Lytro: A Closer Look at the First Focus-Free Camera

For those who want to get their hands on a camera that shoots first and focuses later, the countdown has begun. Silicon Valley startup Lytro unveiled its groundbreaking camera Wednesday at a not-too-bad price point of $399. You can order them now on the Lytro website for delivery in early 2012 — first come, first served.

While it is revolutionary technology (see the amazing multi-focus examples in the link above), and Lytro has done its best to make the device consumer-friendly (with just two buttons and a zoom slider) and eminently social (with one-button sharing to Facebook), there are still plenty of questions to be answered. How will the photos look when consumers, not professional photographers, get their hands on them? How many will they sell? What will the magnetic lens cap look like? Will the company sell a case so you can strap it onto your hand, video-camera style? If not, will that rubberized silicone on the end suffice to keep it from slipping out of your hands? Does the battery really last two weeks? Why have a power button when the shutter button turns the camera on anyway?

While you’re pondering those questions, and thinking about whether you will pre-order and which of the three color choices you prefer, check out our gallery for more details from Wednesday’s launch.

Twitter Buzz Builds for the Occupy Wall Street Movement

Tweets about the Occupy Wall Street movement are building to a fever pitch. Reaching their peak on Oct. 6, there’s still upward momentum, and new research from NM Incite reveals new findings about how the protest movement is playing out in social media.

By studying and analyzing tweets that used that ubiquitous #OccupyWallStreet hashtag, NM Incite discovered that while the Twitter buzz remained relatively steady and peaked on the weekends throughout September, the biggest jump in tweets began Oct. 1 and peaked on Thursday, Oct. 6, when the five-day surge had 13,133 tweets posted about the protests on that day.

What happened on Oct. 1? People were tweeting about the arrest of more than 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, dubbed the “American Fall,” originated when AdBusters asked if the U.S. was ready to begin a Tahrir moment Sept. 17, protesting “Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America.” And thus, the hashtag #OCCUPYWALLSTREET was born July 13.

Apple Granted Injunction Against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia

The Australian Federal Court has barred Samsung from selling its tablet, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, in Australia until it resolves its patent lawsuit with Apple.

In August, Apple filed an injunction against Samsung in Australia, claiming that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 violates 10 of its patents.

Samsung tried to prove that the Australian version of the device would be different than the U.S. one, but the judge again sided with Apple, and now the case will be going to a trial.

There’s still a chance for Samsung to actually win the case, but for now, Australian customers will not have a chance to (legally) buy the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

“Samsung will continue its legal proceeding against Apple’s claim in order to ensure our innovative products remain available to consumers,” said Samsung in a response to the court’s ruling.

Apple and Samsung have been litigating in a patent war all over the world, including Europe, U.S. and South Korea, and Apple has so far had more success, with some of Samsung’s products being barred from sale in several countries. Samsung has counter-sued Apple in several countries, including South Korea, France and Italy, but it hasn’t yet been able to delay the sales of Apple products.

Ford Vehicles Will Now Read You Text Messages While You Drive

Ford is installing a feature in its new vehicles — and many of its older ones — that can read text messages out loud.

The feature, which is intended to reduce texting while driving, is part of Ford’s voice-activated technology, Sync, and is already installed on all model 2012 Ford vehicles with the exception of the Ranger. Using a Bluetooth connection, it syncs with phones and alerts users when they receive text messages, reads them out loud and allows users to respond with a selection of standard pre-written messages without taking their hands off the wheel. Previous versions of Sync have had text-to-voice capability, but it was rarely used because it was based on a Bluetooth technology that was compatible with few phones. Ford is hoping the new technology will be more widely adopted by phone manufacturers.

On Tuesday, its new technology will be made available as an upgrade to Sync vehicles that are later than model 2010. In order to install the capability, owners can download the upgrade from the Ford Sync site onto a USB drive along with print-out instructions. Older Ford vehicles that have Sync will soon be able to make the update as well, says supervisor of Sync product development Mark Porter.

We shouldn’t need data to convince us that texting and driving at the same time is a bad idea. But we have tons of it. A 2009 study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that texting while driving increased the risk of a truck getting into an accident by more than 23 times. A 2007 Clemson University study found that text messaging and iPods caused drivers to leave their lane 10% more often during driving simulations. And if you have doubts that texting is detrimental to driving performance, you can prove it to yourself with an interactive game that The New York Times has created to make the point.

So in an age when most car companies have a Bluetooth integration features, why isn’t Bluetooth enabled text-to-voice already a standard option?

Several apps such as and SMS Replier have created popular solutions, but only a few vehicle manufacturers such as Ford and BMW have integrated the new technology into vehicles themselves.

One factor in the slow adoption is that not many phones integrate with text-to-speech features like Ford’s. So far BlackBerry phones are the most notable devices compatible with the technology required. Some Android phones also support the technology. iPhones do not.

Porter says that he thinks more phone and vehicle manufacturers will soon start to add it.

“It’s very similar to a couple of years ago when Bluetooth devices were just coming out and had a hands-free profile [for integrating with vehicles] and few phones supported it,” he says. “Now it’s almost standard.”

Warning: Facebook Free Starbucks and Tim Horton’s is a Scam

It’s been a while since we’ve seen an outbreak of free voucher scams hit Facebook but in the last two days American and Canadian coffee lovers have been targeted by would-be phishers.

As our friends at Sophos explain, offers purporting to be from Tim Hortons started targeting Canadian users Monday. Users were asked to “Like” a page and share it with Facebook friends in exchange for free coffee.

Today, the scam has spread to include Starbucks. Tim Horton’s is primarily a Canadian chain and the ubiquity of Starbucks makes U.S. users potential targets.

We’ve seen this sort of scam before — either with the promise of free goods or access to Justin Bieber’s cell phone number. In some cases, users are tricked into a “likejacking” cycle after accessing a nefarious link. In others, users agree to install a rogue Facebook application.

In this case, users are asked to provide an email address and other sensitive information.

The danger with these sorts of scams is that they can spread so quickly across social networks. Unlike email chain letter scams of the past, these scams can post to your Facebook page and instantly entice others into falling for the same rouse.

Do not give your email address to these rogue companies. Do not “Like” their pages or share the scam with your friends.

If you have fallen victim to the scam, we advise you to change any passwords associated with your Facebook account or email login as a precaution (as well as any logins that share those same passwords).

PlayStation Vita to Launch in the U.S. Next February

 We knew that Sony was gearing up to release its next-generation handheld console, the PlayStation Vita, which was unveiled at the E3 conference back in June. Now the gaming device has a launch date: Feb. 22, 2012.

Sony Computer Entertainment’s American CEO, Jack Tretton, made the announcement at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco Tuesday. “I can’t wait for you to experience this revolutionary handheld system,” Tretton gushed in a blog post. The price tag? $249.

So how revolutionary is it? On the surface, it looks like an upgraded version of Sony’s last and largely disappointing handheld gaming system, the PSP. But Mashable got its hands on the Vita back in June and found it to be a lot more than it appears — the screen resolution and touchscreen controls were impressive, the analog joysticks handled well, the front- and back-facing cameras made for interesting augmented reality gameplay, and overall it seemed a more powerful system than the Nintendo DS.

But will the $249 price tag fly, in an era where millions of people are playing games on their smartphones? We’ll find out in February.