Following news that Peloton’s API exposed private user account data, McAfee’s Advanced Threat Research team says the Bike+ had a dangerous flaw that could enable hackers to invisibly and remotely gain control of bikes.
McAfee says its researchers began poking around Peloton’s systems once the workout-at-home trend took off during the pandemic. In the process, they found that the Bike+ software wasn’t verifying whether the device’s bootloader was unlocked, enabling them to upload a custom image that wasn’t meant for Peloton hardware. After downloading an official Peloton update package, the researchers were then able to modify Peloton’s actual boot image and gain root access to the bike’s software. The Android Verified Boot process wasn’t able to detect that the image had been tampered with.
Or put more simply, a hacker could use a USB key to upload a fake boot image file that grants them access to a bike remotely without a user ever knowing. That hacker can then install and run programs, modify files, harvest login credentials, intercept encrypted internet traffic, or spy on users through the bike’s camera and microphone.
This vulnerability may not sound all that serious for home users, as it requires physical access to the Bike+ to pull off. However, McAfee says that a bad actor could load the malware at any point during construction, at a warehouse, or in the delivery process. Peloton bikes are also popular fixtures at gyms and fitness centers in hotels and apartment buildings—an area that the company is keen to expand in. Peloton dropped $420 million to acquire Precor in December, and a big reason why is that Precor had an extensive commercial network that includes hotels, corporate campuses, colleges, and apartment complexes.
Peloton reportedly patched the issue on June 4 during the disclosure window, and there are no indications the vulnerability has been exploited in the wild. The company also confirmed that the flaw was also found on the Peloton Tread, which was recalled last month along with the Peloton Tread+.
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This is usually the point where we tell you to go and make sure you have the most recent firmware update. That said, it’s not super easy to tell whether your Peloton has the most recent update, especially since the company doesn’t publicize software release notes. It’s an omission that Peloton should perhaps fix, considering how popular connected fitness has become in the past year. In cases like these, it’s a good idea to enable automatic updates if possible. Another thing to keep in mind is Peloton prohibits users from downloading other apps, such as Netflix or Spotify, onto its bikes and treadmills. (Though there are ways to get around that.) So, if you ever happen to be on a public Peloton and it has other apps… you probably shouldn’t use it.
Starting Tuesday, June 15, if you’re fully vaccinated and going to either Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, or Disneyland in Anaheim, California, you will no longer be required to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of covid-19. Will you be asked to prove you’re vaccinated? No. No, you will not.
Disney World has been planning this change for a few days while Disneyland announced the news Monday. “While guests will not be required to show proof of vaccination, vaccinated guests will self-attest that they are in compliance prior to entry,” reads Disneyland’s site. “In addition, all guests will need to attest that they are aware of the state of California’s strong recommendation that guests be fully vaccinated or receive a negative covid-19 test prior to entering the theme parks.” The Disneyland page also reads: “Guests (ages 2 and up) who are not fully vaccinated must continue wearing face coverings indoors, except when dining.” The Disney World wording is slightly different: “While we will not require proof of vaccination, we expect guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations, and upon entering and throughout all attractions and transportation. Guests must observe current policies on face coverings until June 15.”
Both parks add that specific spots, mostly enclosed transportation, will still require masks for everyone, and Disney “encourage[s] people to get vaccinated.” But that’s not all. Physical distancing will also be “relaxed” or “self-determined” at both parks, and temperature checks will no longer take place at Disneyland where out-of-state guests will officially be allowed back as well. One thing that’s not changing is the reservations—guests still can’t just show up to the parks unannounced, they must have previous reservations to get in.
This isn’t some random choice, of course. June 15 is the date that’s been given by the state of California to remove all restrictions put in place over the past year. It’s also, obviously, something that was going to happen eventually since the parks reopened over the past few months. Plus, having personally been to Disneyland this past weekend, while masks seemed to be monitored well, distancing was only partially enforced, simply because there aren’t enough Disney employees to check every place in the park. Also, no one checked to make sure I was a California resident. So half of this was already “self-determined” by the guests anyway which is probably not the safest way to operate. For instance, in Miami, Florida last week, a bitcoin conference had no face mask or proof of vaccine requirements for attendees and several have already contracted the coronavirus.
It’s a little scary to jump from a fully compliant theme park to almost back to normal literally overnight. There’s also the danger of non-vaccinated people lying, carrying the disease, and spreading it not just to other non-vaccinated guests, but to vaccinated guests—it’s important to remember even if you are vaccinated, you can still carry and spread covid-19. You’re just less likely to get sick or die from it yourself. Would you feel safe going to Disneyland or Disney World without a mask? Let us know below.
