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From The Editors Technology

Rokid Project Aurora: USB-C Smart Glasses That Tethers to Mobile Devices

After debuting at the Consumer Electronics Show last year, augmented reality smartglasses manufacturer Rokid was back in Las Vegas for CES 2019 with its latest prototype as well as an update on its standalone Rokid Glass.

The Chinese AI and robotics startup announced Project Aurora on Jan 7, describing the new prototype smart glasses as a device that is designed to function as an extended interface of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, gaming consoles, and the likes.

“Project Aurora is a new initiative by Rokid that allows you to tether to any mobile device and take your experience further,” says the company website.

“Visualize immersive and spatial 3D content, connect and share experiences with those close to you, and discover new possibilities for interaction even for something as simple as a phone call,” it adds.

For example, you can connect your smartphone to the Project Aurora smartglasses using the USB-C connection and play a smartphone game, controlling it with your hands on the handset but actually viewing the action on the Rokid device you’re wearing, as seen in the demo video.

The prototype device boasts features like dual depth cameras, 6 degrees of freedom (DoF) tracking, SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping), an RGB camera, stereo speakers, and a USB-C port, which according to Rokid is a testimony to the company’s expertise in computer vision, AR, and AI.

The company claims that the smart glasses are capable of face recognition, object recognition, and real-time audio translation in several languages, including English, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Japanese, when identifying objects.

“With the mission of extending mobile device capabilities and experiences, we’re excited to announce Rokid’s Project Aurora,” said Reynold Wu, Rokid’s head of product and business operations, in a statement.

“By leveraging the ever-increasing computing power of mobile devices, Project Aurora supplements these robust experiences by providing a lightweight form factor, industry-leading display quality, and multimodal handsfree input,” Wu added.

“Project Aurora will connect consumers to rich, immersive AR content and experiences that were previously unattainable with such a lightweight smart glass,” Wu also said, adding: “We’re excited to share how the future looks through it.”

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As of now, that’s about all that anybody knows about Project Aurora in so far as which types of mobile, tablets, and gaming consoles it is designed to support.

However, since the company’s Rokid Pebble smart-speaker is Android-based, there’s every likelihood that the Rokid smartglasses will also be an Android-friendly device but, then, that’s pure speculation.

Also, the fact that it’s just a prototype with no release date, we can’t really be sure if it’s ever going to become a buyable product on the market.

The company also showcased a new version of last year’s standalone Rokid Glass which is 40% smaller, weighs about 120 grams, and features a touchpad controller on the side arm of the device.

While the standalone device has a single display in one eye like the Google Glass or Vuzix Blade, the Project Aurora headset has two displays for 3D viewing and, as mentioned, can be connected to external devices via USB-C, serving as the connected device’s interface.

The company said the Rokid standalone glasses, which it calls the Rokid Glass, will ship sometime in spring this year but has not yet revealed the price.

Here are some of the basic specs of Project Aurora as revealed by the company.

  • 3D stereo display, 45-degree FOV, binocular 1,280×720-pixel resolution, waveguide optics
  • 13MP RGB camera
  • 2 microphones
  • IMU (Inertial Measuring Unit) with three-axis accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer
  • SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping)-capable
  • 6DOF (6 degrees of freedom) depth-tracking camera
  • Built-in stereo speakers
  • Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi
  • USB-C port
  • Weight: around 120g
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From The Editors Technology

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: The Beast is Unleashed

U.S. automaker Ford took the cover of its new 700-plus-horsepower beast, the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, at the Detroit Auto Show on Monday (Jan 14), which the company claims is the quickest street legal Mustang ever to roll out of a Ford facility.

The monster of a car features the iconic cobra logo in all its glory and uses further development and supercharged versions of the Mustang GT350’s 5.2-liter V8 engine.

Power is delivered to the rear wheels through a carbon fiber driveshaft, and in pursuit of set and move to improve drag and lap time, the new GT500 has been given a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, perfect for those 100-millisecond gear shifts.

The different drive-modes include Normal, Weather, Sport, Drag and Track.

Unfortunately, the GT500 hundred doesn’t come in a manual transmission option but the company might just give in to public demand and introduce a manual version sometime in the future.

Ford predicts a 0 to 60mph time in the mid-three-second range and a quarter mile in under eleven seconds, which, as mentioned, makes it the fastest ever Mustang.

The Detroit carmaker has also said that it isn’t just for the quarter mile, as it will be able to handle all the corners and hammering around big road courses, too.

The new GT500 will be a lot faster around the track than the previous GT350R, although there’s no official track time, yet.

Apparently, this 2020 model is going to be more refined and more friendly; so, does that mean there’s going to be no more crowd killers? We’ll see.

As mentioned, it borrows technology from the Ford GT Supercar as well as the race-tuned Mustang GT 4.

As for changes, the all-aluminum hand-built engine requires a much larger airflow, so the grille is much larger than before.

There is also a new hood (with hood pins) covering the engine of the new GT500 and there’s also a huge vent; in fact, it’s one of the biggest vents that’s been put on a production Ford.

The large front grille and louvered bonnet vents create fifty percent more airflow than the GT350 and help generate more downforce than any of the factory Mustang.

