Mobile device for the visually impaired: Project #Ray

http://hothardware.com/newsimages/Item23067/prjecray.jpg

http://hothardware.com/newsimages/Item23067/prjecray.jpg

Technology, nowadays, is a blend of learned responses through visual cues and touch-screens. Most of us are lucky enough to see and visualize all these wonderful benefits, but what about those that are less fortunate in the visual category? What about the visually impaired? How can they make use of cell phones and technology where everything that’s given as an option requires one to have a sight or vision?

Introducing: Project Ray. (Model RAY-G300)
- a touch-screen smartphone for the visually impaired.

The company behind the G300 is known as “Ray”, which is a new startup firm backed by Qualcomm. They’ve developed a 4″ WVGA screen GSM device, with a tweaked version of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). Equipped with 1GHZ CPU (single core), 5 MEGAPIXEL rear-facing camera, 4GB memory, microSD card slot, microUSB charging port, headphone port, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, GPS, and 1350mAH battery.

There are several benefits as to why it outshines other devices. its designed to learn user patterns and apply changes accordingly. On top of self-learning, it ‘talks’ to the user on every action or move; whether it be: reading a magazine, automatic backup and restore of data, easy access to panic and emergency services, reading out GPS location, etc (sort of how the Accessibility feature works on most smartphones). The biggest benefit is its custom made user-interface, allowing easy hand gestures and movements with maximum functionality and feedback from the device.

The phone itself costs $750USD for now on their website and is available with free shipping.

I honestly think most devices nowadays are aimed at people who can see. This is the only initiative which is solely targeting the visually impaired, which I must say is inspirational. One company that’s actually working for a good cause. I wish this company the best of luck and success, and ofcourse thanks to Android for being free and customizable, so that it can be used by ‘literally’: everyone.

Source Article: Engadget
Source#1: Ray

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Smartphone controlled lightbulb: #LIFX

https://s3.amazonaws.com/ksr/projects/ 324038/photo-full.jpg?1347298396

What if you could control everything with your smartphone? … that’d be just scary and insane, which is why there isn’t an app for it (yet).

The idea that stems out of the thought above would be: what are the most beneficial and efficient ways to create an app that can be used in our every day lives and activities?

One of things that we (people) do is… live. Where do we live? In homes (duh). Once you’re home though, what’s the FIRST thing you do? Well, apart from taking off your carry-ons, we all turn on lights through a light-switch. If you’re far away or lazy enough to turn the switch on yourself, just use your smartphone – make sure you’ve got a LIFX bulb though!

LIFX – the new ‘kickstarter’ initiative, is a product introduced by Phil Bosua, whose idea is to control all the lights in your house through a smartphone app and a LED bulb that connects to your WiFi router – easily!

Today’s technology does allow us to control lights – centrally and by investing a lot of our hard-earned dough. Things like ‘home security packages’ manage all these nifty features via console, but not a lot has been done to make these possibilities seamless or if one is away from home, the biggest factor is cost though (even if a similar method exists).

LIFX wants to be one of those solutions – that’s can do everything with light-bulbs, as easy as 1-2-3.

Control your lights from anywhere
Choose any brightness for a specific bulb, a room or your whole house
Create the colors to match any mood or decor
Get notifications such as Twitter, Facebook, Texts and more
Reduce your energy consumption and save money
Visualise your music with animated colors
Make an impression at your next dinner party
Get creative with colors and effects
Create a night light for your kids
Security mode when you’re on holidays
Create groups of lights
Robot dance like it’s 1999

[Source#2]

Take a look at their demonstration video. The video showcases exactly what it means to have one LED bulb for all purposes. Ofcourse, the more bulbs – the fancier features are enabled.

I personally think it’s a pretty sweet deal.

What I love about LIFX is the fact it focuses on efficient hardware/software technologies like LED bulbs with smartphone app connectivity, instead of fiddling around with power cords/fuses/confusing ‘control stations’/expensive monthly costs (like conventional security systems). Before Kickstarter (publicly funded project) officially funds this project, which is well over a million $USD, each bulb’s price was hovering around $70 USD.

Once real production takes place, I’m sure the prices will plummet as it gains success. LIFX will be shipping bulbs around March 2013.

