Gaming chat app Discord tests video calls and screen sharing

Discord, the Slack-like gaming chat app, has been steadily improving since its initial launch a couple of years ago. Last January, it added a $5 paid tier for fans to essentially thank the company — the bonuses simply include GIF avatars, custom emoji and a bigger file upload limit. It secretly raised $50 million last month, as well. That extra cash may be why the Discord team is able to start rolling out two of its most-requested features, video chat and screen sharing.

The team is testing the two new features with 5 percent of its current members to make sure its servers can handle the big bump in server traffic represented by video data. Desktop app users will get the feature first, with roll outs planned for mobile and web users soon. The test run will last a month or so, which is when Discord plans to open up the features to all users.

For now, video chat and screen sharing is only available in one-to-one Discord calls or within direct message groups of up to 10 people, so you’ll need to start one to see the video options (the team recommends five users at once for best quality). You can switch between your screen share and webcam video at will, making it easy to connect with your gamer buddies face to face and plot your strategy on paper. If you click away from the video call, you’ll get a neat little picture-in-picture screen so you can stay chatting while you check out other Discord channels.

If you’re one of the lucky few to get the new feature this week, don’t plan everything going smoothly. "Thanks for your patience as we develop this feature," writes Discord’s Nelly on Medium. "If you’re part of the initial rollout, please submit any bumps, bugs, and bruises to us so we can get those fixed."

Source: Discord/Medium

from Engadget

Amazon’s delivered meals may not require refrigeration

Amazon’s been elbowing its way into the food and grocery business for awhile now. Its recent acquisition of Whole Foods made it clear just how serious Amazon is about the whole thing. Now, Reuters reports that Amazon is considering using military tech to create meals that don’t require refrigeration.

The key is MATS, or microwave assisted thermal sterilization, which involves placing food packets into pressurized water and heating them up using microwaves. Traditionally, MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat) are sterilized using a pressure cooker, which deprives them of nutrients, not to mention flavor and texture. This new method delivers a much tastier final product, and has a shelf life for up to a year. No refrigeration is required.

Officials at 915 Labs, which is trying to bring MATS technology to the retail sector, confirmed that Amazon had expressed interest in selling dishes such as a vegetable frittata and beef stew. They could bring the meals to market as early as 2018.

The question is really whether Amazon’s target market would be interested in this type of prepared food. Amazon’s foray into prepared meal kits, such as their upcoming Blue Apron competitor, is understandable. But do customers really want the equivalent of (tasty) MREs? Clearly Amazon is trying to tackle the frozen dinner market here, which they struggle to be competitive in because of delivery challenges. It will likely all depend on just how good the meals are.

Source: Reuters

from Engadget

Delorean’s next car is a flying one

Paul DeLorean isn’t as famous as Larry Page, Airbus or Uber, but he’s competing with all three in the race to build a flying car. DeLorean does have a famous name, however, and is the nephew of the John DeLorean, maker of the eponymous sports car made famous by Back to the Future. In a profile at Wired, the youger DeLorean reveals his plans for the DeLorean DR-7, a two-seater VTOL craft for personal transport.

According to the report, the DR-7 has four wings and a pair of winglets, while you’ll find a fan jet up front and ’round back. The two fans will tilt, much like the Harrier and Osprey, from a horizontal orientation for take off and landing, through to vertical for flight. So far, DeLorean has built a dummy model that measures 30 feet long and 18.5 feet wide, although plans to have it fold down enough to fit in a large garage.

DeLorean intends to realize his dream of creating an autonomous, battery-powered craft with a range of 120 miles. That outrageous range is, he claims, because he plans to cruise at higher altitudes than other flying car projects. DeLorean expects to have a working prototype by the end of next year, and will conduct unmanned test-flights shortly afterward.

What DeLorean, or anyone else for that matter, has failed to explain is how exactly all of this is going to work in practice. For instance, what sort of air traffic control setup will be required to ensure mid-air collisions don’t become commonplace? If a car has engine failure on a highway, that’s a problem, but what happens if your VTOL craft conks out in a built-up area?

