<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Tech News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/tech http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Sun, 23 Nov 2014 19:01:35 -0800 Sun, 23 Nov 2014 19:01:35 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[7 Tech Trends for 2015]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 14:22:24 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP836878317132.jpg

Will 2015 be the year of wearable tech?

The long-awaited Apple Watch will be making its debut in early 2015 and consumers will be able to get their hands on newly available 3D printers to make food and collectibles. Smart home devices are also among the hot tech trends in the new year, experts say.

“It’s a world of synced devices that will become mainstream in 2015," said Stacy Glasgow, a Chicago-based consumer trends consultant for market research firm Mintel. "It’s no longer about startups or early adopters. We’re seeing a lot of big retailers giving consumers smart products and devices.”

Glasgow said that in Mintel’s research, the company found that 59 percent of U.S. consumers were interested in using an app or device to control their home. About 22 percent already owned a wearable device already. “We definitely see that number in a position to grow,” she said.

Eric Openshaw, vice chairman and U.S. technology, media and telecom leader for Deloitte based in San Francisco, said that the wearable technology market is exploding but is probably going to be more important for businesses rather than consumers.

“I think there are huge benefits for the industrial user,” he said.

Coye Cheshire, an associate professor for the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley, said most of the trends we’re seeing have to do with playing with user data.

“It’s called instrumenting the experience,” he said. “It’s all these apps, such as fitness apps or other metrics, capturing user data and returning it back to the consumer.” The hype is exciting, but he said society is not quite sure what it really wants to know. “The assumption is that if there’s more of this data and you turn it back to the people it will equal better experience, but it remains highly unknown if that’s the case.”

Here's a list of seven tech trends for 2015:


The TellSpec is a small spectroscope that uses a beam of infrared light to figure out the composition of food and help users determine exactly how many calories and grams of fat, protein or carbohydrates they are consuming just with a wave of the device. The TellSpec shoots the information to a smartphone (Android or iOS) where users can see not only the vital stats of the food, but also if it contains allergens like eggs or gluten. The company has been busy scanning foods so the spectroscope has a full database and can identify traces of ingredients, according to Faster Company.

Cheshire seemed interested but not optimistic about the scanner. “Will some people carry them around? There are a small amount of people who are responsible for almost all the uptick of all devices,” he said of the new adopters. But will it be popular with the mainstream – that’s another story.

Wearable Technology

The Apple Watch will likely be a must-have for those who want both a status symbol and a stylish timepiece (they come in different colors, from sensible stainless steel to elegant 18K rose gold). Other wearable tech, such as Google Glass, have already made their debut and caused the public to crave more gadgets like it. Samsung is launching a new platform, Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions (also dubbed SAMI), to capitalize on wearables. Expect to see more offerings from Microsoft, Motorola, Jawbone and others, including the Polo Tech Shirt which also offers biometric readings with a designer label.

Gartner Inc. predicts more wearable tech will come on the market because our society is becoming increasingly mobile and wants it available in more environments, including work. Cheshire said that cheaper sensors are making it possible. “This is the early stage of wearable technology and different companies are trying to throw things at the wall and see what sticks,” he said. "If were playing futurist, I wouldn’t bet on many of these things being around in a few years."

Smart Appliances and Smart Homes

“Virtually every large appliance is looking at the ‘Internet of Things,’ from sensor technology to smartphones to home networks,” Openshaw said of today's smart appliances and machines. Both Nest and Apple have devised ways to tell your house to turn on lights, adjust the thermostat or record TV programs via your smartphone, and you can expect to see more in 2015.

According to GigaOm, small startups are also joining the smart home movement by adding Bluetooth so users can control light bulbs, outlets or even receive pictures with their smartphone of who is knocking at your door. Expect all these apps to work with voice integration, so you will literally be talking to your smartphone to start your dryer or start preheating the oven.

Digitized Dining

We’re all familiar with making reservations online with apps such as OpenTable or finding food online via GrubHub, but now more restaurants are letting you order your food online. Already Pizza Hut offers that capability (and receives half of its online orders from mobile devices) as does Panda Express. Some Chili’s and Applebee’s provide tablets for customers to order, while McDonald’s and White Castle are also working on a touch-screen customizing kiosk, which may do away with a cashier altogether.

“I think the trend is rooted to an unprecedented expectation for on-demand convenience,” Glasgow said. “It’s this new immediacy in shopping and food service.” She said to expect more “blurring” between online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Paying With Your Phone

The idea of “click and pay” with a smartphone has been around for the last few years, but perhaps it needed Apple’s new iPhone 6 to bring the mobile payment system to the mainstream. Security professionals say it's a "significant improvement over using a credit card" and Apple said it "doesn't collect your purchase history, so we don't know what you bought, where you bought it or how much you paid for it."

But there are still some issues. According to Consumer Reports, a reporter used his wife’s credit card after scanning it into his iPhone without impunity or questions and in October, Bank of America apologized for charging customers twice for purchases they made using the system.

Cheshire said that digital payment isn't enough to the transaction more seamless. “Paying by your phone alone doesn’t make it efficient,” he said, “but if you also make an order and pay for it with the same phone it can be.”


It may sound a bit creepy, and your teenagers will hate it, but keeping tabs on your entire family at all times is now a reality with this free Life360 app.

“If I had an application for (my kids aged) 11 to 12 so I could know what they’re doing, I would be thrilled,” Openshaw said.

Parents will likely love the “Places” part of the app that is literally a map that shows everyone in the circle coming or going from certain spots and alerts users when members have left or have entered a specific area.

