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24
Jul

New ‘Miles’ App Awards Your Daily Commute With Exclusive Deals, If You Grant it Constant Location Access


Startup “Miles” today launched a new iOS app [Direct Link] that grants its users exclusive rewards to use at places like Starbucks and Whole Foods every time they travel in a car, bus, on a bike, or on foot. The company aims for its app to be a ground transportation alternative to frequent flier miles, allowing users to earn discounts over time for travel that they likely perform more frequently than flying on an airplane (via The Verge).

The caveat is that for the full experience, the Miles app requires you to give it constant access to your location, so it can keep up with automatically tracking your movement and converting its “miles” currency into deals and offers. You can opt to choose “only while using the app,” but you’ll then need to remember to keep Miles open every time you travel in order to gain rewards.

Under Miles’ rewards, you’ll earn more miles for transportation that is more environmentally friendly: one real-world mile of walking/running grants you 10 reward miles, one mile of biking is worth five reward miles, a mile in a ride share vehicle is worth two, and a mile in a car is equivalent to one reward mile.

At launch, you’ll be able to trade these reward miles in for deals like $5 gift cards to Starbucks, Amazon, and Target, $42 off a first order from Hello Fresh, a complimentary rental on Audi’s Silvercar service, and more. Other launch partners include Whole Foods, Canon, Bath & Body Works, and Cole Haan. When you trade in miles for rewards, some deals grant you with a barcode to scan at the physical checkout location (Starbucks), while others provide you with discount codes.

In terms of its tech, Miles works in the iPhone’s background to automatically log each trip a user takes from point A to point B. The company says that the app “consumes almost no power” when stationary, and will only “minimally increase battery consumption” when in transit. The app detects drives in a vehicle with special formulas that don’t rely solely on GPS for location data, helping to reduce battery consumption.

The app remembers your trips and logs them so you can revisit them later (including time of day, starting location, ending location, and distance) and fix any mistakes it might have made, like incorrectly logging a vehicle trip for a ride share. Additionally, there’s a section of the app that The Verge describes as a “Venmo-style feed,” showing how other users are earning and redeeming their miles.

In an attempt to get ahead of users worrying about their location data being constantly tracked and stored by a third party, Miles CEO Jigar Shah says that neither the company nor its partners get access to specific location information. Instead, user data that is gathered is more ambiguous, but the app still knows when users travel, how they travel, and what deals they clip — which is then fed into a “predictive marketing AI platform” to match them with other appropriate deals.

Once more people in an area begin clipping the same coupons, Miles uses this vague user data to predict demand for the most popular rewards. Shah says this prediction of “near-future demand” plays into the creation of future rewards as well, and is the backbone of the entire app:

To better explain how this works, Shah says, imagine there are 50,000 Miles users. 10,000 of those might be within 0.3 miles of a Starbucks. Out of those users, Miles can figure out which ones are most likely to buy a coffee within the next hour based on the history of where and when those people have stopped at coffee shops in the past. From there, Miles can also tell which users are likely to go to Starbucks, which will go somewhere else, and which customers aren’t too picky.

Miles then lets Starbucks tailor different offers to those specific groups. Maybe a Dunkin Donuts loyalist sees a $5 Starbucks gift card show up in the app that’s redeemable for 1,500 miles, instead of the typical 3,000, and decides to break rank. The goal is to get deals in front of customers when they’re “most receptive,” Shah says. “We allow [businesses] to understand their own customers’ near future. What do they need in the next four hours, next four days, and next four weeks? We’re literally making predictions about what their customers need and when they need it.”

The CEO promises that this “anonymously” aggregated information is secure and “nothing of users’ data leaves the system.” Still, as The Verge points out, the app will essentially be a middleman between businesses and customers, holding the latter’s personal data in its hands, which is believed to have been what brought big brands to support Miles at launch in the first place.

Despite promises of personal data privacy and security, Miles is launching in a time when online privacy is at the forefront of many users’ awareness when signing up for a new service, or deciding to leave an old one. In the spring, the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, wherein more than 87 million Facebook users had their personal data gathered and used to reportedly influence their votes during the 2016 presidential election.

