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3
Sep

After Math: Business as Usual


It was a fairly uneventful week for the tech industry. Apple continued its quest to know everything about its customers. The FDA finally approved a genetic therapy for the first time Lyft spread its operation to 32 more states. And Juicero, purveyors of a $400 juice maker, shut down completely. Numbers, because how else will you know you’ve overpaid for a proprietary bag squeezer?

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3
Sep

The best compact washer and dryer


By Liam McCabe

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best homewares. When readers choose to buy The Sweethome’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

If you can’t quite fit a full-size washer or dryer in your home, a 24-inch washer and ventless dryer pair will usually work instead. After 25 hours of research into 22 washers and 24 dryers, your best bet in this style is probably the Bosch 300 Series WAT28400UC washer and WTG86400UC dryer.

Who should get this

If your laundry area doesn’t have enough space for a full-size laundry set, or anywhere to ventilate the dryer, a compact washer or dryer might work instead. Most models are the size of a dishwasher, and they typically have around half the capacity of a full-size machine.

Compact machines tend to cost more than their full-size counterparts, though, so regular-size models are a better value if you can fit them.

How we picked

We focused on 24-inch (or European-style) compact washers and ventless dryers that come in matching pairs. The washing machines are all front-loaders, and the dryers do not require ventilation. This style of laundry can fit in more places around more types of homes than standard-size machines, such as side by side under a kitchen counter or stacked in a small laundry closet. Compacts like these still need most of the same plumbing and electrical requirements as a standard washer and dryer, including hot- and cold-water hookups, a 240-volt outlet, and a drain nearby.

The most important features in any appliance, including compact laundry, are reliability and helpful customer service. We also considered factors such as washer cleaning performance, washer spin speed, accelerated wash cycles, presence of a dryer reservoir, how easy it was to reach the dryer filter, capacity, and amount of noise and light produced.

Our pick: Bosch 300 Series compact washer and dryer

02 – Our pick: Bosch 300 Series compact washer and dryer

Most people who need a 24-inch (European style) compact washer and dryer should be happy with the Bosch 300 Series WAT28400UC washer and WTG86400UC dryer. Of the few models that fit our criteria, these in particular have most of the features that matter, including the fastest spin speed and a shorter wash cycle. The brand also has a strong reputation for reliability, service, customer support, and performance.

Bosch covers its laundry products with the industry-standard one-year parts and labor warranty, plus a second year of coverage for all parts, and the total cost of replacement for the control board and motor.

The 300 Series washer has one of the highest spin-cycle speeds we’ve seen, at 1,400 rpm, and is one of the few compact washers with an accelerated normal wash cycle—finishing an 8-pound load in 60 minutes rather than 100. This is a big time-saver, but because we haven’t tested the machine, we’re not sure if the speed comes at the expense of fabric care or efficiency.

The washer’s power supply could be a potential dealbreaker: Unlike most washing machines, the WAT28400UC needs a 240-volt outlet. However, you can plug it into the WTG86400UC dryer and piggyback off that connection (any good dryer needs a 240-volt outlet anyway). So if you’re stacking the machines, or installing them side by side, this is not an issue. The dryer also needs to be near a drain. Again, this is a nonissue for most people, because the dryer will be installed next to or on top of the washer, which obviously also needs to be near a drain. Price is another downside for the Bosch 300 Series. It’s the most expensive pair among our finalists by a fair margin.

Runner-up: Electrolux EIFLS20QSW and EIED200QSW

Photo: Electrolux

The Electrolux EIFLS20QSW washer and EIED200QSW dryer are the next-best pair if the Bosch’s washer voltage and dryer drainage requirements are a problem. The Electrolux pair gets good ratings for cleaning ability, and has a slightly larger washer capacity than other compact models, as well as the same class-leading 1,400 rpm spin speed as the Bosch. It also tends to cost about $300 less than the Bosch set. However, we came across an uncomfortable number of user reviews about poor reliability and customer service, and it’s also missing an accelerated-wash option.

Because the washer can plug directly into a standard 120-volt outlet, the Electrolux pair also allows more installation flexibility. And the Electrolux dryer can either collect its condensed water in a reservoir, or send it directly down a drain. The Bosch, by comparison, has no reservoir, so it needs to be installed near a drain.

