Pepsi Unveils Social Vending Machines

Pepsi - Social Vending Machine

You’re out at a concert and you’re about to buy a drink from a vending machine. You think about your friend who couldn’t make it, and want to send them a quick text to let them know you’re thinking of them and wish they were there. 
With Pepsi’s new social vending machines, you can not only send them a message, but you can buy them a drink at the same time. 
Pepsi’s new machines come with a fancy touch-screen UI that makes selecting a frosty beverage a more technical experience than perhaps it needs to be, but also include a social component that will take your friend’s name and cell phone number and send them a text message with a code they can redeem for a free drink. 
The code has to be redeemed at one of the new social machines. If you want, you can also give a random customer a gift at the vending machine through what Pepsi calls a “random act of refreshment,” meaning someone will walk up, select their drink, try to pay, and be told that they’re getting their drink for free. You can even record a quick video message to include with your free drink so the recipient knows who just made their day. 
Pepsi has no plans for a rollout of the new machines; the current model is just a prototype. Still, it’ll be on display at the National Automatic Merchandising Association Show in Chicago at the end of the month for everyone to see. Check out a video of the machine behind the jump.

The Facebook Box Prints Every Post in Your News Feed

Facebook Box

Checking Facebook on the Web or on your phone is so last week. Why not do it the retro way and sift through reams of printed sheets to read what your friends are up to? The Facebook Box, an invention of product designer Steve Murray, gives you a way to read and keep every status update and any of your friends posts: on paper. 
The Facebook Box is essentially a printer that’s connected to your Facebook account, and every time a new post appears in your news feed, the tiny receipt printer in the device whirrs to life and prints it out on a tiny slip of paper. You can read it, toss it out, or file it in the space just to the right of the printer slot. When closed, the blue envelope-shaped box has the Facebook logo on the top and your name on the top, so everyone knows that your wall lives inside. 
If you can’t tell, the Facebook Box is a bit tongue-in-cheek. The product page for it is rich with phrases like “social networking no longer needs to be restricted to the confines of a digital display.” Still, there may be a market for the Facebook Box, especially for those people who tend to print every e-mail they get and document they want to read.

US Army Looks to Adopt Android Devices


us-army-logo.jpgThe U.S. Army is always looking for ways to help its troops fight better. First the Army embraced video games as a way to train, now the Army is wanting to adopt Android-based devices. The Army would allow developers to develop a couple of apps just for the Army in order to protect themselves in better ways.

Here is what Lieutenant Colonel Mark Daniels had to say about this:

That’s going to allow us to be interoperable across the entire family of systems of JBC-P, which would include the platforms, the aviation, the logistics community, the tanks, the Bradleys, the handhelds

The Army did not confirm that the Android device will be adopted, nor has any soft release date been released. As for why the Android devices are the only smartphone OS being considered is pretty clear at this point. As of now, the Android OS is the only open source one on the market, thus making it easier for the Army to work on.

Via TG Daily

Man Tries to Hold Up a Convenience Store with a Game Controller

PS3 Controller

What do you do when you’re a criminal and you need cash? You head down to your local convenience store and try to shake it down for some cash, apparently. One man in St. Petersburg, Florida decided to do just that, but he didn’t have money for a gun, so he decided on the next best thing he had: a Sony PlayStation3 controller. 
Authorities say that 20 year old Cameron Pittman put the controller in his pocket, and when he got to the store, he pretended that the controller was a gun, and tried to rob the store. Police saw him walk into the store, and since he was a suspect wanted in an earlier robbery elsewhere in town, the officer in question walked into the convenience store to question him. Little did the officer know, he was walking right into Pittman’s robbery attempt. 
When the officer confronted Pittman with a real gun and demanded he surrender, he dropped the controller and complied with police. 

This Motorized Chair Concept Reminds Us of Wall-E

Supple Motorized Chair

If you’ve seen the movie Wall-E, you remember the sad state that most humans had come to in the far future: so used to sitting around lazily that we lost the ability to walk around and get exercise, and depended in floating, motorized chairs to get us from place to place. Now, Iranian designer Mohamad Sadegh Darounkolayi has something that’s pretty close. It’s called the Supple, a chair that sits on top of a motorized ball that can go virtually anywhere. 
To be fair, the design could be useful for people who are disabled or who need a motorized wheelchair to get around. All you have to do is point to where you want to go on a GPS-powered map and the chair will plot a course to get you there with minimal effort. 
When it’s not in use or you’re not wheeling around in it, the ball on the underside of the Supple slides out and in front to work as a small table. Darounkolayi also envisioned the Supple with the ability to connect to other chairs to create larger vehicles with multiple wheels that can work together and get groups of people to the same location. 
Even so, we weren’t the only people who saw the Supple and immediately thought of the hover chairs and blob-like humans from Wall-E: the folks over at DVice had the same reaction

