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From The Editors Technology

Boring is What He Does! Elon Musk Plans to Build Tunnel to Dodger Stadium

Elon Musk is boring again!

No jibe intended there.

Despite the Tesla turmoil Musk finds himself in the midst of, his desire to keep surging ahead, seemingly, never diminishes.

Well, that’s what his Boring Company’s August 15 announcement, proposing to build an underground tunnel to the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, would apparently suggest.

The proposed high-speed, zero-emission, underground public transportation system, connecting Los Feliz, East Hollywood, or Rampart Village neighborhoods to Dodger Stadium, will transport baseball fans and concertgoers – and everybody else who wants to make the trip in just about 4 minutes at an outrageously affordable cost of about a dollar per ride per person.

And, by the way, the company is officially calling it Dugout Loop – kind of fits, doesn’t it?

The company says Dugout Loop is being built in an attempt to address LA’s traffic woes, to some extent.

It is intended to provide an environment-friendly economical public transport option to some 250,000 people who brave the LA traffic every year to get to their favorite game, or concert, happening at the home to the Los Angeles Dodgers – the city’s Major League Baseball franchise.

While that is a just a small percentage of the number of people who visit the stadium each year, the company says it’s a start and should “complement the existing public transportation systems and provide an all-electric and affordable option” to people headed that way.

The Boring Company said:

“Initially, Dugout Loop will be limited to approximately 1,400 people (approximately 2.5% of Stadium capacity) per event.

“Based on City and community feedback, it could be possible to increase ridership per game to 2,800 per game or event (5% of Stadium capacity).

“Between games and events Dugout Loop would transport 250,000 people per year.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has welcomed the proposal, saying that the innovative idea “could help ease congestion on our roads and make our most iconic destinations more accessible to everyone.”

There are three possible originating points in the western terminus area – including Vermont/Sunset, Vermont/Santa Monica, and Vermont/Beverly stations – that the company says will be “evaluated in the review process,” before deciding on a winner.

Map of the proposed route
Map of the proposed route

The Boring Company says that the likelihood of the tunnel causing any disruptions in the Metro service is nonexistent, as the western terminus’ proximity to the Red Line is, in fact, being planned to “complement the Metro.”

“Dugout Loop does not have any Metro crossings and its western terminus will be close to the Red Line in order to complement the Metro,” said the Wednesday announcement.

“The Boring Company is coordinating with Metro on a regular basis to ensure project compatibility and utility, and will not begin construction until Metro has fully approved of the plan,” it added.

The 3.6-mile-long single-line tunnel between the stadium and the western terminus will run underneath public right-of-way or land belonging to or leased by The Boring Company, while the eastern terminus on the stadium side will be built on “privately owned property at or near the Dodger Stadium parking lot.”

The construction phase is expected to last for about 12-14 months, during which the company proposes to build the tunnel and two Loop Lifts – one each for the eastern and western terminuses – along with 6 ventilation shafts that would also serve as emergency exit points.

The shafts, which shouldn’t take longer than six weeks to complete, will be located on privately-owned property, alongside the alignment.

Concrete “shelves,” which the company plans to install once the tunnel is complete, will serve as the guideway for the electric skates that are capable of zipping through the tunnel at 125-150 miles per hour, carrying a payload of 8-16 passengers at a time.

Powered by multiple electric motors, the emission-free electric skates are fully stabilized autonomous vehicles, a feature that allows for increased safety as it eliminates the human error quotient and the possibility of a skate veering off-course.

Shelves inside the Dugout Loop tunnel will serve as the guideway for electric shelves
Shelves inside the Dugout Loop tunnel will serve as the guideway for electric shelves

The 14-foot-diameter tunnel will be dug at least two diameter lengths deep, with the top of the tunnel running some 30 feet and the bottom 44 feet below the surface of the ground, and may even go deeper to avoid existing underground infrastructure like utilities, bridge piles, pipelines, and the likes.

The electric skates will collect passengers from the surface level at the Dugout Loop terminuses and sink underground, down a Loop Lift consisting of an elevator or a ramp, to the level from where the 4-minute subterranean trip to and from the Dodgers Stadium will start.

Western terminus configuration
Western terminus configuration
Eastern terminus configuration
Eastern terminus configuration

“We were excited when The Boring Company came to us with this project,” Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chief Financial Officer, Tucker Kain, said in a statement.

“Whether it is flying overhead in an aerial transit system or bypassing traffic through an underground tunnel, we are always looking for innovative ways to make it easier for Dodgers fans to get to a game,” he said, going on to say that the franchise was “committed to working with our neighbors and fans as the project moves forward.”

Here are some more reactions on Twitter

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From The Editors Technology

The Vector Home Robot: Anki’s Answer to Amazon Alexa

Founded by Boris Sofman, Mark Palatucci, and Hanns Tappeiner in 2010, robotics and artificial intelligence start-up Anki is best known for making AI-powered intelligent toys.

Its first ever product released in 2013 was a racing game called the Anki Drive, which was followed by the Anki OVERDRIVE in 2015.

Then, in 2016, came its most adorable and cute product, Cozmo – a robot for children, complete with sensors, cameras, AI, and the works.

The San Francisco-based company’s latest product, the Vector home robot, is no toy – not that it can’t be used as one, should you want to gift it to a child as a plaything – but it does bear an uncanny resemblance to the $180 Cozmo.

In fact, this obscenely cute little robot companion is, basically, a smart evolution of the smartphone-dependent Cozmo – a lot smarter, in terms of, both, functionality and intelligence.

Vector will not only creep into your home but find its way into your heart, too, with its big expressive square eyes and delightful antics.

Cozmo was a fun little children’s bot that could play games with your kids, keeping them entertained and happy and, probably, out of trouble.

Although Cozmo could respond to basic voice commands, it was primarily controlled by a smartphone app – a kind of inconvenient necessity between you and your robot buddy.

Well, as mentioned, Vector takes functionality and intelligence to a whole new level, as it comes loaded with its own Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8009 processor, with support for Vector’s AI capabilities and its ultra-wide 120-degree HD camera, letting you interact with it directly through voice commands.

It wouldn’t be stretching it too far to say that it’s more like a moving version of Alexa, and a whole lot cuter too.

Vector is capable of carrying out all of the more popular AI-powered voice assistant tasks, such as setting a timer, playing music, giving weather updates, and more; all you need to do is say the wake words “Hey Vector.”

Plus, Anki has incorporated different fun features that really make Vector come alive; if Cozmo won your heart, there’s no reason why Vector won’t, as it has everything that Cozmo did, and much more.

Like Cozmo, Vector can learn your name, memorize your facial features and identify you – thanks to the onboard high definition camera.

It doesn’t need any prompting or commands to greet you by name as you come home after a long day out, something that Alexa needs to learn, as sophisticated an AI assistant as she is.

Located on top of the robot are four directional microphones that are capable of detecting the source of the voice command and turn to face you before responding to the spoken order.

