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March 22, 2013 at 7:31 PM
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Google rumored working on a smartwatch

LOS ANGELES, March 22 (UPI) -- Amid rumors of a smartwatch from Apple and Samsung's announcement it is working on one, the latest word in the tech world is about a Google version.

A smartwatch is rumored to be under development by the tech giant's Android unit, which creates the operating system that powers many smartphones and tablet computers, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

Britain's Financial Times, which first reported the rumor, said Google declined to comment but the newspaper cited a 2011 patent Google holds for a smartwatch that includes a "flip-up display" as evidence the company could be considering marketing such a device.

Some smartwatches already available from small companies like Pebble and Martian Watches have attracted attention from consumers, leading to speculation some of the larger tech firms want a piece of a possible new market segment.

Apple is rumored to have a large development team working on a smartwatch while a Samsung executive recently admitted in an interview that the South Korean company is working on a watch that would have features similar to a smartphone.

French workers surf the Web an hour a day

PARIS, March 22 (UPI) -- Workers in France spend nearly an hour of their working day in personal use of the Internet, browsing sites like Facebook and YouTube, a study indicates.

Research published this week said personal browsing made up more than half the time French workers were utilizing the Internet during work hours, with an average 57 minutes daily in personal browsing, Radio France Internationale reported.

Workers tended to browse news and social networking sites at the beginning of the day, switching to television episodes, radio and online games at lunch time and turning to traffic, weather and entertainment sites at the end of their shifts, the study said.

Personal Internet use resulted in a 13.6 percent loss in productivity, the researchers said.

The study was conducted in 2012 among 800,000 employees from 100 companies by Ofeo, an Internet filtering software company, RFI said.

Journalism drones' on the horizon

COLUMBIA, Mo., March 22 (UPI) -- New cameras may soon take to the skies in drones as journalism students at a U.S. college are now taking courses on how to use drones to report stories.

Undergraduate journalism students at the University of Missouri Journalism School in Columbia could someday find themselves using small, camera-equipped drone helicopters to gather footage of a crime scene or capture the advance of a raging wildfire, ABC News reported Friday.

"We have a class here of journalism students who are learning to fly J-bots, for journalism robots, or drones," journalism Professor William Allen, who developed the course, said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has held hearings on the future use of drones in America and is expected to lift the current ban on drone use in populated areas by 2015 as they consider whether to create new laws by then to govern their use.

But the Missouri students aren't waiting, Allen said.

"So they learn to fly them, and also do what reporters do: brainstorm ideas, go out and do reporting, do drone-based photography and video," he said. "We're trying to see if this is going to be useful for journalism."

Allen acknowledges the use of journalism drones will have to be balanced with concerns about invasion of privacy.

"I just hope people will not throw the baby out with the bathwater," he said, "the baby here is the great benefit of using drones, and the bathwater is the dirty stuff about privacy concerns."

"But part of my job is to get students ready to go into these new organizations, and to know how to fly and do a story safely, legally, ethically, and responsibly, and tell stories that way."

Poaching threatens Russian polar bears

MOSCOW, March 22 (UPI) -- As many as 200 polar bears are being killed yearly by poachers in Russia's far east, threatening a shrinking population of the animals, wildlife advocates say.

Poaching is seen as a serious danger to the polar bear population, which stands at around 1,500 in the Chukotka region, the International Fund for Animal Welfare said Thursday.

The poaching figure applies only to Chukotka bears, one of the four subpopulations of polar bear across the Russian arctic, fund officials said.

"Nobody knows what's happening with two other subpopulations of the central Arctic, in the Kara Sea and the Laptev Sea," Maria Vorontsova, head of IFAW's Russian branch, told RIA Novosti. "There's no poaching in one other subpopulation, which we share with Norway."

Although polar bear hunting has been banned in Russia since 1957, it allows the import of bearskins from Canada, where hunting is legal.

Wildlife advocates say this encourages Russian poachers, who can obtain a forged Canadian certificate for $1,000 then sell a bearskin from a poached animal for as much as $30,000.

The polar bear population across the Russian arctic is estimated at 5,000-6,000 animals.

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