Source#1 – Kickstarter
Source#2 – TechCrunch

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Samsung trying to steal #RIM’s business market: #SAFE

http://www.uberphones.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/samsung-safe.jpg

I don’t think I’ve ever seen any tech company go through so much negative media publicity other than Blackberry (RIM). Take this news for instance.

Blackberry is known to be the Enterprise-King (after its tarnished customer segment). From data storage to multimedia communication devices, Blackberry is literally “the” choice for most (if not all) companies on a global scale. Ever since the arrival of competitive smartphone platforms, Blackberry has been struggling in all segments of the wireless playground. Consumer market is completely out of bounds, the only thing Blackberry was standing on was its Enterprise market, which unfortunately is also under severe attack. Nowadays, lots of companies have been reporting to allow their employees to use ‘alternative smartphone handsets’ alongside RIM phones – ouch.

The source article pertains to Samsung’s goal of directly attacking RIM’s remaining ‘safety for enterprise’ throne. “SAFE“, aka “Samsung Approved for Enterprise” is a security brand/concept by Samsung, labeling its flagship handsets to be completely compatible and secure with Enterprise servers. Seeing the way Samsung handsets are being flooded in store-shelves (and flown out), I don’t think RIM will stand a chance against competitors in the upcoming year, to say the least. Apple has been replacing BB handsets in many companies as well.

Market adaptability takes a lot of time, effort and good products (Apple vs RIM), but sometimes its the other way around (Samsung vs Apple) and things can take a change in no time. The amount of time RIM has been taking to develop its new platform is just far too long in this current-gen world where everyone (Microsoft, Mozilla, Google, Apple, BlackBerry, etc) is trying to develop a new software eco-system with next-gen hardware on an almost monthly basis. On top of this, media has been attacking RIM negatively from left and right anyways due to pathetic devices – and this news is definitely not helping their media-image.

The point is, I have a feeling it might be a little too late for RIM to catch up back to the #1 spot. I wish them the best of luck to remain a company and at least keep our smartphone prices going south. You never know though, when Apple was going strong no one thought Android could come around and give it a hard time – maybe BB OS 10 could do the same? Time will tell.

Source: TechCrunch

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#SmartWatch pattern emerges with #MetaWatch

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http://www.blessthisstuff.com/imagens/stuff/meta-watch.jpg

It seems a new breed of tech companies are emerging, continuously gaining fresh and new investments (from donations and private investors).

Pebble Watch, as previously covered by R4T is a watch that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and displays everything important like your notifications and messages on the LCD display. Best thing about these smartwatches is the ability to add custom made applications which even the user can make based on their preferences., choosing an average of under $200. And now another company wants to enlist itself an iOS exclusive smartwatch manufacturer (Motorola also makes MOTOWatch for Androids).

What makes me ponder is the fact how all the big named watch companies (CK, Seiko, Casio, Swiss Army etc) never even thought of stepping into this sector. Nowadays, I believe a watch doesn’t serve the purpose of time only, but the brand and how expensive the watch is, which is very stupid. Why would you spend more than $200 on a gadget that only shows you time? Without getting offended in your minds, you know very well the above statement makes sense. A gold or expensive watch is not a sign of prestige, its a sign of ignoring how to spend your money wisely.

Realistically, I think the concept of smart watches is also a waste of money, but its an emerging trend which is why its being covered.

Source: Engadget

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#VIA Technologies also present an #Android #DIY Barebone kit

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image

http://apc.io/media/apc/img/apc-outlines.png

A few weeks ago I posted a link on how Android manufacturers are coming up with DIY concepts, and how you can actually make your own custom tablet.

Well, whoever was dumb enough to ignore that notion, another manufacturer has joined the party. VIA technologies have introduced a fresh new line of Android enabled DIY kit. And guess how much it costs, $50 USD. One of the greatest things about this “motherboard” is the fact how it can fit in macro-ATX as well as mini-ATX PC cases.

It comes pre installed with Android 2.3 with the following specs:
VIA 800MHz processor
512MB RAM
2GB flash memory (microSD enabled)
Built-in (up to 720p) graphics
HDMI pro, VGA port
4 x USB Ports
audio out / in
Ethernet port

.. Again $50. I bet Apple would never even think of enabling such perks for the general crowd because
1. Most Apple followers are n00bs and carry none to low technical knowledge, so the idea of customization is out of the question.
2. Even if they did release something like this it would cost us a fortune.

