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After Math: Do you see?

It was an illustrative week for machine vision. Sony’s high-speed eyes allow robots to see at 1000 FPS, IBM trained a neural network to spot schizophrenia, and MIT’s AI knows what’s in your meal just by looking at it. Numbers, because how else do you measure your myopia?


‘Pokémon Go Fest’ issues refunds after tech problems ruin event

After an up and down first year of existence, the Pokémon Go Fest was supposed to be a triumphant event where players could work together in news ways and earn unique awards. The event unfortunately suffered as cell networks and the game’s servers couldn’t keep up with the strain, preventing many attendees who had traveled from around the world from participating. Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke was actually booed when he appeared at the event, and later in the day the company announced it would refund attendees for their ticket costs, add $100 in PokéCoins to their accounts and give them the Legendary Pokémon Lugia.

The issues, and Niantic’s inability to deal with them before they derailed the event, recalled many of the problems Pokémon Go has dealt with since its launch. Incredibly popular right out of the gate, the game suffered with significant instability for months, and still occasionally has problems preventing players for logging in now. It’s the first augmented reality game with participation and appeal on a massive scale, but putting its most hardcore players through a day like yesterday is just another strike against it, even as the money continues to roll in.

For those who are still trying to catch them all, however, there are some new updates. If you’re in the Chicago area, special areas from the Fest have been expanded across a two mile area around Grant Park through Monday morning. For players everywhere, there are a number of bonuses that will be available through Monday evening at 8PM ET:

  • Double Stardust
  • Double Candy
  • Double XP
  • Increased Pokémon encounters
  • Reduced hatching distance
  • Reduced buddy distance

Also, beginning today, Legendary raids have been unlocked, featuring Lugia as well as Articuno monsters. They will be joined “soon” by Zapdos and Moltres.

Source: Niantic Pokémon GO Fest Chicago Update, (2)


Making sense of it all: Smartphone specs and terms explained

When shopping for a new smartphone, there are tons of questions you’ll have racing through your mind. How much battery life can I expect? How good is the screen? How well will it handle multitasking? Devices have gotten so complex, there’s a litany of technical terms and jargon out there that can overwhelm even the experts among us. With the lightning-quick pace of advancement in the mobile space, there’s new language seemingly popping up every day. Fortunately, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll explain a host of smartphone specs and terms, with real-world examples to help you make sense of it all.


This is the spec you’ll probably see most frequently to denote performance. The processor is really the heart and soul of your phone. Different processors are usually classed by speed, which is expressed in gigahertz, or GHz. Additionally, modern processors are made up of multiple cores, which are individual processing units that can handle separate tasks. Duties can be split among the cores, allowing for parallel computing, and thus, faster output. Processors, specifically for smartphones and other mobile devices, are also termed “system-on-chips” or “chipsets” because they are usually a collection of multiple components on a single integrated circuit, like the device’s radios for calls and data, as well as the graphics processing unit.

Simply put, the faster a processor is and the more cores it has, the faster your phone should be. Here are some more specific descriptions of terms related to processors.

Manufacturers and brands (i.e. Qualcomm, MediaTek, etc.)

There are just a handful of companies that make processors for mobile phones. Qualcomm is the biggest, and they’re responsible for the Snapdragon series. Most devices running Google’s Android operating system feature Snapdragon chipsets, and Qualcomm has broken up its products into four classes: 200, 400, 600, and 800. In Qualcomm’s naming convention, the processors get faster as the numbers get bigger. So if you read that a phone contains a “Snapdragon 835,” you’re looking at Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line processor. Conversely, a “435” is a relatively lower-end chipset.

MediaTek is the second-largest producer of processors in Android phones. Devices running their chipsets are typically more common in Asia, though you can certainly find products in the Americas and Europe containing their hardware. MediaTek’s high-end processors are known as the Helio X series, with the Helio P series slotting just underneath. The rest of its offerings have less remarkable names, beginning with MT67, followed by some more numbers. As you’d expect, the bigger the number, the more powerful the processor — so an MT6753 outclasses the MT6738, for example.

There are other companies that produce processors too, like Huawei with its Kirin brand, as well as giants like Samsung and Apple that produce chipsets exclusively for their own products. Samsung’s processors are dubbed “Exynos,” while Apple has adopted a naming scheme of “A,” followed by a number. Apple’s processors are more generational in nature, so while the same rule of bigger number equals better performance applies, the A10 is also two years newer than the A8. There’s also the “X” series, like the A10X and A9X — though these are reserved for iPads and have yet to appear in a smartphone.

As an example of three high-end phones with relatively similar performance, the Samsung Galaxy S8 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 in North American models, and Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 internationally. Apple’s iPhone 7 uses the company’s own A10 chip, while the Meizu Pro 6 is one of only a few phones to use MediaTek’s Helio X25.

GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)

Packaged with a mobile processor is a graphics processing unit, or GPU. The GPU is responsible for handling a device’s visual output, particularly where the creation of three-dimensional images is concerned. It usually comes into play with video games and, more recently, augmented reality applications  (where the device “augments” the feed coming from its camera with computer-drawn objects and effects).

