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6
Apr

Our interview with Nicholas Rout, the brain behind Seed and ‘the Phone that Grows’


 

seedYou may recall late last month we covered a story about a modular device concept called Seed, created by South African Computer Engineer, Nicholas Rout. The idea behind Seed is a device, most probably a phone, that is able to be connected to multiple different docks, like a tablet-dock or PC-dock, and is able to operate seamlessly between all of them, sharing both processing power as well as apps/programs and so forth; read the original article here for more details. We’ve also had the good fortune of getting an interview with Nicholas to find out more about his concept and where he sees it going.

A: Hi Nicholas, thanks for joining us today. What was your primary influence for starting Seed, and as a follow-on, what do you see as the biggest issue plaguing the mobile/technology industry?

NR: I came up with the idea of Seed somewhere around January 2013 while on a flight back from a holiday in the USA with my family. As a Computer Engineer in training and an unashamed nerd, I read plus or minus 20 different tech blogs and news sources daily. I observe the general trends with a keen eye. I noticed 4 major things; 1 of them good and 3 of them bad:

The Good…

In today’s world we own many smart devices of different shapes and sizes – Phones, Tablets, Notebooks, Desktops/PCs and TV hubs/consoles. As of very recently, these devices have begun to converge in terms of their power (internal specifications) and capabilities (what their respective operating systems and apps can do). You can now develop apps, create documents and play graphically-intensive games on your phone and tablet – devices that now have powerful multi-core processors and gigabytes of RAM. On the other end of the spectrum, our ‘PCs’ can fit in the palm of our hands and our laptops are paper-thin and consume far less power.

The Bad…

Firstly, while our devices are individually really capable, using them together is quite disjointed. One example of a device set – you might have an iOS mobile device, a Windows PC or a Mac, a Linux-based Notebook and a Playstation 4. These devices all have different Operating Systems, an app might work on one and not another, your files are often scattered across them in an unorganised fashion and settings/preferences differ from device to device. I personally found myself having to rely on an ad-hoc solution of cloud services and portable storage to keep my life in order, but this did only a portion of the job (if I had no access to an internet connection, then it simply didn’t work) and was really tedious. I believe this to be true for most people nowadays.

Secondly, our modern, multi-purpose devices barely hold a day’s worth of battery life and this often ends up cutting us off from the digital world we depend on.

Thirdly, owning devices of different shapes and sizes is convenient because, despite the fact that they are converging, the screen size and input method makes it easier for us to perform certain tasks. Snapping photos and messaging is best done on a phone (even though, technically, you could do this on your notebook) while a Mac/PC is hard to beat when it comes to productivity. That being said, owning a whole suite of devices is EXPENSIVE. This is especially true for developing countries where money may be scarce. Some solutions have included simply making cheaper devices, but these offer a sub-par user experience which I feel is wrong.

Thus, I combined these observations into a single solution that I named Seed. A powerful computer that you carry around with you at all times (i.e. your phone) that can change it’s shape and respective UI by using docking stations.

I got really inspired by the approach that Dave Hakkens and the Phonebloks campaign adopted as a means of promoting their idea. I decided to do the same with Seed and am following up with actual development with a small team at my University.

seedA: Aside from mobile devices, PCs and TVs, where else do you see the Seed phone being applicable?

NR: I’m glad you asked! I see Seed having a place in many other applications… Cars (the most obvious one), Public Transport like Planes, Speaker Docks, Home Appliances, Public Docking Labs/Cafes, etc.
I also imagine the Seed Dock tech being standardized and manufacturers building docks around a consistent phone. This would make the idea far more open (similar to how Phonebloks/Project Ara will embrace all manufacturers to develop the modular parts).

seedA: Do you see Ubuntu as the definite way forward for Seed, or are you still considering all available avenues?