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Bikes have long been a greener (and cheaper) alternative to cars, assuming you actually know how to ride one, but a talented Chinese engineer is taking that requirement out of the equation with a self-balancing electric bike that’s smart enough to get around a city all by itself.
In its current form the bike screams ‘research project’ with electric motors and flywheels mounted beneath its seat, electronics and a battery pack strapped to the top tube, and a servo-powered system used to turn the front wheel. It’s not pretty, but at the same time watching it in action is mesmerizing because everything our brains know about bikes tells us that seeing one rolling down the street without a rider should be impossible. What’s more impressive is that the bike’s upgraded capabilities come from a single hardware engineer named Zhi Hui Jun who realized the project in their spare time.
The self-balancing action is achieved through a perpendicularly-mounted heavy metal wheel that can quickly change the direction of its spin to create angular momentum to counters the bike’s tendency to immediately succumb to the forces of gravity and fall over. It’s controlled by accelerometer and gyroscope sensors that can detect the subtlest movements of the bike, and as a result, when self-balancing, the bike appears to be rock solid as the constant tiny adjustments being made are nearly imperceptible.
The mechanism should work whether or not there’s a rider on the seat, but while it can keep the bike itself upright even at a complete stand-still, with someone on board, which adds a lot of top-heavy weight, it may require some added forward momentum to help pull of its balancing tricks. It could very well mean that one day the rite of passage of learning to ride a bike as a kid could be no more, which would also make biking more accessible to riders of any skill level.
There’s another interesting application to this creation, which may already be apparent to anyone who lives in a big city and regularly has to dodge bicycle couriers who deftly weave in and out of congested traffic to quickly deliver packages. As part of the upgrade, Zhi Hui Jun also added an RGB depth-sensing camera and a LIDAR sensor allowing it to not only ride by itself but also intelligently avoid obstacles and navigate traffic. The bike could easily replace the cars used by services like Uber Eats for smaller orders, and would potentially never be delayed by heavy traffic or closed roads. It could zip through pile-ups and even take advantage of shortcuts that cars never could to reduce delivery times—while also reducing emissions.
On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new injectable medication for treating obesity—one shown to help people lose a significant amount of weight in clinical trials when taken regularly. The drug, called Wegovy, may just signal a new era in obesity treatment.
Wegovy will be approved for chronic weight management in adults living with obesity or who are overweight with at least one health condition possibly related to their weight, such as type 2 diabetes, in conjunction with a reduced calorie diet and physical exercise. It’s taken as a once-a-week injection under the skin.
“Today’s approval offers adults with obesity or overweight a beneficial new treatment option to incorporate into a weight management program,” said John Sharretts, deputy director of the Division of Diabetes, Lipid Disorders, and Obesity in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Wegovy’s active ingredient is semaglutide, an existing drug developed by Novo Nordisk used to manage type 2 diabetes. Semaglutide is a synthetic version of the human glucagon-like peptide-1 hormone (GLP-1), which helps regulate our sense of hunger and metabolism, among other things. In people with diabetes, the drug boosts their production of insulin, which then keeps their blood sugar in control. But research had also started to show that people taking semaglutide and other GLP-1 analogs tended to lose substantial weight, which prompted Novo Nordisk to test a higher dose (2.4 milligrams) for obesity treatment specifically.
The drug is the first since 2014 to be approved for obesity. But it seems to be much more effective than existing medications, almost rivaling the effectiveness seen with bariatric surgery and leading some experts to call it an “game changer.” In the largest 68-week-long trial of nondiabetic volunteers with obesity, those taking semaglutide lost, on average, 12.4% more of their initial body weight than people on placebo (both groups were counseled on how to maintain a healthy diet and exercise). Three other trials showed a similar pattern of improved weight loss, as well as the sustained maintenance of that weight loss, while on the drug.
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Donna Ryan, an obesity researcher and professor emerita at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisana, told Gizmodo in an email that the results from these trials were more than enough to win its approval. “We have tons of experience on the safety side with the molecule, and the efficacy is beyond question,” said Ryan, who was not affiliated with the trials used to evaluate FDA approval. “With 42% of U.S. adults meeting BMI criteria for obesity, we need some safe and effective tools.”