The GT500 also features magnetic ride control and 16.5-inch front disks which Ford claims are the largest on any domestic production coupe.

The car has a set of six-piston Brembo calipers in the wheels up front and four-piston units at the back.

The GT500 gets its own unique rear diffuser with four 5-inch exhaust tips sticking out at the back.

It sits on four performance-specific Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 summer tires for the Carbon Fiber Track Pack option.

The Carbon Fiber Track Pack also includes 20-inch carbon fiber wheels and adjustable rear wing and deletes the rear seats to reduce wear.

As for the interior of the new GT500, it has only slightly changed from the GT350, including a nice carbon fiber dash, unique magnesium gear shifters for the automatic, a 12-speaker B&O Play audio system, power-adjustable seats with optional swede fabric or Recaro bucket seats that are safety harness-compatible.

The car does, however, retain the 12-inch instrument cluster and 8-inch Sync 3 touchscreen infotainment, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

The gearshift lever has been replaced with a rotary dial and instead of a regular handbrake the GT500 has an automatic electric handbrake – so, it’s just a little switch.

The GT500’s massive 700 HP engine is supposed to rival that of the 707 HP Dodge Challenger Hellcat.

To give an even better perspective, the previous 2007 GT500 model, which was revealed at the 2005 New York Auto Show, used a supercharged and Intercool modular 5.4-liter V8 engine rated at 500 HP and 480 lb-ft of torque.

The GT500 is essentially a street track car for the Mustangs.

There are claims that the new GT500 Shelby will surprise Supercar owners with its Ford performance racing track and supercharged engine.

The GT500 has been in development for over a year, now, with Ford having previously confirmed the car’s wide longitudinal body stripes in a teaser video released before the Detroit Auto Show last year.

The car will go on sale in the US later this year, replacing the GT350 as a flagship of the Mustang line-up.

The price hasn’t been announced yet.

The car will be made available in five color options, including Lime Green, Iconic Silver, Twister Orange, Red Hot.

The Blue on display at the Detroit event didn’t look any less stunning, too.

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From The Editors Technology

Nubia X: Nubia’s New Flagship Phone Has a Dedicated Selfie Screen on the Back

The general perception that recent smartphones have all been pretty much the same with only a few small points of differentiation is all going to change with the new Nubia X – a truly one-of-a-kind smartphone.

In case you didn’t know, Nubia Technology started off as a fully-owned subsidiary of Chinese company ZTE in 2012, becoming independent in 2015.

This review will, therefore, be slightly different from the run-of-the-mill reviews of newly released devices, as we’re going to focus mainly on the two-screen aspect of the phone, with a brief general spec overview.

What makes the Nubia X a unique device is the fact that it comes with not one but two screens and because of it, it has altogether eliminated the front-facing camera, giving us full-fledged notch-less display with a 96 percent screen-to-body ratio.

The phone is shipped with a SIM tray ejector tool, some paperwork, a fast charger with a USB-C cable and a USB-C 3 to 3.55mm audio jack.

While the front of the Nubia X looks like a fairly generic black phone, the absence of the otherwise ubiquitous notch is the first thing that should strike you and, to be honest, this single feature knocks out quite a few phones that we know of.

Looking at the sides and top you will find no sliders or pop-up cameras, making you wonder where the selfie camera is, just in case you didn’t know.

The phone has very rounded-off sides and back edges and there’s something else that’s unusual, there are two side fingerprint readers – one each on each on either side of the phone.

Just above the right-side FP reader is the all-important power button, while on the left side you have the volume rocker and the SIM tray.

The top of the device has an IR blaster – for those of you who want to have a little fun with your friends TV – and has an assist mike and two antenna lines.

The bottom of the phone has the main microphone, USB-C port and the lone speaker.

Flipping the phone over, the back has a dual-camera module on the top left along with a flash and some sensors, while the bottom has the Nubia logo and, yes, Nubia has stuck a second screen on to the back as well.

By including a second screen Nubia has, basically, accomplished two things – one, it has managed to do away with the notch on the front, allowing for a beautiful full-screen viewing experience, and two, it has got rid of the front-facing camera for selfies.

First, the 6.26-inch IPS LCD on the front looks fantastic but, as is the case with any LCD panel, has relatively bigger bezels than many other top phones on the market today.

You can’t help but feel that Nubia could have likely used some of the bezel space for a standard front-facing camera; but, then, it wouldn’t make this phone any different from some of the other phones you know, would it?

This is the real differentiation with only a few designs currently going notch-less, with a near-edge-to-edge screen on the front.

Secondly, removing the additional camera tech on the front opened up space both inside and out; also, having a screen on the rear of the phone means you can take your selfies with the best camera on the phone and still know what’s going on in the photo.

Now, let’s look at the rear screen and see what it has to offer.

To start with, in addition to serving as a dedicated selfie display, the 5.1-inch high-definition OLED screen can also be used like the front-facing screen, as it has got multi-touch capability too.

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That’s about all there is to the additional screen on the back, which makes you wonder if that second screen is really worth having just for the sake of selfies and to get rid of the notch.

