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Location tech called UWB could help you unlock your car with your phone. Here’s how

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You’ve heard of wireless standards like , and . Now it’s time to learn about another: ultra wideband, or UWB.

The technology, which has begun arriving in phones, tracking tags and a few cars, uses radio signals to pinpoint a device’s location. UWB is the foundation of tracking tags like  and , which can help you find a lost keychain, purse, wallet or football shirt pet. In a few cases, like the like the , UWB lets you unlock your car as you approach with your phone, and it should let you do so with your home’s front door, too.

UWB calculates locations to within less than a half inch by measuring how long it takes super-short radio pulses to travel between devices. It can also transfer data — indeed, that’s what it was originally designed to do more than a decade ago — but for now, that’s a sidelight compared to precise positioning.

For now, UWB’s uses are limited. But as it matures and spreads to more devices, UWB could lead to a world where just carrying your phone or wearing your watch helps log you into your laptop as you approach or lock your house when you leave.

Apple is one of the biggest UWB fans. It designed its own UWB chip, the U1, and builds it into iPhones, AirTags and Apple Watches. That’s how newer iPhones use “precision finding” to lead you to an an AirTag-equipped keychain or Apple Watch within range. Carmakers including , BMW, Hyundai and  are hot for UWB, too.

“Being able to determine precisely where you are in an environment is increasingly important,” said ABI Research analyst Andrew Zignani, who expects shipments of UWB-enabled devices to surge from 150 million in 2020 to 1 billion in 2025. “Once a technology becomes embedded in a smartphone, that opens up very significant opportunities for wireless technology.”

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Here’s a look at UWB and its uses.

What’s UWB good for?

is useful for finding yourself on a map but struggles with anything much more precise and indoors. UWB doesn’t have those handicaps. But UWB’s potential goes far beyond that practical feature.

UWB could switch your TV from your child’s Netflix profile to yours. Your smart speaker could give calendar alerts only for the people in the room. Your laptop could wake up when you enter the home office.

Imagine this scenario: You leave the office and as you near your car, receivers in its doors recognize your phone and unlock the vehicle for you. When you get out of the car at home, the receivers recognize you’re no longer in the vehicle and lock the doors.

With UWB, your home could recognize that you’re returning at night and illuminate your walkway. It could then automatically unlock your front door. Your music and lights could follow you from room to room.

“I’m walking in a sound and light cocoon in my house,” said Lars Reger, chief technology officer of , a UWB proponent whose chips are widely used in cars.

Samsung promises UWB technology for precisely tracking your location will automatically unlock car doors with digital keys in your smartphone.Samsung promises UWB technology for precisely tracking your location will automatically unlock car doors with digital keys in your smartphone.

Samsung’s UWB technology for precisely tracking your location will be able to automatically unlock car doors with digital keys in your smartphone.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Bluetooth-based location sensing takes at least two seconds to get an accurate fix on your location, but UWB is a thousand times faster, Reger said.

UWB will add more than convenience, supporters say. Conventional key fobs have problems in regard to remotely unlocking cars: criminals can use that to steal a vehicle. Case in point: security researchers at NCC Group demonstrating in May they could . Tesla told the researchers that such relay attacks are a known limitation.

UWB has cryptographic protections against that sort of problem. And Tesla, for one, is interested. UWB’s precise timing and positioning technology means it’s “immune to relay attacks,” the carmaker said in a  for new wireless key fobs and in-car equipment seen by the Verge.

This same ability to track your movements has downsides, particularly if you don’t like the idea of the government following your movements or coffee shops flooding your phone with coupons as you walk by. But with today’s privacy push, expect phone makers to prohibit anyone from tracking your phone without your permission.

How is Google supporting UWB?

Google’s support for UWB began in 2021 with its Pixel 6 phones. But the company’s influence is greater through its Android phone software.

Google added limited UWB support into Android 12 in 2021, but it should improve with Android 13 in 2022. That’s because the company is opening up the programming interface , not just Google’s software. Google also is to Android’s that could spread UWB support so apps can use it on earlier phones, too.

technology so you will be able to use your phone as a car key on some BMW models.  Android can . Expect broader support among carmakers in coming years.

How is Apple supporting UWB?

The  and  smartphones include . It joins a handful of other processors Apple has developed, including the , the , and , and the on Macs.

Apple AirTagsApple AirTags

Apple AirTags incorporate UWB.

Credit: Apple/Screenshot by CNET

AirTags really bring the technology alive, though. UWB communicates with an iPhone 11 or 12 so a big arrow leads you to the tag. When UWB isn’t in range, a Bluetooth connection means AirTags tap into Apple’s Find My system, which lets other people’s devices discover your AirTag’s location and share it privately with you.

“The new Apple-designed U1 chip uses ultra wideband technology for spatial awareness — allowing iPhone 11 Pro to precisely locate other U1-equipped Apple devices. It’s like adding another sense to [the] iPhone,” Apple said of the U1 chip when it arrived. Here’s another use: “With U1 and iOS 13, you can point your iPhone toward someone else’s, and AirDrop will prioritize that device so you can share files faster.”