The EIFLS20QSW also has the largest capacity we’ve seen in a compact washer. The drum is 2.4 cubic feet, which can help it hold a few more garments than the 2.2-cubic-foot Bosch 300 Series.

We’re not comfortable making the Electrolux pair our main pick, though, because we came across a few too many troubling reviews about reliability and customer service. Although at the time of writing the EIFLS20QSW washer actually has a slightly higher average user rating than the Bosch 300 Series, the negative reviews are very harsh, citing major malfunctions like control-board failures, drum-suspension problems, and big leaks. Some recent reviews for the Electrolux also cited iffy customer service. We are pulling from a small set of data, and these problems can occasionally happen to any kind of product from any brand—but these reviews popped up more often than we were comfortable seeing for a product with relatively little feedback overall.

A smaller, cheaper, portable option: Panda PAN612SG

Photo: Panda

Some homes are so limited by space or hookups, or by landlords who aren’t interested in making improvements, that even-smaller, more-portable washing and drying tools are the only option for in-home laundry. For those situations, we think the Panda PAN612SG, a portable washer on wheels, will work. We looked into 19 portable washers, and we like the Panda PAN612SG because the price is low, the features are useful, it can fit up to 12 pounds of laundry, and it doesn’t require any special plumbing or electrical connections. It’s not fully automatic, and it still may not be great for some apartments, but it might be your saving grace from the laundromat. We’d pair that with a folding drying rack like the Polder 2-Tier Mesh Top.

We haven’t tested any of these portable washers ourselves, and we have only user reviews to go off of—no editorial testing. So please, take this as a starting point rather than a strong recommendation.

The Panda’s drain hose is made out of cheap plastic and doesn’t attach to the water outlet very securely, which is a potential flood hazard. If it fails, it will dump gallons of water on your floor, which is a problem for you but a bigger problem for anyone downstairs. This risk is why it’s common for older apartment buildings to completely ban in-unit laundry. So check with your landlord, your lease, or your HOA covenant to see if you’re even allowed to get a portable washer.

This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Sweethome: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

3
Sep

ASUS’ first mixed reality headset has plenty of pleasant surprises


ASUS has been teasing us with details of its Windows Mixed Reality headset, but now is ready to let folks try it for themselves. At IFA 2017, we were also able to spend a decent amount of time using the Windows Mixed Reality controllers that will ship with it. The short version of it all is that both devices have no business being this good, and it bodes very well for the future of the platform.

Most of the technology inside the headset is common across all of the manufacturers, but ASUS has worked hard to make its offering unique where it can. For instance, the company used a polygonal-art covering for the visor, ensuring that it looks much nicer than, say, Acer’s View Master-esque offering. Similarly, ASUS’ headset feels much lighter than its rivals, and the company included an antimicrobial cushion on the inside.

The headset, like its brothers, has inside-out tracking, which uses the two front-mounted cameras to track the controllers. That makes it significantly cheaper than Vive or Rift handsets, which require additional peripherals for tracking. Before testing, my concern was that the cheaper technology would compromise the accuracy and reliability of the controllers. That concern was misplaced, and the system actually works really rather well.

The controllers themselves are designed by Microsoft, and clearly sail close to the style laid down by Oculus for its Touch paddles. The biggest difference is a less gaming-focused button layout, with a touchpad, Windows key and thumb stick on the main platform. Your other fingers fall naturally around the other triggers that are situated on the slender hand sticks. They scream that they can be used for business just as naturally as play, as Microsoft is wont to do with its hardware design.

On the outside ring, you’ll find a halo of 32 small LEDs that the headset uses to pinpoint the position of the controllers in the air. But even when pulling my hands well beyond the visor’s field of view, the tracking remained pretty reliable. One of the demo titles required me to pull weapons out from over my shoulder, and the tracking remained impeccable.

The funny thing is that, personally, I was concerned that these headsets would attempt to please two masters and fail for both of them. After all, the inside-out tracking wouldn’t be as accurate or reliable as more expensive alternatives, and its price was too high for a casual purchase. I’m happy to admit that I was wrong, and that I’m actually pretty excited for this technology, especially now that it’s compatible with Steam VR games.