The good thing, from a security point of view, is the fact that images captured by Vector and voice commands given to it are not stored to the cloud.

Vector’s onboard camera and powerful sensors can make amends and adjust according to the surface it trundles on; for example, it can stop itself from falling off the edge of a table, or sense an approaching obstacle and maneuver around it.

Vector is almost completely autonomous, in that it doesn’t even need any intervention to recharge, as it has the ability to seek out its charging station and dock for a refill when it senses low power.

“It’s really this combination of a characterful little robot combined with utility functions,” said Anki co-founder and president Hanns Tappeiner.

“We’re interested in a future where humans and robots co-exist in people’s homes,” he added.

“There are hundreds of things which the robot keeps track of, and he associates all those interactions with you and your name,” Tappeiner said.

“So he will start behaving in different ways towards you than he would behave towards other people who might pay less attention to him,” he said.

Despite the similarities with Alexa, Vector is no match to Amazon’s voice assistant, when it comes to the range of voice commands it can respond to.

However, co-founder and CEO Boris Sofman says that the company has by design made it different from Alexa, which he calls a “characterful” decision, to give Vector an identity of its own, rather than simply licensing Alexa or Google Assistant.

“He has a personality, he has his own quirks, his own weird behaviors, his own desires,” Sofman explained.

“If you flip a switch and start having an Alexa voice come out, it completely kills the fiction of that character,” he added.

”We’re very intentionally not positioning this as a competitor to Alexa,” Sofman said.

“We have a thesis that ‘characterful’ utility is going to trump basic utility because there’s a lot of cases where that’s going to be a more enjoyable form of interaction,” he said, as reported by The Verge.

One of Vector’s most endearing features is the way it turns to face you before responding with an appropriate expression, depending on the command.

If, for example, you have asked Vector for the weather in LA and if it happens to be raining there at the time, it will give an annoyed response, its face covered with tiny droplets of water.

”The fact that we have this character allows us to not have him just deliver the information, but also have him be subjected to the information,” Anki character lead Dei Gaztelumendi said.

“He might endure the weather event, it might rain on him, and he might have an opinion about that,” Gaztelumendi added.

While Vector beeps and clicks most of its responses, it does come up with a vocal response whenever necessary, albeit in a synthesized voice.

“He’s a robot, and he has a tool belt. One of his tools is text-to-speech, and he uses it when it needs it,” Gaztelumendi said. “But when he’s roaming around, his natural, genuine sounds are more chirpy.”

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From The Editors Technology

CES 2018 Has Officially Opened and There’s Lots to Show

It’s all systems go at the CES 2018, which kicked off yesterday at the Las Vegas Convention Center – the regular venue for the Consumer Electronics Show since 1998.

Some four 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, but over time the event has grown into a much larger entity, encompassing the fields of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, automobiles, medicine and even marketing and agriculture.

While the big names in the technology game always pull something new out of their bags of tricks every year, it has become a kind of trend to hold back flagship products for standalone events. Google’s Pixel 2 event in October at the San Francisco Jazz Center is a fine example of that.

Lesser-known entities and start-ups have attracted more attention in recent years, using the CES stage to launch themselves with some exciting innovations.

Here’s a look at some of the newest products you can become the proud owners of in the not too distant future.

Samsung: The Wall – World’s first 146” Modular MicroLED TV

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Samsung’s new modular TV technology has the potential to give LG a good run for its money in so far as its OLED screens are concerned. Only time will tell if it can actually pull the rug from under LG’s feet.

It’s a kind of scaled version of the technology used in scoreboards and jumbo screens, involving millions of tiny LEDs to create images instead of a liquid crystal layer and LED backlights, used in regular LED television sets.

Samsung says: “Users can add or remove modules to make their TV bigger or smaller, in any configuration, removing previous limitations on screen size, with zero impact on performance of the display.”

We’ve already had a look at The Wall at last year’s CES but only as a prototype. This time around, however, it’s for real and almost ready to hit the markets.

Samsung: Q9S QLED TV

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Launching later this year, Samsung’s first commercial 8K TV, the new 85-inch Q9S QLED, uses AI technology and a proprietary algorithm to upscale 4K and HD content to an incredible 7680×4320 screen resolution.

Not only that, the AI-based technology will also enhance the audio quality of low-resolution contents.

“The Q9S incorporates AI technology to deliver clear and pristine 8K resolution for any type of content. Using a proprietary algorithm, the Q9S continuously learns from itself to intelligently upscale the resolution of the content it shows — no matter the source of that content — to gorgeous 8K.,” says Samsung.

Bixby: Samsung’s own Voice Assistant on its new TVs

With voice assistants becoming increasingly popular, Bixby – Samsung’s answer to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant – will now be made available on the company’s latest television sets. Yes, you will be able to talk to your Samsung screens.

LG: 65-Inch Rolling Screen OLED TV

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Although it’s not likely to hit the consumer market soon, LG’s new 65-inch rollable screen prototype is impressive enough to merit a mention.

Although we got to see an 18-inch version last year, the 65-inch 4K OLED screen on display at CES 2018 is something else. The technology allows the TV to be rolled up for convenient storage.

When fully rolled out it’s like any other TV.

The good thing is that the TV works even when partially rolled down, ideal for showing news headlines and weather updates without taking up space when you don’t really need it to.

Lenovo Mirage Solo –Standalone Daydream Headset

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Lenovo has combined with Google to produce the Mirage Solo, a standalone version of Google’s Daydream VR headset, which has done away with the need of being powered by a smartphone or a PC.

Main features.

  • Powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage
  • Google’s WorldSense allows positional tracking without the need for external cameras or sensors
  • 5.5-inch display with QHD resolution
  • SD card slot, handy for those with VR cameras. Allows you a quick check of what you have shot.
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack on the side of the set
  • 110-degree field of view

Lenovo Smart Display

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Up until now, it was Amazon that had been monopolizing screen-based Alexa-enabled smart speakers, having released the Amazon Echo Show in 2016 and the Echo Spot in December last year – but not anymore.

Lenovo’s new Smart Display has incorporated Google’s version of Alexa, the Google Assistant, to play your music, videos, read you the news and everything else that Alexa does on voice commands.

And what’s more is that it’s a more streamlined, sleeker design, being made available in two sizes – the 8-inch screen for $150 and the 10-inch version for $250.

The Lenovo Smart Display features a speaker on the front of the device and can be placed horizontally as well as vertically.

It has a volume button, a mic on/off switch, and a camera on/off switch with a red indicator light to let you know if the camera is on or off, a welcome inclusion for the privacy-conscious.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S 

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A high-end version of the mirrorless Lumix GH5, Panasonic’s new Lumix GH5S promises to deliver the best-ever video quality by any Lumix camera. The GH5S has been designed with the professional videographer in mind.

