company.

"…the overarching purpose of Tesla Motors (and the reason I am funding the company) is to help expedite the move from a mine-and-burn hydrocarbon economy towards a solar electric economy, which I believe to be the primary, but not exclusive, sustainable solution," wrote Musk.

Tesla started laying the groundwork for that transformation long before it announced any solar panel. Critical to using green energy is the ability to store it, and Tesla came up with a way to do just that in the Powerwall. First announced in 2015, the Tesla Powerwall serves as a battery to store energy captured by solar panels and tiles. 

Tesla Powerwall battery

The Powerwall stores energy collected from a solar roof or tiles, and even from the electric grid. The stored energy can be used to power a home when there's no sunlight, or when the cost of electricity is higher, such as during the early evening hours. 

While the original Powerwall came at a cost of $3,000 or more, the new and improved Powerwall 2 starts at $5,500, largely because it includes a built-in power inverter. 

This means the unit will convert captured energy from the sun into energy that can actually be used in your home. Previously, you would had to buy an inverter separately. 

With its Powerwall in place, Tesla took an even bigger step in becoming a solar power powerhouse in August 2016 when it purchased SolarCity for $2.6 billion. Founded by Elon Musk's cousin, Lyndon Rive, SolarCity specializes in the installation and development of solar panels. The SolarCity acquisition was a huge deal for Tesla; with SolarCity under its wing, Tesla can deploy full solar systems, complete with solar roofs, batteries, and so on.

Catching rays

Part of the appeal of Tesla's solar solutions are how aesthetically appealing they are: they are sleek, modern-looking, and blend in seamlessly. Tesla proved energy efficiency doesn't have to come at the cost of curb appeal with the Model S and Model X, and it's doing so again with its solar tech.

It's important to reiterate that Tesla has two solar products right now: its more traditional solar panels and the Solar Roof, which looks like standard (yet beautiful) roof shingles, but serve as both roofing and solar panels. 

But looks will only take you so far, and Tesla has made its solar solutions functional, too. 

The technology used in its tiles is a new form of solar technology, and thus a bit of a change for Tesla. 

When Tesla first launched the Model S, it did so using a slew of existing technologies and battery cells built by Panasonic. With its solar tiles, Tesla has tapped a new technology built by Silevo, a company that was acquired by SolarCity for $200 million in 2014. That technology, however, is still somewhat new, and it's unproven in large-scale manufacturing, according to a report from The Buffalo News. So, while the technology works in the lab, it's still unclear if it can be as efficient on a larger scale.

Look just like shingles, right?

The tiles essentially incorporate different layers —  a layer of glass on the top, then layers of various films, then solar cells, which convert light into electricity. Silevo technology uses what's called a "heterojunction cell," and while the details of the technology get technical, the point is this: Silevo tech could offer an efficiency of up to 22%, which is greater than averages of between 10% and 15% more traditional panels achieve.

There are still a few things that are a unclear about Tesla's tiles at this point, however. Tesla is expected to use both Silevo and Panasonic technology in its solar products, but these will need to prove they can work considering Silevo is still considered somewhat experimental. 

It also appears as though Tesla has taken a step back from Silevo because of its partnership with Panasonic as well, but that doesn't mean it's ditching the tech altogether. Instead, it's likely the technology just needs some more development to be effective on a mass scale.

Tesla’s solar panels

Meanwhile, Tesla's solar panels, announced in April 2017, are different than the solar tiles. They look more like traditional panels, albeit sleeker. This is thanks to a much lower profile than other solar panel offerings, making them not as immediately noticeable.

According to Tesla, the panels "exceed industry standards for durability and lifespan." The panels aren't actually built by Tesla, but rather by Panasonic, which are then re-sold by Tesla. These don't use the Silevo technology found in the tiles. 

'Plug it in and use it'

In addition to a pleasing design, experts argue the intelligence of Tesla's software combined with its Powerwall home batteries will be the real draw to home owners. 

Tesla has revealed little about the software behind Powerwall, but on the consumer level it can monitor energy usage in real-time and features intelligence that allows it to automatically adjust its settings according to your usage needs and daily routine. While you don't necessarily need a Powerwall, it helps Tesla solar users get the most out of their panels or tiles. 

"Tesla is using existing off-the-shelf battery technology [lithium ion] but bundles its very tech-smart information systems design to make storage just as easy as solar," Daniel Kammen, Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley, tells TechRadar. In other words, solar energy is already easy, and Tesla makes storing it just as simple. 

"Plug it in and use it," Kammen said.

This end-to-end package isn't something other solar companies seem to have mastered: they don't use solar to its full potential, and all the energy captured during the day can't be used at night without a decent battery. With Powerwall, Tesla is delivering a holistic solution to consumers. 

