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Hyperloop startup Arrivo is shutting down as workers are laid off

Futuristic transportation startup Arrivo shut down its operations this week, The Verge has learned. All of the company’s 30 or so employees were furloughed in late November, with about half being completely laid off at the end of that month, according to two employees who were granted anonymity because they signed non-disclosure agreements. Now, the Los Angeles startup is shutting down because it hasn’t been able to secure new funding, these people say. Remaining employees were informed Friday via text messages seen by The Verge, or by phone.

The hyperloop-style company was started in 2017 by former SpaceX engineer Brogan BamBrogan, who was a co-founder of Hyperloop One. Two of BamBrogan’s fellow co-founders had resigned in the months...

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Alexa can now arm your home security system — including Amazon’s R

You would think that Amazon’s Ring home security system and Amazon’s Echo smart speakers would intelligently work together, right? You’d be mostly wrong — but today, the company is taking another small step towards tying them together by letting you arm, disarm, and check the status of some Ring, ADT, Honeywell, Abode, and Scout security systems just by asking Alexa to do so.

And since I recently bought a Ring Alarm for my own house — Dan convinced me with his review — I decided to give the new functionality a spin this afternoon.

It’s a pretty simple integration, honestly. You install the Ring skill from the Skill Store in your Alexa app, make sure Alexa can see your alarm system, and then you can use the following commands (in the...

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Facebook fractures its secretive hardware division

Roughly a year and a half ago, Regina Dugan, a former director for the US government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, took the stage at Facebook’s F8 developer conference. There, she told the audience that Facebook was working on brain-computer interfaces that might one day let you type with your thoughts.

It was a bold proclamation, and it helped at the time paint a picture of Facebook as a risk-taking, moonshot-hunting Silicon Valley juggernaut in the mold of Google and its X lab. Now, 18 months later, some of those projects are still reportedly in the works, but the team responsible for them no longer go by the DARPA-inspired name Building 8. And Dugan, who had joined Facebook from her time running a similar skunkworks...

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is dazzling, hilarious, and unique

Back in 2013, Sony Pictures Entertainment announced plans for its own elaborate, interconnected universe based around Spider-Man. Among the planned titles: Amazing Spider-Man 3 (which never happened), Venom (which arguably shouldn’t have happened), and The Sinister Six (which hasn’t happened yet, though writer-director Drew Goddard would still love to tackle it). Instead, Sony went a different way, partnering with Marvel two years later to make Spider-Man part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, leading to Tom Holland’s portrayal of Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Homecoming and other MCU films.

It was a concession that perhaps Marvel Studios knew how to best handle the marquee version of the character. But in spite of Spider-Man’s successful...

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Google is selling the Home Hub and two Home Mini speakers for just $12

Google just launched an aggressive deal that might be all many people need to outfit their house or apartment with Google Assistant this holiday season. For a limited time, the company is selling a Home Hub smart display and two Home Mini smart speakers at a total price of $129. The Hub ordinarily retails for $149, with the speakers going for $49 each. This deal might be very limited, with Google’s terms indicating it will end at 11:59PM PT tonight, December 14th.

Obviously both products have been discounted at times during the holiday season — including right now at various retailers. But this bundle from the Google Store seems pretty tough to beat. As Google puts it, you’re basically getting $20 off the Home Hub and two Minis for...

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Bruce Springsteen’s Netflix special makes this a great weekend for T

There are so many streaming options available these days, and so many conflicting recommendations, that it’s hard to see through all the crap you could be watching. Each Friday, The Verge’s Cut the Crap column simplifies the choice by sorting through the overwhelming multitude of movies and TV shows on subscription services and recommending a single perfect thing to watch this weekend.

What to watch

The Indian Runner, Sean Penn’s 1991 debut as a writer and director. Based on the 1982 Bruce Springsteen song “Highway Patrolman,” the movie stars David Morse as Joe Roberts, a deputy sheriff living a quiet life with his wife Maria (Valeria Golino) in a late-1960s Midwestern small town. Joe’s career and family are disrupted by the return of...

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Amazon’s Echo Wall Clock now shipping for $30

Amazon’s $29.99 Echo Wall Clock is now here to complete the set of minimalist Alexa devices (including a smart microwave and outlet plug) that the company announced earlier this year. Like some of those other products, the analog Wall Clock doesn’t actually have a mic for Alexa built in; it’s meant for those who already own an Echo. If you do, you can have it display timers, alarms, and reminders through voice commands.

The Echo Wall Clock runs on 4 AA batteries and needs to be synced to an Echo device through a quick setup process that requires Bluetooth and a Wi-Fi connection. But you can do it all through voice without having to pull out your phone. It has 60 LEDs running around the clock’s face, so you can look at multiple timers...

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All I want for Christmas is this twerking Alexa-enabled bear

The company behind the Alexa-enabled Big Mouth Billy Bass has created the most Spencer’s Gift-y item of them all: an Alexa-enabled twerking bear that dances to music and lip-syncs responses. It comes in three variations — Twerking Bear, Twerking Bear (seasonal), and Santa — all of which sell for $40. It’s a small price to pay for an animated plush that cheerfully lip-syncs responses to your questions, in addition to handling timers, alarms, reminders, and notifications.

Twerking Bear comes from novelty toy and inflatables company Gemmy, which already has an entire army of stuffed animal twerkers. Gemmy released its Alexa-enabled line of passionate dancers last month, but we somehow missed them amid the excitement of seeing an...

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Is vaping better than smoking? Scientists studied pee to find out

E-cigarette users’ pee contains more heavy metals as well as signs of exposure to carcinogens and other irritating chemicals than the pee of non-vapers, hinting that the habit might come with serious health risks. At the same time, vapers who switched completely from cigarettes still had lower levels of these substances in their urine than their smoking peers, new research says.

The study, published today in the journal JAMA Network Open, didn’t measure the risks from exposures directly — only the materials the participants peed out. But the findings may help with the ongoing debate about whether e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes. After all, that’s a major selling point for the vape industry, which markets e-cigarettes as a less...

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Federal court freezes Faraday Future CEO’s ownership stake, Californ

A federal US District judge in California has temporarily frozen Faraday Future CEO Jia Yueting’s ownership stake in the company, and put a protective order on the mansions he owns in California, according to new court documents filed Thursday. It’s the second freeze placed on Jia’s ownership stake in the company in the last two weeks. The decision comes at a time when the EV startup is nearly completely out of cash after a months-long clash with its main financial backer, Chinese real estate conglomerate Evergrande, that has resulted in hundreds of layoffs and furloughs.

The new freeze is a result of a lawsuit filed earlier this week in the central district court of California by a Chinese company called Shanghai Lan Cai Asset...

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