Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sony's new Walkman S750 goes super-slim

Nowadays most of us take portable media players pretty much for granted, but back in the 1980s, when Sony released its first personal cassette player, they were revolutionary. Thirty years on and cassettes have all but gone and, despite numerous other worthy contenders, Apple holds the media player crown. For many, however, the Walkman is still regarded as the media player of choice and Sony has just revealed a new addition to its iconic family, the supermodel-thin S750. The audio and video player features noise canceling, audio enhancement technologies, a Karaoke mode and 50 hours of audio enjoyment on a single charge.

To some, the very first Walkmans were just annoying, tinny noise on an otherwise fairly quiet subway train. To those lucky enough to own one, though, they provided freedom from interfering radio DJ chatter, the ability to listen to a personal track list and a means to escape the dreary conversations of those around you. Sony has now announced the next addition to the brand, the S750 video MP3 player.
The player is shipped with EX vertical in-ear headphones and features digital noise canceling which is claimed to cut out about 98 per cent of background sound, allowing users to turn down the volume without losing audio clarity. Also included is a special adapter for air travelers who want to make the most of the Walkman's noise canceling capabilities while enjoying the in-flight entertainment.

 To some, the very first Walkmans were just annoying, tinny noise on an otherwise fairly quiet subway train. To those lucky enough to own one, though, they provided freedom from interfering radio DJ chatter, the ability to listen to a personal track list and a means to escape the dreary conversations of those around you. Sony has now announced the next addition to the brand, the S750 video MP3 player.
The player is shipped with EX vertical in-ear headphones and features digital noise canceling which is claimed to cut out about 98 per cent of background sound, allowing users to turn down the volume without losing audio clarity. Also included is a special adapter for air travelers who want to make the most of the Walkman's noise canceling capabilities while enjoying the in-flight entertainment.

All of these multimedia features, along with a battery claimed to give 50 hours of audio or 10 hours of video playback, has been squeezed into a form factor just 0.283-inch (7.2mm) thin. The Walkman S750 will be available in either 8GB or 16GB from October, although Sony's Japanese site also shows a 32GB version. There will also be a splash-proof dock available at the same time.

ideal for iPhone and iPad

Jorno folding Bluetooth keyboard


To maximize portability, mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad eschew the traditional keyboard for on-screen versions. While on-screen keyboards may be tolerable for typing the odd text message or entering a few words into a search engine, their shortcomings quickly become obvious. With mobile devices now packing processors powerful enough to handle word processing and other more intensive tasks there is a market for physical keyboards to turn an iPad or even a smartphone into an ultraportable computer. One of the better solutions we’ve seen to fit this bill is the newly announced Jorno Bluetooth keyboard from Cervantes Mobile.
The Jorno Bluetooth keyboard is a physical full QWERTY keyboard boasting a full complement of function keys that folds down from its full size of 8.5 x 3.5 x 0.3 inches (21.59 x 8.89 x 0.76cm) to a pocket-friendly 3.5 x 3.5 x 0.9 inch (8.89 x 8.89 x 2.28cm) package weighing 8.8 ounces (250g). It is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that will give up to one month of wireless usage per charge based on normal usage and is recharged via an included Mini USB charging cable. Running with Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR ensures compatibility with a wide range of mobile devices including Apple iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, RIM and Symbian devices.
 Cervantes Mobile is currently only taking preorders for the Jorno Bluetooth keyboard from the U.S. and Canada, with the asking price of US$79. After December 24, 2010 the price will increase to $99 with the device expected to ship early in 2011.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Technology in 2014

The Astonishing Tribe recently explored the future of touch screen technology, researched in captivity following an invitation to two weeks for an initiative called open innovation.
Without doubt, we the landscape of display technology in recent years had changed dramatically. The video above is a prediction for the year 2014, combined expandable screens, transparent screens and other interfaces for the exchange to be integrated into our daily lives.
Under the title “The future of display technology, this production is essentially” a video experience that the future of display technology displays for televisions elastic, transparent and displays e-ink displays, to name a few. “Continue reading to watch.