NR: Ubuntu seems like the most suitable OS choice for now. It’s a stable, trusted Software package (in Desktop form) with a promising-looking Mobile and TV suite. The to-be convergence functions perfectly align with what Seed hopes to achieve from a Hardware perspective. That being said, Android is very modifiable and has a far greater userbase. If we could somehow create Desktop and TV versions of Android, then maybe… Microsoft has also announced a far more converged Dev Platform for Windows, and WP 8.1 is now free for devices under 9 inches. The options are open but, for now, Ubuntu seems like a clear choice.

A: What is your favourite device on the market right now?

NR: My favourite device right now is probably the Nexus 5. I’ve owned a Nexus S and now own a Nexus 4. I’d love to get my hands on a Nexus 5 as I’m a huge fan of the stock Android experience. I’m also really excited to see where Project Ara goes!

seedA: Have you had any expressions of interest from manufacturers/investors?

NR: So far the interested parties have primarily included Individual Investors and students/standalone engineers looking to assist in the development. The companies I’d really like to get interest from – think Ubuntu, Google, Asus, etc. – haven’t contacted me as of yet. This is why I’m pushing ahead with actual development, as I feel a proper, Kickstart-able working prorotype would give Seed far more leverage and interest.

seedA: Where do you hope to see Seed and the Seed phone in the near future?

NR: I really aim to see Seed become an actual, commercial device in the near future! Seed should (if nothing major comes along) become an actual company with a small team very shortly. Within the next 6 months we hope to have the prototype finished and primed for all avenues of further development – Kickstarter, negotiating/working with with existing companies like Ubuntu, Potential Investors, etc. I believe Seed has the potential to reach a really wide audience and could benefit all kinds of people. I’d love to turn it into a real product that these people can use and enjoy.

A: Thanks very much for your time, Nicholas.

So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. Let us know what you think about it all and where you think it could go in the comments.

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6
Apr

Rube Works: Rube Goldberg Game on Android Review


Rube Works: Rube Goldberg Game on Android ReviewThere are very few games these days that really challenge the mind; I think that assumption is probably why I’m so strongly draw to great puzzle games like handheld classics like Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many of these games on Android right now, but I think I may have found one of my favourites. You may recall earlier this year we announced that the Rube Works: Rube Goldberg Game was launched on Android and luckily I’ve finally gotten around to playing it.

Some background

Rube Works: Rube Goldberg Game on Android ReviewFor those of you who don’t know, Rube Goldberg was a well-known cartoonist and inventor last century, who apart from winning the Pulitzer Prize for political cartooning and founding the National Cartoonists Society, was also best known for a series of cartoons which depicted simple tasks being completed in incredibly intricate and convoluted ways, a concept which has been adopted and modified over the ages to be known as Rube Goldberg Machines. These original cartoons, which have been kept under lock and key by the Heirs of Rube Goldberg, have finally been realized in video game format in Rube Works.

The game

As you might expect then, the premise for Rube Works is simple enough: as you progress through the game, each stage will be a different Rube Goldberg Machine as depicted by one of Goldberg’s original cartoons, but with a 3D take. With a total of 18 puzzles, the game isn’t limitless, but I can assure you will get a warm buzz (or utter relief) when you complete one of the machines in its entirety.

The gameplay

Rube Works: Rube Goldberg Game on Android ReviewAt each stage, you will be given your scenario as well as a number of items for you to arrange as part of the apparatus. As a guide, there will be items already in situ which can go a long way to helping you figure out what order things need to go in. As a further guide, tapping on each item will bring up a “hint” pop-up. This pop-up will give you crucial insight as to how to utilize that item as well as what it could be used in conjunction with.

Moving around the whole stage is very easily achieved with swipes left and right, though this can be a bit weird at first as the perspective swoops the camera as opposed to just panning. You can always zoom in and out as well to make sure you have the placement of your object aligned correctly.

