Posts Tagged ‘Wants’
There’s plenty of buzz about the concept of making our cities “smarter” — that is, loading them up with sensors and data-driven services to improve efficiency and quality of life. Hell, even Google has taken to loading up its event venues with scores of sensors.
Most of the discussion out there deals with how local governments are working toward this lofty, nebulous goal, but a team called Acrobotics Industries is trying to put with onus on the citizens themselves. To that end the team has kicked off a $ 50,000 Kickstarter campaign for a small sensor array called the Smart Citizen kit in hopes that people will start collecting and sharing their environmental data with the world.
“There’s a problem with the way current cities were built,” Acrobotic’s COO Francisco Zabala told me. “Beijing’s air quality is insanely bad — we think we have it bad in LA — and it’s not getting any better.
The heart (or brain, I guess) of the Smart Citizen project is an Arduino-powered kit that gets tucked away inside (or outside, if you’ve got the right kind of enclosure) of a user’s home to track local environmental variables — think temperature, humidity, air composition, ambient brightness, and sound levels. It’s arguably neat enough to keep tabs on the environmental conditions at your home while you’re not there, but the real value here is when a whole host of users set up their Smart Citizen sensors and fire up them up en masse.
It’s the team’s hope that Smart Citizen kits will sell widely enough that regular people will be able to get an accurate glance at environmental conditions with a finer sort of granularity than you’d get by firing up, say, the Weather Channel app. For what it’s worth, Zabala concedes that the Smart Citizen project is largely geared toward making people aware of climate change and global warming without getting too political or divisive about it.
“I believe that climate is changing for the worse, but our approach is more personal,” Zabala said. “By raising awareness we’re working toward a solution without banging on people’s heads.”
As it happens, a few of those Smart Citizen kits have already been fired up. A quick look at a demo version of the sensor tracking website reveals that a handful of the little things are live in Zabala’s native Barcelona — the Smart Citizen team ran an earlier, more local crowdfunding campaign (Zabala called it a “proof of concept run”) that saw a number of users in Spain install and fire up their sensor arrays all around the city. Hovering over a bright blue spot displays the latest environmental data (users can define how often they want those updates to occur), while greyed out units haven’t been fired up lately.
Thanks to how the Smart Citizen kit is constructed, users will eventually be able to monitor more than just the handful of environmental criteria this early kit supports. Zabala said that the Acrobotics team is currently working on swappable daughterboards that will allow the Smart Citizen kit to be used for soil and water testing too — perfect for you city-dwelling gardeners. If you’re suddenly itching to monitor your surroundings more acutely, you’ll be able to lay claim to a fully constructed Smart Citizen for $ 155 — the more handy among you can save a little money by springing for the $ 105 unassembled kit instead.
The Lumia 925, Nokia’s New Windows Phone 8 Flagship, Sheds Excess Weight, Wants To Mess Around With Your Photos
Meet the Lumia 925, the latest smartphone flagship in Nokia’s increasingly populous Windows Phone portfolio. The 925 is clearly Nokia’s answer to criticisms of its high end devices being too heavy. At the device’s London launch earlier today, Vodafone’s Patrick Chomet – brought onstage to talk up the new Lumia which the carrier will be ranging in Europe — couldn’t avoid commenting negatively on the Lumia 920’s weight. For all the noise about the 925’s camera, its less hefty hardware is the key design difference here.
The 925 drops a full 46g compared to the earlier Lumia 920, weighing in at 139g vs the 920’s hefty 185g. The phone feels pleasingly light in the hand, helped by its slender profile: it’s just 8.5mm thick at its thickest point (vs 10.7mm for the 920). In order to achieve a sleeker, lighter device, yet keep the 4.5-inch display, Nokia has dropped built-in wireless charging – but it’s not ditching the tech entirely. It has included wireless charging as an add-on via clip-on shells – likely sold separately — which increase the thickness of the 925 by a few millimetres but don’t appear to add too much weight back on.
It’s a compromise but one that results in a sleeker, more attractive handset out of the box. If it’s a choice between wireless charging – which remains something of a gimmick — or a lightweight phone, most people would opt for the latter. And that’s a calculation Nokia has clearly made with the 925.