T-Mobile G2 official

T-Mobile G2 official, sports HSPA+ and Android 2.2


The follow-up to the Google sanctioned G1 smartphone is on the way and T-Mobile has released official details. The T-Mobile G2 gets Android 2.2, an 800 MHz Snapdragon MSM7230 CPU, applications like Google Voice Actions built-in and 4G speeds via the carrier's HSPA+ network2. The HTC-designed handset also includes a 3.7-inch multi-touch screen, an optical trackpad, a new hinge design for the full QWERTY keyboard and a 5-megapixel camera with 720p video capture.
HSPA+ support is built into the processor to achieve 4G speeds, with T-Mobile citing a theoretical peak capability of 14.4 Mbps on a network that currently "covers 100 million Americans in more than 55 major metropolitan areas."
What else? The integrated Voice Actions feature is worth noting (and as we reported earlier in the week, voice is really starting to go places), Android 2.2 brings seven customizable home screen panels and Flash support, there's 4GB of internal memory and support for up to 32 GB of external memory (with an 8GB micro SD card pre-installed), Swype text input, a 3.5mm headphone jack and the camera has an LED flash and autofocus.
There's no confirmation of a release date or pricing yet (the predictions are for a cost of US$200 on contract and $500 without) – T-Mobile says it will start taking pre-orders from existing customers later this month.

iPad rides shotgun

iPad rides shotgun thanks to car mount from Thanko

 Released this week, Thanko's Car Laptop Holder for iPad is a twist on the company's Car Laptop Holder from a few years back. We have to admit that the method of attachment is not the most elegant, but if you're a driver who needs an iPad in the cab then this might be for you. Just make sure you don't have the WiFi iPad, otherwise you'll probably be hanging out in the garage or parking next to Starbucks all the time.

Of course, drivers should always keep distractions to a minimum and one of the benefits of Thanko's solution is that it mounts on the passenger side (note that the pictures are from Japan, which has right-hand driving). The installation process looks a little tedious, as the kit is essentially an arm system that affixes to the rails underneath your passenger seat – though it's certainly a more favorable solution than some clumsy suction cup or windshield mounts on the market. The arm measures about half a meter (about two feet) and the angle can be adjusted in three places to create the best viewing position.
While Thanko is marketing this as an iPad mounting kit, it can also be used to hold things like digital cameras or camcorders, or you can even use it as a table. It will set you back 7980 yen in Japan (that coverts to just under US$100), so this is probably not a purchase you'll be making on a whim unless you truly have a need for it.
Personally I like Scosche's more elegant iPad mount far better, though I'm not sure it would be in my best interests to have an iPad mounted in the center of the dash. While it would be wonderful to have access to Google Maps on such a big display, I'm not sure that I'd want a screen display so high up in my field of vision.
Perhaps a wiser option would be to move your iPad to the backseat, particularly if you have kids back there prone to getting bored on long car trips. Luckily Thanko also has an iPod mount for the backseat. This set-up has a relatively sturdy attachment that connects to the headrest's metal supports. And while sturdy is generally a good thing, it might be wise to make sure your kids are buckled in nice and tight in case any sudden braking throws them forward and into your iPad.
This backseat kit will cost 3980 yen or about US$47 at the current exchange rate (15 year low at the moment, for dollar vs yen). Griffin makes a seat-back video case that's well worth a look too, at US$39.

Robots taught to deceive

Robots can perform an ever-increasing number of human-like actions, but until recently, lying wasn’t one of them. Now, thanks to researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, they can. More accurately, the Deep South robots have been taught “deceptive behavior.” This might sound like the recipe for a Philip K. Dick-esque disaster, but it could have practical uses. Robots on the battlefield, for instance, could use deception to elude captors. In a search and rescue scenario, a robot might have to be deceptive to handle a panicking human. For now, however, the robots are using their new skill to play a mean game of hide-and-seek.
Regents professor Ronald Arkin and research engineer Alan Wagner utilized interdependence theory and game theory to create algorithms that tested the value of deception in a given situation. In order for deception to be deemed appropriate, the situation had to involve a conflict between the deceiving robot and another robot, and the deceiving robot had to benefit from the deception. It carried out its dastardly deeds by providing false communications regarding its actions, based on what it knew about the other robot.

What it all boiled down to was a series of 20 hide-and-seek experiments. The autonomous hiding/deceiving robot could randomly choose one of three hiding spots, and would have no choice but to knock over one of three paths of colored markers to get there. The seeking robot could then, presumably, find the hiding robot by identifying which path of markers was knocked down. Sounds easy, except that sneaky, conniving hiding robot would turn around after knocking down one path of markers, and go hide in one of the other spots.
In 75 percent of the trials, the hiding robot succeeded in evading the seeking robot. In the other 25 percent, it wasn’t able to knock down the right markers necessary to produce its desired deception. The full results of the Georgia Tech experiment were recently published in the International Journal of Social Robotics.
“The experimental results weren’t perfect, but they demonstrated the learning and use of deception signals by real robots in a noisy environment,” said Wagner. “The results were also a preliminary indication that the techniques and algorithms described in the paper could be used to successfully produce deceptive behavior in a robot.”
The project was funded by the Office of Naval Research.

