Amazon says a whopping 140 third-party stores in four countries use its Just Walk Out tech

Amazon published a blog post on Wednesday providing an update about its Just Walk Out technology, which it reportedly pulled from its Fresh grocery stores earlier this month. While extolling Just Walk Out’s virtues as a sales pitch to potential retail partners, the article lists a startlingly minuscule number of (non-Amazon) stores using the tech. There are now “more than 140 third-party locations with Just Walk Out technology in the U.S., UK, Australia, and Canada.”

Mind you, that isn’t the number of companies or retail chains licensing the tech; that’s the total number of locations. Nor is that the tally in one state or even one country. In four countries combined — with a total population of about 465 million — Just Walk Out is being used in “more than 140 third-party locations.”

On average, that means there’s one third-party Just Walk Out store for every 3.3 million people in those four countries. (They must be busy!) By contrast, there are over one million retail locations in the US, and, as of 2019, Starbucks had 241 locations in New York City alone, and there are over one million

Amazon had reportedly already planned to remove Just Walk Out tech from its Fresh grocery stores for roughly a year because it was too expensive and complicated for larger retail spaces to run and maintain. The company now pitches its tech as ideal for smaller convenience stores with fewer customers and products — like its own Amazon Go stores, which it has been busy shutting down over the last couple of years.

A medical workers scans a badge at an Amazon-powered Just Walk Out kiosk in a hospital.
Amazon

The company reportedly gutted the team of developers working on Just Walk Out tech earlier this month. (You get one guess as to how the laid-off workers were instructed to leave the office.) As part of recent layoffs from Amazon’s AWS unit and Physical Stores Team, the company allegedly left only “a skeleton crew” to work on the tech moving forward. A skeleton crew to maintain a skeleton sounds about right.

In fairness, some of those locations are at high-traffic venues. That includes nine merch stores at Seattle’s Lumen Field (home to the Seahawks and Sounders), near Amazon’s headquarters. Delaware North, a large hospitality and entertainment company, has opened “more than a dozen” stores using the tech. Amazon says stores adopting Just Walk Out have reported increased transactions, sales and customer satisfaction.

Despite the reported gutting of Just Walk Out’s development team, Amazon says it “continues to invent the next generation of this technology to improve the checkout experience for large-format stores.” Its next steps include improving latency for “faster and more reliable receipts,” new algorithms to recognize customer actions and new sensors better.

If the reports about layoffs are accurate, the handful of remaining Just Walk Out developers will have their work cut out for them.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/amazon-says-a-whopping-140-third-party-stores-in-four-countries-use-its-just-walk-out-tech-191649492.html?src=rss

Creepy monitoring service sells searchable Discord user data for as little as $5

A data scraping service is selling information on what it claims to be 600 million Discord users. A report from 404 Media details Spy Pet, an online service that gathers, stores and sells troves of information from the social platform. But have no fear: It markets its services to totally trustworthy paying clients like law enforcement, AI model trainers or your average person curious about “what their friends are up to.” Why ask them when you can simply purchase and download a copy of their Discord activity?

For as little as $5 in cryptocurrency, Spy Pet lets you access data about specific users, such as which servers they participate in, what messages they’ve sent and when they joined or left voice channels. It claims to have information on an alleged 600 million users across 14,000 Discord servers and three billion messages.

As for what inspired Spy Pet, its creator suggested it’s a classic case of doing what one enjoys and pushing personal boundaries. “I like scraping, archiving, and challenging myself,” the creator told 404 Media. “Discord is basically the holy grail of scraping, since Discord is trying absolutely anything to combat scraping.”

Some people run a 5K, set a weight-loss goal or take up pickleball. Others start a social scraping service that sells data to the feds, AI companies and creepy exes. To each their own!

404 Media says the database lets you search for specific users. For each search result, a page shows the servers the user has joined (at least among those Spy Pet monitors), their connected accounts, a table showing their recent messages (including the server name, time stamps and the message itself) and their voice channel entry and exit times. Paying customers can conveniently export their prey’s — or “friend’s” — chats into a CSV file.