The handset design also takes a few steps in a new direction for the Lumia range, with aluminium edging running around its four sides – a band which doubles as the phone’s antenna – coupled with a polycarbonate back. The two-tone look and feel is a definite departure for Nokia’s high end phone design. Colour options are also more subtle, with the black version having anodized, almost charcoal looking aluminium edging, while the white 925 has silver edges. There’s also a grey colourway. The trademark bright Lumia colours are reserved for the wireless charging shells — including red, yellow and cyan.
The PureView-branded 8.7MP camera on the 925 is the other big focus here. The hardware introduces a sixth lens to the device, which Nokia says improves performance in bright sunlight. This is in addition to strong low-light capabilities, which it has touted on its other Lumia flagships – including most recently the Lumia 928.
During the 925 launch Nokia demoed both the low and bright-light photography capabilities of the phone, inviting the press to compare the shots with photos taken on their own smartphones. The Lumia 925 came off as better at snapping in the dark than iPhones, the BlackBerry Z10, the HTC One and even the Lumia 920, pulling a brighter, more colourful image from out of the gloom. It also appeared to capture more detail in strong light conditions in Nokia’s test conditions.
As well as the extra hardware lens, the 925 includes a new suite of camera-editing software called Nokia Smart Camera. This makes use of a burst mode that takes 10 photos at around 5MP each. It then offers a series of image-manipulation options to enhance the photo. Some of these features were a little hit and miss under the press launch lighting conditions. Others looked a little gimmicky, such as the ability to composite a series of movements into one shot. But others seemed like they could be genuinely useful, such as a feature that allows you to create the best shot by choosing from various facial expressions — much like the timeshift feature on the BlackBerry Z10/Q10. Or another that lets you remove a moving object from an image, such as a person or car passing in front of the scene you’re trying to shoot.
The Smart Camera software won’t be exclusive to the Lumia 925 for long – Nokia said it will be pushed out to other Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices as an update in Q3. But for the moment, the Lumia 925 has the lion’s share of Nokia’s camera creativity, including some new features in its Creative Studio image editing app, such as a tilt shift and radial focus. And the Oggl app.
One more new software addition in the 925′s screen settings allows users to tweak the colour saturation and temperature of the AMOLED screen to dial down how poppingly bright the colours are and opt for more muted, photo-realistic tones if you desire. Elsewhere, this is a business-as-usual Windows Phone 8 device loaded with the usual suite of Microsoft and Nokia apps, which include its HERE mapping and location apps and Nokia Music. It is also skinned with the new more flexible Windows Phone homescreen that allows for three different-sized live tiles.
The 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon chip powering the Lumia 925 doesn’t sound that beefy, considering the proliferation of quad-core phones in the Android ecosystem at least, but it’s as top-of-the range as Windows Phone gets right now. And Nokia argues that no more processing clout is required to do all of the image processing going on under the 925′s hood.
Recently, consumer electronics have tended to be more about closing things down then opening them up, but New York-based Adafruit is working to help reverse that trend, and to make it so that people aren’t afraid of what’s inside their devices, and instead become more comfortable with electronics components and the concepts behind how gadgets actually work. Adafruit founder and CEO Limor Fried was on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt NY today, and talked about how her company is going about achieving that goal.
The mission helps the company generate revenue, by priming an audience early on to become buyers of the components, DIY kits and open-source devices Adafruit sells through its online store. The key is to start young, Fried says, and to take advantage of urges that children already have around exploring their environment and the things around them.
“At a certain age, they just want to be comfortable with it, and everyone here probably liked to take stuff apart,” he said. “That’s how we learn, we take stuff apart and then we learn from them. That’s how software works, too.” With software, we pull apart the code to find out how it’s put together, she said, and we should be doing the same thing with hardware.
“We open the box,” she said, referring to our instincts when young. “The gadgets you have now, tablets and smartphones, theyr’e not easy to open anymore, so we provide that.” The idea is to make sure that if the need to break something down and repair it does arise, we aren’t afraid of it, and we don’t feel like we need eight years of specific education just to replace a broken capacitor.
Adafruit recently launched a video series for children called Circuit Playground to help familiarize them with electronics at a very early age. The company also put out a coloring book for electronics, which you can print out and use under a creative commons license. This is designed less to provide a rigorous early-age electrical engineering education regimen, and more to help get kids comfortable with terms, designs and shapes early on so that they’ll find it easier to pursue that kind of formal training later on. Basically, it’s about planting the seed for a generation of makers to come.
