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Tech round-up: Cube robots and Google works on rival TV service
In this week’s Tech Roundup we see Apple make another interesting acquisition and Three selling the new Nexus 7 tablet, plus we reveal Amazon’s set-top box and how scientists have made Terminator-style robots.
CUTTING EDGE: Self-Assembling Cube Robots ‘Terminator’ Style
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have unveiled cube-shaped robots that can flip, jump and even assemble themselves into different shapes.
These amazing little pieces of hardware are known as M-Blocks and use an internal flywheel mechanism for movement combined with magnets to stick them together.
This is just the beginning though, the researchers envision a ‘swarmbot’ version for the future which could assemble itself rather like the liquid metal of the infamous T-1000 Terminator.
Unlike the terror caused in the films, these modular robots could in fact be used to make temporary repairs to bridges and roads when needed.
Currently, the M-Blocks are controlled remotely but the plan is to program the devices directly so they can function autonomously and be of real use in combat or emergency situations. It’s a brave new world after all.
APPLE: Apple Acquires the Personal Assistant App ‘Cue’
In a string of recent acquisitions, it turns out Apple has just purchased the personal assistant app ‘Cue’.
This collected information from your email, contacts and calendars to create a daily snapshot of events. The purchase was recently confirmed to CNET and Techcrunch after the Cue website shutdown earlier this week and its app was pulled from the Apple App Store.
Potentially, the Cue aggregation functionality could be incorporated into ‘Siri’ and we could be seeing a rival to ‘Google Now’ on the cards.
The new iOS 7 notification centre has moved closer towards this but the dynamic information from a service like Cue could help tailor it more accurately to your location and daily events.
Apple don’t usually like to discuss how their acquisitions will be put to use but it’s a good bet that something new and exciting waits right around the corner.
ANDROID: Three UK Launches the Wi-Fi Version Nexus 7 Tablet
The mobile operator Three have announced that they will be selling Google’s new Nexus 7 tablet but only the Wi-Fi version, which retails for £199.99.
To compensate for this, they are offering a bundled Huawei HSPA+ Mifi device for £29.99 with a one month rolling contract of £15.99 per month.
This will give fairly decent 3G speeds but still falls short of LTE/4G performance. It appears that rival network O2 has somewhat of an exclusive on the LTE version Nexus 7 and whilst the service rollout is still in the early stages, it’s nice to have future-proofed device.
Three are advertising 3.9G network speeds which do seem to be ahead of the competition if we exclude the new LTE services.
Still, it would be nice to see both versions of the Nexus 7 available at all the major network operators.
GADGETS: Amazon Working on Their Own Rival Device to Apple TV
The online retail giant Amazon is getting close to announcing their answer to the Apple TV set-top box.
The bizarrely codenamed ‘Cinnamon’ box has been rumoured to be in development since April last year and will support third-party applications.
Obviously, we can expect the new Amazon TV to offer TV and movie streaming but the company is also in talks with American cable companies to develop their own apps for the platform as well.
There is even a strong possibility that we will be able to play games on the new device and that could be a game-changer. This is a crowded market that Amazon is breaking into, particularly since the release of the ‘Chromecast’ dongle in America earlier this year.
However, Amazon has a great deal of content to offer with a huge user-base. It will be interesting to see how things shape up once we hit release but unfortunately no price has been confirmed as yet.
GAMING: The Xbox One Tour Is Coming to the UK!
The Xbox One ‘Area One’ tour has already begun, which sees the new device travelling around the world to give people a hands-on experience prior to launch.
It’s set to land in the UK on 21st November, which is only a day before the official release but still worth checking out.
Microsoft are going even further this year with the Xbox One ‘Test Drive’, the new console will visit 175 locations in custom-made vehicles, including major cities in the UK.
To get more information check out xbox.com/onetour. You can expect to see the Xbox One Tour at festivals, retail centres and even university campuses so that we can all get a taste of this hugely anticipated console and experience the future of gaming for some time to come!
James is a freelance technology and science writer from Bucks.
His interests range from gadgets and apps to movies and gaming, really anything geeky!
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