Well, it’s a subjective matter, as there are many out there who would be thrilled with the unique selfie experience the second screen brings to the table, while others may find it a gimmicky waste of space on an otherwise fine flagship with some killer specs.

Under the hood, the Nubia X packs the stellar Snapdragon 845 chipset, with up to 8GB of RAM but, sadly, the phone is still stuck on Android 8.1 Oreo with the Nubia UI 6.0 heavy skin on top.

You can unlock the phone using either of the fingerprint sensors on the sides, and to switch over to selfie mode you will have to press both sensors simultaneously and flip the phone over to access the second screen.

Despite an additional display, the battery life is pretty decent, as you can get through most of the day with heavy use without dropping below10 percent battery life.

There’s some fun to be had with the main 16 MP camera on this phone and not just with taking selfies – in fact, this offers some fun camera modes you haven’t seen in a while.

While you have the standard photo, video, portrait and pro modes, the Nubia X has what the company calls a camera family of apps, which is a colorfully-labeled group of camera icons that are full of fun, especially for those who like to get a little creative with their photography.

The image quality is good and the videos look clean enough.

There’s no optical image stabilization (OIS); so, it’s all up to the phone to digitally stabilize your actions and although it does pretty well, it is far from the quality of a Gimbal or an OIS.

While some of you might be highly impressed with the second screen option, there are others that might feel it offers only a cosmetic difference.

The phone has internal hardware and some software options that are far more useful and unique in an important way than the second screen.

But, again, without that second screen many people might not give the phone a second look.

Main features and specs of the Nubia X

  • Front display: 6.3-inch LCD, 2,280×1,080-pixel resolution
  • Rear display: 5.1-inch OLED, 1,520×720-pixel resolution
  • Nubia’s own UI, based on Android 8.1 Oreo
  • In-screen fingerprint scanner
  • Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
  • Adreno 630 GPU
  • 6GB or 8GB of RAM
  • Up to 128GB of storage
  • 3,800-mAh battery
  • Dimensions (HWD): 6 x 2.9 x 0.33 inches (152 x 74 x 8.4 mm)
  • Weighs 6.4 ounces (181 grams)
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From The Editors Technology

China’s Great Wall Motors Unveils World’s Cheapest Electric Car – the ORA R1

It’s compact; it’s cute, it’s CHEAP!

It’s the ORA R1!

Baoding-based Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors (GMW) has pulled the wraps off the world’s cheapest electric car, the 2019 ORA R1, with a decent warranty and a maximum cruising range of 194 miles (312 kilometers).

What’s more is that it’s going to be pretty easy on the pocket as well, with a government-incentivized price ranging from 59,800 yuan to 77,800 yuan  ($8,860 to $11,526 per the CNY/USD rate as of Jan 11, 2019).

ORA, which stands for ‘open reliable alternative,’ is GMW’s new energy vehicle brand and ORA R1 is the company’s second flagship EV model, which was launched at the RNG e-sports arena in Beijing late last month.

Based on the country’s first proprietary electric car platform, ME, the R1 is being labeled as the “world’s fifth boutique vehicle” by industry insiders, and it’s not hard to guess why.

It’s easy on the eyes; it’s spacious; it has AI-enabled functions; and it offers five color options, including titanium white, cadet blue, sky blue, combination of titanium white and glitter black, and combination of cadet blue and titanium white.

“As a new market entrant, ORA R1 delivers an unprecedented experience to drivers,” said Ning Shuyong, ORA General Manager and GMW Vice President, in a post-launch statement.

He said that ORA would work on a network-based business model comprising an ORA app (ORA Home), experience centers and smart outlets in the central business districts of Chinese cities, effectively replacing the traditional dealership-centered 4S (sales, service, spare parts, and surveys) way of doing things.

“In addition, the big data cloud that is created as the result of the information collected from the ORA app, the ORA shopping site and the Tmall e-shop opens the way to the development of multiple scenarios for offline sales and services as well as new transportation services for both drivers and passengers,” Shuyong added.

Admitted, ORA R1 is not in the same league as, say, a Tesla Roadster in terms of speed or premium finish, but it sure is going to give the Teslas of the world some food for thought as it captures the imagination of the “urban youth” with its compact size, affordability, and visual appeal.

However, Tesla and the likes have some time on their hands to come up with an answer to this little delight, as the R1 is intended for the local market and is not going global, yet.

Here are some of the main features and specifications of the new ORA flagship.

The four-door electric hatchback is powered by a 35-kilowatt (47 hp) motor that promises a top speed of around 62 miles per hour (100 km/h).

The onboard 35-kilowatt-hour battery will keep the car going for 194 miles (312 kilometers) on a single charge as determined by the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) test.

The EV is being made available with a three-year or 120,000-kilometer (74,000 miles) warranty on the whole car, plus an eight-year or 150,000-kilometer (93,200 miles) guarantee for the vehicle’s “core components.”

The ORA R1 is 3,495mm long, 1,660mm wide and 1,560mm tall, with a wheelbase length of 2,475 mm.

The neatly-engineered exterior of the car is somewhat squarish in shape with a couple of circular headlights on the front.

The block-like grille is hinged on the left and opens up to reveal the charging port concealed behind it.

Each of the wheel-rims has four openings that resemble a four-bladed windmill, which enhances the car’s cool looks.

