Trends With Benefits







August 2016
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31


Uber puts self-driving cars on the streets of Pittsburgh; Hyper Loop One takes another step toward becoming a reality; Elon Musk has new plans to teach AI how to communicate; A new octopus-shaped robot could be the origin story for sentinels from The Matrix.

Our latest weekly episode of Trends with Benefits features Ryan Waniata, Brad Bourque, Greg Nibler and special guest Kielen King. Kielen is a tech-enthusiast and genre-busting musician. Be sure to check out his epic Sci-Fi/Hip-Hop series of albums called Star Pilot!

Our topics this week:

  • Uber launches autonomous rides: Uber has confirmed it is launching self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, as early as this year. While they will have drivers on board to monitor activity for safety, the goal is to replace humans altogether. However, despite how awkward some Uber rides can be, would you hop into a car with no one behind the wheel? In addition, they have acquired Otto, a company that is working on a self-driving kit, to possibly retrofit commercial trucks.

  • Hyper Loop One looks to the Middle East: The dream of the Hyper Loop is alive in Dubai, as the company has signed a partnership with UAE port and terminal operator, DP World. While starting with a study, this is the first step toward implementing a commercial version of the groundbreaking technology.

  • Teaching AI via Reddit: OpenAI is a nonprofit Artificial Intelligence agency, backed by Elon Musk. Their ambitious plan is to use a DGX-1 supercomputer developed by Nvidia for a unique purpose. They will be feeding it message threads from Reddit in an attempt to teach it how to conduct “polite” conversations on it's own. This is a truly ambitious plan, but we have to wonder; is Reddit really where you think AI will learn polite speech?

  • An Octopus-shaped Robot: The Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies is re-imagining what we would view as a “conventional” robot. They believe the soft bodies of living organisms are the ideal model, since they provide more ways to exploit and interact with the environment around it. The result is a robot that appears to be very functional, while still creating ample nightmare fuel.

Please subscribe and share Trends with Benefits, visit and send in YOUR questions to We also broadcast the show live on YouTube every Thursday at 2:30 pm PST.


Please don’t forget to check out our other live-streamed shows, Between the Streams and Close to the Metal!


Direct download: dtpodcast096.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:22pm PDT

Topics: Hackers just gained access to 100 million Volkswagens, Alexa is looking to become your new backseat driver, worry less about crashing your drone into a condo with on-demand Drone Insurance, turning yourself into a Cyborg is a lot closer to becoming a reality and a Chinese spaceship!

There is no denying that Volkswagen is having a pretty bad year. First came the revelation that they cheated on the emissions test for their diesel vehicles. Now, researchers at the Usenix security conference have revealed a way to hack into the remote key fobs of nearly every VW produced since 1995! This leaves up to 100 million vehicles vulnerable. As technology is increasingly incorporated into all newer cars, security will become a huge issue going forward.


BMW has announced a partnership with Amazon, to incorporate Alexa into their cars. The program will be called "BMW Connected" and will help users gain real-time traffic information, find their car in a parking lot and even have the AC running before they get to it. The potential is great, but would you want your car to be so interconnected with your electronic devices?

Apple is also reportedly partnering with BMW for a potential "Apple Car". Dubbed Project Titan, details are a little sketchy. The rumors state that they could have a car on the road by 2020. This leads to a big debate on the show, of why Apple would even need a car in the first place.

Switching to Drones, we all know the dangers of accidentally crashing yours into a building, tree, the ground, your friend, etc. Now there is a company that is trying to offer you some protection. Called Verifly, they are offering up to $1,000,000 of insurance protection, at an hourly rate. For as little as $10, you could be protected from causing damage to other property. One caveat; your drone itself is not covered, so far.

A very forward-thinking company named Cyborg Nest has developed a device called North Sense. It is a miniature, chip-like device that attaches to your body, like a piercing. It will then vibrate every time you face toward magnetic north. Why you would want this, we are not sure. The company has stated it wants to add "extras sense", to humans.

