The ‘McDonald’s of the future’ features touchscreens and free fries

The ‘McDonald’s of the future’ features touchscreens and free fries

Previously known as the starting point of the Pony Express and the place where Jesse James died and Eminem was born, St. Joseph, Missouri now has a new claim to fame, as the home the future of fast food. It’s a future that apparently includes lots of touchscreens and, for a limited time, unlimited fries.

The self-stylized “McDonald’s of the Future” joins a recently opened New York City franchise as a sign of the direction the world’s largest restaurant chain looks to head in, moving forward. The key of both are self-serve kiosks, a vaguely futuristic crash course at Hamburger University.

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Using touchscreens (or “grease depositories” as they’re known in the industry), customers can make their own customized burgers and sandwiches, featuring such non-standard McDonald’s menu items as maple bacon and guacamole. For the first few months, at least, those orders will come with bottomless fries – a fact that no doubt contributed to the newly opened location being a mad house today.

There’s also a big interactive play area featuring projections and interactive games. The move marks McDonald’s push to upgrade itself as a member of the “fast-casual” set, a group of somewhat higher end chain restaurants that includes the likes of Chipotle and Panera.

The move seems to be working – one customer told the Kansas City Star that the new Mickey D’s is, “the nicest looking restaurant in St. Joseph.”

Source: TechCrunch

Incipio acquires Griffin, adding yet another accessory maker to its portfolio

Incipio acquires Griffin, adding yet another accessory maker to its portfolio

Incipio just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Shortly after after announcing that it had acquired up budget headphone maker Skullcandy, the Irvine-based accessories conglomerate has picked up Griffin for an undisclosed amount. The Nashville mobile peripheral manufacturer will join an sizable brand portfolio that already includes Incase, Braven, ClamCase and Incipio’s own titular in-house brand.

The latest score in Incipio’s supermarket sweep of mobile brands brings Griffin into the fold, but will maintain the standalone brand, including its headquarters, which will stay put in Tennessee. Griffin has been in the accessory game for a quarter decade, primarily making a name for itself in the world of Apple devices, including, perhaps most notably, the iTrip, an in-car FM transmitter for the iPod.

Two days ago, Incipio announced an amendment to a deal announced in June that would find the company picking up budget headphone maker Skullcandy, following the Incase deal, which went down last September. What does all of this mean for the rapidly growing hardware companies? Why, exciting new verticals, of course!

Here’s Incipio founder and CEO Andy Fathollahi in today’s official announcement, “As part of Incipio Group, Griffin strengthens our product development and manufacturing capabilities, complements our existing product lines in rugged cases, power and connectivity, and allows our brands to reach a broader domestic and international audience through enhanced distribution in the business-to-business, enterprise and education verticals.”

Verticals!

Source: TechCrunch

Christoph Waltz gets goofily patriotic in Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 7 spot

Christoph Waltz gets goofily patriotic in Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 7 spot

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He’s won a couple of Oscars, he’s worked with some of the best directors in the biz, and he’s even played a Bond villain. So, where does Christop Waltz go from here? Phone commercials, obviously. The acclaimed Inglourious Basterds actor has signed on with Samsung for a silly new ad touting the company’s eagerly anticipated Note 7 phablet.

In the spot, Waltz actor praises/complains about the American work ethic, while multitasking through a series of increasingly ridiculous costumes, as a housewife, car sales, short-shorted child and track and field runner, before launching into a love fest for American ingenuity. An interesting creative choice for a team up between a South Korean company and an Austrian-German actor.

But hey, whatever it takes to put Christoph Waltz in a Lincoln costume is certainly worth the effort.

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God bless America.

Source: TechCrunch

Amazon wants more people to develop speech-based adventure games for Alexa

Amazon wants more people to develop speech-based adventure games for Alexa

Amazon’s plucky little voice assistant already has a fairly broad skill set – but gaming has never really been Alexa’s strong suit. Granted, the AI is no Xbox, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some potential for a little gaming fun. A few developers have already created titles for the platform, adventure games that a bit of a throwback to the text-based titles that graced early home computers.

The Wayne Investigation is of particular note, a Batman v Superman promotion written by DC Comics creators that managed to get better reviews than the big budget blockbuster it was tied into, asking users to help solve the mystery being the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents (spoiler. Also he’s Batman. Double spoiler).

The help ease game creators into the process, Amazon is offering up a tool to make it easier to create titles for its home-ruling robot voice. The development tool, available now through Github breaks game creation down into a graphical interface, offering up a sort of decision tree to map out the turn-by-turn game play.

The company’s got a turn-by-turn breakdown of the Interactive Adventure Game tool on its developer blog.

Source: TechCrunch

Nike and Zeiss created a $1,200 pair of sunglasses for Olympians

Nike and Zeiss created a ,200 pair of sunglasses for Olympians

I recently spent $175 on a pair of Warby Parker sunglasses. I’m not proud of that, but my eyesight sucks now because I’m old and it’s sunny because it’s the summer. Suffice it to say, I now wear them indoors and at night both to get the most out of my purchase and to pay homage to Canadian songster Corey Hart’s seminal 1984 hit.

Personally, I can’t fathom spending $1,200 for a pair of sunglasses that don’t turn me into the Terminator, but then, I’m fairly certainly I’m not the target demo for the Nike Wing. For one thing, I’m not an Olympian. Heck, I probably won’t be watching the Olympics at all this year – not intentionally, at least.

For the world class athletes among us, however, Nike teamed up with the optics experts at Zeiss to design a pair of worthy shades. You can watch a couple of moonshoty videos about what makes the sunglasses $1,200 worth of amazing, but the basic gist is a human anatomy-inspired unibody lens that wraps around its wearer’s face, while a silicone strap wraps it the rest of the way around the head.

