These dome-shaped solar trees use AI to charge electric vehicles and combat the issue of EV charging

Slowly and surely the world has been moving towards clean energy alternatives. People have been abandoning dirty energy, especially petrol and diesel-ridden vehicles, for smarter and cleaner EVs, and other solar energy products. However, an issue that EVs often pose, is the issue of charging them. It can be challenging to find charging stations frequently and in convenient locations, but this is where these intriguing ‘Solar trees’ come into the picture. London-based SolarBotanic Trees created these sleek innovative trees designed to power EV Charging stations!

Designer: SolarBotanic Trees

The London-based company launched the prototype for the trees in September 2022, and its first generation of solar trees will finally be available in the coming few months! SolarBotanic developed these trees in collaboration with a London-based business support program Co-Innovate. The two teamed up and used academic and innovation resources from the surrounding universities and facilities. The unique-looking trees have been equipped with solar panels. These solar panels or nano photovoltaic ‘leaves’ form the dome or the canopy of the trees. They absorb energy from sunlight and transform it into electrical energy.

That collected electrical energy is then stored in the trees’ AI-driven energy storage and management system, which releases this power and manages it. There are other simple solar trees on the market, for example, Smartflower – a rather large daisy-shaped solar energy solution. But there are certain features that set the SolarBotanic Trees apart from similar designs on the market. First and foremost, the Smartflower has a four-kilowatt system, while the SolarBotanic Trees have been equipped with a five-kilowatt capacity, a larger capacity than other trees available today. Also, the SolarBotanic Trees will have a lower and more economical price point, which will make the product more accessible to the masses.

The SolarBotanic Trees will provide solar energy solutions for homes, businesses, and commercial parking spaces. The commercial version or the SolarBotanic Tree “v01” will be available in mid-2023 and version “v02” with an energy management system (EMS), battery storage, and rapid EV-charging system will be available later in the year. A third version the “v03” will be available in 2025 – it will use an advanced combination of wind and solar power generation modules.

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Apple TV+ app is now available for DirecTV Stream box users

DirecTV users can now watch Ted Lasso without buying extra hardware. The television provider announced today that the Apple TV+ app is now available to install on the company’s DirecTV Stream box.

This is the first time Apple’s streaming network has been available on DirecTV Stream, a multipurpose device for subscribers that supports live TV, streaming apps, on-demand content and DVR recordings. The satellite provider launched the device in 2020; subscribers can rent it for $20 per month, and it’s bundled with some premium plans. In addition, it includes a remote control with access to Google Assistant.

The Apple TV+ app will include the iPhone maker’s original content like Ted Lasso, Severance and CODA, and access to Apple’s broader library of rentals / purchases for television series and movie rentals. Additionally, it includes in-app support for premium add-ons like AMC+, Paramount+ and Starz. The app is widely available on other streaming devices, including PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles, Roku, Fire TV, Google TV and smart TVs from Samsung, LG and others.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The Makita MW001G Portable Microwave: Bringing Culinary Convenience to the Great Outdoors

Wanting a portable microwave is simultaneously a problem that I’ve never had or thought of, and a problem that I now can’t stop thinking of. If we can have portable coffee makers, portable induction stovetops, and portable blenders, why hasn’t anyone ever built a portable microwave yet? Sure, microwaves consume massive amounts of energy to stay operational – so do refrigerators and air-conditioners, but you’ve got portable ACs and fridges, right? Well, seems like Japanese power tool manufacturer Makita took on this rather unique challenge and designed what is easily the first ever portable microwave I’ve ever seen. Given the company’s core strengths, the microwave looks a little like a portable power station – and with good reason too. It runs on two 40V 4Ah lithium-ion batteries, and has a power output of up to 500W, giving you the ability to heat up to 11 dishes in one full battery cycle. It sports a USB-A port to charge your smartphones and comes with a handle that lets you carry the appliance around and even take it outdoors. Why? Because you can!

Designer: Makita

The fact that a power-tool maker built a portable microwave makes a fair bit of sense considering its primary audience. Picture this – you’re a construction worker who’s on site. It’s lunchtime and everyone’s digging into their room-temperature sandwiches and burritos… but you show up with the Makita MW001G. Thanks to the MW001G, you (and a bunch of your other friends) can have a hot, nourishing meal instead of a cold, insipid one. Pretty cool, right?

The MW001G measures 13.50 x 12.52 x 13.31 inches and weighs about 20 lbs (8.8kg). Its inner cabin is compact enough to fit one meal in at a time, or a few mugs of coffee. The microwave comes with two power settings, a lower 350W that lets the appliance run for longer, but takes more time to heat your food too, and a max 500W output that gives the microwave 8 full minutes of run-time. There’s no rotating table inside the MW100G, and a pretty rudimentary control panel lets you start/stop the appliance, and set the timer for your heating cycle, which displays on the simple seven-segment LED display.