ASUS doesn’t yet know when its hardware will make its debut beyond the end of this year or the start of the next. Although it would be lunacy if it missed the holiday season given that this may be many people’s first attempt at buying VR gear for their homes. Either way, when it does arrive, it’ll set you back €449, and you could expect it to set you back around $500-ish when US pricing is announced.

Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!

3
Sep

20 of the best emulators for Android for classic gaming fun


The rise of smartphones has led to a renaissance for a lot of classic games, but ports don’t always live up to the nostalgic glory of the original. If you’re craving some gaming action from yesteryear, then you might consider an emulator. Thankfully, you’ll find plenty of Android emulators in the Google Play Store, just in case you want to bring your old consoles back to life. Thanks to assiduous accessory makers, you can also pair a lot of these emulators with special Android gaming controllers, rather than using the on-screen buttons.

We’ve picked out some of the best emulators for Android and listed them below. Most are legal to download and use, but you should exercise some caution with games. There is a lot of abandonware out there, so you can find public domain games, but many ROMs are illegal and we don’t condone piracy. It may be legal to make copies of games you own, in some circumstances, but you should never distribute them. Some emulators will also require you to provide the BIOS, which can also be illegal, unless you use your own console.

Free emulators

RetroArch

If you’re going to be basking in a variety of old game consoles, then you might fancy an emulator that covers all the bases. RetroArch is an open source engine that actually pulls in other open source emulators. You’ll find options for the NES, SNES, PlayStation, Sega Genesis, N64, and a whole lot more. Select the one you want to run when you start RetroArch up.

Download now from:

Google Play

MAME4droid

Anyone who wants to turn the clock back to the days when arcades ruled needs to check this out. MAME stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, and the Android version supports more than 8,000 different ROMs. For more demanding games, you’ll want decent hardware, and you might run into trouble with performance.

Download now from:

Google Play

Nostalgia.NES — Nintendo Entertainment System emulator

The Nintendo Entertainment System is fondly remembered by many gamers, and this emulator helps you relive some of those classic gaming moments. You can customize the virtual controller, save games, and even rewind the action. Unfortunately, you’ll need to be online and put up with ads if you want to take advantage of all of those features.

Download now from:

Google Play

Snes9x EX+ — Super Nintendo Entertainment System emulator

This free SNES emulator is open source, and compatible with the vast majority of games. You’re going to want an Android device with at least a 1GHz processor, which isn’t going to be a problem nowadays. It comes with Bio Worm, and you can add ROMs to your internal storage or SD card. As long as games are in .smc or .sfc formats, then they should work just fine. There are also no ads, which is a rarity for a free app.

Download now from:

Google Play

MegaN64 — Nintendo 64 emulator

This might be the best free N64 emulator around. It’s a modified version of open source Mupen64+, and it mostly works well. Like most emulators, there are some titles that don’t work, and the odd graphical glitch is not uncommon. You’re also going to have to put up with some adverts and notifications that can be annoying. If you do find them annoying, try Mupen64+AE instead.

Download now from:

Google Play

A.D – Gameboy Color Emulator

You can play old Gameboy Color titles using this emulator for Android, and it won’t cost you anything, although the adverts are a bit intrusive. It works with zipped ROMs, and you’ll find support for the Wiimote and the MOGA controllers. That said, if you’re serious about your GameBoy emulation, and even have some old cartridges knocking about, also take a look at Hyperkin’s SmartBoy for the ultimate in retro GameBoy gaming. But regardless of that, A.D is still a fantastic choice.

Download now from:

Google Play

My Boy! Free — Game Boy Advance emulator

Here’s a solid emulator for the GameBoy Advance. It even allows for multiplayer, using Bluetooth instead of Nintendo’s old link cable system. It seems to run really well, but there are a lot of extra features that you only get if you spring $5 for the premium version. If you like this, there’s also a free version of My OldBoy! for Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.

Download now from:

Google Play

GENPlusDroid

Full speed gaming action from the Sega Master System and the Mega Drive is supported by this open source Sega Genesis emulator. It is free, but you’ll find some ads in the main menu. It seems to work pretty well, and it supports some controllers.

