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Microsoft Unveils Hologram Visor

January 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Microsoft Corp surprised the tech world with the unveiling of a prototype hologram visor that can bring the Minecraft video game, Skype calls and even the landscape of Mars to three-dimensional life.

The veteran tech pioneer, which long ago lost the mantle of the world’s most inventive company, is making a bold play to regain that title in the face of stiff competition from Google Inc and Apple Inc.

Virtual or enhanced reality is the next frontier in computing interaction, with Facebook Inc focusing on its Oculus virtual reality headset and Google working on its Glass project.

Microsoft said its wire-free Microsoft HoloLens device will be available around the same time as Windows 10 this autumn. Industry analysts were broadly excited at the prospect, but skeptical that it could produce a working model at a mass-market price that soon.

“That was kind of a ‘Oh wow!’ moment,” said Mike Silver, an analyst at Gartner who tried out the prototype on Wednesday. “You would expect to see a relatively high-priced model this year or next year, then maybe it’ll take another couple of years to bring it down to a more affordable level.”

Microsoft does not have a stellar record of bringing ground-breaking technology to life. Its Kinect motion-sensing game device caused an initial stir but never gripped the popular imagination.

The company showed off a crude test version of the visor – essentially jerry-rigged wires and cameras pulled over the head – to reporters and industry analysts at a gathering at its headquarters near Seattle.

It did not allow any photographs or video of the experience, but put some images on its website.

 

 

Is Dailymotion Going After Twitch?

January 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Dailymotion has hopped onto the game streaming juggernaut and launched a game streaming service.

Dailymotion Games will put the firm into a market that so far includes Twitch, a streamer that has cemented its place as a gaming add-on and a coveted option on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles.

The Dailymotion information does not dwell on Twitch, which has been a feature of many a gushing press release from console makers such as Sony, but it does say that the live streaming gaming platform has some decent credentials.

For example, the promotional information says that the platform is backed with “industry leading video and live streaming technology”.

The firm also reminds us that it has some history here, and has been e-gaming for some time.

“Since 2011, with the first Dailymotion Cup on Starcraft, Dailymotion has accompanied e-sport growth on the internet,” said Martin Rogard, Dailymotion’s chief operating officer.

“Dailymotion Games is entirely dedicated to e-sports fans and streamers who come together every evening to form an amazingly talented and gregarious community.

“Over the coming months, we will significantly increase our investment in the e-sports domain to ensure worldwide recognition of all our talented content producers.”

Dailymotion said that live streamers will be able to monetise their content, which Microsoft recently confirmed is fine for its users, and that streamers could run their own “controlled video advertisement” and any number of social tools including search and real-time communications. Android and iOS apps are available.

The service is currently in beta. Dailymotion said that it serves some 180 million game videos a month.

 
Courtesy-TheInq

Apple Granted Patent For Wearable Cameras

January 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc has been issued a patent for a wearable camera that could possibly challenge action cameras made by GoPro Inc.

The patent, which cites specific weaknesses in GoPro’s cameras, includes details about a camera system that can be mounted on bike helmets or scuba masks, Apple said in an application filed with the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office.

Shares of GoPro, whose cameras can be mounted on helmets, surf boards, bikes and dog harnesses, fell as much as 15 percent.

Apple’s newly patented camera system can also be used under water to take pictures and record sounds, according to the application.

A potential entry by the iPhone maker into the action camera market could also put pressure on privately held Polaroid Corp, which makes the small and colorful Cube cameras.

JMP Securities analyst Alex Gauna, however, said it was premature to assume that Apple would soon launch a wearable camera.

“It does not seem to me that launching an action camera accessory is the most logical product extension for Apple to pursue right now,” Gauna said.

Apple declined to comment, while GoPro was not immediately available for comment.

“I think that it will have about the same impact on GoPro as the iPhone has had on camera makers and that impact is that there are fewer cameras sold but the number isn’t zero,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

Videos shot with GoPro’s cameras have created a buzz on the Internet, attracting millions of views on YouTube.

Olympic gold medal winning snow boarder Shaun White and 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater are among well-known athletes who have endorsed the cameras.

Intellectual property blog Patently Apple reported earlier in the day that Apple’s patent, which was filed by the company in 2012, incorporates some intellectual property from Eastman Kodak Co that the company acquired in November 2013.

 

 

LTE-Advanced Leading To Faster 4G Speeds

January 12, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Mobile device owners around the world are getting faster wireless broadband as LTE-Advanced and smartphones that can take advantage of the technology finally start to take off.

A year ago, LTE-Advanced was only available in South Korea, but it’s now available in 31 countries (including Australia, France, Germany, U.K. and the U.S.) and more are on the way, according to industry organization GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association).

