Brian Heater

Brian Heater is the Hardware Editor at TechCrunch. He worked for a number of leading tech publications, including Engadget, PCMag, Laptop, and Tech Times, where he served as the Managing Editor. His writing has appeared in Spin, Wired, Playboy, Entertainment Weekly, The Onion, Boing Boing, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Beast and various other publications. He hosts the weekly Boing Boing interview podcast RiYL, has appeared as a regular NPR contributor and shares his Queens apartment with a rabbit named Lucy.

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  • Stayawhile gets $1.5M to target the sweet spot between Airbnb and long-term rentals

    Stayawhile gets $1.5M to target the sweet spot between Airbnb and long-term rentals

    New York-based startup Stayawhile announced today that it’s scored $1.5 million in seed funding to provide travelers with what founder Janine Yorio refers to as “medium-term housing.” It’s a midway point between your standard hotel/Airbnb stay and a year-plus apartment lease, aimed at vacations and business travelers who’d like to spread out their stay in a new city… Read More

  • The Amazon Echo now doubles as a home intercom system

    The Amazon Echo now doubles as a home intercom system

    Amazon will officially release the Show in a few days, but in the meantime, the company is introducing a long-awaited intercom feature for existing Echo devices. The addition uses Drop-In, a teleconferencing feature introduced on the Show that lets close friends and family members call into one another’s device with little warning. I really didn’t like the feature when I tested… Read More

  • The Echo Show is a small step for Echo, a big leap for Amazon

    The Echo Show is a small step for Echo, a big leap for Amazon

    The Echo Show isn’t a great piece of hardware. It’s beefy and clunky, and kind of looks like something that fell off the back of a RadioShack truck in the late-80s. The display isn’t great (there’s a reason the company’s not talking specs) and sure, the speaker gets loud, but if you’re looking for music playback, there are thousands of better Bluetooth… Read More

  • Anki’s Cozmo gets a free update aimed at helping kids learn to code

    Anki’s Cozmo gets a free update aimed at helping kids learn to code

    You can’t throw a rock without hitting a coding toy these days. In just the last couple of weeks both Apple and Sony have announced new initiatives, and now Overdrive-maker Anki is getting in on the action with Code Lab, a simple and free programming language designed to teach kids to code with its Pixar-inspired robot, Cozmo. The move is no-brainer on Anki’s part. The… Read More

  • Taking a ride in MIT’s self-driving wheelchair

    Taking a ride in MIT’s self-driving wheelchair

    Over the past few months, CSAIL’s (MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) self-driving wheelchair has become a familiar sight around the MIT halls. It’s a nice little rolling advertisement for the lab’s work — and more importantly, it’s a great opportunity to test the mobility device in a real world setting. As students wander by in groups… Read More

  • HEBI is trying to make building custom robots as easy as playing with LEGO

    The X-Series Actuator doesn’t look like much. Actually, if I’m being honest, it kind of looks like a red metal scotch tape dispenser with ribbed sides and a couple of ethernet ports. The product is scattered all over HEBI’s one-room Pittsburgh office in various states of disarray. The palm-sized metal component is the startup’s primary product — its entire reason… Read More

  • HuMoTech’s robotic feet make it easier to test drive a bunch of different prosthetics

    HuMoTech’s robotic feet make it easier to test drive a bunch of different prosthetics

    There are white boards lining the walls covered in complex formulas and earlier iterations of the company’s robotic leg are scattered in pieces on and underneath tables. You can practically chart the company’s half-decade of development with a quick look around the room, from Caputo’s 2010 PhD work on robotic feet to its first product offerings: a pair of devices designed to… Read More

  • Sony soft-launches an educational robotics coding kit on Indiegogo

    Sony soft-launches an educational robotics coding kit on Indiegogo

    Every tech and toy company, from Apple to Hasbro, has an educational coding offering these days. Sony’s Koov kit has been kicking around Japan for a while now, and should be pretty familiar to anyone who’s spent time with Lego’s educational initiatives — it’s a set of blocks, sensors, motors and actuators that pair with a mobile app. Now Sony is ready to bring the… Read More

  • The OnePlus 5 brings modest improvements to the best deal in smartphones

    The OnePlus 5 brings modest improvements to the best deal in smartphones

    The OnePlus 5 is a modest upgrade over its predecessor — the company isn’t making any bones about it. It’s slimmer than the 3T, there’s a dual-lens camera on the back, the latest Qualcomm processor inside (Snapdragon 835) and some decent — but not groundbreaking — software tweaks. There are no signs of a company really trying to break out from the pack in… Read More

  • Sphero spinoff Misty Robotics gets $11.5 million to create a mainstream robot for the home

    Sphero spinoff Misty Robotics gets $11.5 million to create a mainstream robot for the home

