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Amazon working on home robot, report says

Amazon.com Inc. may be gearing up for its next big project: a home robot.

>> On AJC.com: Amazon in 2018: 6 things you should know about the e-commerce giant

The rumor comes from a Bloomberg report published Monday in which sources familiar with the plan revealed that the company has started work on the domestic robot under the code name Vesta.

>> Read more trending news 

According to the sources, Vesta has apparently been in the works for years, but new job listings for Lab126, Amazon’s hardware research and development division, have sprung up this year.

Lab126 engineers previously built Amazon’s Kindle, Fire Phone and Echo.

“People briefed on the plan say the company hopes to begin seeding the robots in employees’ homes by the end of this year, and potentially with consumers as early as 2019,” Bloomberg reported, noting that the timeline may change.

>> On AJC.com: 6 most impressive benefits offered to Amazon employees

The Vesta robot prototypes reportedly have computer vision software and advanced cameras for navigation. Think of a “mobile Alexa, accompanying customers in parts of their home where they don’t have Echo devices,” Bloomberg analysts wrote.

An Amazon spokesperson told Bloomberg the company doesn’t comment on “rumors and speculation.” The AJC has reached out to Amazon for comment, as well. 

>> On AJC.com: Amazon tours Atlanta in its second headquarters search

Other companies have dabbled in domestic robots before, including iRobot and its Roomba vacuum and MobileRobots Inc.’s Jeeves home security robot.

Read the full report from Bloomberg.com.

Lion Gate Estate: Bizarre $550K home with carpeted ceilings, vintage cars takes internet by storm

In the market for a whimsical $550,000 home with carpeted ceilings, vintage cars and statues lurking around every corner?

No?

You'll still want to check out the now-viral listing for Detroit's Lion Gate Estate. Trust us.

>> PHOTO GALLERY: Inside $550K Lion Gate Estate

>> See the listing here

"Unique barely begins to describe this one of a kind Grixdale Farms estate," reads the listing by Real Estate One's Alex Lauer. "Every aspect of 'Lion Gate Estate' has been articulated with painstaking attention to detail and mind blowing decorative flair. Too many custom features to list!"

And he's not kidding. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, owned by a former automotive designer, is the definition of "extra," with a "Liberace-inspired living room" and "museum-like" interior, Curbed reports

>> Read more trending news 

The listing continues: "Highlights include heated swimming pool with outdoor shower and cabana. Custom two car garage with hand painted automotive murals. Finished basement with billiard room and entertainment area. Fenced in yard with fountains and statuary. Sale includes full contents of the house, including Kohler Campbell baby grand player piano, mint condition Frigidaire kitchen appliances c. 1950. One of a kind custom built 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood Sedan, One of a kind custom built 1974 Lincoln Mark IV Coupe, Custom pool table, countless automotive relics and artifacts. Once in a lifetime offering."

But if you want to take a tour, you'd better check the weather forecast first. "Only shown on sunny days," the listing warns.

>> Click here or scroll down to check out some photos of the home

Astronaut Scott Kelly’s DNA doesn’t match twin Mark’s after year-long space mission

A trip to space would be a life-changing experience. But scientists didn’t realize how much it changes astronauts when it comes to the building blocks of life.

NASA sent astronaut, and twin, Scott Kelly, to the International Space Station for a one-year mission to study the effects of space on the human body, KTLA reported

>> Read more trending news 

Scott Kelly was in space from March 2015 to March 2016, Newsweek reported.

His identical twin brother Mark kept his feet firmly planted on Earth. 

The two men were identical, down to their cellular level, before the trip, but that can’t be said now. 

Scott now differs from Mark when it comes to their DNA.

Getting into the science specifics. 

Scientists looked at the spaceman’s metabolites, cytokines and proteins before and after his voyage. They said the mission caused Scott’s “space genes” to switch on, and they didn’t turn off after he returned to Earth. The experts believe they were turned on because of the stress of space travel, KTLA reported.

NASA said in the study that Scott’s cells showed changes in the length of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that show biological aging. They were lengthened while he was in space, but they returned to almost normal days after he landed. There was also damage to his DNA that was caused by radiation and the restriction on his calories. His collagen, blood clotting and bone formation also changed and because of zero gravity and fluid shifts.

Kelly’s year-long trip in space was a precursor to planned three-year missions to Mars. Scientists needed to test how space missions that are longer than what is currently done impacts astronauts, KTLA reported.

Click here to read NASA’s study.