Electric bicycle

Electric bicycle range reaching the 100 mile mark
 Remember when the Segway was launched in 2001? The company proclaimed that it was going to revolutionize personal transportation, but... well, although Segways are still around, they’re hardly a common sight. What could soon be a common sight, however, are electric bicycles. While a variety of styles were on display at this year’s Eurobike show, commuting ebikes were by far the most common. An electric drive makes sense on a commuter – you still get some exercise and don’t have to register it as a scooter, yet you also don’t arrive at your destination all hot and sweaty. As with all electric vehicles, however, range is always an issue. That is now being addressed, however, with ebikes that can travel up to 160 kilometers (99.4 miles) on one charge. If your commute is longer than that, you really might want to consider, you know... driving.

The tradeoff with batteries has always been one of weight vs. range. Batteries with less cells tend to be lighter and less expensive, so they’re generally the way to go, unless you want to travel longer distances. German manufacturer Kalkhoff has kept this in mind with its new line of ebikes, which was presented at this year’s show. The bicycles are available with your choice of an 8, 12 or 18 amp-hour battery. Riders who just use their bike for popping up to the store could go with the 8, while more serious riders could get up to 140 kilometers (87 miles) out of the 18.
Giant bicycles is employing a similar strategy with its 2011 Twist ebike. Instead of swapping batteries, however, the rider can add a second one, to extend their range up to 160 kilometers. This figure has, not surprisingly, been disputed in at least one review.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Upcoming Mobile Phones from different companies

Upcoming New Mobile Phones
BenQ-Siemens Black Box concept phone   
 BenQ-Siemens’ another concept phone
 Sony Ericsson Concept phone-I
 Sony Ericsson Concept phone-II
 Nokia Archive
 NOKIA 888
 Nokia Aeon
NOKIA 9900
 NEC Tag concept phone

Sennheiser adds mini headphones and audiophile-friendly cans

Amongst the range of headphones on display at Sennheiser's booth at IFA 2010 in Berlin recently were five new additions. The company has updated its audiophile 500 series and introduced a couple of mini headphones for mobile music enjoyment. While there's little change to the technical specs offered by The HD 518, HD 558 and HD 598 high-end cans, the company claims that the new PX 90 and PMX 90 phones are so lightweight and comfortable that you'll only know you're wearing them by the dynamic bass and lifelike sound image.
 Sennheiser has made mostly cosmetic changes to its audiophile-grade 500 series headphones, so I won't dwell too much on these models. Sufficient to say that all retain the cleverly named Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement (EAR) technology, which is said to deliver a more natural acoustic sound by inclining the acoustic baffles to channel the audio directly into the ears. Fine soundscape detailing is helped along by neodymium magnets and Duofol diaphragms, and a gold plated audio jack helps ensure a solid connection to the audio source.

The HD 598 (successor to Sennheiser's HD 595) and HD 558 (the predecessor of which is the HD 555) both also benefit from an internal sound reflector said to optimize spatial sound characteristics. Gone is the gray and black coloring of the HD 595 in favor of the cream and wood grain of the HD 598. The changes to the color scheme of the HD 558 model are slight, now having less silver/gray and more black than its predecessor.
The silver/gray stripes on the cups of the entry-level HD515 model have given way to the "attractive anthracite finish" of the HD 518 but, like the other 500 series models listed here, the technical specs appear the same.

Laser backpack created for 3D mapping

Currently, if people wish to obtain a 3D model of an indoor environment, they have to send in a laser-scanning robot or cart that painstakingly makes its way through in a stop-and-start fashion. Depending on the setting, the process can take days or even weeks. Researchers at the University of California in Berkeley, however, have developed a portable laser-scanning backpack that can map an area in the time that it takes for its human wearer to walk through. The project was funded by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Army Research Office, and could be used by military personnel to plan missions into mapped target buildings.
Using sensor fusion algorithms, the backpack combines information obtained from cameras, laser rangefinders and inertial measurement units, and creates a textured photo-like 3D model of its surroundings. Without such algorithms, along with precise sensor calibration and registration, it would be impossible to bring all the disparate data together to form one cohesive digital environment.
So far, the UC Berkeley scientists have mapped two floors of their electrical engineering building. In the future, they plan on mapping entire buildings, and creating interactive viewing hardware that will allow people to virtually explore those buildings before arriving in person.
The backpack is said to be the first in a series of such devices being developed for the US military.