Real solar savings?

While solar energy in general saves money on electric bills, it's still expensive to install, so you may not feel like you've saved money for quite some time if you go Tesla's route. Still, the company argues that eventually you will see worthwhile savings on energy use. 

According to Tesla, the real savings are to be found in its Solar Roof. And we’re not just talking the cost of the tiles compared to other solar products: Musk said during an earnings call in November that installing its roof is cheaper than installing standard roof tiles. And that's before the money you save from the energy it generates.

"Electricity," Musk said, "is just a bonus."

Electricity is just a bonus

Tesla CEO Elon Musk

But is this claim of cheaper costs true? Well, it's complicated. According to Musk, the solar tiles are cheaper than the cost of concrete or ceramic roof tiles. Those, however, are among the more expensive roof tiles out there, running between $400 and $2,000 per 100 square feet, according to The Motley Fool.  

So while Tesla's roofing may end up being cheaper than some traditional materials, it will only be cheaper than the more expensive traditional materials.

Tesla unveiled pricing for its Solar Roof earlier this week, so we can helpfully run the numbers. On average, a Solar Roof will cost $21.85 per square foot for a 3,000-square-foot roof, although that pricing depends on factors like location and the ratio of solar to non-solar tiles you purchase. 

Here’s what you’ll see when Tesla spits out your Solar Roof estimate

Because pricing varies home-to-home, Tesla launched an online calculator to figure out price estimates. 

For this story, we plugged in a 3,000-foot-square roof in Sunnyvale, California, and received a roof installation estimate of $79,500, plus $7,000 for the Tesla Powerwall. Undoubtedly that's a lot of money, but for the materials used and the type of roof you're getting, it's actually around the same price as a non-solar roof. 

According to Consumer Reports, a traditional Slate Tile roof would cost around $98,500 to install on a 3,000-foot-square roof, making it more expensive than the $79,500 Textured or Smooth Glass roof we calculated for our fictional Sunnyvale home. 

What's more, you start saving after the initial install. In California, you would get a $21,000 tax credit for installing such a roof, and Tesla says the roof would generate $113,900 of energy over the next 30 years. At the end of the 30 years, you will have paid off your roof, and generated an extra $48,400 worth of energy. In the long run, your solar roof would cost zero dollars, and you could even make money from it by selling the extra energy.

An important part of Tesla's equation is the ratio of solar tiles to non-solar tiles. Tesla's roofing is actually built from a combination of solar and non-solar tiles, and you can adjust the ratio you want installed. Using fewer solar tiles and more non-solar tiles will result in a cheaper installation cost, but less energy generated.

Tesla's solar tiles are, at least on paper, worth it the investment, even if you weren't thinking of getting a more expensive slate glass roof. Traditional roofing simply can't generate money, and will only cost you in repairs and replacements. Even cheaper asphalt tile roofing, which costs around $20,000 to install on a 3,000-foot-square roof, will cost you more money over time.

And what about the more traditional Panasonic-made solar panels Tesla recently unveiled? Are they more affordable and cost effective than other panels? Unfortunately, we can’t know yet as Tesla hasn't announced pricing for its panels. 

We can do a bit of sleuthing, however. Solar Power Authority, which offers quotes for panels, says the average cost of solar panels is around $5-$6 per watt including installation. That puts a 5kW system between $25,000 and $30,000. 

Tesla’s Panasonic modules each offer 325 watts, so each module should sit between $1,625 and $1,950. They likely won’t be sold by individual modules, but any less than that would be considered a good price to pay.

Tesla solar takes flight

Tesla is still working on its solar products, and in fact only two of its four solar tile options are available this year, with the others arriving in 2018. The two up for pre-order now are Textured Glass and Smooth Glass, and next year will see Slate Glass and Tuscan Glass.

Tesla's venture into solar may still be in the early stages, but already it's poised to be an influential player in the renewable energy world, helped by unique products, a respected business model and name recognition. 

"Tesla has both a fantastic technology solution that is available right now, and a great brand and market research," said UC Berkeley's Kammen. "This is a powerful combination." 

The big question now is whether home owners actually buy a Tesla Solar Roof or panels. Residential solar is on the rise in the US, but while 2016 was the market's biggest year to date, the number of residential solar installations in the country still only totals somewhere above one million, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association

The climb to widespread residential solar adoption is steep, but with Tesla joining the fray, more homeowners may now consider switching to solar, whether for the installation price, long-term savings, to be an early adopter, or all of the above. 

What is clear is Tesla is serious about solar, and we expect to learn about improvements in the technology, cheaper pricing and even more energy products in the months and years to come. 

