Thursday, April 17. 2014
Apple has just released the iBeacon specifications for everyone who is a member of the MFi program, Apple’s program for hardware partners (“Made for iPhone program”, etc.). You’ll have to sign an NDA to read the specifications. BEEKn first spotted the news. The company also reiterates that you can’t use the iBeacon brand without prior consent. You have to register to the MFi program, submit a request and get approved by Apple. It’s free for now.
As a reminder, iBeacon is an indoor positioning system based on Bluetooth Low Energy. Many iOS and Android devices now come with Bluetooth Low Energy, so they are all theoretically compatible with iBeacon. iBeacon is particularly interesting for retailers. They can buy a beacon (such as the Estimote pictured above) and use it for proximity interactions.
For instance, merchants can send a push notification to smartphone users when they get close to a particular product. It can also be used for payment systems to detect who is in your store. There are countless of possibilities — it’s just the beginning.
iBeacon is just a particular implementation of Bluetooth Low Energy. Devices broadcast a Bluetooth LE signal, and iPhones download data when they are close to a beacon. It also works with Android phones, and Apple apparently doesn’t want to stop that.
Yet, iBeacon is a registered trademark and Apple can decide what to do. For now, developers who sign up to the MFi program, request to use the iBeacon name, and conform to the Apple standard can use the brand for free. iBeacon devices will mostly be B2B devices for shop owners, trade show staffs and more.
Think of it like the “Made for iPhone” brand. Dock manufacturers can build a speaker that works with Android and iOS phones. They put the little “Made for iPhone” stickers. It means that Apple certifies that it will work well with iPhones. The iBeacon brand works the same way for beacons.
Wednesday, April 16. 2014
Your old phones and tablets don’t have to become e-waste. They can do real work as repurposed sidekicks for your PC. Think of them as bonus touchscreen displays and you’ll begin to see the possibilities. They just need to be plugged in, wiped of unneeded apps and notifications, and they’re ready to serve as desktop companions. Here are some of the best ways to reuse that old tech.
Turn your tablet into a second monitor
One simple way to get some extra mileage out of an old tablet is to turn it into a dedicated PC monitor. Even with just 7-inch tablet, you can use the extra screen to keep an eye on instant messages, email, or social networks. If you’re working with photos, video or music, the second screen could even serve as a dedicated space for toolbars. It’s also an easy second screen to pack up and take with you.
I suggest Air Display, a $10 app for iOS andAndroid that connects to your main computer over Wi-Fi. (A $5 app called iDisplay also supports USB connections on Android devices, but I had trouble getting it to work on a 2012 Nexus 7.) You may also want to pick up a cheap tablet stand, such as this one.
Use your phone as an air mouse or dictation tool
If you need a break from hunching over your desk, a spare smartphone can serve as a touchscreen mouse for your PC. All you need is a remote mouse app that communicates with a companion desktop app over Wi-Fi.
On the iPhone, Mobile Mouse is a fine option that supports gestures such as two-finger scrolling. You can add gyroscopic air mouse controls by upgrading to the $2 Pro version. Mobile Mouse’s Android version isn’t quite as slick, so for that platform I recommend Unified Remote instead.
Here’s a neat trick for either app: With your phone’s on-screen keyboard, use the microphone key for voice dictation on your PC.
Turn your tablet into a full-blown command center
With a little effort and a few bucks, your tablet can be more than just an extra trackpad. The touch screen can also quickly launch applications and execute commands faster than you can point and click with a mouse.
iPad users should check out Actions, a $5 app that lets you create buttons for all the things you do most on your PC. You can quickly launch a new window in Chrome, expose the desktop, open the search bar, or control media playback. Just install the companion server app for Windows or Mac and start shaving the minutes off your work routine.
For Android, the premium version of Unified Remote comes close to what Actions offers, even if it isn’t as snazzy. The $4 upgrade gives access to lots of app-specific control panels, plus a way to create your own panels.
Set up a small file server with battery backup
In terms of raw storage, an old phone or tablet can’t compare to a networked hard drive. But it’s good enough for documents or a small number of media files—especially if you can pop in a microSD card for extra capacity. Plus, mobile devices can hum along for days on battery power, so you can still get to your files even if someone shuts off your computer. Think of it as do-it-yourself cloud storage, without the cloud.
To transfer files onto your phone or tablet, you could just plug it into your PC and drag-and-drop. Or you could go the automated route: Install BitTorrent Sync on your PC and your phone, and use the “sync folders” option to back up whatever folders you want.
The easiest way to access Android files remotely is with AirDroid. Install the app on your phone and create a login (or just sign in with your Google account), then visit web.airdroid.com from any browser. After signing in, you’ll be able to access your phone’s file directory and snag anything you need. (Just make sure to disable “power saving mode” in AirDroid’s settings first.)
