<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Tech News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/tech http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.comen-usSun, 23 Oct 2016 02:51:05 -0400Sun, 23 Oct 2016 02:51:05 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[NBA to Offer Virtual Reality Broadcast]]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:50:12 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/nextvr.jpg

The NBA wants to bring fans closer to the action. The league announced Thursday that one game each week would broadcasted in virtual reality.

This makes the NBA the first professional sports league to offer this option, working with NextVR to produce games in the regular season. In order to watch games in this format, fans will need a subscription to NBA League Pass and a Samsung VR headset.

The broadcasts will offer multiple camera angles, instant replays, graphics and commentators exclusive to VR.

This also points to the international following that the NBA has, NBA vice president of global media distribution Jeff Marsillo said to USA Today.

“We broadcast our games in over 210 countries now, and these are passionate fans,” he said. “But for most of them, they’re not able to attend a game in person, let alone sit courtside.”

The multiyear commitment deal with NextVR will change that.

A free trial of this experience is offered on Oct. 29 for the Sacramento Kings vs San Antonio Spurs game.

Photo Credit: AP Images for Cynopsis Media]]>
<![CDATA[Pediatrics Group Lifts 'No Screens Under 2' Rule]]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:32:41 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-135280995.jpg

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued new screen media guidelines for parents with infants and young children, amending its previous recommendation that outright banned screens for children under the age of two.

In its policy statement released Friday, the AAP says it’s OK for children under the age of 18 months to Skype or Face Time with grandma and grandpa, and for older children and teens to do some of their socializing, learning and playing online – as long as they put down their devices long enough to sleep, exercise, eat, and engage in rich offline lives. 

The nation's leading group of pediatricians recommends children under 18 months, with the exception of video chatting, should avoid screens. Children between 18 months and 24 months should only be introduced to digital media that is high-quality and parents should watch it with their children in order to help them process what they’re seeing.

For children ages 2-5, digital media use should be limited to one hour a day. The guidelines again recommend high-quality, education media suited for children, such as Sesame Street and PBS.

Overall, parents should avoid using media to calm a child or replace physical activity. Parents are also recommended by the AAP to have media-free time with their children and media-free zones in the house. Parents should also have conversations with children about online safety and respecting people both on and offline.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[After Major Outages, 3rd Cyberattack 'Has Been Resolved']]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 18:53:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/map-outage.jpg

A third wave of denial-of-service attacks on a key piece of internet plumbing was resolved by late Friday, said the company that was targeted.

Internet infrastructure company Dyn Inc. told CNBC earlier in the day that the third wave was underway, causing more disruptions after dozens of the world's most popular websites were taken largely offline Friday morning. 

The White House said it was aware of the situation and that the Department of Homeland Security was looking into it; a senior law enforcement official told NBC News that the FBI has been investigating as well. U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News Friday afternoon that they did not know who was responsible for the attacks, though one source said involvement by North Korea had been ruled out.

Dyn, which runs domain name servers, said on its website that it was subject to a distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack. Domain name servers translate website names to the numeric Internet Protocol addresses behind them. Dyn, headquartered in Manchester, New Hampshire, is one of the larger companies in that business. 

Major internet services including Spotify, Twitter, Paypal, Reddit, the PlayStation Network, Netflix, SoundCloud and a number of media websites were difficult or impossible to reach early Friday.

DownDetector.com, a popular website for checking internet outages, showed a sharp and simultaneous spike in users reporting sites being inaccessible just after 7 a.m. ET and again around noon. 

Service providers including Comcast, Cox, Time Warner Cable and AT&T were also affected. 

Dyn told CNBC that it was being hit by "tens of millions of IP addresses" Friday afternoon, around 4:15 p.m. ET. They said one of the sources of the attack is devices like DVRs, printers, and other appliances that are connected to the internet, collectively known as the "Internet of Things."

Dyn said normal service was restored just over two hours later. But on its website it reported a new attack as of 11:52 a.m. ET that was still underway a half hour later.

"(We) have begun monitoring and mitigating a DDoS attack against our Dyn Managed DNS infrastructure. Our Engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue," the company said on its status update page. 

Later Friday, Dyn released a statement saying the third attack "has been resolved."