Rube Works: Rube Goldberg Game on Android ReviewDragging and dropping items around the stage is easy enough, but somehow the game seems to lag a little; in fact, this observation appears to permeate the app as a whole. It’s not exactly a deal breaker as all the features of the game work just fine, but it is noticeable and does require a little bit of patience.

There’s one really useful button located in the top right which is the play button; this is meant to execute your entire machine to see if you can complete your targeted simple task, however I found it a good strategy to use this button intermittently to check that what I already had was working as planned.

Rube Works: Rube Goldberg Game on Android ReviewThe beauty of this game is that it really forces you to think about your next move and how the whole machine fits together; sure, you could try trial and error to get all the pieces in place, but I would say that is nigh on impossible. For me, each stage took 10-20 mins depending on the difficulty, and sometimes it was just better to stop working on it to come back and try and figure it out again. Again, the game isn’t limitless, but I think by the end of the 18 levels, you will be sufficiently satisfied and a guru in Rube Goldberg machines. To increase replayability, you will be able to score a maximum of 3 stars; stars are rewarded for getting as close to the original Rube Goldberg cartoon as possible.

Rube Works: Rube Goldberg Game on Android ReviewThere are also 25 achievements that can be unlocked on Google Play Games (and within the game as well, curiously) so that all your friends can see how much of a Rube Goldberg expert you really are.

The presentation

Rube Works: Rube Goldberg Game on Android ReviewBuilt in Unity 3D, Rube Works looks great and Goldberg’s cartoons look fantastic realized in 3D form. Cartoon characters and objects are constructed well and although there are some issues with object collisions, it all looked very polished overall.

I did however feel there is a bit of a disconnect between the theme of the menu and the theme of the game itself, but that’s potentially getting a bit nitpicky. The menus as a whole are extremely colourful and sometimes the contrast of black and yellow was a bit jarring.

Rube Works: Rube Goldberg Game on Android ReviewThe music in the menus is great and really spoke to the era that Rube Goldberg was inventing during and all menu actions have a sound associated with it. Assuming you aren’t terribly irritable, these sounds are quite cute, keeping with the comical theme of the game. In the stages themselves though, all the music ceases, which is really quite unusual; I did expect some music to be playing in the background, but after playing several stages, I figured it was almost a godsend there wasn’t any music as this gave me a chance to really think clearly about the puzzle at hand.

The verdict

Rating: 4/5

Rube Works: Rube Goldberg Game on Android ReviewI really like Rube Works; I think it’s a gem in the sea of mindless mobile games that are on the Google Play Store, or even mobile in general. I found it extremely educational to get a glimpse of Rube Goldberg’s original machine cartoons as well as the chance to work your way through them as part of the game. If you feel like being challenged, like a good puzzle, or want to know where all those crazy Rube Goldberg machines originated from, there’s hardly a better game on Android than Rube Works right now.

Rube Works can be purchased on the Google Play Store right now for $1.99 (link below)

Game: Rube Works: Rube Goldberg Game

Play Store Link

Price: $1.99

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6
Apr

Leak points to a certain ‘Moto X + 1′ coming soon; could this be the Moto X Successor?


moto x + 1There have been several rumours linked to Motorola for some time now; these rumours include a smartwatch, a successor to the Moto X, and a possible phablet device. We of course know that the smartwatch is going to be a reality, to be released as the Moto 360, however we have heard precious little about either of the other rumours. Well, the latest leak from @evleaks looks like it could allude to either of these rumours, referring to a device called the ‘Moto X + 1‘ which is ‘coming soon’.

It’s hard to tell exactly whether ‘Moto X + 1′ more closely refers to the Moto X successor or the Motorola phablet (or if the name is even final), but if I had to guess, I’d say the ‘Moto X + 1′ is more likely a phablet device, very similar to the Moto X but in a larger body (+1 inch screen size perhaps?). Other than that, it’s very hard to speculate on what this device will turn out to be so we’ll have to keep an eye open for any relevant news.