Download now from:

Google Play

Reicast — Dreamcast emulator

You’re going to have to dump the BIOS from your own Dreamcast to get this one working, and it doesn’t support every game, but there aren’t really any other options that cover Sega’s last console. There were some great games for the Dreamcast, so you may feel it’s worth the fiddling to get this running. You’ll need decent hardware to run this, too — at least a dual-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz, and 512MB of RAM, but preferably better.

Download now from:

Google Play

PPSSPP — PlayStation Portable emulator

If you want to run your Sony PSP games on your Android, then PPSSPP is the emulator for you. You can use it to play free homebrew games, or dump your own PSP games in .iso or .cso format. You can even transfer saved games from your PSP. Since the PSP is fairly recent and fairly powerful, you will need a decent set of specs to run games. Not everything runs perfectly, and slow down is pretty common, depending on the Android device you use.

Download now from:

Google Play

3
Sep

Want increased productivity? Here’s how to set up dual monitors in Windows 10


Why it matters to you

Want to know how to setup dual monitors in Windows 10? We explain the process spanning the different types of ports to arranging the desktop in Windows 10.

Increased productivity using multiple displays is no myth. With more than one panel, you can sling apps for email, communication, and more onto one screen, move the browser to another, and load Word or Excel on a possible third. Your eyes can finally breathe. Ahhhhh.

If this sounds like your ideal desktop in the home or office, you’ll want to read this guide on how to setup dual monitors in Windows 10. It’s (typically) not just a plug-and-play ordeal. You need to know your PC’s limitations and options in order to get the best multi-monitor experience you can buy.

Making sure your system is compatible

Connecting with Integrated Graphics (such as Intel HD)

This first factor you need to determine is what type of graphics component you have inside your desktop or laptop.

In a desktop, video output generated by integrated graphics is piped through ports mounted on the motherboard that protrude through their designated holes at the back of the case. This area is typically called the I/O panel, as shown above, and consists of a handful of connectors that are grouped together for audio output, peripheral input, networking, and so on. Typically, motherboards include three types of video output to cover the huge assortment of monitors and technologies spanning the last ten years. These include:

Video Graphics Array (VGA): This is typically blue, features 15 holes, and includes a screw on each side to secure the attached cable. This port handles analog video only, and is the oldest video output of the trio. VGA can’t carry audio.

Digital Video Interface (DVI): This port is typically yellow and rectangular, and shoves all pin seats to the right. There are actually five versions of DVI, including DVI-I that combines digital and analog, DVI-D that’s digital only, and DVI-A that’s analog only. To find out what you have installed, the diagrams are located here. Most new computers have DVI-D or DVI-I.

High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI): The most common video output on the mainstream market. It serves as an all-in-one output for both digital video and audio, so you’re only dealing with one cable. The standard Type-A port is mostly rectangular save for a slight dip on the lower half. Most computers use the regular Type-A port, but on rare occasions you’ll see a laptop with a smaller version. In the case, you’ll probably need an adapter or mini-HDMI to HDMI cable.

Connecting with discrete graphics (Such as AMD and Nvidia)

Meanwhile, discrete graphics cards installed in desktops have their own ports that can rely on any of the standard noted above. They’ll be located below the motherboard I/O port on the back of your desktop. If the PC has a graphics card, ignore the I/O panel and connect your displays to the ports on the video card.

They’re likely to also include a fourth port type — one which is common on high-end PC monitors.

DisplayPort: Digital video output created by Dell for extremely high resolutions. It was created to replace VGA and DVI, and is backwards compatible with both, along with HDMI. The connector is mostly rectangular save for a slight “dent” in the bottom left corner. It’s the most common connector on modern discrete graphics solutions, beating out even HDMI.

As an example of an add-in card’s output, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 includes three DisplayPort connectors, one HDMI connector, and a DVI connector (see above).

What about notebooks?

Because of their form factor, you will have a limited number of video outputs.

For instance, our Dell Alienware 17 R4 includes one full-sized HDMI connector, and a smaller, compact version of the DisplayPort connector (aka Mini DisplayPort). The laptop also includes a Thunderbolt 3 port supporting DisplayPort video output, and three USB 3.1 Gen1 ports.