The AI-enabled car can be woken up with a simple “Hello Ora”

The ORA R1’s interior is largely black and white with attractive styling, highlighted by a lot of rounded features, including AC vents, twin dashboard, three-spoke steering, and gear shift.

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From The Editors Technology

IBM Q System One: World’s First Quantum Computer for Scientific and Commercial Use

In what IBM says “is a major step forward in the commercialization of quantum computing,” the company unveiled the world’s first quantum computer on day one of the ongoing CES 2019.

Named IBM Q System One, the 20-qubit system is a bold attempt by the Armonk, New York-based company to find commercial applications for quantum computing, which until now had been confined to research labs and occasional demos.

“This new system is critical in expanding quantum computing beyond the walls of the research lab as we work to develop practical quantum applications for business and science,” said Arvind Krishna, director of IBM Research and senior vice president of Hybrid Cloud.

While IBM claims that its Q System One is the “world’s first integrated universal approximate quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use,” it also acknowledges that a lot of work still remains to be done in order to make it worthy of real-world commercial applications.

“IBM Q systems are designed to one day tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle,” says the company.

Winfried Hensinger, a quantum technologies professor at the University of Sussex in the U.K. couldn’t have explained the experimental system’s current limitations better when he told The Verge that it was more of a “stepping stone’ than a practical system for quantum computing.

“Don’t think of this as a quantum computer that can solve all of the problems quantum computing is known for,” the professor was quoted by the technology news network as saying.

“Think of it as a prototype machine that allows you to test and further develop some of the programming that might be useful in the future,” Hensinger added.

One of the applications that the company foresees for quantum computing in times to come is financial data modeling and identifying key global risk factors to allow for more prudent investment decisions.

It can also prove its worth in “finding the optimal path across global systems for ultra-efficient logistics and optimizing fleet operations for deliveries,” says IBM.

The IBM system could also find itself playing a significant role in areas such as artificial intelligence, or materials and drug discovery, to cite a couple more examples.

In fact, quantum computing can effectively tackle many other complex issues that are way beyond the capabilities of today’s classical computers; it’s just a matter of developing the technology to a level where its full potential can truly be tapped.

Meanwhile, the IT behemoth plans to launch a new IBM Q Quantum Computation Center for commercial clients in Poughkeepsie, New York, sometime later this year.

The new center will add to the existing IBM Q Network of commercial quantum computing program with systems at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown, New York.

“This new center will house some of the world’s most advanced cloud-based quantum computing systems, which will be accessible to members of the IBM Q Network, a worldwide community of leading Fortune 500 companies, startups, academic institutions, and national research labs working with IBM to advance quantum computing and explore practical applications for business and science,” says IBM.

However, the company is yet to take a decision on the number of quantum systems the new center will eventually house, according to the vice president for IBM Q Strategy & Ecosystems, Bob Sutor.

This stunning piece of computing art on display at CES 2019 is a testimony to the skills and perseverance of a world-class team of industrial designers, architects, and manufacturers, who worked alongside IBM Research scientists and systems engineers to make it a reality, albeit a limited one.

The companies involved in this collaborative endeavour include U.K.-based industrial and interior design studios Map Project Office and Universal Design Studio, as well as a Milan-based Italian company called Goppion which is known for manufacturing high-end museum display cases, including the ones that house the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, and the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, U.K.

The computing unit itself is housed inside a nine-foot-tall and nine-foot-wide airtight box made of half-inch thick borosilicate glass, together making up the IBM Q System One.

The “sophisticated, modular and compact design,” as the company describes it, has been optimized for stability, reliability and continuous commercial use.

IBM says it’s the “first quantum system to consolidate thousands of components into a glass-enclosed, air-tight environment built specifically for business use, a milestone in the evolution of commercial quantum computers.”

In the lab versions of quantum computers, replacing a qubit chip would take up as many as three full days: 36 hours for warming up the room before the swap out and another 36 hours to cool the room back down.

“If you only had one system 4 days is a long time,” said Sutor, adding, “Now with the new design we can shorten it to hours.”

Here’s a short video of the world’s first integrated quantum computing system – the IBM Q System One.

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From The Editors Technology

CES 2019 Kicks Off in Las Vegas and There’s Lots to Talk About Already

It’s all systems go at the CES 2019, which kicked off today (Jan 8) at the Las Vegas Convention Center – the regular venue for the Consumer Electronics Show since 1998 – and will last until Jan 11.

Some four and a half thousand companies, including a number of start-ups, will be displaying their technological wares at the four-day event, ranging from the smartest of televisions, laptops and mobile phones to self-driving cars, smart home products and everything else in between.

Historically, the event has been about consumer gadgets, with manufacturers showcasing their latest and upcoming products at this increasingly popular global stage.

However, over the years the annual event has diversified extensively and now encompasses the artificial intelligence, virtual reality, automobiles, medicine and even marketing and agriculture.

While the big guns of technology always pull something new out of their bags of tricks every year, it has become a kind of a trend to hold back flagship products for standalone events; the Google Pixel 3 event in New York last October is a case in point.

Here are some of the main tech takeaways from day one of this mega event.

