Showing posts with label Tech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tech. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Project Wing vs. Prime Air: Google's Drones Soar Above Amazon's



Move over, Amazon. Google has just entered the commercial drone arms race with Project Wing, an until-now secret program to develop "self-flying vehicles" to deliver small packages, similar to Amazon's Prime Air.

Both programs are still years away from coming to fruition, with prototype drones — or, more accurately, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — completing only the most basic of test flights. However, the drones have been in development for a while, with notably different approaches to drone design. Google has been working on drones for two years; Amazon announced its program in December of last year.

For Project Wing, Google (actually Google X, the company's division in charge of "moonshot" projects) eventually settled on a tail-sitting aircraft design, which combines elements of a helicopter and a fixed-wing airplane. Rotors are mounted toward the front of the plane, which lift the plane from the ground since it sits with its tail pointed downward. Once it's in the air, it can reorient itself to fly like a plane, which lets it fly faster than a typical copter design.

Hybrid theory

Google says the aircraft shown in its test video is one of many iterations and shouldn't be taken as the final design for Project Wing. Nevertheless, Google may have settled on the ideal design for drone delivery: a craft that can take off and land slowly and safely, has the ability to hover so it can take its time when unloading its cargo, and can also fly like a plane so it can travel large distances quickly and efficiently.

"With vertical and horizontal flight, speed and efficiency come into the equation,"Google spokesperson Raymond Gobberg told Mashable. "The fixed wing helps it get there faster, but then when it transitions into hover, we're able to lower the package.But this is only one of vehicles we're testing."

The ability to stop and hover is in no way unique to Project Wing, but it is the key feature for delivering packages, and it's why most drones feature a helicopter or ducted-fan design. After all, most customers won't have room for a runway for a drone to land on, and parachuting packages from above isn't really an option (Google tried it and found that wind affected precise targeting too much, according to The Atlantic, which first reported on Project Wing on Thursday).

In Amazon's teaser video for Prime Air, a drone first lands in front of a house, drops its payload, then flies off a few seconds later. It's very simple, although some people criticized the depiction, saying that anything with rotating blades will be tempting to kids and curious onlookers, which represents a safety risk.


Google apparently agrees, which is why it decided to add a winch to the drone to perform the actual delivery. The tail-sitting design allows the drone to hover over the delivery target, then drop the item, attached to a fishing line, letting gravity pull it down at 10 meters per second (m/s). When it gets close to the ground, it slows things down to 2 m/s.

Once it gets to Earth, it releases the package and retracts the cable, leaving the drone high in the air and away from any potentially meddling hands. Conversely, Amazon's drop-ship approach isn't inherently unsafe, but it does introduce a wild card that Project Wing doesn't.

Google's drone would also theoretically have a longer range than Amazon's Prime Air drone, which uses a typical octocopter design. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said the current range of the company's test drones is 10 miles, although that program is in the early stages as well. Google declined to give any kind of range spec for the Project Wing drones, but a spokesperson did say one of the reasons it picked a tail-sitting design was the increased range.
"Amazon's model was a 10-mile radius — five pounds within 30 minutes — which they estimate that is about 80% of the things they deliver," said Mike Toscano, CEO of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. "Now you've got Google saying, 'I'm going to places like the Outback, where you've got 100 miles to deliver something, where it's very costly to deliver a five-pound package.' This is the way to get those long distances."

The human is the error

If tail-sitting aircraft are so beneficial, why hasn't the Air Force — or anyone else, for that matter — deployed one? They have, although almost all designs never flew past the experimental prototype phase. The main reason tail-sitters never caught on is because the continual changes in orientation are hard on the pilot, who could be facing forward one minute and upward the next.
"The reason you couldn't have that technology before is because the human being couldn't handle the vertigo," Toscano said. "The electronics can handle 9-10 G's; a human being can only handle 3-5. These are compelling reasons to go with automated vehicles or self-driving cars. From an engineering standpoint, you eliminate the weak link, and that's us."

