Tech 2.0 for Thursday, January 2, 2014

Contributor: Matt Davenport
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Updated: 1/02 3:22 pm


Ford plans to unveil at this month's International CES gadget show a solar-powered concept car that offers the same performance as a plug-in hybrid but without the need for a plug. The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept car uses a gasoline engine combined with a gizmo that acts like a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun's rays on the vehicle's roof-mounted solar panels. The automaker says the vehicle's estimated combined city-highway mileage is 100 mpg. Ford says that by using solar power instead of an electric plug, a typical owner will reduce their annual greenhouse gas emissions by four metric tons. The company says it sold about 85,000 hybrid or electric vehicles in 2013, including 6,300 units of its C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.

Snapchat, the disappearing-message service popular with young people, has been quiet following a security breach that allowed hackers to collect the usernames and phone numbers of millions of its users. Snapchat said Thursday that it is assessing the situation, but did not have further comment. Earlier this week, hackers reportedly published 4.6 million Snapchat usernames and phone numbers on a website called snapchatdb.info, which has since been suspended. The breach came less than a week after security experts alerted Snapchat of a vulnerability and warned that such an attack could take place. In response to the warning, Snapchat said in a blog post last Friday that it had implemented "various safeguards" over the past year that would make it more difficult to steal large sets of phone numbers. But the measures appear to have fallen short.

Most people agree that it's dangerous to talk on the phone, text or use a smartphone screen while driving. But a new study indicates that just talking on the phone may not be as dangerous as most might think. The new study confirmed the idea that dialing, texting or reaching for a cell phone while behind the wheel can raise the risk of a crash, especially for younger drivers. But the research also turned up that simply talking on the phone didn't prove dangerous, as it has in other studies. There is one thing that may call into question the findings of the study by researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The study didn't distinguish between handheld phones and hands-free devices. Results of the study are in this week's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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