You're running late to a meeting, glaring at your wrist in disbelief that it's fifteen minutes past the hour. Are you really that late? Lifting the watch to your ear you hear the all-too familiar tick of its internal mechanisms. Yes, it works -- and you are indeed late. This scenario could soon be a thing of the past, mostly because the mechanical watches of tomorrow may not tick at all. Researchers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have created a new, silent oscillator that could potentially be used to make watches with fewer mechanical parts.

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MIT can turn your smartphone into a different kind of second screen

Sure, we've seen apps that let you easily share files between your phone and PC. No biggie there. But the demo we're about to show you is a tad more sophisticated than that. Over at MIT, two teams of researchers have developed a smartphone system called THAW, which allows you to share files and use the phone as a game controller -- all by pressing the handset against your computer's display. As you can see in the below demo video, for instance, it's possible to transfer files onto the phone simply by dragging them where the phone is, as if it were just another folder on your desktop. Similar to what you can already do with NFC, you can press the phone against the screen, and walk away with whatever web page you had been looking at. (To be fair, iOS 8's Continuity feature does that automatically.)

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We've seen robotics improve by (literal) leaps and bounds recently, but what about more nuanced things, like a fine sense of touch? Researchers at MIT and Northeastern University are showing off a new fingertip version of the GelSight sensor, a cube-shaped attachment that uses a camera and a sensitive rubber film to 3D map the objects they're grabbing. That new level of precision, the team says, could lead to more independent robots that are better able to manipulate their environment.

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If you look at the changelog for Tesla's Model S, you'll see most of the updates have been minor bug fixes; it's fairly rare that the luxury electric vehicle gets upgraded with new features. Every once in a while, though, Elon Musk and co. unleash a meaty update and as it happens, today is one of those days. The company just released the (previously leaked) version 6.0 of its software, which adds a built-in calendar that syncs with your smartphone, along with a remote-start feature and traffic-based navigation to help you avoid the busiest roadways.

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Samsung likes to get some mileage out of its lofty design themes and plenty of people have gone gaga over the Galaxy Alpha's subtle style, so it's no surprise that the phone's design DNA is being injected into other devices. SamMobile has been reporting for a while now that the Korea electronics giant has been working on a range of phones -- the so-called A series -- that feature some of the Alpha aesthetic, and now they've obtained images of the first one. It's called the Galaxy A5, and if these reports hold true it falls very firmly onto the middle of the road. There's a 5-inch Super AMOLED screen running at 720p up front, paired with a 13-megapixel rear camera and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset ticking away within the minimalist frame that may or may not actually be made of metal. Yeah, we know, it's a bummer, but the more modest price tag that'll almost assuredly stick to it might make the change in materials worth it.

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While Triton -- the US Navy's largest unmanned craft -- might have no one in the cockpit, it still requires a hefty ground team to keep it (safely) in the air. Never more so than on a recently completed cross-country flight. Back in March, the Northrop Grumman craft completed initial flight testing, but this 11-hour 3,290 nautical mile flight is the most intensive testing yet -- bringing it ever closer to the estimated 2017 delivery into operational Naval fleets. Triton's route took it from from Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, California base along the southern US border, before a successful landing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Triton spends most of its time at around 50,000 feet -- well above domestic flights -- but has sensors that allow it to safely descend through cloud layers for closer observation of enemy ships as needed. Watch Triton pull off its silky smooth landing after the break -- human pilots take note!

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While some people like to listen to their favorite music on a quality sound system with a set of high-end speakers or headphones, most people are just fine listening from a cheap headset or the built-in speakers on their phones. But what if you're somewhere in the middle, and want your music to be portable, but still sound great? Plenty of companies have stepped up to give you just that, releasing speakers that deliver solid highs and clear lows, all in a package that you can fit in a bag. There are too many out there for us to review ourselves here at Engadget, so we've pulled together reviews from sources we trust to help highlight some of the better recent options.

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re:publica 2013 Tag 1 - Birgitta Jónsdóttir

Birgitta Jónsdóttir was sitting in the audience at the Icelandic Digital Freedom Conference when John Perry Barlow, a co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation called for Iceland to "become like the Switzerland of bits." Six years later, Jónsdóttir is trying to make that dream a reality. She was elected to parliament in 2009 and has proven to be one of the most tech savvy and outspoken members of Iceland's government. Last year she was one of three members of the Pirate Party elected at a national level, and she is spearheading efforts like the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, which focuses on protecting whistle blowers, journalists' sources and ensuring the freedom of information. Some of this work has been done in conjunction with the controversial organization headed by Julian Assange, WikiLeaks. While the implementation of many of these ideas has been far from perfect, the country has made great progress towards becoming a safe haven for data, in the same way that Switzerland has become the defacto repository for wealth -- whether it was gained honestly or through less that noble means. And Jónsdóttir has pledged that she will continue to fight. Especially after discovering that she, herself, was the target of surveillance by the US Department of Justice.

For more on Birgitta Jónsdóttir check out Motherboard's excellent profile here.

Photo courtesy of re:publica 2014/Flickr

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Wouldn't it be great if you could just call up a supercomputer and ask it to do your data-wrangling for you? Actually, scratch that, no-one uses the phone anymore. What'd be really cool is if machines could respond to your queries straight from Twitter. It's a belief that's shared by Wolfram Research, which has just launched the Tweet a Program system to its computational knowledge engine, Wolfram Alpha. In a blog post, founder Stephen Wolfram explains that even complex queries can be executed within the space of 140 characters, including data visualizations. If you fancy giving it a go yourself, you can tweet queries to @wolframtap, but be advised that you'll have to learn the basics of the Wolfram Language Code before it'll give you anything in return.

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Linux users, you've been very, very, very, very, very, very patient. And now, your patience is being rewarded with Netflix support on your OS of choice. For the longest time Netflix relied on Microsoft's would-be Flash competitor Silverlight. But, of course, support for the plug in was practically non-existent on the open-source OS. Now, with Silverlight fading, and Netflix embracing the power of HTML5, your wish of watching flicks in your favorite distro (be it Ubuntu, Mint or Arch) may finally come true. Paul Adolf from Netflix posted a message to Ubuntu developers, telling them that, "Netflix will play with Chrome stable in 14.02 if NSS version 3.16.2 or greater is installed."

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