If your pilot's a computer, though, that's not a problem. Drones don't suffer from spatial disorientation or brain trauma if they maneuver in ways that would damage a flesh-and-blood pilot. And the craft doesn't require the complexities of rotating sections or jet engines, like other plane designs for vertical takeoff and landing (VToL) that are in use.
With Project Wing, Google has taken an aircraft design from history's junk pile and turned it into a template for the future of drone delivery. We're still years away from getting backscratchers flown right to our front doors, but the armada of flying robots transporting them may end up looking more unusual than we ever thought.



Monday, September 1, 2014

Google Is Putting $50 Million Toward Getting Girls to Code.


Mindy Kaling and Chelsea Clinton want high school girls to embrace computer science.
The two women were on hand at a Google event in New York City on Thursday called Made With Code.

Made With Code is a new Google initiative to motivate future female programmers. Only 18% of computer science degrees are earned by women, and Google is spending $50 million over the next three years to change those numbers.

More than 150 high school girls turned out for the event, including local chapters of the Girl Scouts of the USA, Black Girls Code and Girls Who Code. Kaling, a writer and actress, emceed the premiere, which brought in Google X Vice President Megan Smith, Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton, iLuminate creator Miral Kotb, Pixar Director of Photography Danielle Feinberg and UNICEF Innovation cofounder Erica Kochi.

Feinberg, who has worked on films like Brave, Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc., spoke with the group about her early experiences with coding and how it has shaped her career. She also emphasized the importance of exposing girls to how fun coding can be.

"This is something that's so important to me that I'm happy to do anything that they want me to do and be as involved as possible," she told Mashable. "I think it's much easier to connect with when you can see it and you can hear it and get all the senses involved."

Smith spoke about why she spearheaded the campaign to get girls into coding. She took a coding class in high school, but described it as boring. Her goal for Made With Code is to show girls that figuring out coding can be challenging but rewarding: "We invited you guys because we wanted to share the incredible world that we live in every day."

After each speaker shared her personal experiences with coding, Swedish house music duo Icona Pop gave a private performance. iLuminate's robotic dancers, wearing light-up suits, also performed, giving viewers a live example of how coding and dance can be combined.

Girls then had the opportunity to peruse multiple demonstrations of coding in action, ranging from the practical to the simply fun. Demos included programming — and trying on — virtual dresses, designing 3D-printable bracelets and creating a dancing avatar.

One attendee was Brittany Wenger, 19, who won the 2012 Google Science Fair for her app that accurately diagnoses breast cancer and is also minimally invasive.

"I was the only girl in my high school computer science class," Wenger told Mashable. "My teacher was a female, so it was great to be able to look up to her ... I just wish everybody had that same experience."

Made With Code isn't a one-time event. The website links girls seeking encouragement to coding meet-ups in their area. Google Helpouts also makes tutorials explaining coding concepts.


 
As part of the event, girls were able to design custom 3D-printed bracelets, courtesy of Shapeways, a NYC-based 3D printing marketplace and community.
 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Report: Windows 9 Will Debut as Early as Sept. 30


Windows 9 may be coming even before you begin thinking about a Halloween costume. A new report says Microsoft will give the world a first look at the new version of Windows on Sept. 30 or soon afterward at a press event to announce a developer build of the software.

The Verge reports the date is tentative, but the general timeframe is the end of September/beginning of October. The software will be a "preview" version meant for developers, the report says, so it's unclear if the rumored public beta for Windows 9 would begin at the same time.

Windows 9, which Microsoft has codenamed "Threshold," will revamp Windows to address some key usability criticisms of Windows 8/8.1. For starters, it's bringing back the Start menu (which was "blown out" into the Start screen with Windows 8) and enhancing it with some elements of the "modern" UI. Also, modern Windows apps will be able to run within a window on the Desktop.

In the "rumored but unconfirmed" column, Windows 9 may also do away with the Charms menu, which has proved unpopular with users and developers (just try using the "Share" charm from any modern app). Cortana, the voice assistant on Windows Phone, is also expected to appear in Windows 9, although she may not be in the developer preview that's supposed to launch in the fall.

