In 1960 Ted Nelson, the man who coined the term “hypertext“, began work on his magnum opus — Xanadu. In late April, after 54 years of development, the complex document builder and viewer was finally released with little to no fanfare at a Chapman University event. The concept behind the software should seem pretty familiar: documents could be embedded with clickable links that led you to directly to the quote or referenced information within another document. Clicking wouldn’t close the primary document though, instead all of the source material is displayed simultaneously, shrinking down to stay out of the way, or scaling up for side-by-side comparisons when you need it. Had it not been for an unfortunate series of setbacks, we could have been talking about Ted Nelson as the father of the World Wide Web, instead of Tim Berners-Lee. But a lack of resources, especially money, meant that development dragged on for decades. Nelson doesn’t think Xanadu is dead on arrival, though. While it may be too late to conquer the web, he believes it could take on the mighty PDF. The color-coded links and direct connections to reference material could prove quite useful in legal or research documents. Not to mention a handy way to archive web sites.
Filed under: Software
Earlier this week we reported that LG G3 outsold Samsung’s Galaxy S5 in Korea at a 3:1 ratio, selling 25-30,000 units a day. We’re talking initial launch period but these are still some respectable numbers. Now we have some more numbers for you.
I don’t think even LG expected to sell as many units in Korea, though it’s far early to judge anything, especially considering these are only Korean stats. But here’s yet another encouraging bit of information; LG sold 100,000 G3′s in just 5 days. In Korea alone.
It seems like LG is currently on fire in its homeland these numbers could soon be substantially grown internationally.
Looks like the work put into making the G3 is paying off for LG and that its beastly screen and other specs in combination with the phone’s design is working perfectly when it comes to appealing consumers. Are you going to get the LG G3?
The post LG G3 sells like crazy: 100,000 units sold in Korea after just 5 days appeared first on AndroidGuys.
We’re huge fans of changing the home screen around a bit and creating a new user experience for our Android. So much so that we present our ongoing series of Get This Look posts. In a nutshell we show you a new layout, app, widget, or icon set for your Android handset and tell you which apps you’ll need to mimic the feel.
Some of these are a little easier to create than others and many of them can be tweaked to no end. The following details are but the ingredients to which you can create your own delicious Android dish; your results will vary. Which is awesome! If nothing else, this is a great way to discover new apps, widgets, icons, and more!
Why we love this look:
Face it, your stock phone dialer sucks. After opening that thing over and over every day it can feel quite dry and mundane. Why not spice that up a bit and theme your phone application? Indeed, you can have the dialer automatically switch themes over time and look different nearly every time you use it.
There are quite a few dialer themes you can download and install from the Google Play Store but today we’re fond of one in particular. Called FlatOBlue, it brings a modern look to your phone with simple color designs and icons. It doesn’t hurt that it looks pretty Google-y. Oh, and for those wondering, no… it’s not going to switch everything over to Russian.
You’ll spend less than $2 for this look and we’re pretty sure you’ll love us for it.
What you’ll need:
- ExDialer – Dialer & Contacts
- ExDialer Theme FlatOBlue
While it was revealed yesterday that Apple executives Tim Cook and Eddy Cue had visited the company’s new operations campus in Austin, Texas, Cook has just tweeted a photo of a second visit he made to Apple’s nearby Mac Pro manufacturing facility.
Watching the Mac Pro come together in Austin yesterday,thanks to a team loaded with American manufacturing expertise. pic.twitter.com/5LcCOFIVgC
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) June 6, 2014
Apple’s Mac Pro manufacturing facility is run by Flextronics as part of an initiative to bring manufacturing of some Apple products back to the United States. While it is currently a limited effort given the relatively low volume of Mac Pro production, it has received considerable attention.
Flextronics’ Mac Pro facility is roughly a mile from Apple’s new Austin campus, which is actually an expansion of the company’s long-standing operations campus in the city. The campus expansion is major effort that will see Apple investing $300 million to add at least 3,600 workers at the site by 2021. The overall project will encompass roughly one million square feet of space, with the just-opened first phase including two out of a planned six buildings on the site.