“I think the social implication is that we’re raising our kids to know they can’t be trusted or trust people in general,” Cheshire said. Glasgow disagreed, saying that it may calm parental anxieties. “If I have an application for (my kids aged) 11 to 12 to know what they’re doing, I would be thrilled,” Openshaw said.

3D Printers

How would you like to have a printer that can create a gun or a pizza? Apparently many people are interested. The shipments of 3D printers will double in 2015 and double again in 2016, according to Gartner Inc. Previously the domain of scientific labs or universities, 3D printers have captured the interest of the masses perhaps because it can reduce costs and create facsimiles almost instantly.

“We see another trend that consumers are finding they enjoy making things on their own and I think 3D printing facilitates that,” Glasgow said, mentioning the beauty of 3D printer Mink which can create custom-colored eye shadow or lipstick.

Consumers may also be interested in exploring cuisine with the Foodini, a 3D printer that creates your favorite foods from “sweet to savory” according to CNN. Lynette Kucsma, co-founder of Natural Machines which creates the Foodini, says a consumer version of its product will be out soon and retail for around $1,000.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Company Unveils Electronically-Powered Skates]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 10:36:43 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/1121-2014-RocketSkates.jpg

Forget walking or rollerblading — how about rocket skating?

California-based company Acton has developed electronically-powered skates that can propel the wearer up to 12 miles per hour — no pushing required.

Founders said the idea was inspired by "Iron Man," "Inspector Gadget" and "The Jetsons."

"The idea of just being able to slide around the urban environment is very exciting," said Peter Treadway, co-founder of Acton. "It's kind of like a magic carpet for your feet."

The skates were released this week and sell for $500 a pair.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Auto Show: Chevrolet Gran Turismo Concept]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:03:09 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/11-21-2014-la-auto-show-459259756_10+%281%29.jpg Chevrolet brought its design for a downloadable Gran Turismo 6 concept car to the 2014 LA Auto Show. The design was inspired by the outrageous Chaparral Can-Am race cars of the 1960s and 70s.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Drivers Try to Trick Popular Traffic App Waze]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 07:51:06 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/11-20-14-waze-app.JPG

Westside Los Angeles residents are working to fool Waze — a popular traffic app — into believing the side streets are clogged, so that the app stops diverting traffic into their neighborhoods.

Waze is a driving tool that uses crowd sourcing to tell commuters the best roads to get to where they need to go in the least amount of time.

"The freeways are not enough anymore," said Lawrence Marshall. "It's head on. They are dialed in. I'm avoiding traffic."

The problem: the app is diverting traffic from the freeways to neighborhood side streets.

Some West LA residents have had enough, declaring war against the app.

Waze promises that residents’ plan to trick the app will not work.

"Fake, coordinated traffic reports can't come to fruition because they’ll be negated by the next 50 people that drive down the street passively," Waze said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Mekahlo Medina ]]>
<![CDATA[FB Shuttle Drivers “Like” Union Bid]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 04:11:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/fb16.jpg

Shuttle bus drivers who take Facebook employees to and from Silicon Valley overwhelmingly gave the "thumbs up" to forming a union on Wednesday, after they had complained publicly for months about their low pay, split shifts and health insurance benefits.

Rome Aloise, secretary for the Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, said the vote was 43 in favor of unionizing and 28 opposed. A total of 16 of the 87 drivers who work for Loop Transportation - the shuttle company contracted to drive Facebook employees, did not vote.

"This will now give these drivers at Facebook, and most probably the drivers for all of the companies that use this type of service a chance at a piece of the pie," Aloise said. "This makes it possible for those that make Facebook successful to get to work comfortably, safely and in a timely fashion.  Hopefully the tech companies will step up and pay the "freight" so to speak"

The National Labor Board still needs to certify the election, and then bargaining can begin with Loop for a first-time contract.

In a statement, Loop CEO Jeff Leonoudakis said that the company didn't feel "our drivers' interests are best served by union representation."

But, he added: "Our drivers have spoken and we will now begin the negotiation process."

Leonoudakis reiterated that the company's drivers earn between $17 and $25 an hour and get full medical benefits valued at up to $714 per month per employee. One of the drivers' complaints is over their split shifts. They pick up Facebook employees about 6 a.m. and have to take them home sometimes 14 or 15 hours later - and are only getting paid for an eight-hour shift.

Leonoudakis said that the drivers can sleep at the Loop Transportation yard, or eat for free at Facebook's campus.

Facebook officials has not formally commented on the labor strife, indicating that the fight is not with their tech company, but with a third party contractor.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Facebook Drivers Vote to Unionize, Demand More Pay]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 13:58:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/fb16.jpg

Shuttle bus drivers who schlep Facebook employees to and from Silicon Valley began voting on Wednesday on whether to form a union, arguing they have an archaic relationship with the tech giant, comparing their situation to nobles and servants.

A total of 87 drivers for Facebook's shuttle bus contractor, Loop Transportation in San Francisco, began voting in shifts throughout the day, deciding whether to become part of the Teamsters.

The drivers are hoping for higher pay and better health care insurance. But they'd also like a solution to the "horrendous" split shifts of driving Facebook employees to the Menlo Park campus beginning at 6 a.m. and returning home 14 hours later, only to be paid for eight of those hours, according to Rome A. Aloise, secretary for the Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro.

The union began circulating a petition a few weeks ago. By Wednesday, it had about 5,000 signatures.

Aloise said the shuttle drivers came to his group about six or seven months ago. Even though the driver work for Loop, because of who they take to work  - Facebook -  the labor fight has made it to the pages of USA Today, Business Insider and the New York Times.