Finally, after discussing a Chinese Bus last week, we have a new idea from China. They want to create a hybrid plane/spacecraft that will travel at hypersonic speeds and be able to break the orbit of the Earth. This kind of technology could be revolutionary in both industrial and commercial travel. 

Also, Dixie Carter. You'll have to listen to find out why.

Today's episode features Caleb Denison, Drew Prindle, Ryan Waniata and Greg Nibler.

Please subscribe and share Trends with Benefits, visit and send in YOUR questions to We also broadcast the show live on YouTube every Thursday at 2:30 pm PST.

Don't forget to check out our other live-streamed shows, Between the Streams and Close to the Metal.


Direct download: dtpodcast095.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30pm PDT

Topics: Streaming Olympics and VR Content, Facebook "Area 404", Xbox, Nintendo NX and retro-gaming, China unveils the bus of the future.

On today's show we're joined by a special guest. Andrew Mayer is a 25-year game development veteran, who has some fantastic insight into today's topics. He regularly contributes to Digital Trends and you can check out his page at Level Up Design!

The Olympics get started on August 5th with the opening ceremony and there is a lot more than the Zika virus to grab our attention. Comcast has promised 6000 hours of footage via their X1 box, comprising both traditional cable/On-Demand coverage and streaming content. The Gold Zone in particular will allow viewers to hone in on the award ceremonies themselves. 

Virtual Reality will also play a huge part in Rio for the first time, as Samsung will be delivering a plethora of content. They are partnering with the NBC Sports app to provide VR highlights, Basketball, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and a number of other events. Will viewing the activities in VR, be enough to bring you into the fold and watch more of the games?

Facebook has made it clear that it intends to invest heavily in Virtual Reality, Drones and a myriad of other technology. They made a step to foster that growth, by opening up a 22,000 square foot facility in Menlo Park, called "Area 404". Combining Oculus, Aquila and even a secret R&D group called Building 8 (headed by former Darpa director Regina Dugan) they feel that each group will be better served, by working together.

The Gaming Industry has been going through an interesting trend of new console releases, while at the same time fomenting nostalgia with the re-release of classics. Microsoft's Xbox One S is looking to be a great example of some modest gaming improvements with a GREAT 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray player. The goal of Microsoft seems to heading toward eventually aligning PC Gaming with console gaming.

Nintendo is also preparing to release the NX system before the end of this year. This system seems to more readily align a console with mobile gaming. How it will all work is left to a bit of speculation, but with Nintendo being the "wildcard" of gaming systems, they could pull it off. The initial releases for the system will be new versions of Mario, Zelda and Pokémon.

On the retro-gaming front, the Nintendo Classic will clearly be a hit this winter, with 30 classic games being readily available. Disney also made a partnership with GOG to bring Aladdin, The Lion King and The Jungle Book 16-bit games to PC's. The price is $9.99 per game. Will the nostalgia factor be enough for you purchase one of these?

Finally, we take a look at a......Chinese Bus! However, it's no ordinary bus. Looking more like something straight out of a SciFi movie, the bus is designed to carry 1400 passengers OVER regular traffic. The electric bus straddles two lanes of a road, towering at 7 feet tall to allow traffic to pass underneath. It's pretty cool looking, but do you think this is actually feasible as a solution to traffic woes?


Today's episode features Andrew Mayer, Nick Mokey, Rick Stella and Greg Nibler.

Please subscribe and share Trends with Benefits, visit and send in YOUR questions to We also broadcast the show live on YouTube every Thursday at 2:30 pm PST.

Don't forget to check out our other live-streamed shows, Between the Streams and Close to the Metal.


Direct download: dtpodcast094.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30pm PDT

Topics: Apple invests in AR, Updated Playstation and XBox, Flyboard Air goes military, Solar Impulse 2 goes around the world.

The huge success of Pokémon Go appears to be kickstarting Apple's foray into Augmented Reality. With the new iPhone 7 coming out on September 12th and a billion devices already in possession of potential AR fans, the company is set to rake in huge profits. Tim Cook announced that a whole department of Apple will be opened up for just this segment alone. We discuss whether Apple will be the company to lead further development in AR technology for the masses.