FanVision device augments live NFL games with video

Actress Carrie Fisher once made a great observation about how film folk can be looking at a fantastic real-life scene, yet all they’re able to think is “I wonder what this would look like on a movie screen.” Well, she might be similarly amused by FanVision. The electronic handheld device delivers video of sporting events to people who are already on-site, watching the live event in person. To be fair, it does provide some things that the average sports fan wouldn’t be able to see from the stands.
FanVision is currently partnered with 12 NFL teams and the University of Michigan, providing its video service at all of their home games. Users bring their handheld screen to the stadium with them, or purchase one there. While the game is going on, they can check out exclusive content such as instant replays from various angles, a highlight reel of the game, and of course, the Cheerleader Cam.
Other features include real time stats from around the league, live fantasy football updates, access to the NFL Red Zone channel, and the network telecast of home games. Keep in mind, however, it only works at participating venues – at home or on the road, it’s a paperweight.
The device itself has a 4.3 inch (109 mm.) LCD screen, and a six-hour battery life.
While FanVision is already in use at Formula One, Le Mans, NASCAR and PGA Tour events, it will be introduced to the world of American football this fall. Devices will be available from the company website and at member teams' stadiums. It will cost US$199 and after the first year of use, activation fees will also apply.

Student-built E-Quickie electric vehicle draws energy wirelessly from the road

Over the last couple of years there have been a number of wireless chargers hitting the market, such as the Powermat and the WildCharge. These are designed to keep mobile devices charged and ready without dealing with the hassle of cords and connections. The technology has also been proposed as a way to recharge vehicles while they are parked without having to plug them in, while some companies are looking at charging cars while they are moving from electrical conductors embedded in the road. Now, a group of students in Germany has taken that idea and run with it by building an electric vehicle called the E-Quickie that runs on wireless power transmission.
Looking a bit like a recumbent bike with a driver’s cabin, the E-Quickie was built by students at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (HsKA) to investigate the practicality of a wirelessly powered electric vehicle. It gets its energy from electric conducting paths on the ground with receivers underneath the car taking energy from the tracks through electric induction and directing it to the car’s electrical hub drive.
One student working group took care of setting up the racing track, which was provided by the firm SEW, in Bruchsal. Two other teams were dedicated to the vehicle’s energy absorption and the safety of the entire system.

They designed the individual vehicle components, such as the steering and braking system and the chassis, using high-tech materials. Keeping the weight of the vehicle to a minimum and its aerodynamics were also important factors for designing the outer skin of the vehicle’s body, for which the students used carbon fiber. Before construction of the vehicle, all its components and finally the whole vehicle were optimized by computer in a virtual wind channel.
The end result was a three-wheeled vehicle that weighs just 60kg (132lb). However, Prof. J├╝rgen Walter from the faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics and head of the project is confident this can be reduced to 40kg (88lb) through further optimization.
“With other vehicle types you have a weight ratio between driver and vehicle of 1:10/1:15. We’re aiming for a ratio of 1:2 through further development of the E-Quickie,” said Walter.
Even though the vehicle’s motor only has a horsepower of 2kW, its light weight means it is still able to reach a speed of 50km/h (31mph). Even though the vehicle draws its power from the track, it still has batteries onboard. However, these serve only as a buffer and are therefore much smaller than those found in other electric cars which draw energy from batteries exclusively.

“The aim was not only to show how quickly you can move around with the E-Quickie, but most of all how energy efficient the car is”, explains Walter. “We went to the start with half-filled batteries and returned with full ones.” For what then are batteries used for in this system of energy transfer? As soon as the car leaves the electrical conductor tracks, the power supply to the motor is interrupted. “Here the small accumulators then jump on-board the E-Quickie as an energy buffer,” explains Walter, “for example when it’s driven into the garage.”
The team has already achieved success: On May 19-20 this year, the students took part in the Karlsruhe E-Meile, completing 40 laps on the 222-meter (728-ft) conductor track. The team plans to use the test track at the HsKA campus to continue optimizing the vehicle for reduced energy consumption and weight.
Via AutoMotto

Nuu Mini Key gives iPhone 4 a slide out keyboard

The IFA Consumer Electronics trade show in Berlin is a gargantuan place. A total of 27 halls chock full of so many new washing machines, refrigerators, and every other form of consumer item that it required two of us four days to see it all this year.