From the comments on @evleaks’ tweet, it looks like most people disapprove of the name ‘Moto X + 1′; what do you think about this naming scheme? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: Twitter via TalkAndroid

 

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6
Apr

Mazda is updating car software to fix problems with real, living bugs


2012 Mazda 6 sedan

Just like Toyota, Mazda’s also recalling cars due to a nasty bug — the difference is, Mazda’s problem involves real, live multi-legged creatures. Apparently, the company’s recalling roughly 42,000 Mazda 6 sedans in the US, because of a certain yellow sac spider with a penchant for the smell of gasoline. If this spider makes the engine its home, the webs it’ll inevitably weave could block fuel flow and increase internal pressure. This, in turn, could lead to cracks and fuel leaks that increase the risk of fire, though the automaker claims it has yet to receive complaints about spontaneously combusting sedans.

In 2011, Mazda recalled cars for the exact same reason, and thus has started putting covers on vent lines to prevent the spiders from crawling in. Unfortunately, the company recently found out that the spiders can still wreak havoc — they can go through the preventative measure Mazda added, prompting this development. Not sure if you need to turn your car in? If it’s a 2010 to 2012 model with a 2.5-liter engine, then the Japanese auto manufacturer might call you up as soon as this month. Mazda will update your car’s software to prevent pressure from building up inside the fuel tank, just in case one of the gas-loving spiders crawl in.

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Via: NBCNEws, ABCNews, The New York Times

Source: NHTSA

6
Apr

An independent developer is bringing a Plex client to Xbox One


When Microsoft revealed the Xbox One’s independent developer program (and more recently, universal Windows apps) we hoped it could provide access for more than just games — and it looks like that’s happening. Developer Tyson Edwards reveals he’s been approved by ID@Xbox to develop a Plex client for Xbox One, bringing better access to video, music and photo streaming than the console’s DLNA support or web browser can provide.

While the work going on isn’t an official Plex project, they could base an official client on its technology. Tyson tells us he’s working to bring all the features of the current Windows 8 Modern UI Plex app to Xbox One, plus voice and motion control via Kinect. He says the platform has been surprisingly easy to work with so far, and since universal Windows apps won’t be available until later this year, an Xbox-specific version will be released “as soon as it’s ready.” So PS4, it’s your move on media support — DLNA, MP3, Blu-ray 3D, CD, anything?

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Via: NeoGAF

Source: Plex Forums

6
Apr

Feedback Loop: Best Android phone, cameras in tablets, finding good deals and more!


Welcome to Feedback Loop, a weekly roundup of the most interesting discussions happening within the Engadget community. There’s so much technology to talk about and so little time to enjoy it, but you have a lot of great ideas and opinions that need to be shared! Join us every Saturday as we highlight some of the most interesting discussions that happened during the past week.

Engadget Forums

Happy Saturday! Did you survive April Fools’ Day? We did and are here to bring you another edition of Feedback Loop. This week, we debated the merits of the Samsung Galaxy S5 versus the new HTC One, asked if cameras in tablets are a good idea, talked about how to find the best gadget deals online, sought advice on the best everyday cameras and wondered what’s up with these crazy luxury feature phones. Head on past the break and join the conversation in the Engadget forums.

S5 or M8?

Jaredhc is looking for a new Android phone. Two of the best Android phones out right now (or coming very soon) are the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the new HTC One. There are pros and cons to each one. Which would you choose?

Are cameras in tablets a good idea?

We’ve all seen people take photos with an iPad. Sure, it looks ridiculous, but it’s often practical, right? That’s what GF wants to know. Tell him how you feel about cameras on tablets in the Engadget Forums!

Best time to buy items online?

Brucedude is looking for some good deals and wants to know your tips and tricks for finding the best deals. There are the more well-known tools like camelcamelcamel. Are there other things that come to mind? Head over to the forums and help him out!

Favorite everyday camera?