With Apple's success in coming out with a new "must have" product every couple of years, we turn to an op-ed written for DT about the advancement of gaming consoles. It appears that Sony and Microsoft may be looking at that model for  Playstation and XBox. With adequate backward-compatibility we could see newer updated consoles hitting the shelves rapidly. Would you be willing to purchase a new system in that short of a time span, to keep up with the latest gaming technology?

Zapata Racing became a topic of hot debate a couple of months ago, when they released a video of their Flyboard Air hoverboard. They proved to be legitimate, by setting a Guinness World Record for longest distance traveled. Now, they have been acquired by a military technology company, called Implant Sciences. They claim they will be working on jetbikes, floating rescue stations, scaffolding and unmanned heavy payload drones. While at best this seems very ambitious, is this just another instance of a company blowing smoke? In reality, how possible is it to even create something of this magnitude?

Finally, a milestone was reached in solar-powered flight this week and it doesn't seem to be getting very much attention. The Solar Impulse 2 flew completely around the world (in segments) without the use of any fuel, other than what the sun provided. Conceptually this is a monumental accomplishment. However, with the rapid advancement of so much technology in the last couple of years, are we reaching a point where this just doesn't have a big enough "wow" factor to garner interest? Are we becoming tech-jaded?

Today's episode features Brad Bourque, Drew Prindle, Caleb Denison and Greg Nibler.

Please subscribe and share Trends with Benefits, visit and send in YOUR questions to We also broadcast the show live on YouTube every Thursday at 2:30 pm PST.

Don't forget to check out our other live-streamed shows, Between the Streams and Close to the Metal.

Direct download: dtpodcast093.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30pm PDT

Topics: Pokémon Go is making billions, Sony Z series television, Cardinal Robotics security drone, Amazon Prime Air delivery strategy, the Modobag motorized luggage.

Our special guest on today's episode is comedian Nariko Ott. Nariko just won Helium Comedy Club's Portland's Funniest Person competition. He beat about 150 other comedians, to win the title! Check out his website, to find out where he'll be performing next.

We start off with, what else, Pokémon Go. The app is making billions of dollars for multiple companies, not just Nintendo. Apple takes a 30% cut of all apps downloaded in it's store and stands to make $3 billion alone, over the next 2 years. In addition, there are a myriad of other services being offered around the game, including a Pokémon Go dating app!

Caleb Denison recently went to Culver City at the behest of Sony, to take a look at their new television. The new Sony Z series uses Blacklight Master Drive to make their line of LED televisions approach OLED levels of blackness. He was truly impressed with this new line and it gives us all a glimpse of where televisions are heading, in the near future.

A company called Cardinal Robotics has come up with a unique way to improve home surveillance. They have a drone that is designed to patrol the perimeter of your house, from the air. It has a 14-megapixel camera, with near infrared capabilities. While a little stingy on the technical details, the company will allow you to pre-order one for $4000. Would you be willing to pay that much, for the added home security?

There was some background noise during our recording, due to someone bouncing a basketball, in the room next door to our studio. Caleb attempted to pound on the wall to "alert" the bouncer. The reaction was swift, as we found out the perpetrator was none other than Jeremy Kaplan, Editor in Chief of Digital Trends! He confronted Caleb over the issue and then joined us for the rest of the show.

Amazon was awarded a patent this month, for their potential Prime Air delivery service. The plan is to turn street lights and even church steeples, into drone docking stations. The stations would allow for neighborhood delivery and may even act as a drop-off point for packages. It's definitely forward thinking, but would you want a drone station across from your house?

Finally, we discuss the latest in luggage technology. The Modobag is part carry-on bag and part motorized vehicle. With a 200-watt electric motor, you can actually sit on the bag and tool around the airport, or your neighborhood at 8 mph. Would you be interested in purchasing one of these? Side note, Rick Stella would be very interested in testing out one of these, if Modobag happens to be reading this......

Today's episode features Nariko Ott, Caleb Denison, Rick Stella, Jeremy Kaplan and Greg Nibler.