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That has two key advantages. One is weight — a pair tips the scales at 26 grams. The other is a tight fit that eliminates pressures from the bridge of the nose and ears. It also helps cut down on wind drag, a key feature for people’s who primarily job in life is moving really, really fast.

via Wired

Source: TechCrunch

NASA’s Curiosity rover gets an adorable mobile game for its fourth anniversary

NASA’s Curiosity rover gets an adorable mobile game for its fourth anniversary

What’s a good gift for a martian rover who’s just turning four? Water, obviously. Barring that, however, a fun little mobile game will do. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory enlisted the skills of GAMEE to develop Mars Rover, an adorable little side scroller created in honor of Curiosity’s fourth year on the red planet.

It’s a simple little game for iOS, Android and desktop designed to celebrate the plucky little rover’s fourth anniversary, sending the vehicle up and over rocky terrain, in search of underground water caverns, all while trying not to tip over or break a wheel (a definitely real world hazard for Curiosity).

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The underground water locating bit is actually a nod to another rover, set for a 2020 launch, which will utilize radar to find the precious resource beneath the Martian surface. JBL has this to say about the game, “Using social networks, the user can share the fun with friends. The interest that is shared through gameplay also helps us open a door to deeper literacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Honestly, it probably won’t teach you too much more about the space program than Super Mario will plumbing, but anything that helps get more eyes on the space program is probably a net positive – and a fun diversion, to boot.

Source: TechCrunch

Amazon adds several new devices to its Dash Replenishment auto ordering service

Amazon adds several new devices to its Dash Replenishment auto ordering service

At the beginning of the year, Amazon flipped the switch on Dash Replenishment, a service aimed at bringing the instant reordering of its devoted product buttons directly to connected devices. The idea being that you don’t have to, say, order ink for your printer or batteries for your smart lock – the devices will do it for you.

The retail giant has already announced a slew of different partners for the program, including Brother Printers, the Gmate SMART blood glucose monitor, and a GE washing machine, all of which went live in the first round.

Today the company announced a number of new additions. The highest profile of the additions is GE, which will be extending its involvement to driers and dishwashers, which will be updated to order fabric soften and dishwasher detergent, respectively, when supplies start to dwindle.

Neato joins the list as well, bring the WiFi-connected robot to the service in order to order replacement filters and brushes, while Petcube’s Kickstarter-supported Bites camera will be able to order pet food. Also on the list are the Behmore Connected coffee brewer, Simplehuman trashcan and SmartThings platform.

Even The Hershey Company has been added to the stable with an unnamed device. That should be interesting.

Source: TechCrunch

OnePlus says it’s temporarily halting European sales to meet increased demand

OnePlus says it’s temporarily halting European sales to meet increased demand

Say what you will about OnePlus’ now-defunct invite system – it certainly helped the company control its supplies and gauge demand. The launch of the OnePlus 3 marked a brave new, invite-free world – one that’s apparently come with a few growing pains as the company works to meet demand.

Co-founder Carl Pei took to the company’s forums to announce that it will be halting sales of the device throughout Europe for four days, in order to deal with what has proven to be “the fastest selling device we’ve ever made.”

From August 9th to the 12th, the company will be putting the kibosh on sales in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain – and Hong Kong, for good measure.

So, why hating, rather than simply delaying shipping? Aside from an opportunity to point out the brisk pace with which the solid new handset is moving, Pei had this to say, “We are working hard to secure more stock and fire up more production lines so that we can fulfill our goal of putting premium products into the hands of as many people as possible.”

Those who order before the 9th should be fine. People who attempt to purchase during the hiatus will be nudged toward a mailing list for updates.

Source: TechCrunch

MIT creates a chip that simulates the connection between nerves and muscle

MIT creates a chip that simulates the connection between nerves and muscle

In an attempt to better understand neuromuscular conditions like ALS, engineers at MIT have developed a quarter-sized chip housing a muscle strip and some motor neurons. The setup is designed to recreate the neuromuscular junction, the bit of chemical synapse where neurons and muscle fibers meet.

The team has developed a method for creating muscle response by shining a light onto the neuron set, creating a twitch or contraction. The chip is designed to better understand the junction and the diseases that impact it.

The device was created using mice cells, which were separated out into motor neurons and muscle components and fused into those parts. Pillars were inserted into the muscle fiber dring the process to help visualize displacement and create a a method for detecting the force that was exerted during muscle contraction.

That, in turn, was inserted into a gel-filled device designed to simulate an in vitro environment, creating a more realistic space than the traditional petri dish that could help duplicate the natural separation between nerves and muscles that occurs in the human body.

Source: TechCrunch

iRobot debuts a more affordable 900 series Roomba

iRobot debuts a more affordable 900 series Roomba

The thing that sticks out at you most about the second member of the Roomba 900 series is the robotic vacuum’s price. At $700, it’s not cheap, really, but it’s at least slightly more within reach than its $900 predecessor, the 980 – a move that comes as a handful of manufacturers have undercut the Massachusetts-based company in the space it helped pioneer.

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The 960 maintains a number of the mapping advancements introduced in its older sibling, along with the mobile app connectivity that finally brought the line into the cloud-connected era. The lower price is thanks in part to the robot’s utilization of an older-gen cleaning system (on-par with what you’ll find on the 800 series), along with smaller battery – listed at 75 minutes to the 980’s 120.

The new Roomba is available now in the US and Canada through iRobot’s site.

Also new is iRobot Home App functionality for the company’s Braava jet line, making it possible for users to start and stop the mopping robot with an iOS or Android device via Bluetooth.

Source: TechCrunch