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Apple eyes smart magnets to attach accessories to your iPad

The iPad's magnetic personality could help users attach an array of accessories to their tablets.

Published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent fittingly named "Magnetic Attachment Unit" describes how the iPad's current magnet system could be expanded to hook up with docks, stands, touchpads, joysticks, cameras, other iPads, and even a special magnetic ring. iPad owners would be able to couple the tablet with an accessory without having to rely on the dock connector.

Accessories would connect to any side of the iPad, including the bottom, letting the tablet attach to compatible … Read more

Your next refrigerator may run on magnets

Your current refrigerator is running on some pretty old technology. The compressor system inside has been the standard cooling force for around 100 years. It's about time for a change, and that change may be coming in the form of magnets.

Researchers at GE labs are showing off a prototype machine that runs a water-based fluid through a series of magnets. It's a new innovation that harnesses an old idea known as the magnetocaloric effect. The magnetocaloric effect describes what happens when certain kinds of metal alloys get hot when near magnets, and cool when pulled away.… Read more

The 404 1422: Where we quit the pick-up tip (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- No more swipe and sign credit cards starting October 2015.

- Related: Bank of America mails credit card offer to "Lisa Is a Slut McIntire."

- Agree It app: now you can be a payday lender to Facebook friends!… Read more

Google-like data bank of kids' brain scans could aid docs

Say a doctor orders an MRI scan of a child's brain to try to determine what might be at the root of a list of troubling symptoms.

She eyeballs the results to look for abnormalities that might indicate certain diseases or disorders, but nothing seems terribly amiss. So she submits the scan anonymously to a database that includes thousands of other scans of children with healthy and abnormal brains to find matches. She then gets the medical records -- anonymously, of course -- of kids with similar scans and voila, she makes a diagnosis that involves a lot less … Read more

Magnetic Nanoport links phones to accessories, cars, each other

Magnetic toy maker Nano Magnetics announced a technology Tuesday called Nanoport, designed to let people link small phone displays into a single larger one, snap phones onto car dashboards, and easily link them to other devices.

Nano Magnetics hopes to license Nanoport first to smartphone makers and later to other tech companies, the company said Tuesday at CES 2014. Nanoport uses small neodymium (aka rare earth magnets), but it can be augmented with electromagnets for more demanding attachment situations, like car dashboards. It's also got wireless mechanisms for charging and USB-derived data transfer.

With Nanoport, devices could be stacked, … Read more

HiFiMan's advanced headphone tech at CES 2014 improves sound quality

HiFiMan is premiering two new models of audiophile headphones at CES 2014. At first glance the new models resemble HiFiMan's HE-400 and HE-500 full-size planar magnetic headphones, but closer inspection reveals an entirely new headband design, and these two models are considerably lighter and more comfortable than the headphones they replace.

Catch CNET's complete coverage of CES 2014

I was treated to an advance preview in NYC and auditioned the headphones at home. The sound is more open and clearer than ever before. Some experienced audiophiles may think these two new HiFiMans' sound is close to what you … Read more

Magnetic-toy company expanding to electronics connector

The company behind Nanodots magnetic toys is trying to enter the mobile device market, too.

Nano Magnetics plans to announce Nanoport, "a universal magnetic connector technology," at a press conference on Tuesday at CES 2014.

The company declined to share details ahead of the press conference, but said Nanoport "will extend the possibilities of device interaction and explore the potential of enabled electronics, peripherals, and appliances."

Dogs do doo-duty in alignment with Earth's magnetic field

Dog owners are familiar with the sight of Spike sniffing, hovering, rotating, and then finally settling in to handle his business. It may seem like quite a production, but the pup may actually be getting into proper alignment with the Earth's magnetic field.

A team of scientists is behind a new study published in Frontiers in Zoology and titled "Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth's magnetic field." The researchers started off by observing dog behaviors such as resting and feeding, but soon zeroed in on excreting as the main focus.… Read more

Physicists inch toward atomic-scale MRI

A team of physicists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University is working on a novel MRI technique that has achieved nanoscale resolution -- meaning scientists could soon view biological samples such as influenza viruses very clearly.

The experimental result brings MRI one step closer to atomic-scale imaging, says lead researcher Raffi Budakian of the University of Illinois, who reports his findings in the journal Physical Review X. "Imagine a 3D image slice-by-slice of an influenza virus and then looking at all the chemical components with nanometer-scale resolution. That's our dream. It provides a toolset for biology that doesn't yet exist."… Read more

Polar Pen: A pen-hybrid stylus made of magnets

Anyone who's ever played with a set of Zen Magnets, or a pair of rattlesnake eggs, knows how mesmerizing magnets can be. What if you could have a set of awesome magnets that was also a pen...that was also a stylus?

Well, say hello to the Polar Pen by Canadian designer Andrew Gardner. Gardner often used to pull apart his pens (who didn't?), and he loves magnets, so he decided to put the two together. The ink cartridge sits inside a series of small, tubular rare-earth magnets that click together to form the barrel of the pen. If you want to get super fancy, you can also get a stylus tip that sits over the pen's nib.

So, what's the point of a pen made of powerful magnets? Well, sometimes the mind just needs to relax and have a play.… Read more