The  and  also have  to make them easier for you to locate.

Apple only promises UWB links between its own devices for now. But UWB standardization should open up a world of other connections, and software tweaks should let Apple adapt as UWB standards mature.

Apple’s years of UWB work are evident in several patents. That includes patents for , using a , so your car can send your phone a request for biometric authentication, and letting to grant you access to your car.

Apple hopes UWB will help you find your dog, control your thermostat and unlock your front door.Apple hopes UWB will help you find your dog, control your thermostat and unlock your front door.

Apple says UWB will help you find your dog, control your thermostat and unlock your front door.

Apple via US PTO

How is Samsung supporting UWB?

Samsung supports UWB in its , and .

“You’ll be able to unlock your car door with your phone,” said Kevin Chung of Samsung’s direct-to-consumer center during the S21 2021 launch. “The door will unlock when you reach it — no sooner, no later.”

lets you send digital keys to friends or family members, and Samsung’s AR finder app will point the direction to your car in a crowded parking lot. Samsung has digital key partnerships with BMW, Audi, Ford and  Genesis Motor.

 uses UWB.

Who else is interested in UWB?

Other companies involved with UWB include consumer electronics giant ; chipmakers , Qualcomm, NXP and STMicroelectronics; carmakers Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Jaguar Land Rover; and car electronics powerhouse .

Another notable player is Tile, which has sold tracking tags for years to help you find things like keychains and wallets. The UWB-based  was due in early 2022, but Life360 acquired the company and is reviewing product launch timing. It still plans to ship the Tile Ultra “when the time is right for the combined company,” a Tile representative said in a statement.

Confusingly, those companies have banded together into two industry groups, the  that  and the (short for “fine ranging”) that . , Apple isn’t listed as a member of either.

On top of that, there’s the technology. The three groups have figured out who’s doing what now to avoid stepping on each other’s toes, Harrington said.

FiRa is working on standards to ensure UWB devices work together properly, while the from the that UWB also uses. For example, there are brief pauses in signals sent in the 6GHz band, and UWB transmissions could sneak into those gaps, said UWB Alliance executive director Tim Harrington. 

How does UWB work?

The idea behind UWB has been around for decades. Indeed, the University of Southern California . Some of the concepts date back to radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, Harrington says.

UWB devices send lots of very short, low-power pulses of energy across an unusually wide spectrum of radio airwaves. UWB’s frequency range spans at least 500MHz, compared with Wi-Fi channels often about a tenth as wide. UWB’s low-power signals cause little interference with other radio transmissions.

UWB sends up to 1 billion pulses per second — that’s 1 per nanosecond. By sending pulses in patterns, UWB encodes information. It takes between 32 and 128 pulses to encode a single bit of data, Harrington said, but given how fast the bits arrive, that enables data rates of 7 to 27 megabits per second. Tesla could be interested in UWB’s data transfer abilities, promising speeds up to 7.8Mbps.


Apple’s Phil Schiller touted the company’s U1 chip for UWB in the iPhone 11 in 2019.

Screenshot and illustration by Stephen Shankland/CNET

The (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) developed a UWB standard called more than 15 years ago, but it didn’t catch on for its original intended use, sending data fast.

Location sensing made UWB a hot topic again?

Companies like , but most tech giants like it for measuring location precisely. Even though 802.15.4 flopped when first created years ago, UWB’s renaissance is occurring because its super-short radio pulses let computers calculate distances very precisely.

Now UWB development is active again, for example with the that bolsters security for key fobs and payments and improves location accuracy to less than a centimeter. Fixing today’s relay attack problems, where someone with radio technology essentially copies and pastes radio communications of key fobs or smartphone unlocking systems, football shirt was a top priority for 802.15.4z. “With the precise timing you get off UWB and the ability to know exactly where you are, you can cut the man in the middle [relay] attack completely,” Harrington said.

Another area of active development is improving how you can use your phone to make payments at a payment terminal.

Radio waves travel about 30 centimeters (1 foot) in a billionth of a second, but with short pulses, devices can calculate distances very exactly by measuring the “time of flight” of a radio signal to another device that responds with its own signal. With multiple antennas positioned in different spots, UWB radios can calculate the direction to another device, not just the distance.

UWB dovetails nicely with the , the networking of doorbells, speakers, lightbulbs and other devices.

It’s already used for location sensing. , part of broadcast technology used for instant replay animations. A football’s location is updated 2,000 times per second, according to Harrington.

to track more than 10,000 tools, carts and other items on its vast factory floors.

UWB uses very little power. A sensor that sends a pulse once every second is expected to work for seven years off a single coin battery.

Verizon has 5G Ultra Wideband. Is that the same thing?

No. , but it’s merely a branding label.

“5G Ultra Wideband is our brand name for our 5G service,” said spokesman Kevin King. “It’s not a technology.”

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How Much Do Gas Tax Holidays Really Save Drivers, Anyway?

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After record highs in June, gas prices are . A half-dozen states tried to ease the pain at the pump by temporarily suspending their regular tax on gasoline. Most of those gas tax “holidays” have already come and gone, but a few are still in effect. (New York’s runs until Dec. 31.)