Discord says it’s investigating Spy Pet and weighing its options. “Discord is committed to protecting the privacy and data of our users,” a company spokesperson wrote in an email to Engadget. “We are currently investigating this matter. If we determine that violations of our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines have occurred, we will take appropriate steps to enforce our policies. We cannot provide further comments as this is an ongoing investigation.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/creepy-monitoring-service-sells-searchable-discord-user-data-for-as-little-as-5-170228224.html?src=rss

NASA confirms its space trash pierced Florida man’s roof

On March 8, a piece of space debris plunged through a roof in Naples, FL, ripped through two floors and (fortunately) missed the son of homeowner Alejandro Otero. On Tuesday, NASA confirmed the results of its analysis of the incident. As suspected, it’s a piece of equipment dumped from the International Space Station (ISS) three years ago.

NASA’s investigation of the object at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral confirmed it was a piece of the EP-9 support equipment used to mount batteries onto a cargo pallet, which the ISS’ robotic arm dropped on March 11, 2021. The haul, made up of discarded nickel-hydrogen batteries, was expected to orbit Earth between two to four years (it split the difference, lasting almost exactly three) “before burning up harmlessly in the atmosphere,” as NASA predicted at the time. Not quite.

The roof-piercing debris was described as a stanchion from NASA flight support equipment used to mount the batteries onto the cargo pallet. Made of the metal alloy Inconel, the object weighs 1.6 lbs and measures 4 inches tall and 1.6 inches in diameter.

Otero told Fort Meyers CBS affiliate WINK-TV that he was on vacation when his son told him that an object had pierced their roof. “I was shaking,” he said. “I was completely in disbelief. What are the chances of something landing on my house with such force to cause so much damage. I’m super grateful that nobody got hurt.”

NASA says it will investigate the equipment dump’s jettison and re-entry to try to figure out why the object slammed into Otero’s home instead of disintegrating into flames. “NASA specialists use engineering models to estimate how objects heat up and break apart during atmospheric re-entry,” the space agency explained in a news release. “These models require detailed input parameters and are regularly updated when debris is found to have survived atmospheric re-entry to the ground.”

Most space junk moves extremely fast, reaching up to 18,000 mph, according to NASA. It explains, “Due to the rate of speed and volume of debris in LEO, current and future space-based services, explorations, and operations pose a safety risk to people and property in space and on Earth.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nasa-confirms-its-space-trash-pierced-florida-mans-roof-204056957.html?src=rss

NASA confirms its space trash pierced Florida man’s roof

On March 8, a piece of space debris plunged through a roof in Naples, FL, ripped through two floors and (fortunately) missed the son of homeowner Alejandro Otero. On Tuesday, NASA confirmed the results of its analysis of the incident. As suspected, it’s a piece of equipment dumped from the International Space Station (ISS) three years ago.

NASA’s investigation of the object at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral confirmed it was a piece of the EP-9 support equipment used to mount batteries onto a cargo pallet, which the ISS’ robotic arm dropped on March 11, 2021. The haul, made up of discarded nickel-hydrogen batteries, was expected to orbit Earth between two to four years (it split the difference, lasting almost exactly three) “before burning up harmlessly in the atmosphere,” as NASA predicted at the time. Not quite.

The roof-piercing debris was described as a stanchion from NASA flight support equipment used to mount the batteries onto the cargo pallet. Made of the metal alloy Inconel, the object weighs 1.6 lbs and measures 4 inches tall and 1.6 inches in diameter.

Otero told Fort Meyers CBS affiliate WINK-TV that he was on vacation when his son told him that an object had pierced their roof. “I was shaking,” he said. “I was completely in disbelief. What are the chances of something landing on my house with such force to cause so much damage. I’m super grateful that nobody got hurt.”

NASA says it will investigate the equipment dump’s jettison and re-entry to try to figure out why the object slammed into Otero’s home instead of disintegrating into flames. “NASA specialists use engineering models to estimate how objects heat up and break apart during atmospheric re-entry,” the space agency explained in a news release. “These models require detailed input parameters and are regularly updated when debris is found to have survived atmospheric re-entry to the ground.”

