The next phase of Engadget’s evolution

A year and a half ago, I told you that Engadget’s editorial mission was going to change. Since then, we’ve delivered on that promise, telling stories about how and why technology is affecting the world we live in. Our editorial evolution continued, but the site remained largely untouched. It’s time our visuals caught up with our vision. And unlike Darwin, we didn’t need any birds to show us the way.

Welcome to Engadget 5.0.

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Amazon Dash Button Pwn3d

If you haven’t heard about the Amazon dash button yet we’re glad you quit watching cat videos and have joined us. Just to get you up to speed: the Amazon dash button is a small wireless device that lets your lazy ass order more laundry soap by pushing the “dash button” which should be affixed to something near your washing machine. The pushing of the button will set in motion the gut wrenching process that we used to know as “buying things we ran out of” but thanks to Amazon we can now just cover our entire lives with an assortment of buttons that take zero credentials to physically push. We can’t see that being a problem whatsoever.

Needless to say we as a community set out to find an actual use for these fantastic little devices. [maximus64] has done quite a nice job at enabling this hardware in a most usable way. Most of the hacks we have seen for the dash button remove the physical push button and add a sensor of some kind. Replacing the button with a sensor still uses the WiFi connection to send data from the button to the cloud. Instead of the button ordering more <<product>> from Amazon, a sensor might trigger the dash to increment a counter on your website letting you know that your dog went through the doggy door +1 more times.

[maximus64] has the dash button working in the reverse manner by porting the Broadcom IoT WICED SDK to the button. He is using the dash button as a receiver and when [maximus64] sends the “all good” signal from his laptop to the dash button his garage door opens which you can see in the video after the break. We find this extremely more useful than the dash button’s original intended use. [maximus64] has instructions in the readme.md file of the github repo so that you too can hack your dash button in this way.

We have seen quite a few Amazon dash button hacks, including the one [maximus64] was responding to where we asked you to share your proof of concept to control the WiFi module in the dash button.

Filed under: hardware, internet hacks

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Apple game of the year ‘Monument Valley’ is now free on iOS

If you’re looking for a free iOS game, an interesting new option has just opened up. Puzzle-adventure game Monument Valley managed to pull off the hat trick of being fun, zen and beautiful all at the same time — which helped garner it Apple’s Game of the Year and Design awards for 2014. The title, normally $4, is now showing as “free,” though there’s no word on how long that offer will last. After launching in May last year, it had earned $5.8 million by January 2015, mostly from sales to iOS gamers (creator Ustwo said that only 5 percent of Android sales were paid).

Via: @Wario64 (Twitter)

Source: iTunes

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Audio Effects on the Intel Edison

With the ability to run a full Linux operating system, the Intel Edison board has more than enough computing power for real-time digital audio processing. [Navin] used the Atom based module to build Effecter: a digital effects processor.

Effecter is written in C, and makes use of two libraries. The MRAA library from Intel provides an API for accessing the I/O ports on the Edison module. PortAudio is the library used for capturing and playing back audio samples.

F9GW4Y4IGQFYP23.MEDIUMTo allow for audio input and output, a sound card is needed. A cheap USB sound card takes care of this, since the Edison does not have built-in hardware for audio. The Edison itself is mounted on the Edison Arduino Breakout Board, and combined with a Grove shield from Seeed. Using the Grove system, a button, potentiometer, and LCD were added for control.

The code is available on Github, and is pretty easy to follow. PortAudio calls the audioCallback function in effecter.cc when it needs samples to play. This function takes samples from the input buffer, runs them through an effect’s function, and spits the resulting samples into the output buffer. All of the effect code can be found in the ‘effects’ folder.

You can check out a demo Effecter applying effects to a keyboard after the break. If you want to build your own, an Instructable gives all the steps.

Filed under: digital audio hacks

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What every star system Kepler’s found so far looks like, as compared to our own

Since its launch in 2009, the Kepler spacecraft has discovered more than 1700 planets in some 685 star systems. This slick animation from YouTuber Ethan Kruse shows every one of them with their orbits synchronized and drawn to scale. The planets themselves aren’t exactly to spec — I mean, just look at how small Jupiter is — but that’s only so that the smaller exoplanets aren’t completely crowded out. Kruse reportedly employed the open source Kepler Orrery code to create the animation.

Source: NASA PlanetQuest (Twitter)

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Hololens (briefly) shown streaming ‘Halo 5’ and Netflix

We’ve known for awhile that you can beam practically anything to Microsoft’s augmented reality headset, Hololens, but seeing someone playing Halo 5 on a TV that seemingly appears out of thin air is still pretty damned neat. And it’s not just Microsoft’s disappointing first-person shooter that’s getting the augmented-reality treatment: Candy Crush and a Netflix stream by way of an Edge browser window are on display as well. The clips below are brief and look pretty impressive, but based on firsthand experience with the device, these videos don’t quite line up with the actual user experience.

Via: Thurrott

Source: Varun Mani (YouTube)

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Wikipedia’s AI can automatically spot bad edits

Wikipedia has a new artificial intelligence service, and it could make the website a lot friendlier to newbie contributors. The AI, called Objective Revision Evaluation Service (ORES), will scour newly submitted revisions to spot any additions that look potentially spammy or trollish. Its creator, the Wikimedia Foundation, says it “functions like a pair of X-ray specs” (hence the image above) since it highlights anything that seems suspicious; it then sets that particular article aside for human editors to look at more closely. If the Wiki staff decides to pull a revision down, the contributor will get notified — that’s a lot better than the website’s current practice of deleting submissions without any explanation.

Via: MIT Technology Review

Source: Wikimedia

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The Biggest Super Hexagon Fan

For those who haven’t addicted themselves to Super Hexagon yet, it’s pretty… addicting, to say the least. Normally this 80’s arcade-style game would run in a browser but some of the people at Club de Jaqueo in Buenos Aires decided to cram all of that into an Arduino. They didn’t stop there, though, and thought that it would work best with a POV display.

To navigate the intricate maze of blending a POV display with a fast-paced game like this, the group turned to the trusty Arduino Micro. After some frustration in the original idea, they realized that the game is perfectly suited for a POV display since it’s almost circular. The POV shouldn’t take up too much of the processing power of the Arduino, so most of the clock cycles can be used for playing the game. They couldn’t keep the original name anymore due to the lack of hexagon shape (and presumably copyrights and other legal hurdles), but the style of the original is well-preserved.

The group demonstrated their setup this past weekend, and the results are impressive judging by the video below. They’ve also released their source code and schematics as well, in case you have an old fan (or maybe even a bicycle?) lying around that is just begging to be turned into a mini-arcade game.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks

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