So, this laptop includes three ways to connect external displays: Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort, and HDMI. Technically, it’s also possible to connect displays through the USB ports, but that’s uncommon and you’ll need an adapter or dock to do it.

The Alienware is a gaming laptop, however. A different laptop, like a budget notebook, might include just one HDMI port. In that case, adding more than a single display could be tricky — you’d have to fall back on trying to use the USB ports with an adapter or dock.

Driver compatibility limits your connections

With laptops, your ability to add displays is For instance, the Intel Core i7-6820HK processor in our Alienware 17 R4 includes the integrated HD Graphics 530 component that can only handle three displays at one time, one of which is the laptop’s screen.

Meanwhile, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 cards installed in PCs can support up to four simultaneous monitor connections with 3,840 x 2,160 resolutions. And because PCs can typically support more than one add-in graphics card, you could turn your desktop with four monitors into a huge visual wall with eight screens. Their orientation can be horizontal or vertical, depending on the model.

But on laptops with the same GTX 1080 chip, Nvidia doesn’t support more than two external displays. There’s also Nvidia’s Optimus technology to consider, which will activate the discrete chip only for GPU-compute applications and high-resolution games, leaving the integrated graphics to handle web browsing, email, and Facebook trolling.

Check the support site of your laptop or desktop’s manufacturer for more information on driver limitations. Generally speaking, though, you shouldn’t have a problem with dual monitors on a modern computer. Limitations are only a concern if you want to connect more than that.

3
Sep

Want increased productivity? Here’s how to set up dual monitors in Windows 10


Why it matters to you

Want to know how to setup dual monitors in Windows 10? We explain the process spanning the different types of ports to arranging the desktop in Windows 10.

Increased productivity using multiple displays is no myth. With more than one panel, you can sling apps for email, communication, and more onto one screen, move the browser to another, and load Word or Excel on a possible third. Your eyes can finally breathe. Ahhhhh.

If this sounds like your ideal desktop in the home or office, you’ll want to read this guide on how to setup dual monitors in Windows 10. It’s (typically) not just a plug-and-play ordeal. You need to know your PC’s limitations and options in order to get the best multi-monitor experience you can buy.

Making sure your system is compatible

Connecting with Integrated Graphics (such as Intel HD)

This first factor you need to determine is what type of graphics component you have inside your desktop or laptop.

In a desktop, video output generated by integrated graphics is piped through ports mounted on the motherboard that protrude through their designated holes at the back of the case. This area is typically called the I/O panel, as shown above, and consists of a handful of connectors that are grouped together for audio output, peripheral input, networking, and so on. Typically, motherboards include three types of video output to cover the huge assortment of monitors and technologies spanning the last ten years. These include:

Video Graphics Array (VGA): This is typically blue, features 15 holes, and includes a screw on each side to secure the attached cable. This port handles analog video only, and is the oldest video output of the trio. VGA can’t carry audio.

Digital Video Interface (DVI): This port is typically yellow and rectangular, and shoves all pin seats to the right. There are actually five versions of DVI, including DVI-I that combines digital and analog, DVI-D that’s digital only, and DVI-A that’s analog only. To find out what you have installed, the diagrams are located here. Most new computers have DVI-D or DVI-I.

High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI): The most common video output on the mainstream market. It serves as an all-in-one output for both digital video and audio, so you’re only dealing with one cable. The standard Type-A port is mostly rectangular save for a slight dip on the lower half. Most computers use the regular Type-A port, but on rare occasions you’ll see a laptop with a smaller version. In the case, you’ll probably need an adapter or mini-HDMI to HDMI cable.

Connecting with discrete graphics (Such as AMD and Nvidia)

Meanwhile, discrete graphics cards installed in desktops have their own ports that can rely on any of the standard noted above. They’ll be located below the motherboard I/O port on the back of your desktop. If the PC has a graphics card, ignore the I/O panel and connect your displays to the ports on the video card.

They’re likely to also include a fourth port type — one which is common on high-end PC monitors.

DisplayPort: Digital video output created by Dell for extremely high resolutions. It was created to replace VGA and DVI, and is backwards compatible with both, along with HDMI. The connector is mostly rectangular save for a slight “dent” in the bottom left corner. It’s the most common connector on modern discrete graphics solutions, beating out even HDMI.