The extent of the effect was not clear as the attacks unfolded — Twitter experienced partial outages throughout the day. 

"The earlier issues have resurfaced & some people may still be having trouble accessing Twitter," the company wrote on its support account at 12:55 p.m. ET. "We’re working on it!"

After four and a half hours of problems, Twitter reported that Dyn had mitigated the attacks and that Twitter was once again available to all its users. 

Dyn said it was "still investigating and mitigating the attacks on our infrastructure," though a monitoring issue was resolved, it tweeted shortly after 3 p.m. ET.

On social media, people reported renewed difficulty accessing Spotify in Europe, as well as problems with photos and video on Twitter. DownDetector showed fresh spikes in outage reports for sites including PayPal, Netflix and Pinterest. 

The attacks immediately renewed fears about the security of the Internet's core infrastructure, particularly with the presidential election - already the subject of hacking concerns - less than three weeks away.

(Comcast is the owner of NBC parent NBCUniversal.)

Photo Credit: DownDetector.com
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<![CDATA[DC Plans Streetlights to Save Money, Offer Wi-Fi, Help Park]]> Wed, 19 Oct 2016 20:33:04 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Smart+Streetlights+101916.jpg

D.C.’s technology office envisions a Washington with streetlights that not only have a motion detector but also offer Wi-Fi and live video of every street in the city, and trash cans that let the city know when they need to be emptied.

Chief Technology Officer Archana Vemulapalli looks at things differently than most. She looks at a trash can and sees ways to reduce traffic. She looks at a streetlight and sees what she calls one of “the District’s greatest assets.”

There are more than 71,000 streetlights in the District, not all of them working. Vemulapalli is leading an effort to convert all of them to smart technology hubs that will one day bring free Wi-Fi to students who don’t have internet connectivity at home, provide police real time video of every street in the District and allow the District’s Department of Transportation to monitor and regulate traffic from one remote location.

“How strategic can we be about the assets we own?” Vemulapalli asked from her test lab in southeast Washington. “And how can we use our assets that help not one or two but multiple agencies to deliver better quicker faster service to the residents, so streetlights and traffic lights are the best assets cities have. And so we need to be strategic about how we use them.”

Over the past few months, the District has created a living lab just blocks from the White House. Eighty smart light poles have been installed in a three-block area. The new technology comes with energy efficient LED lights, security cameras, motion detectors and Wi-Fi hot spots.

“If you talk about the ideal smart city, it’s looking at traffic, it’s looking at parking, it’s looking at quality of life, it’s looking at your ability to get from point A to point B and knowing how you can get there. And it’s about you connecting when you want to connect,” Vemulapalli said.

Yes, she included parking as one of the benefits provided by the new smart light poles. The cameras are able to track traffic patterns from block to block. The data allows traffic managers to see things like how many times an individual car circles a block looking for a parking space. The long-term goal is to take that information and feed it to an app that users will have on their smartphones. The app would show real time information of available parking spaces.

In addition to helping you find a parking space, the new smart lights will save taxpayers money. The new lights can be activated by motion detectors or by how dark it is. In neighborhoods where lights are on for public safety reasons, the lights can stay on whenever it’s dark, but in areas where lighting isn’t always necessary, that’s when the motion detectors can help, said Anil Sharma, the chief network officer overseeing the new smart technology.

“To save power or to utilize power in an effective manner, we want to make sure, if nobody is in the area, depending on the environment of the neighborhood, the lights stay off,” Sharma said.

But controlling when the lights are on isn’t the only way they’ll save money. Each light has a monitor that tracks energy usage. Over time that data can be used to predict usage and allow the District to purchase electricity in bulk.

“That’s the beauty of data and the beauty of being strategic about how we think about things,” Vemulapalli said with a smile.

Last month Mayor Muriel Bowser joined a District Department of Transportation crew that was fixing one of the old lights that burned out. Community activists have complained for years about the backlog of burned out streetlights in need of repair. The new smart technology will help reduce that problem as well. The new lights can tell headquarters when they’re not working, Sharma said.

“If the light is not functional, there’s an alerting feature, so it’s proactive in nature,” Sharma said. “You don’t have to wait for a resident to actually report the light is not working.”

So, how can a trash can reduce traffic? Once again, it’s all about crunching data, Vemulapalli said.