"Zuckerberg needs to step up," Aloise said Wednesday morning by phone, adding that the Teamsters have tried to set up a meeting with him and even friended him on Facebook - to no avail. "These drivers are helping him and all his employees make a lot of money. And they just want a fair life."

Even though Facebook doesn't directly employ the drivers, Aloise said CEO Mark Zuckerberg should call up Loop and offer to close the gap on what the drivers are asking for because the company is so profitable and has such a high-profile image.

Facebook spokeswoman Genevieve Grdina declined to comment on Wednesday morning, even as drivers and their supporters rallied the evening before in front of the company's Menlo Park headquarters.

Protesters - many of whom were older men with gray beards - pumped their fists to beeping horns in front of the Facebook "thumbs up" sign in Menlo Park. Some held signs that read "Dear Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook drivers need you." Facebook has indicated in the past that the issue isn't with Facebook, it's with the company the drivers work for.

Loop Transportation President and CEO Jeff Leonoudakis responded Wednesday with a four-paragraph email lauding his "talented drivers." He said Loop has "long provided its dedicated professionals with one of the best wage and benefit packages in the Bay Area and comfortable accommodations between shifts."

Leonoudakis added that the drivers take home "$17-25" and get full medical benefits, up to $714 a month per employee paid by Loop, paid vacations, holidays and sick days. He added that during split shifts, drivers can hang out at either Loop and use the company's lounge with bunk beds to take a nap or watch TV, or eat for free at the Facebook campus.

Aloise said the Teamsters represent five other Loop driver groups, including those who work at San Francisco and Oakland international airports. Those drivers earn between $17 and $24 an hour, he said, but have much better health care packages, get a pension and don't have to work the split shifts. Aloise added that the Facebook shuttle drivers were earning about $17 or $18 an  hour until they began complaining and started receiving raises shortly after.

Drivers for public transportation services such as SF Muni, AC Transit and SamTrans, can make as much as $25 or even $30 an hour.

The union drew comparisons to a generic era of nobles and servants, likening Facebook techies to privileged players of a hierarchical social class.

"While your employees earn extraordinary wages and are able to live and enjoy life in some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the Bay Area, these drivers can't afford to support a family, send their children to school, or least of all, afford to even dream of buying a house anywhere near where they work," Aloise wrote in an Oct. 2 letter to Zuckerberg.

"This is reminiscent of a time when noblemen were driven around in their coaches by their servants," the letter continued. "Frankly, little has changed; except your noblemen are your employees, and the servants are the bus drivers who carry them back and forth each day."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[Google "Trekkers" Maps Hiking Trail]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 05:23:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/1118-2014-GoogleTrekker1.jpg

Google "trekkers" are helping you map out your next hiking trip and get a feel for being on the trail.

The backpack-type trekker carries 15 cameras and records the hiker's every move with the same technology used in Google Earth and Google Maps.

"The trekker takes an image as the person walks -- every two and a half seconds," said Deanna Yick, a Google Street View manager. "That enables us to get a picture of what a place is like and a feel for being there."

Hannah Lonergan recently went on a hike using a Google trekker.

"It's a lot heavier, you have an antenna, you have to watch out for low-hanging branches," Lonergan said when asked how a trekker compares to a regular camping backpack. She added that the trekker weights about 60 pounds.

The City of Monterey is working with Google to get trekkers on local trails.

"We feel like this is a great way to showcase Monterey County," said Tammy Blount, Monterey City Convention Bureau CEO.

Google officials said trekkers can handle privacy concerns on the spot. For example, if someone is hiking on the trial and doesn't want to be in the picture, the hiker can pause the camera and make sure the hiker's anonymity is preserved.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Tony Hawk Rides Hoverboard]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 05:28:20 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-17+at+3.26.35+PM.png

The hoverboard is reality, and Tony Hawk has taken a spin on it.

The pro skateboarder tested the $10,000 prototype Hendo Hoverboard after husband and wife Greg and Jill Henderson launched a Kickstarter to fund it. 

In the video, Hawk performs a few tricks on the board, which hovers an inch off the ground and uses magnets, though he also ends up falling several times.

Hawk had caught attention for another hoverboard video earlier this year — a fake video made by Funny or Die that featured the skateboarder, musician Moby and others riding boards high into the sky, in a prank for which Hawk eventually apologized.  

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<![CDATA[Uber Wants to Raise $1 Billion to Expand Service]]> Sun, 09 Nov 2014 11:34:53 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/uber-451549230.jpg

What's a ride worth?

Uber wants to raise $1 billion to further expand its service worldwide.

The ride-sharing company has set its sights on opening up shop in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa.

Uber is already the highest valued private company in the Silicon Valley, and officials hope its reputation will help in the fundraising and expansion.

The 5-year-old company is currently operating in 45 countries.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Living a Data-Free Day in 2014: Not Easy]]> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 21:07:32 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/smartphone+generic1.jpg

As smart phones and smart technologies increasingly become part of our everyday lives, it’s become incredibly difficult to live data-free or go a day without generating a signal data footprint on the technology cloud that now hovers above all of us.

Three of us at NBC Bay Area tried to go a single day avoiding all of the tracking associated with the smart devices that surround us at home, in the car and at work. We quickly learned that it was difficult, if not impossible, to go a whole day without giving up our privacy in some sort of way – something we were warned of in advance.

Technology consultant Rob Enderle said, “Without dramatically changing your life, without you know going out and living in the desert or in the middle of a forest, it’s really hard to [go completely data-free].”