Engadget Associate Editor Emily Price has her eye on the Fujifilm X100S. Do you have experience with the X100S? Can she throw it in a bag and carry it around all day or are there better options? Tell her your preferred camera for everyday use!

What’s up with luxury feature phones?

John Colucci takes a look at some recently announced luxury feature phones. Starting at $2,000 and offering fairly subpar specs, these devices leave a bit to be desired for your average smartphone user. Worst of all, you can’t even install the Engadget App on them! So, who would buy these devices? If you happen to be a Russian oligarch who reads Engadget (hey, that’s awesome), let us know what appeals to you about these phones.

That’s all this week! Do you want to talk about your favorite gadget or have a burning question about technology? Register for an Engadget account today, visit the Engadget forums and start a new discussion!

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6
Apr

Weekends with Engadget: Amazon’s Fire TV, Microsoft announces Windows Phone 8.1 and more!


Welcome to Weekends with Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines from the past seven days — all handpicked by the editors here at the site. For even more action, subscribe to our Flipboard magazine!

Amazon’s Fire TV promises a premium set-top experience

What you’re looking at is Amazon’s new Fire TV set-top box. Above all, this tiny, $99 media streamer is lightning fast thanks to its “ASAP” technology, which preloads content based upon your location in the UI. But this little black box isn’t just for TV, it plays games too.

Interview with Microsoft’s new Xbox Head Phil Spencer

This week, Microsoft announced that longtime employee Phil Spencer is replacing Marc Whitten as head of the Xbox division. What does this mean for the future of Xbox’s current brand reorganization? Well, we managed to speak with Phil about just that.

Windows Phone 8.1 and Cortana officially revealed at Build 2014

Windows Phone 8.1 has finally arrived! Earlier this week at Build 2014, Microsoft unveiled the latest version of its mobile OS, featuring a brand new notification center (“Action Center”) and the anticipated Cortana digital assistant.

This is not a prank: ThinkGeek and the business of April Fools’

April Fools’ Day beckons celebration from techies and corporations alike, but no one does it better than ThinkGeek. Our own Joseph Volpe was lucky enough to spend the day with ThinkGeek’s team of expert nerds as they prepared this year’s round of product spoofs. And don’t worry, we took lots of pictures.

2014 April Fools’ roundup

Every year, all sorts of companies try to take their April Fools’ gags to the next level — and 2014 is no exception. By now you’ve probably familiar with Google’s emoji translator and the selfie-taking drone, but click on through for our entire roundup!

Felix Baumgartner is the man who fell to Earth and lived to tell the tale

Felix Baumartner will forever be known as the first man to free fall from the edge of space. Not only did he survive the 24 mile dive from the stratosphere, but he broke several world records in the process. Our own Joseph Volpe caught up with Baumgartner as he recollected the experience and its implications for the future of space tourism.

Apple confirms WWDC 2014 will begin on June 2nd

Apple recently announced that its annual WWDC developers conference will begin on June 2nd and commence until June 6th. Ticket sales are available on Apple’s website now, but this year, it’s switching from a first-come-first-served system to random selection of attendees.

Watch a 5-year-old spam the spacebar to access his dad’s Xbox Live account

How difficult is it to break into a password-protected Xbox One profile? Well, 5-year-old Kristoffer Von Hassel managed to crack into his dad’s account account by simply pressing the spacebar. A lot.

Apple buys tech that could take Siri offline

TechCrunch is reporting that experts from the speech recognition firm Novauris are working with Apple to improve Siri’s vocal chops. Since most of Novauris’ work deals with locally processed recognition, it’s possible Apple’s voice tech may be in line for offline functionality sooner than later.

Will.i.am claims he developed a smartwatch that will launch in July

It looks like Will.i.am’s jumping on the smartwatch bandwagon. The producer and occasional tech entrepreneur gave a brief demo of the device during a recent TV interview, saying that the self-funded wearable doesn’t need to be connected to your phone at all.