Asked about Adafruit’s identity, and whether it’s an educational organization or a business, Fried said her company is an ‘educational, tutorial company” that then has essentially a gift shop at the end. The model works in the same way that art supply stores functions; you could technically make your own paint, she says, but most people don’t because it’s easier to buy. Budding electronics hobbyists can likewise build their own PCBs, but they instead turn to supply stores and pre-fab components like those supplied by Adafruit. But in the end, the emphasis is on education and open source.
Fried envisions a world where people treat hardware the same way they do software, by mostly leveraging open source tools to quickly start up their own companies. But that change represents a major shift that will require fundamental changes in how we think about hardware, and Adafruit is trying to bring that about starting as early in our educational lives as possible.
While there have been white space test runs in the UK, these were private trials that weren’t going to get the ball rolling without government help. Thankfully, local regulator Ofcom is of a like mind. It now plans a trial for data on the in-between frequencies this fall, with full-fledged service going live as soon as 2014. The agency expects to settle on the final locations for the pilot after it chooses partners. No, Ofcom can’t guarantee that all the stars will align for rural broadband or other long-range wireless projects — but its involvement at least means those stars are within reach.
Apple Has To Release A Bigger iPhone If It Wants To Have Any Chance In …
This morning he reports, "our discussions this week in Taipei and China continue to highlight the need for Apple to launch a larger-sized iPhone to cater to the Asian market," adding, "Essentially, we are being told that the minimum size needed by …
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T-Mobile preorders for iPhone 5 kick off today
There is a critical tweak, however, for the new carrier: the iPhone 5 now will support the 1700 MHz HSPA+/AWS uplink band, which will enable higher performance on T-Mobile's UMTS Band IV network. Older GSM iPhone 5 units cannot get this fix via …
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Pre-orders for T-Mobile iPhone 5 go live ahead of April 12 launch
In line with its announcement last week, T-Mobile has started accepting pre-sale orders for Apple's iPhone 5 after having gone years without official access to the device. The telecom is the last of the "Big Four" U.S. wireless carriers to ink a deal …
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Over the previous year we & rsquo; ve seen great deals of experimentation around interface, ranging from infrared eye tracking (which has currently found its method into mainstream smartphones) to incredibly exact 3D movement controls. Today, Japan & rsquo; s Fujitsu is flaunting its take on the nontraditional user interface– a combination scanner and camera that is someplace in between among those laser virtual keyboards and a tablet display that it & rsquo; s displaying under the prolonged moniker “Next-Generation UI Enabling Operations by means of Hand Gestures and Finger Movements.”
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I like my tiny little Mazda, however I ’ ll be honest — I still wear ’ t totally comprehend how it works. That ’ s never ever truly bothered me before (I ’ d much rather geek out over a phone or something) however a Kickstarter task from a small group in Boston has me itching to pay more attention to exactly what ’ s truly going on under the hood. Long tale short, Dash integrates a Bluetooth 4.0-enabled dongle that plugs into your vehicle ’ s on-board diagnostics port with an iPhone app that provides you up-to-date details how on your car is holding up.
Yes, I know that probably seems extremely familiar.
We ’ ve seen a few fledglings tapping into that certain port recently — Carvoyant inked handle local car dealers to more broadly distribute its always-on diagnostics and tracking device previously this year, and Y Combinator-backed Automatic got a lot of attention for taking a comparable idea and incorporating it with an awfully good-looking iPhone app interface. Dash ’ s approach seems to look like the latter slightly even more than the previous, however at their core they ’ re all trying to complete the same objective: to enhance the driving experience by shining light on information that wasn ’ t always easily available.
So should you think about Dash over something like the ultra-slick Automatic when both devices are both slated to cost around $ 69? That all comes down to how you feel about the little techniques that set Dash apart from the oft-hyped California start-up ’ s service.