“There is a lot of activity at the moment,” said Alan Hadden, president at GSA.

LTE-Advanced is a collection of different technologies, but the one mobile operators are implementing first is called carrier aggregation. It lets operators treat up to three radio channels in different frequency bands as if they were one and send data to users at higher speeds.

Bandwidths at up to 300Mbps are possible, though not all LTE-Advanced networks and devices can muster that. For example, Apple’s new iPhones use a version of carrier aggregation that tops out at 150Mbps, and not all operators have the spectrum to offer that.

However, regardless of which version of LTE-Advanced a network or device supports, the technology offers users higher speeds than ever before.

Chances are greater that you’ll get access to LTE-Advanced if you live in a big city. For example, U.S. operator AT&T has so far upgraded its network in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, Honolulu, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Dallas and Houston.

The technology has been held back due to a lack of supporting devices, but that will change this year thanks to a greater variety of modems from Qualcomm and Intel.

 

 

Intel Finally Starts Shipping Cherry Trail

January 9, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

In addition to the 14nm Broadwell-U notebook chips announced earlier, Intel has also announced that it has started shipping 14nm Cherry Trail Atom architecture tablet chips to customers.

While it is good to hear that Intel has finally started to ship the successor to the Bay Trail SoC, these chips will most likely be available in actual products sometime in Q2 2015, or according to Intel, in the first half of the year. While Intel did not shed any light on the actual specifications of Cherry Trail SoCs, or the price, it did promise that all details will be unveiled once first Cherry Trail-based devices are announced, so we will keep our fingers crossed to see some first tablets at CES 2015.

For now, Intel only noted that the new architecture will bring improved graphics, improved performance as well as better battery life in both Android and Windows tablets. From earlier information we know that, beside being based on smaller 14nm node, Cherry Trail SoC will use the Airmont CPU architecture paired up with a cut-down Broadwell GPU and might even end up with 16 EUs, which should give it some impressive graphics performance.

Intel also noted that Cherry Trail can be paired with Intel XMM726x modem with Cat 6 LTE for cellular connectivity, which means that we might even see some smartphones based on these SoCs. It will also support Intel’s RealSense technology as well as Wireless Display.

Courtesy-Fud

Micron Debuts Consumer Oriented SSDs

January 8, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Micron’s consumer subsidiary brands Crucial and Lexar have been pitching their stalls for 2015 with a number of CES 2015 announcements.

Two consumer solid state drives (SSD) top the bill. The Crucial MX200 has read/write speeds of 555MB/s and 500MB/s, and 100k/87k individual operations per second.

It features the company’s new Dynamic Write Acceleration to further speed up write and transfer, and has endurance of five times the average SSD.

Accompanying it, the Crucial BX100 is, relatively speaking, a budget model but still boasts an impressive 535/450MB/s read/write. It is the first drive from the Micron stable to feature the Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller.

Two new DDR4 memory module types arrive under the Ballistix sub-brand. The Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 and Ballistix Tactical DDR4 offer speeds of 2400MT/s and 2666MT/s, the latter aimed at the gamer wanting to squeeze every last drop out of their machine.

Crucial will also be bringing a standard range of 2133MT/s DDR4 SODIMM to market for the more casual user.

Finally, Lexar is bringing a range of microSDHC and microSDHC UHS-UII cards under the Lexar Professional 1000x moniker.

The cards come in capacities between 32GB and 128GB and, with transfer speeds of 150MB/s, are almost twice the speed of their predecessor and are aimed at full HD, 3D and 4K video.

Like many brands this year, Crucial/Lexar has elected to push increased speed and performance over capacity to cope with the demands of ultra-high definition pictures.

That said, it remains the only consumer-facing company to offer a 256GB USB stick, the S73, launched at CES 2014.

In September, the company also released a full size Professional Micro SDXC 2000 with transfer speeds of 300MB/s.

In addition to the announcements of new hardware, Crucial has unveiled a new hardware tool known as Crucial Storage Executive designed to allow users to maintain and manage SSDs, including firmware upgrades and efficiency management, in one place.

 

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Samsung Finally Enters Solid-state External Drive Business

January 7, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung is finally expanding its product line to include external solid-state drives with a new line of Portable SSD T1 products.

The lightweight drives have capacities of up to 1TB and are small enough to fit in your pocket. They’re significantly more expensive than magnetic hard drives, though, which come in capacities of up to 6TB.

Samsung’s 250GB external SSD is priced at $179.99, a 500GB drive is $299.99, and a 1TB drive is $599.99. By comparison, a 1TB magnetic drive can be acquired for under $100.