First step, driving to work. So long as you don't use GPS to navigate, FasTrak to pay tolls, Pandora for music, podcasts or satellite radio for entertainment, you'd be on track for a data-free diet.

Getting to work, presents a whole new set of obstacles. Like many people employed in the Bay Area, our building requires key cards for entry – key cards that transmit data about your location. Gone are the days, for most folks, when a hard copy key will get you in. So if you want, you can risk it and hope you don’t get caught, and piggyback off someone else’s entrance.

That's just the start of the work-related data minefields we encounter. There’s no real workaround for logging onto computers, using e-mail and getting information from our desk phones – all involve leaving huge, traceable imprints. And, these standard office tools are just the beginning.

When it comes to the basic things we do with our smartphones – like texting, Facebook-ing, taking pictures, keeping lists, etc. – each send tons of data into the cloud.

Back on planet earth, paying for lunch is even a problem. Using a credit card in an instance translates into a new data footprint making cash-in-wallet the only workaround.

The digital fingerprints extend far into our personal lives, too. Want watch a movie? Trips to Blockbuster or Hollywood Video aren’t an option anymore. They been swapped out for Netflix and rental kiosks, both require your email address, credit card and other personal information.

What would seem like an easy thing – a data-free day in 2014 – actually turned out to be a day without much communication, work, or the basic aspects of life we've become so accustomed to, like instant internet access and smartphones in our palm of our hands and all the data that courses through them.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rocket Launch Aborted Over Boat Just Before Blast-Off]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 17:59:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/15011952803_64c309615d_o.jpg

The planned launch of a rocket from a NASA launchpad in Virginia was aborted less than 10 minutes before blast-off Monday night, after a sailboat wound up in the restricted launch range area.

Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket , which will carry a capsule stuffed with space gear and science experiments to astronauts at the International Space Station, is now set to launch Tuesday evening.

The rocket had been supposed to launch its space gear-stuffed Cygnus capsule into space at 6:45 p.m. ET on Monday, en route to the International Space Station, from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's eastern shore, becoming the biggest rocket to launch from the site.

But although the Monday mission was aborted, skygazers in the Washington, D.C., area were still in for quite a sight, as the International Space Station itself was passing overhead just a few minutes after the rocket had been slated to launch.

Orbital has explained when watchers will be able to see the rocket soar into view with a handy map, showing how many seconds after blast-off they should expect to spot it. 

If you're unsure how to spot a rocket blasting off, the Washington Post advises looking for a glowing trail of light that makes an arc in the sky. Orbital released diagrams of the expected view from major sites and cities on its website.

The launch now slated for Tuesday will kick off the third in a series of eight planned Orbital delivery missions to ferry crucial equipment and food to astronauts.

This one will also carry a trove of science experiments — including the Meteor, the first space-based system to observe meteors, and the Drain Brain, a special neck collar for astronauts to determine how their blood flows down to their hearts without gravity, Discovery News reported. The results could help researchers develop countermeasures for headaches in space, an ISS scientist told Discovery.

Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
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<![CDATA[Company Paid Workers $1.21 An Hour]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:47:49 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/1022-2014-EFI.jpg

A Bay Area tech company has been slapped with a fine and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in back wages after a United States Department of Labor investigation revealed the company paid workers $1.21 an hour.

The Labor Department said about eight employees of Fremont-based Electronics For Imaging were flown in from India and worked 120-hour weeks to help with the installation of computers at the company's headquarters. The employees were paid their regular hourly wage in Indian rupees, which translated to $1.21.

EFI, which posted third-quarter revenue of nearly $200 million, released the following statement on Thursday: "During this process we unintentionally overlooked laws that require even foreign employees to be paid based on local US standards."

Last year, another company, Bloom Energy in Sunnyvale, faced similar charges and was fined for underpaying employees from Mexico an hourly wage of $2.66.

Federal officials said both cases are particularly egregious, given the booming labor market and the wealth in Silicon Valley.

"It is certainly outrageous and unacceptable for employers here in Silicon Valley to bring workers and pay less than the minimum wage," said Alberto Raymond, an assistant district director for the United States Department of Labor.

EFI has been ordered to pay $40,000 in back wages to the employees. In addition, the company was hit with a $3,500 fine.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Silicon Valley Company Develops Hoverboard]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:43:21 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hoverboard-raw-two---00005717.jpg

Lots of companies talk about their "float." For the employees of Los Gatos-based Arx Pax, their product has extra bragging rights. It really does float. It's a working hoverboard. Kind of like what you remember Michael J. Fox riding on in "Back to the Future Part 2." 

NBC Bay Area got a chance to glide around the Arx Pax warehouse in it for a little bit, and watch real surfers take it for a very fast very cool spin. This is the real deal, part of a Kickstarter campaign to get the hover technology into the hands of developers, while possibly keeping us safe from future earthquakes.


"In the event of an earthquake," says company Co-Founder Greg Henderson, "the ground can shake, but the building would stay still." This would happen if the magnetic technology that floats the hoverboard were used underneath your house.

How does it work? A magnetic field pushes the board into the air. Four circular hover engines generate an electromagnetic field over the copper flooring, which creates an opposing field. The two fields then repel one another.

Henderson's co-founder, Jill Avery Henderson (yes, they're married – it's why the hoverboard is called the "Hendo") adds to the long-term mission: "It's not all about hoverboards. It's a wonderful springboard to take it where it really needs to go, a better world."

A world where we might float, instead of shake.

Scott rides the "Hendo" on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA[LA Shoppers Not Sold on Apple Pay]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 19:19:46 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/516604997.jpg

Apple Pay failed to find immediate favor with LA shoppers when it launched Monday morning.