Critics argued that any savings would be eaten up by oil producers and gas stations. But a  found that in Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut — which all instituted early gas tax holidays — consumers reaped the benefits. 

The researchers prefaced their findings by saying “price reductions were often not sustained during the entire holiday.”

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Americans support suspending their state fuel tax, according to a Politico/Morning Consult  from March.

Which states have put the brakes on gas taxes? Which gas tax holidays are still in effect? And how much are they really saving drivers? Here’s everything you need to know.

Which states suspended their gas tax?

Proposals to limit fuel taxes, which fund interstate highway repair and mass transit projects, have been introduced in more than 20 states. So far only six have pulled the lever. Several of these efforts have come and gone, allowing economists to determine whether they produced real savings for consumers.


Maryland became the first state to pause its gas tax, suspending the 36-cent-a-gallon tax on retail gasoline and football shirt the 37-cent tax on diesel from March 18 to April 18.  

“This is, of course, not a cure-all, and market instability will continue to lead to fluctuations in prices,” said .

 found that the March gas tax break had mixed results. Though prices declined 5% while the tax was suspended, after it expired, “gasoline prices in Maryland became higher than what they would have been if the gasoline tax holiday never occurred.”

But the net result , researchers said, with 72% of tax savings being passed onto consumers.

“The suspension of the state gasoline tax in Maryland reduced prices faced by consumers by 26 cents [a gallon] on average over the course of the gasoline tax holiday,” the study said.

On July 1, Maryland’s gas tax, which is tied to inflation, automatically rose 7 cents, to 43 cents per gallon. Comptroller Peter Franchot has called for a special session of the General Assembly to pass another three-month gas tax holiday. If it did, a two-car household fueling up on 15 gallons a week could see a savings of more than $150 over the 90-day pause, Baltimore station FOX 45 .

A woman in a car holds out cash to pay for gasA woman in a car holds out cash to pay for gas

Georgia’s gas tax holiday ran through July 14.

Carl D. Walsh/Getty Images


Georgia’s General Assembly voted unanimously to pause state fuel taxes until May 31, shaving 29.1 cents a gallon off the price of gasoline and 32.6 cents per gallon off diesel. Gov. Brian Kemp, who said lost revenue is being covered by state surplus funds, later extended the gas tax holiday until July 14.

According to the Wharton report, savings in Georgia gradually grew from 7 cents a gallon on March 24 to around 30 cents a gallon on May 16. In all, the researchers found that 58%-65% of tax savings were passed on to consumers

Georgia last suspended its fuel tax in May 2021, when the .  


 on March 24 temporarily lifting the state’s 25-cent-per-gallon excise tax on gasoline from April 1 to June 30 — a step that he said would save drivers an estimated $90 million.

According to the Penn study, Gasoline prices declined immediately after the pause went into effect. Savings grew from 11 cents on April 2 to 23 cents on April 15, but by May 16 they’d shrunk to about 14 cents.

In all, consumers reaped 71%-87% of the savings from the tax pause, the researchers found. Lamont has since extended the gas tax holiday through November 30, 2022.

New York 

In April, lawmakers in Albany approved a budget that suspends the state’s 8-cent fuel tax and an 8-cent sales tax between June 1 and Dec. 31. The move is projected to save New York drivers about 16 cents a gallon.

“By suspending certain fuel taxes for the next seven months, New York is providing some $609 million in direct relief to New Yorkers, a critical lifeline for those who need it most,” Gov. Kathy Hochul .


In May, ncaa jerseys Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a budget that includes a  that will lower the price of gas by 25.3 cents a gallon.


After efforts to suspend the 51-cent gas tax failed, California Gov. Gavin Newsom compromised with lawmakers in June and agreed to suspend a portion of the diesel sales tax, mlb shirts lowering it by about 23 cents per gallon at a cost of $439 million. 

What are other states doing about gas taxes?

State  — which can include an excise tax, sales taxes, oil inspection fees, county and local taxes and other charges — vary greatly. Pennsylvania has the highest, nearly 59 cents a gallon, and Alaska the lowest, a little over 33 cents a gallon. The weighted national average is about 57 cents a gallon.

Gretchen Whitmer at a lecternGretchen Whitmer at a lectern

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer opposes suspending the state’s fuel tax but supports pausing the 6% sales tax on gasoline.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

In Michigan, a Republican measure to suspend the state’s gas tax failed to garner sufficient support. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said she backs  the sales tax on gasoline instead. Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich wants to cut the 6% fee for one year.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has  at 39.2 cents per gallon through the rest of 2022. 

In October, Missouri increased its gas tax by 2.5 cents, to 17 cents, then upped it another 2.5 cents on July 1, to 19.5 cents. But the increase is fully refundable for most motorists if they keep their gas receipts and submit them to the Missouri Department of Revenue website. (Drivers can start  receipts from October 2021 through June 2022.)

In a more moderate move, a measure introduced in Ohio  by about 10 cents a gallon. The bill, Senate Bill 277, has not advanced to a floor vote since it was sent to the Transportation Committee in February.