Representatives for Microsoft declined to comment on the report.

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LG's First 4K OLED TV Has an Eye-Popping Price Tag

SEOUL, South Korea — LG announced two new giant OLED TVs with ultra-high definition (a.k.a. 4K) screens Monday, sticking with its strategy of using the exceptionally expensive OLED display technology.

The South Korean company said it will ship 65-inch OLED TVs starting September in South Korea, Europe and North America. A 77-inch model will hit shelves later this year.

While major TV makers are pushing to make Ultra HD TVs mainstream, most use LCD screens. The super-high resolution picture, also known as 4K, packs four times more pixels than regular HD televisions.

Making Ultra HD quality TVs with OLED screens remain costly.  LG's 65-inch model will cost 12 million won ($11,765). Other types of Ultra HD televisions sell for less than $3,000.

OLED sets typically have deeper color saturation and a sharper image quality than LCD. The tech is also easier to build into ultra-thin form factors. But for years, the high rate of error during production contributed to a significant price premium over LCDs, preventing OLED displays from catching on among mainstream consumers.

LG said it is committed to OLED because the cost will come down and its advanced screen will eventually replace LCD screens. It forecasts that OLED TV sales will overtake LCD TV sales "within a few years."

"OLED is where we must head next," said Ha Hyun-hwoi, head of LG's TV business. "It is a matter of time."

LG's aggressive bet on OLED TVs is in contrast with its rival Samsung Electronics Co. After rolling out a 55-inch curved TV that uses an OLED display last year, Samsung has not announced an upgrade to its OLED TV for this year. Samsung uses OLED technology mostly for small devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers.

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Google Chrome Extension Lets Users Send Encrypted Emails

Google has plans to make its email more secure, using add-on encryption software that will work like any other extension for Google Chrome.

On its security blog Tuesday, Google announced it’s preparing a Chrome extension called End-to-End to make heavy-duty encryption easier for anyone to use.

Google already offers HTTPS, but its own email stats show only about half of Gmail messages are secured this way.

HTTPS does protect Gmail messages while they’re in transit — the TP in HTTPS stands for "transfer protocol." The OpenPGP standard Google is using in End-to-End will help secure Gmail messages while they’re at rest on the sender or receiver’s machine.

They’ll have to be encrypted and decrypted with public and private keys — so not quite as easy as refreshing your inbox — but as Google says, it will probably appeal to “those who need added protection.”

Google has released the source code for community review before it goes live.

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Take a Glimpse at LG's Upcoming Smartwatch

video

Mere months after the launch of its first Android Wear device, the LG G Watch, LG will release a new smartwatch, this time with a circular face.

The new wearable has been announced via an official video teaser, which reveals very little, besides the new device's round shape (as opposed to LG G Watch, which has a square face).

The teaser does, however, reveal that the device will be officially unveiled at IFA 2014, which takes place from Sept. 5-10 in Berlin.

The fall is shaping up to be pretty big for smartwatches. We'll likely see plenty more wearables at IFA this year, and Apple might launch a wearable of its own at its Sept. 9 event.

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The Firefox OS Smartphone Is Only $33 in India


The inaugural Mozilla Firefox OS smartphone launched in India on Monday and it only costs $33. Dubbed the Cloud FX, the device is the result of a partnership between Mozilla and handset company Intex Technologies.

Mozilla announced at this year's Mobile Asia Expo that it was bringing the Cloud FX to Indian and Indonesian markets. However, the introduction of cheaper smartphones to India was first teased at the Mobile World Congress in February.

"With the launch of Intex Cloud FX, we aim to enable the masses to get smartphone experience at the cost of a feature phone," Intex director of marketing Keshav Bensal said in a statement Monday.

The cost-effective model is intended to help accelerate India's already-rapid rise to the top of the global smartphone market. India now has the the third-highest number of smartphone sales on the planet, according to a 2013 Canalys report, trailing only behind the U.S. and China.