External storage is mostly used for data backup. But demand for external drives is growing as users download and store more multimedia and programs. Storage is also limited in Chromebooks and lightweight Windows laptops and hybrids, so users have to revert to external storage to preserve files.

But Samsung’s portable SSDs will be faster and more power-efficient than external hard drives, said Richard Leonarz, senior marketing manager.

SSDs are faster at reading and writing data than hard drives. SSDs also don’t have spinning disks, which are prevalent in hard drives and can draw a lot of power when reading and writing data.

The Portable SSD T1 drives will connect to a PC’s USB 3.0 port. The SSDs have sequential read and write speeds of 450MBps, random read speeds of 8,000 IOPS (input/output per second) and random write speeds of 21,000 IOPS.

Samsung already makes internal SSDs, which are widely used in laptops and have up to 3.2GB in storage capacity. The external SSDs are based on the same advanced 3D V-NAND technology that gives its internal SSDs speed and durability. The 3D V-NAND SSDs have storage units stacked on top of each other, much like a skyscraper, which is a more power-efficient and speedy structure compared to the planar structure used in most SSDs today.

Samsung is now taking on the likes of Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba, which largely sell external hard drives and hybrid SSD-hard drive products.

 

 

Customers Suing Apple Over Device Storage Space

January 6, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Two Florida men have filed a lawsuit against Apple for allegedly misrepresenting the amount of storage room available to owners of 16GB iPhones and iPads.

The two, Paul Orshan and Christopher Endara, accused Apple of “unfair, unlawful, and fraudulent business acts or practices,” including false advertising, and asked a California federal judge to designate the lawsuit as a class action so that others can participate.

n the complaint filed Dec. 29, Orshan’s and Endara’s lawyers claimed Apple failed to tell buyers that a fifth of the 16GB in low-end iPhones and iPads is occupied by the operating system and pre-installed apps, leaving consumers less than the full amount for their own content, such as apps, photos and other files.

“Reasonable consumers do not expect this marked discrepancy between the advertised level of capacity and the available capacity of the devices, as the operating system and other storage space unavailable to consumers occupies an extraordinary percentage of their devices’ limited storage capacity,” the complaint stated.

By the plaintiffs’ calculations, a 16GB iPhone 6 had 13GB of space available to the user, while the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus and 16GB iPad Air had 12.7GB and 12.6GB, respectively. The portions of the 16GB inaccessible to users ranged from 19% to 21%.

The lawsuit also charged Apple with a Machiavellian strategy that used the disparity between the advertised and actual user-available storage space to push customers into paying for iCloud premium plans. “Using these sharp business tactics, defendant gives less storage capacity than advertised, only to offer to sell that capacity in a desperate moment, e.g., when a consumer is trying to record or take photos at a child or grandchild’s recital, basketball game or wedding,” the lawyers wrote.

Apple charges $0.99 per month for an additional 20GB — above the free allotment of 5GB — with other plans ranging from $3.99 monthly (for 200GB) to $19.99 per month (for 1TB).

 

 

 

Samsung Says New Smart TVs Will Run On Tizen OS

January 2, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has announced that all its new smart television products launched in 2015 will be powered by the Tizen operating system, marking a fresh effort by the company to increase the usage of the software platform.

Smart TVs offer additional software and connectivity functions, such as video streaming and web browsing capabilities. Samsung demonstrated TV sets powered by Tizen at developer conferences last year.

“We are focusing our efforts on Tizen right now,” Kim Hyun-suk, Samsung’s president of visual display business, told Reuters in an interview. “We hope that other TV makers will also use it and help build an ecosystem that will help the platform grow.”

Televisions would be an addition to the modest stable of Tizen products, which consists of a few smartwatches and cameras despite years of development and support by the world’s top maker of smartphones and TVs.

The platform represents the most visible effort on the software front by Samsung, which has sought to free itself from Google Inc’s Android platform.

But Tizen has so far failed to take off, due in part to Samsung’s failure to launch a smartphone powered by the system. Some analysts are skeptical about the platform’s viability despite Samsung’s standing as top smartphone maker, especially as Android and Apple Inc’s iOS tighten their grip in the smartphone sector.

Developers say that until there is a meaningful user base for Tizen they will have little incentive to make innovative software applications for the system, deemed crucial if Samsung is to convince wary consumers to try it out.

While the launch of Tizen-based TVs will increase the platform’s user base, it is unclear if that alone will be enough to pique developers’ interest. Users of smart TVs tend to use fewer apps than they would on smartphones.

