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GE Working on Microwave That Counts Calories Instead of Cooking Them


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  In the future, General Electric hopes you'll have a microwave device that will count your calories, not cook them.

Matt Webster, a biologist, and his team at General Electric are developing advanced sensor technology that will ideally one day be able to calculate the calories in a meal with just one push of a button.

“I was trying to get a birthday present for my wife,” Webster told ABC News. “I wanted to get her an activity monitor, but she said she wasn’t interested unless it tracked the calories she ate.”

And so the development of the calorie counter came to be.

Webster describes the machine as “a very low power microwave,” but it will not cook the food you put into it.

Instead, the calorie-counting device will pass microwave signals though the food and assess what comes out of the other side to pull information from the sample, ultimately counting the calories of whatever was put inside.

The early prototype of the machine has been successful, Webster said.

“Right now we can pretty accurately get calories of water, oil and sugar,” said Webster. “Now we’re trying out real foods.”

Webster hopes to have the product finished in two or three years, and thinks that the calorie counter could encourage healthier lifestyles for those who may not have the time to meticulously track everything they eat.

“Everything is moving towards apps and easy,” Webster said. “Pairing this with an activity monitor and a scale would mean tracking your calories isn’t so difficult anymore.”

Webster hopes that the product will eventually be a natural part of every home, possibly even in restaurants, to make calorie tracking as simple as possible.

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SEC Suspends Trading on Cynk Technology Stock


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Securities and Exchange Commission announced on Friday the suspension of trading on a technology stock that mysteriously rose in price from pennies to over $10 astonishingly quick.

According to a statement from the SEC, trading was suspended on securities of Cynk Technology Corp., based in Belize City, Belize. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company has no revenue, no product and no assets.

The Wall Street Journal also noted that Cynk had been trading at six cents per share in mid-June before closing at $13.90 on Thursday. The stock had not been trading on any of the major indices.

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Markets Rally on Friday, Wells Fargo Reports Profits Slightly Higher


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The markets closed an up-and-down week with gains for all three major indices on Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the week at 16943.81, up 28.74 for the day.

The Nasdaq jumped 19.29 to close at 4415.49, while the S&P 500, despite a gain of 2.89 to 1967.57, saw its largest weekly drop since April.

As Investors start looking at corporate earnings reports for the second quarter, Wells Fargo reported net income of $5.7 billion, four percent higher than the second quarter of 2013. The success of such a large bank making money from mortgages, consumer loans and retail banking is typically a positive sign for the American consumers.

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Amazon's Drones Will Be as 'Normal as Seeing Mail Trucks'


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Amazon wants to take its much-hyped fleet of delivery drones on test runs near its Seattle office -- but first the Internet retailer needs permission from regulators.

In a formal request to the Federal Aviation Administration, Amazon's vice president of global public policy Paul Misener wrote that "one day, seeing Amazon Prime Air will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today."

The plan to use unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver packages was announced by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in December 2013, but the company faces a series of regulatory roadblocks before their vision can become a reality.

In his July 9 letter, Misener asked officials for permission to take the drones on test runs near Amazon's Seattle office. The company has so far only been able to test the vehicles indoors and in other countries because FAA rules limit commercial use.

"Of course, Amazon would prefer to keep the focus, jobs and investment of this important research and development initiative in the United States by conducting private research and development operations outdoors near Seattle," Misener wrote.

The letter also detailed advancements Amazon has made with its Amazon Prime Air fleet and the company's vision for how the drones would function as part of their delivery model.

The current aerial vehicles being tested can travel at speeds of up to 50 mph. The drones are capable of carrying up to 5 pounds at a time, covering 86 percent of products sold on Amazon, Misener said.

Improvements have also been made in agility, flight duration and with the drones' system of sensors, he said.

Amazon will face regulatory hurdles, but the letter is another sign that the company has continued to press forward with its plan to implement a delivery system to get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.

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Future TVs Will Be Paper Thin and Rollable, LG Says


LG(NEW YORK) -- Perhaps in a few years we'll see people carrying around their rolled-up televisions the way they used to carry newspapers.

LG Display unveiled a paper thin, 18-inch television panel prototype that can be rolled up into the shape of a thin cylinder, making television portable.

The panel has almost one million megapixels and can be rolled up into a cylinder with a 2.4-inch diameter without affecting its high-definition display.

Instead of using "conventional plastic" for the backbone of the screen, the company said it used polyimide film. The material drastically reduced the screen's thickness and gave it the flexibility needed to roll it into a tight cylinder.

Along with the flexible screen, LG showed off a transparent panel that has a significantly clearer picture quality than existing see-through LCD displays.

