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Topics - fahad.faisal

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Since last spring, the government's entity list ban against Huawei (and ZTE) has largely prevented US companies from working with them. Despite legal wrangling and trade negotiations between the two countries the ban is still in place, and in the case of Google, it means that while there are still updates and services available on older devices, any new Huawei phones (like the Mate 30 Pro, shown above) don't have access to its services.

This has been the case for months now, but today Google posted a longer explanation, which it said was in response to continued questions about the issue. For end users, especially those outside the US and China, it might not be immediately clear why the usual suite of Google apps and services aren't on new Huawei phones and now there's at least a detailed official explanation to reference. It could also serve the purpose of warning off anyone planning on making a workaround available, like the LZ Play one that was blocked last year.

Android & Play legal director Tristan Ostrowski also laid out the company's opposition to people sideloading its apps. According to him it's because Google can't certify new Huawei phones, due to the ban, and cited the risk of compromised security either in the devices or via an app that has been tampered with. While Huawei had hinted at replacing Android with its own OS, it's continuing to use Android, and replaced Google services with those of other companies like TomTom, for maps and navigation.

Source: Google Support

Latest Technology / Windows 10 icons are getting an overdue redesign
« on: February 21, 2020, 06:41:30 PM »
Microsoft refreshed Office's icons last year, and now it's Windows 10's turn. The software giant is rolling out updates to the icons for Windows 10's core apps over the months ahead, starting with the Calendar and Mail apps in a new Release Preview for Windows Insiders in the Fast ring. The company's design team explained that it wanted to break away from the flat, colorless icons you see today in favor of ones that are at once more consistent with newer branding (including apps available beyond Windows) and different enough that you'll have an easier time finding the one you want.

This is arguably an overdue move. Microsoft hadn't really touched Windows 10's main icons since its debut in 2015, so they risked feeling old. There were also inconsistencies creeping in, especially once Office got its new look. This update drags Windows 10's appearance into the modern era, and might just give you a more colorful OS in the bargain.

Source:  Windows Blogs, Microsoft Design (Medium)

Facebook may have stopped listening to and transcribing Messenger voice chats, but it still needs voice recordings to improve its speech recognition technology. So the company is going to pay select users to record snippets of audio through a new program called "Pronunciations," The Verge reports. In exchange, users can earn up to $5.

Facebook will use its Viewpoints market research app, through which it has paid users to take surveys. Qualifying users will be asked to record the phrase "Hey Portal" followed by the first name of a friend in their friend list. If you participate, you'll have to repeat the statement twice and do this with a set of 10 names in order to earn 200 points in the Viewpoints app. You have to earn 1,000 points to cash out, but you can record up to five sets of recordings to reach that threshold. That translates to $5, so each recording is worth five cents.

While you're not going to get rich from the program, this is an interesting way for Facebook to improve its AI transcription skills without using your voice messages behind your back. Apple and Google have paused their audio transcription programs, and Amazon now lets users opt-out of audio recording "review." But none of these companies seem to be offering cash in exchange for audio. Google does pay some users to take surveys, so it wouldn't be too shocking if the company followed Facebook's lead on this.

Source: The Verge

Google Webpass is now known as Google Fiber Webpass in all the cities where the wireless gigabit internet service is available. The tech giant first used the Fiber Webpass name when it deployed both its Fiber and Webpass internet connection services in Austin, Texas last year. Just a few days ago, it also launched both options in Nashville, Tennessee. However, the new name is just a rebranding at this point -- it doesn't necessarily mean that Fiber is expanding to all Webpass cities in the near future.

It does seem to be part of Google's Fiber expansion preparations, though. Webpass head Brien Bell said in his announcement that the new name means Google is "one step closer to providing customers in all of [its] cities a more integrated Google Fiber and Webpass experience." In other words, when Fiber is ready to expand, the branding is already there.

Webpass is a service under Google Fiber that provides point-to-point wireless internet for high-occupancy buildings like offices and apartments. The team installs a rooftop antenna that receives a wireless internet connection for clients like landlords. That building's occupants can then sign up to have their wired connections activated.