The Panasonic LUMIX GH5s will be available in the U.S.A. from the end of February and will retail for US $2499 (body only).

Main Features

  • World’s first Cinema 4K 60p video recording
  • 10.2-MP Digital Live MOS Sensor with Dual Native ISO allowing a maximum ISO 51200 in high-sensitivity recording with minimal noise
  • TimeCode IN/OUT for a seamless workflow
  • Designed for low light
  • True “Multi-Aspect Ratio” function in both photo & video
  • 14-Bit RAW format for stills
  • 240 FPS slow motion
  • Splashproof, dustproof, freezeproof down to -10 Degrees & More

Here are some of the other major announcements at the CES 2018

Ford will be partnering with Qualcomm to equip its vehicles with V2X technology to assist in identifying potentially dangerous road situations.

Sony unveiled its latest Aibo robot dog with OLED screen eyes, a camera in its nose and one on its back for learning the layout of your home. As of now, it’s available only in Japan costing about $1760.

Sony also showed a 4K projector that resembles a side-table, with an artificial marble top and a wooden shelf below, priced at $30,000.

Honda introduced four robots that are designed to work together as one system under the 3E Concept – the 3E representing Empower, Experience, and Empathy. The four robots are the 3E-A18, 3E-B18, 3E-C18 and the 3E-D18.

Amazon’s Alexa will find its way in some Lexus and Toyota models for the US market later this year, allowing users to play music, get directions, remotely lock and unlock their vehicles and much more using voice commands.

Razer’s Project Linda is a laptop with a dock where you normally have the trackpad, allowing users to slide in their Razer Phone in the space and use it as a touch pad or a second laptop screen

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From The Editors Technology

Top Ten Tech-Inspired Christmas Gifts this Season

If you haven’t already done your Christmas gift shopping, it’s time you got down to it without further delay. With just about eight days left to Christmas, there’s no time to waste – trust me on that.

We do understand that choosing the right gift is not an easy task; more time is consumed thinking about what to buy for family and friends than the act of actually buying them.

But do not panic!

To make it somewhat easier for you, we have broken down ten technology-inspired gifts for those tech-lovers in your life that you wouldn’t mind splurging on.

All-New Amazon Kindle Oasis
(Kindle Oasis E-reader with Leather Charging Cover – Black, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi), Wi-Fi)

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  • Thinnest and lightest Kindle ever–read even more comfortably for hours
  • All-new ergonomic design with dedicated buttons to effortlessly turn the page
  • Longest Kindle battery life–the included leather charging cover can boost battery to months. Choose from a black, merlot, or walnut removable cover.
  • High-resolution 300 ppi display with crisp, laser-quality text. Reads like real paper without glare, even in direct sunlight.
  • Enhanced built-in adjustable light evenly illuminates the screen for perfect reading anywhere, anytime
  • Prime members read free with unlimited access to over a thousand titles

Amazon Echo Spot
(Releasing on December 19, 2017)

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  • Echo Spot is designed to fit anywhere in your home. Use 2nd generation far-field voice recognition to watch video flash briefings, see music lyrics, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, browse and listen to Audible audiobooks, and more. All hands-free—just ask.
  • Echo Spot connects to Alexa, a cloud-based voice service to play music, read the news, answer questions, control smart home, and more
  • Just ask to play a song, artist, or genre, and see lyrics with Amazon Music. Also, stream music and books from Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Audible.
  • Use the built-in speaker or connect to speakers through Bluetooth or 3.5 mm stereo cable. With multi-room music, you can play music on your Echo devices in different rooms.
  • Ask Alexa to turn on your lights, show baby monitors and front door cameras, and lock your doors. Plus, control your thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers, and more.
  • Call almost anyone hands-free, or make video calls to family and friends with an Echo Spot, Echo Show, or the Alexa App. Instantly connect to other Echo devices around your home.
  • With tens of thousands of skills, Alexa is always getting smarter and adding new features. Just ask Alexa to control your TV, request an Uber, order a pizza, and more.

Apple Watch Series 3 with Cellular
(Apple Watch Series 3 – GPS+Cellular – Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sports Band – 42mm)

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  • Series 3, built-in GPS and electronic SIM – Stay connected while leaving your phone behind
  • Make calls, send texts, stream music, set reminders and get notifications from your favorite app–all with just your watch.
  • Water resistant up to 50m – can be used for shallow-water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean
  • Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular) requires an iPhone 6 or later with iOS 11 or later. Apple Watch and iPhone service provider must be the same
  • Heart Rate Sensor, Altimeter, Accelerometer, and Gyroscope, Direct fire speaker, and microphone

Google Pixelbook
(i5, 8 GB RAM, 256GB)

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  • Meet Google Pixelbook, the high-performance Chromebook. It’s the first laptop with the Google Assistant built in.
  • Features 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB for storage. The long-lasting battery delivers up to 10 hours of use and it’s fast charging so can get 2 hours of use in 15 minutes.
  • The 4-in-1 design adapts to whatever you’re doing with laptop, tablet, tent and entertainment modes. Access to favorite apps including Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Gmail, YouTube and more.
  • Pixelbook’s super thin and lightweight design measures 10.3 mm and weighs 2.45lbs. Features a 12.3” 360° touchscreen display, a sleek aluminum body, Corning® Gorilla® Glass and a backlit keyboard.
  • Powered by Chrome OS with automatic software updates so you’ll always have the latest virus protection. It starts up in less than 10 secs, stays fast throughout the day, and won’t slow down over time.

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 Hybrid Instant Camera

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  • Prints on new larger square Instax film (2.4” x 2.4”)
  • Hybrid design lets you preview and edit your image before you print
  • View your photos and change settings on the large 3” LCD screen
  • Select your photo and apply any of the 10 fun creative Filters
  • Save your images to the internal memory or micro SD card then share online

iRobot Roomba 690 Vacuum
(Wi-Fi Connected Robotic Vacuum Cleaner, Works with Amazon Alexa)|

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  • Clean and schedule from anywhere with the iRobot HOME App; compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
  • 3-stage cleaning system loosens, lifts, & suctions dirt
  • Navigates under furniture and around clutter
  • Built on the proven Roomba 650 robot platform, now with Wi-Fi connectivity and an updated design
  • Cleans all floor types; includes 1 Dual-Mode Virtual Wall Barrier to manage where your robot cleans

Meccano M.A.X. Robot
(Meccano-Erector M.A.X Robotic Interactive Toy with Artificial Intelligence)

