Staff picks for the week of Sept. 26, 2016

Staff Picks GeneralHappy Friday! Here are the most interesting tech stories our staff read this week.

Snapchat Spectacles are so LA (Read by Alexandria H.)

Snapchat, which recently renamed itself Snap Inc., is launching a new filter. But this one isn’t for your phone—it’s for your face. The new accessory, called Snapchat Spectacles, is a pair of funky looking glasses equipped with a camera that can capture 10 second videos. Simply put the glasses on, tap the top to start recording, and upload your newly recorded video to the app. That the mobile app company is dabbling in the world of wearables is just as shocking to me as the look of the glasses themselves. However, if the company’s success is any indication that they know what millennials want, these Spectacles will fly off shelves faster than you can say “lights, camera, action!”

Toyota is giving free coffee to drivers who stay off their phone (Read by Alexandria H.)

In an effort to prevent cell phone-related car accidents, Toyota is offering free coffee to drivers who stay off their phone while driving. The company’s new app, Driving Barista, uses a cell phone’s GPS and gyroscope to track if a phone has been used while the car was in motion. To reap the rewards, drivers just open the app, lay the phone face down, and begin their ride. The app tracks the number of miles driven and after 62 miles without a phone pickup, sends drivers a coupon for a free cup of joe. Unfortunately this offer isn’t available in the States just yet, but I think incentivizing drivers by simply having them open an app is a step in the right direction to decreasing distracted driving.

Fuze case for iPhone 7 wants to bring back the jack (Read by Camillia S.)

Loving your new iPhone 7, but not feeling the headphone adapter you need to use your trusty old AUX headphones? You’re in luck! Fuze has developed an iPhone case with a built-in Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter, eliminating the need to tote around a separate adapter. But here’s the rub: The case adds a bit of bulk, which sort of defeats the purpose of your shiny, lighter, faster, new iPhone. It’s up for crowdfunding on Indiegogo, so it’s not available yet. While this is a great idea, I think true Apple fans will eventually cave and adjust to their new normal–life without a headphone jack.

Your Facebook data is stored inside this beautiful Spartan warehouse (Read by Heidi B.)

Facebook users upload 2 billion photos, view 100 million hours of video, and generate 4.5 billion likes every day. Ever wonder where all that data is stored? This article looks inside one of Facebook’s massive data centers that is located near the Arctic Circle. It’s the size of 17 ice hockey rinks, completely powered by clean energy, and has an undoubtedly futuristic vibe. One of the niftiest things about Facebook’s data storage strategy is that the social media giant shares the hardware designs for all four (but soon to be six) of its data centers with other engineers through a program called Open Compute Project. How cool – literally.

This was the most tweeted presidential debate ever (Read by Heidi B.)

It’s official: This week’s presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was the most tweeted presidential debate ever. While specific numbers are not yet available, Twitter has confirmed the number of tweets sent during this year’s debate exceeded the 10.3 million tweets sent during the 2012 debate. I don’t know about you, but I’m more than ready to return to the standard Twitter feed lineup of food, baby, and animal posts.

California eyes unusual power source: its gridlocked roads (Read by Heidi B.)

When I think about renewable energy, miles upon miles of gridlock traffic typically don’t come to mind. But maybe they should. The California Energy Commission is currently studying how piezoelectric crystals placed under the roadway can harness the mechanical energy produced by cars to create electricity. The method works scientifically, but the state is examining whether it makes sense financially. How awesome is it that cars could be a feasible renewable power source? Can’t say I saw that one coming!

DJI’s new Mavic Pro drone folds up and fits in the palm of your hand (Read by Jen P.)

DJI has introduced the Mavic Pro, a fully equipped drone that folds up into a fun-size form factor. When unfurled, the Mavic Pro is every inch of its daddy, the Phantom, and retains the obstacle avoidance and subject tracking features we know and love. In fact, the Mavic Pro has some tricks up its propellers, including gesture control. Throw your arms into a victorious V and behold! The drone will focus on you. Goodbye money, hello purse-friendly drone.

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