Source: Google Fiber

Intel is determined to play an important role in quantum computing, and it just outlined a component that will play a key part in that strategy. Intel and QuTech have provided some technical details for Horse Ridge, a previously-teased cryogenic control chip that should make quantum computers, smaller, faster and with less aggressive cooling. It won't lead to the dream of a true quantum computer, but it should get Intel considerably closer to that goal.

The system-on-chip is based on Intel's 22-nanometer FinFET Low Power process and includes four radio frequency channels that can control a total of 128 qubits. That may not sound like a lot, but it's more than double the 49 qubits Intel was boasting for its Tangle Lake test chip back in early 2018. It should lead to smaller (or at least, more efficient) quantum computers by allowing one chip to handle more tasks without as many cables and rack instrumentations.

You can also expect faster, higher-fidelity qubits. Intel said Horse Ridge has "optimized" multiplexing that allows it to both scale and reduce the crosstalk errors that pop up when handling larger numbers of qubits at different frequencies. There should be greater accuracy and better overall performance. The chip can handle a wide frequency range, too, including superconducting qubits around 6GHz to 7GHz and smaller spin qubits at 13GHz to 20GHz.

Quantum computers that use Horse Ridge might not need to stay so cold, either. Intel is hoping to use silicon spin qubits that can operate at temperatures as "high" as 1 kelvin (just above -458F), and Horse Ridge "paves the way" for making a single package that combines those qubits with their controls.

As we've mentioned in the past, it's estimated that a full-fledged quantum computer would need over 1 million qubits to be viable. Intel said in 2018 that it didn't expect such chips to even be on the radar for another five to seven years, and that's still a long while off. Horse Ridge shows how Intel is progressing toward that goal, though, and there are still tasks quantum computers can perform in the near term that might be impractical for conventional systems.

Source: Intel Newsroom

Latest Technology / UK Google users will lose GDPR protections
« on: February 20, 2020, 04:04:06 PM »
Google users in the UK might feel another effect of the Brexit process, and it's one they may not have expected. According to Reuters, the tech giant is planning to place British users' accounts under US jurisdiction, which means they're losing the protections of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation. As the news organization notes, the GDPR is known for having one of the world's strictest set of rules for data privacy and gives authorities the power to impose aggressive fines.

The US, on the other hand, recently enacted the CLOUD Act (PDF). And based on how it works, it might make it easier for foreign authorities (like British law enforcement) to compel US-based companies to hand over data for investigations. Google is based in Ireland in the EU, along with many other tech companies like Facebook. Reuters says the tech giant decided to move British users out of Irish jurisdiction, because it remains unclear if Britain intends to adopt the GDPR following its exit from the European Union.

We've asked Google for a statement and a confirmation. If Reuters' report is true, though, then users in the UK will be required to acknowledge Google's new terms of service, along with the new jurisdiction in the near future.

Source: Reuters

Microsoft's all-in-one Office app is ready for primetime. The mobile-first application, which the company announced last November, has already been available as a public preview. That version was limited to Android users that signed up through a specific Google Group and 10,000 iOS testers that registered via Apple's TestFlight program, however. The consumer-ready Android app slipped into the Play Store earlier this week -- a littler earlier than planned, a Microsoft spokesperson told Engadget -- and now the iPhone version is officially out of beta. For now, the Android app has "limited" tablet support, and there's no iPad-specific version.

As the name implies, the Office app combines Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The software is more than a glorified app folder, though. There's a home screen, for instance, that lists every file you've recently created, edited or accessed across the three apps. It's a simple but, Microsoft hopes, useful feed that will help you keep track of your school, work or personal projects. In theory, you'll spend less time rummaging through apps and more precious minutes finessing documents.

At the bottom of screen, you'll find a plus icon that reveals three additional options: Note, Lens and Documents. The first creates a post-it style note that is immediately added into your chronological feed. It's a useful way to scribble thoughts or reminders during meetings, or add an explanatory note to an Office file that you might need later. Curiously, though, this feature doesn't use or support Microsoft's OneNote service. A spokesperson admitted that multiple testers have requested this feature, and promised that the Office team would take it under consideration.

