Robots are doing the twist, Google’s super-sized speaker is back and ‘Shrek’ is on a floppy disk.
Today, we’ve got stories on Apple’s “ultra” security measures, someone squeezing entire movies on floppy disks and a deep dive on the ways we might connect, without touch, in a post-pandemic world. But for this opening salvo, let’s home in on a family of dancing robots.
Watch the Atlas robot and the entire Boston Dynamics family, including the dog-like Spot and box-stacking Handle, dance to “Do You Love Me” from The Contours, and you’ll either feel affection or, well, repulsion. Boston Dynamics may now be 80 percent owned by car maker Hyundai, but it’s keeping its sense of humor.
Despite Google’s Home Max being officially retired and pulled from sale a couple of weeks ago, the Google Store is once again offering the speaker for sale. While flashing a message saying the device is sold out and prompting customers to try out a pair of the new Nest Audio devices instead, it will still let you check out a Charcoal-colored Home Max speaker for $179.
Everything we said in our review still stands, in that this voice-activated speaker has excellent sound quality and plugs directly into Google’s Assistant ecosystem. The best part now being it doesn’t cost $400 anymore — at least while stocks last.
They can watch their low-res version of ‘Shrek’ on a custom VCR.
A Redditor is compressing entire feature movies to a resolution of 120 x 96 pixels at a silky smooth four frames per second. As such, they were able to cram Shrek onto a medium with a storage size of 1.44 MB, or around 0.03 percent of a DVD’s 4.7 GB capacity. In fact, u/GreedyPaint pulverized Shrek down to 1.37 MB, so there was even some room to spare.
To play the thing, you could connect a floppy disk drive to a Raspberry Pi as part of a custom VCR system affectionately called the LimaTek Diskmaster. When the device powers up, it displays a homemade animation which asks the Redditor to insert a disk. When they do, the movie plays automatically. Just don’t expect it to look any good, at all.
What will the post-pandemic world look like? However it shakes out, technology will be central to it all. The memories of this year are still raw and the conditioning — wash your hands for two “Happy Birthday” songs! Don’t touch your face! — is still instinctive.
During 2020, the tech industry has pushed products geared towards minimizing, sanitizing or tracking physical touch. Think: wearables that stop you touching your face, or touchless touch screens and buttons. Which of these will we discard as society fully re-opens and what might become permanent? Chris Ip reports on what’s happened in 2020 and what we might expect to see next year.