Some cities are coming up with their own solutions: Since April, Chicago has issued tens of thousands of $150 gas cards and $50 public-transport vouchers to eligible residents via lottery.  

How much would suspending the federal gas tax save drivers?

Introduced by Democratic Sens. Maggie Hassan and Mark Kelly, the  would pause the federal fuel tax — which is about 18.3 cents a gallon for retail gasoline and 24.3 cents a gallon for diesel — until  Jan. 1, 2023.

President Biden has endorsed pausing the tax for three months, but there has been no movement in Congress so far.

A nationwide gas tax holiday would save drivers about $2.75 every time they fill up a typical 15-gallon tank. if you filled up once a week, that adds up to a little more than $44 in savings between September and January.

Does Congress support a federal gas tax holiday?

While Biden has backed the idea, legislation has languished in the Senate since February. Though it was introduced by a Democrat, the party’s leadership has been ambivalent.

“I’ve not been a proponent,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters in June, . “I just don’t know that it gives much relief.

With , the likelihood of a federal gas tax holiday seems even more remote.

What are the arguments against a gas tax holiday?

Critics, including other Democrats in Congress, say even temporarily lifting the tax would hurt the infrastructure projects that it funds.

A gas tax holiday would cost billions, at a time when  has seemingly run out of steam. 

Sign with gas prices next to a movie theater sign with a grimacing red pandaSign with gas prices next to a movie theater sign with a grimacing red panda

While it could help take a bite out of high gas prices, A federal gas tax holiday could cost $20 billion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Robert Gauthier/Getty Images

“While there is undoubtedly a need to provide American consumers relief from spiking costs, there is no guarantee a gas tax suspension would reduce prices at the pump or stem the broader inflation affecting the global economy,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon,  in mid-June. 

Blumenauer added the holiday “may only increase oil companies’ bottom lines.”

Some economists also argue a gas tax holiday encourages Americans to drive more rather than address oil supply shortages, and it could also stall the transition to climate-friendly energy sources.

“It’s a way for politicians to pretend they are making the situation better, when in fact they are making it worse,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the nonprofit Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, wrote in a February op-ed .

MacGuineas predicts oil producers and gas stations would swallow any savings by raising the pretax price of gasoline. Analysis  indicates that, over the past decade, less than 20% of state gas tax cuts have been passed down to consumers.  

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From Setting Taxes to Regulating Voting, State Legislatures Make Laws That Affect You

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What’s happening

Each of the 50 states has its own legislature with its own rules, procedures and priorities, and they determine everything from tax rates to criminal law to how you can vote.

Why it matters

What happens in state legislatures isn’t just relevant to state residents — it often has effects that ripple nationwide, including on highly contentious issues.

Congress grabs much of the spotlight in political news coverage, and there are good reasons for that. From to passing the federal budget, it considers hugely important matters. But the Senate and House of Representatives aren’t the only elected bodies in the US making big decisions. tackle issues that directly affect your life, often considering even more critical topics than what comes out of Washington, DC. 


Remember that under the to the US Constitution, powers not delegated to Congress are reserved to the states. Legislatures determine tax rates, decide how and when you can vote, establish family and criminal law, make zoning and workplace regulations, choose presidential electors and a lot more. They also regularly delve into hotly contentious issues like , and . And whatever they’re considering, legislatures typically and with more fervor than Congress can ever muster (one reason they move faster is that ).

But just as the 50 states vary widely in culture, geography and history, the 50 legislatures differ sharply from each other in their structure, schedule and scope. From Alaska to Florida and everywhere in between, here’s an overview of the state legislatures and what you need to know about how they operate. 

Looking up at the interior of the California State Capitol rotundaLooking up at the interior of the California State Capitol rotunda

The rotunda of the California State Capitol in Sacramento.

Kent German/CNET

Who are my state reps?

You can find your state representatives either through or through a third-party group like . And it’s important you do so. You can keep tabs on how your members vote, and you can contact them when you have something to say. Not only that, but politicians often use a as a launching pad for higher office, whether it’s the governor’s mansion, Congress or even (eventually) the White House.

When they meet and how often

All state legislatures , with four exceptions. Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas, the nation’s second most populous state, , meet only in odd-numbered years.

When legislatures do meet, the varies widely across the map. Thirty-nine states , usually through the state constitution. That means they must adjourn either after a certain length of time, like in 2022, or on a specific date. But whatever the method, most states in this group commence their sessions in early January, similar to the US Congress, and wrap up by June.

Exceptions abound, though. , and (to name a few) can start as late as February or March. Lawmakers in and may meet as late as November depending on the year.

The remaining states, including Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, do not have fixed length, instead meeting periodically throughout the year.

California State Assembly meeting chamberCalifornia State Assembly meeting chamber

The green color of the California State Assembly Meeting Chamber is based on the UK’s House of Commons.

Kent German/CNET

But then are special sessions

Outside of the regular sessions, legislatures may meet for . They’re held for a variety of reasons, such as the decennial of state and federal legislative boundaries, settling the state budget or finishing outstanding business left over from when the regular session ended. Special sessions may also convene to address a specific issue, such as met to debate, and eventually legalize, marriage equality in the Aloha State.