PDF Mix Up Reveals Classified British Submarine Flaws

British Submarine

The British Ministry of Defense thought they had done everything right when they released a declassified report on the flaws and design weaknesses in several of their nuclear submarines. Unfortunately, as soon as the declassified – and heavily edited, with a great deal of information redacted – report was released, readers determined that in order to redact much of the text, the background color around the classified text had just been changed to black. 
This meant that while a reader looking at the PDF couldn’t make out what the redacted text said visually, they could still highlight the text and see it, and more importantly they could highlight the entire document’s text, copy it, and paste it into a new document and read it without any of the redaction in place. All of the still-classified information would be visible and plain as day. 
The bulk of the classified information had to do with design flaws in the submarines and their nuclear reactors, and details about how much damage the submarines would have to take before the reactor core would melt down. In addition, classified information on US disaster policies and procedures on-board military vessels were also in the document, and revealed just as easily. 
For their part, the MoD has removed the document and replaced it with one that’s been correctly redacted, but once the information is available, it’s out there forever. To make matters worse, the information is relevant to a current generation of nuclear submarines in service in the British Navy – many of which will be in service for years to come. 
[via BBC]

Can’t Afford To Own A Country? Airbnb Lets You Rent


A hotel just not enough space for you when you’re on vacation? How does a village sound? Still too cramped? What about an entire country? If you’re the kind of person that just needs to spread out a little bit when you’re away from home, rental service Airbnb would like to offer you one of ten rental towns (or even the small country of Liechtenstein) as your personal getaway.

The company’s usual service involves renting out users empty apartments while they’re away to travellers needing a place to stay and similar person-to-person short-term rentals. Now, they’ve partnered with marketing company Xnet to expand their offerings to whole geographic areas. Airbnb’s website suggests that Xnet will take the villages and “transform them into highly customized settings for events, corporate retreats, conferences and more.” I’ve heard of themed hotels, themed parties and themed vacations, but a themed country is an entirely new one. If you ever wanted a small country in Europe to bend to your every will, and your name isn’t Nikita Khrushchev circa 1958, now’s your chance.

Of course, this is all a huge marketing stunt, but given that Liechtenstein is apparently a hot rental property, there’s no doubt some people will buy into it. It’s not exactly the most economical of travel plans to make either; Liechtenstein is $70,000 a night with a minimum two night stay. Thankfully, according to its listing, it accommodates between 450 and 900 people. Rental villages hover around $50,000 a night, if you don’t feel spendy enough to lay down the cash for an entire nation.

[via Airbnb]

China Bans Time Travel

Bill and Ted

The Chinese government is tired of all that nonsensical time traveling that takes place in science fiction stories and video games, and has decided they need to step in and put a stop to it. Seriously. The Chinese State Administration for Radio Film, and Television issued a statement that traveling back in time lacks “positive thoughts and meaning,” and should be discouraged. They also noted that time travel in television and movies “casually make up myths, have monstrous and weird plots, use absurd tactics, and even promote feudalism, superstition, fatalism, and reincarnation.”  
Ouch. That’s a pretty hard line to take: are you listening, Hollywood? The agency went on to say “The producers and writers are treating the serious history in a frivolous way, which should by no means be encouraged anymore.” 
Most observers point to that last statement as a clue to the actual reason the Chinese government is making this move. That is, that the real likely reason is to discourage anything but the official interpretation of historical figures or events in television or movies. At the same time, I think we can all admit that maybe all of the crazy temporal mechanics in TV and movies are a little absurd. I mean, did you see the series finale of Star Trek: Voyager?

Smart, Self-Driving Wheelchairs on the Way

Smart Wheelchair

While the promise of self-driving cars may be mere years away, those people who have a powered wheelchair to get around town hopefully won’t have to wait much longer before their chairs can do the work for them as well. 
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are using robotics to build smarter wheelchairs – wheelchairs that still respond to human commands, but won’t go rolling off of a cliff by themselves even if the human operator holds down the accelerator and the on-board camera sees there’s a hazard ahead. 
The goal is to make wheelchairs safer even if the human operator is incapacitated or the controls malfunction. Researchers hope to program powered wheelchairs with rudimentary artificial intelligence so they know the difference between real and reasonable human control commands and nonsensical ones that are at best silly and at worst harmful for the driver. 
The wheelchairs can be controlled via conventional joystick, or even XBox controller. You can see a video of one of the chairs in action behind the jump.

Russian Man Buys an External Hard Drive, Gets Something a Bit Less

Fake Samsung Drive

Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. One Russian man found a great deal on a Samsung external hard drive: such a good deal he simply couldn’t pass it up. He pulled out his plastic, ordered the drive from the Chinese reseller offering the so-low discount, and sat back and waited for his drive to show up, confident he was a great bargain hunter. 
Well, he may have been a great bargain hunter, but things started going off the rails when he realized that any media he copied to the device seemed to get cut off during playback. Video files were picking up from the end of the video, instead of starting from the beginning and playing the whole way through: he would copy an entire movie to the drive, play it from the drive, and discover it was only playing the last few minutes. Puzzled, he took it to his local computer repair shop for their advice. 
It wasn’t until the technicians at the shop opened up the drive to inspect the hard disk inside that they knew what the problem really was. The Samsung external hard drive wasn’t a hard drive at all – it was just a paid of heavy bolts affixed to the inside of the case and a 128MB (that’s right, Megabyte) flash drive without its casing attached to a USB female-adapter inside the drive casing. 
The result was a 128MB flash drive that, since it had been programmed to keep writing over itself instead of stop and tell the user they were out of space, the buyer simply didn’t know was writing over everything he copied to it as he filled the space up. Sad, but true. 
[via Engadget]