• Apple's music service may fight Spotify with exclusives, not price

  • Federal law enforcement is wasting a lot of money on drones

    The US' national law enforcement has been using drones to help nab crooks for almost nine years, but it's still making plenty of rookie mistakes. The Department of Justice's Inspector General has published an audit that shows its agencies not only making poor uses of drones, but wasting a ton of money in the process. Units in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spent $600,000 on drones that didn't live up to their promised abilities or couldn't even fly in the first place; in one case, a unit blew $15,000 without telling headquarters. Meanwhile, only half of the FBI's 34 drones (which cost a total of $3 million) worked as of 2014, and the agency has just two pilots that have to fly across the country to deploy their unmanned machines. It's no wonder that investigators have used drones a mere 13 times since 2006, then – it's rarely practical to even consider the idea.

  • Taylor Swift's albums are up for streaming on Jay Z's Tidal

    Most people still have no idea what Tidal is, but that's likely to change if Jay Z continues playing his cards right. See, the music mogul has just convinced Taylor Swift to give the Norwegian hi-fi streaming service – that he snapped up – the right to stream most of her albums. As she's one of the world's best-selling artists, she certainly has the following to help spread the word about the company. But doesn't Taylor dislike streaming services? Well, not exactly. She left Spotify last year, because she wasn't happy with its free, ad-supported tier – on the other hand, she stayed with Rhapsody and Beats Music, because they don't have a free option.

  • Putting a virtual nose on video games could reduce simulator sickness

    Virtual reality can be nauseating. It tricks a part of the brain into believing the body is moving, when it's not. A disconnect between the systems (somatosensory and vestibular, to be precise) can make some people want to throw up. But an ongoing study at Purdue College of Technology suggests that a virtual nose could reduce simulator sickness in video games. When your movement isn't anticipated by the body's perceptual system, it triggers motion sickness. That explains why it's usually a passenger who gets sick in a moving car and not the person driving the car.

  • Light-emitting fabrics could reinvent your '80s wardrobe

    Researchers who are obviously Saved by the Bell fans have developed clothing fibers that could turn you into a walking neon sign. Rather than OLED or LCD tech, the team exploited polymer light-emitting electrochemical cells (PLECs) that are rugged enough to be used in fabrics. They created a millimeter-sized fiber that's decidedly high-tech. It consists of a thin steel wire coated with nanoparticles and an electroluminescent polymer, topped by a transparent carbon nanotube outer layer. A prototype fabric glowed for several hours, but so far, the light colors are limited to blue and yellow. However, PLEC tech has a theoretical life span of thousands of hours, and more colors are technically possible.

  • Amazon Prime Music now offers radio stations on iOS

    Dig Amazon Prime Music on your iPhone, but would rather not go sifting through songs or playlists when you just want to start streaming? You don't have to after today. At long last, Amazon has updated Prime Music's iOS app to bring in Prime Stations, ad-free radio feeds based on artists and genres, much like what you'd get if you paid for Pandora or Spotify (minus their larger catalogs, mind you). And if you do want more control, there are also personalized recommendations that suggest playlists and tracks based on what you've listened to in the past. While this probably won't get you to switch to Amazon's music service if you weren't already a fan, it will give you one more reason to keep that Prime subscription going.

  • 'Space Invaders' with real lasers is delightful, dangerous

    What do you get with a laser cutter, Arduino know-how and waaay too much time on your hands? A live action Space Invaders game that's an actual fire hazard, of course! Maker Martin Raynsford created a live action version of the classic arcade game just in time for Arduino Day, which falls on March 28th this year. The result is a silly but fun contraption: the paper invaders are clipped to a plate that uses stepper motors for left/right and up/down movement. Meanwhile, the 80W laser cutter is driven side-to-side by an Arduino Nano controller hooked up via USB to a PC.

  • US Navy's latest diving suit saves helium, space and weight

    The US Navy has just unveiled a new diving suit prototype, and aside from being more efficient than older models, it also helps conserve helium. See, the agency's current suit uses Fly-Away Mixed Gas System (FMGS), which releases gases the diver exhales into the sea, including huge amounts of oxygen and helium. According to the Navy scientists that designed the new version, it "modifies the current helmet and rebreather," and tests prove that it can drastically reduce the consumption of the noble gas– important in the midst of a global helium shortage. While we can make do without balloons or squeaky voices in parties, the gas is also used for more important purposes, such as operating MRI machines and the Large Hadron Collider.

  • Switching to electric cars would help cool down cities

    Electric cars can do more for the environment than cut back on air pollution and fossil fuel use – they can make sweltering summers more bearable, too. Researchers have determined that EVs create a cooling effect in urban areas, since they aren't producing heat that builds up in traffic jams. That, in turn, reduces the need for air conditioning, which spews out pollution and chews up additional energy. In Beijing, a wholesale switch to electric cars in summer 2012 would have cooled things down enough to eliminate 11,779 tons of air conditioning-related carbon dioxide emissions per day, and 14.4kW of matching electricity use.

  • Google Fiber starts testing targeted, trackable TV ads

    For all of the other things it does, Google is still a company that makes a ton of money from advertising, and now it's turning that focus to TV. This week the company announced that it's testing a new kind of ad-tracking system for Google Fiber TV customers in Kansas City. Just like any other local cable company, they'll air during ad breaks reserved for local advertisers (that crappy ad for the car dealership around the corner that comes on during The Walking Dead). Where it's different is that advertisers will only pay for the number of ads actually shown, as monitored by the Fiber set-top boxes. Google can insert fresh ads in DVR'd programming too, and target viewers based on their viewing history. Users can opt-out of the viewing history tracking, but that's it.