Another app that heavily relies on user location data also faced a scandal in the spring, with MoviePass coming under fire for CEO Mitch Lowe pointing out that it watches “how you drive from home to the movies” and how the company watches “where you go afterwards.” Lowe eventually admitted he was “completely inaccurate” and that the app “has never tracked” users in the background, with the developers removing an “unused app location capability” shortly after the story was shared online.

Just last week, privacy researchers began pointing out that Venmo’s publicly viewable feed of money exchanges (which has been around since the app launched), does not sit well in today’s privacy-concerned climate. Now, more people have begun questioning why Venmo chose to have the feed’s settings default to public sharing, likely resulting in many users who may not know their payment information is available for others to see.

Tags: privacy, Miles app
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24
Jul

Apple Addresses MacBook Pro Throttling Controversy After Working With YouTuber Dave Lee


Apple today responded to the throttling controversy surrounding the latest MacBook Pro models, noting that excessive performance degradation under extended workloads is the result of a software bug, with a fix rolling out now in the form of a Supplemental Update for macOS High Sierra 10.13.6.

MacRumors received the following statement from an Apple spokesperson:

Following extensive performance testing under numerous workloads, we’ve identified that there is a missing digital key in the firmware that impacts the thermal management system and could drive clock speeds down under heavy thermal loads on the new MacBook Pro.

A bug fix is included in today’s macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update and is recommended. We apologize to any customer who has experienced less than optimal performance on their new systems.

Customers can expect the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 70% faster, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to be up to 2X faster, as shown in the performance results on our website.

The controversy began a week ago, when YouTube tech guru Dave Lee shared a video demonstrating that the new 15-inch MacBook Pro, maxed out with a six-core Intel Core i9 processor, was unable to maintain its base 2.9GHz clock speed while rendering a five-and-a-half minute 5K video in Adobe Premiere Pro.


In fact, the previous-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Core i7 processor rendered the video in around 10 percent less time, a fact that wasn’t well received by customers, some of which threatened to cancel their orders.

Apple says the bug affected performance on not only the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro configured with a six-core Intel Core i9 processor, which has faced the most extreme throttling in tests, but also quad-core Core i7 and Core i5 configurations, extending to the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models.

Some amount of throttling is to be expected on notebooks under heavy thermal workloads, especially ones as thin as the MacBook Pro. Lee, however, argued it is the degree of throttling he experienced that is unacceptable.

Apple says it contacted Lee within 48 hours after he published his video, working with him to replicate his workflow. Apple eventually set up a system with a similar workflow, applied the fix, and saw up to 35 percent faster performance with the Core i9 model, versus the fastest equivalent 2017 MacBook Pro, with up to 70 percent faster performance on 13-inch models.

A flurry of other YouTube videos and tests surfaced in the ensuing days, with mixed results based on varying workloads.

Marques Brownlee, who hosts the popular channel MKBHD, said the 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Core i9 exported his 8K sample video about 15 percent quicker than the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Core i7. Faruk Korkmaz, who runs the YouTube channel iPhonedo, also found the Core i9 to perform “fantastic.”


Apple for its part said it never experienced any issues with excessive performance degradation in its pre-production testing of the 2018 MacBook Pro, completed in June. The company did identify what it calls an isolated bug after digging deeper, and came up with what it calls a simple fix.

To be expected, Apple also talked up the new MacBook Pro, noting how most of what it has been hearing about the notebook from customers—including many professionals—has been very positive, including about performance.

Prior to Apple acknowledging this bug, speculation had mounted as to possible causes. One user believes that the throttling may have related to the power delivery chip, known as a voltage regulation module, reporting an over-power condition, throttling the CPU clock speed to scale back power.

In any case, it appears that Apple has addressed the problem.

Related Roundups: MacBook Pro, macOS High SierraBuyer’s Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)
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24
Jul

Apple Says 2018 MacBook Pro Throttling is a Bug, Fix Available Now in New macOS Update


Apple this morning released a new supplemental update to macOS High Sierra 10.13.6, which is designed to address a bug that caused the new eighth-generation quad-core and 6-core Intel processors in the 2018 MacBook Pro models to throttle inappropriately.

The new macOS High Sierra update can be downloaded through the Software Update function in the Mac App Store on all 2018 MacBook Pro models. Today’s supplemental update (build number 17G2208) is limited to those machines and is not available for other Macs. A direct link to download the update is also available.

