Category Archives: Technology

Toytalk: Your Teddy Bear Has Thousands of Things To Tell You

ToyTalk is a San Francisco-based startup toy company founded by Oren Jacob (Pixar’s former CTO) that has the mission “to create entertainment powered by characters and conversation.”

They have just released the first teaser video of the product they are planning for 2013, a Teddy bear that talks with the use of an iPad.

These futuristic children’s toys will be able to track human movement, interact with spoken words and connect to the web and mobile devices. Think of it as a Teddy Ruxpin 2.0.

 

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Coke Dance Vending Machine

For this South Korean marketing experiment, Coca-Cola utilized Microsoft’s Kinect technology in its vending machine to engage with customers and build their brand.

The built in sensors and webcams recognize human interaction.

The Coke Dance Vending Machine challenges people to replicate dance moves from the Korean boy band 2PM being played on the machine in exchange for soda. The better they dance, the more bottles of Coke they are rewarded with!


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Disney Parks Considering ‘Magic Band’ For Customer Entry

From “E” Tickets to e-Wrist bands; Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is reportedly considering replacing paper tickets with electronic wrist bands for admission to its theme parks, based on a company filing with the Federal Communications Commission.

Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts has filed an application with the FCC for a radio-frequency identification wrist band.

The cover letter that the company submitted to the FCC calls the device the “Magic Band.” The FCC filing description of the device reads: “The radio of the device, Model MB-R1G1, is a wrist worn arm band that transmits a 2.4 GHz signal to an indoor wireless infrastructure. The PCB assembly is potted in plastic and completely overmolded with thermal plastic polyurethane. The band has no on off switch and is powered with a non-replaceable coin cell.”

The Magic Band would likely change the way visitors enter the park: no more tickets to scan, just a wrist band to swipe. It would also reduce the instances of lost paper tickets. Perhaps it would even be used as a means to purchase items and as a hotel room key, the way guests use their key to the World cards today.

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Comedian Ricky Gervais Discusses New Voice App, Just Sayin’

Ricky Gervais has a new app, Just Sayin’, a voice tool to post spoken updates to Facebook and Twitter via the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

The app, which just launched, is the brainchild of David Hayden, CEO of San Francisco-based CloudTalk, who approached Gervais about partnering with him on the app.

Gervais, the creator of the British version of The Office and frequent talk and award show guest and podcaster, brings his large audience of 3 million Twitter followers to the party. He serves as creative director for the venture.

The comedian sat down with USA Today’s Jefferson Graham to discuss his new app, Just Sayin’ on the Talking Your Tech show.


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MakerBot Announces New Retail Store: Destined to Be One of New York’s Most Awesome “Must-See” Attractions

MakerBot, the Brooklyn-based global leader in the 3D printing technology, has opened its first retail location in New York. The MakerBot Store, opened to the public on September 20th and will have an official launch and unveiling in October.

“I have dreamed of opening this store ever since we started MakerBot. Technology like our Desktop 3D Printers has to be seen to be believed,” said Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot. “The MakerBot Store is a utopia for creative explorers, and it’s full of MakerBot-made things that make perfect gifts.”

Visitors to the MakerBot Store will have the unprecedented opportunity to experience MakerBot technology, such as the just-released MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer, live and in-person. The machines will be up and running, and patrons will have the chance to purchase amazing gifts and accessories made on MakerBot Desktop 3D Printers, created at the company’s workshop.

The MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer ($2,199) will also be available for immediate purchase at the MakerBot Store, as will MakerBot PLA and ABS Filament, which are available in more than 30 colors.

Other attractions at the store that will be sure to delight 3D printing enthusiasts all the way from hobbyists to professional engineers and designers include:

 - A MakerBot Gumball machine with a variety of MakerBot-made products to choose from

- Ongoing demonstrations by MakerBot 3D Design staff

- Really cool project installations such as the MakerBot Marble Run, a giant contraption made almost entirely on MakerBot Desktop 3D Printers.

Store Location and Hours:

The MakerBot Store
298 Mulberry St.
New York, NY 10012
(347)457-5758
store@makerbot.com
makerbot.com/retail
Open: Mon-Sat 12 PM-7 PM; Sun 12 PM-6 PM

Photo credit “Scott Beale / Laughing Squid” laughingsquid.com

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Twentieth Century Fox Launches Digital HD

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment today announced the launch of Digital HD — a new initiative that allows consumers to download or stream their favorite Fox movies on a variety of connected devices. Customized for today’s digital lifestyles, more than 600 Fox films can now be enjoyed anywhere, anytime in amazing high-definition immediately in the U.S. from Amazon, CinemaNow, Google Play, iTunes, PlayStation, VUDU, Xbox Live and YouTube.

