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The lickable-TV guy created electric chopsticks to make food taste saltier


 An employee of Kirin Holdings demonstrates chopsticks that can enhance food taste using an electrical stimulation waveform that was jointly developed by the company and Meiji University's School of Science and Technology Professor Homei Miyashita, in Tokyo, Japan April 15, 2022. Picture taken April 15, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Issei Kato / reuters

Researchers in Japan have developed a set of electric chopsticks they claim can enhance the taste of salt. The device is attached to a wristband computer. It uses electrical stimulation to transmit sodium ions from food to the eater's mouth, according to Meiji University professor Homei Miyashita, who developed the chopsticks with food and drink maker Kirin.

Miyashita is also the person behind the lickable TV that was announced a few months ago. The idea behind that not-at-all gross device is that people would be able to taste whatever they see on screen.

The chopsticks seem far more practical, especially if they can help people reduce their salt intake. The researchers say the chopsticks can enhance the perceived saltiness of low-sodium foods by around 1.5 times.

An employee of Kirin Holdings demonstrates chopsticks that can enhance food taste using an electrical stimulation waveform that was jointly developed by the company and Meiji University's School of Science and Technology Professor Homei Miyashita, in Tokyo, Japan April 15, 2022. Picture taken April 15, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Issei Kato / reuters

As Reuters notes, the traditional Japanese diet skews toward salty flavors. A typical Japanese adult consumes around 10 grams of salt per day, twice the level that the World Health Organization recommends. High sodium intake is linked to increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure and other conditions.

Artificially enhancing the saltiness of dishes could make it easier for people to opt for low-sodium options without having to skimp on flavor. Miyashita and Kirin have also discussed using the tech in spoons and tea bowls. They're refining the prototype of the chopsticks and aim to start selling the product as soon as 2023.

Uber and Lyft drop mask requirements for US drivers and passengers


 The moves come after a judge overturned a key federal mask mandate.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 16: A young passenger wears a face mask as Uber and Lyft drivers with Rideshare Drivers United and the
 Transport Workers Union of America conduct a ‘caravan protest’ outside the California Labor Commissioner’s office amidst the coronavirus pandemic on April 16, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. The drivers called for California to enforce the AB 5 law so that they may qualify for unemployment insurance as the spread of COVID-19 continues. Drivers also called for receiving back wages they say they are owed. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images

You no longer need to wear a mask to ride with Uber or Lyft n the US. Uber has dropped mask requirements for US drivers and passengers as of today (April 19th). Lyft, meanwhile, announced that mask wearing is now optional in the country. Both ridesharing firms now let you sit in the front passenger seat, although Uber said this should only be done if a party is too large to fit exclusively in the back.

Uber stressed that the CDC still recommends masks for people who either have some "risk factors" for COVID-19 or live in areas where there are high virus transmission levels. Lyft also noted that some local governments might still require masks, but it no longer accepts health safety as a reason for cancelling a trip.

The decisions aren't voluntary. A federal judge in Florida overturned a federal mandate for masks aboard public transportation on Monday, leading major airlines and Amtrak to drop their requirements. Some public transit systems (such as those in New Jersey and Washington, DC) have also lifted their demands. Uber and Lyft are just following suit, in other words. It's not yet clear if the federal government will challenge the ruling.

The move won't be welcome by everyone. The pandemic is still ongoing, and people who are immunocompromised or otherwise at high risk may be particularly reluctant to avoid cars with maskless drivers. These travellers now have fewer options for getting around, and may have to rely on friends or family to minimize the chances of an infection.

Apple workers at New York store call for minimum wage of $30 per hour


 The Apple Inc. logo hangs inside the newest Apple Store in New York City's Grand Central Station December 7, 2011, during a press preview of the store, which opens to the public on Friday. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS TRAVEL SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)

Mike Segar / reuters

Apple Store employees attempting to form a union at the company’s flagship Grand Central Terminal location in New York City want the tech giant to pay workers at least $30 per hour. According to CNBC, the group leading the effort, Fruit Stand Workers United, made the request on Monday in an update posted to its website.

“For pay, we seek a minimum $30 for all workers, built up on a matrix based on role, tenure and performance,” the group said. “For benefits, we seek more robust changes, like increased tuition reimbursement, faster accrued and more vacation time, and better retirement options, including higher match rates for 401(k) and enrollment into pension plans.”

According to The Washington Post, the first outlet to report on the Grand Central Terminal unionization effort, Apple pays retail employees between $17 and up to $30 per hour, depending on their role, experience and location. “We are fortunate to have incredible retail team members and we deeply value everything they bring to Apple,” the company said. “We are pleased to offer very strong compensation and benefits for full time and part time employees, including health care, tuition reimbursement, new parental leave, paid family leave, annual stock grants and many other benefits.”

Organizers with Fruit Stand Workers United recently began collecting signatures from their co-workers. If at least 30 percent of the approximately 270 eligible employees at the store express interest in forming a union, the group can file with the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election. At least three other stores are attempting to form a union, according to The Post.