Lens, meanwhile, is a document and whiteboard-scanning tool that's been available for years as a standalone app. The final option, Documents, brings up nine shortcuts that help you get started in each of the Office apps. These include Blank Document for Word, Scan Table for Excel and Create from Template for Powerpoint. They're all self-explanatory and there's enough white space on the screen that Microsoft could add a few more, if required.

The Office app also has an Actions section that offers further shortcuts. These are useful tools that users might not know exist, or have problem finding inside their favorite Office apps. There's a PDF section, for instance, with one-tap shortcuts for hand-signing a PDF and converting a Word document into a PDF. The Office team has added a couple of brand-new features, too, such as the ability to share files to a nearby phone.

The existing Office apps aren't being retired.

Crucially, the Office app contains a full-fat Word, Excel and PowerPoint editor. A Microsoft spokesperson said the company intends to retain feature parity between the standalone versions and the new Office app. If you prefer the original versions, though, don't fret -- they're not being retired and will be developed alongside the Office app going forward.

Files can be stored locally or through a cloud-based service such as OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox and Box. If you have an Office 365 or Microsoft 365 subscription, the app should also grant you the same premium features that you would expect to find inside the original Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps.

oday, the company is also revealing some features that will ship "in the next few months." These include dictation for Microsoft Word and a special 'Cards View' that turns long Excel rows into a more smartphone-friendly vertical list. PowerPoint, meanwhile, will be getting an 'Outline' option that lets you quickly create, title and order slides for your next presentation. Powerpoint will then turn that skeleton into a barebones but perfectly presentable slide deck with nice typography, iconography and styling.

If you're interested in the new Office app, it should be available to download now through the Play Store and App Store.

Source: Office (Android), IOS

We have quite a lot to be anxious about these days. Global warming, another potential war, increasing health care costs, Kanye, trade wars, gig economies and relatives with differing political views pouncing on us via social media. Then there's the dreaded range anxiety. A concern you still have, even though the last time you took a road trip Arrested Development was still on Fox, you're going to need at least 350 miles of range at all times. That's where the 204-mile range Audi E-Tron comes in.

A great luxury EV that’s filled with solid tech. Range that’s on the low side might turn some folks off and the charging procedure is more convoluted than it needs to be.

Supplied with a 95kWh battery pack, 204 miles would seem to be on the low side. But an EV is more than a range number and the E-Tron otherwise has a lot to offer. It's a tech-filled, luxurious machine that's a joy to drive even if you have to stop more often during road trips.

Starting at $74,800, the Audi E-Tron is a posh SUV that brings the luxury you would expect from the automaker. The interior is comfortable, stylish and brings a good mixture of tech and opulence.

The infotainment is Audi's latest version of MMI, a dual-screen experience with haptic feedback that creates the sensation of pushing physical buttons while tapping on the display. The layout up top is similar to a tablet with quick buttons to the main features along the left side of the screen.

The lower screen is home to climate controls and when you need to write something, (like an address) it turns into a writing tablet with what you're scribbling appearing in the search field on the top screen. It's easier to draw letters and numbers than to tap on a digital keyboard. Of course, there's also the voice commands. Both input methods work well and even if the onboard Audi system can't figure out what you're looking for, there's a Google button that makes short work of your queries.

I will note that pressing on the top touchscreen requires a bit more pressure than a typical display. It takes a day or so to get accustomed to. Plus, the haptic feedback isn't supported by CarPlay. So if you're a fan of Apple's OS, you'll be experiencing two systems of tapping.

The rest of the interior is well equipped with comfortable seats offering heated, cooled and massage options. The rear is just as comfy as the front with plenty of room for even tall adults to sit back there. I drove the vehicle around Las Vegas with various Engadget coworkers and no one was wanting for legroom.

The EV powertrain has the expected torque leap you would expect from an electrified vehicle. The 400 horsepower and 489 pounds of torque create enough oomph to push the SUV from zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds. That should be more than enough to appease your need for speed.

The regenerative braking system relies on the paddles, which do a good job slowing the E-Tron. Still, I wish it had the option to set and forget a level of energy reclamation while slowing down. It's a small thing, but it's a feature I think people upgrading from a mid-tier EV to a luxury vehicle would expect.

