The Protean Echo Reduces All Of Your Credit Cards To One Ubercard

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Ready to enter a cardless future but not quite sure about NFC? The Protean Echo might be for you. This clever project essentially captures your credit cards onto one multi-purpose card that can hold up to three cards at a time.

It works like this: you scan your magnetic stripe cards into a smartphone app using a supplied dongle. You can then “upload” three cards to the Protean Echo and select them by tapping one of three touch-sensitive spots. The Echo’s batteries last for 2 years and you can store as many cards as you want on your phone.

The Protean Echo uses a dynamic stipe system to mimic the way credit cards store data on the fly, thereby reducing clutter in your wallet.

Now obviously what we’re dealing with here is a card skimmer with some very cool, Terminator 2 Edward Furlong-type technology. Presumably you wouldn’t skim other people’s cards and only yours and you’re obviously going to meet some uptight merchants who want to see the original card so I suspect the use case will be limited to swiping at unattended kiosks or ATMs. Plus, it’s just some credit cards. It’s not that big a deal to slip them into a wallet.

Regardless, these guys are going to give it a try and for $ 80 you can reduce the size of your wallet by at least three credit cards. They’re planning a Kickstarter launch shortly and you can check out the website here.

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Apple’s iPhone 5,2 Prototype Showing Up In Server Logs


A few short days after rumors began swirling that Apple would hold this year’s fall event on Sept. 12, a reliable source just sent a screen grab of a next-gen iPhone popping up in his/her/its server logs.

We weren’t able to glean any other info from the one session the prototype iPhone was engaged in, but the naming convention falls in line with what others have previously reported. It remains unclear if the iPhone 5,2 will go into production – as opposed to the iPhone 5,1 – or whether it will remain an internal-only test unit.

Rumors are still rampant that Apple will increase the size of the screen from 3.5 inches (diagonal) to ~4 inches and that the 30-pin connector is being put out to pasture in favor of a smaller 19-pin version. Regardless, it appears Apple is close to finalizing the next-gen iPhone ahead of its purported product reveal next month.

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Sharp To Cut 5,000 Jobs Globally


Reuters is reporting that LCD-maker Sharp is looking at cutting 10 percent of their workforce or about 5,000 jobs globally. Sharp currently has excess LCD panel stock due to a fall in demand this year.

This is the company’s first round of lay-offs and forced retirements since 1950.

Sharp lost $ 1.76 billion dollars this quarter while projected LCD sales are down two million from 10 million this year. Sharp is working with partners like Foxconn, makers of most Apple products, to place their excess stock.

Sharp is one of the largest LCD manufacturers in the world, supplying glass to nearly every OEM. However, as the demand for large-screen TVs softened, partially due to saturation after the recent 3D screen push, Sharp felt the sting of the recession.

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Google Updates The Gmail Android App, Now Works Better With 7-inch Tabs


The latest Gmail Android app update brings several new features, but this is a must-have for 7-inch tablets. Google slightly reworked the UI and it now works better with 7-inch tablets. Previously, when in landscape mode, the app would occasionally abruptly cut off messages. That’s now fixed for 7-inch tablets running Android 4.0 or later. But sorry, kids, the app is still missing pinch-to-zoom within messages.

The new version also brings a new label API for 3rd-party developers, a feature likely related to homescreen widgets.

This update comes a few weeks after Google released the Nexus 7 to the retail market. Users quickly discovered that Gmail, one of the Nexus 7′s core apps, wasn’t as polished as shiny as it should have been. The updated version is now available from Google Play, which should apply the appropriate sheen to the app.

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Microsoft Officially Signs Off On Windows 8, Releases It To Manufacturers


Right on schedule, Microsoft has just announced on its Windows Team blog that Windows 8 has emerged from its long development and testing phase, and will soon be in the hands of manufacturers and OEMs for installation on new PCs and devices.

Among those on the list to receive the final build (build 9200, if you were curious) are Lenovo, Acer, ASUS and Toshiba, though that’s clearly just the tip of a very large iceberg.

While average users won’t be able to get their collective hands on the new OS before its official launch on October 26, Microsoft revealed when certain subsets of users could access the final build. Developers can download Windows 8 via their MSDN subscriptions on August 15, as can IT professionals with their TechNet subscriptions — lucky devils.

In a separate blog post, Microsoft’s Stephen Sinofsky dives into greater detail about the RTM process and the steps that led up to it. One of the juicier tidbits Sinofsky addressed was just how many people participated in the Windows 8 preview program — over 16 million PCs took part in the preview, with a full 7 million of those PCs running on the company’s Release Preview build. Solid numbers for what the company has referred to as a substantial “reimagining” of Windows as we know it, and the company hopes that same sort of momentum carries over into retail sales.

With Windows 8 finally complete, Microsoft has begun to bring other parts of its ecosystem online. Take the Windows Store for instance — developers will soon able to submit paid apps into the new marketplace, though they’ll have to have their RTM builds installed and ready first. That said, Sinofsky was quick to note that “no software project is ever really ‘done,’” so the company will continue to monitor feedback from both users and its myriad hardware partners.

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