Following the visit to Apple’s facilities in Austin yesterday, Cue was also spotted in the stands at last night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals just down the road in San Antonio.
Update 9:27 AM: Cook has also tweeted a photo of his (and Cue’s) visit with the AppleCare team at the operations campus in Austin.
Our AppleCare team is the best in the world. Thrilled to see them in action yesterday on our new campus in Austin. pic.twitter.com/fTaMKzMi9o
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) June 6, 2014
Apple is indeed aiming for an October release date for the iWatch as first reported by Nikkei earlier today, according to Re/code. Citing sources familiar with Apple’s plans, the site says Apple is tentatively hoping to schedule a special iWatch event to show off the device in October.
People familiar with Apple’s plans tell Code/red the company hopes to schedule a special event that month to show off the device, which is designed to make good use of the HealthKit health and fitness information-gathering app it recently showed off at WWDC. Could things change between now and fall? That’s certainly possible. But right now October is the target date.
Multiple rumors have previously suggested a fall 2014 release date for the device, but this is the first time a more tangible, specific date has materialized. While few details are known about Apple’s iWatch, the Nikkei report from earlier today suggested the device will incorporate a curved OLED touchscreen.
Curved iWatch concept by Todd Hamilton, based on the Nike FuelBand
The iWatch is expected to incorporate a multitude of health and fitness sensors, to measure metrics like calorie consumption, sleep activity, blood oxygen levels, and more. It is said to integrate deeply with the iOS 8′s recently introduced Health app and it may come in multiple sizes and multiple price points.
Last week, iTunes chief Eddy Cue boasted that Apple had the “best product pipeline” he’d seen in his 25 years at Apple, which along with the iWatch, may include larger iPhones, iPads with Touch ID, an updated Apple TV, and a redesigned 12-inch MacBook Air.
Google’s latched on to Diane Von Furstenberg as the solution for making Glass fashion-forward, unveiling a collection of frames made by the famed Belgian designer last week. While it remains to be seen whether trendy colored-frames can make a $1,500 wearable more appealing, a few smaller companies here at Computex in Taiwan have some novel ideas that could make you more willing to strap a mini-computer on your face… or your wrist.
To be clear, there are plenty of cheap smartwatches and Google Glass rip-offs hogging booth space at Computex. It’s just another sign that wearables are taking off in a big way — everyone wants in on the game, even if it means producing an also-ran product at a much lower price point. Innovative fitness trackers, for one, didn’t make a big splash at the show, with devices like Acer’s Liquid Leap mimicking features we’ve already seen in countless other products.
But even if their tech isn’t cutting-edge, many manufacturers showcasing here in Taiwan are paving the way to more innovative design with one-off prototypes. In some cases, that means sleeker and more diverse hardware, and in others it means clunky but interesting use cases. We’ve seen examples of both, and it made trudging through the copy-cats worthwhile.
Take E Ink, for instance. The company has teased the concept of a full wraparound display smartwatch several times, but a rep at the show said the design has been prototyped, and he wasn’t shy about providing details about how such a watch would work. For one thing, having more screen real estate would let you view more information than on your typical smartwatch, and color E Ink would allow for some neat watch-face designs. And, as one Engadget reader pointed out, the sleek design’s footprint isn’t a far cry from some bracelets, so it could be a more stylish option than the Galaxy Gear, for example.
While getting rid of the watch strap altogether could make for a sleek design with more room for displaying information, one company wants to put the band to good use by adding a lithium-ceramic battery. Prologium’s watchband battery could double the runtime of your wearable, which is definitely good news for anyone who’s been disappointed with the Galaxy Gear or Pebble’s stamina.
One of Epson’s E Ink watches on display, designed in partnership with wOw Tokyo, is also worth mentioning. It’s like the girly equivalent of the Pebble Steel — there’s a delicate, feminine pattern on the band — with a longer battery life but no smart functionality, that is. The E Ink screen displays a variety of cute animations and watch faces, including images of London’s Big Ben, street lamps and circus tents. Another version, not on display, offers the same concept with a soccer theme. Nothing revolutionary here; just an E Ink watch that serves as an alternative to the standard monochrome aesthetic we’re used to seeing.
