Home Authors Posts by Amandeep Singh

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He spends part of his days wondering how to combine his two loves, technology and science. The rest of his time he spends trying to design killer user interfaces.

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If you’ve been waiting for the latest Google Nexus flagship, your wait may soon be over. Google just sent over an invite for “some tasty new treats and much s’ more” September 29th in San Francisco. It didn’t say what will be revealed but based on the timing, we’re thinking Android Marshmallow release

Google Event

Google Event Invite

The Nexus line is also due for an update and the invite references Marshmallow, the latest version of Android. The company is also expected to reveal two new Nexus handsets and, possibly, a new Chromecast at the event.

Based on past leaks and rumours, the LG Nexus 5X is said to feature a 5.2-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) display; a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor; 3GB of RAM; Adreno 418 GPU; a 12.3-megapixel sensor; a 5-megapixel front camera, and a 2700mAh battery.

A report from earlier this month claimed the new Nexus 5X will be more expensive than the original Nexus 5. It is tipped to be launched at $399 for the 16GB model, while the 32GB will cost $449.

As for the larger Huawei Nexus 6P, it is tipped to sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994 SoC. A 5.7-inch QHD display and front-facing speakers are also tipped, apart from a 12-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front camera.

Google is also expected to finally launch the next-generation Chromecast dongle at the event as well. The new dongle as per a recent leak will feature a balloon-like design, and as much rumoured earlier, support for faster dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac. It is also tipped to bring support for Spotify – a music streaming service notably missing from the list. Of course, Google could also have a few surprises up its sleeve. For that you can catch the live stream on YouTube.

 

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A team of researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore created a new sensor,  which is 1,000 times more sensitive to both visible and infrared light than the imaging sensors of most of today’s cameras, which means it could be used in everything from the point & shoot to surveillance and satellite cameras.

The miracle behind this is a substance that is harder than diamond, yet incredibly flexible, and the world’s best conductor of electricity.

It gets this high photo response from its innovative structure. It’s made of graphene, which has already earned a reputation as the building material of the future. Graphene is a super strong carbon compound that is as flexible as rubber, more conductive than silicon and better heat resistant than a diamond.

The inventor, Wang Qijie, an assistant professor at NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, mentioned that this is the first time camera sensor has been made using pure graphene.

“We have shown that it is now possible to create cheap, sensitive and flexile sensors from graphene alone,” said Wang. “We expect our innovation will have great impact not only on the consumer imaging industry, but also in satellite imaging and communication industries, as well as the mid-infrared applications.”

Wang said the key to his new sensor is the use of “light-trapping” nano structures that use graphene as a base. The nano structures hold onto light-generated electron particles for much longer than conventional sensors, which results in a stronger than usual electric signal, which can be processed into an image, like a photograph captured by a digital camera.

Most of today’s camera sensors use a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor as a base. But Wang said that his graphene base is far more effective, producing clearer, sharper photos. And, according to Wang, it works on the same designing principle. In principle, which means the camera industry will be able to keep using the same process to make its sensors, but simply switch out the base materials for graphene.

If the industry chooses to adopt his design, Wang said it could lead to cheaper, lighter cameras with longer battery lives for all.

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Microsoft

At present, it’s tricky to make Windows PCs that cost as little as basic Android tablets and Chromebooks. According to Bloomberg, Microsoft is reportedly cutting Windows 8.1 license costs by 70 percent for PC makers. Microsoft is cutting Windows 8.1’s license fee to $15 for any device that sells for less than $250, letting builders offer very cheap Windows PCs without destroying their profits.

Declining shipments & slower rate of adoption

Microsoft had been considering making Windows Phone and Windows RT available free of charge to device makers, and it appears the lowering of Windows 8.1 license fees for low-cost devices is the first step towards this possible plan. While Microsoft has sold more than 200 million licenses of Windows 8 since it was first released in October 2012, the growth rate is slower than Windows 7. This is largely related to a PC market slowdown, and competition from rival low-cost tablets and devices.

Windows 8 has had a mixed reception from consumers, and any licensing change is a clear move to prevent additional PC makers opting for Chrome OS on their low-cost laptops. During the early days of netbooks, Microsoft saw the threat from low-cost Linux-based machines and slashed Windows XP’s pricing to wipe out Linux netbooks. There’s no guarantee that the company will repeat its earlier success if the lower Windows 8.1 prices take effect. However one thing is clear that the Android and Chrome based devices are seriously making a dent in Redmond’s business.

