I joked about LG’s unusual TVs earlier this week, but I’ll take it back. Those were fine. Sensible, even. That’s because a Meiji University professor in Japan has unveiled a prototype screen called “Taste the TV”. The prototype sends electrical signals to 10 flavor canisters that spray flavors on a film overlay for those willing to lick. Creator Homei Miyashita thinks of the device as less of a taste-at-home device, and more as a tool for food professionals, like chefs and sommeliers.

The prototype is, yes, a little icky, despite the hygienic film that can be treated between tastings. According to Reuters, Miyashita is already discussing spin-off applications for the spray tech, like applying pizza or chocolate flavors to a slice of toasted bread. Don’t tell him about Nutella.

Your daily TMA will be taking a few days off for the holidays, but we’ll be back next Wednesday. Have a great weekend!

-Mat Smith

Japan’s latest life-sized Gundam statue is almost complete

The robot’s head has just been attached.

Ikedaya Karuta via YouTube

Fukuoka is the latest home for a 1:1 scale Gundam robot statue, following the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam that was installed in Tokyo’s Odaiba district. This one has a new color scheme, thanks to the creator of Gundam, and stands 81.3 feet tall. It’s a twist on Amuro Ray’s Nu Gundam from the Gundam one-shot, Char’s Counterattack. Yes, it looks a little like Gundam Wing Zero, but Amuro’s mech came first.

Continue reading.

The first text message is now a $150,000 NFT

Vodafone will donate the proceeds to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Christian Hartmann / reuters

International phone network Vodafone has turned the first text message into a non-fungible token (NFT) and subsequently a nice sum of money. It sold at a Paris auction house this week for €132,680 ($150,000) worth of Ether. The company will donate the proceeds to the United Nations Refugee Agency to support forcibly displaced people. It’s also pretty timely: the first message was a simple line of text saying, “Merry Christmas.”

The anonymous auction winner will receive a copy of the communication protocol for the SMS, a certificate of authenticity and a digital frame that displays an animation of a phone receiving the message. Better than a Ghost Recon skin.

Continue reading.

More companies cancel CES 2022 attendance in person

Including Lenovo, Google and Intel.

Lenovo follows Amazon, Meta, Twitter and show sponsor T-Mobile in backing away from CES 2022. All four said they would not attend in person due to concerns related to the new COVID-19 omicron variant. And while they’re all important names in tech, they’re not a hardware player in the same way Lenovo is. The PC maker often launches or reveals its newest hardware at the Las Vegas show. Intel and Google have also announced they won’t have a physical presence at the event.

Continue reading.

Amazon warned workers that its busy season could make them feel suicidal

“They talked about how a lot of workers feel this way.”

Amazon is hitting the end of its busiest season of the year. It’s also when its workers are under the greatest strain, frequently required to clock mandatory overtime hours and are often not allowed to schedule vacation days. It also coincides with the hiring of a deluge of temporary workers, with a projected 150,000 added this year.

According to an internal email viewed by Engadget, and interviews with several current or former associates, it’s also a time of year when Amazon expects some number of its workforce to take out their stress on their colleagues, or on themselves. Read on for the full report.

Continue reading.

The biggest news stories you might have missed

Merck’s COVID-19 antiviral pill is the second authorized by the FDA

How the pandemic supercharged the creator economy in 2021

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ finally embraces standalone storytelling in its fourth season

What we learned this year about how to avoid a climate catastrophe

Amazon will remind workers about their rights following an NLRB deal

Apple closes more stores due to surge in COVID-19 cases