TechSummit Rewind #059

Editor’s Note: This is the GameSentral Rewind, a daily look at the top gaming headlines.

Sony shows off first set of weird, wild Future Labs prototypes

At SXSW in Austin, TX, Sony showed off some of its Future Lab’s new prototypes. As expected, the company showed off its “Concept N” wearable.

The device is built for hands-free operation with four microphones built-in with noise cancellation. After saying Concept N’s trigger phrase (“Listen up Arc!”), it’ll start listening for a command and use your phone’s GPS to give you location-based info. Right now, you can ask Concept N to tell you the weather, give local news, local restaurant info, or take a photo.

Concept N has a tiny camera embedded that’s hidden by default and only opens up if you tell the device to take a photo.

The device’s last trick is to play back audio without you needing to wear earbuds. Thanks to some clever speaker placement, it reproduces audio in a limited range around your head while still letting you hear your surroundings.

If you want better audio experience, Sony is also making a pair of “open-ear earphones” with a driver that has a small tube going off of it ending in a small open circle you put in your ear.

The company also had a black Bluetooth speaker-looking box that’s meant to be mounted above a surface, project down and essentially turn it into a touchscreen. The project can also calculate depth with cameras pointing at the table.

The other projector prototype was “aimable,” with a black wand attached to the device that lets you point the projector anywhere along a wall that you wanted to, and a speaker array attached to the device made it sound like audio was coming from wherever the projector was at a given moment.

Lastly, Sony showed off an advanced haptic controller – a touchscreen with an accelerometer and some haptic feedback capabilities.

Uber debuts Family Profiles to let you pay for others’ rides

Uber_NY_request-screenshot

Uber announced a new feature designed to make it easier for its customers to pay for rides for their friends and family: Family Profiles. The option will initially go live in a handful of markets, including (my home city) Atlanta, Dallas, and Phoenix, before rolling out elsewhere.

However, the option to pay for others’ rides don’t only extend to those in your immediate family – you can choose to add anyone to this group in the app, including friends or co-workers.

To use Family Profiles, riders will need the latest version of the Uber app. Then, you’ll navigate to Settings from the Menu, and scroll down to the new option, “Add a Family Profile.” From here, you’re able to add the contacts you like.

After being added, those people will be able to request rides from their own phone using the Family Profile as their payment method. They’ll just have to accept the email invitation to get started.

From that moment on, the organizer whose payment card is on file and associated with the profile, will receive the ride receipts.

According to Uber, Family Profiles can include up to 10 riders who share the payment method. The feature is similar to Uber’s Business Profile setting.

LastPass Authenticator takes pain out of two-factor sign-ins

LastPass is launching its Authenticator app for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone for managing two-factor authentication. The app can manage 2FA to get into LastPass, using a verify button to sign in with one tap.

The app will also work with any app/website that supports Google Authenticator (Dropbox, Facebook, Google, etc.). In this case, you’d have to use an old-school code.

LastPass Authenticator is available now for free.

LivingSocial lays off 280, outsources customer services

Ross Arbes
In this April 29, 2011 photo, Ross Arbes, 24, left, plays ping pong while on break at LivingSocial’s offices in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

LivingSocial is laying off 160 employees and will shut down its customer services operations in Tucson, AZ over the next two months, according for a further 120 people – bringing the total to 280.

LivingSocial will be outsourcing call centers duties to an unnamed New Jersey-based service provider.

“Early customer adoption of our card-linked product has encouraged us to shift future investment from our voucher business. As a smaller organization, we will focus on scaling our card-linked offer initially in the restaurants category, before adding other categories in the future. While it is never an easy decision to say goodbye to talented colleagues, we believe that we are now in a more stable position to invest in the next phase of our journey.”

-Gautam Thakar, LivingSocial CEO

Twitter launches on Windows 10 Mobile

Twitter for Windows 10 Mobile

Twitter has launched its app for Windows 10 Mobile, in an update to its universal Windows app, to the Windows Store.

The update includes many of the social network’s recent additions like Moments, group DMs, camera support, and quote tweet. You can even check out top tweets, search, check out profiles, and peruse Moments without logging in.

Twitter for Windows also adds a dark theme that’s available by going to Settings > Personalization.

“When bringing the app to mobile phones, we carefully considered each section of Twitter and how the user interface translates from desktops to tablets. We found that 90 percent of the UI and interaction models could be shared from these devices to mobile phones, but there were places where we decided to make adjustments to optimize for each.”

-Angela Lam, Twitter product designer

On larger screens, Moments displays info in a grid layout that’s easy to use with a mouse. On smaller screens, it’s a full-screen experience designed for touch navigation.

Ring Video Doorbell Pro ditches battery for more smarts in smaller package

Ring Video Doorbell Pro

Ring, the company behind the self-titled video doorbell, has launched a new model called the Ring Pro.

The $249 doorbell bumps up the specs on the standard model in every way: the camera is 1080p vs 720p, it’s added 5GHz WiFi, the faceplates are swappable instead of locked, and it’s a fair bit smaller than the original.

Like the original, a two-way speaker is built-in and hooks into a companion mobile app, allowing you to answer your door from your mobile device anywhere you have an Internet connection.

The Pro also adds the ability to set custom motion zones, so you can only focus on motion from your front porch for example.

Unlike the standard Ring, the Ring Pro doesn’t have a battery. The device must be wired into your home door’s bell chime circuit for power.

The Ring Pro is available for pre-order now, and will begin shipping in April.

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