In addition to tracking fuel use, passing along notices when your car ’ s elements have gone awry and letting individuals locate their vehicles on a map, Dash users can use their smartphone as a secondary screen of kinds for realtime details like existing rate, engine RPM, and fuel economy. The huge idea behind latter is that you ’ ll have the ability to find an environmentally-friendly sweet spot while cruising along, though chances are you ’ ve already got some type of indicator telling you how fuel-efficient your driving is if you ’ re driving a more current automobile. Still, because UNITED STATE cars from as far back as 1996 have ODB ports there are plenty of drivers who might stand to take advantage of this sort of details.
Oh, and a side note: if Dash appeals to you since your vehicle ’ s inbuilt speedometer and tachometer don ’ t work, you should truly get that looked after first.
In case you were wishing to bring your social fixation into your automobile too, all that driving data can be automatically published to an associated online Dash account. From there people can compare their own metrics to their fellow Dash individuals and pick up on best practices for squeezing ideal performance from their trips (sadly, there doesn ’ t appear to be a way to mock them mercilessly for driving like your grandmother). What ’ s more, individuals can likewise tape-record and share in-car video with speed and engine information overlaid on top of it, well, simply because.
Those of you wanting to make your iPhone an extension of your automobile have to consider that the Dash still appears like a long way from fruition. At time of composing the group ’ s Kickstarter campaign has raised simply over $ 15,000 from backers, and is ultimately shooting to top $ 750,000 prior to Could 11. Ought to the Dash team fulfill that lofty objective though, they wish to get the first set of dongles out at some point this June — in the nick of time for summer roadtrip period. Sadly, simply like with Automatic, Android individuals will have to wait until later on in the year to get their mobile vehicle diagnostics on.
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In order for the $ 20 billion acquisition of Sprint Nextel by Japan’s SoftBank to go ahead, the US government wants to oversee network equipment purchases in a bid to keep Huawei and ZTE products out of the nation’s infrastructure, reports The Wall Street Journal. Last year, a Congressional report labeled the two companies’ equipment as a national security risk, and SoftBank uses Huawei equipment, popular in many markets for its low prices, on its own network at home.
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Forget Google Glass, Google Debuts ‘Talking Shoe’ Concept At SXSWi, Wants More Social, Motivational Everyday Objects
Meet Google’s “talking shoe,” which aims to translate movement data in witty messages to users and their friends. The concept apparel, showcased at the search giant’s swanky SXSW Interactive headquarters, is part of a new arts project - ”Art, Copy, Code” – which aims to breathe a social, life-like experience into everyday objects. “If standing still was a sport, you’d be world champion,” the trash-talking shoe projects on a monitor hanging over a rainbow-colored obstacle course after it senses I’ve been standing still.
At a distance, users seem a tad pathetic trying to trigger positive feedback from the shoe. But when I strapped it on, I felt oddly compelled to impress my new automated coach. Combining coaching (even robotic coaching) made lifeless data unexpectedly motivational. Essentially, it’s Richards Simmons in a shoe.
In case critics think this is another one of Google’s flights of profitless creative fancy, Arts Copy Code is deliberately about improving advertising. “It’s explicitly aimed at how translating how Silicon Valley thinks about technology into how creative agencies think about advertising,” says project lead Aman Govil.
Brands such as Nike, who outfit professional athletes with health-tracking shoes and bracelets, could broadcast an athlete’s spring-training performance in realtime. Rival athletes’ apparel could trash talk one another automatically.
It’s still (very) early days for the arts project. The talking shoe (and shoe strap) concept was developed through a grant to electronics agency Yes Yes No. Google plans to open up the project to more everyday objects in the near future. One hypothetical use-case, imagines Govil, is an alarm block that sends snarky messages to co-workers if users have to hit the snooze on their alarm clock more than three times.
There’s been heightened attention to research that quantifies how much our friends affect our weight, success, and personal lives. University of San Diego political scientist and Connected author James Fowler found that having an obese friend can significantly increase people’s chances of also having their own set of marshmallowy love handles. And it’s no secret that a spirited friend can get us up at 5 a.m. for a morning run as much as they can tempt us into finishing their plate of fries.
Health startups have attempted to “gamify” good behavior by encouraging users to share personal goals with friends. Nike+ FuelBand, for instance, shares users’ exercise habits with their friends on the personal social network, Path.
This project attempts to remove the barrier presented by current products. The social aspect has always required one extra step of human effort. However fast a one-word message of encouragement could take to type about a friend’s morning run, the minor inconvenience is enough to seriously limit engagement. This new automated personality seems to have a place, especially when we’re all too busy to be personal.