The MW001G runs on Makita’s standard XGT batteries that also run the company’s other cordless power tools. This is convenient if you use Makita’s appliances because there’s a fair bit of synergy in being able to easily swap out battery packs between appliances for better convenience. The MW001G runs on two XGT batteries that easily clip onto the back of the microwave, and a 2.4 A 5V USB-A output allows you to charge your smartphone on the go.

Although designed to be a convenient appliance for the blue-collar worker, the MW001G doesn’t come cheap. Limited to a Japan-only release for now, the MW001G is priced at ¥71,500 ($540 USD) making it roughly 3-4 times the price of a regular (and much bigger) corded microwave. Me, I’ll just enjoy my cold burrito instead.

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Senate bill seeks to break up Google and Meta ad businesses

The US government might not lean solely on lawsuits to limit online ad monopolies. A bipartisan group of senators has introduced the AMERICA Act (Advertising Middlemen Endangering Rigorous Internet Competition Accountability — yes, it's overwrought) with the intention of breaking up the ad businesses of tech giants like Google and Meta.

Large digital ad firms (those handling more than $20 billion in transactions) wouldn't be allowed to own both an ad exchange as well as either a demand- or supply-side platform. A supply-side platform owner couldn't own a demand-side system (and vice versa), while those buying and selling ads couldn't own either of the other platforms except to sell their own ad stock.

Companies that are medium-sized or larger (those handling over $5 billion in transactions) would also have to make the "best execution" for ad bids rather than deliberately holding back to serve their own operations. They need to be transparent and provide fair access to technical capabilities and data. If they do run businesses on two sides of the market, they have to establish "firewalls" to minimize abuse and conflicts of interest.

The bill is sponsored by a seemingly unlikely mix of senators that includes Mike Lee, Amy Klobuchar, Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren, among others. They aren't subtle about the ultimate goal: they expect Google and Meta to divest "significant portions" of their ad businesses to comply with the would-be law. Amazon and Apple might also have to take the AMERICA Act into account, the politicians say.

The sponsors single out Google as the bill's main target. As with lawsuits from the Justice Department and multiple states, the measure's creators accuse Google of manipulating the ad market in ways that unfairly disadvantage competitors. Google's control over a wide portion of the advertising system allegedly lets it charge "monopoly rents" across much of the internet.

We've asked Google and Meta for comment. They've previously fought bills and lawsuits meant to restrict their ad operations.

If the AMERICA Act passes, it would deal a significant financial blow. Google and Meta still rely on ad sales as their main sources of revenue, and in some cases use it to prop up other projects. Meta is sinking billions into its metaverse ambitions, as an example. While there's no way of knowing just how much revenue these companies would lose through divestments, they might have to rethink their broader strategies.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Twitter’s recommendation algorithm is now on GitHub

Nearly a year after Elon Musk first floated the idea of making Twitter’s recommendation algorithm public, the company has posted the source code for its recommendation algorithm on GitHub. In a Twitter Space discussing the move, Musk said he hoped users would be able to find potential “issues” in the code and help make it better.

“Our initial release of the so-called algorithm is going to be quite embarrassing and people are gonna find a lot of mistakes but we're going to fix them very quickly,” Musk said.

Notably, the code released Friday only deals with how tweets are shown in Twitter's "For You" feed. The company didn't release the underlying code for its search algorithm or how content is displayed on other parts of Twitter, though Musk said the company would "for sure" open-source the search algorithm as well.

In a blog post outlining how Twitter’s recommendations work, the company explained the various steps of the algorithm, including ranking and filtering. But Twitter users have already been finding interesting details in the code itself. For example, Jane Manchun Wong noted that “Twitter’s algorithm specifically labels whether the Tweet author is Elon Musk.” That may offer yet another explanation for why Musk’s tweets appear so often. Wong also noted that the algorithm has labels indicating whether the tweet author is a “power user” as well as whether they are a Republican or Democrat.

When asked about that aspect of the algorithm in the Twitter Space, Musk said “I agree that shouldn’t be there … it definitely shouldn't be dividing people into Republicans and Democrats, that makes no sense.” A Twitter engineer later followed up to clarify that the categories were only for “stat tracking purposes and it has nothing to do with the algorithm.” He said the labels are meant “to make sure we don't bias towards one group versus another one” though he didn’t address why Musk had his own category.