They might also be a bit confused by how you connect and disconnect a charger to the vehicle. To open the charging port door, the car has to be off. I didn't realize that initially, so I kept pushing the button wondering what was wrong. After finally figuring it out (via the Internet), I had to consult the World Wide Web once again to figure out how to unplug the charger. The vehicle still needs to be off. But in addition to waiting until the station releases the car, you need to press the charge-port door button again, wait a few seconds, and then you can remove the cable from the car.

It's a whole thing that seems overly complicated and it'll more than likely frustrate you until you figure it out. By my last day with the car, I was pressing the button to release the cable, then waiting for at least five seconds before even thinking about unplugging the car.

And that brings us to that 204-mile range. It's actually a strategic decision by Audi. By limiting the amount of power that can be put into the battery, the battery should last longer. It's a gamble on the automaker's part to keep its EVs on the road longer without having to replace the battery pack. It'll be a few years before we know if this theory will pay off. But for around-town driving, 200 miles of range should be plenty for most people.

After driving through the desert from LA to Las Vegas and back in the car, I can say the range didn't stop me from reaching my destination. On a much longer drive, I probably would have had to add an additional charge stop to my itinerary. But two stops seems in line with most EVs on the road. It also helps that the E-Tron supports charging up to 150kW. Going from 20 percent to 100 percent typically took about 40 to 45 minutes. That last 20 percent is the hardest to top up and you would not typically go past 80 percent to preserve the battery, but I was on a road trip. So YOLO.

Overall, the Audi E-Tron is an impressive EV that, for the most part, successfully merges electrification and luxury. While the range is on the low side, it's more than likely adequate for most folks. The charging port issues are weird, but not a deal-breaker. Plus, those problems are likely to disappear from your mind when you're rolling in a truly luxurious EV.

Source: Audi

The Wacom One is a $400 graphics tablet designed for folks used to editing pictures and video on mobile devices. Teens looking to up their Snapchat game, YouTubers and would-be digital artists who want the functionality of a Cintiq, but at iPad prices. It still has the same baggage as other Wacom devices, more on which later, but at a fraction of the cost.


1. Easily Wacom’s most affordable graphics display
2. Easy to set up and use
3. Empowering for novice digital artists and hobbyists
1. Clunky and now old-fashioned connectivity
2. No touch or buttons makes navigation harder
3. Matte screen protector is a little intrusive

Because Wacom's newest device is for amateurs, it made sense for an amateur to review it. After all, no professional designer currently using a Cintiq is going to step down to a budget device unless it's truly compelling. Which is why I'm trying it out rather than any of the professional designers on staff, who may see it in a very different light.

At first blush, it's clearly a Wacom tablet, with a generous (some may say chunky) bezel and soft, round edges. The design wants you to rest your forearms on, and over, it on the regular, so it can't be all be razor-sharp edges and jabby corners. It'll never draw coos on your fancy designer's table and Marcel Breuer chair, but it is comfortable to hunch over.

The 13.3-inch, 16:9, 1,920 x 1,080 AHVA display has a matte AG film coating, which makes it feel a bit like a very old Android tablet. It's compatible with Wacom's passive styluses -- not your fingers. However, it does work with third-party devices that use the same tech. That includes digital pencils from Staedtler, Lamy and, amusingly enough, Samsung's S-Pen.

The Wacom One's color gamut -- which is the colors it can display -- is up to 72 percent NTSC / 99 percent sRGB. That's fine for the majority of people who may be doing online publishing and photography work. If you've never heard the terms, then worry not, as I'm mentioning them purely for completeness' sake. If you're working with high-end print or only ever think about Adobe RGB, you're not going to buy this device.

This is very much personal preference, but the matte anti-glare film and the relatively weak backlight (200 nits) grated on me. Weak backlighting is something Wacom does, again, because it expects your head to be close to the screen, but I would have loved to boost it now and again. I'm unique among my colleagues for liking to work in brightly lit rooms with my screen brightness turned fairly high, though.

Wacom's moving away from shortcut buttons on its drawing devices, and there aren't any here. If you're used to or want key bindings, you'll need to buy a separate $100 Express Key remote. As a digital native, I didn't mind the lack of keys, but did find I had to spend lots of time using keyboard shortcuts to get around.