It is being billed as a game changer in the way people pay for things, but concerns about security have led to some holding off at the moment.

However, those that are using the system so far, in which a credit card’s information is stored on users’ iPhones and accessed by swiping it at the tills, have given it positive reviews.

But Carol Drake, who was shopping at Whole Foods market in Glendale, isn’t quite convinced.

"I'm just not comfortable yet," she said.

Fellow customer Robert Pruitt, who is unable to use the system because he has a Samsung phone, wasn’t as concerned about privacy.

"I’m more concerned about the convenience than I am about someone taking my ID," he said. “I think it’s a great idea.”

The store’s manager, Linda Gutierrez, also believed it would benefit customers and businesses.

"Excited it’s a secure way for customers to pay for their purchases and we don’t have to deal with cards or cash or anything else," she said.

The new system got off to a bumpy start on the tech front, too. While stores were ready for it, iPhones weren't.

Apple Pay was only available with the iOS 8.1 download, and most did not get it until afternoon.

Once it is installed, users can swipe their phone at a vendor’s location and confirm transactions using a built-in fingerprint sensor.

The tech giant said it will take awhile before all users get the iOS rollout, and only iPhone 6 and 6-plus devices are equipped with the necessary communication system which makes transactions possible.

The Cupertino company also claims the system is one of the most secure out there, despite Google and Microsoft offering similar applications in their mobile operating systems.

When users pay in stores, the Device Account Number and a transaction security code are used to process the payment.

Neither Apple or the phone sends actual credit numbers to merchants.

They do say they receive anonymous transaction information like time and location of the transaction, which helps them improve Apple Pay.

Photo Credit: Moment Editorial/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Event: New iPads Announced]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 11:11:17 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/new-ipad-AP903945536056_0.jpg Check out the newest products and programs tech giant Apple announced on Oct. 16, 2014.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[NASA Ames Hosts Open House on 75th Anniversary]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:03:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/ames-aerial-2012_0.jpg

It's not every day a regular Joe can see what an astronaut or a NASA Ames scientist does for a living.

But everyone is invited to the open house at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley on Saturday, to celebrate the agency's 75-anniversary and take the two-mile tour of the sprawling plant. The last time the renowned research center was opened to the public like this was in 1997.

The event is free, but advance tickets are required.

Visitors will get to see the ArcJet Alley, Technology Way and the Ames Rotocraft researchers.

The Ames Research Center is one of 10 NASA field centers in the United States, which employs 2,500 employees. It was established in 1939 and named for Joseph S. Ames, the then-chair of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. It's located at Moffett Field in Sunnyvale.

According to the center, NASA Ames is the lead agency for the Mars Curiosity rover’s Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument and for NASA’s first mission capable of finding Earth-size and smaller planets.

Ames Research scientists also do supercomputing, build sophisticated wind tunnels, create robots to aid humans in space and help to generate $1.3 billion annually for the United States.

The open house is Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with ticketed reservation. Click here to make a reservation.

Photo Credit: NASA Ames Research Center]]>
<![CDATA[Report Links GoPro to Brain Injury]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 16:12:17 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP886669197394.jpg

The French commentator whose reported remarks had sparked reports that a GoPro camera may have played a role in Formula 1 racing legend Michael Schumacher's brain injury is now urging everyone to "stop all speculation."

Schumacher, 45, has been immobile and unable to speak after he fell and hit a rock in a skiing accident last year while he was wearing a GoPro camera mounted on his helmet.

European news outlets had reported that racing commentator Jean-Louis Moncet told Europe 1 radio that Schumacher's son Mick told him the placement of the camera contributed to the brain injury — but Moncet denied that Tuesday on Twitter.

"The problem for Michael was not the hit, but the mounting of the GoPro camera that he had on his helmet that injured his brain," Eurosport had earlier quoted Moncet as having said.

But Moncet appeared to contradict that suggestion in a tweet Tuesday.
"STOP ALL SPÉCULATION," he tweeted. "Mick could not say something about camera or injury of Michael because we did not speak together."
Following the initial report linking the GoPro to Schumacher's injury, shares of the Bay Area-based company plummeted, losing as much as 10 percent in trading Monday, Business Insider reported.

A GoPro spokesman declined to comment on the report linking the camera to Schumacher's injury but said the company was monitoring the situation closely.

Schumacher emerged from a medically-induced coma in June but remains in serious condition.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Long Beach Fire Deploys App to Speed CPR Response]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 20:38:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/pulsepoint+app.JPG

Long Beach has signed on to a new smartphone app that alerts nearby users when someone needs CPR, and emergency personnel said the connection could mean the difference between life and death.

Called Pulse Point, the app buzzes users' phones when someone in close proximity is in need of CPR, potentially decreasing the wait time before someone in need gets help.

Inside the Long Beach emergency operations center, 911 operators coordinate calls and emergency crews, and navigate about 40 cardiac arrests calls a week, averaging 4 to 5 calls a day.

“Over a thousand people a day die of sudden cardiac arrest across the country,” Long Beach Fire Department Deputy Chief Rich Brandt said.

Brandt says Pulse Point is an essential tool to save more lives.

“Or improve their chances of survival," he said.

The iOS and Android app is a free download. Once it’s on the phone, users share their location with the developers and the fire department, who are able to alert you when someone nearby needs CPR. Even if a user doesn’t know how to perform the technique, the app can deliver a play by play, even down to the chest compression rate.

