Category Archives: Tech & Savings Gate

Apple Pay Rival CurrentC Launching in Limited Trial Next Month as Exclusivity Expires

currentc_phoneThe Merchant Customer Exchange’s contactless payment system, CurrentC, is gearing up for a limited trial run next month in the stores of the companies that began backing MCX in 2012, including Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, according to unnamed sources speaking with Bloomberg.

The service is backed by a large roster of retailers, from Sears to Wendy’s, who support the platform as a way to avoid losing integral shopping data to an increasingly competitive market thanks to the likes of Apple and Google.

CurrentC is different from Apple Pay however, using barcodes and RFID scanners in place of NFC terminals Apple took advantage of with Apple Pay. As Bloomberg points out, it also has a major hurdle regarding the signing of deals with major credit card companies, something it has yet to do.

While MCX is getting closer to releasing its app, there are plenty of hurdles. It hasn’t signed deals with major credit-card companies like Visa to use bank-issued card accounts within the app. That means a shopper wouldn’t be able to use, say, a Visa debit card from JPMorgan Chase & Co. This can be done with competing products like Apple Pay. Instead, users of MCX’s app will be limited to private-label store cards, like Target’s REDcard, or they’ll have to give MCX their checking-account details.

Also worrisome for MCX is the three-year exclusivity contract each retailer signed when the company began talks of the CurrentC system back in 2012. Those contracts — which prohibited partnering with other mobile payment services — begin to end next month, alongside CurrentC’s soft launch in August. The company has already felt the weight of this, as Best Buy announced back in April it would begin supporting Apple Pay within its mobile app, with in-store support gearing up for later in 2015.

Not long after, MCX’s CEO at the time, Dekkers Davidson, left the company, with a spokeswoman telling press that Davidson’s exit had nothing to do with the announcement made by Best Buy days before. Payments security analyst Julie Conroy spoke on the subject to Bloomberg, reiterating on the public’s trust issues with the company following a hack last year and stating simply, “I’m increasingly skeptical of their chance to really make a dent.”


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The best GoPro accessories for 2015

We look at some of the best GoPro accessories available in 2015

Action cameras are great, but without the right mounts, grips and filters, you might struggle to capture footage that does your action-packed adventure (or extreme lawn mowing session) justice. Gizmag looks at some of our favorite GoPro accessories which will help you capture unique angles, mount your camera from everything from a speeding car to a dog, and keep shooting when other GoPro users are staring at a low battery warning.

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Section: Digital Cameras

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UC Berkeley’s smart cap can detect spoiled milk

The 'smart cap' is designed to monitor levels of bacteria in liquid food

Researchers at UC Berkeley and Taiwan’s National Chio Tung University have created a low-cost electronic sensor that’s able to wirelessly monitor the freshness of milk. The team created the electronic components for the sensor using a 3D-printing method, which it believes could have a big impact on the industry.

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Section: Wearable Electronics

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Toyota fuel cell bus tested in Tokyo

The Toyota-Hino fuel-cell bus is undergoing real-world tests in Tokyo

Toyota and Hino Motors have begun testing a jointly-developed fuel cell bus in Tokyo, Japan. The brief test is designed to will help Toyota evaluate and improve the technology ahead of a possible market launch.

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Section: Urban Transport

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Intel Skylake Processors: Up to 20% Performance Boost, 41% Faster Graphics and 30% Longer Battery Life

Less than two weeks before Intel announces new desktop Skylake processors at the Gamescom trade show in Germany on August 5, likely to be used in future Macs, FanlessTech has leaked an Intel slide deck that offers a closer look at some of the performance enhancements the next-generation processors will deliver for both desktop computers and notebooks.

Skylake1
The leaked slides reveal that Skylake processors will provide a 10%-20% CPU performance boost in single and multi-threaded applications, with lower power consumption, and 30% faster Intel HD integrated graphics performance on average compared to current-generation Broadwell processors. The improved energy efficiency will also result in up to 30% longer battery life.

Skylake2
The specific performance improvements to the four main Skylake families are outlined below based on preliminary data, with the MacBook model appropriate for each chip listed in parentheses:

Y-Series (MacBook): Up to 17% faster CPU, up to 41% faster Intel HD graphics, up to 1.4 hours longer battery life
U-Series (MacBook Air): Up to 10% faster CPU, up to 34% faster Intel HD graphics, up to 1.4 hours longer battery life
H-Series (MacBook Pro): Up to 11% faster CPU, up to 16% faster Intel HD graphics, up to 80% lower silicon power
S-Series (iMac): Up to 11% faster CPU, up to 28% faster Intel HD graphics, 22% lower TDP (thermal design power)

Apple refreshed the MacBook Air and 13″ Retina MacBook Pro with the latest Broadwell processors in March, but the refreshed 15″ Retina MacBook Pro released in May remains powered by two-year-old Haswell architecture due to the lack of quad-core Broadwell processors appropriate for the notebook at the time.

Given that Intel announced a trio of Core i7 processors appropriate for the 15″ Retina MacBook Pro just weeks later, and both the iMac and Mac mini still have Haswell processors, it is plausible that Apple has chosen to skip Broadwell processors entirely and release Skylake-based Macs in late 2015 or early 2016 — and the jump from Haswell to Skylake would deliver an even higher performance boost.

Taiwanese blog DigiTimes, which has a hit-and-miss track record at reporting on Apple’s upcoming product plans, says that Intel is planning to launch 18 new Skylake processors for notebooks in the fourth quarter, starting in October. The mid-range and high-end processors could be used in the next-generation 12-inch MacBook, MacBook Air and Retina MacBook Pro.


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Bandai Namco Launches 'Pac-Man Championship Edition DX' on iOS
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'Nourish' System Provides Supplements Based on Fitness Tracker & App Data
Apple Pay Adds 35 New Participating Issuers in United States










Whimsical Pequod oozes tiny house charm

The Pequod was built to house a family of four in Indiana

Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses is fast becoming one of the most prolific tiny house builders on our radar. Following its most recent Front Range model, the busy Colorado-based firm has returned with the Pequod: a large trailer-based home for a family of four with intricate detailing that lends it a whimsical look a little reminiscent of an old-fashioned gypsy caravan.

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Section: Architecture

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Carbon nanotubes used to create conducting fibers for artificial muscles

An electric current can flow even when the fiber is stretched to over 14 times its initial length

A new kind of conducting fiber developed at the University of Texas at Dallas is being used to develop artificial muscles and capacitors that store more energy when stretched. The fiber, which is composed of carbon nanotube sheets wrapped around a rubber core, may one day also find use in morphing aircraft, stretchy charger cords and exoskeleton limbs, along with connecting cables for a wealth of other devices.

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Section: Science

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TrackerPad GPS stickers keep tabs on your belongings

The TrackerPad is a small GPS tracker with an adhesive rear

Nowadays, you can track the location of belongings such as wallets, bikes and bags with small GPS trackers – and the coin-sized, wirelessly-rechargeable TrackerPad is perhaps the smallest of the lot.

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Section: Mobile Technology

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