Semaglutide, like any medication, does come with side effects. Common side effects have included nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, headache, fatigue, and dyspepsia (indigestion), particularly in the first few weeks of taking the drug or adjusting to a new dose. The FDA will also require a boxed warning indicating the potential risk of thyroid C-cell tumors—a risk that has been seen in animal but not human testing so far. People at risk of certain thyroid cancers will be advised not to take it.
Wegovy’s approval isn’t just important for the drug itself, but for what it could mean for obesity treatment moving forward. There are other GLP-1 analogs being tested in clinical trials that are close to seeking approval, while research is ongoing into developing analogs of other gut hormones that similarly play a role in maintaining a healthy metabolism. Some early research has already shown that it may be possible to use these drugs alongside semaglutide to achieve even greater weight loss.
According to Ryan, it’s likely that Wegovy will only be the first of these newer treatments to reach the public. “The future is bright. The GLP-1s are the first targets—later we will tackle the other gut peptides and other signals from the gut brain axis,” she said.
While obesity has long been seen wrongly as an issue of will power or other personal failings, at least some obesity experts have argued that the effectiveness of newer drugs like semaglutide could change people’s conceptions of obesity and allow doctors to tackle it as the metabolic disorder that it is.
This article has been updated to include comments from Donna Ryan.
Melting glacial ice along a mountain passageway in Norway has resulted in the discovery of hundreds of ancient artifacts. One of these items, a wooden box with the lid still firmly in place, has finally been opened, revealing its precious contents.
Bits of beeswax. Yep, the wooden box was holding a plain old candle. Not gold, not jewelry, not a book of spells—just a beeswax candle.
Now, a candle might seem like an anti-climactic thing to discover, and perhaps it is, but this artifact and its well-preserved box tell an interesting story nonetheless—one having to do with annual treks made across a well-traveled mountain pass.
The Lendbreen ice patch, located in Oppland Country, Norway, was first discovered by glacial archaeologists in 2011, and it is slowly but inexorably revealing a record of use that spans 1,200 years. Glacial ice has preserved organic objects made from wood, leather, bone, and wool, and global warming is now making them visible to archaeologists. The variety of items found on this passageway is astounding: things like Viking spears, a tunic made from wool, horse snowshoes, mittens, shoes, walking sticks, knives, dog leashes, and even the remnants of a dog.
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And of course, the wooden box, described on The Secrets of the Ice Facebook page as “one of the most awesome finds we have discovered from the melting ice.” Archaeologists with the group, more formally known as the Glacier Archaeology Program in Innlandet, were curious to know the age of the box, the type of wood used to make it, and of course, its cargo.
Radiocarbon dating places the box to between 1475 CE and 1635 CE. So at between 546 and 386 years old, it’s actually not that ancient, and it postdates the Viking Age by at least 400 years. The box itself was made from pine, and it held the remnants of a beeswax candle, as an analysis performed at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo revealed.
“Now we know that such candle boxes were used way back in time,” the researchers explained. “It also fits well with what we know about the nature of the traffic through the Lendbreen pass.”
Indeed, these boxes were used by farmers to transport candles from their main farms to their summer farms. A post from the History Blog adds color to this practice:
Candle boxes were commonly used in Norway to transport expensive beeswax candles between seasonal farms. This was a practical aspect of the Norwegian practice of seterbruk, or summer pasture farming. Farmers would move their livestock from their home farms to summer pastures to graze. The summer farms had spartan living quarters where caretakers, usually just two people, a cattle hand and a milk maid, would stay for the whole season while they tended to the stock, milking the animals and making dairy products on site. This practice maximized the limited resources of a cold, forested and mountainous country, giving farmers access to larger grazing areas not available on the home farm and allowing them to harvest hay and fodder to supply the farm during the long winter.
So the candles were an important resource! And the candle boxes held and protected these items during the journey. Once at their summer farms, these candles provided the sole source of interior illumination at night, as the farmers worked from early spring until the fall. The farmers probably packed as lightly as possible for the long trek across the mountain pass, with the candle boxes holding an essential item.
Sure—the wooden box didn’t store any treasure by modern standards. But its contents, though a mundane household item, can hardly be called a disappointment. For archaeologists, there’s virtually nothing from the past that can be characterized as a letdown.
I have often described sous vide as “the nerdiest way to cook a steak.” I also think it’s the best way. Or, at least, the best way to achieve consistently excellent results and have it be almost impossible to screw up. Honestly, I didn’t think it could be improved upon much, so when I heard that a new sous vide machine called the HydroPro Plus from PolyScience added yet another layer of nerdiness on top of sous vide—something called delta cooking—I didn’t see the point. And then I tasted the results and promptly lost my mind.