"We take pride (that) we provide best service possible,” said Jake Heflin with the fire department. “We’re not everywhere all the time, we rely on community to help fill that gap."

Heflin said about 500 Long Beach residents have downloaded the app since they launched two week ago, and they are hoping for tens of thousands more.

The developer is a former fire chief from Northern California and said the app doesn’t store any information other than the phone’s last location.

Long Beach fire said it hopes the app will empower more residents to help maintain each other’s safety, especially with something as accessible as CPR.

<![CDATA[Teens Develop Brain-Teaser App]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 05:13:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/impossible+rush+app.jpg

Fifteen-year-old Austin Valleskey doesn't have his drivers license yet...but he already has a worldwide successful app.

A few months ago the suburban Chicago teen was contacted about an idea for an app by Australian Ben Pasternack, who is also 15.

"I thought it was cool," said the Wheaton Academy sophomore. "He asked if I wanted to make it into a game. I said sure, it's a Saturday, I've got a couple of hours."

And a few hours is all it took for Valleskey to create a prototype for Impossible Rush- a brain-teaser game.

"We didn't think much of it. We just wanted people to have fun with it," Valleskey said.

And people did.

The pair contacted a marketer who agreed to buy the app and the game's popularity skyrocketed.

With over 500,000 downloads at its peak, the app was ranked 16th in the U.S., 7th in Sweden and 18th in Australia, according to Business Insider.

Valleskey said he was in disbelief.

"It passed up Skype, Tinder, Netflix, all of these huge companies. It was crazy cool to me!" the teen told NBC Chicago Thursday. "It's a great thrill."

The young teen says he taught himself computer programming just one year ago during a road trip to Florida.

His parents shared his latest excitement.

"It's been just so much fun to see the success he's had with it," said Michael Valleskey. "He's learning so much going through this process."

Valleskey says he's already working on developing another app.

<![CDATA[Tesla to End Speculation Over "The D"]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 11:12:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/10-09-2014-tesla-model-s-470486031.jpg

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is expected to make an announcement Thursday night that should clear up a week of speculation that put "the D" in dramatic and a bump in the electric carmaker's stock price.

The electric car manufacturer appears poised to unveil a new model after Musk's tweet last week that indicated plans to "unveil the D and something else." The tweet featured a graphic with Thursday's date and a partially opened garage door that masked all but the menacing front end of a vehicle with Tesla's logo and signature headlights.

In the days after Musk's mysterious tweet, Tesla's stock price climbed about 6 percent. The stock took a slight dip Wednesday before rising again Thursday ahead of the announcement.

Tesla is likely adding another member to its family of vehicles, which includes the Model S luxury sedan. The company has plans for a Model X SUV and mass-market model called the Model 3.

Thursday's announcement might involve an all-wheel drive vehicle, which would fit nicely into the carmaker's lineup and allow Tesla to match offerings from similarly priced competitors. Electric vehicles allow engineers more flexibility than a traditional front-, rear- or mid-engine vehicle when it comes to how power is distributed to each wheel. For example, instead of transferring power from one engine to four wheels, an electric powertrain might use two electric motors for the front and back wheels or even four electric motors dedicated to each wheel.

But the guesses don't stop there.

A Tesla with greater range or higher level of driver assistance technology, such as lane assist or collision-avoidance braking, are some of the possibilities.

A self-driving vehicle or something that's not a car at all have all been mentioned in response to last week's tweet.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[With New App, Predators Have "Nowhere to Hide"]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 21:06:57 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/predator_app.PNG

Federal authorities are mustering all the help they can get to track down child predators.

They're expanding "Operation Predator," an app available for Android and iPhones, that asks you to help ICE track down wanted criminals.

"This app is one piece of our commitment to ensuring child predators have absolutely nowhere to hide," said Acting ICE Director Thomas Winkowski.

The app displays mugshots of fugitives wanted in child porn cases, describes their crimes and allows the public to call or send in tips.

The app also sends out alerts of wanted felons and allows users to further distribute that information on social media.

It was developed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which named its app after its effort to combat the large number of sexual exploitation of children every year.

The app is downloadable from the Google Play store and iTunes. It's also available in Spanish.

The idea behind it?

The more the public puts eyes on these wanted criminals -- from anywhere, anytime on their mobile devices -- the better chances the cases will get solved.

Within 36 hours of its launch on iPhones and iPads in September 2013, the app was credited with helping capture a suspect, officials said. Tips from users of the app helped capture three other predators since then, said ICE Special Agent in Charge Claude Arnold, who is based in Los Angeles.

"The most important thing is that [this app] has raised awareness about child crimes," Arnold said.

Anti-child abuse advocates applaud the effort.

"Anything that draws public attention to this problem and the perpetrators is great," said Scott Berkowitz, the founder and president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

Photo Credit: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Bus Drivers Looking to Unionize]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 07:32:06 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/social_media_debate_president.jpg

Facebook's tech bus drivers have had enough.

Fed up with working conditions that include a long mid-day "break" in between split shifts, drivers for Facebook's fleet of tech shuttles are looking to join the Teamsters, according to the New York Times.

And the union is employing a full-court press.

Union honchos wrote directly to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, asking him to pressure Facebook's shuttle bus contractor to bargain on behalf of about 40 drivers, the newspaper reported. The company does not directly employ shuttle bus drivers but does so through a company called Loop Transportation.

Working conditions for drivers are akin to "a time when noblemen were driven around in their coaches by their servants," wrote Rome Aloise, the Teamsters' Northern California boss. "Frankly, little has changed."

Drivers said the worst bit about the job is the split shift that requires them to work the morning and evening commutes, with shifts running from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and then 5:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. or so, the newspaper reported.