As an example of an add-in card’s output, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 includes three DisplayPort connectors, one HDMI connector, and a DVI connector (see above).

What about notebooks?

Because of their form factor, you will have a limited number of video outputs.

For instance, our Dell Alienware 17 R4 includes one full-sized HDMI connector, and a smaller, compact version of the DisplayPort connector (aka Mini DisplayPort). The laptop also includes a Thunderbolt 3 port supporting DisplayPort video output, and three USB 3.1 Gen1 ports.

So, this laptop includes three ways to connect external displays: Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort, and HDMI. Technically, it’s also possible to connect displays through the USB ports, but that’s uncommon and you’ll need an adapter or dock to do it.

The Alienware is a gaming laptop, however. A different laptop, like a budget notebook, might include just one HDMI port. In that case, adding more than a single display could be tricky — you’d have to fall back on trying to use the USB ports with an adapter or dock.

Driver compatibility limits your connections

With laptops, your ability to add displays is For instance, the Intel Core i7-6820HK processor in our Alienware 17 R4 includes the integrated HD Graphics 530 component that can only handle three displays at one time, one of which is the laptop’s screen.

Meanwhile, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 cards installed in PCs can support up to four simultaneous monitor connections with 3,840 x 2,160 resolutions. And because PCs can typically support more than one add-in graphics card, you could turn your desktop with four monitors into a huge visual wall with eight screens. Their orientation can be horizontal or vertical, depending on the model.

But on laptops with the same GTX 1080 chip, Nvidia doesn’t support more than two external displays. There’s also Nvidia’s Optimus technology to consider, which will activate the discrete chip only for GPU-compute applications and high-resolution games, leaving the integrated graphics to handle web browsing, email, and Facebook trolling.

Check the support site of your laptop or desktop’s manufacturer for more information on driver limitations. Generally speaking, though, you shouldn’t have a problem with dual monitors on a modern computer. Limitations are only a concern if you want to connect more than that.

3
Sep

Yamaha’s smart pianos work with Alexa and teach you how to play


Of the many things we expected to see at IFA 2017, cutting-edge instruments weren’t one of them. But Yamaha is using its time in Berlin to showcase the Clavinova all-electric, smart pianos, which use an iOS device and LEDs above each key to teach you how to play. With the Smart Pianist application, which will also be available on Android next year, you can learn how to play tracks in real-time thanks to blue and red lights that will come on every time you’re supposed to hit a key. (Red LEDs are placed above white keys, blue above the black ones.) Not only that, but if you can read music, there’s a chord chart being displayed on the iPad in real-time for whatever song you’re playing.

In terms of Alexa compatibility, Amazon’s virtual assistant isn’t built into the Clavinova smart pianos. Instead, you’re able to trigger different commands by plugging something like an an Echo Dot to them. The only caveat is that you’ll need to route that through a MusicCast-powered hub, which is essentially Yamaha’s answer to Apple AirPlay and Google Cast. It’s not the most intuitive process, but it’s still fun to see in action — especially if it works quite smoothly, as was the case during our demo. For instance, you can tell Alexa to play you a song on your piano, in case you want rather save a few minutes and not browse your music library.

Here’s the other, and arguably main, caveat: Yamaha’s Clavinova CSP models start at $4,000, depending on your piano configuration And if you’re feeling adventurous, the company also has a Grand Piano that works with a similar iPad app and plays itself for $60,000. It just depends on how much you want to impress.

Follow all the latest news from IFA 2017 here!

3
Sep

Ben Heck’s smart bike, part 2


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The team is on the road with the IoT on Wheels design challenge, trying their best to make their smart bike, well, smarter. Using ST Microelectronics Nucleo hardware with Bluetooth Low Energy means the device can pair with other devices, such as an Android smartphone. The team decided to use the sensors in the Nucleo to detect accidents and potholes and be able to record and report them. Since the project is a prototype, however, it’s still quite large and bulky. Watch now to find out how Felix overcomes problems with the mBed codebase and how the Android app works. What do you think of the project? Have you entered the design challenge? Let us know over on the element14 Community.