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ironman-suit

The first prototypes for the US military’s Iron Man armor will be ready for testing by this summer, said the head of US Special Operations Command today. At a special conference in Washington DC, Defense Tech reports, Navy Admiral William McRaven stated that currently three prototypes of the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit – TALOS  are being assembled, with an expected delivery by June.

A revolutionary improvement in survivability and capability for special operators.

“That suit,” McRaven emphasized, “if done correctly, will yield a revolutionary improvement in survivability and capability for special operators.” The TALOS was commissioned last October, and may one day be armed with its own on-board computer, health monitors, and MIT-developed liquid armor that can harden in a matter of milliseconds which will allow the wearer to walk through a stream of bullets.

There are 56 corporations, 16 government agencies, 13 universities, and 10 national laboratories working together to develop this armor. McRaven wants to up involvement to include mechanics and craftsmen on the project, and may seek the authority to approach the Pentagon to distribute prize money for interested experts. The suit will undergo an evaluation period and hopefully be field-ready by August 2018.

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Dell Wyse Cloud Connect

Android based HDMI dongles are not new to the market. But Dell’s Wyse division, which has been doing thin-clients for decades, has cooked up a new way to avoid the thin-client setup trouble: An Android-powered, universal-thin client called the Wyse Cloud Connect.

Hardware wise its an over-sized USB stick. While it comes with a USB port, to use it you’ll need a device such as an HDTV monitor or a modern laptop with an HDMI or Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) port. Its just a plug and play device. The installation is fairly simple. Just connect it to HDMI and power source and you are ready to go.

Inside it there’s a multi-core Cortex-A9 ARM System-on-Chip (SoC), 8GBs of internal storage, and 1GB of RAM. This is powered up with Android 4.1, Jelly Bean. It also comes with a micro-SD card slot with expandable storage support up to 72 GB. It also comes with 802.11a/b/g/n wireless networking and Bluetooth.

Once in place you can use it with a USB or Bluetooth mouse and keyboard to turn any properly equipped display into an Android PC. If you want more than Android’s goodness, and Dell and its partners certainly hope you do, the Cloud Connect also comes with Dell’s Wyse Cloud Client Manager software-as-a-service (SaaS). With this IT managers can manage device so that it can be used with the appropriate thin-client, back-end programs.

By default that’s Dell Wyse PocketCloud software for remote access to physical or virtual desktops, apps and content. This enables you to access your office Mac or Windows desktop.

If you want more, and Dell and its partners hope you will, you can use it with Citrix, Microsoft or VMware thin-client servers or for Web-based apps. In short, the Wyse Cloud Connect provides IT department with a tasty dish of a way to easily get both conventional and BYOD users on the enterprise desktop with no messy setup annoyances.

For a list price of $129, many companies will find the Wyse Cloud Connect to be the perfect meal for their road warriors.

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bioglow

When it comes to living things that glow, a plant is probably your best choice to have in your home than a jellyfish, or even a glow-in-the-dark cat or pig. Bioglow is preparing to offer its bioengineered houseplants to the public which will glow in the dark.

Bioglow has been leading the movement ever since molecular biologist Alexander Krichevsky created what the company calls the first light-producing plants and published his findings in 2010. But there are still a lot of limitations with these initial batches of glowing plants. They are best viewed in a dark room after giving your eyes time to adjust. The plants also have a short lifespan of only two to three months.

Each Starlight Avatar, as the company calls it, is shipped in a see-through box and grows in a nutrient gel. The plant can be transferred to a pot once it’s outgrown its container, but about half of them don’t survive the transplant. They also need to be kept away from direct sunlight.

According to Bioglow

“Starlight Avatar™ is an indoor plant and is unlikely to survive in an open garden due to strong susceptibility to a variety of abiotic conditions, particularly light and water shock.”

Your first crack at buying a Starlight Avatar of your own will be through an upcoming online auction where you can sign up to participate and bid for one of 20 plants, though the official date of the auction hasn’t yet been announced. Also the plants are only available to ship to the US.

They could conceivably become renewable light sources in the future. It’s within the realm of possibility, but, in the meantime, you’ll have to settle for spending a few months with a glowing plant.

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step-detector

Google brought pedometer functions to Android with the recent release of Android 4.4 (KitKat), but that’s not necessarily enough for smartphone owners who want to track their fitness routines. Google may be aware of the desire for more fitness information, though. Google Operating System has discovered leaked code (shown below) for a future “Fitness API” that would supply apps with activity data from an Android device’s sensors.

google-fitness-api-leak

Image Credit : Google Operating System

 

Android 4.4 supports new sensors for detecting and counting steps. These sensors are implemented in hardware and are only available on Nexus 5. This new Fitness API for Android will allow applications to view and edit fitness data. There aren’t any clues as to when the API would be ready, and it’s uncertain whether the software is tied to either a new OS revision or a Google Play Services update. However expect your favorite Android fitness app becomes much more sophisticated in the near future.