The only major hardware feature beyond the screen are the legs, which flip out to fix the One at a 19-degree angle. That's the only adjustment you can make, unless, you know, you've got one of those deluxe drawing tables, or buy one of Wacom's fancy stands. You can use the One as a second display for your computer, but with that fixed 19-degree angle, it's not really made for it. Instead, I set it up as a mirrored display and set up the One on a makeshift table beside my standing desk.

Under one of the device's legs, there's a small slot, which houses three replacement nibs for your stylus. As well as the stylus, the Wacom One comes with a single four-way cable, with USB-C to connect to the One, two USB-A (one for power, one for data) and an HDMI-lead to the graphics card. You can either power the slate with a wall connector or with a second USB-A port on your computer. Although, since USB-A is being phased out of most laptops, this may not be a long-term option.

Wacom is making a big deal that you can use the One with a handful of Android phones for content creation on the go. That was how I first tested the One out at CES last month, but it's not very elegant. Because of the sheer number of cables you need, you'll have to connect the One to the phone via a USB-C hub.

Once connected, though, setup is a doddle: You can get going after you've just downloaded the driver and registered the hardware. That'll also give you access to a couple of free trials, including three months for Clip Studio Paint and two months free Adobe Premiere Rush. If you're a Windows user, you also get Bamboo Paper and pro-pack features for free.

It took me less than ten minutes before I was running Photoshop and sketching like I worked in a creative agency named after a citrus fruit. There's that feeling you get when you're sketching with a device like this that just encourages you to feel liberated. For me, working with paper always feels like you're putting pressure on yourself to do a good job. All it takes is one over-hard scrape with a pencil and no amount of erasing will get rid of it.

But with a device like this, I can just open up a new file in Photoshop and start sketching, with the freedom to screw around as I care. I keep meaning to try to follow along with a Bob Ross video on YouTube, but I was somehow too intimidated to do so before writing the review. Mostly because you watch those professional artist clips and think that if I do it too early, I'd be too traumatized from the failure.

That's what makes the One so empowering; because its fundamentals are so strong, you don't need to be mindful of latency and pressure sensitivity. It just works, pretty naturally, to the point where you're not paying attention to the nib tracking, for instance, in general use.

If I'm ever coloring with pencils, I like to tilt the tip to a near-horizontal angle for ease of covering the paper. There's something very relaxing about letting the pencil shade, working your fingers back and forth as you go. Unfortunately, the matte film on the Wacom One adds enough friction to mean that you can't get paper-like glide when coloring, something I found annoying.

And while I'm nitpicking, I was annoyed at the lack of fine-grain control that I wanted to mess with. I would have loved to change the brightness, tweak the colors and set the screen up to be more comfortable to my eyes. I don't like having no control over how best to make the device work in my own space, even if I should be able to trust Wacom's calibration.

Fundamentally, the compromises that Wacom made make plenty of sense, both to keep the cost down and not to cannibalize sales of pricier devices. You get a screen, a pen and enough tech that you'll be able to get the job done, and done well.

Pricing and the Competition
For $399, Wacom is selling this as a device you could drop money on without having to think about it. If you're in the market for a graphics slate and have $400 to spare, then you're essentially in no-brainer territory. It should last for years because Wacom devices have a reputation for longevity, and it's so much cheaper than the next unit up, the $700 Cintiq 16.

The most obvious competitor for the Wacom One is the iPad, a portable 10.2-inch iOS tablet that retails for $329.99. You'll need to buy the Apple Pencil for an additional $99, but you can and should save on that figure with semi-regular sales on third-party websites.

There are obvious upsides to the iPad, including the fact that it's cheap and you can use it as a standalone device. But artists have complained that the gap between the display strata and the glass makes drawing feel less natural than on other devices. That hasn't stopped major artists, like David Hockney, from using the iPad to draw covers worthy of fronting The New Yorker.

I'd never heard of XP-Pen before reviewing the Wacom One, but it also makes competitively priced alternatives to the Japanese company's offerings. For $399.99, you can grab a 15.6-inch Artist Pro Display that actually comes out ahead of Wacom on specs alone. If raw numbers are your thing, it has an 88 percent NTSC color gamut (120 percent sRGB), eight fully programmable shortcut keys and a jog dial, fixing some of my issues with Wacom's One.

