Category Archives: New Technology News

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?

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.

Manufacturing group to build 3D printing innovation centers in China

So much of our connected living room today bears the label ‘Made in China’. 3D printing has been heralded as a way to democratise the world’s manufacturing lines, offering us to be able to fabricate what we need locally. With the huge amount of FDM printers flooding the market and more to come as Patents for FDM and SLS expire, we would see a huge amount of Chinese players offering you the 3D printer that finally lands on your workbench.

Beijing based trade association plans to build 10 innovation centers for 3D printing (pronounced like “san D da eeng” in Chinese) technology in 10 cities in China in the near future, with a planned investment of 20 million yuan ($3.3 million) for each center. The centers mainly aim to serve manufacturers, and the AMA is calling for fiscal policy support from the government.

Manufacturing group to build 3D printing innovation centers – People’s Daily Online.Manufacturing group to build 3D printing innovation centers - People's Daily Online

Recently, Chinese astronauts sat in 3D-printed seats on their historic space flight. Each printed seat was tailored specially for that particular astronaut’s unique size and shape. On the industrial front, China is now home to seven 3D printer manufacturers, including a consumer-level model called the UP!. And, United States-based Stratasys (the largest 3D printer company in the world) employs about 150 employees in its Hong Kong office and plans to open an office in Beijing.  – See more also at LiveScience insights

Review: Leap Motion Controller | MIT Technology Review

Leap Motion Controller

MIT Tech Review plays with the Leap Motion Controller and unfortunate puns of ‘not leaping for joy’ are their verdict. However, Gesture control technology would enable a much easier, intuitive and gratifying way of interacting in the connected living room, especially for gaming, next generation video/audio interaction, etc. It seems that Leap needs to cover some further ground before it is going to deliver a seemless, instantly gratifying experience.

As someone who has Carpel Tunnel, I believe they ought to consider how gesture control would work in conjunction with other devices as this was the most worrying of all comments in the review:

“I also noticed something that doesn’t usually happen when using a mouse and keyboard, even though I’m routinely in front of a computer for seven or more hours a day: after an hour or so, my right arm felt really tired, all the way up to my shoulder. Even when I started fresh the next day, making motions as small and precise as I could, it still started to bug me after a while”

 

 

 

Review: Leap Motion Controller | MIT Technology Review.