According to Apple, the throttling seen in the higher-end 2018 MacBook Pro with Core i9 chip and other 2018 MacBook Pro models is unintentional.

The throttling issue first came to light on July 17, a few days after the first new 2018 MacBook Pros began shipping out to customers. YouTuber Dave Lee tested the top-of-the-line 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro with 2.9GHz Core i9 chip using Adobe’s Premiere Pro and found that it was underperforming compared to a 2017 MacBook Pro with a Core i7 chip.


Multiple other tests followed from customers and media sites that obtained one of the Core i9 machines, and many came to the same conclusion, that there was an unusual amount of throttling that was impacting the machine’s performance. It was not entirely clear if other 2018 MacBook Pro models were throttling unintentionally, but Apple’s patch today suggests that was the case.

While there were many theories as to what was causing the throttling, Apple has discovered that there was a missing digital key in the firmware that impacted the thermal management system, driving down clock speeds under heavy thermal loads. This is what has been addressed in today’s update.

Apple has apologized to customers who have experienced less than optimal performance on their new 2018 machines.

Following today’s update, customers who own a 2018 MacBook Pro should see an appropriate level of throttling that is common to all devices under heavy load and does not impact performance to the point where the machine is underperforming compared to earlier, less powerful models.

Apple says that customers can expect the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 70 percent faster and the new 13-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 2X faster than 2017 models, as outlined in the performance results on the company’s website.

Related Roundup: macOS High Sierra
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24
Jul

Acer Chromebook Tab 10 review: The start of something beautiful


Chromebooks are immensely popular in schools all around the world, but they don’t offer the portability or convenience of, say, an iPad or Surface device. That’s why Google is now partnering with manufacturers to launch Chrome OS tablets. The first of which is the $329 Chromebook Tab 10 from Acer, which was announced back in March of this year.

An inexpensive Chrome OS tablet sounds too good to be true, but it’s not meant for the everyday user. It’s  geared towards the education market. Pick one up if you’d like, but first read on to find out why you shouldn’t — unless you work for a school. Here is our Acer Chromebook Tab 10 review.

Acer Chromebook Tab 10 review notes: I’ve been using the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 for 19 days. Our review unit is running Chrome OS version 10575.58.0 on the stable channel with a build date of Sunday, June 24, 2018.

The Chromebook used in this review was provided to Android Authority by Acer.

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Design

Something to keep in mind throughout this review: the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 isn’t trying to compete with consumer-grade iPads or Surface tablets. It was made with kids in mind, and isn’t even attempting to be the sleek tablet that’s perfect for your every needs.

This is especially true with the Tab 10’s design. It’s made of chunky plastic, with a textured back that makes it easy to hold. It’s also a bit heavy, at 1.2 pounds. It feels and looks exactly like something you’d see in a school — not so much sitting on a coffee table in someone’s house.

chromebook tab 10 review stylus
chromebook tab 10 review hardware
chromebook tab 10 review speakers

The bezels around the display are big, making it easy to hold in both landscape and portrait modes. Up top, you’ll find a headphone jack (yay!), a microphone, and three speaker cutouts. The left side houses the power button, volume keys, microSD card slot, and stylus (more on that later). The bottom features three more speaker cutouts and a USB Type-C port. You can use this Type-C port for charging or hooking up any external hardware like displays, keyboards, and mice. I haven’t been able to test the tablet while it’s hooked up to an external monitor, unfortunately.

Overall, I quite like the design of this tablet. It’s a simple, no-frills device perfect for the classroom.

chromebook tab 10 review display

The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 sports a 9.7-inch IPS LCD display — the same size as Apple’s new education-focused iPad. It’s doesn’t compete with the iPad’s screen quality, but it’s good enough. It has a 4:3 aspect ratio and a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536, resulting in a pixel density of 264ppi. Viewing angles are good, and it can get extremely bright and dim. The screen is on the warm side though, and there’s no option to tweak it in the settings menu.

Performance and hardware

chromebook tab 10 review stylus

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Samsung Chromebook Pro review

Samsung took the wraps off two new additions to its Chromebook line at CES 2017 that were built in collaboration with Google: the Chromebook Pro and the Chromebook Plus. There are a few special features that make …

The most notable “extra” hardware feature with the Tab 10 is its Wacom stylus. Tucked away in the edge of the tablet, the stylus gives users an easy way to screenshot, take notes, draw, and zoom into things. It’s using the same electro-magnetic resonance (EMR) tech you’d find in Samsung Chromebook styluses. This just allows the stylus to work without a built-in battery or Bluetooth connection.

