The Golf Ball-Size Sphero Mini

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Sphero announces the smallest version of its app-enabled robotic ball-- the Sphero Mini, a golf ball-sized device users can control using a companion iOS/Android app.

Sphero MiniThe Mini pairs with smartphones via Bluetooth, and carries a gyroscope, acclerometer and LED light. The app features 4 control options, namely Tilt, Slingshot, Joystick and Face Drive, which uses facial recognition to determine controls based on different expressions and head movements.

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Ring Takes on Home Security

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Video doorbell maker Ring is the next company to take on home security with Ring Protect-- a means to tie together the company's cameras, lights and doorbells into a single home security solution.

Ring ProtectThe Protect package includes a hub device, a door/window contact sensor, an IR-based motion sensor, a keypad (for arming/disarming) and a Z-Wave range extender. Customers can add more sensors to the system and, following a firmware update, security devices from 3rd parties such as locks, lights, carbon monoxide detectors, thermostats and sensors.

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GoPro Intros Hero 6 Black, Fusion Cameras

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GoPro continues to battle it out against both smartphones and the rest of the action camera competition as it presents the Hero 6 Black and the Fusion, the company's take on the 360-degree cameras.

Hero 6 BlackAs a refresh of both Hero and Black GoPro camera lines, the Hero 6 Black offers all the features expected from a high-end action camera. It shoots 4K video at 60fps, as well as slow motion at 2.7K at 120fps and super-slo-mo 240fps at 1080p resolution. Dynamic range should also be improved for better images in mixed lighting conditions, while digital image stabilisation promises to eliminate camera shake and vibrations.

Powering such improvements is the first GoPro custom processor, the GP1. Designed specifically for the company by Socionext, the GP1 gives the camera more control over image processing flow. Another improvement is in wifi, since the camera uses 5GHz connectivity for faster pairing with smartphones.

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Apple Expands Chip Design Efforts?

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Apple is a "semiconductor superpower in the making," Nikkei reports-- the iPhone maker is said to be pushing chip design efforts further in order to rely less on suppliers such as Intel and Qualcomm.

iFixit teardownAccording to "industry sources in Asia," Apple is currently "invested in research and development" in a number of components making its devices. The first is the baseband modem chips required for cellular communications. To do so Apple has poached Esin Terzioglu, a modem chip engineer from current iPhone modem supplier Qualcomm, with whom Apple is locked in a bitter $1 billion dollar lawsuit over unpaid royalty rebates.

The second is "core processors for notebooks." Such chips would reduce dependence on Intel-- so much so Apple is said to be using an ARM-based (not x86) design. A final chip Apple is supposed to be working brings together "touch, fingerprint and display driver functions," and comes through a desire to "control next-generation display technology and some related key components."

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Apple Buys Computer Vision With Regaind

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Apple continues its tradition of quietly buying small startups, TechCrunch reports-- this time around it is the turn of Regaind, a French specialist in computer vision.

RegaindOf course, the iPhone maker neither confirms nor denies the acquisition, and instead only offers the usual “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans” statement.

Regaind has an computer vision API able to analyse the content of photos and tell what is in them. It is similar to the intelligent search feature in the Photos app found on iPhone, only it goes a step further by being able to determine the technical and aesthetic values of photos.

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