Subscribe to Weekends with Engadget on Flipboard today!

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6
Apr

Koushik Dutta gets AllCast to work with Amazon FireTV


allcast

The popular app developed by Koushik Dutta which allows any media to be streamed to the Google Chromecast and Apple TV has just been demonstrated streaming content to the new Amazon FireTV.

The developer explains that under the Amazon FireTV user interface sits a bunch of API’s similar to Chromecast. Whilst there are no actual Chromecast type API’s on the Amazon FireTV, there are similar API’s which are in fact more flexible. So much so that Dutta was able to build an AllCast receiver for the Amazon FireTV in around 2 hours.

In addition, due to the API’s that exist on the FireTV, screen mirroring performs much better than the equivalent functionality on the Chromecast.

AllCast is available with limited functionality for free, and a small purchase unlocks no limits streaming to the Chromecast and now the Amazon FireTV.

The post Koushik Dutta gets AllCast to work with Amazon FireTV appeared first on ChromeWatching.

Read the rest at the source, ChromeWatching.com

The post Koushik Dutta gets AllCast to work with Amazon FireTV appeared first on AndroidGuys.

6
Apr

Surprise: Tobacco could eventually lead to new cancer treatment


When tobacco and cancer are used in the same sentence, the word “cause” usually goes in between. That’s why a new research from La Trobe University in Australia could confuse some folks — after all, the researchers discovered that tobacco could potentially be used for cancer treatment. Before you pick up that box of Marlboros, know that it’s actually a flowering tobacco plant named Nicotania alata, which isn’t even the same species used to make cigarettes, that has magical, cancer-beating properties. After a series of tests, the scientists have determined that NaD1 (a protein found in its pink and white flowers) can not only fight off plant fungi, but also kill cancer cells.

Apparently, NaD1 latches onto cancer cells with its pincer-like structure, causing them to form little balloons on the surface until they explode. But, what makes it an ideal cure is that while it attacks affected cells, it leaves healthy ones untouched. According to lead researcher Dr. Mark Hulett from the school’s Molecular Science program, a huge issue with the therapies we use today is that unlike the NaD1 protein, they attack cells indiscriminately.

Of course, the irony of it all didn’t escape his notice. He said:

There is some irony in the fact that a powerful defence mechanism against cancer is found in the flower of a species of ornamental tobacco plant, but this is a welcome discovery, whatever the origin.

Like any new medical discovery, though, the protein has to go through years of more rigorous testing and research. In fact, Hulett believes we have to wait at least 10 more years before it’s ready to step out of the lab and into the hospital.

[Image credit: Carl E. Lewis/Wikimedia]

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Via: The Conversation, The Age

Source: La Trobe University, eLife

6
Apr

ShowYou video discovey app adds Chromecast support


Screen-Shot-2014-04-05-at-21.22.17

Remixnation have today added Chromecast support to their iOS and Android app ShowYou, allowing you to push interest-curated online videos to the big screen.

ShowYou helps find the most interesting online videos based on your interests and what your friends share on social media.

The picked videos then get arranged into a lineup programmed around your interests, and now these can be streamed directly to the Google Chromecast.

What can ShowYou do?

☆ Follow and browse videos from channels like the Daily Show, Break, Reddit, Funny or Die, Pitchfork, Vanity Fair and many more

☆ Browse videos from your Twitter timeline and your Facebook feed

☆ Search index of over 90 million videos selected by our users

☆ Create your own channel by simply sharing videos

☆ Watch and react to videos shared by your friends.

☆ Share videos with your friends on Showyou, Facebook, Twitter or by email.

ShowYou is available for free on the Google Play Store.

The post ShowYou video discovey app adds Chromecast support appeared first on ChromeWatching.

Read the rest at the source, ChromeWatching.com

The post ShowYou video discovey app adds Chromecast support appeared first on AndroidGuys.

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