“But isn’t it weird that you have four categories and one of them is Elon,” the questioner responded. “I think it’s weird,” Musk said. “This was the first time I’m learning this.” The Twitter engineer didn’t directly respond with an explanation. The Twitter Space ended less than a minute later. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

California will require half of heavy truck sales to be electric by 2035

California will require more than half of all heavy trucks sold in the state to be electric by 2035. The rule received approval from the Biden administration today, allowing it to take effect next year, according toThe New York Times. California approved the mandate in 2020 but needed an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waiver because it exceeded federal standards.

The rule aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. By 2035, it requires 55 percent of delivery vans and small trucks sold in California to be entirely electric-powered. Similarly, 40 percent of tractor-trailers and 75 percent of buses and larger trucks must be all-electric by the same deadline.

California Governor Gavin Newsom sees the mandate as a bellwether for the nation. “This is a moment to mark because it’s a preview of the order of magnitude of the change in the industry,” Newsom told The New York Times. “There’s a power in these waivers and that power is emulation. We adopt through these waivers the principles and policies that lead to innovation and investment.” Given the size and centrality of California’s economy (it would be the world’s fifth-biggest economy if it were a sovereign nation), the rule would, in practice, essentially apply nationwide — similar to the state’s ban on sales of gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

The trucking industry has criticized the move for its costs and infrastructure requirements. “Drivers don’t want to work in California anymore,” said Jay Grimes, director of federal affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “They’re skeptical of the rapid timeline on this transition to electric trucks. Can a trucker get a charge that will take them on a highway for two or three days? Is the technology ready for prime time?” He adds that batteries for electric trucks can weigh thousands of pounds more than combustion engines, potentially limiting hauls. Other truckers have questioned whether the charging station rollout will be adequate for long trips. Finally, electric trucks are more expensive, starting at around $100,000 and stretching into high six figures (although the pricing discrepancies compared to gas trucks could drop over time).

Unsurprisingly, attorneys general from 17 Republican-led states are suing to block the legislation. That list includes (among others) Texas AG Ken Paxton, who has received over $3.9 million in fossil fuel donations since 2002, and Louisiana AG Jeff Landry, who has raked in over $875,000 from oil and gas industries. Their lawsuit is scheduled for the US Court of Appeals for Washington, DC, later this year and could move to the conservative-dominated US Supreme Court afterward.

Clean energy groups acknowledge the mandate’s difficulties but strike an optimistic tone. “There’s a great deal of challenge with the electrification of heavy-duty vehicles,” said Drew Kodjak, executive director of the International Council on Clean Transportation. “But there are elements that lead to optimism.” For example, he points out that government tax incentives and savings from not having to buy gasoline will help with long-term costs. “Companies like FedEx look at the bottom line over the total life span of a vehicle. And when they look long-term, the calculations for this become more optimistic.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

GOG’s Spring Sale deals include ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ for $30

GOG is winding down its annual Spring Sale, and this is a good opportunity to score some hit games at steep discounts. For starters, Cyberpunk 2077 is down to just $30. If you haven't yet tried the Keanu Reeves-starring action RPG, now might be a good time to jump in.

Other major deals tend to revolve around classics. Witcher 3 Complete is available for $15, while the Alien: Isolation Collection is down to $10. Hollow Knight is on sale for $7.50, as isHellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. The enhanced version of the legendary RPG Planescape: Torment is selling for $5, and you can snag XCOM 2for $3. Not that this is the end of the bargains. Over 4,500 titles are discounted, so the odds are that a game you want available on the cheap.

The sale ends April 3rd at 6PM Eastern. As of this writing, GOG is also giving away the survival-tinged turn-based combat game Deep Sky Derelicts. All games in the store are DRM-free and thus don't need activation or an internet connection to play. While this won't get you many cutting-edge releases, it might help build your collection — or at least, add to your backlog.

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

Jeep just mushed together a 1970s Cherokee with a modern hybrid Wrangler

This isn’t an early April Fool’s gag. Jeep just unveiled a mashup of a 1978 Cherokee with a 2022 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe, a higher-end hybrid SUV, to create a Frankenstein vehicle that is heavy both on delicious retro looks and modern performance metrics. The 1978 Jeep Cherokee 4xe Concept vehicle is an old-school two-door affair with a modern Starburst yellow paint job that could actually be mistaken for a lovingly cared-for, decades-old vehicle.

Underneath the hood is where all of the modern technology resides. For the uninitiated, 4xe vehicles are 4x4 plug-in hybrid electric SUVs, so there are “two electric motors, a high-voltage battery pack and a high-tech 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 engine,” as Jeep describes it. An eight-speed automatic transmission and custom 37-inch tires wrapped around 17-inch “slotted mag” style wheels round out the design. The interior is also a custom job, with low-back bucket seats trimmed in leather, a four-point safety cage instead of a rear bench seat and a rear cargo space complete with a full-size spare tire.