Currently the project is just a concept. There’s no need to jump over to the Google Play store and find the buy link. But Google Glass was just a concept at one point, too.
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Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm has a performance history of pushing new abilities into its chips faster than its rivals in a quote to take a bigger portion of the marketplace. Last year, for instance, its LTE Snapdragon processor helped it to take a 48 per cent income share in H1 (Method Analytics‘ figure), helping to drive even more LTE mobiles into the marketplace which in turn sped up the rate of 4G adoption.
The company made a fascinating acquisitionlast November, purchasing some of the possessions of an Israeli company called EPOS which makes digital ultrasound modern technology. Ultrasound could seem an odd modern technology to push into customer electronic devices however Qualcomm plainly sees it as an additional differentiator for its chips, thanks to its possible to provide some book additions to the user interface area — both for stylus-based inputs and even touch-less interfaces like gestures.
Discussing Qualcomm ’ s interest in ultrasound at the Mobile World Congress tradeshow in Barcelona, Raj Talluri, SVP of Item Management, explained that to put the technology to work in mobile devices an ultrasound transmitter could possibly be located in a stylus, with mics sited on the mobile device that can then spot the position of the pen.
Samsung has already consisted of a capacitive stylus with its Galaxy Note phablet however Talluri said an ultrasound-based stylus would extend the abilities — permitting a stylus to be used off-screen, say on the table top next to where your phone is resting, and still have its input detected.
“ It ’ s is much better [than a capacitive stylus] in some essential various methods which we’re dealing with getting to market– for instance you could possibly write below [on the table alongside the phone] and it will still identify where it is. So let’s state you have a [paper] notepad … and you have a phone [close by on the table] and you could start composing on your notepad it will in fact also be transcribed into text on the phone because exactly what takes place is the ultrasound could be used to calibrate any affordable distance, ” he told TechCrunch.
The innovation could possibly also support gesture-based communications by positioning an ultrasound transmitter on the mobile gadget. “ There are lots of use cases of ultrasound, ” said Talluri. “ You can put a little ultrasound transmitter here [on the edge of the screen] and transmit stuff and then when you cut the ultrasound industry [by swiping above the gadget's display] you can do gestures.
“ There’s lots of different things you can do with it, once you have it. So we’re working on it and ideally we’ll get it to industrial products. ”
Talluri would not be drawn on the likely timeframe of bringing this innovation to market in Qualcomm chips, or which gadget makers Qualcomm is working with. “ We have not announced anything yet. There’s clearly a great deal of work to be done on it. We’re working on it we’re just not prepared to announce, ” he stated. “ We are really considering in, that’s why we acquired the possessions. ”
He would say that Qualcomm is looking at both phone and tablet form aspects for the ultrasound tech however added that it could work “ anywhere ” — consisting of in wearable devices, such as Google Glass.
The system also doesn ’ t always need new mics to function — opening the possibility of ultrasound-enabled add-ons that could be retrofitted to existing gadgets to extend their capacities.
“ The various other nice thing is that we discover that the microphones [on existing mobile gadgets] that we put in to use for speech can also detect ultrasound waves — so you most likely don’t require special microphones. There are great deals of fascinating means to do it … You simply need a transmitter someplace, ” said Talluri.
Discussing how mobile chipsets are typically going to develop, Talluri said in his view the focus will be, not a lot on on simply adding increasingly more cores, however rather on getting all the numerous chipset aspects to cooperate better.
“ We think the next generation of innovation is going to be more on heterogeneous compute. Right now if you search in the phone we’ve got CPUs, we have actually got GPUs, we’ve got video engines, we’ve got audio engines, we’ve got cameras, we’ve got security blocks however they all do one thing at a time. Preferably you simply wish to say I wish to do this and it must just go map itself to whatever its sensible place is and if that place is busy it should work on something else, maybe not optimally, ” he said.
“ That’s what I mean by heterogeneous compute. Every block needs to have the ability to do various other things so that’s kind of where I think SOC in general will develop to. How can you capitalize on the silicon that you put inside the die to do numerous things, not just something at a time. I think that’s a more intriguing concept than just put even more cores. ”