Tag Archive | "three-different"

Mobile Platforms, Smartwatches, And Golden Handcuffs

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Ask three different smart, knowledgeable people in tech about their views on smartwatches, and you’re bound to receive at least four plausible opinions on the matter. As someone hilariously snarked on Twitter, “even a broken smartwatch opinion will be write twice a day.” Jokes aside, I’ve been getting more excited about smartwatches with the news dribbling out over the past few months and… Read More

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Blaze Seeks To Save Cyclist Lives With A Laser Projection Bike Light

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More and more urban commuters are embracing cycling as a way to get to and from work and around the city, and more and more cities are embracing cyclists by adding bike lanes and making commutes safer and more fun. But bicycle safety is still a huge issue in even the most bike-friendly cities. A new startup called Blaze hopes to improve rider safety by reimagining the classic bike light.

Blaze’s bike light not only makes it easier for cyclists to see where they’re going when it gets dark, but more importantly, it’s designed to help motorists see them, even when they’re riding in a car’s blind spot. It does that with a laser light projection that projects the image of the bicycle five or six meters in front of where they’re biking.

The Blaze bike light seeks to overcome one of the biggest issues that cyclists face — that is, the propensity of motorists to turn without seeing them. Nearly 80 percent of all bike accidents happen when a cyclist is biking straight ahead, and a motorist turns into them.

(As a cyclist myself, I can say that the biggest wipeout I ever had was when a car tried to turn into me without signalling or seeing me.)

blaze02Not only does the Blaze bike light make you more safe, but it’s also got a lot of other things going for it. It’s rechargeable, USB compatible, and 100 percent waterproof. It has magnetic charging pins, so it has a completely sealed case.

The image it displays is green, which is the most easily seen shade, and also takes very little power to generate. The light has three different modes (high, low, and flashing) provides about 13 hours of usage per charge, and alerts users when the charge starts to run low.

The Blaze bike light comes with a mounting bracket and USB charging cord, and is available for pre-order for $200. It might be a little pricy compared to other bike lights, but you can’t really put a price on safety.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Facebook to roll out shared photo albums

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Multiple Facebook users will be able to upload photos to the same albums with Monday’s introduction of shared photo albums by the social network.

Mashable reported on the new feature, saying that Facebook users who create photo albums will be able to grant access to up to 50 contributors, who will be able to share up to 200 photos apiece.

Previously, only the users who created photo albums could upload photos to them, and the total number of images was capped at 1,000.

Shared photo albums will begin rolling out Monday to a “small group” of English-speaking users, and the social network will then extend it to all English-speaking users prior to going global with the feature, Mashable reported.

According to Mashable, shared photo albums have three available privacy settings: public, friends of contributors, and contributors only. Album creators will be able to delete or modify photos, and contributors will retain editing power over images they upload, Mashable reported.

Facebook Software Engineers Bob Baldwin and Fred Zhao discussed the new feature with Mashable, saying that it was hatched during one of the social network’s hackathons, and adding that about one-dozen other engineers contributed to the project.

Baldwin told Mashable:

Right now, if you were at a party and there were three different albums created, you might not be able to see all of the photos, which is kind of confusing and frustrating.

I think one thing that’s really fun about creating products at Facebook is that you’re never quite sure how people will use the product in the end. We’re really excited for launch because we think people will use (shared photo albums) in ways that we’re not even thinking of.

Baldwin and Zhao told Mashable they may increase the limit of 200 photos per contributor in the future, as well as adding more mobile functionality.

Readers: Will you take advantage of shared photo albums when the feature is made available to you?

Image courtesy of Mashable.

Article courtesy of Inside Facebook

Apple Patents Triple Sensor, Triple Lens iPhone Camera For Better Resolution And Color Accuracy

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Apple has been granted a new patent related to camera tech by the USPTO today (via AppleInsider), which uses three different sensors and three different lenses to improve color capture accuracy and image resolution for photos shot with an iPhone or other mobile device. The system is similar to the two sensor Apple patent around mobile cameras the company applied for recently, but solves a different kind of imaging problem.

This sensor arrangement would improve upon most mobile camera designs by using two chorminance sensors, each of which is placed to one side of a luminance sensor. The luminance or light sensor would determine light levels of the image, while the chrominance sensors would be responsible for accurately capturing color data. Two chrominance sensors arranged in that manner would be able to compensate for blind spots in each other’s field of view, ensuring accurate color rendering for all scenes.

If color info is missing from any part of the scene, as can happen with traditional combined sensor arrangements, then overall photo resolution suffers too because of a lack of data, so this would improve not only color rendering but overall image quality. And the information drawn from the two chrominance sensors would also be useful in automatically correcting for distortion caused by the camera lens.