The smart trash cans have a sensor built into the cover of the can. That sensor alerts the Department of Public Works when it’s full and needs to be emptied. That information will result in fewer trash trucks on the roads.

“To give you a perspective, I can put a sensor in a trash can and that’s great,” Vemulapalli said. “If you think of it simply, it tells you if it’s full or empty and it needs to be picked up. But now if I have that information and see what the typical levels are on a daily basis and I can switch my trash can pickups from standard Thursday pick up that shows up at your house to a better way so I can now alleviate some of the traffic congestion, we’ll achieve multiple successes through that one effort.”

For now, the only smart trash can is inside a lab at OCTO headquarters, but Vemulapalli and her team hope they’ll be on the streets soon. The smart light poles are a reality, albeit just in testing mode in a small area between 17th and 20th Streets NW. Mayor Bowser will announce Thursday her plans to take the smart lights District-wide. She hopes to partner with a private sector company that will help defray the startup costs of installation.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Samsung Reps Exchanging Note7 Phones at DC-Area Airports]]> Tue, 18 Oct 2016 19:50:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2016-10-18_1934.jpg

You can't bring your Samsung Galaxy Note7 on a plane -- but you can bring it to any of the D.C. area's major airports. The airports, including Reagan National, now feature have pop-up kiosks where Samsung reps are collecting the phones for trade-in.

Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones have been recalled because some of them have been catching fire. The U.S. banned the devices from flights last week.

"Honestly, I've wondered the last few times I was on the airplane why they would allow people on and then tell them to turn their phone off," said traveler Sherri Baker. "If it was too dangerous to be on the plane to begin with, I've always thought they shouldn't be on there."

Galaxy Note7 owners can bring them to a Samsung table at D.C.'s major local airports to exchange their devices for another phone or to simply get a refund.

"It's not just for your own personal safety, but also for the safety of everyone around you," said traveler Daniel Shai at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday.

But what happens with all of your data? Samsung reps are uploading users' data to the cloud. Phones are supposed to be cleansed of all their data.

"If they're going to just take your phone like that, you would hope that they'll wipe everything," Shai said of users' data.

Shai owns a Samsung, but his model isn't a Note7. He said he made sure his phone wasn't a concern.

"I've always had a Samsung phone so it was actually kind of sad that this big problem has happened," he said.

Samsung sent News4 the following statement: "The U.S. Department of Transportation and FAA have banned all Note7 devices in carry-on and checked baggage on flights. If you are a Note7 owner and are traveling today, Samsung is at the airport to help you. Safety remains the top priority."

The Transportation Security Administration is also on the lookout for Note7 phones to make sure they're kept off flights.

An airport source says only a handful of Note7 phones have been turned in recently. But travelers said they're glad the phones aren't getting aboard flights, because it only takes one accident.

Samsung has said it found a manufacturing defect in the phones' batteries.

"Battery technology is changing all the time so I expect that Samsung is doing the right thing here," said traveler David Harnett at Reagan. "They are taking them away as soon as they can."

<![CDATA[New Tech Makes Driving Safer, More Convenient]]> Fri, 14 Oct 2016 08:44:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/TechTalker1013_MP4-147644722202600001.jpg Some of this season's new models boast cameras and sensors for blind spot warnings, forward collision alerts and even automatic brakes. From in-car vacuums to smart phone parking, car owners are in for a whole host of new technology that is helping to drive them into the future.]]> <![CDATA[Brain Chips Help Paralyzed Man Fist-Bump President Obama]]> Thu, 13 Oct 2016 18:58:49 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_16287736330662-obama-robotic-hand-fist-bump.jpg

A man who's been paralyzed for more than a decade got to show off how much progress he's made by fist-bumping President Barack Obama Thursday with a robotic hand, NBC News reported. 

Nathan Copeland can feel his fingers for the first time since a 2004 car crash left him paralyzed from the chest down, thanks to chips implanted in his brain that also control the hand.

When he met Obama at a science event organized by the White House in Pittsburgh, the president told Copeland, "Let's see what you got." Then the robotic hand moved with input from Copeland's brain.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is behind the brain interface, which is letting Copeland once again "feel just about every finger."