Mozilla isn't the only company interested in tapping the lower-end of India's smartphone market. At Google I/O, Google announced its Android One program that promises to bring a 4.5-inch screen, dual-SIM, FM-radio enabled Android device to India for less than $100.

"The positive consumer feedback from other markets tells us that people like the unique user experience and openness we’re building with Firefox OS," Mozilla president Li Gong said in a statement. "Firefox OS smartphones in the ultra-low-cost category will redefine the entry-level smartphone and create strong momentum in Asia."

The phone packs a 4GB memory capacity and Bluetooth. It also supports Hindi and Tamil, two commonly spoken languages in India. It is available exclusively on SnapDeal.com.

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“Apple iWatch” Launching With 1.7″ and 1.3″ Variants in October 2014

All you Apple lovers must read out the coming information as many rumors are coming for Apple iwatch. Apple is working on its final launching plans to release its new product Apple iWatch in the span of the coming months . The iWatch will be available to its users with two variants 1.7 inches and 1.3 inch screen . The smart watch will be available for both the genders ie. for Men and Women . The iWatch having smaller screen size  will be available for women with vibrant colors and combinations





  The wearable Apple iWatch will  be launched  with a  OLED display . The OLED display, which will have 320 x 320 pixels resolution will provide a great vision to its users . It is heard from source that  iWatch will have a  flexible display to compete with its other big brand smart watches like Motorola, Samsung, LG etc. Samsung the brand in technology is also working on flexible display smart watch and it will also launch in the couple of months.

The Apple iWatch likely to be released at the end of September or in the beginning of the October 2014. In spite of the Apple, In the technology market Samsung Galaxy Gear, Motorola Moto 360, SonySmart Watches will also be seen till the end of this year. Apple Inc. Hired a Nike Key Designer to include a sporty look at its iWatch . The images for Apple iWatch looks a bit very interesting at the moment on the web portal. As per the images Apple iWatch seems so elegant and sporty whether it goes on men or if we talk about women.So Apple iWatch will be so impressive and smart in looks. Users have to wait a bit for the Apple iWatch to be launched in the Indian Markets. Price and other specification are not yet properly disclosed.

Welcome to Google Street View, Indonesia

Google launched Street View in Indonesia on Thursday, allowing users to see panoramic cityscapes and underwater views of the country's striking coral reefs. 

With a population of nearly 250 million, Indonesia is Google's biggest market in Asia thus far. The project was announced in partnership with Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy in 2012 and took two years to develop in an effort to boost tourism.

As Indonesia's Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Mari Pangestu explained the partnership with Google in 2012:

Tourism is such an important contributor to Indonesia’s economy and with the help of features like Google Maps, we hope to promote sustainable tourism by giving people a whole new way to experience Indonesia," she said. "We believe this mapping technology will have many different uses allowing tourists to check out hotels before arriving, make travel plans and arrange meeting points.

Street View is now up and running in Indonesia's four biggest cities: Jakarta, Bogor, Surabaya and Denpasar. Based on user feedback, the search giant may expand its service to other cities in the country. 

The Street View expansion into Indonesia includes stunning views of underwater reefs at Komodo National Park, taken with special panoramic cameras as part of Google's ongoing partnership with Catlin Global Reef Record.

Google first launched underwater views through Street View Oceans last year, and most recently expanded its underwater imagery to the Florida Keys. 

The company occasionally runs into privacy roadblocks when expanding to other countries, as it did in Greece. Because of this, it worked closely with Indonesian officials to launch the new project. 

Google Street View is already operating in several Asian countries, including Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore and Thailand. It's also available in more than 57 countries around the world.

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Find Out Which Apps Are Draining Your iPhone's Battery


A new app called Normal tells you which other apps to kill in order to save your battery life.

Unlike other apps that tell you what's zapping your power, Normal — which launched on iOS last week, price 99 cents — uses crowdsourced data from other users to offer personalized advice and pinpoint the drainage culprits.