Because the GPU is packaged within the processor on a smartphone, you won’t find many straight comparisons being made between GPUs in different devices. For example, any phone using a Snapdragon system-on-chip will also employ one of Qualcomm’s Adreno GPUs. Again, the higher number is better, so going back to the Snapdragon 835 as an example, the GPU used is Qualcomm’s Adreno 540. In terms of measuring GPU power, floating point operations per seconds, expressed as GFLOPS, are typically a better indicator of performance.


YouTube’s Video Editor is ‘going away’ soon because no one is using it

Why it matters to you

If you happen to be one of the few people still using YouTube’s Video Editor, you’ll need to wrap up any projects before September 20.

YouTube is ditching its Video Editor tool because hardly anyone uses it. The video-streaming giant said the tool will “go away” on September 20, so if you’re one of those rare few who does still crank it up, you’ll need to make sure your project is done and dusted by that date.

Launched in 2010, the web-based Video Editor offers basic tools that allow you to create a sequence with your clips before uploading it to the streaming site.

The Google-owned outfit said it has seen “limited usage” of the feature, prompting the company to take it offline in a couple of months.

“You can download your own videos from YouTube in 720p or use Google Takeout to retrieve your original files, in case you are looking to remix your uploaded videos into a new video,” the company outfit pointed out in a post announcing Video Editor’s imminent closure.

However, YouTube pointed out that it is keeping Enhancements as part of its Video Manager, which lets you make improvements to your video via things like trimming, blurring, and filters. You’ll also be able to continue making use of the audio library, slow-motion options, subtitling tool, and end screens, among other features.

In the same announcement, YouTube said it was also removing its Photo slideshow tool on September 20. Like its Video Editor, YouTubers have also shown little interest in the offering.

Other options

The company noted that anyone wishing to edit videos before uploading them to the streaming site can make use of a slew of free and paid offerings from a range of companies. There are plenty of smartphone-based video editing apps for casual hobbyists looking to knock something together in a few taps, while more fully featured options are available for desktops, too.

Digital Trends recently tracked down the best free and easy-to-use editing software on the market for anyone interested in sprucing up their videos. iPhone and Mac users, for example, can make use of iMovie, a solid piece of Apple software with a range of features that has expanded gradually over the years.

The VDSC Free Video Editor is a useful option for Windows users, though admittedly it does have a bit of a clunky interface.

Cross-platform choices include Lightworks and Avidemux, with the former offering the most features among the software listed here.


From the Editor’s Desk: Hitting the road


While we wait for the next big thing, it’s time to take stock, and a break.

I’m out of town. When you read this, I’ll be blissfully offline.

I often talk to my friends about phone addiction to understand how the effects of spending too much time with one’s screens impacts those whose lives don’t revolve around evaluating them. Studies continue to show that after spending too much time with phones, half-concentrating on the person talking to them, the effects are far-reaching and devastating: we are losing the ability to concentrate. So I’m going to spend a weekend concentrating on one thing, and that’s the people around me, and on myself.

I genuinely think that the very technology we draw closer to our bodies every day is the same thing making us tired, and anxious, and alone. Be it refreshing Instagram one too many times or falling down a YouTube black hole, it’s too easy to get sucked into a vacuum of myopia: the internet is at once never-ending and unknowable and yet completely bite-sized and accessible, contained within a supercomputer in our pockets. It’s quite intimidating.

How many of you use your phone before bed? How has that impacted the number of books that you read every year? For me, if I can find more than an hour a week to read the novel I’ve been trying to finish for a good six months now, that’s generous. If my phone isn’t the first thing I look at in the morning, it’s because I slept in and am still sleeping. And as much exercise as I do to shake away the cob webs, if I don’t make a concerted effort to avoid looking at anything that emits light (even the sun — especially the sun) for a few hours a day, I will almost certainly end up with a headache.

So this weekend is meant to do just that. Meanwhile, here’s what I’m excited for in the weeks ahead.

  • The Galaxy Note 8 is officially arriving on August 23. It’s a known quantity at this point, but I’m holding out for some old fashioned Samsung surprises.
  • The Essential Phone is late, but it’s coming. What impact can it realistically have, even if it’s the reincarnation of the perfect Nexus phone?
  • I’m legitimately excited about the Moto Z2 Force announcement next week. The Moto Z2 Play is almost a perfect phone, but for its poor low-light camera abilities. If Moto can finally pull off a decent nighttime shooter, we’ve got a winner.
  • I’ve been using the HTC U11 for the past few days, and I’m kind of in love. It’s exactly what I want in a phone: powerful, attractive, with an amazing camera, great battery life, and software that gets out of its own way. More of this, please.

Hope you get to enjoy your weekend, as I plan to!

Have a good one.



Ben Heck’s Super Glue Gun: Merging form and function


The team continues buckling down on its Super Glue Gun project. Felix brings together a custom-designed motor control circuit that will be used for extruding the glue. Meanwhile, Ben cuts up the perfboard to prototype the size of the printed circuit board that will eventually fit inside the handle. Thankfully, this task is made easier thanks to a 3D printer and an existing circuit that controls the 110v AC power. It’s not all about the electronics, though: Hari from element14 steps in to give guidance on how the project might ultimately reach Kickstarter, introducing some ideas that hadn’t occurred to the team. How do you think the build is going? Would you do anything different? Let us know over on the element14 Community.