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Companies Providing Space Funeral Services]]> Fri, 07 Oct 2016 10:50:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/SPACE_AP_16225354180398.jpg

Space funerals are no longer a thing of science fiction. Companies such as Celestis and Elysium Space offer space funerals, NBC News reported.

Celestis, a subsidiary of Houston-based aerospace company Space Services, offers an array of options for those who want to launch human remains in space. And these voyages range in price, depending on how far in the celestial heavens you want to go.

Its most popular services, which place remains into payloads on third-party commercial rockets, are Earth Rise, where cremated remains are transported suborbitally for a cost of $1,295 and returned to Earth; and Earth Orbit, where remains travel around the Earth and then released into space for a fee of $4,995.

It also plans to offer a DNA service for those who don't choose cremation next year. The company will take a person's DNA sample and bond it with a silica-type agent to create a fillable capsule that can be transported into space.

Photo Credit: AP ]]>
<![CDATA[Flying Frozen Yogurt Delivered by Drone]]> Thu, 06 Oct 2016 08:41:15 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2016-10-05-19h27m57s228.jpg A drone delivered frozen yogurt to college students in Holland, Michigan, Tuesday. Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt did a test run delivering the froyo to students at Hope College. The service, which is a part of a pilot delivery program, officially started by appointment only. It took about 15 minutes to travel a little under a mile.

Photo Credit: WOOD-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Bezos' Rocket Is 1 Step Closer to Safe Space Travel]]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 17:26:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/blue-origin-moment-of-separation.jpg

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is inching closer to sending humans into space, after a rocket booster and emergency escape capsule made by one of his companies safely landed during a test on Wednesday, NBC News reported.

Bezos' company, Blue Origin, is testing the New Shepard rocket to determine if space tourists can safely get out of a spacecraft that's gone up in flames.

Despite predictions the test in Texas would fail, the rocket booster separated as planned. Safely evacuating passengers is key in order to send humans into space.

Just last month, Bezos shared his plans to introduce a new rocket family that could send humans and satellites safely into space by the end of the decade. This is the fifth time since November that the rocket launched, went into sub-orbit and landed its booster.

Photo Credit: Blue Origin
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<![CDATA[Yahoo Doesn't Deny Email Scanning, Calls Story 'Misleading']]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 14:13:58 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/yahoo5.jpg

Yahoo responded again Wednesday to a report that it scanned incoming email to hundreds of millions of accounts for the U.S. government.

In a carefully worded statement that stops short of a denial, the company said a Tuesday Reuters report is "misleading," saying that "the mail scanning described in the article does not exist on our systems."

Reuters reported that Yahoo built custom software for the scans. Yahoo's latest statement does not say whether it has conducted such email scans in the past, or whether that software might exist outside its systems.

On Tuesday, Yahoo said only that it complies with U.S. law. On Wednesday, it said it interprets every government request for data "narrowly" to "minimize disclosure."

Yahoo is currently selling its online operations to Verizon for $4.8 billion.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Monitor? There's an App for That]]> Fri, 30 Sep 2016 10:36:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/BabyMonitor0930_MP4-147523889415700001.jpg Tech companies are trying to help parents breathe easier knowing that their newborns are doing just fine. Devices like the "Owlet Bootie" can track your child's breathing, making sure you know if anything happens. "So, if a baby stops breathing in the middle of the night, an alarm will go off," says Ben Fox Rubin of CNET. Rubin admits that he was skeptical before trying some of the devices on his own children, but soon found that every parent can use a little help on the side.]]> <![CDATA[3D-Printed Artificial Bones Could Help Heal Injuries]]> Wed, 28 Sep 2016 22:49:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/3d-skull-H.jpg

A new type of artificial bone shaped with a 3-D printer can repair deformed bones and help heal some spine, skull and jaw injuries, researchers say in a new report printed in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

When the bone material was tested in a monkey, the bone fused to the animal’s skull and new blood vessels grew into it, NBC News reports.

“Within four weeks, the implant had fully integrated, fully vascularized with the monkey’s own skull,” researcher Adam Jakus said. “And there is actually evidence of new bone formation.”

The hyper-elastic bone can be shaped with a 3-D printer to customize individual implants. Scientists hope to be able to test the implants in humans within the next five years.