An attractive design is one thing, but on the other end of the spectrum is an unwieldy yet novel take on the head-mounted display trend. It’s no Oculus Rift, but the PhoneStation literally puts your handset’s screen before your pupils, channeling a side-by-side picture so you can watch 3D YouTube hands-free. In its current incarnation, the design is almost ridiculously heavy on your head — especially when you have a larger phone like the Galaxy Note 3 — but the convenience factor is pretty obvious.
With a little refinement, such as a lighter design or one that distributes weight more efficiently, the PhoneStation could become a compelling option for virtual-reality gaming (just add a Bluetooth controller and you’re set). And since nearly all of the tech comes from your handset, the price point would likely be quite low.
As Computex becomes less of a show about Ultrabooks, there’s room for smaller vendors from Asia and beyond to showcase quirkier products and proofs-of-concept. And, frankly, that’s made for a very interesting few days roaming the convention-center halls. Even if you never own a wraparound-display watch or strap a Galaxy Note to your head, get ready to think beyond Pebble and Google Glass — the wearable game is just heating up.
Magnetic levitation keyboards have been around for a while, but they’ve never really taken off, or floated our boats, or attracted much atten… Anyway, a Taiwanese manufacturer called Darfon is persevering with the idea, and it’s discovered that maglev keys, which rest on opposing magnets instead of mushy membranes or mechanical switches, can make laptop keyboards significantly thinner. Unfortunately, according to a CNET journalist who played with a couple of prototypes at Computex, the keys can be hard to type on if skinniness is taken to the extreme. Then again, there’s scope to change the resistance of the keyboard electronically to suit your preference, and Darfon claims it has already received orders from laptop makers who are targeting launches later this year. If that’s true, perhaps the technology isn’t so repellant after all.
[Image credit: Aloysius Low / CNET]
Acer is in trouble, but that’s not Jason Chen’s fault. The CEO, who’s only been on the job five months, inherited an organization besieged by a shrinking PC market and record losses. So how is he doing? Too soon to say, really, but there are signs Acer might be turning over a new leaf: The company this week unveiled a tablet, a bunch of smartphones and its first smartwatch, the Liquid Leap. No PCs, though. If nothing else, it’s clear the firm is eager to branch out beyond cheap laptops.
Here at Computex (ostensibly a computer show), we asked Chen what he thinks consumers want in a smartwatch, and how the Leap will stand apart from other wearables entering the market. Chen’s surprising answer: He doesn’t know yet. “We believe over time the market will prove itself,” he said in an interview. “What we have to do is get the product [out] and see how it goes.” In the meantime, Acer’s strategy is to hedge its bets. The Leap attempts to be both a smartwatch and a fitness device, with features that include SMS/call notifications, step counting and sleep tracking. At launch, it will only work on Android (just an Acer phone to start), but an accompanying iOS app is already in the works. Whatever it is that people want to do with a smartwatch, Acer is trying to cover its bases.
Reading in between the lines, though, it seems Chen is aware the Leap is probably imperfect. “This is the first product we’ve introduced in the wearable market, and it won’t be the last,” he said. “We understand the market is going up, and we have to make sure we don’t miss it. What we are learning, the industry is also learning.” In other words, better to enter the market as soon as possible, and get your mistakes over with early.
Just ask Samsung. Or Sony, for that matter. Both companies are on their second generation of smartwatches, and both have yet to master things like user experience and app selection. It’s not surprising, then, that Jason Chen doesn’t seem to know what consumers want in a smartwatch; companies that have been at it for years still don’t have the answer. That doesn’t bode well for Acer, which perhaps isn’t as early to the market as Chen would have you believe — and which faces competition from other newcomers such as Motorola, LG and Razer. Then again, plenty of other companies (Apple, Dell, HP, ASUS, Toshiba) have yet to announce anything at all.