Please subscribe and share Trends with Benefits, visit and send in YOUR questions to We also broadcast the show live on YouTube every Thursday at 2:30 pm PST.

Don't forget to check out our other live-streamed shows, Between the Streams and Close to the Metal.



Direct download: dtpodcast092.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30pm PDT

Topics: Pokémon Go everywhere, Future of AR, HoloLens, New use for drones, AI Harry Potter, classic Nintendo comeback.

Pokémon Go is absolutely unavoidable, over this last week. Between people wandering into traffic, getting into accidents, getting robbed and even finding dead bodies, it seems the world has gone insane over the new mobile game. Some of the most interesting aspects are the conspiracy theorists proclaiming their thoughts. We have our own Conspiracy Dan triumphantly returning to the show, to give his ideas on what the app could "really" be doing.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, weighed in on the phenomenon, in relation to the advancement of augmented reality (AR). In particular, he claims that the HoloLens stands to benefit from the the success of the Pokémon Go App. It is definitely introducing a very basic AR to a population that may have previously had a hard time understanding the concepts of the platform. Will Pokémon Go be the product that puts new AR development on the fast track for mass consumption?

Drones are an almost must mention on this show and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have found a new way to put them to use. There is currently a literal plague effecting prairie dogs, which are the food source for endangered black ferrets. In order to combat this, the FWS is using drones to drop peanut-smeared, vaccine-laced, M&Ms near prairie dog habitats. Truly a unique and efficient adaptation of drone technology!

A long short-term memory (LSTM) recurrent neural network was recently used to write a sci-fi movie called Sunspring, after studying hundreds of scripts. The results were then filmed and were quite....creepy. Now artificial intelligence has been used to write a new Harry Potter book, after studying the first four in the series. The results are equally unnerving, but we proceed to speculate on what this kind of technology could lead to.

Finally, Nintendo has continued their dominance of gaming news this week, by going retro. The NES Classic Edition plug-and-play system is launching in November and will retail for $60. The system is pre-loaded with classics such as the Super Mario Bros. 1 & 2, Metroid, Mega Man 2, Excitebike and many more! Which games would you like to revisit?


Today's episode features Dan Gaul, Nick Mokey, Brad Bourque and Greg Nibler.

Please subscribe and share Trends with Benefits, visit and send in YOUR questions to We also broadcast the show live on YouTube every Thursday at 2:30 pm PST.

Don't forget to check out our other live-streamed shows, Between the Streams and Close to the Metal.

Direct download: dtpodcast091.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30pm PDT

Topics: Pokemon Go, Tesla Autopilot issues, digitally growing drones, VR porn festival, VR at the Olympics, K5 Security Robot.

We start the show off today, with Brad explaining his new fascination with new mobile game, Pokemon Go. While many of us have not actually played Pokemon before, he makes a good case for downloading the new game.

Tesla has been in the news a lot in the last couple of months, regarding the Autopilot feature on their vehicles. With accidents involving both their Model S and the Model X, there have been questions regarding the safety of the feature. An update is on the way for Model S. The bigger questions surrounding Autopilot, are how it is going to effect our driving habits and all around lifestyles as it becomes more ingrained in vehicles. Statistically it's safer, but do you trust it enough to use regularly? Also, how will it effect our economy? There is a great article on Digital Trends about just this and we dig into some of these questions.

Researchers at BAE Systems and the University of Glasgow are currently at work on a novel way to create and manipulate drones. While it sounds like something out of a Sci-Fi movie, they believe they'll some day be able to "grow" drones using digitally controlled chemistry and 3D printing. It sounds a little ridiculous, but the implications are pretty incredible. We highly suggest you check out their video here.

In what had to be inevitable, a VR porn festival popped up in Japan recently. The festival was shut down pretty quickly by authorities, for exceeding capacity! Obviously the porn industry will have a big presence in Virtual Reality going forward.  However, would you want to stand in a sweaty, crowded room, bumping into other people waiting for their turn to "try" it out?

VR is also going to be used in the upcoming Olympics in Brazil. While the country itself is appearing to be woefully unprepared for the start, the idea of VR in sports is rapidly advancing. NBC has announced it will have up to 85 hours of VR content available for the Samsung Gear VR. What kind of events would you be interested in watching, in VR?