Once you get past the first two days of press conferences, where at times four consecutive one hour conferences are being held, you get to the smaller stands grouped according to industry segment and at each stand, each reporter has no more than a few minutes in which to make up his/her mind if there's something worth reporting on, get their hands on it, work out what the main features and benefits are, shoot the pics and videos, get the info relevant by speaking to the press rep, then repeat the process at the next stand, for four days. Stuff gets missed. Sometimes, prototypes sit largely undetected by the press. Sometimes it's reported in one language, translated, and loses its true meaning.
It looks like that is what happened with the Nuu Mini Key – an iPhone 4 protective case with a slide out keyboard with real tactile keys – that was on show at IFA. I saw the Nuu Mini Key en route to a press conference, and made a mental note to go back before the end of the show. Two days later I went back to look at the Nuu Mini Key with Gizmag's editor Noel McKeegan and Noel wasn't nearly as impressed. “It gives you back screen real estate but the screen keyboard works fine, why do I need this?, was his 10 second summation.

I didn't have an answer at the time, but upon thinking about it ...
Smartphones can now do almost everything I need except for processing photos and videos and I can't write articles on it YET.
Though there's a perfectly acceptable text editor inside the phone and two touches away from turning it on, in the form of Notes, I struggle committing every letter of a word with a touch screen keyboard yet I can input far quicker with a small qwerty keyboard with good tactile feedback.
So the input options currently available for the iPhone prevent it from being all it could be.
I am never without my iPhone and I never feel like I can input information into it at the rate I would like.
My big wide fingers don't work as well with a touch screen as do Noel's.
I've tried hooking up my Apple Bluetooth keyboard to the iPhone and it really transforms the usefulness. It means that with the addition of a full size keyboard, I can use the iPhone as an ultra portable word processor and make use of a lot of dead time and wasted opportunities to think and put together longer articles or simply input notes or ideas quickly.

So the ability to not just type quickly into an iPhone, but the ease with which it could be enabled from pocket to input and back is very short.
I'm far faster with a real qwerty keyboard in front of me for writing emails and texts, but the biggest difference is not the short-attention span stuff – it's the longer articles. By claiming back all the screen real estate you lose with the screen keyboard,you can see whole paragraphs and even multiple paragraphs, so full articles are easier to write.
Sadly, the smallest Apple Bluetooth keyboard is still too big to carry around conveniently. There's no carry case available for it, and it needs protection, and to transport it properly, you need to remove the batteries, so it isn't the answer.
I've scoured electronics areas and shows in four countries in the last three months in search of the right fold-up Bluetooth keyboard and I'm amazed there is no front-runner for my money as yet.
In the Chinese section at IFA I came across a roll up keyboard for the iPhone but it too was not yet shipping and try as I might, I could not liberate one of their working samples. So everyone is promising a small good fold-up Bluetooth keyboard soon, but I haven't found one yet that I can use to conduct my field trials.
The Nuu offers a potential solution. It has a slide-out ultra-portable qwerty keyboard with additional feedback from backlit push keys. The keys were hard to push and weren't backlit, so I asked if I could turn it on and I was told it was a non-working prototype. We discussed the likely final product and the stand rep said he felt confident that the tactile nature of the keys would be more than acceptable on the final product. It was as he said, “a non-working prototype but everything would be functional when it ships, and we have experience in these matters.”
The word appears to have circulated through the blog network that the Nuu's keys were hard to press – so the first thing to point out is that isn't quite correct – it was not a working prototype.
The reasons it is getting press coverage is entirely valid though – it potentially offers much greater input speeds. So it will be worth an immediate look as soon as a fully-functioning version is available to try. There's a minimal cost in terms of bulk and it weighs so little, and at around EUR50, the only question will be how much additional typing speed the Nuu's tiny qwerty keyboard will enable for each individual.
The iPad is getting lots of attention from manufacturers with protective casings, docks, stands and keyboards but I feel certain there's a huge opportunity for some manufacturer to deliver a clever, light, small, durable fold-up keyboard.
Such a keyboard will significantly enhance the usablity of the smartphone genre – mobile telecommunications and computing offer myriad ways of doing things better. I hate the qwerty keyboard as much as the next guy, but it's by far the fastest way I can brain dump into a computer. And I already have a computer in my pocket … now I just want faster input to it.
If anyone has any suggestions on new Bluetooth or iPhone docking keyboards, please let us know. Given an opportunity to seriously upgrade the bandwidth between my brain and my iPhone with the addition of the right keyboard solution, I am certain I will be able to write almost anywhere. Whether I will be able to get the keyboard entry speeds as high as I want with the Nuu Mini is another question.
Noel's final comment. “If you need a tactile qwerty keyboard of that size, buy a Blackberry”