Acer certainly faces serious challenges trying to figure out the wearable equation, but Chen insists his company has a leg up. His own experience in semiconductors — he comes from TSMC — helps, he says. “How long can you expect to recharge your device?” he asked, referring to some of the unsolved challenges of building a smartwatch. “Those power consumption questions need to be fixed.” More importantly, Chen says, Acer is a big brand that people trust. And even if they don’t, the company can still reach a large population of people, all while keeping the price down. “We have established a foothold in the industry so when the market starts to ramp up, we participate,” he added. “Rather than being too late, at the tail of the market.”
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster and Soyuz TMA-13M space ship are shown here on a long exposure image of the launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. The cargo? Three astronauts headed to the International Space Station. Russian commander Maksim Suraev, American flight engineer Gregory Wiseman, and European astronaut Alexander Gerst will join Steve Swanson and Russians Oleg Artemyev currently aboard the ISS.
Filed under: Science
A few months back at CES, I found myself at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway as a guest at BMW’s “Highly Autonomous Driving” demo. While our cameraman set up his gear and I pondered what I was going to say about BMW’s mystery kit, I watched one of the carmaker’s drivers hooning through a wet section of the track drifting an M235i. Little did I know at the time that the driver wasn’t actually driving: He was a passenger. That night, BMW suggested self-driving cars were years off, maybe as many as 10. But Google’s just shown us its vision, and the “when” is much, much closer. Despite my racing-heavy introduction earlier this year, the automakers want to sell self-driving cars as a safety blanket. And if they can prove its ability to save lives, it’ll become a reality in short order.
WHAT IS IT?
Call the technology what you will: driverless, highly autonomous or self-driving. No matter the term used, the end result is that some element of control of the vehicle passes from your hands and feet to a computer. In its simplest form, cruise control could be considered part of this technology, though traditionally it is referred to as a driving aid. As one of its seemingly endless list of features, Audi offers Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go in some of its fleet. This technology enables your car to follow the vehicle ahead of you in traffic, automatically speeding up and braking when they do and even coming to a complete stop if needed. These driver-assist tools attempt to take the drudgery out of driving, leaving you to enjoy the rest. Driving automation is about improving the experience and adding safety.
But what’s being proposed recently by the likes of Google, Audi, Volvo, BMW and most other large automakers is much, much more. This discussion is not about automated aids, but about complete control of the driving experience. Google’s newly announced car, for example, completely computerizes all the work of driving and replaces all pilot input with a start and stop button. You won’t need to know how to drive. In fact, you don’t even have to care about cars anymore if you’d rather not. Google’s vision happens to be a pod you travel in as if by magic; other makers may opt to have control available that you can enable or disable.
BMW’s demos in Vegas showed off what its cars can do without any human interaction at the “dynamic limits of the car.” In short, we blitzed about a track at close to 70 MPH in a twisty section, through pylons in an Auto-X demonstration, and then capped it with some emergency avoidance maneuvers. It was our first time going for a drive without a person actually being involved in the process and we left fairly awestruck. At the very end of our test session, the M235i intentionally drifted by loading on the power going into a wet bend and the car maintained the slide by itself. The demonstration was very impressive, made more-so by the fact we weren’t just toodling down the street on a milk run: we were hustling.
That said, we also saw that same car get it completely wrong in the wet section and spin out, so it’s not infallible.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Google’s car is outfitted with a staggering array of equipment to keep tabs on where it is and to track its surroundings. A LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scanner on the car’s roof maps the world in real-time, similar to Microsoft’s Kinect. It tracks depth and distance, acting as the car’s eyes. That info is compared to stored data to help discern pedestrians from inanimate objects.
In tandem, radar and ultrasonic scanners (plus cameras) keep track of the 360 degrees of space around the car. This includes reading signage, watching for road hazards, monitoring for red lights and everything else you normally watch out for while driving. Google has been adding scenarios for road hazards such as construction and even recognizing and understanding a cyclist’s hand signals for lane changes and the like. Think of this system as the car’s brain.