    Hardware startup Misty Robotics has a daunting task ahead of it. The Boulder-based company is working on a robot aimed at mainstream consumers for employment in the home and office. But Misty certainly has a solid foundation, as a spinoff of robotic toy maker Sphero, coupled with an $11.5 million Series A led by Venrock and Foundry Group. The new company employs about half a dozen former… Read More

  • Withings is now Nokia

    Withings is now Nokia

    Nokia announced at Mobile World Congress back in February that it would be sunsetting the Withings brand this summer. After giving fans of the French connected health device maker sufficient time to mourn, the brand name is finally officially being removed from its existing product lines. All Withings products will be branded Nokia from here on out.  The transition will be marked by a few… Read More

  • Shape-shifting ‘4D’ printed objects could pave the way for outer space structures

    Shape-shifting ‘4D’ printed objects could pave the way for outer space structures

    It takes a lot of money to launch stuff into space — even by NASA terms. The cost ranges from around $9,000 to more than $40,000 per pound. With that sort of price tag, weight and space are at a major premium with shuttle missions, causing NASA to look for innovative new ways to create more compact payloads. A team at Georgia Institute of Technology is exploring a method that uses 3D… Read More

  • Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant is finally coming to the U.S. — but only as a preview

    Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant is finally coming to the U.S. — but only as a preview

    Samsung’s much-touted, but mostly absent, smart assistant continues to amble its way to the U.S. After a big false start during the Galaxy S8’s launch, Bixby Voice is finally making its stateside debut. At least kind of, sort of. The company is positioning this is a “sneak peak” for the feature that was initially planned to debut on its new flagship phones. Starting… Read More

  • Nostalgia still marks the way forward for Nintendo

    Nostalgia sells. No one knows that better than Nintendo. Much of the company’s intellectual property is well past the 30 year mark at this point, and yet it manages to find new scenarios for its most popular franchises year in and year out, reinventing its stable of characters for each subsequent platform. Read More

  • Microsoft’s AI beats Ms. Pac-Man

    Microsoft’s AI beats Ms. Pac-Man

    As with so many things in the world, the key to cracking Ms. Pac-Man is team work and a bit of positive reinforcement. That… and access to funding from Microsoft and 150-plus artificial intelligence agents — as Maluuba can now attest. Last month, the Canadian deep learning company (a subsidiary of Microsoft as of January) became the first team of AI programmers to beat the… Read More

  • Amazon’s Dash Wand barcode scanner returns with Alexa and is now essentially free

    Amazon’s Dash Wand barcode scanner returns with Alexa and is now essentially free

    The first iteration of Amazon’s Dash Wand wasn’t long for this world. The company trialed the barcode scanner with select Prime Fresh customers in California, but the hardware didn’t seem to really go anywhere. Instead the company switched tactics, moving to those now familiar single product buttons.
    Now that Amazon’s all bullish about hardware, thanks to the… Read More

  • The Surface Laptop makes the new Surface Pro mostly a nonstarter

    The Surface Laptop makes the new Surface Pro mostly a nonstarter

    It’s been a week with the new Pro — Microsoft’s part-tablet/part-laptop hybrid machine —  and I already find myself looking longingly at the Surface Laptop. It’s not that the latest Surface Pro isn’t a good and capable machine (it is), it’s just that, well, the Laptop is much better for my needs — and, I’m sure, the needs of most… Read More

  • RE2 is making bomb-defusing robots as intuitive to control as your own hands

    Within a few minutes, I’ve got one hand grasped gingerly on the zipper. The other is holding the bag’s handle in place. I unzip it slowly, as if performing surgery. There’s none of the pressure of a real life battlefield, but the potential humiliation of having to start all over again in front of the film crew is enough motivation to it right this time.  RE2… Read More

  • The HTC U11 is a good phone with a dumb gimmick

    The HTC U11 is a good phone with a dumb gimmick

    Squeezable sides are a very bad reason to buy a phone. Especially now, when the U11’s Edge Sense doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot. Who knows, perhaps one day it will do much more than simply launching favorite apps. But even then, squeezable sides will be a very bad reason to buy a phone. HTC has done itself a disservice banking on a goofy gimmick with its new flagship. The… Read More

  • The Xbox One X is Microsoft’s powerful new 4K console

    The Xbox One X is Microsoft’s powerful new 4K console

    A full year after first teasing Project Scorpio at its last E3 event, Microsoft finally took the wraps of its new console, now called the Xbox One X.  Decidedly less catchy than Xbox Scorpio, but it beats all of the Windows-centric Xbox 10 S rumors that were circling around the past few weeks. The tongue-twister of a console is set to arrive November 7, priced at $499, as initially… Read More

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