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The EnLighten traffic light app in a BMW

Traffic lights are supposed to help keep driving orderly, but they often create more tension than they resolve. How do you know that the green light won't turn yellow before it's too late to slow down? BMW thinks it can help. It's the first automaker to offer in-car support for Connected Signals' EnLighten iOS app, which predicts when lights will change based on position and speed. All you need to do is keep an eye on your car's infotainment display -- it'll tell you whether or not you should hit the brakes. The software is useful even if you're stopped, as it'll use your turn signals to show when a necessary light will return to green. This is the definition of a luxury feature when you need a BMW with ConnectedDrive Services just to give it a shot, but it could be entirely worthwhile if it spares you from an accident or a ticket.

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Groupon on a TV wall

You're about to get a fresh alternative to internet-based restaurant delivery services like GrubHub and Seamless. Groupon has just launched the simply-titled Groupon To Go, an order-in service that focuses on (what else?) discounts for your food. The company promises that you'll get at least 10 percent cash back on every order, which could add up if you're ordering pizza every week. The offering is only available in Chicago right now, but there are over 500 included restaurants ranging from big chains like Subway to local eateries like Al's Beef and Ditka's Restaurant. And don't worry about waiting long to give it a shot -- Groupon is expanding the service later this year, with Austin and Boston among the early highlights. It'll eventually be available nationwide.

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Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 (left) and Galaxy S6 Edge+ (right)

Still wondering what Samsung is going to unveil at its August 13th event? Well-known tipster Evan Blass (aka @evleaks) might have just removed what few doubts are left. He not only posted official-looking snapshots of both the Galaxy Note 5 and its curvier S6 Edge+ sibling, but revealed purported specs for the Note 5. From all indications, at least the Note 5 is going to be more of a refinement (at least, in terms of hardware) of the Note 4 than a revolution. You're still looking at a 5.7-inch quad HD display, a 16-megapixel rear camera and 32GB of built-in storage. The biggest changes are the Galaxy S6's octa-core processor, a bump to 4GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel front cam... and, unfortunately for some, the removal of the microSD card slot.

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SparkBlocks in (simulated) action

You've seen modular controllers and even modular phones, but here's a new twist: a modular speaker system. Meet SparkBlocks, a crowdfunded audio system that's just as elaborate (or simple) as you want it to be. The basic unit is little more than a portable speaker with a 4-hour battery, but you can attach components that turn it into much more, including a media hub. Hook up a SmartBlook and you get a tiny touchscreen computer that can answer phone calls, get alerts and download apps. Other add-ons will boost audio quality, charge your phone, clip on to your bike and even light up your camping trip.

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Baymax from 'Big Hero 6'

Have you watched 3D-animated Disney flicks like Big Hero 6 and wondered how some of its scenes manage to look surprisingly realistic? Today's your lucky day: Disney has posted a top-level explanation of how its image rendering engine, Hyperion, works its movie magic. The software revolves around "path tracing," an advanced ray tracing technique that calculates light's path as it bounces off objects in a scene. It takes into account materials (like Baymax's translucent skin), and saves valuable time by bundling light rays that are headed in the same direction -- important when Hyperion is tracking millions of rays at once. The technology is efficient enough that animators don't have to 'cheat' when drawing very large scenes, like BH6's picturesque views of San Fransokyo. Although Disney's tech still isn't perfectly true to life, it's close enough that the studio might just fool you in those moments when it strives for absolute accuracy.

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Hitchbot at Niagara Falls

Hitchbot might have made it across Canada, but it appears that the US wasn't quite so kind to this mechanical traveler. The hitchhiking robot's American journey has ended after a mere two weeks thanks to a vandal attack in Philadelphia. While the team behind Hitchbot vows that its experiments with artificial intelligence and human interaction are "not over," it's clear that this nomad isn't about to resume its cross-America trek all that quickly. You'll hear more details on August 5th -- here's hoping that this includes plans for Hitchbot to bum rides once again, whether it's in the States or abroad.