Normal provides a basic analysis of which apps you should power down first. For example, it might suggest shutting down Facebook in order to gain three hours of battery life.

The app comes from two Stanford-educated computer scientists, Adam Oliner and Jacob Leverich, who developed it at Kuro Labs and using tech created at the University of California at Berkeley. The premise of their research was to try to determine the "normal" battery life for electronic devices, which became the name of the app.



While a similar feature will come to iOS 8 when it launches this fall, this app could hold you over in the meantime.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Top 10 Tech Companies for Culture and Values


Some companies know exactly how to make their employees happy, and Twitter is at the top of the list.
The social media giant ranked No. 1 out of 25 companies with the best culture and values, according to a new report from job community site Glassdoor.
From Google to Facebook to Apple, 11 tech companies managed to make the list — more than any other industry.
Results were based on feedback from people who know these companies the best — their employees. Culture and value ratings were based on a five-point scale, with "1" representing "very dissatisfied," "3" meaning "OK" and "5" standing for "very satisfied."
Here, we've highlighted the top 10 tech companies for the best cultures and values.

1. Twitter




The social network won the overall top spot for culture and values. It received a 4.5 rating out of 5 on Glassdoor.
"Team meetings on the roof are the best, [and there's] great teamwork and a lot of smart people. I love how the 10 core values drive the company to always be better," a Twitter software engineer said for the survey.

2. Google



Google actually earned the No. 3 spot in the overall company list, but ranked number 2 among tech companies. It received a 4.4 rating.
"Each employee does not mind helping the other out if [he is] stuck. I feel it is encouraged to reach out to others," a Google software engineer said.

3. Riverbed Technology



Riverbed Technology came in at number 4 in the overall company list, but landed in the third spot among tech companies. Employees gave the company's culture and values a 4.3 rating.
"It is a great culture where employees are encouraged to take responsibility and are empowered to innovate," a Riverbed Technology employee said. "The company is moving in the right direction with respect to vision and shareholder."

4. Facebook



Facebook landed in fifth on the top 25 list, but ranked No. 4 among tech companies. It earned a 4.3 rating.
"Facebook truly values the important things in life — to me, at least," a Facebook user operations associate said. "The culture and dialog is open about everything. Whether it's with your manager, on your team or concerning a company-wide issue."

5. National Instruments



ational Instruments came in eighth on the original top 25 list, but made it to the fifth spot on the tech list. Employees gave the company a 4.2 rating.
"The company culture is fantastic. People are approachable, the attitudes are positive, there's a lot of energy in every department," a National Instruments employee told Glassdoor.

6. Intuit


Intuit claimed the 11th spot out of the top 25, but jumped to No. 6 among tech companies. It received a 4.1 rating.
"Intuit values their employees and has the best attributes of Silicon Valley companies, while being committed to diversity and 'we care and give back,'" an Intuit employee said.

7. CDW



CDW came in 13th place on the overall list, but ranked No. 7 on the tech list. The company received a 4.1 rating on Glassdoor.
"[The people] really want to help you. The culture truly promotes the coworker and you do have a say in a large company,” said a CDW corporate account manager.

8. Apple



Apple took the 15th spot on the overall top 25 list, but landed in the eighth spot among tech companies. The corporation received a 4.1 rating.
"Everyone shares a common goal to make the best products for the consumer, and it shows in most conversations you have," an Apple software engineering manager said.

9. Citrix Systems



Sitting at No. 19 on the overall list, Citrix Systems earned ninth place among tech companies with a 4.0 rating.
"There is an ongoing commitment to improve the customer journey and ensure our product strategy is well-defined," a senior manager at Citrix Systems said.

10. Adobe



Adobe landed at No. 20 on the overall culture and values list, but climbed to tenth place in tech with a solid 4.0 rating.

"Great perks, benefits. Adobe strives to be a good corporate citizen, fosters innovation and creativity," an Adobe employee said.

Wondering which other companies made the list? Check out the full report from Glassdoor below.


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