Latest Drone Footage Reveals Landscaping Progress in Apple Park’s Inner Circle

Drone videographer Duncan Sinfield posted a new video on his YouTube channel today, offering a “late July” bird’s eye view of Apple Park, the company’s new headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Sinfield’s video reveals landscaping around the campus has picked up momentum in the last few weeks, with a large grove of trees in the inner circle of Apple Park being the clearest sign of progress.

When finished, Apple Park will be surrounded by some 9,000 trees. The landscaping is being overseen by an arborist personally chosen by the late Steve Jobs, who believed trees would be one of the most important parts of the Park and represent a microcosm of the old Silicon Valley, when there were said to be more fruit trees than engineers.

Tantau Avenue, which runs along the east side of the campus, has been closed to vehicle traffic for much of July as Apple works rapidly to finish the Visitor’s Center ahead of the official opening day. Apple started hiring employees last month for the Visitor Center, which will include an Apple Store and a public cafe.

Earlier this month we got a glimpse of Apple Park’s Glendenning Barn, a historic landmark that the company carefully dismantled piece by piece and relocated to another part of the site, which was formerly a HP campus.

Tag: Apple Park
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Nissan preps its semi-autonomous driving assist for the US

Nissan is one step closer to bringing its semi-autonomous ProPilot Assist feature to American roads. The automaker has shed more light on the US-optimized version of the assistant ahead of its launch in the new Leaf near the end of 2017. As Nissan stresses, the initial version is intended only to make life easier during single-lane highway driving. Think of it as a sort of Autopilot lite. It’ll use a camera, radar and sensors to keep you in your lane, maintain speed and brake if the driver ahead slows down, but it won’t change lanes, handle city streets or brake in an emergency. It’s definitely not a hands-free option — it’ll deactivate if you have a less-than-firm grip on the steering wheel.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. Our Autoblog colleagues tested the feature, and it’s about as easy as setting cruise control. You just have to tap two buttons to invoke ProPilot, and it’ll auto-resume when you change lanes yourself. Really, this is about eliminating the need for the constant input needed to stay on course and at a reasonable distance from the car up ahead. If you’re the sort who sweats at the very thought of braving the highway during rush hour, this might reduce your stress levels.

It’s going to be a while before Nissan is competing more aggressively with other brands adding autonomy to their vehicles. ProPilot Assist is due to support multi-lane highways within 2 years, and city roads within 4 years. Full self-driving capability is going to take longer still. It’s hard to completely fault Nissan for exercising caution, though. Whether or not you believe a feature like Tesla’s Autopilot is truly ready, it’s clear that humans aren’t used to the concept of letting cars drive themselves. Nissan’s focus on basic features might as exciting as watching paint dry, but it could help ease people into the concept of letting their car steer itself.

Via: Autoblog, Detroit Free Press

Source: Nissan


Twitch will stream the ’80s arcade gaming show ‘Starcade’

Starcade, the ’80s TV show that had participants compete in arcade video games, will be back by the end of August. No, not as a reboot, which is in the works, but as a Twitch marathon. The video gaming platform has teamed up with Shout! Factory, the studio that acquired the rights to create the reboot, to stream all 123 episodes of the original show. Starcade ran from 1982 to 1984 on TBS and featured arcade classics like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Galaga and Centipede.

If you want to get an idea of what the show is all about, keep an eye out for the exact date when the stream will begin on Shout! Factory’s Twitch channel. That’s where all the episodes will be shown and where the platform streamed its Mystery Science Theater 3000 marathon in late June. While you can easily watch some of the episodes on YouTube, the partners promise better copies than any of the blurry recordings you can find. They digitized episodes from the original master tapes to “ensure the best quality possible.”

Source: Twitch


Yes, Microsoft is still working on a ‘Halo’ TV series

Remember the Halo live action TV show Microsoft announced way back in 2013? Unlike Spartans that never die, it sure felt like the project’s been dead for quite a while. The tech titan told AR12Gaming in an interview, though, that it has never stopped developing the series and that it’s still working with Steven Spielberg and Showtime like it said years ago. 343 Industries, the Microsoft Studios subsidiary in charge of the franchise, said it’s merely taking its time to ensure that the final product can meet fans’ expectations.

AR12Gaming reached out to Microsoft to check on the project’s status, considering it’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about it. Not to mention, Microsoft has cancelled a bunch of projects within the past few years, including Xbox Entertainment Studios and Xbox Fitness. Unfortunately, the company remains as secretive as ever and has yet to reveal any juicy info about the show, such as when we’ll finally be able to watch it.

Here’s the Microsoft spokesperson’s full statement:

“Progress on the Halo Television Series continues. We want to ensure we’re doing this the right way together with a team of creative partners (Steven Spielberg and Showtime) that can help us build the best Halo series that fans expect and deserve. We have no further details to share at this time.”

Via: Windows Central

Source: AR12Gaming

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