The point is this gives the custom-PC world another chance to exist amongst the corps.

Source: Engadget

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What’s up with 3D printing?

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source: http://www.cheers4all.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/3d-printer.jpg

The concept of 3D printing sounds exciting, but exactly what is the idea behind 3D printing?

First, a beloved WikiReminder:

3D printing or additive manufacturing[1] is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. 3D printing is achieved using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material.[2] 3D printing is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques (subtractive processes) which mostly rely on the removal of material by drilling, cutting etc.
(from wikipedia.com)

The above is a generic reminder about how 3D printing is performed in the world of design and architecture. The industry uses the standard AutoCAD related software to perform such tasks. The emerging trend in 3D printing is actually converting the complicated method of industrial printing into physical printing.

In simple terms: let’s say you find an object online. You’d give anything in the world to make a design out of it. Instead of contacting your local architecture folks or attending an art class to learn how to build a precise shape, manufacturers are now making 3D printers to meet those demands, buy a local printer and let the printer do the precise 3D print.

Well, its an amazing thought of just loading an image and printing it in 3D, but realistically there are a few things to keep in mind.

- you can’t print anything in its pure color
- you can’t print specific (or all) shapes
- there are detailed requirements that an object has to meet
- the “ink” is a complicated concept itself. There are 2 ways to print in 3D: either have a printing needle that has a block of physical object to hammer on, which itself has to know the exact limitation and size of the object. Or use a toxic ink/powder that melts and molds into a 3D shape after its “cooling off” process.

The prices range anywhere from $500 upwards to about $5000. These generous printers meet very specific needs though. Its almost a God sent for those who might be struggling to exist in the art & fashion industry, but after seeing demo videos I’m almost certain that these things will become prominent in the industry.

Enjoy the 4minute video as the printer outputs an actual working wrench.

Source: Engadget

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Forget GPS devices, #Garmin introduces a #GPS #Console-dial for your car!

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Source: http://www.tabletpcblog.com/wp-content /uploads/2012/05/67434b30rmincontrol.jpg

Before we focus on the source article’s main point, I want you to keep a few things in mind. The evolution of personal computing: it started off with combination of a physical keyboard, mouse, display (non-interactive), and a huge machine. If you look at the speed at which things are changing – you’ll be astonished, better yet: you should be surprised and jumping out of your seat with excitement. Everything is converting into virtual data, aka, invisible data and the size of the computing device (the processing brain) shrinking.

The world of invisible data is growing and will keep on doing so, here are a few examples: things like data transmission (wireless, satellite connections), touch sensitive hardware (keyboard+mouse = touch screen displays), social networking (connecting with friends, family online rather than physical or through telephone) etc. And it’s not like it took a century for all these changes to occur, it all happened immediately.

When it comes to vehicles, a lot of manufacturers are looking to convert front dashboards with a touch-sensitive slate, while using the front glass as a display screen. Well, the revolution sounds dandy n all but the main question here should be: when will the pattern of upgrading actually cool-off? Sort of like a breathing point for the industry itself. The “age” of physical keyboard and mouse was a “breathing point” or plateau for the industry for a few years – and when it comes to cars and dashboards, Garmin is trying to do the same but with a different perspective in mind.

GPS manufacturer Garmin has decided to focus its attention on solidifying (physical) multi-sensor experience rather than testing with virtual (invisible) touch sensitive screens and the likes. What they are now trying to do is install a console along with your gearbox/handbrake that can easily fiddle around with the settings for your GPS – this way you’ll be less occupied to physically input key strokes onto the screen, meaning more concentration on the road and a natural upgrade to multi-tasking your GPS locations. This console will be equipped with a proximity sensor, meaning it will know when you’re physically covering it, enabling a much more seamless and interactive experience. It also enables other nitbits like: HVAC control, smartphone app integration, car monitoring controls, pre-set buttons, etc.

I believe this is more of a natural and logical upgrade to driving a car with a GPS – build a console within the car which is dedicated to the GPS. Instead of having a separate device to manipulate as GPS, it’s better to treat GPS as a car’s best friend.