A quick sous vide primer for non-culinary geeks: Sous vide, loosely translated from le francais, means “under vacuum,” though you don’t really need a vacuum or anything to do it. Basically, sous vide devices are immersion heater/circulators. They heat a water bath to a very specific temperature and keep it there. You put your food (most often meats, but there are recipes for veggies, eggs, and desserts, too), into a heat-safe plastic (maybe silicone) bag, get as much air out of the bag as possible, and then sink it into the bath and leave it to cook slow and low for a very long time.
The idea is that if the perfect level of doneness for a steak is 131 degrees Fahrenheit, then you set the water to 131 degrees, and then the whole steak slowly gets to that temperature, so no part of it is overcooked, no part is undercooked, and it loses very little moisture because it’s all sealed up in there. You then give it a quick sear just for flavor, and you have the most perfectly-cooked steak imaginable. If you accidentally leave it in for three hours too long, it’s still going to be totally fine. Basically, it idiot-proofs some serious gourmet stuff.
Oversized and Lacks an App
The HydroPro Plus is a sous vide machine. It looks like most other consumer sous vide machines these days, except it is both bigger and thicker than your typical home sous vide, making it a little intimidating. My go-to sous vide, the ChefSteps Joule, is very small by comparison and fits easily in a drawer. I do not have a drawer big enough for the HydroPro Plus.
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The Joule must be controlled by a smartphone app, though, which can be a pain and sometimes does not work very well. In contrast, the HydroPro Plus has a large, bright touchscreen. On that touchscreen there’s an app called Sous Vide Toolbox. It asks you a series of questions like: what are you cooking, is it fresh or frozen, how thick is it, and what kind of doneness do you want. You just tap what you want, and presto, the water starts heating to the correct temperature, and the timers are all set and good to go. You can also manually set times and temps, and you can even save settings if it’s something you plan on cooking again, which is very handy.
I will say that for a device this expensive it’s a shame that it doesn’t have wifi connectivity or a full-featured smartphone app. That’s a common feature for home sous vides these days, and it frequently gives you the ability to see videos of the different texture options (useful) as well as the ability to monitor the cook even if you step out of the house (even more useful). There is a Bluetooth radio and an iOS/Android app, but it’s just used for logging temps and times for food safety tracking and reporting (more for professional kitchens).
Still, the HydroPro is extremely intuitive for a standalone system.
What on Earth Is Delta Cooking?
There are actually two versions of this thing: The HydroPro ($500) and the HydroPro Plus ($600). Both can do all of the stuff I mentioned above. The HydroPro Plus, however, comes with a digital needle probe thermometer, which enables it to delta cook. Consider it next-level sous vide. With delta cooking, you insert the needle probe into the center of the thing you’re cooking. It pierces the plastic sous vide bag, but you put a piece of foam tape (some of which is included with the HydroPro Plus) on the bag before piercing, and so water still can’t get in.
With delta cooking, unlike regular sous vide, you make the water a good deal hotter than you want the final internal temperature to be. It’s not quite “set it and forget it.” The HydroPro Plus has an alarm (a loud one), so when the needle probe senses the target internal temp it will sound, and then you pull it out. This accomplishes two things.
1. Delta cooking is faster. With sous vide, the last few degrees take the longest, because there’s the smallest differential between the water temp and the food. By using hotter water, your food will get to the proper core temperature 30-50% faster, which could shave hours off dinner time.
2. Delta cooking creates variation in the texture. Because using sous vide causes everything to end up at the same temperature, if you cook something like a fatty cut of salmon, it can have a homogenous texture to it that feels weird—like you’re biting into a stick of butter. With delta cooking, there’s more contrast. You can still get that perfectly soft medium-rare in the middle, but then it gets a bit flakier as it goes outward from the center.
There are a lot of different delta cooking techniques you can use, which gives you more to nerd out about and experiment with (this is PolyScience’s delta cooking explainer). This also gives you more options for screwing it up. It’s definitely not for everybody, but delta cooking is an addition to a chef’s toolbox. As far as I know, the HydroPro Plus is the only consumer sous vide machine that has built-in temperature probe integration. You could still delta cook with a normal sous vide and an independent needle-probe thermometer, but you’d have to watch it closely.