Related video:

Here's how to track the Tesla Roadster in space

The Tesla Roadster launched into orbit Wednesday can be tracked in space, thanks to NASA designating it a manmade celestial object.

Space enthusiasts can search for "SpaceX Roadster" in the Horizons system created by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to track its movement.

>> Read more trending news 

The Virtual Telescope Project is also tracking the Tesla Roadster's space journey.

Scientists mapping the car's long-term path told Popular Mechanics that the car will do an "Earth flyby" in 2026, 2031 and 2039.

The Falcon Heavy rocket launched Wednesday as part of Elon Musk’s ambitious SpaceX project.

Facebook unveils parent-controlled messenger app just for kids

Facebook on Monday announced it would be rolling out a preview of Messenger Kids in the United States, a new parent-controlled app to make it easier for kids to video chat and message with loved ones.

>> On AJC.com: How to keep your kids safe on social media

In a company blog post, Antigone Davis – public policy director and global head of safety at Facebook – wrote that the media site has been working on the product for the past 18 months, working closely with leading child development experts, parents and educators.

Davis named some reasons Facebook decided to create Messenger Kids and why they decided to create it right now.

>> Facebook wants users' nude photos to fight 'revenge porn'

She cited research that shows some 93 percent of U.S. kids ages six to 12 have access to tablets or smartphones — and 66 percent have their own device, often using apps meant for teens and adults.

In a collaboration with the National Parent Teacher Association on a study with more than 1,200 American parents of children under the age of 13, Facebook found three out of every five parents surveyed said their kids under 13 use messaging apps, social media or both, while 81 percent reported their children started using social media between the ages of 8 and 13.

>> On AJC.com: Did you fall for these fake ads? How Russian trolls got into your Facebook feeds

Kids said they want to use the platforms to have fun and connect with family. But safety is a growing concern among parents.

“My concern is safety, getting friend requests from people you don’t know, chatting with people you don’t know, giving out information to strangers,” one parent participant in the National PTA roundtable said.

>> On AJC.com: Georgia high school student in trouble after ‘threatening’ social media image

With the guidance of experts at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Center on Media and Child Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics among others, Facebook developed a set of principles for Messenger Kids:

  1. Putting kids first
  2. Providing a safe space that fosters joy, humor, play and adventure
  3. Enabling kids to mine their own potential by building for empowerment, creativity and expression
  4. Helping kids build a sense of self and community
  5. Recognizing the relationship between parent and child, and that we take our responsibility and their trust in us seriously.

>> On AJC.com: Google celebrates 50 years of kids coding languages – 5 ways to get your kid engaged

“We created Messenger Kids with the belief that parents are ultimately the best judges of their kids’ technology use, and the parents we’ve spoken to have asked for a better way to control the way their children message,” Davis wrote.

Because research on the long-term effects of screen time and technology on children is still limited, Facebook also announced a $1 million research fund to work with experts to explore the growing concerns.

>> On AJC.com: Study finds best way to control kids’ time online

About the new Messenger Kids app

The Messenger Kids app, aimed at kids ages 6-12, rolled out Monday on iOS in the U.S. An Android version is coming soon.

It’s important to note that kids under 13 are still not allowed to sign up for a Facebook account. Instead, parents can download the app on their child’s iPhone or iPad, create their profile and approve friends and family for their kids to chat with directly from the main Messenger app.

Kids will not show up in Facebook search results, so if a kid wants to chat with a friend, the parent will have to work with the friend’s parent to get them both approved. “This is by far the most clumsy part of Messenger Kids,” TechCrunch reported.

>> Read more trending news

Facebook added special proactive detection safety filters to prevent children from sharing sexual content, nudity or violence. A dedicated support team will work 24/7 to address any flagged issues. Parents won’t be able to spy on their kids’ chats.

To ensure an enjoyable experience, the company created a kid-friendly version of the Giphy GIF sharing engine. Kids can also play around with augmented reality masks and stickers, including fidget spinners and dinosaur AR masks.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook will not be directly monetizing the kids app, but hopes they will become dedicated Facebook users in the future.

More at newsroom.fb.com.

NASA scrubs launch of JPSS-1 weather satellite again

4:37 a.m. EST Wednesday: The satellite launch scheduled for this morning was canceled due to upper level winds, according to NASA.

ORIGINAL STORY: NASA, in partnership with the NOAA, will launch a satellite today that will help improve weather forecasts.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: NASA postpones JPSS-1 weather satellite launch

The launch for the JPSS-1 satellite is scheduled for 4:47 a.m. EST, according to NASA.

A live stream of the launch will be available on NASA’s website.