In 36 states, either the governor or the legislature itself can convene a special session. But in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Vermont only the governor may call one.

California State Senate meeting chamberCalifornia State Senate meeting chamber

The Senate’s red is based on the UK’s House of Lords.

James Martin/CNET

A full-time job?

While being a member of Congress is a full-time job, in most states being a legislator is not. And here again it can get complicated. The National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan advocacy group that represents state and territorial legislatures at the federal level, .

In “green” states, the NCSL says, lawmakers earn enough (an average of $82,000 per year) so that they may not need outside employment. They typically have a large staff, as well, and spend enough of their time (at least 84%) on legislative activities, whether it’s in session or in committee work at the state capital, constituent services in their home districts or campaigning. States in the group either have large populations, their members meet for longer periods or their legislative districts are large or geographically dispersed. Green states include , California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Members in “gold” states spend half of their time on legislative duties and need another job since their pay is quite low (an average of $18,000 per year). Most of the states in this group are rural or sparsely populated. The list includes Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. These states are said to have “citizen legislatures.”

If your state isn’t listed above, it’s in the NCSL’s hybrid “gray” group. Representatives spend about 75% of their time on the job and make an average of $41,100 per year, which usually isn’t enough to live off, depending on the person. They employ more staff than in gold states, but less than in green states.

The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton RougeThe Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge

The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge is the tallest in the country. It’s also one of the few state capitols without a dome.

Louisiana Office of Tourism

How much they’re paid

This isn’t an easy topic to boil down to a few paragraphs, so I’ll stick (thank you, again, NCSL).

Every state but pays their lawmakers a salary. Most are paid on an annual basis, but a few, including Kansas, Nevada, Vermont and North Dakota, pay by the month, week or each day the legislature meets. Maine takes a different route by paying a fixed amount for the entire session. Of the states with a salary, California pays the most ($115,000 per year), and New Hampshire pays the least ($100 per year).

Legislators in all states are compensated for to and from their districts and most can claim a for meals and lodging for when staying in the state capitol. Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New nba jersey and Rhode Island do not pay a per diem. All states but Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Islands, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia allocate additional money for hiring a staff and maintaining office space.

Nebraska State Legislature meeting chamberNebraska State Legislature meeting chamber

Nebraska’s unicameral state legislature meets in this chamber in the capitol in Lincoln. 

Nebraska State Legislature

How many members

Nebraska , with just 49 members. But Nebraska is also the only state with a , meaning that it has only one house (an arrangement common in of Canadian provinces). Nebraska dissolved its lower chamber, the House of Representatives, in 1937. All members are called “senators.”

The smallest bicameral legislature is Alaska, with 40 members in the House of Representatives and 20 in the Senate. The largest legislature is little New Hampshire. With only , the country’s 41st most populous state, it elects 24 senators and 400 representatives. The lower house is the in the world after the US House of Representatives and 650-member UK . Minnesota’s legislature has 201 members, but it also has the country’s largest upper house with 67 senators.

Though it’s the most populous state, with , California’s legislature ranks only 35th in size, with 80 members in the Assembly and 40 in the Senate. That means the Golden State’s lawmakers also represent the most people . California’s senators represent an average of 988,456 constituents, each while assembly members represent an average of 494,228 each.

Not surprisingly, New Hampshire’s residents get the most say in their lower house. Each representative speaks for just 3,444 people. But it’s North Dakota’s senators that represent the fewest people with an average of 16,576 constituents each.

While the majority of states elect one member per legislative district for both houses, four states — Washington, Arizona, South Dakota and New nba jersey — use .

The Texas State Capitol in AustinThe Texas State Capitol in Austin

The Texas State Capitol is the largest in the country. Its dome is higher than the US Capitol.

Texas State Preservation Board

Term length and limits

Like the US House of Representatives, most states to two-year terms. Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland and Mississippi stand out from the pack by having four-year terms.

Most state senators are elected for four-year terms. The exceptions are Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont, which have two-year terms.

Just , which typically are between eight and 12 years. They are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Ohio and South Dakota. 

The Vermont State Capitol in MontpelierThe Vermont State Capitol in Montpelier

Vermont’s state capitol is one of the nation’s smallest.

DeAgostini/Getty Images

Who’s in your statehouse?

Currently the Republican Party in 30 states, and the Democratic Party has the majority in both houses of 17 states. In Minnesota and Virginia, party control is split between the two chambers. Though Nebraska’s legislature , senators belonging to the Republican party make up the majority there. 

The partisan gap is narrower, though, when you look at the total number of legislators in the country. Of 7,383 state lawmakers nationwide 54% are Republicans, 45% are Democrats and the rest are either independent or belong to another political party. 

Men , with women making up 31% of legislators. Nevada is the only state with (61%), while West Virginia has the fewest women members (12%). 

What’s in a name?

The of the legislative branch in most states is either the State Legislature or the General Assembly. Massachusetts and New Hampshire go old school by calling their bodies the , a term left over from the colonial period. 

