All posts by beethakore

The Raspberry Pi Becomes a Form Factor

Raspberry Pi rises as its own form factor.

Hackaday

Despite the cries for updated hardware, the Raspberry Pi foundation has been playing it cool. They’re committed to getting the most out of their engineering investment, and the current board design for the Raspi doesn’t support more than 512Mb of memory, anyway.

What you see above isn’t a Raspberry Pi, though. It’s the Carrier-one from SolidRun. All loaded out, it has a system-on-module with a quad core ARM Cortex-A9, 2GB of RAM, 1000 Mbps Ethernet, USB host ports, eSATA, and LVDS display connector, a real time clock, and everything else you get with a Raspberry Pi, header pins included. It’s all the awesomesauce of the newer ARM boards that will still work with all your Raspberry Pi hardware.

If you’re thinking this is a product announcement, though, think again. The folks at SolidRun are merely using this Raspberry Pi form factor board as a prototyping and development platform for

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The iPod of smoke detectors is here. From Nest.

Inside Nest Protect

The Nest team is back with their second product – a smoke detector which is connected with your smart sensor and uses the same software app to control it as their first, smart thermostat.

Nest Protect really resonates several product innovation features just like the iPod had done at this arrival. It does most things that a standard smoke detector does, but for example the button feature that allows you to deactivate it with a broom stick and a nifty night lamp. All these features add a soft personality, same way the ‘sleep’ light on the mac was a strong emotional feature for its owners back in the early 90s.  But out of all its features, this is my favourite: The Nest system draws its brainpower from sensors and artificial intelligence algorithms that capitalize on user behavior in ways no dumb thermostat could imagine. For example, Nest’s motion sensors can tell when people are around. After months of use in thousands of homes, the company has gleaned the fact that people who leave the house in the morning tend to be gone all day, while those who leave in the afternoon are more likely to return home more quickly. Thus the thermostat more intelligently applies the Auto-Away function, which is a big energy saver. One of the features I like less is ofcourse, like all Apple products, it is more than twice the price tag of smoke detectors. Hence, the iPod of …

Meet Nest Protect.

Read full WIRED article: Nest Gives the Lowly Smoke Detector a Brain — And a Voice | Wired Business | Wired.com.

Why Google wins a good slice of Raspberry Pi with coder and why Facebook should watch this closely

“Google has jumped aboard the Raspberry Pi badwagon, releasing an operating system called “Coder” designed to get kids into web development.” reported The Register a couple of days ago. I would however argue that this is not a reactionary activity on the part of Google.

So, why?

It may seem obvious that there are easily over 1 million Raspberry Pi units now shipped – giving it enough scale to be a device Google partners fully with. Google has already had involvement in the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s educational activities – donating 15,000 units to schools in early 2013. But I think this is a move that would go much further in extending Google’s dominance of both our first and increasingly important second screen.

So, let’s ask why now?

Everything in business, especially in the technology world is about the right timing. And that this development comes now is very interesting. Earlier this week, Facebook released its white paper ‘Focusing on efficiency (PDF)‘ for Internet.org on its mission to get access to connectivity as a basic right. This is part of the battle Google and Facebook have been engaged with in the emerging markets. Internet.org is one part to it, with Facebook Zero – is an USSD based lightweight version of the mobile site (0.facebook.com) is another one, gaining vast amounts of adoption. Google has also has a competitive offering – ‘Free Zone’ – product that allows users to access Google+, Gmail, and Google Search on their mobile phone without incurring data charges.

The growth of the next billion Internet users, the opening up of new business opportunities, improved analytics snapshots of developing areas, a likely increase in the value of stock prices and immense international political power.

India and China are too easy as examples, with the average bandwidth and data charges being competitive to those in the western world, but let’s consider Philippines. Google chose to launch Free Zone in Philippines as it offers a huge population of mobile users with basic internet-enabled devices and data is expensive. But along with data charges, the average cost of popular feature phone (a slightly stripped back version of the smartphone) is around 4,4500 Pesos. The Raspberry Pi in comparison is a 2,078 Pesos device and comes with much better potential to convert into a media streaming device, an ethernet ready networked device and can possibly be brought to great uses significantly reducing costs and improving the ability to dominate on the web and second screen devices! I personally think that yes it may not be just this year that Google and Raspberry Pi see an explosion in Philippines, but the next big demand for the Raspberry Pi is from these emerging countries, where it offers an easy way to connect to the web whilst keeping the costs as low as possible.