Create a desktop calculator or document scanner
Tapping digits on a touch screen is easier than pointing and clicking on your PC’s built-in calculator program. (PCalc for iOS and Real Calc for Android are both free for basic calculations, and you can upgrade to paid versions if you need more features.)
As long as you’re making up for missing peripherals, you can also use your phone as a document scanner. CamScanner, available for both iOS and Android, is loaded with features, and you can try it for free. The paid version costs $5 per month on both platforms.
Dedicate it to calls and video chats
If you’re working on a small laptop or an older PC with limited processing power, you may want to offload Skype calls, Google Hangouts, or other video chat applications to a separate phone or tablet. That way, you can free up your PC’s resources—and its screen—for taking notes or pulling up reference files. This one’s easy: All you need is a phone or tablet with a front-facing camera and a cheap stand or monitor mount. (You could also MacGyver your own phone stand or monitor mount for practically nothing.)
Create minimalist writing/sketching station
The lack of a windowing system on iOS and Android can be a burden for serious work, but sometimes a break from multitasking can help you focus. Grab a cheap Bluetooth keyboard if you want, and dedicate a spot in your office for writing without distractions. A good note-taking app that syncs online, such as Evernote or the Android-only Google Keep, is especially useful, since whatever you write will be waiting for you when you get back to your computer.
Of course, a text editor isn’t the only tool you could have at your disposal. You could also install a diagram app, such as Lucidchart or Idea Sketch, or grab a pressure-sensitive stylus for free-form sketching.
The advantage of repurposing an older device is that you can completely dedicate it to the task. There’s nothing stopping you from using a brand-new phone or tablet for any of these purposes, however. Check out PCWorld’s guide to 13 highly productive Android apps that play nice with your PC.
Qualcomm is getting high on 64-bit chips with its fastest ever Snapdragon processor, which will render 4K video, support LTE Advanced and could run the 64-bit Android OS.
The new Snapdragon 810 is the company’s “highest performing” mobile chip for smartphones and tablets, Qualcomm said in a statement. Mobile devices with the 64-bit chip will ship in the first half of next year, and be faster and more power-efficient. Snapdragon chips are used in handsets with Android and Windows Phone operating systems, which are not available in 64-bit form yet.
The Snapdragon 810 is loaded with the latest communication and graphics technologies from Qualcomm. The graphics processor can render 4K (3840 x 2160 pixel) video at 30 frames per second, and 1080p video at 120 frames per second. The chip also has an integrated modem that supports LTE and its successor, LTE-Advanced, which is emerging.
The 810 also is among the first mobile chips to support the latest low-power LPDDR4 memory, which will allow programs to run faster while consuming less power. This will be beneficial, especially for tablets, as 64-bit chips allow mobile devices to have more than 4GB of memory, which is the limit on current 32-bit chips.
The quad-core chip has a mix of high-power ARM Cortex-A57 CPU cores for demanding tasks and low-power A53 CPU cores for mundane tasks like taking calls, messaging and MP3 playback. The multiple cores ensure more power-efficient use of the chip, which helps extend battery life of mobile devices.
The company also introduced a Snapdragon 808 six-core 64-bit chip. The chips will be among the first made using the latest 20-nanometer manufacturing process, which is an advance from the 28-nm process used to make Snapdragon chips today.
Qualcomm now has to wait for Google to release a 64-bit version of Android for ARM-based mobile devices. Intel has already shown mobile devices running 64-bit Android with its Merrifield chip, but most mobile products today run on ARM processors. Qualcomm licenses Snapdragon processor architecture and designs from ARM.
Work for 64-bit Android is already underway, and applications like the Chrome browser are already being developed for the OS. Google has not officially commented on when 64-bit Android would be released, but industry observers believe it could be announced at the Google I/O conference in late June.
Qualcomm spokesman Jon Carvill declined to comment on support for 64-bit Android. But the chips are “further evidence of our commitment to deliver top-to-bottom mobile 64-bit leadership across product tiers for our customers,” Carvill said in an email.
Qualcomm’s chips are used in some of the world’s top smartphones, and will appear in Samsung’s Galaxy S5. A Qualcomm executive in October last year called Apple’s A7, the world’s first 64-bit mobile chip, a “marketing gimmick,” but the company has moved on and now has five 64-bit chips coming to medium-priced and premium smartphones and tablets. But no 64-bit Android smartphones are available yet, and Apple has a headstart and remains the only company selling a 64-bit smartphone with its iPhone 5S.