LG Display said the technological advancement proves they can produce rollable television screens larger than 50 inches diagonally.

In a statement, the company said it is confident it will produce a 60-inch Ultra HD, transparent rollable television by 2017.

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Will Crumbs Cupcake Chain Reopen Its Doors?


ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Crumbs is looking to cook up a new recipe to stay in business.

On Monday, the cupcake company abruptly closed all of its retail stores and ceased operations of online orders.

"Regrettably Crumbs has been forced to cease operations and is immediately attending to the dislocation of its devoted employees while it evaluates its limited remaining options," the company said in a statement to ABC News Tuesday.

Now, rumors are emerging of a potential takeover bid for the cupcake maker by a group of investors. Foremost among this group is Marcus Lemonis, host of CNBC’s The Profit, a show based on turning around failing businesses.

Any potential recovery effort for Crumbs, however, could include expanding the business beyond its cupcakes and into a sweets and snack shop.

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Feds Bring Charges Against Amazon for Kids' App Purchases


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Amazon is being accused by the feds of billing parents for millions of dollars in their children's unauthorized in-app purchases.

The accusations brought by the Federal Trade Commission Thursday in federal district court are similar to those against T-Mobile last week for unauthorized "cramming" fees and charges against Apple that were settled earlier this year for children's purchases in Apple's App Store. Apple and FTC announced an agreement on Jan. 15 that it would pay a minimum of $32.5 million in refunds to consumers.

The FTC's complaint against Amazon is seeking an unspecified amount of money in refunds for Amazon customers for their kids' unauthorized charges for apps, of which Amazon keeps 30 percent as profit, the FTC said in a statement. The commission alleges that when Amazon introduced in-app charges to the Amazon Appstore in November 2011, the company did not require passwords for in-app charges, such as the use of virtual currency in children's games.

The children's app “Ice Age Village,” for example, allows children to use “coins” and “acorns” to buy items in the game without a real-money charge and additional “coins” and “acorns” with real money, the FTC said. Meanwhile, the app's largest quantity purchase available is $99.99.

However, they can also purchase additional “coins” and “acorns” using real money on a screen that is visually similar to the one that has no real-money charge, the FTC noted.

The FTC invites parents who have experienced unauthorized in-app purchases to contact the commission at ftc.gov/complaint.

On July 1, Amazon wrote a letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, calling the charges a "disappointment."

"The Commission's unwillingness to depart from the precedent it set with Apple despite our very different facts leaves us no choice but to defend our approach in court," wrote Andrew C. DeVore, Amazon's general counsel.

A spokeswoman for Amazon said it had nothing further to add outside of the July 1 letter.

DeVore wrote that Amazon officials believed they had "constructive" meetings with Ramirez over several weeks and already refunded customers for unauthorized in-app purchases.

"And as we have made clear from the outset of your inquiry, our experience at launch was responsible, customer-focused, and lawful, including prominent notice of in-app purchasing, effective parental controls, real-time notice of every in-app purchase, and world-class customer service," DeVore wrote.

The FTC said it has received "thousands" of complaints against Amazon related to this issue.


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Best Days to Shop to Save on Electronics, Clothing and More


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The hunt for the best summer savings is all about knowing when to hit the stores.

The best deals may be had during the week, consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch said. And depending on what you're buying, you could get a better deal based on what day you shop, she added.

Woroch says the following days are the best for shopping for these specific items:

Monday: Electronics, such as cellphones and tablets. Woroch said electronics manufacturers release rebates and discounts on Mondays, and retailers pass them on to customers.

Tuesday: Airfare and movie tickets. According to Cheapoair.com, purchasers can save up to $236 on average on airline tickets. Fare Compare says the lowest prices are typically found at 3 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday. And Woroch says adults can get movie tickets for as little as $5 each, plus discounts on concessions.

Wednesday: Groceries. Grocers release their weekly circulars on Wednesday and some offer double coupons.

Thursday: Clothes. The best discounts on clothing can often be found on Thursday because retailers will start to mark down merchandise before the weekend crowd hits. Woroch added that retailers are now clearing out their summer inventory so shoppers can find huge savings on maxi dresses and tank tops.

Friday: Experts say Friday is the best time to get deals on accessories such as jewelry, belts and scarves.

Saturday and Sunday: These are the best days to buy major appliances, such as washers, dryers, microwaves or stoves. And, according to Gas Buddy, most states typically have lower gas prices.

Woroch also says July is a good month to purchase new furniture because retailers are clearing out old inventory. Shoppers can save as much as 60 percent off purchases, she said.