The lower house in most states is called the House of Representatives. California, Nevada, New Jersey and New York call their lower houses the State Assembly, while Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia use the term House of Delegates.

The Maryland State House in AnnapolisThe Maryland State House in Annapolis

Built in 1772, the Maryland State House in Annapolis is the oldest state capitol in continuous use.

Visit Annapolis

Places where they meet

Though of the 50 , the buildings’ architectural styles are as the states they represent. A few, such as ,  and , have neoclassical designs like the , but other styles include (Kansas), (Kentucky), (Texas), (Vermont) and (Connecticut). Maryland’s Georgian stands out by having a tower with an octagonal dome. 

Delaware’s colonial revival occupies sort of a middle ground by being topped with a with a small dome at its very tip. Likewise, l, which is a mix of Art Deco, Neo-Byzantine and Gothic Revival styles, has a 400-foot office tower capped by a dome and a statue called . 

The Hawaii State Capitol in HonoluluThe Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu

The architecture of the Hawaii State Capitol symbolizes everything from the palm trees to the Pacific Ocean.

Kent German/CNET

The legislatures of , , , , , , , , , and do not meet under domes. Tennessee, Oregon and Ohio almost get there with cupolas that are sort of like domes that have been smashed flat. Florida, Louisiana and North Dakota’s capitols are topped by tall towers similar to Nebraska – capitol is even called “The Skyscraper on the Prairie.” 

New York’s Romanesque State Capitol could be the palatial home of a Gilded Age robber baron. Thomas Jefferson designed Virginia’s Palladian State Capitol after the , a Roman temple in Nîmes, France. Compare them with Alaska’s State Capitol, which could be mistaken for the country’s prettiest high school. 

The New Mexico State Capitol in Santa FeThe New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe

New Mexico’s state capitol is called “The Roundhouse” for good reason.

Kent German/CNET

Hawaii and New Mexico choose highly symbolic architecture. The Bauhaus-influenced Hawaii State Capitol by a reflecting pool, which represents the Pacific Ocean. The columns symbolize palm trees, and the cone-shaped legislative chambers resemble the volcanoes that formed the Hawaiian islands. New Mexico has the only round state capitol. From the air it’s designed the l, which also adorns the . 

Then there are the states that decided newer was better. Since World War II, lawmakers in , , , and moved from their original (domed) state capitols into modern and relatively bland legislative buildings. The historic buildings now serve as museums or, in , the office of the governor. 

Other state capitol facts:

  • Oldest still in use: Maryland,
  • Newest: Florida,
  • Tallest: Louisiana,
  • Tallest with a dome: Texas, (the US Capitol ) 
  • Largest: , 360,000 square feet
The Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico in San JuanThe Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico in San Juan

The Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico is the largest territorial legislature.

Getty Images

Don’t forget the territories 

The nation’s territories — Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands — also have legislative bodies. A few facts to note:  

  • The unicameral Council of the District of Columbia is the smallest body, with 13 members. Created in 1973 as part of the , it meets all year, functioning like a cross between a city government and a state legislature. The US Constitution gives Congress, however, the power to overrule any legislation the council passes. Congress may also make its own laws for Washington, DC or suspend the council completely.
  • The Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico (Asamblea Legislativa de Puerto Rico), the American Samoa Fono and the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature are bicameral. The Legislature of Guam (Liheslaturan Guåhan) and the Legislature of the US Virgin Islands are unicameral. 
  • American Samoa’s legislature is the only territorial legislature that’s nonpartisan.
  • Puerto Rico follows a unique political party system. The two largest parties are the Popular Democratic Party (Partido Popular Democrático), which advocates for the island’s current status, and the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (Partido Nuevo Progresista). 
  • Puerto Rico also has the largest territorial legislature, with 78 members, and it’s the only one to meet in .
  • The legislatures of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands have between 15 and 39 members.

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Google and the Monk Skin Tone Scale: Here’s What You Need to Know

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What’s happening

Google has adopted a more diverse skin tone scale to reshape its artificial intelligence systems.

Why it matters

The new 10-shade scale could reduce racial bias and improve skin tone representation across Google’s popular services.

In mid-May, Google announced a partnership with Ellis Monk, an associate professor at Harvard, unveiling a more inclusive skin tone scale to better train Google’s artificial intelligence systems and improve racial and color representation in its products.

Using the more diverse 10-shade scale is designed to allow Google’s services to better see and understand images that feature people with darker skin tones. It’s a response to problems in the system that Google and other companies have used to classify skin tones for people of color.

Read more

You can see one example of this AI technology at work in the US — the option to refine makeup-related queries by skin tone within Google search. Separately, the company also added filters tailored to darker skin in Google Photos. And that’s just the start.

As Google broadens its use of the Monk Skin Tone Scale to new services and other parts of the world, there’s a lot to learn about Google. Here’s what you need to know about how it’s trying to improve skin tone representation and how Google got there.

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Photography can be biased toward lighter skin tones

, selling the majority of color film in the US. If you used Kodak film to shoot, you would have to go to a Kodak photo lab to get it developed and printed, where you would inevitably buy more Kodak film to use.