Most space junk moves extremely fast, reaching up to 18,000 mph, according to NASA. It explains, “Due to the rate of speed and volume of debris in LEO, current and future space-based services, explorations, and operations pose a safety risk to people and property in space and on Earth.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nasa-confirms-its-space-trash-pierced-florida-mans-roof-204056957.html?src=rss

Prime members can play Fallout 3 and New Vegas on Luna for the next six months

Fallout games are having a moment in the wake of glowing reviews for the new TV series adaptation on Prime Video. Amazon has added two of the series’ best games as freebies for Prime members on Luna, its cloud streaming service. Fallout 4 is also getting some love, as Bethesda said it will drop the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S update for the 2015 game on April 25.

Amazon Prime members can play Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas on Amazon Luna for the next six months at no extra charge. Like other cloud streaming services, Luna requires a stable and low-latency internet connection since the games you play are processed on remote servers. Amazon recommends a network that can sustain at least 10Mbps for 1080p quality. An ethernet connection works best, but if you’re on Wi-Fi, using the 5GHz band is preferable if your router supports it.

They join Fallout 76, already announced as an Amazon Prime Gaming free game for April. As long as you claim it this month, you can download and keep it forever. It’s redeemable for both Xbox and PC. In addition, the game has a free-play week for all platforms. From Thursday through April 18, you can play Fallout 76 for free on PlayStation, Xbox and Steam. You only need to download the game and sign in with a Bethesda account.

Promotional screenshot for the next-gen console update for Fallout 4. Two (blue-suit-wearing) people stand armed with guns in a video game wasteland. Crumbling buildings and a desert landscape in the background.
Bethesda

The long-delayed big console update for Fallout 4 finally arrives for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S on April 25. The “next-gen” (now current-gen, if we’re being technical) version lets you choose between Performance and Quality modes for prioritizing speed or spectacle. It also supports 60fps and higher resolutions alongside stability improvements and bug fixes. The stability fixes will also arrive in a Fallout 4 update for PS4 and Xbox One consoles to provide a more dependable experience for older hardware users.

The Fallout TV series is damn good — and possibly the second-best gaming adaptation behind The Last of Us. The show starts with a bang and reels you in with magnetic characters and alluring visuals. “Fallout is more than just a video game adaptation,” Engadget’s Sam Rutherford wrote in his review. “It’s a really good show in its own right — an apocalyptically good one at that.”

Fallout is now streaming on Prime Video. It stars Ella Purnell (Yellowjackets) as Lucy, Aaron Clifton Moten (Father Stu) as Maximums, Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) as Hank and the scene-stealing master of ornery characters, Walton Goggins (Justified), as The Ghoul.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/prime-members-can-play-fallout-3-and-new-vegas-on-luna-for-the-next-six-months-190132993.html?src=rss

Prime members can play Fallout 3 and New Vegas on Luna for the next six months

Fallout games are having a moment in the wake of glowing reviews for the new TV series adaptation on Prime Video. Amazon has added two of the series’ best games as freebies for Prime members on Luna, its cloud streaming service. Fallout 4 is also getting some love, as Bethesda said it will drop the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S update for the 2015 game on April 25.

Amazon Prime members can play Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas on Amazon Luna for the next six months at no extra charge. Like other cloud streaming services, Luna requires a stable and low-latency internet connection since the games you play are processed on remote servers. Amazon recommends a network that can sustain at least 10Mbps for 1080p quality. An ethernet connection works best, but if you’re on Wi-Fi, using the 5GHz band is preferable if your router supports it.

They join Fallout 76, already announced as an Amazon Prime Gaming free game for April. As long as you claim it this month, you can download and keep it forever. It’s redeemable for both Xbox and PC. In addition, the game has a free-play week for all platforms. From Thursday through April 18, you can play Fallout 76 for free on PlayStation, Xbox and Steam. You only need to download the game and sign in with a Bethesda account.