So anyway, how does it all work? Extremely well. The water heats up nice and quickly, which isn’t surprising, since it circulates 17 liters per minute, and can heat up to a 45-liter bath (which would work for a small restaurant). I made several steaks using standard sous vide techniques and everything turned out as tender and as delicious as expected.
The “a-ha!” moment was when I delta-cooked some salmon fillets. I gave the skin a quick sear before putting it in its bag, added some fresh sage, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and olive oil, then I sealed it and inserted the needle probe. I turned the water bath to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, but set the internal temp alarm to go off at 122 degrees F. It took just 13 minutes to reach the right core temp. I quickly opened the bag, plated it, and oh, my, god. It was the best salmon I’ve ever had in my life. It was so perfectly tender and juicy, but it also had just the right amount of flakiness. It didn’t have that weird uniform texture you usually get from sous vide. It still felt like eating salmon, it was just the platonic ideal of what salmon could be.
Again, I wouldn’t recommend delta for everything. I also tried it on a porkchop (which, I was told, would benefit from a little textural contrast). This was a lower/longer cook. I set the water to 151 degrees F and the temp probe alarm to 143.5. The idea was that this would give me a faster cook, and it certainly did. It was ready 45 minutes later. I quickly seared both sides in a cast iron pan. The results were…good. They were fine, but it didn’t blow me away like the salmon.
The most ambitious cook I tried didn’t involve delta, but it did involve a lot of patience. I blow-torched some beef short ribs to give them a sear (and to pasteurize the surface), then threw them in a bag, added some marinade I made, and cooked them at 160 degrees F for a whopping 48 hours. The result was incredibly tender and juicy. If you picked up a bone the meat would fall right off of it. I’m glad I did it, but I’m not in a hurry to do it again. I mean, you can’t be. It takes too long.
Worth the Money?
Ultimately, I love cooking with this thing. It’s powerful and intuitive, and I love the option of being able to delta cook, as it gives me more things I can experiment with. And for professional chefs, being able to log internal food temperatures for HACCP compliance makes this kind of a no-brainer. That being said, for the average home chef who is just wanting to dip their toes into sous vide cooking, it’s absolutely overkill.
It’s great, but at $500 or $600 (for the HydroPro or the HydroPro Plus, respectively), it’s quite expensive, especially when there are excellent home sous vide machines in the $200 range that have apps that do a lot of hand-holding. If you’ve got the money and the desire to get uber-geeky with your food, though, this thing is fantastic.
The winners of the 2021 Milky Way Photographer of the Year have been announced, and they’re providing some of the best views of our galaxy that we’ve ever seen.
Identifying individual stars in the night sky is pretty cool, but nothing compares to the view of the Milky Way as it stretches overhead. Stars are stark and lonely, but the Milky Way actually makes us feel like we’re part of something, even if that something is a spiral galaxy that measures more than 100,000 light years across.
Each year, Capture the Atlas, a travel photo blog, honors the best photos of our home galaxy. This year’s crop includes 25 images by 25 different photographers hailing from 14 different countries. Dan Zafra, editor of Capture the Atlas, selected the winners, choosing from a mix of professional and amateur photographers. Here are 15 winning photos from the 2021 Milky Way Photographer of the Year.
For the past few months, rumors about the next-gen AirPods have been pretty consistent—they’re going to have shorter stems and crib some design elements from the AirPods Pro. But a new Bloomberg report is finally giving us something fresh to chew on. When the next-gen AirPods Pro arrive sometime in 2022, they’ll reportedly have fitness tracking features.
Citing anonymous Apple sources, Bloomberg claims the new AirPods Pro will include “updated motion sensors” that have a “focus on fitness tracking.” Apple has also purportedly tested a smaller design for the AirPods Pro that eliminates the stem altogether—a look that the company may debut with new Beats wireless earbuds that will likely drop next month. (You know, the ones LeBron James was supposedly spotted wearing in a recent Instagram post.) The report also reiterates the entry-level AirPods will have a new case and… you guessed it, shorter stems.
Fitness features in earbuds are not a new concept. Jabra, Bose, and JBL have all released sports-focused earbuds with heart rate monitoring and an element of virtual coaching in the past. They just never took off as they were not only more expensive than your average fitness earbud but also finicky. Heart rate monitoring earbuds need to be perfectly fitted to get readings—one of the major downsides of hearable tech as people’s ears vary much more widely than their wrists.