The epic sci-fi thriller Prometheus is also available today on Digital HD for less than $15, arriving three weeks before Blu-ray, DVD and video-on-demand (VOD).

Digital HD combines four key benefits into one offering with earlier access to new releases, attractive pricing, cloud storage and availability across multiple devices. Whether the plan involves watching Fox movies on connected HDTVs in your living room, or on your tablet or smartphone on the run, Digital HD offers up versatility and convenience.

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How Nerf Became The World’s Best Purveyor of Big Guns For Kids

A team of 15 Hasbro designers, engineers, marketers, product development specialists, model makers, model painters and computer-aided design experts in both Pawtucket, Rhode Island and Hong Kong were tasked to handle two requests from their target customers.

Boys ages 8 to 16 wanted a blaster that had greater ammo capacity and shot projectiles farther.

The design team had recently broken the 50-foot barrier with a new line of guns that fired little Frisbee-like discs. But could they create a standard foam dart capable of traveling an unheard-of 75 feet—about the length of a regulation tennis court? And while they were at it, could they significantly increase the dart-carrying capacity of a blaster? At the time it was 35 darts. How about 50?

Read about the meticulous design, engineering and testing that goes into creating better Nerf guns HERE.

Nerf’s N-Strike Elite Hail-Fire, the flagship dart blaster of Nerf’s 2012 lineup is a hulking semiautomatic with unprecedented ammo capacity and a 75-foot range.

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Keyboard Key Portraits of Famous People

Australian artist Guy Whitby, aka WorkByKnight (WBK) makes keyboard key mosaic portraits of famous people.

Using his skilled hand in photo manipulation, WBK produces every piece with close attention to each neatly aligned key that serves as a single pixel. Instead of getting lazy and using the same shape in each square slot, simply assigning the space a different color, the artist utilizes the assortment of buttons found in a diverse mix of devices and designs. The result is a really impressive, time-consuming body of work.

In case you have trouble making out the faces in the portraits, take a step back and take another gander.

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Disney D-Tech 3D-Printed Princess Figurines

The D-Tech Me Princess experience officially opened on August 26th in the World of Disney at Downtown Disney Marketplace.

Ordinary girls can now become princesses with the aid of photo scanners and 3-D printers.

During the 10-minute experience, several cameras instantly capture multiple angles of a guest’s face which are reconstructed in a computer for processing. The “princess in waiting” can choose one of seven different Disney Princesses including Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White and Tiana. Hair, skin and eye color of the figurine are customized to match the guest.

A Princess silver link necklace with choice of colored gem charm is also included for participants.

The completed figurine is then shipped directly to the guest’s home within five to six weeks. Each seven-inch Princess figurine is $99.95 (plus $15.95 shipping. Canadian and International shipping begins at $75.00). Guests can order additional replica seven-inch figurines for $74.95 each or a three-inch replica for $39.95.

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The Invisible Helmet

Two female Swedish design students spent seven years researching crash data and over $10 million developing a new form of head protection that avoids both aesthetic/design concerns while still saving lives.

The Hovding Invisible Bike Helmet ($600 US) is essentially an advanced personal airbag collar equipped with a cold gas helium inflator and variety of sensors that detect abnormal movements while riding. In the event of an accident, a hood-shaped ultra strong nylon airbag inflates in under 0.1 seconds, protecting a rider’s head prior to impact.

A black box records 10 seconds of data before and during any accident, helping various authorities piece together what happened in the hope of preventing crashes in the future.

The device also features a rechargeable battery and can deliver charges/upgrades via a USB connection.

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TIME’s Wireless Issue Examines Smartphone & Tablet Dependency

TIME magazine’s special wireless issue for this week takes an interesting look at how phones are practically now an extension of our minds and bodies.

The cover showcases more than 200 Instagram photographs from across the world; a mobile device captured each image. The magazine also features an in-depth, Qualcomm-partnered mobility poll that illustrates human dependency on smartphones and tablets. The poll tallied worldwide responses from 5,000 people online and by phone in June and July, and a whopping 84 percent said they could not go one day without a mobile device. Check out some of the results below; more findings can be seen HERE.