Security Guards may soon be joined by robot assistants, if the company Knightscope has it's way. Their K5 security robot comes in at 300 pounds and they are currently patrolling the Stanford Shopping Center. It's equipped with thermal imaging; two way audio; license plate recognition and even people detection. Clearly, this is the start of the robot revolution. Don't trust Brad, when it happens.


Today's episode features Nick Mokey, Brad Bourque, Rick Stella and Greg Nibler.

Please subscribe and share Trends with Benefits, visit and send in YOUR questions to We also broadcast the show live on YouTube every Thursday at 2:30 pm PST.

Don't forget to check out other livestreamed shows, Between the Streams and Close to the Metal.

Direct download: dtpodcast090.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

Topics: Laser Bazooka, iPhone 7 rumors, King of TV competition at CE Week, Smart Billboards, and an escaping Russian Robot.

Owning a laser gun is probably something we have all dreamed about as some point. YouTube personality Drake Anthony, known as Styropyro, is someone who has actually done it. He's posted several videos of homemade laser contraptions and his latest does not fail to impress. He created a laser bazooka, made from re-purposed blue laser diodes, among other parts from various components bought off of eBay. The video demonstrates his laser in action, as he tears through everything from a computer case, to a block of wood. We may be witnessing the origin story of a real-life Iron Man.

From lasers to phones, there is always speculation about what Apple is up to. The iPhone 7 is one of the most anticipated phones in years and we cover many of the rumors currently circulating about the new device. It's possible they drop the metal case, make the phone waterproof and get rid of the Touch ID button. One of the biggest rumors, is that they may be getting rid of the headphone jack altogether. While this would make the phone thinner, it would also force everyone to purchase new headphones. Is that something you'd be willing to do, in order to have the latest in phone technology?

Caleb Denison recently returned from Consumer Electronics Week in New York. CE Week is designed to be a bridge between the annual CES, in January. He participated in the "King of TV" competition, between the highest end televisions on the market. While the current models are impressive, he also let us know about what could be coming in the future. Tune in to find out about what "Q"LED technology is all about and why it may revolutionize the industry.

Personalized advertising is about to go to the next level in Japan, with plans to launch "smart" billboards on highways. They will have the ability to scan cars before they pass by a digital display, gathering information about their make, model, etc. Custom ads up to 5 seconds will then be broadcast to target the drivers as they pass by. This is surely only the start to a new form of marketing. How do you feel about advertisers gathering so much information about you?

Finally, we head back to Russia for it's now famous escaping Robot. The AI-enhanced droid, named the Promobot IR77 made the news a couple of weeks ago, by escaping it's lab and rolling into traffic on it's own. Apparently not learning from their mistakes, the robot was somehow allowed to escape again! This time it went on a 45 minute cruise through the city of Perm, before it's battery died, in the middle of the street. There are rumors that it will be "put down", which will clearly be a provocation to our future robot overlords. 

Today's episode features Caleb Denison, Drew Prindle, Rick Stella and Greg Nibler.

Please subscribe and share Trends with Benefits, visit and send in YOUR questions to We also broadcast the show live on YouTube every Thursday at 2:30 pm PST.

Direct download: dtpodcast089.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30pm PDT

Topics: DT Car Awards, Marshawn Lynch, Facebook Live Streaming, Perfect Memory Smart Pro Camera, VR Roller Coasters and a Robotic Dog.

The DT Car Awards are officially out and we share some behind-the-scenes tales from this epic endeavor. One of the biggest surprises for this year's awards, was the help we received from celebrity judge, Marshawn Lynch. We've got several stories about him, including how he ordered 3 gallons of lemonade, from a Chick Fil A. Also, Jack and Holly were able to take a spin in a few of the cars and let us know about some of the tech features they found most impressive. 

Facebook is investing heavily in Live Broadcasting and this week it received a big boost in publicity. Congressmen took to broadcasting via Facebook and Twitter when C-SPAN was taken off of the air, during a live sit-in. With the proliferation and push for regular users to start Live Streamng their lives, we discuss where we think it's all heading. 