Surprisingly, the Bloomberg report makes no mention of heart rate monitoring with regard to the rumored AirPods Pro fitness tracking features but instead mentions updated motion sensors. That seems to hint at some sort of automatic activity tracking or perhaps distance and speed coaching for sports like running and cycling. It’s also possible that adding a fitness focus to the AirPods Pro is another way of Apple hooking users into its services via a gadget. Case in point, Apple’s Fitness+ service is designed around showcasing the Apple Watch, while also subtly encouraging users to get an iPad or Apple TV so they can watch the on-demand workouts on a bigger screen. The Apple Watch already works pretty seamlessly with AirPods, so this could be another way of adding yet another compatible device to the Fitness+ mix.
You also can’t rule out potential health features in the future. At CES 2020 and 2021, Valencell, a wearable components maker, hinted that PPG sensors (the same ones that measure heart rate) in earbuds could be used to accurately measure blood pressure without the need for cuffs.
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In any case, you can read this as Apple doubling down on wearables. While the company lumps its wearables revenue with its home and accessories products, that entire category has rapidly grown in recent years. According to Bloomberg, it accounts for more than $30 billion in annual revenue for Apple or more than 10% of its sales. When you piece all this together, the possibility of fitness-focused features on AirPods isn’t all that surprising. We’ll just have to wait and see what form it takes.
If this new trailer for the movie adaptation of the 66-year-old classic Disney park ride is truly representative of the film, it seems like stars Dwayne Johnson’s riverboat Captain Frank Wolff and Emily Blunt’s Dr. Lily Houghton will spend most of their time off the boat to look through ancient ruins, fight a wide variety of monsters, and, uh, get mauled by cheetahs. It’s like a hybrid of Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Rock. Now, these are all good things (well, the first Pirates movie, at least) that go together like chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers: They form a delicious but extremely messy treat, which is an accurate description for this trailer. All of these action setpieces we see snippets of look fun, but there are so many of them that it feels like the story might be a mere formality. While that’s certainly appropriate for a Disney ride that’s light on narrative and heavy on loveably terrible skipper jokes, it might be a detriment for The Jungle Cruise movie.
Also, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about how the film was going to depict indigenous peoples, who are only seen in a brief shot, but certainly look like they might be portrayed in the awful Imperialist stereotype as “savages.” Now, you might think since it’s 2021, Disney would have figured out a long time ago that this sort of thing would be a problem, but the Disney parks only started removing these issues from the actual Jungle Cruise rides (and more) this year, and the movie started filming in May of 2018.
Still, fingers crossed that Disney’s movie division is smarter than its parks division. The Jungle Cruise, which also stars Édgar Ramirez and Paul Giamatti, will premiere in movie theaters and on Disney+ on July 30, via Premiere Access (meaning you’ll have to pay extra for it).
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Similar to the soda-mixing Coca-Cola Freestyle machines introduced years ago (which were co-created by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway), Kellogg’s is rolling out a new vending machine called the Kellogg’s Bowl Bot that creates custom mixes of cereals and toppings like fresh fruits and nuts and spits out a breakfast ready bowl faster than you can groggily toast a bagel.
The machines were developed by Chowbotics, now a division of DoorDash, who adapted the technology behind its salad-making robots to create the Bowl Bot which more or less does the exact same thing, but with different, and arguably superior, ingredients. You don’t win friends with salad.
Using a touchscreen interface on the vending machine itself, or a mobile app on a smartphone or tablet, users can fill a bowl with a combination of 22 different ingredient options, including milk or yogurt as a base, and while pricing starts at $3 for a basic bowl of cereal, those looking for a more elaborate way to start (or end) their day can spend up to $6.50.
Like any pizza parlor offering a respectable list of toppings, the Bowl Bot also offers a menu of several pre-determined mixes for those who can’t make up their minds. “About Last Night” mixes Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, and Krave cereals with chocolate drops, banana chips, and espresso syrup—a true breakfast of champions—while “Hawaii 5-0″ blends Frosted Mini-Wheats and Bear Naked Fit Triple Berry Granola with coconut, mango, and pineapple, which is sure to be as divisive as a Hawaiian pizza.
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If you want to try one of the Kellogg’s Bowl Bot machines yourself you’re unfortunately going to have to enroll at either Florida State University or the University of Wisconsin-Madison, because Kellogg’s has only made them available to college students at this time. As far as testing goes, university campuses seem like a great place to first install these machines given how erratic and exotic the eating habits of college students can be. There’s little doubt these vending machines are also collecting usage data, and it will be interesting to see what ingredients end up being most popular. My bet is an all marshmallow mix with a shot of espresso syrup.