Roomba will now tell you what part of your home is dirtiest

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For the parent who’s always suspected their kid’s bedroom is the dirtiest part of the house — Roomba is now ready to weigh in.

iRobot (IRBT), maker of the popular robot vacuum cleaner, has updated its app to provide detailed cleaning maps, plus integration with Amazon’s (AMZN, Tech30) Alexa.

Owners of top-of-the-line Roombas will begin receiving maps showing exactly where in the home was cleaned and what was messiest. Areas with lots of dirt and debris will be marked with plus signs on the map. The Roombas will spend extra time on those trouble spots. iRobot is also adding push notifications for owners who want to be texted when their Roomba is done cleaning.

The updated app is available on iOS and Android Wednesday. The Amazon Alexa integration will launch this spring.

Read more on CNN Tech.

You can create your own augmented reality experiences with this app

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2017 is the year tech will change the way we interact with the world around us. Augmented reality is the emerging tech that’s slowly disrupting our lives. Perhaps you spent a good chunk of last year running around after Pokemon IRL? Or sent a Snap of you with an adorable pair of dog ears to your nearest and dearest on Snapchat? Then you’ve experienced the power of augmented reality for yourself. And there’s an exciting British startup bringing AR to the palms of the people.

Zappar is the app that’s giving you the power of augmented reality via something you can’t live without – your smartphone.

What actually is AR?

Although the two are often mistaken, AR is something completely different from its so-called “cousin” virtual reality. Reality of the virtual kind aims to reconstruct reality itself – creating a world you can enter and explore. Augmented reality enhances the real world, layering information over what’s “real.” And augmented reality through Zappar is making it quick and easy to create your own “Zaps” – the company’s term for AR experiences.

Born in 2011 as the brainchild of four founders with a big ambition and some great technology, Zappar creates custom AR experiences for brands, and also gives the power over to you to create experiences for yourself. A feat of technology, Dr. Simon Taylor and Connell Gauld had already done the heavy lifting in terms of the algorithm and platform at the core of the Zappar proposition during their time at the University of Cambridge. CEO Caspar Thykier and Kirk Ewing came on board with their experience in business development, marketing and licensing, and so the app came to be. Today, Zappar has worked with some of the world’s biggest names, creating immersive experiences with huge global reach.

At just six years old, Zappar is still a relatively new business. However, CEO and co-founder Caspar Thykier told Mashable that “AR years are a lot like dog years, so in fact we’re practically part of the furniture in our field!” There’s a vibrant future ahead for companies at the forefront of the tech.

Having built their fully-owned tech-stack from the ground up, the team is constantly pioneering and pushing what’s possible in the field of reality both augmented and virtual for the mass market – keeping their proposition young and fresh. Thykier lamented that “the market is really coming towards us in terms of the development of better hardware, better cameras, processors and batteries all at more affordable prices across the world” – giving a glimpse of what the future of this tech could hold. The team is ready for the future too:  “As a software-as-a-service platform, we’ve built scalability into our proposition, ready for the next generation of developers who are beginning to experiment with this new creative canvas.”

Continue onto Mashable to read more about this creative app.

How To Get More African American Girls Into Tech

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America will need to fill 1 million more STEM jobs than we will produce professionals in the next decade. And although we are among the world’s largest importers of technical talent, demand for these skills far exceed supply.

Yet it’s troubling how the industry continues to ignore women, a largely untapped resource in our own backyard. Especially women of color. Just a quarter of the over 5 million tech jobs last year were held by women, but the percentage of women of color – particularly black and Hispanic workers – in the industry stands at single digits, according to nonprofit Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

Tech companies have repeatedly blamed the education pipeline for gender and racial disparities. And in accordance with this narrative, tech organizations have invested large amounts to get more high school girls to pursue STEM degrees. In 2014, Google launched a $50 million plan to teach young girls to code. This year, President Obama proposed a new initiative calling for $4 billion in funding for states and $100 million directly for school districts to expand K-12 computer science education.

There’s only one problem with these solutions – exposure to computer science education alone doesn’t automatically result in more girls choosing a career in the field. In fact, girls who have taken a technology class are only 32% more likely to have considered a tech career. That’s according to a new study by CompTIA.

To change future ratios, it’s necessary for tech employers to actively recruit more women of color today. A role model currently working in technology is more likely to influence girls to consider a career in tech. Today, only 37% of girls surveyed by CompTIA reported knowing a family member or friend who worked in IT. But 60% of girls who had considered an IT career had a family member or friend working in the field. The gap is particularly stark for women of color, CompTIA president and CEO Todd Thibodeaux tells me. Women of color are the group least likely to have highly visible role models, he says.