Still, the operating system is expected to play a key role in Samsung’s smart-home business. Tizen can also run on devices with low computing power such as refrigerators and washing machines, offering a way for users to monitor and control such devices remotely.

 

 

Intel Investing Big In Isreal

December 30, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel is investing a further $550 million in Israel, more specifically in the upgrade of its Fab 28 in Kiryat Gat.

According to Israel21c, this will bring the total scope of Intel investments in Israel to over $6 billion since 2006. The Kiryat Gat facility is likely to be one of the first Intel 10nm fabs.

Israeli Ministry of Economy official Ziva Eger said the investment will help create thousands of jobs and reinforce the country’s standing as a world leader in technology.

“The agreement signed today between the Industrial Cooperation Authority and Intel is another expression of Intel’s contribution by way of its purchase of equipment, new technologies and Israeli products developed together with Intel,” said CEO of Intel Israel Maxine Fassberg.

Fab 28 currently churns out 22nm silicon for Intel. The fab was passed over for the 14nm upgrade. A source familiar with the matter told us that Israel competes with Ireland for every node upgrade.

“We lost 14nm to Ireland and won 10nm,” the source said.

Israel is currently in a better position to offer incentives and subsidies for such investments, as Ireland’s ‘business-friendly’ tax policies are being scrutinized by the European Union.

Intel is expected to launch the first 10nm CPU in 2016, followed by 7nm parts a couple of years later.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel To Add Broadwell To Its Next Unit Computing Series

December 16, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Intel is planning to update its rather successful NUC (Next Unit of Computing) series and as you can expect, they will come with Broadwell CPUs inside.

Intel isn’t hiding the external design of the new cases and there is a dominant yellow connector at the front of the new NUC, and this one should be providing charging power even when the device is turned off.

The board comes with either M2 storage or single SATA and there will be two different designs one exclusively for M2 drive and the second taller that will be able to take 2.5 inch SSD or HDD as well.

We will probably learn more details at CES 2015 that is about to start in less than three weeks from now, but the Broadwell in this small form factor will get a speed boost and some future prove technologies such as M2 SSD support.

We are running Core i5 4200 powered NUC with Windows 10 and it really works great powered by 240GB Kingston mS200 mSata SSD and Impact SO DIMM memory. These machines takes less than half an hour to assemble and boot into windows, including Windows 10 and make a perfect choice for the lovers of quiet computing.

The new version will obviously run at least slightly faster than the one we are testing and the marketing is excluding about “the one with the yellow USB connector”.

Courtesy-Fud

Ford Selects BlackBerry’s QNX For In-Vehicle Infotainment

December 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Ford has announced that it has moved from Microsoft for Blackberry’s QNX OS for its in-vehicle infotainment system known as Sync.

Like other infotainment systems, Sync allows users to make hands-free telephone calls, control music choices and perform other functions with the use of voice commands. Ford’s Sync head unit also upgraded to the latest Texas Instruments OMAP 5 processor.

As with Ford’s announcement about the new Sync rollout,Ford spokesperson Alan Hall declined to say why the automaker chose QNX over Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Automotive OS for its third-generation product.

Negative press and feedback and criticism from Consumer Reports likely spurred Ford rethink its choices, said Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski.

“Having that automotive expertise and understanding the programs they have in place, how they work from an engineering perspective, the UI and getting applications into the head unit makes QNX very strong,” Koslowski said in an earlier interview with Computerworld.

Ford’s Sync IVI system has never been recommended by Consumer Reports magazine.

By turning to the open-source QNX platform, Ford gets a full community of developers to support and update the software. QNX also supports the ubiquitous HTML5 markup language and other native user interface toolsets.

Before being purchased by Blackberry in 2010, QNX Software Systems was owned by audio and infotainment equipment company Harman International. It’s been used in more than 200 different car models, so it has been well vetted.

Ford’s third generation, QNX-supported Sync uses a more natural language speech-recognition technology from Nuance, according to Hall.

“What we did with the data set was allow it to use a more conversational way that you’d refer to something. So P.F. Chang’s is how you’d refer to the restaurant, but the official name of the restaurant is P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro. In the past, you had to know the official name for the system to be able to find it,” Hall said. “That wasn’t very helpful because no one calls it P.F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro.”

 

 

 

Can Imagination Push IoT With The Raspberry Pi?

December 5, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Imagination Technologies will take on the Raspberry Pi with the release of a single-board minicomputer for both Android and Linux developers.

In a bid to power a range of devices in the ever-growing world of the Internet of Things (IoT) space, the MIPS-based Creator CI20 can run both Linux and Android operating systems (OS) and is said to deliver both high performance and low energy consumption.