Mobile Use & Attitudes:

- 84 percent worldwide said they couldn’t go a single day without their mobile devices in hand

- If forced to choose between the two, 65 percent worldwide opted to take their wireless mobile device with them in the morning instead of their lunch; 44 percent would leave their wallets at home in favor of their device

- 61 percent worldwide plan to replace their phone in less than two years

- 50 percent of Americans say they sleep with their mobile next to the bed as do more than 80 percent of 18-24 year olds

- 32 percent of all respondents say that if it was their choice they would prefer to communicate by text message

- 30 percent said that being without their mobile for even short periods leaves them feeling anxious

- 23 percent of all respondents say they screen almost all their calls and tend to reply to many voicemails via text or email

Dating:

- 55 percent (76 percent of 25-29 year olds) worldwide had flirted with someone via text message

- 43 percent have used texting to ask someone out on a date

- 24 percent of respondents globally said they sent a text message to coordinate or commit adultery – including 56 percent in China

Parenting:

- 66 percent of people feel that their wireless devices have made them better parents

- 70 percent of parents think the benefits for kids of learning about technology outweigh the potential for distractions from studies

- The average age thought appropriate for a child to own a mobile phone is 13 years

Government & Politics:

- 75 percent worldwide think governments should not have the power to shut off wireless networks for the purpose of suppressing peaceful dissent

- In the U.S., 28 percent say they are better informed about the news and current events; in China, that number jumps to 79 percent

- 40 percent in the U.S. say mobile technology has strengthened the economy; in China, 81 percent agree with that

- 50 percent agree that wireless mobile technology made the government more accountable to the people

Business

- 26 percent say they feel guilty if they don’t promptly respond to a work-related message outside of normal work hours

- In the U.S. only 19 percent said it is easier for them to be away from the office because of mobile technology

Multi-Tasking:

- 64 percent (77 percent of 18-24 year olds) use their devices while watching TV

- 58 percent globally (74 percent in India) use their wireless mobile device while also using a laptop or desktop computer

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Breaking Bad Creator Vince Gilligan Talks To Conan About The Show’s Origins

Vince Gilligan, creator of AMC’s fantastic series Breaking Bad, talks to Conan O’Brien about the orgins of the show.

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Grant Morrison’s Guide to Batman on the Big Screen

Scottish comic book auteur Grant Morrison is convinced that Batman is the medium’s greatest character: “He’s an outlaw. He’s an inventor. He’s a detective. He’s got better gadgets than James Bond and he looks like Dracula. He’s got everything.”

As Morrison researched his superhero history book Supergods, he sat through every minute of Batman’s TV and movie incarnations.

HERE is Morrison’s guide to Batman on film.

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Google Handwrite For Smartphones & Tablets

Google Handwrite is a new mobile search feature that lets smartphone and tablet users hand write search queries into Google search.

As the user writes on their screen, Google recognizes the handwriting and generates autocomplete results. Google Handwrite is currently a beta feature and can be enabled in the settings link at the bottom of the Google homepage.

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In New Digital Comics, Each Tap Holds a Surprise

Avengers Vs. X-Men is giving fans what they have long come to expect from Marvel Comics: epic slugfests and earth-shattering perils rendered vividly on the page by prominent writers and artists. But this time around, the publisher has added something new: its first Infinite Comic, a digital-only prelude to “Avengers vs. X-Men” that was released with issue No. 1 of the print series last month. It represents another step by the comic book industry toward embracing the digital format, and one that holds the potential to push traditional comic book storytelling to a new level.

The Infinite Comic, written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Stuart Immonen, chronicles the journey of the hero Nova from outer space to Earth to warn the Avengers of an impending threat, setting up the print narrative.

When reading a traditional comic, the eye cannot help taking in the whole page at once. The digital format and the pace of the Infinite Comic can lead to more surprises. As each successive panel appears on the screen, each tap or click can reveal a new caption, subtly change an illustration or replace it entirely. Focusing and blurring effects can heighten the reading experience or simply allow one to appreciate the artwork, which is richer and more vibrantly colored than the printed page.

DC Comics has also been offering new weekly digital comics before they are available in print, many of them aimed at nontraditional readers. “We have different content each day geared toward a slightly different consumer,” said Jim Lee, the co-publisher of DC Comics who oversees digital efforts.(From the NY Times)

Read more HERE.

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MIT’s LiquiGlide Solves Ketchup Bottle Frustrations

A team at MIT’s Varanasi Research Group has created LiquiGlide – an FDA approved surface coating that liberates all of the ketchup, mayonnaise or other condiments from a glass or plastic bottle.

The research came in second in MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Traditionally, there’s still a bunch of food left in the bottle when you throw it out. By MIT’s calculations, about 1 million pounds of food gets thrown out each year worldwide. Also, those squeeze bottles need a big cap. By eliminating the need for such a big cap, we would save 25,000 tons of petroleum-based plastics each year.