3
Sep

Huawei Unveils AI Mobile Chipset Said to Rival A11 Processor in Upcoming iPhones


On Saturday, Chinese mobile maker Huawei unveiled its first artificial intelligence smartphone chipset, which it hopes will lure customers away from Apple’s upcoming range of new iPhones and towards the Asian company’s “most powerful handset yet”, the Mate 10, which is set to debut next month (via Nikkei Asian Review).

Huawei touted the Kirin 970 AI mobile chipset’s built-in “neural processing unit” at the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin, claiming that the technology is “20 times faster” than a traditional processor.

Mate 10 handset render via Weibo

“The Kirin 970 is faster, better and more secure than anything else available [in the market]. This is the latest technology and it is the first chip to have a neural processing unit inside, which is 20 times faster than a central processing unit,” said Richard Yu, chief of Huawei’s consumer business group.

“It is a major breakthrough for Huawei. We will enable the first use of AI technology in mobile apps, and provide consumers with a never-before-seen AI experience right in the palm of their hands,” he added.

The world’s third largest smartphone maker claimed that mobile devices powered by the Kirin 970 will be able to “truly know and understand their users”, by supporting real-time image recognition, voice interaction, and intelligent photography with ease.

“Compared with Samsung and Apple, we have advantages,” Yu said in an interview with Reuters. “Users are in for much faster (feature) performance, longer battery life and more compact design.”

According to Nikkei, the Kirin 970 integrates 5.5 billion transistors in a single square centimeter about the size of a thumbnail, which includes an octa-core central processing unit, a 12-core graphics processing unit, a dual-image signal processor, a high-speed 1.2Gbps Cat.18 modem, and AI mobile computing architecture.

The Kirin 970 is said to be based on the same 10-nanometer technology as Apple’s existing A10X Fusion processor and the A11 processor that will power its new iPhone range, set to debut this month. The A10X powers Apple’s latest 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablets, making them the first consumer devices to feature a chip built on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s advanced 10-nanometer FinFET technology.

Mark Li, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, claimed that the new chip powering Huawei’s Mate 10 may be better than the chips for the new iPhone range. “The new Huawei chip can be 10 times as powerful as an average smartphone chip, and also more energy efficient, when it comes to handling AI-related functions such as image and voice recognition,” Li said. But he added that the popularity of the chip would depend on whether Huawei is able exploit its power in a killer AI app.

The Mate 10 is said to be a bezel-less all-screen handset with a 6-inch, 2:1 display and a 2,160 x 1,080 resolution. Like Apple’s so-called “iPhone 8”, the Mate 10 is also expected to feature some form of facial recognition and improved cameras.

Huawei aims to become the world’s largest smartphone maker by 2021, ahead of both Apple and Samsung, and the latest market share data suggests it is making headway towards that goal.

The company shipped an estimated 38.4 million smartphones in the June quarter, a 20 percent increase over a year ago, according to research firm Strategy Analytics. By comparison, Apple reported it sold 41 million iPhones in the same period, up nearly 2 percent from 40.4 million iPhones in the year-ago quarter.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
Tags: Huawei, A11 chip
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3
Sep

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Self-healing gear bags and 3D-printed jewelry


At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the Web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Wooden Word Watch — Alphabetical timepiece

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Ever seen that sweet typographical clock that spells out the time in full words instead of numbers? The Qlocktwo, as it’s called, hit the scene a few years ago and has since gone on to win numerous awards for its innovative and visually appealing design. A couple years after its big debut, the company behind the clock released a smaller, more wrist-friendly version called the Qlocktwo W. It’s basically a watch with the same typographic clock face, just miniaturized a bit. The only problem, however, is that both the original and wrist-borne iterations of the Qlocktwo are outrageously expensive.

But don’t fret — there’s a fresh new project up on Kickstarter for a wristwatch that boasts a very similar design — but for a tiny fraction of the price. The blandly-named Wooden Word Watch is exactly what it sounds like: a wooden watch that bears a striking resemblance to the Qlocktwo clock, and displays time typographically instead of numerically. The best part, however, is that you can reserve one now on Kickstarter for just $219 — nearly a quarter of the price of the Qlocktwo W. If you’re a fan of good design or a watch collector looking to add a unique piece to your collection, this thing should definitely be on your radar.