Source: ( techradar )

Get an amazing deal on Alan Wake before it disappears from stores

Remedy, the developer of Alan Wake, has announced that it has to remove the game from the Steam and Xbox stores due to a licensing issue with the game’s music.

As of May 15, the game will no longer be sold in physical stores, on the online Xbox Store, or on Steam. If you already physically own the game you can, of course, keep it and be safe in the knowledge that a music corporation isn’t about to raid your home. 

Remedy said that though it’s looking to renew the license and eventually start selling the game again, there’s currently “no timeframe” for it happening. 

Closing the book

It wasn’t made clear exactly which song on the soundtrack is causing the issue, or if it’s more than one, but the game contains songs from huge artists like David Bowie and Nick Cave. 

We imagine licensing (and re-licensing) such songs isn’t cheap, which perhaps goes some way to explaining why Remedy only licensed them for seven years.

It won’t come as any surprise, then, that you’ll be able to pick Alan Wake and all of its DLC up seriously cheap on Steam this weekend in what Remedy is calling the Alan Wake Sunset Sale. The sale starts on May 13 and for the 48 hours between then and the game being pulled you’ll get it 90% cheaper. 

The sale’s only happening on Steam, as Remedy has direct control of pricing there. It’ll be up to Microsoft and other individual stores whether or not discounts will be offered on the Xbox version of the game.

If you haven’t played Alan Wake before, we heartily recommend picking it up – not just because it’s ludicrously cheap, but because it’s a genuinely excellent horror game with a very Stephen King atmosphere. 

If we’re honest, we expected and hoped for a sequel long before the original game disappeared into the ether. Just remember that if you do buy it, you’ll have to keep it installed or backed up forever just in case it doesn’t return to stores. 

This is a stark reminder of something we’ve discussed on TechRadar before: that digital games aren’t permanent and we run the risk of losing them at any time. 

Source: ( techradar )

Don't panic, but iPlayer will soon require a login to use its services

The BBC is bringing in a new policy that states all users have to be logged in before they are able to watch or listen to any programme on its flagship iPlayer service. 

The official reason that the BBC is giving for the change is that knowing users preferences will help it to improve its service, but the obvious additional benefit for the company is that it will have a record of everyone who is using the service, and could possibly identify people using the service without having paid their licence fee.

In order to sign up for an account, you have to give an email address, a date of birth and a postcode. And that last one feels pertinent.

In an official statement the BBC’s Andrew Scott said, “The reason we’re making these changes isn’t about enforcing the licence fee – it’s about giving you a better BBC and helping you get the best out of it.”

He very shortly after added: “By matching email addresses we may be able to identify someone who has told us they don't need a TV licence while at the same time having signed in and watched iPlayer. So we will now use this alongside our existing enforcement techniques to help identify people who are watching licence fee-funded content without a licence.”

No more free lunch

For those using the iPlayer platform, this is the latest in a series of changes made by the BBC in its campaign to become the UK's leading streaming service by 2020. 

Following a governmental change in September 2016, a TV license was required to watch 'catch-up' footage. Up until that point, a TV license had only been a requirement if you were watching live content. 

With streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, there has been a shift towards a on-demand mentality with content, so it would make sense for the BBC to want to move towards more strictly monetising its on-demand service. 

Considering the high quality programming across the vast range of television and TV services that the TV license covers, £147 per year doesn’t feel like a big sum to pay, but of course if you are already paying for numerous other services and have been getting this one for nothing (even if you shouldn’t have been) another £147 suddenly feels like quite a lot. 

Via Engadget

Source: ( techradar )

Google wants to release a sensor to watch you while you sleep

Google has filed a patent for a sleep tracking device that utilizes infrared technology to tell you how well you're sleeping.

The device uses infrared sensors to monitor the user as they sleep, and identify their sleep patterns based upon their heart rate and breathing. 

The patent suggests the device would need to be attached to a user's bedroom ceiling.

Whether this tech will be able to differentiate between two people is also unclear, so you may not be able to use the sensor when you're sleeping next to somebody else.

The ever watching eye

There are already a number of different methods of sleep tracking on the market including fitness trackers, apps and even sensors you can put inside your bed sheets. 

Plus Apple has recently acquired Beddit, so we are also expecting a sleep tracking app on the Apple Watch 2 sometime soon.

The problem with most of these methods of sleep tracking is that wearing a device on your wrist or having your phone under your pillow is fairly disruptive to sleep, which makes the sleep tracker slightly redundant.

This is just a patent for now so there is no guarantee that the device will ever see the light of day, but we wonder how many people would want to buy a device and attach it to their bedroom ceiling just to be able to track sleep.

Via Digital Trends

Source: ( techradar )