CES GADGET SHOW: ALEXA GOES TO THE PUMP
LAS VEGAS (AP) - If swiping a credit card is too much of a chore, you’ll soon be able to pay for gas by voice. Later this year, those who have Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa in their car will be able to drive into Exxon and Mobil stations and say, “Alexa, pay for gas.” Alexa will then ask you to confirm what station you're at and which pump you're using. The card on your Amazon card will get charged, but Alexa won't pump your gas for you. You’ll need to get out of the car for that. The new feature is part of Amazon’s push to get into more cars. At the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, Amazon announced several deals with automakers, including bringing Alexa to Lamborghinis and its Fire TV streaming service to BMWs. Amazon says the gas station feature will be available at 11,500 locations.
CES GADGET SHOW: APP TELLS YOU WHEN YOUR PLANT NEEDS WATER
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Not all of us can tell when a plant needs more water, less light or perhaps is too warm. For that, Luxembourg startup Mu Design has created the Lua smart plant pot to give greenery an animated face. Emotions, such as thirsty, sick or cold, are displayed on a digital screen. A Mu Design spokesperson at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas says the pot transfers the needs of the plant into an emotion that can be easily understood. An accompanying app lets users generate information specific to that plant. The pot itself is fitted with sensors to monitor moisture, light and temperature. The device is expected to ship in March for $110.
CES GADGET SHOW: TECH THAT HELPS PEOPLE MOVE
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Companies at the CES gadget show are trying to help the mobility of your own body. Samsung showed off an exoskeleton system called GEMS, or Gait Enhancing & Motivating System. It uses small motors connected to your hips or knees to help you lift those limbs and complete exercises. The company envisions GEMS will be helpful for people with limited mobility and those in physical therapy or rehab from surgery. But GEMS is still early in development and doesn’t yet have a release date. Meanwhile, Startup Unlimited Tomorrow has designed a prosthetic arm created with a 3D printer. The arm senses grip and is connected to the cloud for regular, personalized software updates. Those updates help fine-tune grip and movement for each person. The arm goes on sale later this year for about $5,000. Segway, known for its stand-up motorized vehicles, unveiled the S-Pod, a motorized seated scooter on two wheels that somewhat resembles the chairs from futuristic movie Wall-E. Riders sit in the pod and steer with a small controller. The S-Pod will go on sale later this year to commercial customers. The company envisions it being used in airports or enclosed corporate campuses.
CES GADGET SHOW: KITCHENS GET SMARTER AT CES TECH SHOW, NOT YET IN MANY HOMES
LAS VEGAS (AP) - All the big companies that make your kitchen appliances are at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas to show off their latest cooking technology. They include robotic arms to chop veggies, artificially intelligent oven cameras and internet-connected meat thermometers. Then there are refrigerators that use your dietary preferences to concoct a recipe plan for the coming week, then tell you if you've run out of the right ingredients. Appliance-makers want to update their wares to reflect the tastes of younger buyers. But it's not yet clear consumers are all that interested. CES runs through Friday.
CALIFORNIA COULD MANDATE BACKUP POWER AT CELL PHONE TOWERS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California's preemptive power shutoffs to prevent wildfires have affected more than just lights. Some lost their phones, too. Data from the Federal Communications Commission shows 874 cellphone towers were offline during a power shutoff on Oct. 27. That included more than half of the cell towers in Marin County alone. On Wednesday, some Democratic state lawmakers announced legislation that would require telecommunications companies to have at least 72 hours of backup power at cellphone towers in high-risk fire areas. Representatives from companies including AT&T and Verizon are scheduled to testify before lawmakers on Wednesday.
LAS VEGAS SAYS NO DATA STOLEN IN CYBER ATTACK ON CITY SYSTEM
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Las Vegas officials say no data was stolen or corrupted in a cyberattack on the city's computer system. A city spokesman says the city does not know who was responsible for the Tuesday morning attack. Information technology staff worked quickly to react to the intrusion and protect data. The city is still investigating and hoping to find clues as to who was responsible.
FACEBOOK, EBAY CRACK DOWN ON FAKE REVIEWS AFTER UK WARNING
LONDON (AP) - Britain's competition watchdog says Facebook and eBay have pledged to crack down on the trade in fake reviews after being warned. The companies have removed hundreds of accounts, pages and groups involved in the illicit business. The Competition and Markets Authority said Wednesday the two U.S. tech companies agreed to step up efforts to detect, investigate and respond to fake and misleading reviews after it ordered them to address the problem last year. Facebook removed 188 pages and groups and disabled 24 accounts involved in trading in fake reviews. EBay permanently banned 53 users for selling fake review services on the auction site.
FBI ASKS APPLE FOR PHONE DATA FROM SAUDI SHOOTING SUSPECT
WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is asking Apple to help extract data from iPhones that belonged to the Saudi aviation student who fatally shot three sailors at a U.S. naval base in Florida last month. Investigators say they're trying to access data but the two phones are locked and encrypted. A letter to Apple from the FBI’s general counsel, Dana Boente, calls it a high-priority national security matter. Apple says it's already provided investigators with all the data it has. Apple and other tech companies have been in conflict with U.S. authorities over law enforcement's desire for a backdoor to access encrypted data.