Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for March 15th, 2017

This iPhone case is basically an Android phone

Posted by kenmay on March - 15 - 2017

iPhones have a reputation for being user friendly, but ultimately, Android can do a lot of things iOS can’t. Aspects of Android could be useful to all phone users, but straying from the Apple ecosystem can be intimidating. Now, there’s a new way for iPhone users to easily access Android features like expandable storage and multiple SIM cards. Entrepreneur Joseph Savion and his company ESTI Inc. decided to (almost literally) strap an Android phone to the back of an iPhone. That sounds like a strange idea, but that’s basically what ESTI’s Eye phone case does. The case, which is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter , adds a 5-inch AMOLED display, a 2.3GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU, a 2800mAh battery, up to 256GB of microSD storage, dual SIM slots, a headphone jack and wireless charging, among other features. There are two versions of the case: one with cellular connectivity and one without. A comment from Savion on the Kickstarter page says that the Android device can make use of the iPhone’s internet connection. While there is some other integration between the devices — they share the iPhone’s speaker, microphone and cameras — they pretty much function as their own machines. The case runs Android 7.1 Nougat , and if Eye is starting to sound more like a standalone phone than an iPhone case, well, it’s priced like one too. It’s expected to retail for $189 (or $229 for the 4G version), although early Kickstarter backers can get theirs for $95 ($129 for 4G). That said, $95 for a phone is pretty cheap. The main question is, who this product is even for? Most iPhone users seem happy with their devices , and probably don’t need a product like this to “improve” it. Even for users wanting to test the Android waters, there are plenty of non-Apple devices available for under $100 that could satisfy their curiosity without adding bulk to their current phone. Ultimately, Eye seems a lot more interesting than it does practical. As of this writing, the case has raised over $84, 000 of its $95, 000 goal with 32 days to go. So, it might not be necessary, but it will probably come to market anyway. Via: The Verge , 9to5Google Source: Kickstarter

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According to an exclusive report from Windows Central, Microsoft’s upcoming “Project Scorpio” gaming console will feature an internal power supply unit (PSU), similar to the Xbox One S, and 4K game DVR and streaming at 60 frames-per-second (FPS). From the report: In Microsoft’s efforts to make Project Scorpio a true 4K system, it will also feature HEVC and VP9 codecs for decoding 4K streams for things such Netflix, just like the Xbox One S. It will also leverage HEVC for encoding 2160p, 60 frame-per-second (FPS) video for Game DVR and streaming. Microsoft’s Beam streaming service has been running public 4K stream tests for some time, and it’s now fair to assume it will not only be PC streamers who will benefit. Project Scorpio’s Game DVR will allow you to stream and record clips in 4K resolution with 60FPS, according to our sources, which is a massive, massive step up from the 720p, 30FPS you get on the current Xbox One. With every bit of information we receive about Project Scorpio, the theme of native 4K keeps appearing — not only for games, but also console features. We now believe Scorpio will sport 4K Game DVR, 4K Blu-ray playback, and 4K streaming apps, but the real showstopper will be the 4K games Microsoft will likely flaunt at E3 2017. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Laser pulse study could lead to ultrafast computers

Posted by kenmay on March - 15 - 2017

Computers that run 100, 000 times faster than current ones can change life as we know it. They could help discover distant planets more quickly or diagnose illnesses much, much earlier than usual, among other things. A team of researchers, including engineers from the University of Michigan, believe they’ve found a way to achieve that goal using extremely short laser pulses. The researchers have demoed a method to control “femtosecond” (one quadrillionth of a second) pulses of light that can move electrons quickly and efficiently. U of Michigan says it’s a step toward “lightwave electronics, ” and eventually, quantum computing . In current computers, some of the electrons moving through semiconductors bump into each other and release energy in the form of heat. That’s not very efficient computing. The researchers used crystals called gallium selenide as semiconductors and shone short laser pulses into them. These pulses move electrons into one higher energy level to the next. When the electrons move back from the higher energy levels, they emit even shorter pulses. These extremely short pulses can be used to quickly read and write information to electrons, but to be able to do that, you need to be able to control the pulses. The team found that changing the orientation of the crystals allowed them to control where the electrons go and how they move. U of Michigan explained that “because femtosecond pulses are fast enough to intercept an electron between being put into an excited state and coming down from that state, they can potentially be used for quantum computations using electrons in excited states as qubits.” While a lot of work needs to be done before we see the method used in actual working lightwave or quantum computers, this is a big step towards that goal. As Rupert Huber, lead researchers and physics professor at the University of Regensburg, said: “In the past few years, we and other groups have found that the oscillating electric field of ultrashort laser pulses can actually move electrons back and forth in solids. Everybody was immediately excited because one may be able to exploit this principle to build future computers that work at unprecedented clock rates — 10 to a hundred thousand times faster than state-of-the-art electronics.” Source: Nature Photonics , University of Michigan

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The march toward “automated everything” continues apace. Wendy’s is putting thousands of self-ordering machines in its restaurants, and now Ford is trying out a similar strategy, but, you know, for cars. The company announced it has partnered with Panasonic and GoMoto , which specializes in car dealership technologies, to create so-called Smart Service Kiosks. First, customers enter their contact information into the outdoor kiosk by using the touchscreen and scanning their driver’s license. Then they input certain key vehicle information and create a security PIN for key pick-up. Next, they can request basic maintenance tasks like alignment, oil changes and inspections, among other things. Users also have the option to enter more details about their service needs so technicians aren’t left guessing what they’re looking for. When that’s done, users drop off their keys and pick up keys for a loaner car. Once the dealership is finished with the vehicle, users will get an email alert. That email contains a QR code customers will need to scan at the kiosk in order to pick up their keys. After also entering the PIN they created earlier, car owners can pay for the service and pick up their keys any time of day. The service is beginning a 90-day trial at a dealership in Birch Run, Michigan. Tom Hodges, Dealer Connectivity Manager at Ford, says the kiosks could potentially “do for dealership service what ATMs did for the banking industry.” Indeed, that sounds like an apt comparison. The kiosks seem capable of handling basic needs, but ultimately, car owners will still need to talk to a real person for bigger or more complicated problems. Source: Ford

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Even the strongest artificial glues are completely useless when you try to apply them underwater, but somehow shellfish are able to hold fast to rocks to deter predators from trying to carry them away. Clearly,   nature has already figured out how to make glues that work underwater , and now researchers may have… Read more…

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Enlarge / Teams looks good, but is unfortunately its chat is quite bulky in a vertical direction. (credit: Microsoft) After being in beta since November , Microsoft Teams is now available to anyone with a suitable Office 365 subscription. Teams is a group messaging application organized around chatrooms. Slack has become the darling of media and software development types, with its modern, Web-based take on what is actually an old-fashioned mode of computerized communication. Slack is text-heavy and line-oriented, much like the IRC that it mimics. Slack arguably brought IRC into the 21st century and added such niceties as persistent message storage so that you can see what happened before you even joined a particular channel. Slack also includes inline images and emoji. If instant messaging apps like Skype are an alternative to the telephone, Slack represents an alternative to standing around the office watercooler or hanging out in the break room. Teams builds on this same heritage, but it adds a Microsoft twist: Rather than being a standalone service, as Slack is, Teams is an integrated part of Office 365. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Warner Bros. Is Considering a Return to The Matrix

Posted by kenmay on March - 15 - 2017

Warner Bros. is apparently considering plugging back into its blockbuster science fiction franchise The Matrix . Read more…

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