Power your voice searches with Java

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Repairman beats Google search algorithms, battery booster explained, Chrome limiting Flash, are APIs copyrightable, and more GeekNews of the week.

Curtailing Flash to Decrease Energy Use

Adobe Flash allows web pages to display rich content—but sometimes that can put a squeeze on your laptop’s battery. So we’ve been working with Adobe to ensure that your experience on the web can be power-efficient as well as rich and interactive—and today, we’re introducing an update to Chrome that does just that.

Another article here

Extend the Life of Alkaline Batteries

Voltage boosters are nothing new, but Batteriser scales down the technology to the point where it can fit inside a stainless steel sleeve less than 0.1 mm thick. Roohparvar says the sleeves are thin enough to fit inside almost every battery compartment imaginable, and the combined package can extend battery life between 4.9x for devices like remote controls and 9.1x for various electronic toys.

Update: A number of articles are challenging the claims made in the original PC World article and by the manufacturer. Read more here

Surveillance Camera Powered by Ordinary Wi-Fi Broadcasts

Great things are expected of the Internet of things but only if engineers can solve one potential show-stopper of a question: how to power these numerous tiny machines.

Today, we get an answer thanks to the work of Vamsi Talla and pals at the University of Washington in Seattle. These guys have developed a way to broadcast power to remote devices using an existing technology that many people already have in their living rooms: ordinary Wi-Fi. They call their new approach power over Wi-Fi or PoWi-Fi.

SoundHound Hound Speech Recognition Tech

The video shows Hound responding to a wealth of questions, some of which are soft pitches and others much more complex. Some are also multi-layered, such as asking “What is the population of Japan and China and their areas in square miles and square kilometers, and also tell me how many people live in India and what is the area code for Germany, France, and Italy?” As you’ll see in the video, Hound spits out accurate answers to each question without delay. We tried pinging Google Now with the same query and were directed to a list of Google search results, which showed a bunch of entries for Hound. Have a look:

Apple's Tim Cook warns the FBI not to weaken encryption

“So let me be crystal clear: Weakening encryption or taking it away harms good people who are using it for the right reason,” [Tim Cook, CEO of Apple,] said.

Justice tells Supreme Court not to hear Google's API appeal

The issue before the court is when, if at all, APIs can be protected by copyright. The outcome has serious repercussions not just for Google, but the entire software industry, since APIs act as a sort of lingua franca that allow different computer programs to deliver instructions to each other.

Testing Your Self-Driving Car? Head to Virginia!

In a bid to help Google (and presumably other companies) test out their next-generation automobiles, the state of Virginia has reportedly opened up 70 miles of highway, overseen by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), to self-driving cars.

Portions of Virginia’s highways—most notably Interstates 95 and 495—are notoriously congested, which could present any self-driving vehicles with a real challenge. The state government has stipulated that any automated car will need a human driver at the wheel to take over in case of malfunction or emergency.

Egyptian repairman outranks Google in search

An Egyptian repairman has found unexpected fame as one of the most searched-for men in his country.

For a time, anyone typing Google into Google from an Egyptian computer got a page belonging to Mr Saber El-Toony as the first result despite the fact that his business doesn’t include the keyword and is in no way related.

Announcing Facebook Lite

Facebook recently announced Facebook Lite, “a new version of Facebook for Android that uses less data and works well across all network conditions.”