Loop Transportation told the newspaper that most drivers make between $18 and $20 an hour, along with overtime and benefits. 

The president of the company told the newspaper that the union is not "necessary" thanks to the nice pay, and that nobody has " an answer for" the "split-shift problem," the newspaper reported.

<![CDATA[Report: Facebook Moving Into Healthcare]]> Sat, 04 Oct 2014 10:15:12 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/4654813851.jpg

Likes, comments, photos and medical advice? Facebook is making plans to enter the world of healthcare, Reuters is reporting, quoting "three people" who requested anonymity.

The Menlo Park-based social network is thinking about creating online "support communities" that would connect sufferers of various diseases with each other, according to reports, as well as "preventative care" applications.

Plans are in initial phases, Reuters reported. Facebook has been busy meeting with members of the medical industry for the past few months but is still in the process of setting up a new R&D unit to test out the apps.

Meanwhile, Facebook has noticed that its users are health-minded: the 2012 move to allow Facebook users to promote the fact they are organ donors proved popular, and many users do perform searches "for advice" via the network.

And, of course, Dr. Priscilla Chan, whose husband is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a resident pediatrician at UC San Francisco.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Uber CEO Says He Won't Wait for Regulations ]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 06:45:33 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/UberGeneric.jpg

Uber plans to "aggressively roll out new ridesharing features" first and ask for permission from government agencies later, according to the Sacramento Business Journal.

If Uber does something and government does nothing, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick will take that as "tacit approval," the newspaper reported.

District attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles are cracking down on the ride-providing company for allegedly breaking four areas of California law, including breaking pricing rules and failing to conduct proper background checks of its drivers.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[College Bans App Over Bullying]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 07:54:05 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Yik+Yak+Norwich+University.jpg

Concerns over cyberbullying led Vermont's Norwich University to block users of the school's servers from accessing a social media app.

The app, Yik Yak, allows users to post anonymous blurbs, including rants, gossip, or praise for the best classes or parties. Those messages are visible to other users in close proximity.

"People are talking smack to other people; talking smack about the school and groups on campus and stuff," said student Michael Muradyan, describing content he has seen on Yik Yak at Norwich.

In a prepared statement, Norwich said the policy decision was made effective this past weekend.

"This action was taken in an effort to protect Norwich students and to demonstrate that bullying in any form is not tolerated at Norwich University," the statement read.

Norwich computer systems professor Mich Kabay said that message about cyberbullying is "something we need to get across in society."

Kabay, whose courses including one on cybercrime, told New England Cable News he knows cyberbullying can have extremely serious consequences for victims, including some around the nation who have taken their own lives.

"The more individuals and organizations that take a stand and say, 'No, that's wrong. I don't like that. That's ugly; we don't do that,' then we will see change across generations," Kabay predicted.

Muradyan pointed out to NECN that at Norwich, students can still access Yik Yak through their phones' own data plans-- separate from the school's servers.

"Kids are still finding a way around it," he said.

While there have been no official reports of criminal behavior at Norwich using the app, the school is launching an internal campus investigation into the issues of cyberbullying and the use of Yik Yak. The police are not involved in that internal campus investigation, which is being led by the school's vice president of student life and enrollment management, according to the statement.

In response to an NECN inquiry about its policy regarding alleged instances of cyberbullying, Yik Yak released a statement saying it "recognizes that as with any social app or network today, there is the likelihood for misuse from a small group of users.. It said it has "geo-fenced almost all primary and secondary schools and turned the app to 17+ in stores to ensure the user base is age appropriate and parents can easily block the app on their children's phones."

"Additionally, the app monitors conversations and posts, and any negative or harmful behavior can result in the respective user being blocked, or altogether banned from future use," the statement added. "Yik Yak also finds that as more users sign up and start using the app, communities begin to self-regulate in a positive way."

<![CDATA[Report: iPhone 6 Is "Most Durable"]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:45:43 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP501921875874.jpg

Through rain, scratches and drops, the iPhone 6 pulled through. Apple's latest smartphone is also the company's most-durable smartphone, a conclusion reached by the phone-droppers at SquareTrade, according to reports.

The Wall Street Journal reports that after 10 seconds underwater and six 4-foot drops, the iPhone 6 was still making calls and receiving data from the Web.

In fact, the iPhone 6 is the best phone to drop, if one is inclined to do that. SquareTrade reported that Apple's latest gadget put in the "best drop performance" ever seen in one of its "drop tests."

The iPhone 6 Plus is not quite as hardy. Six drops in, the phone's panels came apart and the speakers stopped working.

The phones were also rubbed on wood and plastic to see if they would scratch. Damage was "minimal," SquareTrade reported.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[SF Neighbors Sick of Construction on Zuckerberg's House]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 09:01:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_zuckerberg1a28729.jpg

In Mission Dolores, there's the park, there's Bi-Rite. And then there's "Fortress Zuckerberg," according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the $10 million mansion of the Facebook founder that's been under construction, continuously, for 17 months.

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, bought a "fixer-upper" in the neighborhood on 21st Street near Dolores Street about a year and a half ago, the newspaper reported.

And since then, the area has been besieged by near-nonstop construction: Sidewalks have been torn up to install fiber-optic cables, the home itself has been turned inside-out for new amenities, and all of the above has been observed by "round-the-clock security," the newspaper reported.

Over $1.5 million has been sunk into building new bathrooms, a wine room, a "wet bar," and a "media room," the newspaper reported. There's also a garage with a "turntable pad," all built by "40 to 50 workers on the job daily" since April 2013.