The 810 supports HDMI 1.4 for 4K video output, and the Adreno 430 graphics processor is 30 percent faster on graphics performance and 20 percent more power efficient than the older Adreno 420 GPU. The graphics processor will support 55-megapixel sensors, Qualcomm said. Other chip features include 802.11ac Wi-Fi with built-in technology for faster wireless data transfers, Bluetooth 4.1 and a processing core for location services.
The six-core Snapdragon 808 is a notch down on performance compared to the 810, and also has fewer features. The 808 supports LTE-Advanced, but can support displays with up to 2560 x 1600 pixels. It will support LPDDR3 memory. The chip has two Cortex-A57 CPUs and four Cortex-A53 cores.
The chips will ship out to device makers for testing in the second half of this year.
Wednesday, March 26. 2014
Google is not abandoning Project Ara, after taking over the ambitious experimental smartphone design concept along with the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group from Motorola. ATAP only just announced Tango, its 3D-environment sensor for mobile devices, and now it’s revealing a two-day developer conference April 15 and 16 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.
Ara, for those who aren’t familiar, is a modular smartphone project that would allow users to swap out interchangeable parts to give their device a different sensor load out, a better camera, more battery power or anything else your heart might desire. You source new sensors from a store that would operate similarly to a hardware version of the Play mobile software marketplace, and theoretically upgrade your phone piecemeal instead of having to buy a brand new one every few years just for a few new highlight features.
This is the first in a planned series of Ara dev conferences for 2014, Google says, and this event will focus specifically on the alpha release of the Ara Module Developers’ Kit (MDK) which will hit the web in early April. The free platform will offer developers “everything [they] need” to get up and running building Ara hardware modules, ATAP promises. Limited in-person attendance is available, with a $100 fee ($25 for students) covering food and a special social session. Google is approving these based on the strength of your application, so make it a good one.
Ara is meant to be a one-size fits all solution for smartphones, offering anything to any potential user in the world with its range of modules. That’s a hugely ambitious goal, of course, but in ATAP’s own words, they “like epic shit,” so that aim seems within its scope.
Monday, March 24. 2014
Ericsson and Philips unite to brighten cities and provide mobile broadband connectivity through smart street lighting
Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), the global leader in lighting, have jointly launched an innovative new connected LED street lighting model. The partnership solves two major issues that cities are facing today: providing citizens with improved network performance in dense urban areas as well as high quality, public lighting that is energy efficient.
Philips and Ericsson combine the benefits of mobile connectivity and LED lighting in a ''lighting-as-a-service'' model for cities. It allows city authorities to offer space within their connected lighting poles to network service providers for mobile broadband infrastructure.
Philips will now offer cities LED street lighting that can include mobile telecoms equipment from Ericsson. Mobile operators working with Ericsson for mobile broadband infrastructure will be able to rent space in the poles. In this way, mobile network operators will be able to improve data coverage and capacity for citizens, resulting in enhanced mobile broadband services. The model also accelerates the payback time for city infrastructure, by making the up-front costs of installing and managing these systems more affordable, so reducing the strain on city budgets.
Philips LED street lighting can generate energy savings of 50 to 70 percent, with savings reaching 80 percent when coupled with smart controls - as validated by a study conducted by The Climate Group in 12 of the world's largest cities. The study also showed that citizens prefer the white light of LED lighting, citing a greater sense of safety and improved visibility compared to the orange glow of traditional high pressure sodium systems.
Ericsson President and CEO Hans Vestberg says: "This is a tremendous solution using ICT and partnerships to address the megatrend of urbanization. City populations are increasing at the rate of 7,500 people per hour, but our world is not geographically expanding. Meanwhile, our ConsumerLab research shows that internet connectivity is one of the top five factors for satisfaction in city life. This Zero Site solution is the kind of innovation that offers a way for people to succeed in the Networked Society."
Frans van Houten, President and CEO of Philips, says: "This new connected LED street lighting model is another example of us bringing the Internet of Things to life and demonstrates the capabilities of light beyond illumination. We are offering lighting as a service that scales with a city's needs and enables city officials to offer their citizens a more connected, energy efficient and safer urban environment, while preserving existing budgets and resources to improve the livability of their city."
To meet the demand for coverage and capacity, mobile operators need to improve, densify and add many more radio cell sites in dense areas. The new connected street light pole, designed to house Ericsson's cutting edge suite of small cell products, offers network operators new possibilities to find the right site location. It will also help to scale the deployment of mobile broadband technology beyond traditional sites - a key enabler for evolving heterogeneous networks.