When it hits the market in January, the development board will target the likes of open source developers, the maker community and system integrators to provide them with tools and encourage them to create a wide range of applications and projects.

The Creator CI20 is based around a system on a chip (SoC) combining CPU, graphics and I/O circuitry, featuring an I/O connector block compatible with that of the Raspberry Pi, meaning it could be plugged into many of the same projects.

The board comes with a 1.2GHz MIPS32-based dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM with PowerVR SGX540 graphics for OpenGL 2.1 and ES 2.0 compatibility, meaning its capable of 1080p gaming at 30fps. It also features Ethernet connectivity alongside 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 plus 4GB storage onboard.

While it’s easy to compare the Creator CI20 to the Raspberry Pi, Imagination’s executive vice president of marketing, Tony King-Smith, told V3.co.uk that the develop board is not intended as a direct rival.

“We’re not trying to compete with devices like Raspberry Pi and Arduino, which many developers will already have, we’re giving them more options, and we believe this is a pretty rich offering,” he said.

King-Smith said that the Creator CI20 is ideal for the IoT revolution because of its embedded wireless capabilities, but also because it is capable of running mature OS such as Linux and Android that support graphical user interfaces.

“This will make IoT interesting, whether you’re looking at a thermostat or a sensor or whatever, it’s a compelling user interface that gets people excited,” he added.

Imagination has also launched a Creator Programme alongside the developer board to stimulate an IoT ecosystem around the device.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Luxottica, Intel Pair Up On Hi-tech Glasses

December 5, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Italy’s Luxottica teaming up with U.S. chipmaker Intel Corp to develop glasses that combine its top fashion brands with technology that could allow wearers to access information about their health or location.

The world’s biggest eyewear maker said on Wednesday the frames developed with Intel would serve very specific purposes, and would not compete with its existing deal to manufacture and distribute Google Inc’s Internet-connected glasses.

Intel is also involved in the Google Glass project as its chips will replace components from Texas Instruments in the new version of the “smart” spectacles, according to a Wall Street Journal report this week.

“We’ve started to work on sensors which can detect, say, temperature or location,” Luxottica Chief Executive Massimo Vian told Reuters, declining to give further details about the deal with Intel.

“They provide their chips, we our brands,” he added.

Luxottica’s brands include Ray Ban, Oakley and Persol, while it has licenses to use brands including Chanel and Tiffany.

Intel, which was late to the smartphone and tablet industries, is striving to be at the forefront of future trends in mobile computing and expand into new markets, including smart watches and other Internet-connected “wearables”.

Earlier this year, it teamed up with watch retailer Fossil Group and fashion brand Opening Ceremony to develop wearable devices such as fashion bracelets with communications features and wireless charging.

Intel and Luxottica gave no financial details about their agreement, which will involve people from both companies working together in joint research and development teams. The first glasses are expected to be launched in 2015.

Morgan Stanley analysts estimated last month that shipments of wearable devices would grow to 248 million units in 2017 from 6 million in 2013, more than double industry estimates.

 

 

 

Americans Will Have To Wait For Fastest LTE Speeds

December 2, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

LTE’s theoretical maximum download speed will increase to 450 Mbps next year — but most users won’t be able to take advantage of it, as many mobile operators simply don’t have enough radio spectrum.

The broadband speed users get depends on a myriad of different factors, but in the network it all starts with the amount of spectrum their operator uses. Future increases will be fueled by a technology called carrier aggregation, which lets operators treat up to three radio channels in different frequency bands as if they were one.

This month, chip maker Qualcomm and network equipment manufacturer Ericsson have been doing their best to let the world know speeds at up to 450Mbps will be possible next year, with product launches, interoperability tests and a demo with Australian network operator Telstra.

The demonstration used 60MHz of spectrum made up of three separate 20 MHz LTE channels in the 2600MHz, 1800MHz and 700MHz bands. That the mobile operators need 20MHz in each of threebands to get to 450Mbps makes the technology an option for only a select few.

For example, because spectrum in the U.S. is often licensed in 10 MHz chunks, North American subscribers are unlikely to see 450Mbps anytime soon, according to Malik Saadi, practice director at ABI Research. In Europe, LTE penetration is still low, so mobile operators are more focused on migrating subscribers to regular LTE. The first to get 450Mbps will instead be users in Asia, Saadi said.

Ericsson and Qualcomm are more upbeat, and think there is potential in North America and Europe as well. But the bulk of the deployments will use carrier aggregation at slower speeds, according to Peter Carson, senior director of marketing at Qualcomm. Speeds of 300Mbps or even 375Mbps are within reach of many more mobile operators, and that’s still a big step for users.