HTC unveils two new Vive VR headsets

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Taiwanese tech giant HTC revealed two brand new virtual reality headsets – the Vive Cosmos and the Vive Pro Eye, each targeting a different set of customers.

While the Vive Cosmos has been designed as a consumer-first VR headset with virtual reality enthusiasts in mind, the Vive Pro Eye, as the name suggests, is intended for professionals in the business segment.

The Vive Cosmos will not only play games but will also offer new social experiences; plus it will be compatible with HTC’s new Viveport Infinity game subscription platform.

The Vive Pro Eye’s integrated eye-tracking technology will afford greater accessibility and improved training simulations to the professional user, while its updated CPU and GPU promises a more efficient performance compared to the previous-gen pro headset.

HP OMEN X Emperium 65 Big Format Gaming Display

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While HP has unveiled a whole range of new devices at this year’s CES, what stood out among them was its all-new Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD), the OMEN X Emperium.

The OMEN X Emperium 65 is one of the world’s first BFGDs with a 120W soundbar and much more.

The idea behind big format gaming displays is to provide a TV-sized 4K gaming experience with features like top-of-the-line HDR, a high variable refresh rate, and SHIELD TV functionality.

The HP OMEN X Emperium 65 features a DisplayHDR 1000-certified 64.5-inch 8-bit AMVA display panel with a screen resolution of 3840×2160 pixels.

Some of the other features of the HP big format gaming display include:

  • 120 – 144 Hz refresh rate (normal/overclocked)
  • 750-1,000 nits brightness (typical/HDR)
  • 3200:1 – 4000:1 contrast ratio (minimum/typical)
  • 178° viewing angles
  • 4 ms GtG response time with overdrive enabled
  • 384-zone full direct-array backlight for an enhanced HDR experience

HP OMEN X Emperium 65 is expected to go on sale sometime next month and although the price has not been revealed yet, it’s expected to set you back by quite a bit.

Asus ROG Mothership

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The Asus ROG Mothership is a powerful detachable gaming laptop, which at first glance looks strikingly similar to the Microsoft Surface Pro.

The device boasts high-end specs like a 17.3-inch FHD IPS display with a 144Hz refresh rate,  Intel Core i9 processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, up to 64GB RAM,  and much more.

The 4.7-kilogram Mothership is equipped with a Kickstand that kicks out automatically as soon as the bottom edge touches the surface you’re placing it on, and what’s more is that it allows you to sit the display at three different angles.

The gaming device also features a three NVMe SSD RAID 0 array for top-speed file operations and offers advanced connectivity via an 802.11ax Wi-Fi (aka Wi-Fi 6) and 2.5G Ethernet.

Huawei MateBook

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Two of the biggest Huawei announcements at CES 2019 were the ultraportable 13-inch Huawei MateBook 13 laptop and the Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite, a 10-inch Android-based tablet.

The MateBook 13 packs some great specs, including a 2,160×1080-pixel high-res touchscreen display, an Intel 8th generation Core i7 or Core i5 processor with up to of 8GB RAM and up to 256GB of onboard storage.

The laptop also has two USB Type-C ports, a one-megapixel web camera, a fingerprint scanner on the power button, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Huawei MediaPad Android tablet is powered by a Kirin 659 processor and offers 3GB of RAM, 32GB internal storage, a microSD slot, a 7,500mAh battery, and a stylus.

Hyundai’s “Walking Car”

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Enough of laptops and VR headsets; here’s a potential life-saving creation that will make a huge difference to how rescue teams respond to emergencies, particularly in areas that are inaccessible by wheeled vehicles.

It’s a Hyundai-developed concept vehicle called “Elevate” that actually walks on articulated legs and, hence, makes it easier to reach victims of natural disasters, especially where flood, fire, or earthquake has rendered the terrain inaccessible by regular wheeled transportation.

Not only can this walking car prototype walk, but, terrain permitting, it can also drive like a normal car using the wheels attached to each of its legs.

“When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field,” said John Suh, VP and head of Hyundai’s Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences (CRADLE).

“They have to go the rest of the way by foot,” he said, adding: “Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete.”

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From The Editors Technology

Trump Tells Apple to Withdraw From China and Start Making iPhones at Home

Last week, a day after Apple lost $57 billion in market value, resulting from the plunge the company’s stocks took after it slashed its revenue forecast, U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at a White House press conference that he was not really worried about it.

No, I’m not,” he said when a reporter asked him if he was concerned about the tech giant’s stock debacle.

“I mean, look, they’ve gone up a lot,” Trump said, adding, “You know, they’ve gone up hundreds of percent since [I’ve become] president.”
He also said: “Apple was at a number that was incredible, and they’re going to be fine.”

However, he did express his dissatisfaction with the fact that Apple continues to manufacture its products in China when making them at home was a better option, he thought, for the Cupertino-based company.

The US president probably doesn’t realize that moving iPhone production out of China is easier said than done.

Here’s what Dan Ives, Wedbush Managing Director of equity research, told CNN Business.

“Man could be on Mars before Apple is producing more of its iPhones in the United States, just from a supply chain cost perspective.”