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Honda has always been more than a car company. In addition to its car and motorcycle business, it also manufacturers marine vehicles, generators, a weird robot and even planes. To keep that spirit of just making as much stuff as possible alive it introduced the Uni-Cub personal mobility system in May 2012. It's been refined since then, but it's still not something you can run down the dealer and purchase. Honda is looking to developers to expand the its use cases beyond rolling you around a museum with an upcoming API for the rolling bar stool.

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An IndyCar racer with an LED position display

It's sometimes hard to keep track of positions in an IndyCar race, especially if you're in the stands and don't have the luxury of a broadcaster or data stream to point things out. Never fear, though: as of this weekend, the league's cars are carrying LED panels that display the driver's race position in real-time by working in conjunction with timing lines embedded in the tracks. They're also smart enough to switch to pit stop times, so you'll know if that tire swap is running too long.

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Already immersing yourself in Windows 10? Trying to block out the not-so-favorable memories of Windows 8? Good for you. This week involved a new smartphone from a new challenger, and several new smartphone from a once-dominant player. And we don't mean Nokia, which was busy dipping its toes into the world of VR cameras. Because of course.

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Inhabitat's Week in Green

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

Tesla's Model S got a lot of press when Elon Musk unveiled a "Ludicrous" upgrade that goes from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds -- but a new car built by a team of German students can go even faster than that. The electric vehicle can accelerate from 0-62MPH in a blistering 1.779 seconds, and it's currently awaiting confirmation for a Guinness World Record. In other news, Facebook just unveiled a solar-powered airplane that will beam the internet to remote locations. The Aquila has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, yet it weighs less than 1,100 pounds. This week, Inhabitat reporter Marc Carter spotted Chrysler's camouflaged new Town & Country minivan on the streets of LA -- and it looks like it's going to be a plug-in EV. Google's Street View cars show us towns and cities throughout the world -- and now they're getting equipped with pollution sensors to monitor the air we breathe. And if you're planning a road trip this summer, we've got two amazing mobile dwellings for you to check out: a stylish wood cabin on wheels and an old-school bus that's been retrofitted into a remarkable little home.

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Amazon released the Alexa Appkit last month in hopes that developers will create cool new features for the voice technology that powers the Echo. This time, the e-commerce giant is offering the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) itself as a developer preview, which both hobbyists and legit hardware manufacturers can integrate into their own connected devices. The best part is the company's allowing the use of its technology for free. "By adding Alexa to your device, your users can request and receive information in the same way they would from an Amazon Echo," the company's Getting Started Guide reads. That means devices loaded with Alexa will also be able to answer questions about the weather and look up stuff or the traffic conditions online.

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Dropbox's Roku channel

You can already access your Dropbox files on all your PCs and mobile gadgets, but what if you want to put them on your TV? If you have a Roku player, you're set. Roku has launched a Dropbox channel that lets you browse your photos and videos on its set-tops, including in slideshows. Yes, you now have an easy way to recap your vacation on a big screen without turning to other cloud services. The channel isn't flawless -- TechCrunch notes that you can't play long videos, so this won't work if you're trying to stream full-length movies. Even so, it's a big help if you'd rather not have everyone gather around your computer to see your snapshots.

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Pepper

Folks in Japan might find themselves chatting with Pepper robots in business establishments these coming years. The enterprise version of the gentle-looking humanoid machine will be available for pre-order starting on October 1st, 2015, and businesses in the country can rent one directly from SoftBank. The carrier's robotics division is offering a $444-per-month, 3-year contract to interested parties, which means they'll end up paying around $16,000 within that period. Sadly, they'll have to return the unit once the contract's over.

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Density's sensor

You probably aren't a fan of showing up at the coffee shop right when there's a large line, or at the gym when there are no free machines. Wouldn't it be nice if you could find out how busy a place is at any given moment, without resorting to estimates? The new Density sensor might help. The tiny infrared detector is effectively a smarter, more connected pedestrian traffic sensor: it tells apps how many people are entering or leaving a building at any moment, giving you a good sense of whether that restaurant is packed or blissfully empty. Shops can use that data to their advantage, too. They can offer discounts whenever it gets quiet, or notify you the moment there's a free seat.