Eventually, the US federal government stepped in and broke up its monopoly, and so Kodak developed a small printer that any film lab across the country could use in their stores to print Kodak film. As part of these kits, Kodak would also supply labs with reference prints to help film lab employees calibrate colors, shadows and light. These references were called Shirley cards.

These featured mostly brunette white women, and football shirt excluded pretty much everyone else. At this time, lighter skin was the chemical baseline for photo technology, and so these cards showcased that. As a result, darker skin tones were neglected, and so they were harder to expose properly, which helped to perpetuate the myth that darker skin is more difficult to photograph than lighter skin.

"Shirley" cards showing white women"Shirley" cards showing white women

Shirley Cards were named after Shirley Page, a former Kodak employee who was the first person featured on these color reference cards. Eventually, more models were introduced — also primarily brunette and white.

99% Invisible

Google’s Real Tone feature on the Pixel 6

Now, our digital smartphones have largely superseded analog film. Yet, . Even in your camera app, lighter skin tones are still favored — .

And that’s why last year Google released its first AI-powered tool to help combat the racial biases in photography. , exclusive for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, improves how darker skin tones show up in photos and videos. Google worked with a team of diverse image experts to break down the process of properly shooting darker skin tones, and better train the decision-making algorithms used on their phones.

A Black man smiling next to the words Real Tone filtersA Black man smiling next to the words Real Tone filters

The Real Tone filters improve how darker skin tones are portrayed in photos.


For , Google focused on six areas to improve the camera for the Pixel phones, to make it more inclusive and create more authentic, accurate portraits for darker skin tones:

  • Face detection: The camera app is better at detecting faces with darker skin tones.
  • Auto-white balance: Darker skin tones are shown with more nuanced color temperature.
  • Auto-exposure: When adjusting exposure, darker skin tones won’t appear too bright or too dark.
  • Stray light: This reduces negative effects of stray light, which can make darker skin tones appear washed out.
  • Face Unblur: Cut down image blur for people with darker skin tones in low light.
  • Google Photos: Google Photos’ auto-enhance feature works better for darker skin tones.

What is the Monk Skin Tone Scale?

During Google I/O 2022, Google announced that it’s begun incorporating the Monk Skin Tone Scale into services, such as Google Search and Google Photos. The plan is to use the Monk Skin Tone Scale to help address the skin tone bias by better representing historically underrepresented skin tones.

The Monk Skin Tone Scale is a newer approach to categorize a more diverse range of skin tones. Google is using it during product development to create more representative datasets for training its AI models so they are more nuanced at detecting darker skin tones. 

Monk Skin Tone Scale 10 categories light to dark from left to rightMonk Skin Tone Scale 10 categories light to dark from left to right

The Monk Skin Tone Scale.


, a Harvard associate professor in sociology, developed the skin tone scale a decade ago, and Google adapted it for its own digital use. Monk has extensively researched how technology intersects with race and ethnicity, in particular areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision.

At Google, the 10-shade Monk Skin Tone Scale replaces the Fitzpatrick scale, a dermatologist-created system designed for reading ultraviolet radiation exposure. The Fitzpatrick scale has only got six skin tones, and most of them are for lighter skin. Google and other tech companies have relied on the Fitzpatrick scale for years to classify skin tones for their algorithms and to assess how well those algorithms are working.

How is the Monk Skin Tone Scale being used?

For now, Google is using the Monk Skin Tone Scale to improve skin representation in two of its popular services: Google Search and Google Photos.

In Search, the Monk Skin Tone Scale will help find and present more relevant results for those with darker skin tones. For example, football shirt if you search for a makeup-related query, Google will present color chips and a variety of faces that let you narrow down your search results based on skin tone. That should help you find something like a “winged eyeliner tutorial” photo for darker skin tones.

Thumbnails of eyelids from makeup tutorialsThumbnails of eyelids from makeup tutorials

You’ll be able to filter photos by skin tone in Google Search.


Google also used the Monk Skin Tone Scale to improve Google Photos with a series of Real Tone filters designed specifically for darker skin tones. These filters were created with the help of image creators who have experience in accurately depicting darker skin tones in photographs, and are now available for use in the app for iOS, Android and the web. If you go to the Filters tab in the Google Photos editor, you’ll see new choices like Desert, Honey, Isla and Playa.

How else will Google use the new skin color scale?

Google hopes others will incorporate the Monk Skin Tone Scale as they label photos that appear on the web for image attributes like hair color and texture. Creators, brands and publishers can use these metadata options on their images and other web material so that search engines can better recognize them and surface them in searches when it’s relevant.

Google Skin Tone schema illustration of a Black woman's face with labels on her hair and cheekGoogle Skin Tone schema illustration of a Black woman's face with labels on her hair and cheek

You’ll be able to filter results by hair textures and colors too.


Google released its Monk Skin Tone Scale classification system under liberal licensing terms, nba jersey open to any researcher or company. Google hopes other tech companies will incorporate the scale into their own development processes.

And Google will continue working with Monk on improving the scale as well, including with tests to validate its use in other countries like Mexico, India, Nigeria and Brazil.