Photo Credit: Adam E. Jakus, PhD]]>
<![CDATA[Aetna to Subsidize Apple Watch]]> Wed, 28 Sep 2016 15:46:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_16229419820877.jpg

Aetna announced that it will be making Apple Watches available for large employers and individual customers during open enrollment season.

The health care services company said the new initiative will revolutionize the customer's experience by, "combining the power of iOS apps and the unmatched user experience of Apple products including Apple Watch, iPhone and iPad with Aetna’s analytics-based wellness and care management programs."

Aetna said it will be the first major health care company to subsidize the cost of Apple Watches for customers by offering monthly payroll deductions. The Hartford-based company serves an estimated 45.3 million and will provide free Apple Watches to 50,000 of its employees. 

Apple will work with Aeton to create "deeply intergrated" health apps that will allow customers to manager their health, Aetna said.

“This is only the beginning - we look forward to using these tools to improve health outcomes and help more people achieve more healthy days,” said Mark Bertolini, Aetna Chairman and CEO.

Aetna's new health apps will offer features, such as:

  • Care management and wellness, to help guide consumers through health events like a new diagnosis or prescription medication with user-driven support from nurses and people with similar conditions.
  • Medication adherence, to help consumers remember to take their medications, easily order refills and connect with their doctor if they need a different treatment through their Apple Watch or iPhone.
  • Integration with Apple Wallet, allowing consumers to check their deductible and pay a bill.
  • Personalized health plan on-boarding, information, messaging and decision support to help Aetna members understand and make the most of their benefits.
The solutions will be available early 2017.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Elon Musk's Plans for Mars]]> Wed, 28 Sep 2016 06:44:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_16271781854596-elon-musk-mars-spacex.jpg

It was a press conference with a little bit of everything — space travel, science, technology and the offer of a kiss.

Welcome to the world of Elon Musk.

Musk spoke at the International Astronautical Congress about SpaceX's plan to take us to Mars.

Spoiler alert: It's going to take some time, and there's no guarantee of a return trip.

Musk was honest about the speculative nature of it all; it will be very expensive (at least at first), and very time consuming.

Also, he was fairly honest about the fact that it's just not yet possible.

He showed a "timeline," admitting (a nod to Tesla deliveries) that "I'm not very good at these."

He also addressed whether or not he himself would travel to space, saying that "I may die, so I'd want a succession plan in place."

A crewed mission to the Red Planet could come in 10 years "if things go super well," Musk said, as CNBC noted. The spaceship would have to fit around 100 people and come with everything needed to build a colony: "iron foundries, pizza joints, you name it."

During a surreal Q&A session, Musk was asked if Mars was like Burning Man (he's not sure), and if someone could come up to the stage and give him a "good luck kiss."

He demurred.

With NASA, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and others talking about space travel, Musk laid out more detail than we've heard before. You can see his whole talk here:

Scott scans the skies on Twitter: @scottbudman

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Labor Dept. Sues Tech Firm ]]> Tue, 27 Sep 2016 07:23:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/karp.jpg

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit accusing a high-flying Silicon Valley software company of systematically discriminating against Asian job applicants over the last five years.

Palantir Technologies was co-founded by prominent tech financier Peter Thiel, with backing from an investment arm of the CIA. The Palo Alto, California, company makes data analytics software used by the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies, along with banks, insurance companies and other private clients.

The lawsuit claims Palantir routinely eliminated Asian job candidates during the resume-screening and telephone-interview stages of the company's hiring process. The claims are based on a statistical analysis conducted by federal officials responsible for making sure government contractors comply with anti-discrimination rules.

Palantir denied the allegations, saying the government's analysis is flawed.

Palantir's chief executive is Alex Karp, who also co-founded the company.

Photo Credit: Getty Images file]]>
<![CDATA[Snapchat Introduces Camera-Equipped Spectacles]]> Mon, 26 Sep 2016 09:45:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Snap+Inc+Spectacles.jpg

A newly christened Snapchat debuted its first hardware product on Friday — Spectacles.

Snap, Inc.'s $130 glasses will able to record 10-second videos from the wearer's vantage point, according to the Wall Street Journal. Spectacles' 115-degree camera lens closely mirrors people's line of sight. 

"When I got the footage back and watched it, I could see my own memory, through my own eyes — it was unbelievable," co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel told the Journal. 