At the start of the year, Apple announced it would offer additional benefits to all of its US retail employees. As of April 4th, the company’s expanded benefits include increased vacation and sick days, paid parental leave and more. Like many other retailers throughout the pandemic, Apple has had a time tough hiring and retaining frontline workers. Over that same period, the company’s retail employees have complained of difficult working conditions, including issues with low pay, stressful workloads due to staffing shortages and poor morale.

Instagram brings its fundraiser tool to Reels


 The feature is being rolled out in more than 30 countries as part of Meta's Earth Day efforts.

BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 10: In this photo illustration the logo of Instagram can be seen on a smartphone on March 10, 2022 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo Illustration by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)
Thomas Trutschel via Getty Images

Instagram is rolling out the option to create and donate to fundraisers through Reels. Users in more than 30 countries can now add a link for people to donate to more than 1.5 million nonprofits. The fundraiser tool has been available in Stories and on livestreams for the past couple of years.

The feature was announced as part of Meta's Earth Day efforts. Meta says that more than 4 million people have donated over $150 million through Instagram and Facebook to support environmental protection and nonprofits fighting against climate change. The most popular environmental causes, based on the overall number of donors, are The Ocean Cleanup, World Wildlife Fund and (one that's close to my heart) Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Most donations made on Instagram last year were under $20. Meta covers the payment processing fees for charitable fundraisers, so every penny that users donate goes to nonprofits.

Elsewhere, Meta announced that it's adding more features to its Climate Science Center. It will highlight actions people can take in their day-to-day lives to combat climate change. The center will also shine a spotlight on data visualizations showing country-level emissions. The Climate Science Center is now available in 150 countries.

Across Instagram, Facebook and Messenger, Meta has released stickers and profile frames to help people show their support for environmental causes. In addition, the company revealed the nine organizations that will receive funding from a $1 million grant program to help them fight climate misinformation. Meta also announced the Sustainability Media Academy, a project to help Asia-based journalists build expertise and develop authority on sustainability issues.

Amy Hennig's studio is making a Star Wars game


 Skydance New Media

Lucasfilm Games / Skydance New Media

Amy Hennig’s Skydance New Media studio is working on not one but two new games with Disney. Following last year’s Marvel announcement, Hennig and company revealed today they’re working on a AAA Star Wars game with Lucasfilm Games. And just like the studio’s Marvel collaboration, fans can expect a “narrative-driven, action-adventure” experience. Lucasfilm Games said the title would tell a new original story set within the Star Wars galaxy but offered few other details on the project, including a release date or target platforms.

“I’ve often described how seeing Star Wars in 1977 essentially rewired my 12-year-old brain, shaping my creative life and future indelibly,” said Hennig, whose previous credits include the Uncharted series from Naughty Dog. “I’m elated to be working with Lucasfilm Games again to tell interactive stories in this galaxy that I love.”

For Hennig, Tuesday’s announcement marks a return to the Star Wars franchise. Before founding Skydance New Media, she worked at EA’s Visceral Games studio on a Star Wars game that was ultimately canceled by the publisher. Her game is one of a handful of new Star Wars titles currently in development. Respawn Entertainment is working on three new games, including a sequel to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Fans can also look forward to Star Wars: Eclipse from Detroit: Become Human developer Quantic Dream.

Europa's resemblance to Greenland bodes well for possible life on Jupiter's moon



A new mosaic made from images taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990's is shown of the surface of Jupiter's icy moon, Europa, as it looms large in this newly-reprocessed, higher resolution color view in this handout provided by NASA November 24, 2014. This newer version was created from images assembled into a realistic color view of the surface that approximates how Europa would appear to the human eye. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institue/Handout via Reuters   (OUTERSPACE - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
NASA NASA / Reuters

Europa's potential to support life may have increased thanks to geographic observations. Reuters notes researchers have discovered similarities between double ridges on the Jovian moon's surface and smaller-scale equivalents in Greenland. As the Greenland ridges were formed by subsurface water that refroze, this suggests Europa's counterparts formed the same way. That, in turn, would indicate large volumes of the liquid water necessary to support life similar to that on Earth.

The geographic features are not only common on Europa, but are large enough that the water pockets for these ridges would each be comparable in size to North America's Lake Erie. They'd also be relatively shallow (about 0.6 miles below the surface), putting them near other chemicals that could help form life.

There are still no direct signs of life on Europa, and there might not be for a long time. NASA is launching its Europa Clipper spacecraft in 2024, but it won't reach orbit until 2030. Even so, the Greenland comparison bolsters the case for investigating Jupiter's fourth-largest moon. It suggests that at least some conditions are well-suited to life, even if factors like the extreme cold (a maximum -260F at the equator) limit what's possible.

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The best webcams you can buy



All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

That tiny webcam on your laptop has probably gotten more use in the last few years than it ever has before. Even if you’re back to taking some of your meetings in the office, chances are that back-to-back Zoom calls are now a permanent part of your professional life. Once an afterthought, your computer’s webcam has become one of its most important components — and the fact remains that most built-in cameras are not able to provide consistent, high-quality video chat experiences.