I’d also like to mention about Garmin’s accomplishments. Garmin is a company that has consistently kept itself up to date with the times: enabling firmware updates, traffic updates, real-time accident information (requires a fee ofcourse), and now an opportunity to combine their skillset with car manufacturers at this point should surely spring a new branch of royalty money (if it gets approved on a larger scale, Suzuki will implement this in their 2013 vehicles).

Source: Engadget

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Create your own #custom #tablet: #Amber

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source: http://makezineblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/diy_tablet_1.jpg

Calling all DIY (do-it-yourself) enthusiasts, there’s now a way to actually develop your own customizable tablets. A company called Liquidware has recently debuted what it calls “Amber”, its a 7″ tablet slate that is cover less (add your own), comes fully equipped with Android 3 (Gingerbread).

Here are the detailed specs:

Software:
Android 2.3.4 Operating System
Five User Customizable Buttons
3.5mm Stereo Audio

Display:
7.0 inch projected capacitive multi-touch display
800×480 LCD screen 133 DPI

Processor & RAM:
1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 OMAP3730 (single core)
32-bit 512MB of RAM 8GB Class 10 micro SD (up to 16GB)
2 USB Host (Type A) 1 USB OTG Port (Mini AB)

Communication:
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
USB to 10/100BASE-T Ethernet
USB to RS232 Serial

Power:
5,600mAh
19V DC Power Adapter

Size & Weight:
Height: 4.19 inches (106.6mm)
Length: 6.66 inches (169.3mm)
Depth: 0.66 inches (16.8mm)
Weight: 15.7oz (447grams)

This is absolutely amazing. The reason why is because if you look at the history of tech gadgets, only desktop computers were enabled for custom computer production, whereas phones/laptops were gadgets where the masses solely depended on manufacturers to release new products. This initiative will benefit those who survive mainly on custom-built PCs, and officers love experimenting with modifications on an external end.

Source: http://m.engadget.com/default/classic/article.do?artUrl=http://www.engadget.com/2012/05/18/liquidware-debuts-customizable-android-development-tablet/&icid=eng_latest_art

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Connect anything with the Internet – simply add “#ImpCards”

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Source: http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/17mtlepvu102yjpg/original.jpg

The title says it all.

There’s a company called Electric Imp – specializing in semi conductors. They’ve come up with a MicroSD Card look-alike chip (which are WiFi enabled) – called Imp Cards (Imps). These Imps can be installed on ANY (and yes its been tested) machine, device, gadget that you own – even if initially it can’t connect to the Internet – rest assured after installing Imp, you’ll be able to control that device through a web-interface.

The greatest thing about this chip is that it works with ANYTHING. I don’t know how else to emphasize this great fact. Most devices with similar features will force you to purchase branded products, or through specific manufacturers. But this is different. As soon as the chip is installed, it detects functions and features of that particular device, and through the magic of ‘cloud computing’ you can access the controls to your device (washing machine, stove, microwave, lights, etc) from anywhere in the world.

Folks over at Mashable did an extensive video (below) coverage demonstrating how this could actually work. The video shows how people can create their own applications based on the kind of device/gadget/machine they want it to work with, and what unique feature (if they want to add any) should be highlighted. Truly amazing. Sort of an open-source project, Imps are aimed to cost around $25 only.

On a side note, the owners of Electric Imps are former Gmail and iPhone developers. So, the power of Android/Apple combined, and you get this? Thank you world!

Source: Gizmodo

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#HardDrives 2012 – Self Destruct button!

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Source: http://hackadaycom.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/dsc02560.jpg?w=450&h=330

A company named RunCore has come up with a way to make sure your hard drives are as safe as possible – by giving it the ability to self destruct. Forget sophisticated encryption techniques - this is hardcore, people!

The hard drive comes with 2 buttons, a green and a red button. Green one is designed to virtually replace all existing data with random numbers and characters so that your original data disappears. Red one is designed to actually destroy the NAND chip (physical part that recognizes and stores data) on the hard disk, by supplying a stronger than usual electric current – think of a very STRONG electric surge effect. NAND chips are interconnected deeply into the hard drive – in all sectors (sort of like how blood veins are spread apart in our body – supplied by the heart).

Great way to save yourself from the police – if you’re suspected of doing something illegal through your computer!

Source: Gizmodo

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