Instead, hand-in-hand with developing a pipeline of qualified STEM graduates remains an urgent need for employers to recruit and retain more women of color, who can “communicate why they love working in tech” to girls of color, he adds.

Continue onto Forbes to read more about how companies can bring in more African American women in tech.

Berkeley Lab awarded $4.6M for transformational agriculture technologies

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As advanced as agriculture has become, there remains a pressing need for nondestructive ways to ”see” into the soil. Now the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has awarded $4.6 million to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) for two innovative projects to address this gap, giving farmers important information to increase crop yields while also promoting the storage of carbon in soil.

One project aims to use electrical current to image the root system, which will accelerate the breeding of crops with roots that are tailored to specific conditions (such as drought). The other project will develop a new imaging technique based on neutron scattering to measure the distribution of carbon and other elements in the soil.

“Both technologies could be transformational for agriculture ⎯ for quantifying belowground plant traits and where carbon and other elements are distributed⎯and will enable the next generation of predictive models for agriculture and climate,” said Eoin Brodie, deputy director of Berkeley Lab’s Climate & Ecosystem Sciences Division and a microbiologist who is contributing to both projects. “They’re windows into the soil, something that we urgently need.”

Continue onto The University of California’s newsroom to read the complete article.

Samsung’s foldable phone could transform into a 7-inch tablet

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All eyes will be on Apple to really wow with the iPhone 8 later this year, but Samsung could be the one to unveil a new phone that knocks everyone’s socks off.

Samsung is reportedly — for real, this time — planning to unveil a smartphone with a flexible display that folds open into a 7-inch tablet, according to The Korea Herald.

The report claims Samsung might produce more than 100,000 of the “fold-out devices” in Q3 of this year.

Samsung is said to have rejected “fold-in” phone with screens that tuck in, citing their inconvenience.

Instead, the “fold-out” phone, which has been rumored many times to be codenamed “Galaxy X” will reportedly have a display that faces outward when folded.

Continue onto Mashable to read the complete article.

The iPhone turns 10: a visual history of Apple’s most important product

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Ten years ago today Steve Jobs introduced the very first iPhone. He described it as three devices in one: “A widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet communications device.” But since its first unveiling, the iPhone has become much more than that. It’s a symbol of the tech industry, of the modern era as a whole, and has made Apple the largest company in the world in terms of market capitalization, with some even speculating it’s the most profitable product ever. A decade on, and it’s still making headlines. Let’s take a look at how the iPhone has changed over the years:

IPHONE (2007)

This is the iPhone as it first appeared in 2007, laying the foundation for the modern smartphone. It introduced the classic grid-of-icons layout, the single home button, and dropped a physical keyboard in favor of a multi-touch display. It was ready for the internet and consuming media, but it still lacked a number of key features — including 3G connectivity and the App Store.

IPHONE 3G (2008)

The next iPhone launched in 2008 with that missing piece of the puzzle: the App Store. This gave developers the chance to build their own applications, and increased the iPhone’s value as useful apps and games populated its digital shopfront. The iPhone 3G also had 3G data, as well as push email and turn-by-turn GPS navigation.

Continue onto The Verge to read more about the iPhone evolution.

Beyoncé Invests in Concert Merchandise Tech Startup

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It looks like Jay Z isn’t the only one in the Carter household keeping an eye on a booming technology industry—Beyoncé is now a tech startup investor.

The “Formation” singer has reportedly invested $150,000 in a new mobile app venture,Sidestep, which allows concertgoers to order merchandise at concerts through their phones and collect their new wares before, during or after the gig, avoiding the need to stand in line.

Beyoncé made the investment through her Parkwood Entertainment company, which also houses her own record label, after embracing Sidestep on her Formation World Tour, according to TechCrunch. The app has been selling T-shirts, tote bags and other items for the star and she was impressed by how successful the collaboration has been.

Her team “wanted Beyoncé’s tour to be very focused on tech,” Sidestep CEO Eric Jones told TechCrunch, adding that Queen Bey and her advisors liked the idea of “a tiny scrappy startup doing the biggest tour in the world.” (Indeed, Formation is the hottest tour of 2016—grossing $210 million as of August and it doesn’t end until October.)

Continue onto Newsweek to read the complete article.

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