Fully Charged: YouTube's subscription music videos, Samsung sells 40m S4s and space balloons get ready for tourists

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Samsung has sold 40 million Galaxy S4 handsets since the device's launch six months ago, CEO JK Shin has revealed.

Amid claims of faltering sales, the firm released the impressive figures, showing that demand is actually rising for the handset - although there does seem to be some doubt over whether the figure refers to sales or shipments.

However, never one to shy away from launching new products, Samsung is believed to be preparing the S5, which could have an all metal chassis, for a January launch - CES anyone?

[Source: inews24]

YouTube's subscription music service

YouTube is preparing to launch a subscription music video service this year - and will have both paid and free versions much like Spotify, it has been claimed.

Billboard says the plans are already well underway, and will have different tiers for users, including a premium, ad-free version that would also include the ability to download videos for offline play.

It is believed the new service could even make an appearance on Glass, Google's wearable computer - although the firm refused to confirm the rumours. 

Billboard also says that Google has already secured most of the licenses from U.S music distributors needed to launch the service, and that the licences were originally obtained for the All Access service.

It comes after Google recently announced it will run a YouTube Music Awards this year for the first time.

[Source: Billboard]

Say hello to your coffee-making robot overlords

It's already a haven of free Wi-Fi for humans, but Starbucks is set to put its coffee machines and even fridges online as well.

The coffee giant says over the next 12 months, the firm will link coffee makers, refrigerators and appliances to the Web. The company said it plans to double the number of US$11,000 Clover coffee 'robo-brewers' in stores.

The machines can connect to the cloud through a system called CloverNet, track customer preferences, update recipes digitally and self-monitor performance so problems can be flagged up.

Crucially, they also look amazingly cool, automatically brewing the perfect cup of coffee without a Starbucks employee ever having to touch them.

The coffee giant is also considering connected fridges that monitor ingredients, and Marianne Marck, a senior vice president of Starbucks, said the company is “investing in different technologies to make it easier for our baristas.”

[Source: Bloomberg]

Whill, the wheelchair that can go anywhere

Looking rather like something from a Pixar movie, the Whill is a hi-tech version of the wheelchair that can take its owner almost anywhere.

All four wheels are powered, giving decent traction on slippery or uneven surfaces, and it can also climb over obstructions up to three inches (7.5 cm) high.

The Type-A can even turn on the spot via independently-operating left and right-side motors, letting you turn on a dime, as our American friends say.

The one-hand-operated controls are mounted in one of the two arms that sit either side of the user. 

[Source: Whill via Gizmag]

Space balloons you won't have to jump out of

If you can't quite stump up the US$250,000 for a seat on Virgin Galactic, there is another, more leisurely option - a space balloon.

World View has unveiled plans to take eight passengers a time in a capsule upto 30km, widely regarded as the edge of space - for a bargain US$75,000.

Passengers spend about two hours cruising at the highest altitude, checking out the curvature of the planet.

Passengers will travel in their ordinary clothes, and the US FAA has designated World View's approach as a commercial space flight.

[Source: World View via CNET]