Promotional screenshot for the next-gen console update for Fallout 4. Two (blue-suit-wearing) people stand armed with guns in a video game wasteland. Crumbling buildings and a desert landscape in the background.
Bethesda

The long-delayed big console update for Fallout 4 finally arrives for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S on April 25. The “next-gen” (now current-gen, if we’re being technical) version lets you choose between Performance and Quality modes for prioritizing speed or spectacle. It also supports 60fps and higher resolutions alongside stability improvements and bug fixes. The stability fixes will also arrive in a Fallout 4 update for PS4 and Xbox One consoles to provide a more dependable experience for older hardware users.

The Fallout TV series is damn good — and possibly the second-best gaming adaptation behind The Last of Us. The show starts with a bang and reels you in with magnetic characters and alluring visuals. “Fallout is more than just a video game adaptation,” Engadget’s Sam Rutherford wrote in his review. “It’s a really good show in its own right — an apocalyptically good one at that.”

Fallout is now streaming on Prime Video. It stars Ella Purnell (Yellowjackets) as Lucy, Aaron Clifton Moten (Father Stu) as Maximums, Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) as Hank and the scene-stealing master of ornery characters, Walton Goggins (Justified), as The Ghoul.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/prime-members-can-play-fallout-3-and-new-vegas-on-luna-for-the-next-six-months-190132993.html?src=rss

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is only $40 right now

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max streaming device is on sale for $40. That’s a record low for Amazon’s top-of-the-line streaming stick, which usually costs $60.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max plugs into your TV’s HDMI port to access all the top streaming services, including (among many others) Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Max, Apple TV+ and, of course, Amazon’s Prime Video.

The streaming stick has a 2GHz quad-core processor to help make navigation zippy and smooth. The device’s 16GB of storage is double that of Amazon’s cheaper models so that you can download plenty of apps and offline content without worries.

The 4K Max supports Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and Dolby Atmos audio for a dynamic viewing experience and more immersive audio (with compatible TVs and speakers). It also supports Wi-Fi 6E for smoother streaming with fewer hiccups if your router also supports it.

It includes Amazon’s latest Alexa Voice Remote. The accessory has four pre-programmed shortcut buttons (for apps like Netflix and Prime Video). It supports Alexa, so you can use it to control the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and other Alexa-compatible smart home devices from your couch.

If you’d prefer to save money over having Amazon’s highest-end model, the Fire TV Stick Lite is also on sale. It’s Engadget’s pick for the best budget streaming stick. The device doesn’t support 4K, so this is only a good option if your television’s resolution is 1080p or lower. (However, it does support HDR.) Usually $30, you can get the entry-level model today for $20.

For those who want an upgraded audio setup, the Fire TV Soundbar is $20 off. It supports virtual surround sound with DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Audio. It hooks up to your TV’s HDMI port and only takes up 24 inches (with a 2.5-inch height) on your entertainment center. The device works with anything connected to your TV, not only the devices in Amazon’s streaming devices. As an alternative, you can connect it to other devices via Bluetooth. Typically $120, the Fire TV Soundbar is available today for $100.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-amazon-fire-tv-stick-4k-max-is-only-40-right-now-164554306.html?src=rss

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is only $40 right now

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max streaming device is on sale for $40. That’s a record low for Amazon’s top-of-the-line streaming stick, which usually costs $60.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max plugs into your TV’s HDMI port to access all the top streaming services, including (among many others) Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Max, Apple TV+ and, of course, Amazon’s Prime Video.

The streaming stick has a 2GHz quad-core processor to help make navigation zippy and smooth. The device’s 16GB of storage is double that of Amazon’s cheaper models so that you can download plenty of apps and offline content without worries.

The 4K Max supports Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and Dolby Atmos audio for a dynamic viewing experience and more immersive audio (with compatible TVs and speakers). It also supports Wi-Fi 6E for smoother streaming with fewer hiccups if your router also supports it.

It includes Amazon’s latest Alexa Voice Remote. The accessory has four pre-programmed shortcut buttons (for apps like Netflix and Prime Video). It supports Alexa, so you can use it to control the Fire TV Stick 4K Max and other Alexa-compatible smart home devices from your couch.