This is just one of many concept vehicles Jeep unveiled as part of its annual Easter Jeep Safari event held in Moab, UT, where the company likes to show off some wild prototypes. The other highlight is the fully-electric Magneto 3.0 Wrangler prototype, based on the two-door 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. It features a custom-built electric motor that operates up to 6,000 rpm connected to a six-speed manual transmission. That’s right, this EV is a stick shift.

Jeep Wrangler Magneto 3.0 Concept car.

Jeep has been messing with this Magneto EV concept for a few years, but this year’s version more than doubles the peak amps available in the propulsion system and offers a 20 percent increase in range. The motor delivers up to 900 pounds of torque and 650 horsepower.

These are concept/prototype vehicles, so you can’t walk into a local showroom and try one out, though you could see them in person if you are in Utah from April 1st to April 9th. Jeep has been making massive inroads lately in the hybrid and EV space, making good so far on its promise to release hybrid versions of each of its primary models by 2025.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Jack Dorsey’s Bluesky is building a ‘marketplace of algorithms’

Jack Dorsey’s Twitter alternative Bluesky is still invite-only, but its leaders are sharing more about their vision for the open-source platform. In a new blog post, CEO Jay Graber said that Bluesky intends to create a “marketplace of algorithms” that will allow users to control how content is filtered and sorted.

“For developers, an open marketplace of algorithms will provide the freedom to experiment with and publish algorithms that anyone can use,” Graber wrote. “For users, the ability to customize their feed will give them back control of their most valuable resource: their attention.”

Bluesky was originally conceived as a Twitter-backed side project to create a new, decentralized standard for social media platforms. But it officially broke off from Twitter in 2021, and has since joined the ranks of upstart Twitter clones that have sprung up following Elon Musk’s takeover of the company,

Like much of Bluesky, the idea of an algorithmic marketplace seems to be in a relatively early stage. Graber said Bluesky is currently working on feed APIs for developers, as well as a ‘feed selection system” that will eventually allow users to browse third-party feeds they can integrate into their timelines.

Of note, Dorsey has been a longtime proponent of “algorithmic choice” and even raised the idea of an algorithm marketplace while he was still running Twitter. In her post, Graber said that allowing users to choose their own algorithm, including a chronological feed, could address “backlash against the perceived algorithmic manipulation of people’s timelines.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Special Edition Asus tablet designed by ACRONYM is functional and striking work of art

Asus likes to experiment with unique collaborations with creative outfits, and more often than not, the results are excellent. Back in 2020, they joined forces with Berlin-based ACRONYM to create the ROG ZEPHYRUS G14-ACRNM laptop and now the two camps have again collaborated for a limited-edition tablet.

ACRONYM co-founded in 1994 by Errolson Hugh, a pioneer in the technical-apparel industry, has struck partnerships with the likes of Nike in the past, and now they developed the functional and stylish ROG Flow Z13 ACRNM RMT02 tablet for Asus.

Designer: ACRONYM and Asus

The gaming tablet’s industrial chassis is very artistic, which is obvious since Hugh leveraged the design prowess of Phil Saunders who designed the Iron Man suit. Ideation for this cool-looking machine propped up to go with the existing line-up of ACRONYM jackets, and project head, Rod Chong (LA-based creative director) delivered exactly what was needed. Both camps worked for almost a year on this design and the results are stunning. The package comes with an integrated strap in the body, rubber holds for improved grip and reinforced corners for protection from bump damage. The keyboard and screensaver on this edition have been visually ramped up for that extra flair. All of this while being ultra-functional and looking stunning with any modern outfit.

According to Hugh, Republic of Gamers was the perfect partner for their next big creation since ROG has a very open-minded approach. “Its engineers were willing to go into unknown territory, and they had the know-how and the competence to deliver those ideas.” For Shawn Yen, ROG Vice President of the Gaming Business Unit, their collaboration with ACRONYM opened their perspective towards looking at things “from a different angle.”

Based on the Asus ROG Flow Z13, the one designed by ACRONYM also gets a bump up in specifications for ultimate performance. While the vanilla version has an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics card, the special edition gets an RTX 4070 instead. The same goes for LPDDR5 RAM as well, there’s 16GB on the normal one and 32GB on the ACRONYM edition. Other than that, the 13.4-inch IPS QHD+ (16:10) screen having 165Hz refresh rate, the 13th-gen Intel Core i9-13900H processor, 1TB of M.2 SSD storage and the 56Wh battery with 130W charging are identical.

According to Asus, only 14 limited edition versions of the ASUS ROG Flow Z13 ACRONYM will be available to purchase. The price for all the added perks and exclusivity will be a mind-numbing $2,500, so one should better stick to the Surface Pro, iPad Pro, or Galaxy Tab S6!

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