Source: Daniel Cooper (Technology Reviewer)

We'll soon finally see the midsize electric crossover Cadillac previewed way back in January 2019. Cadillac president Steve Carlisle has revealed that the company will unveil the crossover, its first all-electric vehicle, in April at the National Auto Dealer Association. The model will debut the brand's BEV3 platform, which will serve as the basis for all its future EVs.

When the model was first announced, Carlisle said the platform will have a architectural design that "will allow the battery packs to fit into the vehicle like ice cubes in an ice cube tray," and "you can put in as much water as you want to make as many cubes as you need -- the tray still takes up the same space in the freezer." In other words, it can be used as basis for various types of vehicles without sacrificing range.

The upcoming crossover will be but the first of many electric vehicles from Cadillac if its plans come to fruition. In late 2019, the company made a pledge that by 2030, majority of all Cadillacs will be electric vehicles. While we now have a date range for the electric crossover's unveiling, it's not entirely clear if it will have its own event or if it will be launched at the New York Auto Show that will also (as Autoblog notes) take place in early April.

Source: Automotive News

The SpaceX Crew Dragon, which is slated to be the first spacecraft to carry humans to orbit from American soil since 2011, has arrived at its Cape Canaveral launch site. NASA and SpaceX are already preparing the vehicle for its first flight manned test and will put it through final testing and prelaunch processing over the next months. If all goes well, the first manned flight test will happen as soon as this spring -- Elon Musk previously revealed that the launch's working date is May 7th -- and will take off with veteran astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken onboard.

The Crew Dragon successfully completed a test flight to the ISS without astronauts onboard in early 2019, spending a few days docked to an adapter before coming back home. However, another test conducted shortly after that went very, very wrong: the capsule being tested was destroyed due to leaking oxidizer. Despite the setback, the next tests were successful, including a crucial parachute test, an abort test, and just a few days before the spacecraft's delivery, an electromagnetic interference test that you can watch below.

Source: NASA

A federal court has ordered Google to identify an anonymous user who left a bad review of an Australian dental surgeon's practice, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He said the patient hurt his business by advising other users to "stay away" from a procedure while calling it "extremely awkward and uncomfortable" and "a complete waste of time."

The surgeon in question, Dr. Matthew Kabbabe, had asked Google share the identity of the anonymous user, "CBsm 23." Google rejected the request, stating it didn't "have any means to investigate where and when the ID was created." However, a judge said that Dr. Kabbabe had the right to pursue a defamation case and that Google must hand over personal details like names, phone numbers, location metadata and IP addresses.

The dental surgeon's lawyer called the rule "groundbreaking," saying Google was effectively responsible for dealing with defamatory postings on its platform. "If you're out there trying to hide by anonymity, even via VPN, I think the court system's catching up now and there are ways and means of obtaining that information," Mark Stanarevic told an Australian TV station.

It has been illegal since 2016 for US companies to punish consumers with "gag clauses" in contracts, particularly after one infamous incident where a New York state hotel tried to fine a guest for a bad review. However, that law doesn't necessarily apply to slanderous comments nor to other countries. In fact, US companies are required by the Hague convention to pass on information demanded by foreign courts.

In Australia, large corporations can't sue users for bad reviews, but non-profits and small businesses with less than 10 employees definitely can. Meanwhile, Google told the ABC that it won't comment on ongoing legal matters. However, it has previously told Australian courts that such court orders could lead to "the suppression of information that would have prevented consumers suffering from unfair business practices."

Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Latest Technology / Google Maps' AR adds navigation hints to the real world
« on: February 12, 2019, 07:06:06 PM »
WiTricity, a company that specializes in contactless EV charging, has acquired Qualcomm's rival wireless charging tech. The two are keeping quiet about the financial details, though they did reveal that Qualcomm will become a minority WiTricity shareholder as a result of the transaction. Ultimately, it gives WiTricity access to more than 1,500 new wireless battery charging patents and patent applications, which could see its contactless charging system become the EV industry standard.

