Alibaba IPO makes it worth $231 billion, more than Amazon and eBay combined

We’d heard that the US IPO for Chinese company Alibaba could be among the biggest ever, and it did not disappoint. Closing at a stock price of $93.89, it raised $21.8 billion for the company and is the biggest IPO in US history. According to…

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We’re taking over Los Angeles on October 3rd

Austin, Seattle and Boston welcomed our Engadget Live tour this year with open arms and before we gear up for Engadget Expand, we’re heading to one more city: Los Angeles. Grab your free tickets and join us at the Belasco Theater on October 3rd at…

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Robots now have much greater dexterity thanks to fingertip sensors

Good as robots are at repeating the same motion over and over, they can’t adapt to situations nearly as well as good ‘old flesh-and-bones. That’s where MIT’s new fingertip sensor comes in. The technology employed to make a robot version of our fingertips is sophisticated, but surprisingly simple. It uses an existing project called GelSight, which is a rubber-like material that can map out a surface in microscopic detail when placed on it. The MIT team used a version that’s 100x less sensitive than the original — but as a result, it’s small enough to fit onto a fingertip, and give real-time feedback about surfaces to the robot.

Researchers at MIT and Northeastern University have equipped a robot with a novel tactile sensor that lets it grasp a USB cable draped freely over a hook and insert it into a USB port. The sensor is an adaptation of a technology called GelSight, which was developed by the lab of Edward Adelson, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Vision Science at MIT, and first described in 2009. The new sensor isn’t as sensitive as the original GelSight sensor, which could resolve details on the micrometer scale. But it’s smaller — small enough to fit on a robot’s gripper — and its processing algorithm is faster, so it can give the robot feedback in real time. Industrial robots are capable of remarkable precision when the objects they’re manipulating are perfectly positioned in advance. But according to Robert Platt, an assistant professor of computer science at Northeastern and the research team’s robotics expert, for a robot taking its bearings as it goes, this type of fine-grained manipulation is unprecedented. “People have been trying to do this for a long time,” Platt says, “and they haven’t succeeded because the sensors they’re using aren’t accurate enough and don’t have enough information to localize the pose of the object that they’re holding.”

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YouTube is throwing a lot more money at its Originals content partners

Google has gone on record as saying it loves original YouTube content like Epic Rap Battles of History, and now it looks as though the outfit is doubling down on such. How so? Well it seems that its fully-stocked studio spaces for partners are just…

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Google Maps Navigation successfully arrives in 20 more countries

Google Maps can now tell more people whether to turn left or right at the next intersection, now that the Navigation feature has arrived in 20 more countries. The expansion makes turn-by-turn navigation available to more African, Caribbean and South…

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Microsoft is closing down its research lab in Silicon Valley

Microsoft Research will close its Silicon Valley lab as part its latest round of job cuts, the company just confirmed. About 50 Microsoft Research positions will be cut in Silicon Valley, with some operations consolidating with Microsoft Research labs in Redmond; Cambridge, Mass.; and New York, according to a company spokesman. Microsoft’s Silicon Valley lab opened in 2001. The company described the move as an “organizational consolidation” designed to streamline operations.

One of the casualties of the latest round of job cuts at Microsoft is the Microsoft Research (MSR) Silicon Valley lab. On September 18, Microsoft officials acknowledged the company would be cutting 2,100 jobs across the company worldwide as part of the previously announced layoffs of 18,000 disclosed in July 2014. Of today’s cuts, 747 are in the Washington state area, and 160 total in California, a Microsoft spokesperson said. Derek Murray, a Microsoft Research researcher in distributed systems, tweeted that “Today they (Microsoft) announced that the lab in Silicon Valley will be closing, effective Friday.” Microsoft Research’s Silicon Valley outpost, located in Mountain View, Calif., was founded in 2001 and currently employs close to 50, a company spokesperson said.

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Sound off! What are your favorite features in iOS 8?

iOS 8 is finally here, and it’s bringing a slew of new features. It’s faster, more secure, and in a lot of ways, more like Android. Out of all the new bells and whistles what are your favorite new additions? Head over to the forums and let the…

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