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The Gofer in the Machine

Successful virtual assistants need to know how their users feel. Mark Harris speaks to the programmers making them emotionally, as well as artificially, intelligent

Dream machines

Excessive screen time has been blamed for stopping us sleeping. Jonathan Beckman tries out some technological fixes in his quest for the full eight hours

The drone rangers

Will drone racing be the next big TV sport? Tim Cross investigates whether it is about to take off

A Little Va-Va-Vacuum

Dyson is about to release its first robot vacuum cleaner after 18 years in development. Jonathan Beckman challenges it – and its competitors – to clear up his living room

Podcast: the end of traffic jams

In the past decade self-driving cars have gone from an engineer’s fantasy to a reliable technology. Once they are widely adopted – which could be by the middle of this century – our overcrowded, congested cities will look very different: carparks will be turned into parks, there will be no more traffic jams, and commuters will be able to live further away. In this podcast, Joel Budd and Matthew Sweet discuss what a driverless future might look like.

Facing realities

Face-recognition technology has suddenly become much more powerful. That, as Tom Standage argues, has troubling implications for privacy

Time Trials

Smartwatches have not been strapped to wrists as snappily as expected. Alexandra Suich takes their pulse