The satellites will help improve NOAA forecasts for the three- to seven-day time frame. The data collected from the JPSS is fed into the numerical forecast models to help improve them. The satellites will also collect atmospheric measurements, ground conditions and ocean conditions like vegetation, hurricane intensity and atmospheric moisture. 

>> Read more trending news 

The JPSS-1 will be launched from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California pending proper flight conditions. The launch was originally scheduled for Tuesday but was delayed until today.

This satellite is a polar orbiting satellite, which means it will orbit the earth from the one pole to the other passing the equator 14 times a day. Full coverage of the planet will be provided then twice a day.

When this asteroid comes close to earth, NASA has plans straight out of the movies

An asteroid is set to brush past Earth in a few weeks, and NASA is preparing a cool defense test in response.

>> Read more trending news

According to Newsweek, TC4 will fly as close at 27,000 miles to the Earth, about one-eighth of the distance between the Earth and the moon, giving scientists the opportunity to test its planetary defense systems in the event an asteroid or other hazardous object makes its way toward Earth. The asteroid is expected to pass the Earth on Oct. 12.

>> On Rare.us: Here are the amazing records astronaut Peggy Whitson recently broke in space

“Scientists have always appreciated knowing when an asteroid will make a close approach to and safely pass the Earth because they can make preparations to collect data to characterize and learn as much as possible about it,” explained Dr. Michael Kelley, a scientist working on the TC4 observation campaign, according to the Daily Mail. “This time we are adding in another layer of effort, using this asteroid flyby to test the worldwide asteroid detection and tracking network, assessing our capability to work together in response to finding a potential real asteroid threat.”

Scientists first began tracking TC4 in 2012.

Here are 25 Amazon Prime Day tech deals you can’t miss

Amazon Prime Day 2017 is finally upon us.

>> Diamonds, luggage and more non-tech Amazon Prime Day deals to watch out for

The official 30-hour cyber shopping extravaganza began at 9 p.m. Monday and features hundreds of lightning deals popping up every five minutes.

>> Read more trending news

>> Amazon Prime Day 2017: When is it; what's on sale?

Amazon released a list of some of the hottest 30-hour deals and bundles on tech products, including its own smart speaker.

>> Which smart speaker is right for you? Comparing Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod

Here are 25 tech deals pulled from Amazon’s Monday press release:

  1. Save 50 percent on Amazon Echo, only $89.99
  2. Save $15 on Echo Dot, only $34.99
  3. Save $30 on Kindle Paperwhite, only $89.99
  4. Save $40 on Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, only $89.99
  5. Fire 7, our best-selling tablet, only $29.99
  6. Prime members who haven’t yet tried Amazon Music Unlimited can add four months of the full catalog streaming service for just $0.99 when buying Echo devices, Fire TV streaming media players or Fire tablets
  7. Save $75 on Echo Show and Arlo Security Camera bundle
  8. Save 30 percent on Echo Dot and TP-Link Smart Plug bundle
  9. Save $50 on August Smart Lock
  10. Echo Dot and Sony XB10 bundle, under $70
  11. Save big on Sony XB950B1 Extra Bass Wireless Headphones
  12. Save 45 percent on Libratone One Click portable Bluetooth speakers
  13. Save up to 50 percent on select video games, consoles and accessories
  14. Save up to 40 percent on PC gaming laptops, desktops and accessories
  15. Save 30 percent on RepRap Guru 3D Printer
  16. Save 50 percent on two-pack of Tile Slim Phone Finders
  17. Save big on Game of Thrones: The Complete Seasons 1-6 + Digital HD [Blu-ray]
  18. Newly released Element 55-inch 4K Ultra HD smart LED TV – Amazon Fire TV Edition, only $399.99
  19. 25 percent off select TCL smart TVs, starting at $119.99 for a 28-inch
  20. 32-inch 720p TCL TV, only $99.99
  21. 40-inch 1080p TCL TV, only $199.99
  22. 55-inch premium brand 4K smart LED TV, only $599.99
  23. Get 15 percent back on select Samsung TVs, audio and more on Prime Day with an Amazon Prime credit card
  24. Save more than 30 percent on Furbo Dog Camera with Interactive Treat Tossing, HD Wi-Fi Cam and 2-Way Audio
  25. Save 20 percent on Jackery Bolt 10050 External Battery Pack

Diamonds, luggage and more non-tech Amazon Prime Day deals to watch out for

Amazon Prime Day isn’t just about snagging the best deals on tech

>> Here are 25 Amazon Prime Day tech deals you can’t miss

>> Amazon Prime Day 2017: When is it; what's on sale?