Last week, as mentioned, Apple patented dual-sensor imaging for iPhones, that would automatically combine two separate images to correct for flaws in either. Combined with this sensor design, it begins to be apparent that Apple is doing lots of work on the imaging side of its mobile offerings. The iPhone has long been held up as an example of the best cameras in smartphones, but competitors are starting to focus innovation on their own phone camera designs, the Lumia 1020 being probably the most recent memorable example.

Apple probably doesn’t have much to fear from Windows Phone devices, feature rich as they may be, but a significant camera improvement is a good way to attract customers with something new. Don’t expect changes like these to iPhone cameras coming in the next update this fall, but definitely consider this an area to watch over the next few years.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Chrome’s Native-Like Packaged Apps Now Discoverable In The Chrome Web Store For Windows And Chrome OS Dev Channel Users

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A few months ago, Google announced the Windows Start button-like app launcher for Chrome on Windows, and with it, a way to easily launch Chrome packaged apps, a new way to write apps that are based on Chrome and web technologies but behave like native apps.

These packaged apps for Chrome are based on HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, but they behave like native apps and have access to Chrome APIs and services that aren’t available to regular sites. Until now, developers could upload packaged apps to the Chrome Web Store and test them, but the apps weren’t discoverable in the store. Starting today, users on the Chrome Dev channel will be able to easily find and install these apps.

This is likely just a prelude to a wider release of packaged apps. In today’s announcement, Google also notes that, for developers, “now is a great time to get some early feedback and polish your app before Chrome packaged apps become more broadly available.” At its I/O 2013 developer conference later this month, Google will feature at least three different sessions about packaged apps, including one about upgrading web apps to packaged apps.

As Google notes, most of the packaged apps in the Web Store are “works in progress.” This, the company says, is the reason for only making them available in the Chrome dev channel right now.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Google Launches Maps Engine Lite, Makes It Easy To Create Advanced Custom Maps

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For years now, Google has offered its Google Maps Engine to enterprises who want to visualize their custom geospacial data and starting today, anybody will be able to use a subset of this functionality thanks to the launch of Google Maps Engine Lite (beta). This new tool, Google says,  will allow any mapping enthusiast to “create and share robust custom maps using this powerful, easy-to-use tool.”

Maps Engine Lite allows users to upload small spreadsheets with locations and visualize them on a map. They can also compare up to three different data sets for, the company stresses, non-businesses purposes.

These custom maps can have multiple layers and users who don’t have any spreadsheets they want to upload can also manually draw lines, mark specific areas and set place markers. Google offers a total of nine base maps, including its usual satellite and terrain maps, as well as styles that emphasis city boundaries political boundaries and highways. Maps Engine Lite also offers about 150 different icons that you can be used to mark specific places.

To help new users get started, Google also published a tutorial that offers a few sample data sets and a set-by-step guide to publishing a custom map.

Google says it will still offer My Maps, its earlier custom mapping tool for the time being and My Maps users can import their maps into the new Maps Engine Lite. Over time, however, Google product manager Beth Liebert writes in today’s announcement, My Maps will be “incorporated into Google Maps Engine Lite.”

For now, Google is officially labeling Maps Engine Lite as a ‘beta’ and it’ll only be available in English for the time being.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

How The Big Data Battle Is Shaking Out Between The Startups And The Enterprise Giants

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The big enterprise companies are starting to put pressure on the startups in the growing field of data analytics. But the pressure is not as much related to innovation as it is to using their marketing muscle to build software stacks they can sell to retain existing customers.

Drawn to Scale Co-Founder Bradford Stephens sees this in his experiences, especially compared to last year when there were maybe three different companies marketing a Hadoop distribution. But just this week alone, EMC, Intel and HP all announced their own distributions.

Out of all this, we are hearing a lot of talk about why one comapny’s Hadoop distribution is so much better than a competitor’s. In our conversation, Stephens talks about the competition, the growing pressure on startups to do more than innovate and start bringing in business in face of the larger threats from the legacy vendors.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Disney Announces Infinity Game ‘Toybox’ — With A Range Of Characters And Physical Figurines — For Console, Mobile, And Web

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Disney executives are on-stage right now at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, where they just announced Disney Infinity, a game platform that is set to launch in June.

The details of the platform are still emerging, but Co-President of Disney Interactive John Pleasants has already shared the big ideas. Infinity will “bring together the best of Disney IP, past, present, and future.” It won’t just be a single game, but also but rather a “new, interactive gaming platform” — more like a toybox allowing consumers to create the environments and stories that they want. It will be cross-platform, available on consoles, mobile devices, and online, and it will also incorporate physical figurines.

