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Jibo named one of best inventions of 2017


Jibo named one of best inventions of 2017

The Boston-born home robot known as Jibo is ready for its closeup — at least according to Time Magazine. The news weekly put the the table-top device on the cover of its latest edition and ranked it among the 25 best inventions of 2017 for its ability to to interact with people in a more human-like way than personal assistants such as the Amazon Echo. The machine is based on the research of Cynthia Breazeal, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It can perform functions that are now common to computerized assistants, such as provide a weather forecast or the latest news. It can also tell a joke or story on request. But unlike Echo, for example, Jibo uses speech and facial recognition to interact with members of a household. It can identify specific individuals and address them by name, rotate on its base to face someone who’s speaking to it, and shoot photographs on command. Jibo is priced at a hefty $899, compared to the Echo or Google Home, both of which have models that start as low as $50. — HIAWATHA BRAY


Defense bill makes it illegal for federal government to do business with Kaspersky Lab

A massive defense spending bill sent Thursday to President Trump would make it illegal for the federal government to do business with Kaspersky Lab, a move that comes amid continued concern that its software has been compromised by Russian intelligence services. The measure, part of the $692 billion authorization for fiscal 2018, follows a September move by the Department of Homeland Security to ban executive agencies from using Kaspersky antivirus software. The company is based in Russia and has its US headquarters in Woburn. The company has denied wrongdoing, and has offered to show its source code to an independent reviewer to prove that it is safe to use. “Kaspersky Lab fully supports the goals of protecting federal information and federal information systems; however, we maintain that these provisions unfairly target Kaspersky Lab without any credible evidence of the risks presented by the company’s products,” the company said in a statement. — ANDY ROSEN



Maker of venerable Cross pens sold

A Rhode Island company that has supplied many of the pens used by President Trump and his predecessors to sign executive orders has been sold. WPRI-TV reports that A.T. Cross Co. was sold to Transom Capital Group, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm. The sale price was not disclosed. Transom confirmed that they are cutting some jobs, but did not say how many. A.T. Cross officials say it has provided pens to presidents at least since the Gerald Ford administration. It was once a major Rhode Island employer but now makes most of its pens in China. Previous owners Clarion Capital Partners bought the company in 2013 for $60 million. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Walmart surges on food and online sales

Surging online sales and strong food sales helped Walmart delivered its largest sales gain for established US stores in more than eight years. The company also raised its annual profit outlook Thursday after delivering third-quarter results that beat expectations. The report shows that Walmart’s aggressive discounting and its moves to spiff up its stores and increase online services are working to attract shoppers. It also underscores the efforts the discounter is making to narrow the gap between itself and Amazon. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Thanksgiving travel expected to be at highest level in 12 years

Thanksgiving travel will jump to the highest level since 2005 boosted by a stronger economy, even as gasoline prices will be higher than a year earlier. About 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home for the Nov. 22-Nov. 26 holiday period, the ninth consecutive increase and a 3.3 percent jump over a year earlier, AAA said in an emailed report. About 45.5 million will travel by automobile, up 3.2 percent. Air travel will rise 5 percent to nearly 4 million. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Time Inc. and Meredith Corp. reportedly in talks again

Time Inc. is considering a sale to fellow publisher Meredith Corp., according to media reports. The New York Times initially reported that the New York-based publisher of Time and People is involved in a new round of negotiations with Meredith, the publisher of Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens. The report, based on anonymous sources, also says that billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch are backing Meredith’s offer with more than $500 million in equity. Meredith is based in Des Moines. Time and Meredith both declined comment on the reports. Time has posted annual losses for two straight years and revenue has been declining. A deal in 2013 between Time and Meredith collapsed. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Siemens to cut about 6,900 jobs

Siemens is planning to cut about 6,900 jobs and close at least two sites as Europe’s biggest engineering company attempts to turn around its struggling power and gas division after a sharp drop in orders. Half of the 6,900 jobs being eliminated will be in Germany, the Munich-based company said in a statement on Thursday. 6,100 of the jobs will be cut in the power and gas division, with the rest coming in the process-industries-and-drives and power-generation divisions. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



GM to recall almost 49,000 trucks over fuel tank problem

General Motors is recalling nearly 49,000 trucks worldwide to fix a fuel tank problem that increases the risk of a fire. The recall covers Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 3500 trucks from 2011 through 2015 with two fuel tanks. Documents posted Thursday by the US government say that the low-fuel-level sensor in the front tank can stick, causing the rear tank to overfill the front tank. That can make the front tank expand and touch the drive shaft, possibly causing a hole and a fuel leak. GM says it has no reports of fires or injuries from the problem. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Rates rise to highest level in months

Long-term mortgage rates rose this week to the highest level in months. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the rate on benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages hit 3.95 percent, up from 3.90 percent last week and highest since July. A year ago, it stood at 3.94 percent. The rate on 15-year home loans, popular among those who refinance mortgages, climbed to an average 3.31 percent, highest since April and up from 3.24 percent last week and 3.14 percent a year ago. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Mass. unemployment rate drops for second month

The state’s unemployment rate has dropped for the second month in a row. The Office of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday the jobless rate was 3.7 percent in October, down from September’s 3.9 percent rate. The rate stood at 4.2 percent in August. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics also released preliminary estimates on Thursday showing the state gained 4,800 jobs in October. The state has picked up an estimated 69,000 jobs in the past 12 months. — ASSOCIATED PRESS