That's a lot of work.

The Department of Building Inspection has a record of one formal complaint filed last year. The district supervisor confirmed he has received complaints, but points out that complaints related to home improvement are common and construction is booming all over Noe Valley.

No word as to when Mr. Mark and Dr. Chan will declare the work done and move into the home.

<![CDATA[Celebrity Photo Scandal Continues, Apple Breaks Records]]> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 16:32:47 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_the_trend_mekahlo_noon_1200x675_332197443722.jpg Another round of nude celebrity photos found their way online this weekend. Kim Kardashian, Mary Kate Olsen and Vanessa Hudgens, among others, were victims in the latest leak. In more positive tech news, Apple reported selling a record-high 10 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus units in the first three days of sales. Mekahlo Medina reports live for the NBC4 News at Noon on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Tim Cook Greets iPhone Fans in Palo Alto]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 08:34:14 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/iphone16.jpg

If you didn't know any better, you may think that San Francisco's homeless population had skyrocketed on Friday morning, with all the people camping out on the sidewalks.

But no, the bleary eyed consumers were there to actually plunk down about $200 to $300 for the latest and greatest Apple product - the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, released to the public for the first time on Friday.

People admitted to living out on the streets outside Apple stores for days, across the globe.

Thalya Fernandez, a California State University East Bay student, joined her friends outside the Apple store in Palo Alto who had been camped out since Tuesday. School doesn't start until next week, so she said she had nothing else to do, other than wait for the newest high-tech gadget. She was prepared to spend "a grand."

As for what she wanted and liked in the new phone? "Everything," she said.

Maybe no one was happier than one customer from Europe who said he "traveled all the way from Norway for this."  Willy Wonka style, he clutched his newly bought iPhone, showing reporters his golden ticket. "I"m so stoked for my brother."

Slightly before doors opened at 8 a.m., Apple CEO Tim Cook arrived in jeans and a blue T-shirt, waving to adoring customers, trying to gauge fan reaction to the new phone. Customer sales told the story: The iPhone 6 Plus sold out at the Palo Alto store by 11 a.m.

And it wasn't just in Silicon Valley that drew out the Apple lovers in droves. In Pasadena, lines wrapped around the block too. Same in New York, South Florida and Boston. Same in Japan. The phone has already seen a record number of orders.

Fanatics of iPhones from far and wide, some bearing Apple-themed cupcakes for sustenance,  flocked to the Pasadena store, and others around the country, to be the first to buy Apple’s newest release.

"We have, um, peanut butter chocolate sprinkled sandwiches," said Brenn Corcoran, 11. "I wanted to stay the whole time from Tuesday, but my mom wouldn't let me do that."

NBC LA's Ted Chen and Katherine Hafner contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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<![CDATA["iPhone 6 Plus, Baby:" Customer Chaos at Brea Mall]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 19:15:04 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/iphone17.JPG

Customers expecting the new iPhone got more than they bargained for at the Brea mall Friday morning, as thousands of people pushed their way through to get their new gadgets as soon as the Apple store opened.

An estimated 3,500 people showed up at the Orange County mall, all hoping not to miss out on the store’s stock.

Police said they were concerned as early as 10 p.m. Thursday when they saw people showing up with sleeping bags. Customers were told to leave and not allowed on Brea mall property until 6 a.m.

That’s when the chaos began. As the line to get in line turned to a free-for-all, some customers realized it was no longer worth the trouble, saying they no longer even wanted the phone.

"When they rushed it, the line fell over," said customer David Dewyke. "It was a disaster … People got trampled on."

Kevin Shea said he saw shoes fly.

They "hit somebody in the face," he said.

Up to 32 officers from three agencies were called in to help control the crowd. There were no arrests, but the head of security at the Brea mall was cut on his face.

Mall officials said they were concerned about the safety of their customers, but would not answer questions about whether they had prepared for such a large crowd.

When the store opened, groups of people were led into the mall with an escort, to reach another line inside.

Friday afternoon, the line wove through the parking lot and around other stores.

Meanwhile, at the Pasadena Apple store, iPhone fanatics, some of whom had been waiting for five days to get their hands on the latest phone models, were overjoyed when they were finally able to do so.

"iPhone 6 Plus baby," said Francisco Naranjo, who was first in line, having waited since Monday.

Both the Apple store and an AT&T store down the block in Pasadena sold out of their phones, about 500 and 100 respectively.

Unions in Silicon Valley have also been protesting Apple for what they say is a lack of hours for Apple security guards, as well as the negative impacts of tech companies in the area.

Apple has made no official response.

<![CDATA[Exiled from SF, MonkeyParking App Appears in LA]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:10:06 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/07-10-2014-monkey-parking-app.jpg

What better place to buy and sell parking spaces than Los Angeles? After its hasty exit from San Francisco, it is perhaps only natural than MonkeyParking would appear in Los Angeles.

The company that was so roughly removed from San Francisco, where the city attorney declared that buying and selling parking spaces was not something that could be done, is now trying to get a fresh start in Santa Monica, according to LA Weekly.

Though this may be tougher than trying to get to the 101 from the 10 on a Friday afternoon.

MonkeyParking is trying to set up in Santa Monica, but is already running afoul of city leaders like the parking administrator, who is saying that allowing parkers to auction off a space in the public right of way is not only illegal, but "immoral," the newspaper reported.

Spots are sold from anywhere from $5 to $7, the newspaper reported, of which MonkeyParking takes 20 percent.

Can what failed in SF fly in LA? So far, it's not seeming likely.