The company says its wireless video camera, touted as one of the smallest in the world, is capable of taking a day's worth of Snaps on a single charge. The camera is intergrated into sunglasses that will be available in three colors. 

Spectacles will connect directly to a user's Snapchat account via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections to "transfer your Memories directly into the app in our brand new circular video format," Snap Inc. said.

The glasses are expected to be available sometime this fall.

Photo Credit: Snap Inc.]]>
<![CDATA[How to Protect Yourself From Hackers ]]> Fri, 23 Sep 2016 12:38:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/NC_onlinetuneup0923_1920x1080.jpg Thursday's news that Yahoo suffered a hack of 500 million of its user accounts may have many people taking a new look at how to keep their own email accounts and personal information secure. One easy way to protect yourself from hackers is by regularly updating your software. "Hackers are always finding new vulnerabilities to exploit," said Consumer Reports Editor Jerry Beilinson.]]> <![CDATA[500K Replacement Samsung Phones to Hit Stores Wed.]]> Tue, 20 Sep 2016 17:43:55 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-585210900-3.jpg

Half a million replacement Galaxy Note 7 cell phones are arriving in stores around the United States and will be available for exchange Wednesday, the company has announced. 

That represents roughly half the phones recalled due to a fire hazard that were sold in the U.S. Two-and-a-half million of the phones were recalled worldwide.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued the recall last week, following a voluntary recall from Samsung. The department's chairman urged consumers to replace the phones — labeled a flight hazard by the FAA — as soon as possible due to the "serious fire hazard" presented by the product.

Dozens of people in the U.S. reported their batteries overheating, and 26 reported burns, according to the commission's website.

Consumers can either replace the phone or get a refund, and Samsung also released a stopgap software update that limits the phone's battery to 60 percent capacity, in a bid to prevent them from overheating. 

"New devices will be in stores no later than tomorrow and we will continue to take the necessary actions to ensure users are powering down and immediately exchanging recalled devices," said Samsung Electronics America President Tim Baxter in a statement.

Read more about the recall at Samsung's recall web page.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Waze App's 'Where to Park' Feature]]> Tue, 20 Sep 2016 05:09:41 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/waze2.jpg

The trusty tool that some commuters use to dodge unwanted traffic now has a tool to help drivers catch a parking spot.

Waze, Google's real-time traffic app that compiles live updates from drivers on the roadways, partnered with another traffic-based company, INRIX, to make the challenge of public parking a little bit easier, according to INRIX

The new "where to park" feature lets drivers know, either before they hit the road or during the journey, where the closest available parking lot is near their desired destination, and offers them the option to be routed to that piece of pavement, INRIX said in a release.

INRIX, the data-driven company that is helping with the feature, aggregates traffic information and provides companies with parking capacity numbers along with the price tags for available spots, according to the company.

A statement from a Waze official indicated the company's planning to roll out more features related to parking.

"Driving around looking for spots impacts arrival times and adds unneeded frustration and stress to the entire driving experience," said Flavia Sasaki Siqueira, Waze's chief of Business Development, in a statement on INRIX's website. "Waze has begun to rollout the first of its parking suite features to solve this issue for drivers. Combining INRIX parking information with our own parking database expands reach and accuracy of the 'where to park' feature."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area, File]]>
<![CDATA[Tips to Keep Your Data Plan From Draining Your Wallet]]> Fri, 16 Sep 2016 16:55:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/TechTalker0915_MP4-147405796682500001.jpg Data is what drives our devices, and Americans are paying a premium. Posting pics, snaps and even live feeds can devour smartphone data plans.

Photo Credit: NBC News]]>
<![CDATA[Wal-Mart's Robot Shopping Carts Are Coming for Us All]]> Thu, 15 Sep 2016 09:21:31 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/4416Walmart.jpg

Wal-Mart customers will be able to use a handheld device to summon an empty cart and have it whisked their way via "motorized transport unit," according to Wal-Mart's patent, granted last week. The customer's location is determined by optical sensors in the device which will receive information from smart LEDs in the store, NBC News reported.

The system's "central control circuit" will also track shopping cart idle times to see which ones are not being used and implement image sensors to make sure they're empty.

And the carts will even be able to return themselves.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>