While Google is at the forefront of this new frontier of automobiles, the company will likely remain behind the scenes in the industry. While we don’t see Google selling cars, we do expect it will stay an innovator in the space, developing the platform for car vendors. Like its Android OS is adopted by cell phone makers, it’s not hard to imagine the same happening for automotive tech.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Where you stand on this likely depends on what you hope to get out of your automated driving experience. If you can’t parallel park to save your life — or other’s bumpers — a BMW’s i3 can already take care of that for you. Maybe you’re worried about pop as he’s older and no longer safe driving for his groceries? No worries: type in a destination and the car will get him there.
Or perhaps you don’t own a car or live in an area with no parking? Car sharing services will undoubtedly become more popular and simpler to use. Imagine reserving your ride in an app and having the car arrive at your doorstep at some pre-determined time. You arrive at a your destination, hop out then the car takes off on some other mission like a taxi, but with no driver or fare. Once you’ve wrapped up your business your car is there, on time for the scheduled pick up. People with impaired vision, problems with mobility, or other ailments that prevent them from driving a car will have another transportation option. Being able to arrange your own travel to and from where you’re going on any particular day without need for any other party’s taxi, bus or shuttle is a revelation. Party people will celebrate having another way to get home after drinking more glasses of wine than planned. Hop in your car and have it ferry you home, safely.
Of course, traditional methods of carriage for the drunken may not cheer this new technology. Uber (and its ilk), taxis, and even buses/subways could see a slip in customers as these new choices come on line. Also consider the downsides: instead of parking your car once you arrive at your destination, it simply heads home, using more energy. While these technologies buoy ease of use and safety, they do little to directly reduce the number of cars on the road.
WHAT’S THE ARGUMENT?
Some folks are going to hate it, plain and simple. Having no control of the metal box carting you through space at high-speed is likely to be an intimidating experience for some. So much happens around you while you’re driving: what if the car doesn’t react properly? Or at all? What if the system crashes? All of these are valid concerns, and all are possible. To the credit of interested parties, years of work have gone into this research by many companies. Google alone has logged 700,000 autonomous miles of driving. That’s almost two round-trips to the Moon, or 17 laps around our little blue planet.
The National Safety Council estimates that roughly 35,000 people died in 2013 in US traffic accidents. There were also some 3.8 million car crashes requiring medical attention. The NSC estimates that hundreds of billions of dollars per year are spent on crashes, if you tally up lost revenue, insurance payouts, medical costs and property damage.
People make mistakes. We’re easily distracted and we certainly can’t juggle 20 tasks at once while driving. Computers can, they never tire, never get sleepy or spill a latte on their lap while fumbling for a turn indicator.
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY?
The laws surrounding driverless cars are shiny new. With only California, Nevada, Michigan, Florida and the District of Columbia offering the thumbs up thus far, there’s definitely a long road ahead. Currently those states require a driver behind the wheel just in case something goes awry. Technical issues aside, the legality of it all may be its biggest initial stumbling block to success. Meanwhile, the statistical argument in favor of self-driving cars is pretty strong: 90 percent of accidents are human error.
Also consider that most state legislation doesn’t outright prohibit — or even consider the possibility — of automated cars, the question of liability will need to be addressed. Who will be held “at fault” in the case of an accident? The carmaker? The software integrator? A sensor manufacturer? In the case of human driver vs. machine driver, the tapes could be reviewed as the automated car would have recorded footage leading up to the accident to help demonstrate where guilt should be attached. It’s a whole new legal realm we’ve barely explored.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
If you want to keep abreast of what Google’s up to with its cute as a button automatic car just track this site. If you happen to live in Michigan, your State University is set to become a hot bed for automotive study. Take a peek at the school’s Mobility Transformation Facility and the whopping 32-acre test facility being built right now. If you’re curious about the i3 and all its magical tech, BMW gives away some more technical info over here. Lastly, Audi’s list of driving aids are miles long and some are pretty nifty, have a gander at those here.
[Image credit: Google, jurvetson/Flickr, Si-MOCs/Flickr]
Filed under: Transportation