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  • The future is here and it’s ready to play! Meet M.A.X, the 12″ tall advanced robot featuring both artificial intelligence and customizable programming.
  • M.A.X comes with built-in infrared sensors, to help it sense obstacles and navigate surfaces as it rolls around on sturdy smart wheels.
  • Challenge young minds with this S.T.E.M robotics toy. Perfect for budding engineers, builders, and visionaries, M.A.X requires kids to engage in critical thinking.
  • M.A.X is a robotics toy recommended for kids aged 10+. Intermediate complexity level. Build time of 1-3 hours.
  • Includes: 332 Parts, 1 AC/DC Wall Mount Charger (10.4W), 1 Rechargeable Ni-MH Battery 1800 mAh, 2 Hand Tools, 1 Sticker Sheet, 1 Instruction Sheet for 1 Model, 1 M.A.X Brain Module, 1 IR Sensor Module, 2 Smart Motor Modules, 1 LED Module, 1x 3 kgs Servo, 1x 1.9 kgs Micro Servo, 1 USB Cable

Microsoft Xbox One X

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  • Play on the world’s most powerful console. Experience 40% more power than any other console
  • Games play better on Xbox One X. 6 teraflops of graphical processing power and a 4K Blu-ray player provides more immersive gaming and entertainment
  • Play with the greatest community of gamers on the most advanced multiplayer network
  • “The Xbox One X is a beast of a machine and worth every penny”- Xbox Achievement
  • “…the smoothest, most immersive console gaming experience possible.” – Daily Star (UK)

Netgear Arlo Pro 2 Wireless Home Security System
(Arlo Pro 2 by NETGEAR 2 Camera Security System with Siren, Rechargeable, Wire-Free, 1080p HD, Audio, Indoor/Outdoor, Night Vision + Solar Panel)

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  • 100% Wire-free – Free of power cords and wiring hassles
  • 1080p HD – High-quality video with sharper and brighter details
  • Activity Zones – Highlight areas in your camera’s view where you
    want to receive motion alerts (Available when plugged in and used indoors)
  • Keep your camera’s battery continuously charged with solar power
  • Adjustable mount and long power cable for optimal positioning
  • Weather-resistant design

Samsung UE40MU6400U 4K TV
(40-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart TV)

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  •  High Dynamic Range (HDR): Brightness, enhanced shadows, and natural colors
  • Ultra HD: Ultra detailed picture with live upscaling
  • Smart TV Hub: Stream shows, play games and share directly to your TV seamlessly
  • Quad-core processing: Fast multitasking, enhanced performance and smooth interactions
  • Picture quality: 1500 PQ
  • Connectivity: HDMI x 3
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From The Editors Technology

Samsung is Back to its Taunting Ways with New Galaxy 8 Commercial Mocking iPhone Users

With its new Galaxy 8 commercial following on the heels of Apple’s iPhone X, Samsung seems to have resumed its ad war with Apple with a vengeance. The minute-long video clip is an attack, and not too subtle at that, on both iPhone and its diehard fans who are known to line up outside stores for the latest iPhone models.

The ad is titled “Samsung Galaxy: Growing Up” and this is how it cuts a swathe through the different iPhones over the past decade.

The year is 2007; the month June; people are queued up outside an Apple Store for the latest iPhone model while a young dude ambles by. The scene changes to the young man unpacking his first iPhone and calling up a friend to say, “Guess what I just got.”

We’re now in 2010. The young iPhone user from back then is now trying to take a picture of his car with his new iPhone but gets the “not enough available storage” message – a jibe at Apple’s constant use of 16GB of storage.

2013. The young dude has just got his latest iPhone and is trying to swap numbers with a girl who nonchalantly jots down his details using her Samsung S Pen on her 5.5-inch Samsung phone, while he has to punch in her number on his much smaller iPhone. He even comments, “That’s a big phone.” Here we see, it’s the iPhone size which is being mocked.

While 2015 is uneventful, 2016 shows the dude and his girlfriend falling into a lake while trying to click a picture. Needless to say, the waterproof Galaxy is working fine after the dip, whereas the iPhone is thrown into a bowl of rice by the owner, to dry perhaps. “You’ve got to sell me that.” the guy says. This time it’s the waterproof feature of the iPhone being ridiculed.

In 2017 the girlfriend’s Galaxy phone is charging wirelessly on a pad while the guy is all wires. That’s when he decides he’s had enough and dumps his iPhone for the Galaxy 8 and is seen using the S-Pen to write a familiar message, “Guess what I just got,” but for a Samsung phone this time around. The wireless jibe was uncalled for as the latest iPhones are Qi-enabled.

“Upgrade to Galaxy” is the ad’s parting message.

US giant Apple and its Korean competitor Samsung go some way back in so far as ad wars are concerned. Other companies have been involved in similar confrontations as well.

Here’s a relook at some of the famous face-offs in the commercials arena.

In this ad Samsung directly mentions Apple by name comparing the superior features of its Galaxy S three with the iPhone 5.

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Apple retaliates with a similar print ad.

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Here’s a Blackberry TV commercial taking a pot shot at Apple. Check out Apple’s backlash as well

Here’s Samsung attacking Apple again.

Here’s Samsung attacking Apple again.And this one is Samsung’s sequel to the previous one

Samsung is relentless in its ad attacks. It released this mean print ad when Apple was experiencing the “bendable iPhone 6 ” issues.

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Not to be left behind, Nokia Lumia decides to cash in on the Samsung –Apple war.

Samsung and Apple have been involved in a number of court battles over their aggressive ad campaigns always trying to show the other in poor light.

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, said in 2010

“Smartphones, TV’s and other key IT products are entering a slow growth phase and our rivals are changing value chains by introducing new technology and business models.”

Kwon Oh-hyun, Samsung Vice Chairman

In 2010, in response to Steve Job’s statement that “No one is ever going to buy a big phone” Samsung used the same quote, in an image which also says “Guess who surprised themselves and changed their mind,” followed by the Galaxy Note 4 ad with the hashtag #MoreThanBig

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Rémon Elsten, Vice-President of the Swiss Contact Center Association has summed up the Apple -Samsung competition most appropriately.

“Samsung is doing a lot of things to prove they are innovative and therefore, can experiment and learn from their experiences. Apple is known for innovation and don’t have to prove this by using by social media platforms. They have to make sure to keep their status as a quality leader and therefore, cannot experiment as much as Samsung. So they lay back.”

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From The Editors Technology

TEN BEST WIRELESS CHARGING PADS FOR YOUR QI-ENABLED SMARTPHONE

Many, if not all, would agree that smartphones are the only device category in our day to day existence that needs to be charged most frequently. However, while every other device has gone the wireless route, it was only with the recent support of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X that wireless infrastructure for smartphone devices has begun to get the prominence in truly merits – although the technology has been in existence for some time now.

As inconsequential as it may seem, the wireless charger is a blessing – and not even in disguise – that every smartphone user could do with. Providentially, it’s becoming more and more mainstream and we have a number of great options for a tangle-free existence in today’s smartphone environment.

There are, basically, two wireless charging standards for smartphones– the Qi and the PMA. Without going into their technical aspects, let’s just say that the former is a far more popular option, what with the exclusive support of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

We have compiled here a list of the 10 best Qi-compatible wireless charging pads available in the market today.