The coating could be on the market within two to three years and beyond condiments, it could prove useful in containers for shampoos and lotions.

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Amazon To Lend Harry Potter E-Books

Amazon said Thursday it has signed a deal for the electronic books rights to all seven Harry Potter titles in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish for its Kindle lending library.

The deal allows subscribers of the Amazon Prime service, which requires an annual subscription, to borrow the electronic versions of best-selling JK Rowling books. The ebooks will be available on June 19th.

Amazon said it inked the exclusive license with J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore website to make the titles available to its customers via the Kindle e-reader.

But the deal only allows for borrowing of the ebooks, with Pottermore remaining the only place to buy the electronic versions.

Over a year, borrowing the Harry Potter books, plus a handful of additional titles, can alone be worth more than the $79 cost of Prime or a Kindle. The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library also has an innovative feature that’s of great benefit for popular titles like Harry Potter — unlimited supply of each title — you never get put on a waiting list.”

The Amazon lending library has now grown to over 145,000 books that can be borrowed for free as frequently as once a month, with no due dates.

Books are borrowed to read on a Kindle device, and customers can have one book out at a time. When customers want to borrow a new book, any borrowed book can be returned from their device.

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The Star Wars Carbon Freeze Me Experience at Walt Disney World

Starting May 18, 2012, visitors to the Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (located at Walt Disney World) can step into the “Carbon Freezing Chamber” and have an 8-inch figurine created of themselves “frozen in carbonite.”

The figurine is comprised of a 3D scan of the visitor’s face and the body of Han Solo. The Carbon Freeze Me experience allows guests to the theme park to “relive the famous carbon freezing scene from The Empire Strikes Back.” The 2012 Star Wars Weekends are every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 18 to June 10, 2012.

Using state-of-the-art imaging technology, this experience casts your likeness as a three-dimensional, eight-inch figurine. At the “Carbon Freezing Chamber” (located adjacent to The American Idol Experience), several cameras will capture multiple angles of your face. The images are then reconstructed in a computer for processing, and, in approximately four weeks, the completed figurine is shipped directly to your house.

The replica figurine can be hung on a wall and guests also receive a light-up wristband.

Reservations are required and can be made starting Monday, May 7 by calling 407-WDW-TECH (407-939-8324).

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Walmart to Unlock America’s Favorite Movies with Exclusive Disc-to-Digital Service

Walmart is giving physical DVD/Blu-ray collections across the country a second life by turning them into digital movies. The nation’s largest home entertainment retailer is the first to announce an exclusive in-store disc-to-digital service which gives movie lovers the freedom to watch their DVD/Blu-ray collections from Internet-connected devices, including televisions, tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles and more. The service is powered by VUDU, the industry-leading video streaming service.

Walmart, in partnership with the major Hollywood studios: Paramount Home Media Distribution, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Dreamworks Animation, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, is increasing the value of movie ownership for its customers. Starting April 16th, 2012 in more than 3,500 stores, Walmart customers will be able to bring their DVD and Blu-ray collections to Walmart and receive digital access to their favorite titles from the partnering studios. An equal conversion for standard DVDs and Blu-ray discs will be $2. Standard DVDs can be upgraded to High-Def (HD) for $5.

The process to convert previously-purchased DVD/Blu-ray movies to digital copies is quick and simple:

- Bring your movie collections from the participating studio partners – Paramount, Sony, Fox, Dreamworks Animation, Universal and Warner Bros. – to your local Walmart Photo Center.

- A Walmart associate will help you create a free VUDU account.

- Tell the associate how you’d like your movies converted:

- Convert a standard DVD or Blu-ray movie for $2; or,

- Upgrade a standard DVD to an HD digital copy for $5.

Walmart will authorize the digital copies and place them in your VUDU account. No upload is necessary, and you get to keep your physical discs.

Log onto VUDU.com from more than 300 Internet-connected devices to view movies any time, any place.

To learn more about Walmart Entertainment’s new services please visit: www.walmartstores.com/entertainment.

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The VIP Fridge Magnet

Red Tomato Pizza Restaurant in Dubai has created the VIP Fridge Magnet, a one-touch pizza-ordering magnet. The VIP (Very Important Pizza-lover) fridge magnet uses bluetooth technology to order pizza with a push of a button. A text message is immediately sent to your phone to confirm the order.