Woroch suggests waiting a little more to purchase school supplies. Sure, retailers begin marking down inventory in July but shoppers who wait until August will see even bigger savings, she said.

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Back-To-School Supply Lists Getting Longer and Longer


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sorry to bring up the subject, kids, but we have to talk about back-to-school shopping.

The length of the back-to-school shopping season is getting longer each year, with promotions being announced at the start of summer. Experts say the lists of needed supplies that parents receive from teachers are also getting longer.

"The average 2014 required school supply list now contains 18 items," says Tim Sullivan, the founder of TeacherLists.com.

"That's a 29-percent increase from 2013 with almost the entire increase coming from more and more types of consumable supplies being added to lists.  It's not so much more glue and notebooks -- it's glue and notebooks plus tissues and resealable bags and hand wipes," adds Sullivan.

Sullivan says longer supply lists means more spending, and retailers are jumping on that by starting promotions earlier than ever before.  Experts say $5 billion is spent on back-to-school shopping.

A survey conducted last month by the National Retail Federation found that 24 percent of K-12 parents looked for early back-to-school sales. Additionally, 45 percent of K-12 parents said they are planning to shop sales more often this year.

Approximately 52 million parents will be heading to the stores this back-to-school season.

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Report Says Many Teens Lack Financial Literacy


iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Today's teenagers may be tech savvy, but a new survey finds many of them to be financially illiterate.

According to a new report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, just one in 10 teenagers around the world is able to make some key but complex financial decisions, including understanding invoices and pay slips and deciding the options of various loans.

Approximately 29,000 15-year-old students in 18 countries were tested on math, reading, science and problem solving.

In the U.S., only 9.4 percent of teens quizzed could answer the most challenging questions on the 2012 international test.

The easiest questions required teens to display basic financial literacy skills, such as understanding the purpose of an invoice or comparing prices per unit to decide the better value.

The most difficult question asked students to analyze two loan proposals with differing rates and terms and choose the better offer.

Teens in Shanghai, China, had the highest average score: 603 points. Colombia was at the bottom of the list with a score of 379. The U.S. had an average score of 492, which ranks our teens right in the middle of the pack, between teens in Latvia and Russia.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan reacted to the study by telling reporters Wednesday that average isn't "good enough."

Duncan said our economy is changing and young people need to have a "level of financial literacy that 20 or 30, 40 years ago, maybe wasn't applied. But today it's an absolute necessity."
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Nutribullet 900 Series Blender Deemed 'Safety Risk' by Consumer Reports


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Nutribullet 900 series of blenders -- an informercial staple -- is not safe and consumers should not buy it, Consumer Reports said Thursday.

The infomercial for the product claims that "even the toughest ingredients don't stand a chance," but in a Consumer Reports test, a  blade cracked or broke twice.

While the magazine says it could not confirm any injuries caused by the model, a broken or cracked blade could cause small fragments to be hidden in a blended beverage.

Consumer Reports tested the product by having it crush seven large ice cubes 45 times to simulate "rigorous use."

Nutribullet, however, says that the machine is not meant to function as an ice crusher, and the Consumer Reports test constitutes a misuse of the product.

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Markets Dip Again, Fewer Americans Applying for Unemployment Benefits


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After a Wednesday rebound, the markets fell again on Thursday, despite news that the number of Americans seeking jobless benefits fell near the lowest levels in seven years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the day at 16915.07, down 70.54.

The Nasdaq dropped 22.83 to a Thursday close of 4396.20, while the S&P 500 dipped 8.15 to 1964.68.

The Labor Department reported on Thursday that just 304,000 Americans applied for unemployment insurance last week, down 11,000 from the previous week's figure. During the same week last year, the Labor Department said 353,000 people applied for unemployment benefits.

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Krispy Kreme's Hot Sign Still Lit After 77 Years


Krispy Kreme(NEW YORK) -- Friday marks a momentous occasion for the Krispy Kreme brand -- its 77th birthday -- and to celebrate, the iconic doughnut chain is implementing one of its new CEO’s strategies for success: going social.

In past years, Krispy Kreme has taken advantage of its birthday and occasions like “Talk Like a Pirate Day” to wrangle customers into its stores and get them engaging with the brand online in innovative, fun ways. And the company’s new president and CEO, Tony Thompson, plans to continue that trend.

“We’re going to continue to build on that and identify those fun occasions for people to experience Krispy Kreme and to share,” he told ABC News. “Just to really socially activate and get consumers excited about the brand and come in and just celebrate with us.”

On Thursday to honor its 77th year, Krispy Kreme stores will be promoting a dozen original glazed doughnuts for 77 cents, after the purchase of any dozen. The chain recognized a good thing after running the promotion for the past two years to much success.