The official 30-hour cyber shopping extravaganza began at 9 p.m. Monday and features hundreds of lightning deals popping up every five minutes, including a $499.99 deal on diamond stud earrings and big discounts on brands like Samsonite and Adidas.

>> Read more trending news

Ahead of the launch, Amazon released a list of some of the hottest 30-hour deals and bundles on tech products and non-tech products alike.

>> Which smart speaker is right for you? Comparing Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod

Here are 21 non-tech deals pulled from Amazon’s Prime Day sneak peek press release:

  1. Save 40-50 percent on Prime Exclusive clothing, handbags and more
  2. Save 30 percent on select clothing, shoes and more for men, women, kids and baby
  3. Save big on diamond stud earrings – 1 carat diamond stud earrings for 499.99 or ½ carat diamond stud earrings for $239.99
  4. Save up to 70 percent on select Samsonite two-piece spinner sets
  5. Save up to 40 percent on select furniture, mattresses and rugs
  6. Save 20 percent on nursery essentials
  7. Save $100 on the Bissell Multi Reach Cordless Stick Vacuum
  8. Save up to 40 percent on Radio Flyer, Crayola, K'NEX and more
  9. Save up to 30 percent on select Under Armour training gear
  10. Save 30 percent on select Adidas apparel
  11. Save up to 50 percent on select Callaway Golf products
  12. Skywalker Trampolines Jump N' Dunk Trampoline with safety enclosure and basketball hoop, 8-feet, only $119.99
  13. Save 30 percent on the Sportstuff 1030 Adventure Stand Up Paddleboard with accessories
  14. Save 25 percent or more on AmazonBasics – from office products to outdoor gear
  15. Get 20 percent back on thousands of items with an Amazon Prime credit card including select Disney Pixar Cars toys, select Thule jogging strollers and luggage, and select Yamaha musical instruments
  16. Save up to 50 percent on grocery items by Amazon, including Wickedly Prime and Happy Belly products
  17. Save 25 percent on Salt and Pepper Grinder Set from Willow & Everett
  18. Save 20 percent on 6-Pack of Assorted Natural Chewing Gum from Simply Gum
  19. Save 35 percent on Mo+M Designer Cotton Baby Carrier from Mother’s on the Move
  20. Save 20 percent on 12-month Banner Cutout from Handmade Artisan Confetti Momma
  21. Save 20 percent off handmade from Kahili Creations

Researchers: Hackers develop highly customizable cyberweapon aimed at electric grids

Hackers, believed to be affiliated with Russia, have developed a highly customizable cyberweapon capable of taking down electric grids, according to researchers in a pair of countries and multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Researchers say the malware, dubbed CrashOverride or Industroyer, is the first ever designed to attack electric grids, specifically. It has no capabilities geared toward espionage, U.S.-based security firm Dragos Inc. said in a report issued Monday.

CrashOverride in its current form can be easily re-purposed for use in Europe and parts of the Middle East and Asia, according to Dragos. It has already been used once before – in December, when it was used to briefly shut down one-fifth of the electric grid in Kiev, Ukraine, according to The Washington Post. It’s not clear who was behind that attack, although Ukrainian officials blamed Russia, Reuters reported. Officials in Moscow have denied any involvement. 

“With a small amount of tailoring … (CrashOverride) would also be effective in the North American grid,” according to Dragos.

Both Dragos and Slovakian anti-virus firm ESET have issued alerts to governments and infrastructure operators in an effort to prepare them for the possible threat CrashOverride poses, according to Reuters.

"The malware is really easy to re-purpose and use against other targets. That is definitely alarming," ESET malware researcher Robert Lipovsky told Reuters. "This could cause wide-scale damage to infrastructure systems that are vital."

Dragos founder Robert M. Lee told the wire service that while CrashOverride can cause portions of a nation’s electric grid to go down for several days, it is not currently powerful enough to bring down the entirety of a country’s grid.

Still, Sergio Caltagirone, director of threat intelligence for Dragos, described the cyberweapon as “a game charger” in an interview with The Post.

“It’s the culmination of over a decade of theory and attack scenarios,” Caltagirone said.

CrashOverride is just the second malware discovered that was created with the intent to disrupt physical systems, Wired reported. The first known malware created with such a purpose was the 2010 Stuxnet virus, used by the U.S. and Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear program.

“The potential impact here is huge,” Lipovsky told Wired. “If this is not a wakeup call, I don’t know what could be.”

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