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PayPal Here: The Simple Way For Merchants To Accept Credit Cards, PayPal & Checks

PayPal today announced PayPal Here, the world’s first global mobile payments solution that allows small businesses to accept almost any form of payment. The new service includes a free app and fully encrypted thumb-sized card reader, which turns any iPhone, and soon Android smartphone, into a mobile payment solution. With PayPal Here, small businesses, service providers and casual sellers can send invoices or accept debit and credit cards, checks and PayPal using one simple product.

Merchants can accept payments by swiping cards in the card reader, scanning cards and checks using their phone cameras, or manually entering card information into the app.

PayPal Here offers a competitive fee structure with no monthly account or set-up fees. Merchants pay a simple flat rate of 2.7 percent for card swipes and PayPal payments. In addition, every PayPal Here merchant will receive a business debit card for quick access to cash and 1 percent cash-back on eligible purchases. If merchants use the debit card for purchases, their fees effectively come down to 1.7 percent

The PayPal Here card reader and merchant app for iPhone are both available today exclusively to select merchants in the United States, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong. U.S. businesses can join the wait list to get a free PayPal Here card reader at www.paypal.com/here. International merchants can register their interest at their local PayPal site. The updated PayPal app for iPhone is available in the iOS App Store globally starting today.

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The Marvel ReEvolution Is Here

The Marvel ReEvolution is here—and comics will never be the same! The future of comic book publishing was unveiled to the raucous crowd at SXSW Interactive’s ScreenBurn Arcade courtesy of industry superstars Axel Alonso (Editor in Chief, Marvel Comics), Peter Phillips (SVP/GM, Marvel Digital Media) and Jeph Loeb (Head of Marvel Television) during the historic Marvel: House of Ideas panel.

Marvel Infinite Comics

An industry first, the Marvel ReEvolution seamlessly brings the worlds of print and digital media together for a comics experience like no other. The first two elements of this exciting new initiative were revealed as Marvel Infinite Comics, a new comic book format, and Marvel AR, the first major augmented reality app from a comics company. And fans will not have to wait long to get in on the action as they will both be released with the hotly-anticipated Avengers Vs. X-Men #1 on April 4, when the two biggest super hero teams in the world go to war!

“Marvel’s always led graphic fiction industry in digital media innovation and the Marvel ReEvolution is a quantum leap into the future of publishing,” said Dan Buckley. Publisher & President of the Print, Animation & Digital Divisions, Marvel Worldwide, Inc. “We see print and digital product as complementary, not competitive—so we’ve made sure that not only do we have new digital content but also digital products that enhance the printed page. The release of Avengers Vs. X-Men #1, the biggest story we’ve ever told, is the activation point for the re-evolution of comics as a whole.”

Marvel Infinite Comics represent a new form of comic book storytelling, using tablets and smartphones as a new canvas for storytelling, taking advantage of modern technology while staying true to medium’s greatest strengths. The first comic released in this format will be Avengers Vs. X-Men #1 Iinfinate, from acclaimed creators Mark Waid and Stuart Immonen and available on April 4 for purchase on the Marvel Comics app, free with the redemption of the code found in print copies of Avengers Vs. X-Men #1 or included with the purchase of the digital version.

Marvel AR

“We call these Marvel Infinite Comics because the storytelling possibilities are, frankly, infinite. Writers and artists now have a whole host of new tools at their disposal to redefine the comic book medium,” said Alonso. “Current tablets and smartphones, along with comiXology’s Guided View technology, allow us to develop new, full length stories for a different medium that are very much truly comics—but experienced by readers in a way no other major company has ever executed.”

The Marvel AR app, powered by Aurasma, will be released in April for iOS and Android devices. By opening this app and scanning select Marvel products featuring the Marvel AR logo, you’ll unlock exclusive content starring the world’s most popular super heroes, including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk and many others! Go behind the scenes of your favorite comics, see new footage, hear from creators, catch yourself up on past events and more!

“Marvel AR is a perfect example of how digital innovation not only gives added value to print comics, but also brings a delivers an entirely new reading experience,” explained Phillips. “Now fans will have access to more behind-the-scenes material from their favorite Marvel products than ever before—and it’s all absolutely free.”

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Cupcake ATM

Less than one week after Sprinkles Beverly Hills announced their very first 24-hour cupcake automat, it is up and running.

In the video below, Huffington Post’s Lucy Blodgett test drives Sprinkles’ newly-installed 24-hour cupcake ATM.

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Invisible Mercedes

When Mercedes wanted to promote its new fuel cell vehicle, instead of placing it squarely in front of everyone in the world, the company decided to make the car invisible.

Mercedes created a special vehicle covered with a grid of LEDs and cameras, rendering it nearly invisible as it drives down the road.

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