When we drop our phones, it seems that the most common damage occurs with our displays where they get cracked or chipped. If your handset is under warranty then replacing it will not be an issue, but if it is out of warranty, then this is where it starts to get a bit expensive depending on your phone and where you send it in for repair.
However the good news is that if you’re a Verizon customer, the carrier might have you covered. Verizon has recently announced its Total Mobile Protection program where they will help repair your cracked screens for as much as $29 as long as your device is less than two years old. This is cheaper than what was previously charged which was $49.
According to Verizon, “Cracked screen repair comes with two convenient options: either bring it to one of 296 certified repair stores or save yourself a trip and have a certified technician meet you at your home or office in 152 cities.” In addition to repairing your phone’s screen, Total Mobile Protection will also cover the likes of damage, loss, or theft, and all you have to do is enroll your Verizon handset with the program and you should be covered. Addition details can be found on Verizon’s Total Mobile Protection website.
It is no secret that many tech companies and carmakers are working on making self-driving cars a reality. In fact over in China, internet search giant Baidu is making some progress of their own and had previously teamed up with the likes of BMW and Microsoft to help further their self-driving car efforts.
However it seems that Baidu’s interest does not lie just with cars, but with transportation in general because during The Wall Street Journal’s D.Live conference, Baidu’s CEO Robin Li revealed that the company had plans to launch a self-driving bus in China. Li announced that the company is working with a large bus maker in China and plans to have a self-driving bus route running in the country by next year.
This is actually not the first time we’re hearing about public transportation going down the self-driving route. Over in Singapore, the country had launched various initiatives, such as driverless pods that can ferry people in neighborhoods to nearby bus stops, or the country’s Nanyang Technological University where they plan to launch an autonomous shuttle bus to ferry students around campus.
It will be interesting to see if Baidu can get a self-driving bus up and running in the country next year. For the most part, self-driving technology is still very much in the testing phase due to various legal and regulatory hurdles that need to be overcome before it can be fully commercialized.
When the Apple Watch was first launched, safe to say that it was not what many had expected, although we guess the rumors and the hype surrounding the device was to blame for creating some unrealistic expectations. However over the years, Apple has made changes and improvements to the hardware and software, with the Series 3 being the latest.
In fact it seems that Apple might have done a great job with the Apple Watch Series 3 because according to GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives, his latest research note obtained by CNBC (via 9to5Mac) revealed that the analyst thinks that the Series 3 is a “game changer” for Apple’s wearables efforts.
According to Ives, “This data point speaks to our belief that the Apple Watch Series 3 could be a ‘game changer’ release for Cupertino to open up this wearables category for the coming years.” One of the key features of the Series 3 is the option to have LTE as one of the connectivity options, which in turn means that users will have to rely less on their iPhones to use the device.
That being said, Ives still thinks that the Apple Watch represents a small margin of Apple’s revenues. “While Apple Watch sales still represents low to mid-single digits of overall revenue, this wearables category is an important product for Apple to further penetrate its massive consumer installed base and lay the groundwork for new product lines/technologies (e.g. AR glasses) over the coming years to complement its ‘bread and butter’ iPhone franchise growth.”
If you’re in the market for a new PS4 controller but you don’t want to pay for a DualShock 4 controller, or maybe you’re just after something a little less bulky, you’ll be pleased to learn that Sony has announced the Mini Wired Gamepad controller for the PS4. This controller isn’t made by Sony but instead it is a gamepad made by Hori by has been officially licensed.
According to Sony, the controller is apparently 40% smaller than the DualShock 4 controller, so if you have kids who can’t handle the DualShock 4 controllers, or like we said if you want something a bit more compact and portable, this should do the trick. “The Mini Wired Gamepad provides the essential functions to play most PS4 games while still providing a great gaming experience — that includes the right and left sticks, R1/L1/R2/L2 buttons, directional buttons, and action buttons. Certain touch pad inputs can be simulated via the left or right sticks.”
The best part is the price where the Mini Wired Gamepad is priced at $30, which is admittedly cheaper than that of the DualShock 4, making it more affordable and also a bit more portable, although the only downside is that it is wired so wireless gameplay is clearly off the table, but hopefully its 10-foot long cable should be more than enough to make up for it.
The Mini Wired Gamepad will be available for purchase in the US and Canada this coming holiday season, so keep an eye out for it if it’s something you think you might be interested in.
Several weeks ago, Levi’s smart jacket that they worked together with Google on finally went on sale, but it seems like this wasn’t a one time collaboration because during The Wall Street Journal’s D. Live conference, Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh revealed that the company was already working on a second smart jacket with Google.
According to Bergh, he’s hoping that the next iteration will have even more functionality than the first, and that it will not require a screen, which means that incorporating it into clothes will be much easier. For those unfamiliar, Project Jacquard was announced by Google a couple of years ago.
Basically the project involved weaving conductive threads into clothing, thus making our clothes “smarter” and having it interact with our electronics. This is versus users have to rely on third-party gadgets or accessories which could be bulky or easily forgotten. One of the ways that they’re using Project Jacquard is through clothing, like jackets created by Levi’s, although technically it could be used for anything, like a swimsuit that could track your laps and heart rate.
According to Bergh, “We have to honor our past. But we have to also put one foot going very confidently into the future with innovation.”
As its name indicates, the Samsung round is a 360-degree high-resolution camera built to shoot Virtual Reality (VR) footage. It has 17 lenses to shoot in stereo from 8 different viewpoints (2×8) and one lens looking straight up, to avoid severe distortion at the top.
