Alexa can now control your HP printer

HP supports Alexa, Cortana and Google Assistant skills.

HP has been working on bringing voice control to its printers, introducing Cortana and Google Assistant skills last year that let users tell their virtual assistants to print a variety of different documents for them. Now, as of this week, Alexa-enabled devices can also connect to HP home printers.

Alexa can follow through on a number of different commands. Users can ask her to print games like sudoku puzzles or bingo cards, their to-do or shopping lists, coloring pages and even graph paper, blank calendars or notebook paper. You can see instructions on how to set up your printer to connect with Alexa here.

The Cortana and Google Assistant skills allow for similar commands, though each assistant has capabilities that the others don’t. For example, you can use the Google Assistant to print your Google Calendar or Alexa to print your Amazon shopping list. The Google Assistant HP skill launched last May while the Cortanta skill became available in October.

Anneliese Olson, HP’s head of home printing, says that connecting printers with voice assistants is convenient and useful though in the future, HP printers will likely be responsive to voice commands on their own. “Integrating voice into the home printer is an undeniably useful application of the technology,” Olson said in a statement. “For busy families, the virtual assistant ecosystem makes a lot of sense and connecting a printer to it is a natural extension within the smart home.”

 

Tesla to start selling its ‘invisible’ solar roof tiles and Powerwall batteries at 800 Home Depot locations in the U.S.

Elon Musk’s futuristic solar roof tiles and at-home energy storage units are about to become mainstream.

Or, at least, that’s what Tesla is hoping, by setting up shop in 800 Home Depot stores across the U.S.

The Tesla-branded kiosks will sell the firm’s solar roof tiles and Powerwall batteries at select Home Depot locations beginning sometime in the first half of this year.

The company is also in discussions with home improvement store Lowe’s about selling the products there, according to Bloomberg, citing sources familiar with the situation.

Home Depot used to have a partnership with Solar City, the alternative energy company acquired by Tesla in 2016 that has since been phased out.

Now, Tesla will have displays that are 12 feet tall and 7 feet wide, promoting the products and, in some cases, demonstrating how they work.

It’s unclear whether Tesla will eventually add kiosks to all of Home Depot’s 2,200 stores.

Home Depot locations in Southern California already have the kiosks, while Las Vegas and Orlando stores are expected to open booths next week, according to USA Today.

The move is likely part of Tesla’s wider effort to attract mainstream consumers.

Tesla’s solar power system costs between $10,000 and $25,000, with batteries costing around $7,000.

The firm already showcases its solar panels at its 110 U.S. stores, USA Today noted.

Tesla started taking $1,000 deposits for the roof tiles in May 2017.

However, it’s taken a while for the solar roof tiles to get off the ground, having only been installed on Tesla employees homes so far.

Musk recently introduced the Powerwall 2, a home battery unit that stores 14 kWh with the aid of solar roof panels developed in conjunction with SolarCity. 

Musk said that the Powerwall 2 has enough power to charge lights, sockets and refrigerator for a standard 4 bedroom home for an entire day.

The Powerwall 2 is an improvement upon the original Powerwall, which has only about half of the storage capacity as the new generation of products.

Scientists discover planets in galaxies beyond the Milky Way for the first time in microlensing breakthrough

Astrophysicists have discovered a population of planets outside of the Milky Way for the first time.

The incredible breakthrough was made possible using a technique known as microlensing, which allowed researchers to spot objects in extragalactic galaxies that are too far to be observed directly.

The findings suggest there may be roughly 2000 planets ranging from moon to Jupiter mass per main-sequence star.

Astrophysicists at the University of Oklahoma used data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory to find the new population of planets.

Before this, they say no evidence of planets in other galaxies had ever been detected.

The researchers relied on a technique called microlensing, which uses the distortions of light from a background source much like a magnifying glass to see distant objects.

‘We are very excited about this discovery,’ said Xinyu Dai, professor in the Homer L Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy.

‘This is the first time anyone has discovered planets outside our galaxy.

‘These small planets are the best candidate for the signature we observed in this study using the microlensing technique.

‘We analyzed the high frequency of the signature by modelling the data to determine the mass.’

Until now, microlensing has only been used to detect planets in the Milky Way, according to the researchers.

With quasar microlensing, they say it’s possible to see extragalactic planets inside the lens galaxy based on the properties of emission near the event horizon of the supermassive black hole of the background quasar.

And, this can be done with current technology.

‘This is an example of how powerful the techniques of analysis of extragalactic microlensing can be,’ said postdoctoral researcher Eduardo Guerras.

‘This galaxy is located 3.8 billion light years away, and there is not the slightlest chance of observing these planets directly, not even with the best telescope one can imagine in a science fiction scenario.

‘However, we are able to study them, unveil their presence and even have an idea of their masses. This is very cool science.’