ANKER PowerPort Wireless 12 W (69.99)

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Wireless charging pad with 12W wall charger for Galaxy Note5, S7|S7 edge|S6|S6 , edge|S6 edge+|Nexus 4|5|6|7, LG G3 and other devices.

Easy Charging

Thanks to cutting-edge Wireless inductive technology, charging an enabled device is as simple as setting it down. Anti-slip rubber coating keeps any phone in place to ensure complete security while charging.

Intelligent Features

Advanced temperature control activates at 107° Fahrenheit to ensure devices are completely safe. The power-efficient idle mode prevents overcharging and minimizes energy waste.

Slim & Sleek

Compact, buttonless design so this charger fits perfectly on any desk or nightstand to deliver wireless charging anywhere you want.

Charging Status Indicator

LED display shines red when ready to charge, blue when charging, and both when a device is fully charged. Indicates a device is not supported by blinking.

Popular Smartphones that Support Wireless Enabled Direct Charging

Samsung Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge Google Nexus 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 (2nd gen) LG G3 / Optimus G PRO HTC Droid DNA / 8X Motorola Droid Maxx / Droid Mini Nokia Lumia 920 / 928 / 1020

Note:

–Confirm that your device is Wireless-compliant or use a Wireless-compliant cover to enable wireless charging.
–Remove protective cases to ensure effective charging
–Charger not compatible with Google Nexus 5X, 6P, and Moto 360
–Deals | Discount offers available on Amazon

Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad ($59.99)

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  • Designed with Apple for iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. AC adapter with 5′ cord included
  • Delivers the optimal charging output for iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X
  • Delivers a more reliable charging experience than standard 5W Qi chargers. It won’t overheat or shut down prematurely
  • Engineered to work with most lightweight cases; charge without removing your case
  • Engineered to be compatible with other QI enabled devices
  • Place your phone on the non-slip charging surface that secures your device while charging
  • A green LED light shows when your phone is correctly aligned on the pad and charging
  • $2,500 Connected Equipment Warranty for peace of mind
  • Register your charging pad at Belkin.com/BoostUpYourWarranty to receive an additional year to your 2 Year Warranty

*Launching on December 1, 2017

Choetech T511 ($20)

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  • CHOETECH Qi Certified T511 Qi Wireless Charger Pad with Anti-Slip Rubber for Qi-Enabled Devices
  • This Wireless Charger pad works with fully Qi-enabled devices like iPhone 8, 8 Plus, iPhone X, Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus, Galaxy S7/S7 Edge, Galaxy S6/S6 Edge, Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Lumia920 and other Qi-enabled devices
  • Displays a Solid Blue Light Indicator if wireless charger works correctly
  • Wall charger plug is not provided or required, use the wall charger that comes with your phone
  • 2 Amps AC Adapter/Power Source needed when charing with Droid Maxx, Droid Mini, LG G2, Nexus 4, Pentax WG-III camera, and other Qi-enabled devices not mentioned here

*Deals | Discount offers available on Amazon

Fonesalesman WoodPuck: Bamboo Edition Wireless Charger ($59.99)

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  • Use the WoodPuck to Wirelessly charge your Qi-enabled device
  • Distinctive look and feel of natural bamboo complements any environment perfectly
  • Solid and Sturdy Build, with Wireless Charging built-in
  • WoodPuck hides your micro-USB socket & plug making the Qi technology inside even more discreet
  • A simple audible notification will indicate the when charging commences. Poor Sync Detection prevents any excess heat, with an audible cycling signal alerting of inefficient placement
  • Available in the colors light Cappuccino and dark Espresso

Ikea Riggad Work Lamp (69.99)

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  • LED work lamp w/wireless charging
  • Work lamp that doubles as a charger.
  • Winner of the prestigious international iF Design Award, acknowledged for its design with birch details, like the on-off switch on top of the shade.You can easily charge your smartphone wirelessly. If your phone supports wireless charging, place it on the built-in charger. If not, you will need to purchase a wireless charging cover.
  • You can charge 2 devices at the same time since there is also a USB port built into the lamp.
  • Provides a directed light that is great for reading.
  • You can easily direct the light where you want it because the lamp arm and head are adjustable.
  • The LED light source consumes up to 85% less energy and lasts 20 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

Kroma Wireless Charger

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  • Kroma Wireless Charging Pad for Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy S6, Note 5, S6 Edge+, S6 Edge, Nexus 4/5/6 and All Qi-Enabled Devices
  • Wireless charging initiates immediately when you place any Qi-enabled device/any device with a Qi-compatible cover on the charging pad
  • Portable, lightweight, and durable. Perfect way to eliminate the hassle of wires in your on-the-go life
  • NOTE: Use a 2A adapter/power source for optimal results. Input requirements: minimum – 5V/1.5A; Output: 5V/1A
  • Includes: one Kroma Wireless Charger, Micro USB cable, and instruction manual

MOPHIE Force Desk Mount ($59.95)

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  • Qi-enabled charge moun
  • tCharges on contac
  • tAdjustable viewing angle
  • Magnetic positioning

The charge force magnetic attraction makes this the most convenient way to charge while staying productive at home or work. Simply place your mophie case against the desk mount and charging begins automatically.

PLESON PLS-WR-C400 (59.99)

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Wireless Charger 2 Coils Cell QI Fast Wireless Charging Pad Stand for Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus S8+ S8 Galaxy S7 S7 Edge Note 5 S6 Edge Plus etc

LIGHTNING FAST AND CASE COMPATIBLE: The coolest wireless phone charger (With a Micro USB Jack). Enjoy 1.4 times faster charging and save your precious time and energy! Compatible with most kinds of cases, including tough armor case, rubber case, hybrid case, plastic/TPU/PC cases etc.(Not including magnetic metal plate case)

ENJOY WIDE COMPATIBILITY: Being extremely compatible, this fast wireless charger is here to accommodate even your most demanding needs. The Fast Charge Mode is compatible only with Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+/S8 Plus, Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, Galaxy S7, and Galaxy S7 Edge. Other Qi-enabled devices will charge at standard wireless charging speeds. Some devices need an extra receiver (Not Included): Samsung Note 4, Note 3, S5, S4, iPhone, LG G3, G4 etc.

CHOOSE CHARGING STYLE: One of the greatest things about this wireless charger stand, besides the compact design and anti-slip mat, is its multifunctional role. Charge your mobile either horizontally or vertically. With the built-in over-voltage, under-voltage, temperature control, surge protection and short-circuit prevention features, we ensure ultimate safety for your smartphone.

NO WIRES, NO BEEPS, NO LIGHTS: Sleep-friendly, Forget about all tangled up wires, beeping sounds, and annoying lights and invest in this modern mobile phone charger! Its LED indicator will automatically shut off after 10 seconds. Sleep safe and sound from now on.

GET THIS WIRELESS CHARGER RISK FREE: Since your satisfaction is our top priority, this wireless standing charger is backed by our 60-day money back guarantee policy! By using QC 2.0 adapter (NOT INCLUDED) or original adapters and cables, enables fast charging on the spot.