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google chrome

Google is coming up with an update to the mobile version of Chrome, which promises to decrease data usage while browsing by as much as 50%.

Google announced the upcoming changes to its browser Wednesday in a blog post, saying, “In the U.S. alone, more than a fifth of adult smartphone users now do most of their online browsing on their mobile device. Around the world, we’re seeing a similar trend towards more mobile browsing. That’s why we’ll be rolling out a new feature on Chrome for Mobile to help you reduce data usage and save money on your mobile plan. When enabled, Chrome’s data compression and bandwidth management can reduce data usage by up to 50% while browsing the web on Chrome for Android and iOS. This feature also enables Chrome’s Safe Browsing technology which helps protect you from malicious webpages.”

data savings chrome

Image Credit : Google

 

However to reduce data usage, users must enable the data-savings option in Chrome’s “settings” menu. With this setting, users will also be able to track the amount of data they’re saving each month.

This update will be available for both Android and iOS. The iOS update will also bring Google Translate to Apple devices, which translates webpages while browsing. This feature is already available on the desktop and Android versions of Chrome.

Lastly, this upcoming release of Chrome for Android will allow you to create shortcuts to your favorite websites right from your homescreen for faster and easier access to the web. When visiting a site you’d like to save, simply select “Add to homescreen” from the toolbar menu. For certain websites, the shortcut will open in a full-screen experience and appear as a separate app in the Android app switcher. This update is set to roll out over the next few days.

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V FORMATION

Ever wondered why birds  fly in a V-formation?, something that’s frequently seen when giant flocks migrate across the skies. The obvious answer is that it saves energy. A new study conducted by Nature suggests birds keep an eye on the leader, as well as their place in a formation, matching their flaps to ride waves of thin, spiraling air sent off by the lead bird and those who follow. The practice saves the birds behind the leader considerable effort as they flap on the updrafts, something that comes in handy over migrations that can stretch thousands of miles.

BIRDS WITH ACCELEROMETERS AND GPS

Finding out the specific energy savings and conditions for flying in formation was no easy task. Researchers for Nature spent nearly a month tracking a group of Northern bald ibises from Austria to Italy, with 14 of those birds sporting GPS loggers and accelerometers to track wing flap activity.

“The result is that when in formation, each bird was able to synchronize the flapping of its wings so that it could exploit the updraught created by the swirling vortex of air from the flapping wingtip of the bird in front. When the flock got it right, each following bird delayed its wingbeat by just enough to spread a wave of synchrony through each arm of the V.”

The research could lead to a deeper understanding of whether there are differences in patterning among bird species, as well as how to carry over the techniques to human creations like airplanes and drones.

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Tegra K1

We all know NVIDIA is working hard to beat the competition. And the above graph suggests NVIDIA is onto a good thing. The graph above comes courtesy of Tom’s Hardware. The company’s recently announced Tegra K1 processor combines a handful of ARM Cortex-A15 CPUs with a GPU based on the successful Kepler graphics architecture found in desktops and laptops.

The result seems to be a minimum 25 percent lead over the current generation of flagship chips, including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 and Apple’s 64-bit A7 used in iPhone 5s, as measured with 3DMark. These scores are based on a Lenovo Thinkvision 28 Android all-in-one with a lovely 4K panel, which according to Tom’s Hardware contains a K1. And assuming this is a K1, it’s definitely not the 64-bit version; it’s not running at NVIDIA’s claimed max clock speed of 2.3GHz, and it’s almost certainly not using market-ready drivers — all of which suggests that 2014’s crop of Tegra K1-powered tablets could be even more powerful than what we’re seeing right now.

Potentially The Next Big Thing In SoCs.

tegra-china-benchmarks

Tegra K1 benchmarks from China

More benchmark scores are spilling out of China. If they’re accurate, a Tegra K1 reference tablet can beat the 3D performance of an Intel Haswell laptop with integrated graphics, despite the latter presumably burning three times the power used by K1 — a claim that is hard to believe. Its something only time will tell. But one thing we are sure about is that NVIDIA is on right track.

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At present, Nexus 4 may not have all the gimmicks other flagship phones have - 1080p screen, High resolution camera, smart pen etc, but...