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Frontback is happy again

Tech startups rarely get a second chance if they fail, since they can't usually draw on the help of either a huge following or a pile of cash. However, the recently defunct Frontback is getting that rare reprieve. The selfie-oriented social service has reached a deal with an as yet unnamed "partner" that will keep it running for the foreseeable future. This mysterious helper believes there's "something incredible" behind the concept of posting both front and back photos, Frontback says, and it's offering "fresh ideas" for what to do next. There's no certainty that Frontback will live happily ever after, but it's at least not going to fade out any time soon.

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Sultan Al Qassemi In Conversation With David Plouffe Hosted By Uber & Harvard Business School Club Of The GCC & The Harvard Kenn

Uber is getting richer and richer. It's now valued at $51 billion after raising another $1 billion in funding, and it got to this stage two years faster than Facebook did. As always, the ride-sharing service has attracted an assortment of investors during its latest funding round -- one of them's none other than tech juggernaut Microsoft, according to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. While neither company has admitted it yet, Bloomberg says Microsoft has agreed to back Uber to the tune of around $100 million. It's unclear whether this means they're pursuing a deeper relationship or if they're working together on a project or two, at least. If you recall, though, Uber's snapped up a portion of Bing's mapping tech back in June, along with a hundred of Redmond's employees.

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Gadget Show Dish

Just as Comcast dips its toe in the internet TV business, Sling TV is claiming that the giant is refusing to run ads for its service on NBC stations that it owns. According to Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch (last seen walking off with our Best of CES Overall Winner trophy), the ads are running across other broadcasters, and on NBC stations not owned by Comcast. If the idea was to cut down on the number of people seeing an alternative to the cable setup, that may have backfired since you're reading this right now. Comcast's NBC stations aren't running the ads in three cities (San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.), but the internet stretches much further.

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Microsoft HoloLens

When Microsoft said that its HoloLens headset would arrive "in the Windows 10 time frame," what did it mean, exactly? Thanks to a BBC interview with Satya Nadella, we now have a better sense of when this augmented reality eyewear will show up. The company chief expects developers and enterprise users to get the first version of HoloLens "within the next year" -- you won't be getting one as a holiday gift, folks. It's not certain just when a personal version will launch, but Nadella describes the overall technology as a "5-year journey" that will eventually branch out to other fields. While that doesn't necessarily leave you high and dry until 2020, it does suggest that you'll have to be patient if you want to play some holographic Minecraft.

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A BMW i3 with ActiveAssist

Apple and BMW may eventually have more in common than just some features in your car's infotainment system. Sources for both Reuters and Manager Magazin understand that the two companies have had "exploratory talks," including a trip by Apple executives to Leipzig to see how BMW builds the i3. Apple reportedly likes that BMW rethought the conventional car manufacturing process for its electric vehicle, and might use what it learned to help make its own EV. While BMW claims that there aren't any active talks about jointly developing a car, a Reuters tipster hears that the firms may revive talks (not necessarily to co-produce a vehicle) later on.

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Facebook's Lollapalooza feed

If you can't make a pilgrimage to Lollapalooza but want to get a sense of what it's like to be there beyond the concert streams, Facebook might have what you're looking for. It's testing an expansion of Place Tips that lets anyone in the US see a feed of Lollapalooza's goings-on, whether they're photos, videos, set times or updates. Ideally, this will give you a feel for the event (and possibly a twinge of regret) without having to brave the crowds and summer heat. Facebook isn't saying when you'll see the feature again, but it's promising to "explore" uses in the future. Don't be surprised if it quickly becomes commonplace. The social network is eager to capture the as-it-happens excitement that you normally find on the likes of Snapchat or Twitter -- this could keep your eyes glued to Facebook after you're done catching up with family and friends.

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