In a letter to Apple investors, company CEO Tim Cook cited a number of reasons for the company’s modest projection for the last quarter, including, but not limited to, below par iPhone sales, US-China trade war, and its own reduced-price iPhone battery replacement scheme.

Although emerging markets, including China, were largely responsible for the year-over-year decline in iPhone revenue, iPhone upgrades in developed markets were also “not as strong as we thought they would be,” Cook wrote.

He added: “While macroeconomic challenges in some markets were a key contributor to this trend, we believe there are other factors broadly impacting our iPhone performance, including consumers adapting to a world with fewer carrier subsidies, US dollar strength-related price increases, and some customers taking advantage of significantly reduced pricing for iPhone battery replacements.”

Back to Trump and his soft Apple-bashing, the US president said that the Apple’s stock would have no bearing on the US economy because the iPhone company makes its products in China, something that the company has refuted.

“Apple is a great company. Look, I have to worry about our country,” he said at the press conference, adding, “Don’t forget, Apple makes the product in China.”

He wasn’t done yet, as he went on to say, “I told Tim Cook, who’s a friend of mine who I like a lot, make your product in the United States.”

If you are wondering whether or not his friendship with Cook is on a reciprocal basis, you’re not alone.

He added: “Build those big beautiful plants that go on for miles. Build those plants in the United States. I’d like that even better. Apple makes its product in China. China is the biggest beneficiary of Apple … because they build their product mostly in China.”

He had more to say.

“But now, [Cook is] investing $350 billion — because of what we did with taxes and the incentives that we created — in the United States,” Trump said. “He’s going to build a campus and lots of other places.”

He said his focus was on the nation and that he wanted Apple to make its iPhones and all of its other products in the United States, asserting that it “will take place.”

However, the $350 billion investment Trump is talking about is mostly going towards tax repatriation and to Apple suppliers, with a likelihood of less than ten percent of the amount ending up in investments in the country, according to a Politifact report last year after Trump first bragged about it.

As far as building campuses in the country is concerned, Apple did announce in December that it was planning to spend $1 billion to build a brand new campus in Austin, Texas, that would eventually employ 15,000 workers.

It is part of the company’s three-year expansion drive to build new facilities in Seattle, San Diego, Culver City, Pittsburgh, New York and Boulder, Colorado, with a strong likelihood of more such facilities coming up in other US cities in the longer term.

“Apple is proud to bring new investment, jobs and opportunity to cities across the United States and to significantly deepen our quarter-century partnership with the city and people of Austin,” company CEO, Tim Cook said in a Dec 13 press release.

“Talent, creativity and tomorrow’s breakthrough ideas aren’t limited by region or zip code, and, with this new expansion, we’re redoubling our commitment to cultivating the high-tech sector and workforce nationwide,” said the Apple CEO.

Apple was apparently living up to its January 2018 promise of generating employment for at least 20,000 people across the nation by 2023, having already created 6,000 jobs in the U.S. last year.

The Steve Jobs-founded company is looking to invest a whopping $10 billion in data centers across the country over the next five years, with plans of spending nearly half of it by the end of 2019.

Work is already underway to expand the company’s existing data centers in North Carolina, Arizona, and Nevada, in addition to a new 400,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art data center being planned for Waukee, Iowa, to boost its iMessage, Siri, the App Store, and other services in the country.

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From The Editors Technology

Volvo’s Performance Brand Gives First Glimpse of its All-Electric Polestar 2

Polestar, Volvo’s EV performance brand, on Thursday (Jan 3) released the first image of the Polestar 2 – the company’ debut all-electric vehicle, which it believes will give the Tesla Model 3 a run for its money.

While Polestar has promised to reveal the full specifications of this non-hybrid EV during the official unveiling a few weeks from now, it did give us a peek into the car’s potential by releasing a few of its features.

Here’s a bulletized list of whatever has been made known, so far, about this would-be “Tesla killer.”

o Polestar 2 will go into production shortly after the long-range hybrid, the Polestar 1, enters the assembly line later this year, which means we’re probably looking at a 2020 date.

  • It will be a four-door “fastback” body-type car.
  • The performance vehicle’s electric motors will generate about 400 horsepower.
  • The car will be good for 300 miles (about 483 kilometers) on a single full charge.
  • It will sell at a price point similar to that of the Tesla Model 3.
  • Polestar 2 will be the first car to feature the Google Android HMI – the all-new automobile-specific, smartphone-independent version of Google Assistant.

While Polestar continues to play the Tesla Model 3 comparison card, it has somewhat backed out from the “Tesla-killer” narrative it had initially pursued.

“We are not saying it’s a Tesla killer, we are here to vividly compete with them in the market,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath had said in a July 2018 statement.

“We will launch Polestar 2 in the second half of 2019 and production will begin around the start of 2020,” he said.

Speaking to Ward Auto, the Polestar chief had also said that the company saw Tesla and Porsche as its “competitive set.”

Okay, so we don’t know much about the Polestar 2 other than what we’ve discussed above, but we do know a bit about the Google Android HMI feature the car is set to debut with.

Last year, Volvo announced that its next-generation Sensus infotainment system would include a host of Google services, including Google Assistant, Google Maps as well as apps available through the Google Play Store.