Pleasants said the “playsets” launching in June will incorporate three different Disney franchises: Monsters University, The Incredibles, and Pirates of the Caribbean. The launch will including other, yet-to-be-announced characters, he added.

Disney Chief Creative Officer John lasseter took the stage after Pleasants, where he emphasized the idea of of Infinity as a toy box. He said he initially resisted the idea of throwing all of Disney’s characters into in one game, but he warmed up to it when he thought of it as kids playing with different toys together.

John Blackburn (yes, there were a lot of John’s on-stage today), CEO of Disney’s game studio Avalanche, offered more details about how it will work. There are two big components to the platform, he said. There are the physical figurines, which you can place on the pad to determine which characters get “teleported” into the game. Then there’s the software, which includes “play sets” — gaming experiences based on specific franchises. Each of play set includes game mechanics specifically designed for that universe — the Pirates of the Caribbean set, for example, focuses on sailing between different islands. The environments and characters are still customizable, but they’re meant to be “true to property”, so you won’t see Mr. Incredible showing up in the Pirates set.

Then there’s the “toy box”, an environment for “mashing up” different franchises. In demonstrating the toy box, Blackburn showed off an adventure mode, which introduces players to the basic mechanics, plus a simple logic editor that allows them to modify how the game works using a point-and-click interface.

Naturally, both the play sets and the toy box will support multiplayer mode.

Updating

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

SnapKeys Si Invisible Keyboard Gives The Finger To QWERTY On Touchscreen Devices

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When all-touch tablets and smartphones hit the market, the logical evolution was touchscreen keyboards in the same QWERTY array we’ve grown accustomed to. Many of us have gotten used to it, thanks to predictive text, but we can all agree that the experience could be better.

SnapKeys, a startup that has rethought the whole touch keyboard thing quite a bit, is today launching a beta app that will totally revamp the typing experience on touchscreens. SnapKeys Si focuses predominantly on the predictive bit of typing, as opposed to the pressing of virtual buttons.

In fact, most of the keys on the SnapKeys keyboard have been tossed out. Instead, there are four buttons, each representing three different letters. On the far right of the screen, there’s an invisible spacebar and on the left there’s an invisible backspace.

Any letter that isn’t displayed on a key is chilling out in between the keys.

Once you learn where the 12 letters are on the new keys, you simply type without looking and SnapKeys Si gets everything right for you.

According to SnapKeys, the letters that aren’t displayed on the SnapKeys Si keyboard are actually only used about 18 percent of the time. Clearly, for something used so little, those keys sure do take up a lot of screen real estate while surfing, texting, emailing etc.

The main goal of SnapKeys is to give the user all the viewing space afforded by the size of the screen, without making any exceptions for even a single key.

That’s why, once you’ve gotten used to SnapKeys Si, the entire keyboard can be set to invisible.

Eventually, the company can serve ads and offer a premium version of the app for users who want an ad-free experience. Either way, users will still be seeing more of the content on their screen thanks to SnapKeys.

Download the beta here.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Sony Invests $642 Million In Olympus, Becomes Largest Shareholder

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Sony is expected to approve a plan to invest around $642 million (50 billion yen) in Olympus. As the Japanese manufacturer of cameras, optics and reprography products is currently facing a trial for having hidden investment losses for the past 20 years, it has been looking for a potential investor for months. By injecting that capital investment, Sony will become the largest shareholder.

After rumors of a Panasonic investment in June, Reuters confirmed from three different sources that Sony and Olympus are ready to announce an investment that would represent 10 percent of the capital.

Olympus reported a net loss of $630 million (49 billion yen) for the last fiscal year, mainly due to wrong financial decisions and the repercussions of the past scandalous affaire. Today, the company and three former high ranked executives pleaded guilty. Over a couple of decades, around $1.7 billion of losses were faked.

Olympus announced in June that it would cut 2,700 jobs and scrap 40 percent of its factories in order to reduce cost. Last quarter, the company reported a 60 percent drop in operating profit.

With that investment, Sony will become the largest shareholder and the two companies will create a new business unit focused on medical equipment. As a brand new market for Sony, it is a way to diversify its revenue.

Yet, last quarter, despite $19.2 billion in sales, Sony’s operating profit was down 77 percent to only $79 million. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Sony as well, which could make investment more difficult in the future.

As Vic Gundotra said in another situation, “two turkeys do not make an eagle.” When it comes to Japanese investments, they are often hard to understand for a foreigner. Two companies following a downward trend won’t find an easy solution by partnering. It remains to be seen if they can now focus on producing innovative new products.



Article courtesy of TechCrunch

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