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Which NFL team is the solar energy champ?

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The biggest game in football is this weekend and people from around the world will tune in to check out , , and (hopefully) a great game. One thing that won’t be on display this Sunday is any sizeable solar installation. While it might be silly to expect such a thing, stadiums used by National football shirt League teams are actually pretty natural fits for generating solar power.

Besides their sizable roofs, they often come with large parking lots, covered walkways, sky bridges, attached convention centers and plenty of other spaces for solar panels. In fact, plenty of NFL stadiums already host large solar arrays.

Fourteen of the NFL’s 30 stadiums have solar installations. While it’s a bit harder to design head-to-head matchups for solar installations than it is for this year’s 14 playoff teams, we can still crown a champion of the very first Solar Bowl. 

Stadiums are a good fit for solar

One requirement for solar power is open space with a relatively unobstructed view of the sun. Think of the solar panels increasingly going up on the roofs of houses. Rooftops are a great fit for solar because they’re open and above a lot of shade-casting obstructions. It’s also why old as solar farms.

Stadiums are often taller than surrounding structures and accompanied by acres of parking lots. That’s a lot of prime, unshaded real estate.


Solar panels ring MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

LI-Aerial/Stringer/Getty Images

From the other direction, hosting a major event like a NFL game takes a lot of energy. A lot. Back in 2013, AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, demanded up to 10 megawatts of electricity to power lights, concessions, air conditioning and other stadium functions. It was , a country of over 4 million people at the time, couldn’t have provided enough energy to run the stadium that holds 80,000. (That number is peak demand. The stadium uses far less when it’s sitting empty. Regardless, it’s a lot of electricity.)

Which stadiums have the most solar?

While about half of NFL stadiums have turned to solar to offset their hefty energy use, four stand out above the rest.

The top four stadiums for solar

  • Fourth place in this year’s Solar Bowl goes to Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, which has a 525 kilowatt installation of 2,556 panels, soaking up that famous New England sun. The panels are largely installed on the adjacent Patriots Place shopping center, but since it’s next door and obviously tied to the stadium, we’ll count it here. The panels produce about 625,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which will cover about 30% of the energy used by Patriots Place.
  • Lumen Field in Seattle is home to the Seahawks and [PDF] of the connected convention center’s roof. They provide 830,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power 95 Seattle homes for a year. Despite its reputation for cloudy weather, Seattle’s stadium takes third place in the Solar Bowl.
  • Solar Bowl runner up is Mercedes-Benz Stadium of the Atlanta Falcons. The 2017 stadium has over 4,000 panels with a generating capacity of 1.3 megawatts. Per year, it generates a whopping 1.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, .
  • Solar Bowl champion, without a doubt, is Financial Field, home to the Philadelphia Eagles. Eleven thousand solar panels on the stadium and over parking lots have a capacity of 3 megawatts. It covers about 33% of the stadium’s energy use annually and more than enough energy to power the home games for a year, a team spokesperson said in an email. The vast majority of the panels cover a parking lot, where they provide solar power, but also shelter from rain and snow. Lincoln Financial Field stands head and shoulders above the rest.

The solar installations on the side of Lincoln Financial Field and over its parking lot are part of the largest-in-the-NFL solar installation.

Bruce Bennett/Staff/Getty Images

The rest

Levi’s Stadium (San Francisco 49ers) lands outside the top four with a 375 kw installation of 1,180 panels that, along with other sustainability features, made it . M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore Ravens) installed . The installation’s capacity wasn’t publicly available, but the panels were two years newer than those in San Francisco, so it may generate a bit more electricity than Levi’s Stadium.

MetLife Stadium (New York Jets and New York Giants) have 1,350 panels with a capacity of 350 kw installed around the rim of the stadium. NRG Stadium (Houston Texans) has 599 panels with a capacity of 180 kw installed on walkways leading into the stadium, according to a spokesperson. 


Solar panels top a pedestrian bridge at Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, in Santa Clara, California.

MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images/Contributor

GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City Chiefs) had 75 kilowatts of solar panels installed in 2014 at the stadium and surrounding complexes, according to a press release from the team. The release said the panels generated enough power to cook 1.5 million brats a year, though it is unclear whether advances in brat cooking technology in the intervening years has affected that number.

Surprisingly, it can be a bit tricky to track down details about stadium solar panel installations, something you think teams would be trumpeting from the roofs of their solar-covered walkways. (It can be tricky to find a live voice at the end of an offseason switchboard, too.)

Bank of America Stadium (), FirstEnergy Stadium (), Ford Field (), and Heinz Field () all have had solar panels installed, but didn’t have the information publicly available or return requests for details.

The Indianapolis Colts also have some solar installed at their practice facility and headquarters, but they’re miles from their home, Lucas Oil Stadium.

Fourteen stadiums don’t have any solar, including the home of this year’s Super Bowl, SoFi Stadium in sunny Los Angeles. After word gets around about this year’s prestigious new Solar Bowl, it’s almost certain the remaining stadiums will be scrambling to challenge this year’s champs.

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