“Bringing Google services into Volvo cars will accelerate innovation in connectivity and boost our development in applications and connected services,” Henrik Green – Volvo’s senior VP for research and development – had said at the time.

“Soon, Volvo drivers will have direct access to thousands of in-car apps that make daily life easier and the connected in-car experience more enjoyable,” he said.

The announcement was, however, first made by the two companies at the 2017 I/O Developer Conference.

The collaboration between the automaker and the tech giant will see several Google services and apps getting embedded into Volvo’s next-gen Sensus infotainment system in a way that will allow drivers to use the services independently – no need for a smartphone.

Google Maps will play a key role in new Volvos’ navigation systems, offering users real-time traffic data, map updates as well as proactive route change suggestions – a feature that has already proved its utility on smartphone Google Maps.

The Google Assistant will be as useful an inclusion as any other, providing a central voice interface for future Volvos, which will allow drivers to manipulate in-car functions like air-conditioning, sun-roof and windows, as well as use apps for sending messages and controlling music, using voice commands.

Google Play Store will include a plethora of approved downloadable apps with Google’s affirmation that its screening system will ensure that driver distraction is minimal, and that more can be done from the dashboard than ever before.

The previous version of Volvo’s Sensus ran on a large portrait-oriented touch-sensitive display, integrated into the car’s dashboard, which controlled navigation, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) and media, as well as allowing access to a limited number of apps.

“The Google partnership to be entered into is an important strategic alliance for Volvo Cars,” Green said.

“The Android platform, Google services and Google’s working relationship with app developers in-house and worldwide will help us further improve the Volvo car experience,” he added.

Volvo will, however, continue to develop its own apps and connected services independent of its partnership with Google.

Google’s Android offers a “turnkey” solution to automakers that can use the automobile-specific operating system just like smartphone manufacturers do.

We got a glimpse of the system’s apparent utility at the 2017 I/O, where Google demoed the system on a Maserati.

Not only Volvo, but Audi is also partnering with Google to introduce a similar infotainment system based on Android Nougat 7.0, allowing users access to the same Google Maps, Google Assistant and apps that are found in Android Auto – again, without the need for an Android smartphone.

With the infotainment system not cornering users to use Android devices, more tailored choices can be made available to enhance their in-car experience.

Google also announced a fresh user interface (UI) and new Google Maps features for the Google Auto to make it smarter and more user-oriented.

A new group-messaging feature and a Rich Communication System (RCS) are also being introduced to the Android Auto.

Additionally, third-party integration is being upgraded to include integrated search results, and more, to further enhance user experience.

In an attempt to address security and hacking concerns, Google is also going to increase the frequency of feature and security updates.

Moving back to Volvo’s next-gen Sensus, it’s going to offer a far bigger choice of apps on the Google Play Store than ever before, including thousands of other car-specific apps that can be accessed using the cars’ integrated 4G LTE connectivity.

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From The Editors Technology

Tesla in 2019: Model Y, Tesla Pickup, Tesla Semi, and a lot more Model 3s

While 2018 was a year of mixed fortunes for Elon Musk, his Palo Alto-based automotive company, Tesla, had a record year, producing and selling more vehicles than ever in its fifteen-year history.

While Tesla would definitely like to carry this momentum forward into the new year, it will also be looking to live up to the announcements it made about the new Teslas we can expect to see this year.

Here’s what we can look forward to in 2019:

Tesla Model Y

In July 2016, Musk dropped a hint about a next-gen version of the Tesla “Model X” SUV, which we now know as the Model Y.

Then, we got our first glimpse of the all-electric crossover SUV at the company’s Annual Shareholder Meeting held in June 2017.

If what Musk has been saying is to be believed, we can expect a mid-March unveiling this year.

Meanwhile, there has been much talk about the Model Y going into production sometime in 2020 at the company’s Gigafactory 1, according to “elektrek.”

From what we were made to know about the vehicle, it’s going to be smaller than the Model X crossover and will have falcon-wing doors.

The Model Y will have simpler electrical systems, and it’s going to drop the12-volt battery architecture, as well.

We were also told that it was going to be built on a brand new architecture, not using the Model 3 platform or even the Model 3 underpinnings.

But in August, Musk said: “Upon the council of my executive team who reeled me back from the cliffs of insanity, the Model Y will, in fact, be using a substantial carryover from Model 3 in order to bring it to market faster.”

He also said: “I’d like to thank my executive team for stopping me from being a fool.”

Tesla Pickup

In Dec 2017, responding to a Tesla fan’s request, Musk had promised that his company would make a pickup truck soon “right after Model Y,” saying he had had the “core design/engineering elements” in his mind for nearly five years and that he was “dying” to build it.

Another fan asked if the pickup would be larger than the Ford F-150, adding that she was “hoping for a regular family size truck.”

He responded with: “Similar total size. Maybe slightly bigger to account for a really game-changing (I think) feature I’d like to add.”

The announcement didn’t come as a surprise because Musk had made a similar announcement in April that year, tweeting that he would “unveil” the pickup in “18 to 24 months.”

It remains to be seen whether we get to see it this year, or the if the wait is going to continue indefinitely.