Along the lines of sharing your life, there is an Indiegogo campaign to make it easier for you to catch every moment. The Perfect Memory Smart Pro Camera is designed to be on at all times, worn around your neck, recording everything. When an event happens you want to post, you double-click it, save the last 5 minutes and the program will edit a ready-made video for you. The convenience is undeniable. However, privacy concerns are going to become more prevalent as we have to assume that we are always being recorded. Would you be interested in this product?

Virtual Reality is obviously going to become more ingrained in our entertainment options, as the technology is refined. One way that it is currently being used, is to enhance Roller Coasters at Six Flags. Holly actually experienced the ride and shared her thoughts on it. One major concern; How sanitary is it sharing VR Headsets with the masses?

Boston Dynamics is known for producing impressive, yet somehow unnerving, videos of their robotic creations. The latest one features their robot dog, called the SpotMini. It features an elongated "neck and head" that appears to identify a dirty glass to place in the dishwasher and even recycles soda cans. Despite the creepy factor, would you be interested in owning your own robot dog helper?


Today's episode features Holly Smith, Jack Phan, Nick Mokey and Greg Nibler.

Please subscribe and share Trends with Benefits, visit and send in YOUR questions to We also broadcast the show live on YouTube every Thursday at 2:30 pm PST.

Direct download: dtpodcast088.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30pm PDT

Topics: E3 recap, Amazon Alexa, Drone deliveries, Elon Musk Mars Cargo, Mars Posters.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was this week and we have DT's Computing Editor, Matt Smith, to give us the breakdown. Xbox made a big splash with their plan to make games work cross-platform, between PC and the Console. The plan is that games will only have to be purchased once, which will be a huge bonus for Gamers.

Playstation also gave word that their new VR set for the PS4 will be available in October. The early reports are that it isn't really impressing a lot of people. The lower price point will definitely be a bonus however, allowing an easier VR entry point. In addition, they have partnered with Star Wars for a number of new games, which will surely be a big draw.

Traditionally, the biggest thing at E3 is the announcement of new games and this one does not disappoint. Included was Nintendo, which introduced a new version of Zelda. This new take on the game will allow for an open world and more interactive play. Overall, it seems like they have done a great job of bringing the classic franchise into the modern age of gaming.

Amazon has been receiving great reviews for the Alexa voice assistant and they have a lot of plans to evolve it's emerging AI. According to the MIT Technology Review, they are exploring ways to allow Alexa to better understand the emotions of it's Owners. If successful, this is a huge advancement that could drastically change Home Technology. Could this be the start of everyone having their own personal J.A.R.V.I.S., ala Tony Stark?

Starship Technologies is a company created by two former Skype co-founders and they have come up with a concept for ground-based drone deliveries. Drew had some hands-on experience with it and let us know about how it works. Essentially it's a cooler on wheels, designed for city deliveries of goods, using sidewalks. The biggest question is whether, or not, the drone would be secure.

Drew then also filled us in on the backlash that is out there, regarding drones. There was a commenter on his article who started a Facebook Page called Throw Stones At Drones! While we don't advocate this tactic, we can assure you the comments are worth checking it out.

Elon Musk announced yet another ambitious plan. This time, he wants to establish a steady cargo route between Earth and Mars. The freight path is planned to start within 2 years, allowing for a far cheaper way to get supplies to the Red Planet. The cargo would leave every 26 months, to take advantage of the shortest distance.

Finally, NASA is already planning for the colonization of Mars and even came up with some images designed to encourage employment for future explorers. While clearly designed tongue-in-cheek, they are very well done. They look like some kind of Sci-Fi propaganda and you can even print them out for at-home posters!


Today's episode features Rick Stella, Drew Prindle, Matt Smith and Greg Nibler.

Please subscribe and share Trends with Benefits, visit and send in YOUR questions to We also broadcast the show live on YouTube every Thursday at 2:30 pm PST.

Direct download: dtpodcast087.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30pm PDT