Not that those questions necessarily need to be answered just yet, after all, there’s still all the Doc Brown gags to do in the next decade.

Via: Wired

Source: DeLorean Airspacw

from Engadget

Car ownership could decline thanks to Uber and Lyft

While it may seem logical that people will own fewer cars as ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber gain more traction, there hasn’t been a way to study any potential effect. Then Uber and Lyft left Austin, Texas for about a year. A group of researchers from University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), Texas A&M Transportation Institute, and Columbia University found that the presence of ride-sharing companies can change car ownership behavior, which could eventually lead to fewer personal cars in the future.

41 percent of those surveyed used their own cars to get around, while nine percent bought a car to cover Lyft and Uber’s absence. Only three percent took public transit while 42 percent of respondents went with local ride sharing companies that filled the gap while Lyft and Uber were gone. Austin residents didn’t rush to sell of their personal automobiles when the companies returned to the city, of course, but the study shows that personal car ownership could actually decrease as ride-sharing and autonomous vehicle usage increases.

Rob LeFebvre wrote this article for Engadget.

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from Autoblog

Waymo patents car that softens if it hits a pedestrian

Self-driving cars are supposed to be safer by nature, as they shouldn’t make nearly as many driving errors as humans. However, Waymo might not be willing to take any chances. The Alphabet-owned company recently received a patent for technology that would soften a car’s body in the event of a collision with a pedestrian. The feature would change the rigidity of body panels, bumpers and the hood using underlying cables, rods or springs. The moment sensors detect an imminent pedestrian impact, the car would loosen those underpinnings and create a relatively gentle surface that reduces injuries.

This is just a patent (that was filed in 2015, no less), so there’s no guarantee that Waymo will implement it — the company clearly hasn’t so far. As it stands, there are some unanswered questions about the effectiveness in real life. Would the shell be as durable in the event of a car-on-car crash as a conventional panel? Would the cables and other attachments add a significant amount of weight or cost to the car? And would this increase the risk of injury for people inside the car? Waymo would have to address all of these questions before it could use its technology on the road.

Even if it never reaches real products, the patent (along with an earlier patent for pedestrian ‘flypaper’) sheds light on Waymo’s thinking. It sees a driverless car’s AI as just one part of the solution to road safety, and is seriously considering vehicles that take radical steps to protect collision victims. There are certainly pragmatic reasons for Waymo to be extra-cautious. The public is understandably nervous about autonomous driving tech, to the point where people closely scrutinize every crash. If Waymo can minimize the injuries from self-driving cars, it’s not just saving lives — it’s increasing confidence in the cars’ superiority over their human-piloted counterparts.

USPTO Written by Jon Fingas for Engadget. Related Video:

from Autoblog

Chanje is a new electric truck company with former Tesla execs

A company in California called


has emerged from stealth mode today to announce it will build electric medium-duty

delivery trucks

. The company is looking for a place to build the vehicles in the U.S., and Chanje says it already has volume orders that it will deliver this year.

Change’s executive roster includes VP and General Counsel

James Chen

(who left


for Faraday Future in 2016), Chief Operating Officer

Jeorg Sommer

(who left


for Faraday Future in 2016), and VP of Manufacturing Jeff Robinson (who previously worked at Tesla,







Chanje’s first vehicle will be an all-electric panel van, called V8070, capable of hauling up to 6,000 pounds in its 580 cubic-feet of cargo space. The V8070’s 70-kWh battery estimated driving range of 100 miles on a single charge, which is more than enough to meet the average urban delivery truck’s 70 miles of daily driving. The company says that third-party testing shows the vehicle to offer more than 50 miles per gallon equivalent (more specs


). It will feature connectivity features to provide fleet managers with real-time data for route and energy optimization, driver profile studies and emissions


. Chanje will offer over-the-air software update, and Ryder will be its service and distribution partner.

After the launch of the electric van, Chanje will expand its all-electric vehicle lineup to include larger trucks and shuttle buses of various sizes.

Related Video:

from Autoblog