Tesla Model 3

During the first half of 2018, the Tesla Model 3 encountered some major production issues, failing to meet deadlines time and again, managing to produce only 3,600 cars a week, on average, for a total of under 30,000 Model 3 cars.

Musk had attributed the production hiccups to overdependence on automation, admitting that humans were the answer to Tesla’s production woes.

When asked if robots were the reason behind the slowing down of production, Musk had said, “ Yes, they did … We had this crazy, complex network of conveyor belts … And it was not working, so we got rid of that whole thing.”

The very next day, Tesla temporarily halted the Model 3 production in a bid to improve its production performance by enhancing automation and removing bottlenecks – a move which was in stark contrast to what Musk had said a day earlier about humans being the answer to production issues.

However, most of the production hurdles were overcome in the second half and the company is starting 2019 with a decent rate of production which is expected to get even better in the months ahead.

Tesla Semi

In November 2017, Musk unveiled Tesla’s new all-electric semi-truck at the company’s Hawthorne facility in California.

Musk said that the imposing behemoth was capable of traveling 500 miles on a single charge, and would give one million miles of breakdown-free run.

According to Musk, the futuristic-looking semi is expected to go under production sometime this year.

Start of production date notwithstanding, pre-orders started pouring from the likes of Wall Mart, Meijer, and JB Hunt.

Wall Mart has reportedly pre-ordered 15 Tesla semis to add to its fleet of 6,000 conventional trucks.

The retail giant plans to employ five of these semis for its US operations while the remaining ten are intended for the company’s Canadian route.

Michigan-based supermarket chain Meijer told BLOOMBERG at the Hawthorne event that it had advanced $5,000 to Tesla for each of the four semis it had ordered.

Arkansas-based JB Hunt Transport Services said in a statement, at the time, that the company had booked “multiple” Tesla semis.

The company’s president and CEO John Roberts said, “We believe electric trucks will be most beneficial on local and dray routes, and we look forward to utilizing this new, sustainable technology.”

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From The Editors Technology

Essential PH-1 Officially Scrapped But New “Mobile Product” Coming Soon

Friday (Dec 28) was a sad day for Essential PH-1 fans as the company announced it was discontinuing the 2017 phone.

However, it’s not all bad news because the Palo Alto-based startup has promised it would continue to support the device by way of accessories and regular software updates.

But, what die-hard fans can really take heart from is the fact that the company is going full steam ahead with its “next mobile product.”

Although it didn’t reveal much, if anything at all, about what exactly the so-called ‘mobile product’ would be, there are rumors aplenty about the work in progress, which we’ll talk about in a bit.

Here’s the official statement

“We are sold out of Essential Phone on essential.com and won’t be adding any new inventory.

“We are now hard at work on our next mobile product and will continue to sell accessories and provide speedy software updates and customer support to our existing community.”

The man behind the Playground Global-funded startup is none other than Android co-founder Andy Rubin who launched Essential in November 2015.

The Essential phone came about in late 2017, with a teardrop notch for the camera on the front, making it almost an all-screen device.

While a lot was being expected from the phone, largely because Android-man Rubin was behind it, Essential PH-1 never really took off.

The company sold fewer than 90,000 units in the first six months, even though the phone had decent specs, including a Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of onboard storage, and a cool little design, not to forget that Essential put up multiple updates to improve the phone over time.

Although a new device has been promised, there’s some ambiguity in the use of the phrase “next mobile product” because a mobile product can be a number of things.

But if one had to guess, it would have to be another phone because you can’t imagine Essential releasing a watch or a tablet for the simple reason that they just don’t sell that well compared to phones.

So, it’s got to be a phone; well, hopefully, that’s what it is.

It would be the most logical option because, maybe, the company has learned from its mistakes on the Essential PH-1, which did have some glaring faults, including a screen that was too dark, cameras that were not that impressive, software that was mostly buggy, although, to be fair, a lot of that got fixed through relentless software updates.

Rumor has it that the new device being developed will use artificial intelligence (AI) to respond to phone calls and messages on behalf of users, but whether it’s the “next mobile product” Essential is talking about, or something else the company is working on, is not really clear at this point.

Bloomberg reported in October that Essential was developing a new device that would likely free users from their phones.

According to the media company, the AI-enabled device would come with a small screen, respond to voice commands, and have the ability to mimic users to respond to their texts, emails, book appointments, and even make phone calls on their behalf.

In an exclusive interview at Playground Global in August last year, Rubin spoke about his vision of a dream phone, that would represent “a virtual version of you,” affording you a lot of free time by managing your day-to-day activity on your smartphone.

“If I can get to the point where your phone is a virtual version of you, you can be off enjoying your life, having that dinner, without touching your phone, and you can trust your phone to do things on your behalf,” Rubin said, adding, “I think I can solve part of the addictive behavior.”

He said he had a gifted software team that would “make the software do what I need it to do to bring some of those AI things to life”.

“If somebody texts you ‘do you want to get sushi tonight?’, it’s going to come up with six responses, and you’re going to pick the best response,” he said.

“And over time, you’re reinforcing it by giving it the right response, and it becomes aware of your taste and your preferences, and probably the nth time, it’s not going to ask you anymore,” added the Essential chief.