*Deals | Discount offers available on Amazon

RAVPOWER 2 Coils Wireless Charger (19.99)

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Convenient Qi Wireless Charging: Say goodbye to tangled cords and wirelessly charge by simply laying your phone on the charging stand (Note: Does not charge through metal phone cases or cases thicker than 3 mm)

Highly Versatile and Compatible: Works with all Qi-enabled devices and rapidly recharges smartphones with fast charge functionality like the Samsung Galaxy S8 / S8+ / S7 / S7 edge / Note 5 / S6 edge+; add Qi wireless charging to non-compatible smartphones by connecting them to a Qi receiver (Note: Requires a separately sold QC adapter higher than 15W to fast charge)

Dual Viewing Angles: 2-coil wireless pad charges your phone vertically or horizontally for the most ideal view and support when watching videos, listening to music, playing games, and more Discreet, Yet Informative LED: Bottom placed circular light blinks as to notify you of the current charging status (Note: Fully charged light indication works with Samsung devices only)

All Around Protection: Features internal safeguards against overcharge, overcurrent, overvoltage, and overheat; anti-slip bottom silicone rim and raised support give extra stability and peace of mind

Seneo Qi Wireless Charger ($28.16)

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iPhone X 8 Plus Wireless Charger, Seneo Fast Wireless Charger Pad for Samsung Galaxy Note 8 S8 Plus S8 S7 S7 Edge Note 5 S6 Edge Plus and Standard Qi Charger Pad for iPhone X iPhone 8 iPhone 8 Plus

WIRELESS CHARGING: Seneo qi wireless charger saves your precious time and worries no more about messy cables, just place down your phone on qi charging pad and charge

APPLICABLE MODELS: Fast charge modes are ONLY available for Samsung Galaxy Note 8, S8 Plus, S8, S7, S7 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, Note 5 models. For iPhone X, iPhone S8, S8 Plus and other Qi-enabled devices will be charged at regular speed; Those devices without QI need extra QI receiver for Wireless Charging.

NO ANNOYING LIGHTS, NO BEEP: Forget about annoying beeping sounds, lights flashing during charging time. The soft and warm breathing LED will automatically turn off after only 5 seconds without distracting your peaceful sleep. Built-in over-voltage, under-voltage, and short-circuit protection provides ultimate safety for your smart phone.

ULTRA SLIM DESIGN: No heavy charger anymore! With 0.3in thickness, you can take Seneo slim and light qi charger pad to anywhere and charger at any time.

TIPS: For fast charging, QC 2.0, 3.0 and above adapter (not included) is required as its power source. It’s normal for your phone to get warm or even warmer during charging and remove phone case before charging

*Deals | Discount offers available on Amazon

Categories
From The Editors Technology

Steve Wozniak Launches Woz U, an “Employable Digital Skills” Education Platform, Says the Apple Co-Founder

Woz U, a new education platform, is aimed at training both the wannabe and the existing technical workforce in “employable digital skills.” One of its purposes is to make technical education affordable for those who want to pursue a career in the tech industry, but are not able to because of financial constraints.

Pioneer and Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak made Woz U official on Sunday announcing the launch of the seemingly brilliant platform.

“Our goal is to educate and train people in employable digital skills without putting them into years of debt,” the Apple co-founder said in a statement. “People often are afraid to choose a technology-based career because they think they can’t do it. I know they can, and I want to show them how. My entire life I have worked to build, develop, and create a better world through technology and I have always respected education. Now is the time for Woz U, and we are only getting started.”

To start with, the Arizona based company will focus on involving students as well as companies in the Woz U scheme of things, while the long-term goal is to stretch the initiative to 30 physical U.S. and world locations.

The program proposes to cover a wide range of tech-related careers including science, technology, engineering, mathematics and even arts, which does not really come as a surprise considering the late Steve Job’s long-time vision of merging technology with the humanities.

In effect, Woz U will be a multi-platform education system that will, on the one hand, attract and train prospective students by offering affordable and employable technical education and, on the other, provide a platform to tech companies to not only hire these Woz U trained students, but to also train new recruits and retrain their existing workforce . This will be done through subscription-based curriculum and customized programs.

At another level, Woz U will work with school districts to provide a separate platform for K-12 students facilitating Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics or STEAM careers.

To sum it up, the Woz U platforms will work towards achieving the following short and long-term objectives.

  • Allow aspiring students to pursue tech-based careers through an affordable Woz U platform providing world-class training in developing technical, digital, IT, software and related skills according to industry demands, thereby, ensuring employability.
  • A Woz U platform to tech companies to hire and train a new workforce and enhance the skills of the existing workforce through retraining.
  • Making a K-12 STEAM platform available to school districts to promote tech and digital concepts among students at a relatively early age, “inspiring the next generation of innovators and developing the workforce of the future.”

Additionally, Woz U plans to introduce high-tech accelerator programs “to identify and develop elite tech talent.”

Woz U Online programs: (https://woz-u.com/about/)

  • Full-Stack Software Developer –.Net, JavaScript, Ruby, Java, and Python
  • Computer Support Specialist
  • Data Science (coming 2018)
  • Mobile Application (coming 2018)
  • Cyber Security (coming 2018)

The Woz U mobile app is designed to include an aptitude test to assess the strengths of students and accordingly guide them towards the most suitable career path.

 

Categories
From The Editors Technology

Google Unleashes Cache of New Hardware at Pixel 2 Event, Including the Game-Changing Smart Earbuds

Google’s Pixel 2 Event at the San Francisco Jazz Center on Wednesday was everything that one expects from such product launches, and perhaps more, with a couple of new products that promise to change the world, so to speak.

The live-streamed event kicked-off with Google CEO Sundar Pichai taking the stage with three giant screens behind him.

As was expected, he began by remembering the Sunday night Vegas shooting and the recent hurricanes that left a swathe of devastation in its wake across Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico. He said that Google was “working to do our part.”

He spoke about the company’s transitional endeavors from a mobile world to an “AI world,” citing a recent effort in Lagos, Nigeria, where the company successfully mapped out 5000 kilometers of road in the city with the help of machine learning – all this in just a few months.

Pichai then mentioned about a similar attempt in San Francisco where Google is looking to solve parking woes by using machine learning to identify available parking in the city.

He said that machine learning helps ‘Google Translate’ process 2 billion translations every single day.

“It’s not just about applying machine learning in our products; it’s about radically rethinking how computing works.”

Speaking about the key components in an AI-first scenario he said, “In an AI first world, computers should adapt to how people live their lives, rather than people adapting their behavior.”

All in all, Pichai’s keynote address revolved around the company’s focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence – an “AI world,” which is conversational and sensory; ambient enough for multiple-device-adaptability; and which is also contextual and situational.

“We are very confident about our approach here because we are at the forefront of the shift to AI,” he said.