Before you get too excited, this Samsung 360 Round camera costs $10500, a price that puts it into the professional category. The 360-video hardware market started years ago with people putting together a bunch of GoPro cameras, and we have seen some very weird and somewhat big cameras being put together that way. As of late, Facebook, Panasonic, Nokia and Samsung have been fielding compact, high-quality camera to film 360-videos. Note that the previous evolution of this camera was called “Project Beyond” by Samsung.
Both Samsung and Facebook firmly believe in the future of VR. Ultimately, they could both be right from their specific vantage point: VR could change social interactions, and it will inevitably end up being a “Display problem” once the significant initial issues have been solved. In any case, everyone agrees that the most consumed content will be 360-video. Image quality and video workflow are some of the challenges that many players are trying to solve.
The camera is water-resistant, with an IP-rating of IP65, which means that it is dust-proof and it can resist “Strong water jets” but should not be submerged. In short, intense rain won’t be a problem.
The cameras have 2 Megapixel sensors and a lens aperture of f1.8. It is possible to record 3d audio, thanks to an array of 6 microphones, with the ability to add more with two connecting ports. To process, the video in real-time, there is 10GB of RAM and 40GB of flash storage. It is also possible to connect an additional 2TB via an external SSD drive. A USB-C port serves as the primary data exchange mechanism. The on-board video processing makes it possible to live-stream in 360.
Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant, was launched in version 1.0 with the Galaxy S8 six months ago is going to be updated to 2.0 soon. Announced at the Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) today, the new version will be much better and extend well beyond smartphones.
Bixby 2.0 has been designed to run outside the smartphone ecosystem. Naturally, WIFI connected devices would land themselves well to Bixby. Things like TVs, intelligent speakers and computers could all be part of a smart environment. In fact, Bixby is coming to (some) Samsung TVs in Korea and the USA. For non-connected devices Samsung has Project Ambiance. The idea of Ambiance is to drop low-cost microphones in several locations to make homes smarter.
A Bixby 2.0 demo with a mock-up living room
The overall idea of Bixby 2.0 is that natural language can accomplish complex tasks more efficiently than tapping and browsing apps screens. During the SDC first keynote, the example of ordering a pizza was cited: “order a pizza and have it delivered it at home” would take minutes if executed via tactile UI and apps.
While the reality of voice commands is a bit more complex than this example, Dr. Injong Rhee (CTO & EVP of Software & Services) makes a good point: in many situations, natural language could be the most powerful user interface of all, assuming that the system is smart enough to make it work. That is particularly true with devices that traditionally do not have a strong user interface (appliances, cars).
Dag Kittlaus at SDC 2017
Dag Kittlaus (Vice President Samsung Electronics, CEO of Viv Labs) knows this well as he ran the Siri and speech recognition group at Apple before joining Samsung via Viv Lab’s acquisition. When he was on stage this morning, he recognized that voice interfaces had previously not reached a point where they went from “novelty” to tools intricately woven into people’s daily lives. However, he pitched (to developers) a near future in which that would happen, with Bixby 2.0 of course.
Samsung also understands that Bixby 2.0 needs to be open, and has promised that “everything that Samsung can do [with Bixby], developers can do it too.” Following the announcement, the Bixby 2.0 development kit has entered beta phase. Although you can expect that Samsung products will be featuring Bixby, third-party hardware companies can also integrate it. A healthy eco-system support is vital for this project to succeeds.
It is too early to tell how good Bixby 2.0 is going to be, but to make it work, Samsung has unified all its IoT activities under the SmartThings Cloud platform, which is accessible via a single API. The platform is also open to third party hardware and software partners, and the goal is to reduce the consumer IoT fragmentation which remains a huge problem in general. End-users will not embrace smart things via a myriad of different apps. The Samsung SmartThings Cloud platform is a sophisticated piece of technology that is run in various data-centers around the world to power the logic, notifications, events, and commands for connected devices.
With Bixby 2.0 as a common interface and SmartThings Cloud platform as the information backbone, Samsung has all the pieces it needs to build the IoT vision it is promoting to developers (~5000 at the SDC17 event). In theory, the company could also leverage its internal hardware-software synergy to get things moving and inspire others to jump on board. As it stands, we can surely expect to see more demos of Bixby 2.0 at CES 2018. Both Google and Amazon have been working furiously on this as well. Amazon has a head-start with developer adoption, and Google is doing very well in deep-science and AI. Samsung will compete with both at the same time.
Lego confirmed earlier this year that it was building a “Women of NASA” set. The idea was actually submitted to the company by Maia Weinstock, the MIT deputy news editor, in its Lego Ideas competition. The set is ready now and will soon be available for purchase. Lego has confirmed that the Women of NASA set will be sold starting next month.
There are four different figures included in this set that pay tribute to the four exceptional women who achieved great things at NASA. It includes Sally Ride, she was the first American woman in space while Mae Jemison was the first woman of color in space.
Margaret Hamilton helped develop the software for NASA’s Apollo missions while Nancy Grace Roman played a big role in bringing the Hubble Space Telescope to life. All four of these women get their very own Lego versions.
Weinstock’s original pitch for the Women of NASA set also included Katherine Johnson, she was known for her accuracy in computerized celestial navigation. She conducted technical work at NASA for decades.
However, she doesn’t seem to have been included in the final set. According to reports, Lego ran into some problems in gaining approval from her and her family.
Lego is going to release the Woman of NASA set on November 1st for $25.