This is where external webcams come in. They can do wonders for those with lackluster built-in webcams, people who spend most of their working hours on video conferences, and those who picked up a new hobby of streaming on Twitch or YouTube over the past couple of years. But as with most PC accessories, it can be tough to sort through the sea of options out there. We tested out a bunch of the latest webcams to see which are worth your money and which you can safely skip.

What to look for in a webcam

Resolution and field of view

While some newer machines have 1080p webcams, most built-in cameras have a resolution of 720p, so you’ll want to look for an external one that’s better than that. FHD webcams will give you a noticeable bump in video quality; ideally, you’re looking for something that can handle 1080p at 60fps or 30fps. If you’re considering a cheap 720p webcam, make sure to get one that supports at least 30fps (most will) or, even better, 60fps. However, if your primary concern is looking better during video calls, 1080p is the way to go.

Some webcams can shoot in 4K, but that’s overkill for most people. Not to mention most video conferencing services like Zoom, Google Meet and Skype don’t even support 4K video. When it comes to streaming, Twitch maxes out at 1080p video, but YouTube added 4K live streaming back in 2016. Ultimately, with 4K webcam shots having such limited use, most people can get by with a solid 1080p camera.

Field of view controls how much can fit in the frame when you’re recording. Most webcams I tested had a default field of view of around 78 degrees, which was enough to capture me and enough of my background to show that I really need to organize my home office. On cheaper webcams you’ll usually see narrower fields of view (around 60 degrees), and those aren’t necessarily bad. They won’t show as much of your background, but that also means you won’t be able to squeeze as many friends or family members into frame when you’re having Zoom birthday parties. On the flip side, more expensive webcams may let you adjust the field of view to be even wider than average.

Logitech C920 HD Pro webcam clipped onto a computer monitor with cork boards hanging on the wall behind it.
Valentina Palladino / Engadget

Autofocus and other “auto” features

Webcams with autofocus will keep you looking sharp without much work on your part. You should be able to move around, step back and forth, and remain in focus the whole time. Some models let you manually adjust focus, too, if you have specific needs. Devices with fixed focus are less convenient, but they tend to be more affordable.

In the same vein is auto framing, a feature that some high-end webcams now offer. Similarly to Apple’s Center Stage feature, the camera automatically adjusts to keep you in the center of the frame even as you move around. But you’ll pay a premium for it: The only two webcams I tested that had auto framing were the $200 Dell UltraSharp webcam and the $220 Anker Video Bar, and while that helped those models stand out from the pack, neither were great enough to earn a spot in our best picks list.

You’ll also see other “auto” features listed in webcam specs, most notably auto light correction. This will adjust the camera’s settings to make up for a dimly lit room. If you don’t have a well-lit setup for your video calls, or often take calls in different places where you can’t control the lighting, this feature will be valuable.


Most webcams have built-in microphones that, depending on your setup, might end up being closer to you than your computer’s own mics. Check to see if the model you’re considering has mono or stereo mics, as the latter is better. Some even use noise-reduction technology to keep your voice loud and clear. While audiophiles and streamers will want to invest in a standalone microphone, most others can get by using a webcam’s built-in mic.


There aren’t a ton of fascinating breakthroughs when it comes to webcam design. Most are round or rectangular devices that clip onto a monitor or your laptop screen. Some have the ability to screw onto a tripod stand and others can simply sit on your desk beside your computer. But unless you really like having people stare up your nose, the latter isn’t ideal. We recommend clipping your webcam to your monitor and ensuring that it’s at or slightly above eye level.

A few webcams go above and beyond by adding hardware extras like built-in lights and lens covers, too. The former can help you stand out in a dark room, while the latter makes it so hackers can’t view you through your webcam without your knowledge.


Most external webcams that are just good enough to be a step up from your computer’s built-in camera cost between $60 and $150. If the webcam has the same resolution as the internal one on your laptop, you should look out for other specs like auto light correction, a wider field of view or an extra-long connecting cable that can provide a step-up in quality or ease of use.

Spending $150 or more means you might get advanced features like 4K resolution, vertical and horizontal recording options, stereo mics, customizable video settings and more. But unless you’re spending hours on video calls each day or streaming multiple times each week, you can safely skip most of those high-end options.

Mercedes' EQS SUV arrives in US showrooms this year



Building upon the success of the EQS and the launch of the EQE, Mercedes has another electric vehicle on the way to the United States. This time it’s more in line with what the US wants: an SUV.

The oddly named EQS SUV is to the sedan EQS what the GLS is to the regular S-Class — an upright take on its ultra high-end model. It was unveiled recently in Germany and we got a chance to check out the taller electric vehicle from Mercedes. In addition to having room for seven, the electric SUV has an off-road mode and special running boards that help reduce drag. 

While Mercedes is mum on pricing and range details for the US, we do know that its European range will be "up to 600 kilometers" based on the WLTP standard, which should make the range top out at a shade over 300 miles in the US' more stringent EPA ratings. As for pricing, well, the regular EQS starts at just over $100,000 so the SUV is going to be in a similar bracket to Tesla's Model X. The car’ll be built in the US and available this fall, and you can watch the video above for the full story.

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