Suddenly, it was hardware time; time for the Google hardware team to take over and unveil the new range of Google products – the main purpose of the event, really!

But, before that, a word from Google hardware head, Rick Osterloh. He stressed upon the importance of AI and software, combining to improve hardware. He said that big strides forward for devices call for the successful merging of AI, software, and hardware, promising that the next generation of Google devices is “radically helpful.”

Here’s a sketch of the Google devices launched at the event after a decent, if not impressive, opening.

Google Home Mini

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Isabelle Olsson, team lead of Home hardware, presented the Home Mini smart speaker, Google’s answer to Amazon’s Echo Dot. However, there is a key difference, in that the Home Mini has a classy fabric finish, allowing it blend in with the user’s home.

“You can make it your sous-chef in the kitchen, your white noise machine in the nursery, your voice remote for your TV in the living room, or your alarm clock in the bedroom, or all of the above,” Olsson said.

Here are the key points covered by Olsson in her presentation of the Home Mini – “the newest member of the Google’s Home family.”

  • Striking simplicity in its circular design – sleek, smooth, with no corners or edges
  • Almost entirely covered by fabric
  • 4 LED lights, under the fabric, light up to indicate that “it hears you, or it’s thinking”
  • Can be controlled by touch – a quick tap will allow you to “pause your music, adjust the volume or talk to your assistant.”
  • Mini’s circular shape allows 360° projection of really “crisp” sound regardless of your position in the room.
  • Can be easily connected to any Chromecast built-in speaker wirelessly
  • Available in 3 beautiful colors – coral, chalk, and charcoal
  • Retail price of $49 in the U.S.
  • Available to pre-order online with immediate effect
  • Will be available with major retailers starting October 19

Additional family features will be rolled out later in the month on all Home devices, informed Rishi Chandra

Google Home Max

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Rishi Chandra, Google’s Director Product Management, unveiled the Google Home Max, which is, he claimed, “the biggest and best sound in Google Home ever.”

Here’s a rundown of the key features discussed by Chandra.

  • Two 4.5” woofers with 22 mm of excursion – “an extremely high range for this size,” says Chandra
  • Packs 20 times the power of Google Home – “Max can play loud, really loud.”
  • Adaptable to different acoustic conditions using Smart Sound – “a new audio experience powered by Google’s AI”
  • Supports Cast, Bluetooth, and Stereo Aux Input
  • Built-in Google Assistant
  • Can hear voice commands even when the music is at full volume, using unique microphone placement and Google’s neural beam-forming technology
  • Can be placed vertically or horizontally – “it’s base magnetically pops into place” without the need of rubber feet
  • Will be available effective December at $399
  • Will be available in two colors – chalk and charcoal
  • Free 12-month subscription to YouTube Red

Google Pixelbook

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It was then time for the Google Pixelbook and on came Matt Vokoun, Director Product Management, to talk about it.

Here’s the take from what he said.

  • With a thickness, or should we say thinness, of 10 mm and weighing just 1 kg, the Pixelbook is the “thinnest, lightest laptop Google has ever made”
  • Pixelbook’s 13.3” touch-screen display is “gorgeously high resolution, with vibrant colors, deep blacks, and enough brightness to use outside, even on a sunny day
  • Extremely thin keyboard with soft-touch keys and backlit design
    Intel® Core™ I5 and I7 processors
  • Up to 16 Gigs of RAM and 512 GB storage
  • Long lasting battery allows up to10 hours of usage time on a single charge
  • Up to two hours of use on a 15-minute charge
  • Pixelbook charger can be used with Pixel smartphone and vice versa
  • Automatically connects to the net through your Pixel smartphone in the absence of WiFi – Google calls it “instant tethering”
  • First laptop with built-in Google Assistant accessible with the press of a button on the smart keyboard allowing you to type in your request.
  • When using the Pixelbook as Tab you can show the Google Assistant what you really need help with on the screen, with the help of the Pixelbook Pen. All you need to do is use the pen to circle an image or text on the screen and the Assistant will respond by giving you more information on the circled item. Additionally, the pen can be used to write or draw on your screen, should you feel the need. It is the fastest, most responsive stylus experience.
  • Fully supports Google Play, making smartphone apps available on the Pixelbook
  • Pixelbook price starts at $999 while the Pixelbook Pen is priced at $99
  • Both will be available in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. on the Google Store and over 1000 retail locations including Best Buy
  • Pre-order is already in effect
  • Will be available in stores starting October 31

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

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Next, it was Google’s Mario Queiroz’s turn to present the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones.

  • Available in 2 sizes, the 5” Pixel 2 and the 6” Pixel 2 XL
  • Front facing stereo speakers are “precision tuned to deliver the perfect balance of volume, clarity, and frequency response.”
  • Included adapter allows you to use it with your existing analog headphone
  • The smaller Pixel 2 comes with a full HD OLED display
  • Queiroz described the available color choices as – “kinda blue,” “just black,” and “clearly white,” drawing laughter from the audience.
  • The 6” Pixel 2 XL incorporates P-OLED display technology with “elegantly curved” glass to “bring the display to the edges for a full-screen immersive viewing experience”
  • Both phones have optimized displays for Virtual Reality
  • The Pixel 2 XL comes in 2 colors, “just black” and the “stylishly simple black and white.”
  • Same grade experience on both sizes – “We don’t set aside better features for the larger device,” Queiroz said.
  • “Both the models are IP67 water and dust resistant and have an all-day battery that charges super-fast” – you are good for seven hours with a 15-minute charge.
  • Faster and easier access to Google Assistant with a new feature called Active Edge. All you need to do is “give a quick squeeze where your hand naturally holds the phone and ask for whatever you need.”
  • 12 MP, F1.8 aperture rear camera with optical image stabilization and increased dynamic range and improved texture and sharpness
  • Allows portrait mode with both front and rear cameras
  • Video stabilization enables shake-free videos
  • Will allow you to transfer all your stuff from your old phone to the Pixel 2 in less than 10 minutes
  • Pixel 2 starts at $649 for the 64-GB version
  • Pixel 2 XL starts at $849
  • Both phones will be available in 6 countries – Australia, Canada, Germany, India, the U.K. and the U.S.
  • Pre-order starting immediately
  • Free Google Home Mini with both phones for a limited period in all of the aforementioned countries, except India.

Google Day Dream View

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Google’s Justin Payne takes over to present the newly updated Google Day Dream View, Google’s Virtual Reality headset. It encompasses everything from last year’s version that people loved – making it “even better.”

Main features

  • New colors and upgraded lenses and fabric, giving the headset “the widest field view yet and it’s super light and comfortable.”
  • Allows you to “cast the experiences to the TV” allowing your “friends and family to see what you are seeing.”
  • Payne claims it is the best VR headset in the market
  • Available for $99

Google Pixel Buds

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Justin Payne then went to talk Google Pixel Buds. “A smart, new audio accessory that works perfectly with Pixel 2,” is how he described Pixel Buds.