Wolverine Pack – Self-healing utility bag

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High-performance textiles have come a long way in the past couple decades, and now gear manufacturers have a veritable boatload of different materials to choose from when designing stuff. There’s super lightweight stuff like cuben fiber, waterproof stuff like GoreTex, and even super durable slash-proof fabric like Dyneema. But the material the Wolverine Pack is made from makes the aforementioned textiles seem like they’re from the Stone Age. This compressible utility pack is made from something called FuseFabric — a new material that allegedly has self-healing abilities.

In the unfortunate event that your Wolverine Pack should get punctured, all you need to do is pinch the fabric around the hole and rub it between your fingers. Due to the material’s unique construction, this slight bit of friction and heat will cause the fibers to bond with each other and fuse together again — thereby filling the puncture. We haven’t seen this stuff in person yet, so we’re still a bit wary about how effective it is — but there’s a pretty convincing video in the “prototyping” section of the campaign. Check it out and see for yourself!

FlexSafe — flexible, portable lockbox

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Lock boxes come in just about every shape, size, and configuration these days. There are ones you can unlock with your fingerprint, ones that link to your smartphone, and even ones that call the cops if tampered with. Despite all this diversity and technological sophistication, however, most lockboxes suffer from the same drawback: they’re heavy as hell. Because safes by definition should be hardy and tough to break into, the vast majority of them are made out of metal, which is inherently rigid, heavy, and inconvenient to carry along with you. But what if there was a lightweight, flexible option that still offered the same level of protection against thieves?

That’s precisely the idea behind FlexSafe. It’s totally unlike any lockbox you’ve ever seen. Instead of layered steel, this badboy is made from a variety of special textiles that make it slash proof, smash-proof, and otherwise impervious to thieves. On top of that, the bag’s unique locking mechanism allows you to attach it to just about anything — be it a bike frame, a telephone pole, or even your deck chair at the pool. FlexSafe also boasts a variety of high-tech features as well, including an RFID-blocking interior, a motion-triggered alarm, and an optional power bank that recharges in the sun.

Tofu — Universal travel adapter/charger

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If you ever plan to visit different countries in a single trip, bringing along a universal travel adapter is crucial. Depending on where you land, the outlets are likely to be completely different than what you’re used to — which means you’ll need an adapter to juice up your electronics. Luckily, there are tons of universal travel adapters on the market right now. You can pick one up for under $20 on Amazon right now — but the thing is, most of them aren’t so great. The vast majority of adapters you’ll find aren’t equipped with fuses, and virtually all of them are bulky and inconvenient for travel. Tofu is an attempt to change that.

Unlike most universal travel adapters, this one is designed to be slim, sleek, and travel friendly. On top of that, it’s also equipped with a fuseless design. Generally speaking, fuses are a good thing — as they prevent power surges from frying your devices. But they also have to  be replaced after they burn up — which is inconvenient when you’re traveling around a foreign country and don’t know where to find a replacement. To avoid this, Tofu employs a fuseless system that’s allegedly still capable of protecting your laptop from unexpected power surges.

Bezel — 3D printed jewelry

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Ever wished you could design custom jewelry the same way you design a custom t-shirt? Well if Chicago-based upstart Bezel succeeds with its freshly-launched Kickstarter campaign, you might soon be able to. In an effort to disrupt the jewelry industry, Bezel has developed an innovative platform that allows you to design, scale, and print jewelry from your smartphone or tablet. And we’re not talking about cheap plastic either. Thanks to recent advances in 3D printing technology, anything you design on Bezel can be printed in real, jewelry-grade metal.

What’s more, that’s not even the coolest part. Once you’ve uploaded your design, you can actually use the app to “wear” your creation virtually to see how it looks on you. The real innovation, however, is in Bezel’s sizing process. The app uses your smartphone’s camera (and a bundle of highly-sophisticated algorithms) to calculate the circumference of your fingers and determine your ring size. Believe it or not, Bezel’s software is so precise that it can approximate ring circumference for every digit on your hand, with millimeter accuracy. All that information is stored in the cloud and can be applied to any future designs you upload.




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