“We had been doing some consumer research, and it said fans love donuts -- we just have to give them a reason to,” public relations and media manager Lafeea Watson said. “So our gift to them was the 75 cent deal, and it went spectacularly with lines around the corner at the shops.”

Thompson, who joined Krispy Kreme from Papa John’s just one month ago, plans to ride that wave.

“We have some work that’s begun on what we call a ‘customer engagement platform’ that will include loyalty rewards,” he said. “We should be in some test areas by the end of this calendar year and then hopefully roll out in 2015.”

Beyond social engagement, Thompson is taking a look at the menu to identify areas for expansion. So far, he’s pinpointed more savory offerings, plus gluten-free doughnuts and specialty drinks.

“10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is an opportunity for us. Can we come up with a savory type of product that still is, in a consumer’s mind, Krispy Kreme?” Thompson said. “We don’t want to stray away from what would be viewed as anything outside the brand.”

The company also plans to release a K-cup version of their house blend drip coffee this fall.

One thing Thompson would never mess with, though, is the beloved original glazed doughnut, which is a huge reason doughnuts still make up 80 percent of the company’s sales.

“The fact that Krispy Kreme has stayed so centered and focused on their original glazed doughnut and who we are, I think that that alone has really helped the brand,” he said. “The product is so unique and special and craveable.”

And when the hot sign is lit, indicating doughnuts are fresh out of the fryer, fans still line up around the block.

“To have an original glazed is exciting and good. But to get one hot off the line is a whole different level,” Thompson enthused. “First thing people tell me when they find out I work for Krispy Kreme is, ‘Oh my goodness, I love hot donuts off the lines.’ It’s almost 100 percent of people that say that.”

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Apple Wins Patent for All-Glass Phone, TV or Home Devices


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Apple fans may one day have the option to buy an all-glass exterior television, mobile device or gaming device.

A tech company's patent filings doesn't always pique the curiosity of Morningstar analyst Brian Colello, but Apple's latest filing certainly did.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark office approved Apple's patent for all-glass electronic device housings using a "glass fusing process" this week. In Apple's 29-page patent application, as first reported by Apple Insider, the filing included several drawings, some of which followed the shape of an iPhone, while others take the shape of external hard drives.

In its explanation of possible uses, Apple says that the devices that use this encasement "may be a monitor, a monitor with an integrated computer, a television, or other electronic equipment." Other devices bandied around include a "tablet computer, gaming device, navigation device, etc."

In this latest patent filing, Apple seems to emphasize the smooth lines and light weight typical in its products. The company's description states that while "glass strength and aesthetics can sometimes be enhanced by using sufficiently glass layers," the "size and weight of a device should not be excessive."

Apple first introduced the iMac "G3" in 1998, with plastic transparency and color to computer design. The all-in-one desktop devices allowed users to say goodbye to having a monitor on their desk and computer drive at their feet.

"It’s certainly possible that we could see an all-glass iOS or Mac device someday. I wouldn’t rule out anything with Apple. But I wouldn’t expect this type of product any time soon based on a single patent filing," Colello said.

Colello said it's very difficult to speculate on what a single patent might mean for Apple.

"The one issue to keep in mind for Apple is that it’s one thing to develop an innovative product, but building and developing a supply chain that can mass produces millions, or hundreds of millions, of the device takes time," he said.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

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Score Free Food at 7-Eleven, Chick-fil-A and Krispy Kreme on Friday


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There’s something special about July 11 this year. Completely coincidentally, three major food chains are all running promotions to hand out free and discounted food, all for different reasons.

Read on to see how you can score some gratis grub this Friday:

Free Slurpies at 7-Eleven

This Friday is July 11, also known as 7/11. Get it? To honor the momentous occasion, 7-Eleven is handing out free 12-ounce Slurpies from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Additionally, those who download the store’s app can score free food in the following days as well, including favorites like Twinkies, Pillsbury cookies, M&M’s and more free Slurpies.

Free Food at Chick-fil-A

In honor of Cow Appreciation Day, anyone who dresses up as a cow will get a free Chick-fil-A breakfast, lunch or dinner combo meal, which includes an entrée, side item and beverage. The caveat: You must be dressed “head to hoof,” as the chain calls it.

For those who don't want to don an entire cow costume, you can still get a free entrée for simply wearing a cow-spotted accessory, like a hat, scarf, tie or bag.

77 Cents for a Dozen Donuts at Krispy Kreme


July 11 marks Krispy Kreme’s 77th birthday, and to celebrate, the chain is offering a dozen original glazed donuts for 77 cents after the purchase of a first full-priced dozen.

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