Salient features

  • Designed for great sound delivering “clear highs’ and “deep base”
  • Super easy music control by simply tapping to start/stop music or swiping forward or backward to change volume
  • Pairing the Pixel Buds with the Pixel 2 gives you instant access to Google Assistant. All you need to do is touch and hold the Bud and ask the Assistant to play music, send a text message, or give walking directions while your phone stays in your pocket all the while
    Alerts you to new notifications and even reads out your messages for you.
  • Allows real-time translation with the help of Google Translate, powered by machine learning. “It’s like having a personal translator by your side,” says Payne.
  • Capable of translating 40 languages
  • The Pixel Buds come in a pocket-sized charging case providing five hours of listening time on a single charge
  • The case holds multiple-charges allowing up to 24 hours of listening time
  • Available in “kinda blue,” “just black,” and “clearly white”
  • Will be available in November for $59 with pre-order already in effect

Google Clips

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The last, but not the least by a long shot, was the unveiling of the Google Clips – “an entirely new type of camera that works with your Pixel,” Payne explained. He said that the first edition was designed with parents and pet owners in mind allowing you to “capture those spontaneous smiles, first steps, and first tricks.”

Distinguishing features

  • Clips is equipped with a high-performance lens, a powerful image sensor, and a shutter button
  • It is small enough to be tossed into your pocket
  • It’s a hands-free camera, which s serves more as a personal photographer than a camera
  • Can be attached to almost anything or just put down anywhere you’d like the image perspective from
  • It resembles a camera and has an indicator light allowing everyone to know what it is – so, no one can accuse you of shooting with a hidden camera
  • All the machine learning happens independently on the device itself
    It captures little snippets which can be saved as a motion photo or a high resolution still
  • Will be available soon for $249
Categories
From The Editors Technology

BMW Joins Forces with Amazon to Integrate AI Powered Alexa into its Cars in 2018

Having made inroads into our homes to integrate itself with a plethora of smart-home devices, the all-pervading Amazon Alexa is now set to take over our cars. And, trust me, nobody is complaining!

BMW confirmed Wednesday that, indeed, Alexa will be integrated into BMW cars and Mini vehicles in 2018, to provide Artificial Intelligence (AI) support to consumers in the U.K., U.S., and Germany, to start with. The integration will involve embedded microphones for optimal speech recognition, while the “visual cards” will appear on the car’s infotainment display.

Speaking at an Amazon event in Seattle, on Thursday, a BMW executive said, “It’s a complete, comprehensive set of internet capabilities that is available inside your vehicle,”

By the way, this is not the first instance of a BMW-Amazon collaboration, having joined forces in 2016 for the BMW Connected app, enabling drivers to use their smartphone devices to operate useful functions such as monitoring the fuel tank, locking vehicle doors, activating climate control and much more.

“By making this step of integrating Alexa into our models from mid-2018, BMW and Mini will form a more intrinsic part of our customers’ digital lifestyles,” Dieter May, senior vice president of Digital Services at BMW, said in a statement. “Voice control first featured in BMW Group cars many years ago, and we are now enhancing its functionality by adding a digital ecosystem, which will open up all sorts of new possibilities that customers can access quickly, easily and safely from their car.”

The latest announcement is sure to give Amazon the platform and impetus to emerge as a potent competitor to Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto. While BMW has stayed away from Android Auto thus far, it does offer CarPlay on several of its models.

The Alexa integration will allow drivers to give voice commands to the Artificial Assistant to perform various tasks such as giving weather updates and directions, controlling music, making a call, interfacing with smart home products, and working with third-party apps like Starbucks, NPR, Jeopardy, and Campbell’s Kitchen, to name a few .

Unlike the BMW Connected, the new Alexa integration will allow users to avail the full range of the AI’s functionality on the car’s dashboard, eliminating the need for an app.

In addition to a robotic voice providing requested information over car speakers, not much different from the Amazon Echo, Alexa will also display information on the dashboard infotainment screen.

BMW, it must be said, is not the only car manufacturer to partner with Amazon for Alexa integration. At this year’s CES in January, both Ford and Volkswagen announced their decision to partner with the retail giant to integrate the AI into their vehicles. As far as Ford is concerned, Alexa will work in unison with SYNC® 3, the company’s infotainment system.

Here are some of the responses the BMW-Amazon announcement has attracted.

Categories
From The Editors Technology

Dubai on Track to Become World’s First City with Airborne Taxi Service

It appears that Dubai will, after all, become the world’s first city to fill its skies with flying taxis in the not too distant future. Monday’s test flight of a taxi drone is indeed a giant step in that direction by the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), which has worked closely with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority to streamline legislative and operational guidelines.

The much-hyped autonomous aerial taxi (AAT) – developed by German drone company Volocopter – is an unmanned flying vehicle with a two-seater cabin – very much similar to that of a conventional helicopter. Integrated atop the cabin is giant hoop with 18 rotors to keep the vehicle airborne.

The AAT is equipped with necessary fail-safes should the vehicle encounter any mid-air trouble, including two parachutes for worst case scenarios. Nine independent quick-charge battery systems can be fully juiced up in a mere 40 minutes, powering the craft for a maximum flight duration of 30 minutes. While the standard cruising speed of the Volocopter drones is 50 kph, they are capable of achieving speeds of up to 100 kph.

A number of U.S. and European companies, including Uber, Airbus, and Kitty Hawk among others, are also working on their own versions of unmanned aerial transport vehicle prototypes. However, Monday’s maiden test staged in the presence of Dubai Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, indicates that Volocopter may be a length or two ahead in the race.

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“We only go public when we can show something that flies,” Alexander Zosel, Volocopter’s co-founder and chief innovation officer, told Reuters in an interview ahead of the Dubai trial. “We show facts, not visions.”

Explaining how the service has been planned to work, Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said: “Implementation would see you using your smartphone, having an app, and ordering a Volocopter to the next voloport near you. The volocopter would come and autonomously pick you up and take you to your destination.”

“It already is capable of flying based on GPS tracks today, and we will implement full sense capability, also dealing with unknown obstacles on the way,” he added, giving an estimated timeline of five years for developers to initiate the service.

Sheikh Hamdan, looking regal in a traditional white robe and headdress, witnessed history in the making from a viewing deck while the craft soared to a height of 200 meters. The Crown Prince and his entourage applauded generously as the ATT finally alighted after staying airborne for some five minutes. The drone used in the trial is a Volocopter 2X.

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“Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contributes not only to the country’s development but also builds bridges into the future,” Sheikh Hamdan said in a statement.

It must be pointed out that the first version of the ambitious project employed the Chinese Ehang 184, a 500-pound, single-seat passenger drone. While the Dubai RTA has not given a reason for the switch over to Volocopter, they did praise the German firm for its reputation for safety.