An MIT spinoff, WiTricity's system relies on a floor pad that radiates a magnetic field to refuel parked EVs. In 2016, the company announced a prototype in partnership with GM that could be deployed in public parking spaces and garages, offering power at both 7.7 kW and 11 kW. At the time, WiTrcity said the tech could work with any EV model or platform. It quickly struck up licensing agreements with Toyota and GM supplier Delphi, while its investors also include Foxconn and Intel's venture capital arm.

Qualcomm bought its "Halo" tech from the University of Auckland in 2011 as part of a "multi-million dollar" deal. It currently forms the backbone of its dynamic electric vehicle charging (DEVC) test track, which juices an electric car while driving through a combination of vehicle-equipped "Halo" sensors and road-embedded wireless charging hardware. Qualcomm envisioned it as a component of a future autonomous ride-hailing operation.

WiTricity and Qualcomm were clearly charting different courses to overcome the same issue: the industry's reliance on manual chargers and external ports. By unifying its rival's passive charging platform with its own, WiTricity will be hoping to speed past the test phase toward mainstream adoption.

Source: WiTricity

Latest Technology / Google Maps' AR adds navigation hints to the real world
« on: February 12, 2019, 07:01:22 PM »
Google Maps has made navigating unfamiliar cities on foot much easier than the days of pulling out a paper map — but it's not perfect. The blue dot that signifies where you are standing can vary wildly from your actual position because GPS is blocked by large buildings and your phone's compass is being thrown off by all the metal surrounding us in urban environments. Google thinks it has a solution: AR.

Today, the search giant unveiled its newest pilot: an AR system it's calling "global localization" for on-foot navigation. The system (which was shown off at I/O last year) helps orientate and locate your exact position when GPS has fallen short by combining VPS (Visual Positioning Service), Google's Street View and machine learning. The result is an impressive feature that reduces those moments when you're not quite sure which way to walk.

During a demo of the system while walking to a coffee shop, I found it to be helpful with an impressive emphasis on safety. While standing still, you point your phone's camera at nearby buildings and pan back and forth. After a few moments, it determines your position and re-orients the arrow in google maps so you know exactly which direction you need to be heading.

It'll do this while you're walking, but after a few moments, it'll prompt you to put your phone down and pay attention to where you're walking. Eventually, it'll turn off the AR effect if you don't heed the feature's warnings. This should help reduce the number of times people walk into other people, poles or worse traffic (while using this feature at least).

The onscreen distance countdown and giant arrows telling you where to turn are also helpful in a city like San Francisco where intersections don't always mean right angles and you need a little extra help getting around.

While I thought it was a great new tool, Google is still working on it. Starting today it'll be rolled out to select local guides who will test global localization and give feedback to Google. So don't expect it on your smartphone anytime soon. The company still wants to work out the kinks and make sure all its Street View data is on par with the real world. So until then, we're back to relying on the little blue dot and hoping we're walking in the right direction.

Source: Google AI Blog

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have set up war rooms and disclosure systems to warn of potential election meddling, but the Canadian government doesn't believe that's good enough. The country's Democratic Institutions Minister has established a panel of five politicians that will warn the public when there's evidence of attempted interference during election periods, including the upcoming October federal election. If they believe there's a threat, they'll not only alert the Prime Minister, party officials and Elections Canada, they'll hold a press conference to reveal the details to everyone.

The panel will include the Clerk of the Privy Council, the national security and intelligence advisor, and the Deputy Ministers of Global Affairs Canada, Justice and Public Safety. And while other politicians would receive briefings on details, they wouldn't have the power to stop public disclosures.

This would be limited to serious incidents that are clearly meant to skew the election, such as a fake news video or the email hack that tried to disrupt the campaign of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron. Simply put, it would make disclosure a non-issue -- the public would learn about interference campaigns on a timely basis, whether or not leaders or social networks are willing to talk.

There's more in the works as well. Canadian intelligence groups are banding together to form a Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections task force (SITE for short) that would identify foreign threats to elections and help with the government response, regardless of whether or not there's a formal election period. The country has seen the headaches caused by interference in the US and the UK, and it's not keen to see a repeat.

Source: CBC News

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