Monday, March 17. 2014
Via Slash Gear
This week the experimental developer-aimed group known as Google ATAP - aka Advanced Technology and Projects (skunkworks) have announced Project Tango. They’ve suggested Project Tango will appear first as a phone with 3D sensors. These 3D sensors will be able to scan and build a map of the room they’re in, opening up a whole world of possibilities.
The device that Project Tango will release first will be just about as limited-edition as they come. Issued in an edition of 200, this device will be sent to developers only. This developer group will be hand-picked by Google’s ATAP - and sign-ups start today. (We’ll be publishing the sign-up link once active.)
Speaking on this skunkworks project this morning was Google user Johnny Lee. Mister Johnny Lee is ATAP’s technical program lead, and he’ll be heading this project for the public, as you’ll see it. This is the same group that brought you Motorola’s digital tattoos, if you’ll remember.
Wednesday, February 12. 2014
Via tom's HARDWARE
Taiwanese firm Polytron Technologies has revealed the world's first
fully transparent smartphone prototype. As you can see in the pictures
above and below, the prototype device is almost fully transparent. The
only components visible on the device are the board, chips memory card
Monday, January 27. 2014
Gaming accessory maker SteelSeries has partnered with Tobii Technology to develop a device that will let gamers use their eyes to control game play.
SteelSeries expects to announce further details about the partnership and products over the next several months. But the Tobii EyeX Controller, which will be demonstrated at International CES, will show how eye-tracking peripherals can look and function.
SteelSeries is sure eye tracking will play a big part in the future of gaming, because it expands the number of ways players can interact with games, company CTO Tino Soelberg said in a video announcing the partnership.
Danish SteelSeries and Swedish Tobii have several ideas about how players will be able to use their eyes to control games. It makes accessing menus easier, and makes games with complex controls easier to learn, they said. Developers can also let gamers aim a flashlight or a weapon by looking at a target, and then use regular controls to shoot. Another idea is to let gamers select the player they want to pass the ball to by looking at them.
Developers who want to be part of the first wave of games with eye tracking can preorder the Tobii EyeX Developer Kit for $95 during the show, according to Tobii.
The kit includes hardware, middleware and a development framework, and will start shipping in March.
Sunday, January 26. 2014
MarkerBot opened this store in Boston on November, 22 2013. There is now 3 such stores in USA (New York, Greenwich and Boston). You can of course buy MakerBot 3D printers, filaments, but there also some 3D printed gifts and some workshops seem to be regularly organized as well.
The shop is located in one of the most famous street for shopping in Boston (144 Newbury Street). Beyond the fact that the MakerBot outlet is contiguous to fashion boutiques (being the only computer hardware shop for miles around), the idea is mainly to democratize the ownership of a 3D printer, trying to morph 3D printer into the fridge of the 21st century.
Monday, November 25. 2013
On Friday, Microsoft released its 3D Builder app, which allows Windows 8.1 users to print 3D objects, but not much else.
The simple, simplistic, free app from Microsoft provides a basic way to print common 3D objects, as well as to import other files from SkyDrive or elsewhere. But the degree of customization that the app allows is small, so 3D Builder basically serves as an introduction to the world of 3D printing.
In fact, that’s Microsoft’s intention, with demonstrations of the MakerBot Replicator 2 slated for Microsoft’s retails stores this weekend. Microsoft customers can buy a new Windows 8.1 PC, as well as the $2199 MakerBot Replicator 2, both online as well as in the brick-and-mortar stores themselves.
One of the selling points of Windows 8.1 was its ability to print 3D objects, a complement to traditional paper printing. Although Microsoft is pitching 3D Builder as a consumer app, the bulk of spending on 3D printing will come from businesses, which will account for $325 million out of the $415 million that will be spent this year on 3D printing, according to an October report from Gartner. However, 3D printers have made their way into Staples, and MakerBot latched onto an endorsement of the technology from President Obama during his State of the Union address, recently encouraging U.S. citizens to crowd-fund an effort to 3D printers in every high school in America. (MakerBot also announced a Windows 8.1 software driver on Thursday.)
Microsoft’s 3D Builder app could certainly be a part of that effort. Frankly, there’s little to the app itself besides a library of pre-selected objects, most of which seem to be built around small, unpowered model trains of the “Thomas the Tank Engine” variety. After selecting one, the user has the option of moving it around a 3D space, increasing or decreasing the size to a particular width or height—and not much else.
Users can also import models made elsewhere. Again, however, 3D Builder isn’t really designed to modify the designs. It’s also not clear which 3D formats are supported.
On the other hand, some might be turned off by the perceived complexity of 3D printing. If you have two grand to spend on a 3D printer but aren’t really sure how to use it, 3D Builder might be a good place to start.
(Page 1 of 16, totaling 152 entries) » next page
Show tagged entries