If you’d prefer to save money over having Amazon’s highest-end model, the Fire TV Stick Lite is also on sale. It’s Engadget’s pick for the best budget streaming stick. The device doesn’t support 4K, so this is only a good option if your television’s resolution is 1080p or lower. (However, it does support HDR.) Usually $30, you can get the entry-level model today for $20.

For those who want an upgraded audio setup, the Fire TV Soundbar is $20 off. It supports virtual surround sound with DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Audio. It hooks up to your TV’s HDMI port and only takes up 24 inches (with a 2.5-inch height) on your entertainment center. The device works with anything connected to your TV, not only the devices in Amazon’s streaming devices. As an alternative, you can connect it to other devices via Bluetooth. Typically $120, the Fire TV Soundbar is available today for $100.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter and subscribe to the Engadget Deals newsletter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-amazon-fire-tv-stick-4k-max-is-only-40-right-now-164554306.html?src=rss

You can now listen to Substack podcasts on Spotify

Substack shows are now on Spotify. The partnership lets Substack podcast creators add Spotify distribution for their programs with only “a few clicks.” The move could boost the streamer’s library after scaling back its exclusive podcast ambitions last year in favor of broader distribution — including a non-exclusive contract renewal with noted vaccine aficionado Joe Rogan.

When listening on Spotify, you’ll see a padlock (or “Paid” tag, where applicable) next to Substack podcasts. You’ll need to link your Substack account before you can begin listening.

Some Substack podcasts are free, and you can listen to those immediately after linking accounts. For paid programs, you’ll still need to pony up for those on Substack before you can hear them on Spotify. (The move is less about giving you freebies and more about expanding Substack’s audience.) But you don’t need Spotify Premium; you can listen to the same Substack content whether you’re on a free or paid Spotify plan.

Spotify says podcast creators retain complete control of their content, subscriber bases and revenue. When setting it up, podcast makers need to choose an option to sync with Spotify in their Creator Account settings. That will instantly make all of their current and future programming available on the streaming platform.

The partnership is built on the Spotify Open Access API, which publishers like Calm, The Economist, Freakonomics Radio, Patreon, Dateline NBC and The Wall Street Journal also use to tap into the music platform’s listener base. It’s easy to see the appeal for creators: Spotify reported 602 million monthly active users and 236 million premium subscribers at the end of 2023.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/you-can-now-listen-to-substack-podcasts-on-spotify-150046948.html?src=rss

You can now listen to Substack podcasts on Spotify

Substack shows are now on Spotify. The partnership lets Substack podcast creators add Spotify distribution for their programs with only “a few clicks.” The move could boost the streamer’s library after scaling back its exclusive podcast ambitions last year in favor of broader distribution — including a non-exclusive contract renewal with noted vaccine aficionado Joe Rogan.

When listening on Spotify, you’ll see a padlock (or “Paid” tag, where applicable) next to Substack podcasts. You’ll need to link your Substack account before you can begin listening.

Some Substack podcasts are free, and you can listen to those immediately after linking accounts. For paid programs, you’ll still need to pony up for those on Substack before you can hear them on Spotify. (The move is less about giving you freebies and more about expanding Substack’s audience.) But you don’t need Spotify Premium; you can listen to the same Substack content whether you’re on a free or paid Spotify plan.

Spotify says podcast creators retain complete control of their content, subscriber bases and revenue. When setting it up, podcast makers need to choose an option to sync with Spotify in their Creator Account settings. That will instantly make all of their current and future programming available on the streaming platform.

The partnership is built on the Spotify Open Access API, which publishers like Calm, The Economist, Freakonomics Radio, Patreon, Dateline NBC and The Wall Street Journal also use to tap into the music platform’s listener base. It’s easy to see the appeal for creators: Spotify reported 602 million monthly active users and 236 million premium subscribers at the end of 2023.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/you-can-now-listen-to-substack-podcasts-on-spotify-150046948.html?src=rss