See here the key drivers of smartphone usage in emerging ICT countries from the Facebook internet.org white paper: Google’s and Facebook’s have the same mission in sight. Cheaper access to devices that help people fulfil the same activities would be beneficial. Enter our high growth unit – Raspberry Pi.

Key Drivers for smartphone usage

Whilst Facebook is partnered and battling at various level with Google on this, it is much more vocal about the much grander goal, whereas Google has gone and taken an active bite (oh, please excuse the pun!) of the action. This is why Google remains the darling favourite of the tech world. Where it has been not making as much ground as Facebook Zero in the past 12 months, it will certainly see much wider  engagement through the Raspberry Pi. Dear Facebook, please take note.

There are two other winners of this development: unsurprisingly the Raspberry Pi itself and Broadcom: who can gain a little further ground in closing the gap with Qualcomm.

What do you think? Is this a simple reaction for Google to get involved in the Raspberry Pi as an afterthought or a carefully placed feature in its strategy hat?

Second Screen Live – Little Mermaid leads the way

Under normal circumstances, one would not find the Little Mermaid covered here but we live in interesting times. Disney’s announcement on selected theatres featuring live second screen experiences  for the Little Mermaid may be an important sign: The next generation audiences cannot live without their second screens and companies will have to change the way we have engaged and attended to their content completely. Well done to Disney for recognising it. I consider this is the way entertainment both in the home and in cinema will move in the future – can’t wait for the Star Wars experience of this. Please, please convert my iPhone into an iSaber so I can have pretend duels in the cinema alley!

All I can say is this is a very welcome change to what Kevin Bacon constantly keeps instructing us not to do. Pick up that phone and tablet, turn on the wifi (keep the ringer off) and sync it with the movie! I have no difficulty seeing that this can become part of the enhanced TV experience: allowing audiences to engage, purchase and share all at the same time. Quite what it does to our already diminishing attention span, I hate to wonder (plus, I get distracted. :-))

See the promo video Disney shared on YouTube:

 

I am sure this will invite a varied response, especially from parents. What do you think? Will this take off in Cinemas for wider audiences?

Xbox One graphics capabilities, odd SoC architecture, and bus bandwidth confirmed by Microsoft

Microsoft has finally lifted the curtain on the Xbox One, with a great deal of technical detail on display at the Hot Chips conference. For the first time, we’ve got a view into how the architecture is laid out and what its capabilities are. The chip is built on a 28nm process by TSMC and measures a sizeable (though not enormous) 363mm sq. It’s capable of running at as little as 2.5% of active power thanks to aggressive power gating — leaving the system running won’t destroy your power bill. The chip is built on TSMC’s HPM process, which is designed to offer simultaneous benefits of high performance and low leakage power.

XBoxOne SoC architecture

Read more details on Extreme Tech’s report:

Xbox One graphics capabilities, odd SoC architecture, and bus bandwidth confirmed by Microsoft | ExtremeTech.

Neat tagging: Edible smart tags to fight fake pills

The next generation of the IoT will digitize smaller, cheaper things that are generally high volume and low cost but important nonetheless. Whether they are pharmaceuticals, electronic components, industrial parts or food, these are things that travel through global commerce in quantities of billions but to which it would be too expensive or impractical to add a sensor.

Instead, these items will be given a data tag similar to a barcode or a QR code – the square grids often used on physical objects like packages and magazine ads that act as a bridge to the digital world when scanned with a smartphone. However, it isn’t practical to add a traditional printed barcode to things like gears, pills and circuit boards, so advanced materials, such as plant DNA or nano-scale  symbols, will be used as markers, allowing for almost invisible tagging.

Edible smart tags to fight fake pills | Forum:Blog | The World Economic Forum.

via Neat tagging: Edible smart tags to fight fake pills.

From Siggarph: illumiRoom – peripheral projected game experience

TV busting games!

A project called IllumiRoom enables a console game to escape the bounds of a TV screen, overlaying imagery onto the space around it. The system was developed by researchers at Microsoft and uses a Kinect depth sensor and projector positioned in front of a gamer to detect the shape of the room around the TV set, and overlay imagery onto it.

IllumiRoom has been used to add a new atmosphere to games by, for example, creating the illusion of falling snow around a TV, and having explosions extend beyond the screen.