The stylus itself is decent. It’s small and light. It can be hard to hold for extended periods of time because it’s so short, but I think kids will have no problem sketching out doodles and taking notes with it. There’s no extra hardware button on the side like on Samsung’s S Pens, but it’s still super functional. Popping out the stylus enables a small menu with screenshot and note-taking shortcuts. It’s quite handy.

chromebook tab 10 review display

Plus, since the Acer Chromebook 10 can run Android apps, you can download any number of note-taking apps from the Play Store if you want something more powerful than Google Keep.

This tablet has six speaker cutouts, but don’t let that fool you — this thing’s pretty quiet. I’m not sure the speakers will be loud enough for kids to hear videos inside a classroom full of other kids, though I didn’t test for this.

chromebook tab 10 review chrome os software

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Despite Apple’s well-publicized attempts to be the top dog in school computers, Google has made quick headway in overtaking the tech giant, becoming the face of school computers in the last few years.

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The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is a solid performer if you’re using one app at a time. The dual-core Rockchip RK3399 and 4GB of RAM is enough to launch apps quickly, but it struggles with multitasking. There’s a fair amount of lag when switching between even two apps at a time. It certainly won’t be a good device for media consumption or casting things to your TV, which is forgivable given the tablet’s target demographic. Students probably won’t use this device as hard as me.

One other reason this tablet is clearly not meant for consumers: the cameras. The Tab 10 has a 5MP rear and 2MP front camera, both of which are less than passable. It feels like they’re straight out of the 2010 flip phone era. They might be fine for classroom use, but that’s about it.

acer chromebook tab 10 camera sample review

Acer says the Chromebook Tab 10 can last up to nine hours on a single charge, and I’d say that’s about right. Teachers will be able to get by plugging these in every few days.

Keyboard

chromebook tab 10 review keyboard

The software keyboard on the Tab 10 is the same keyboard as other touchscreen Chrome OS devices. It certainly doesn’t compare to Gboard, and typing can be extremely frustrating. Text prediction and correction isn’t nearly as accurate as Gboard either. Also, for some reason, the keyboard is set to capitalize the first letter in every word on some Android apps, and you can’t turn it off. That alone ruins the typing experience if you’re using a common Android app like Google Keep or Docs. For what it’s worth, that’s not the case on Chrome web apps.

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Luckily, the Tab 10 pairs with any Bluetooth keyboard out there, so that’s an option if teachers want their students to write longer-form essays or the like. Acer doesn’t offer a Bluetooth keyboard made for this tablet though, which is a bummer.

Acer needs to make a folio cover with a built-in keyboard, like what Surface tablets have. Obviously this would defeat the purpose of having a tablet form factor, but the option to include one in every order would be nice — especially because it would make up for the garbage software keyboard. Belkin makes a wired keyboard for Chrome OS tablets schools to could pair with this tablet, if they so choose.

On the bright side, Gboard is apparently coming to Chrome OS this fall. This will significantly improve the typing experience.

Software

chromebook tab 10 review chrome os apps

chromebook tab 10 review android apps
chromebook tab 10 review google play store
chromebook tab 10 review android app

Aside from the keyboard woes, this is the same Chrome OS experience you’d find on any other Chromebook. I won’t go into the basics on Chrome OS in this review — I’ll save that for Gary — but I will talk about my experiences using it as a main computer with the addition of Android apps.

This is still very much a desktop-tier OS, which means some things are just a little harder to do on a tablet. Just about every web and Android app automatically hides the “status bar” at the top of the screen, so you need to swipe down from the top every time if you want to close an app. On Chromebooks with a physical keyboard (and thus a trackpad), that “X” button appears automatically. The workflow is just easier on full-fledged computers.

Android apps still need some work on Chromebooks, too. Not all of them are compatible with Chrome OS, and some compatible ones won’t open anyway. Gboard is available in the Play Store, but can’t be set as an input method. Some Android apps work perfectly fine, and when they do it’s great. Multitasking with Android apps and the Chrome browser makes for a wonderful experience.

Related: How to get Photoshop on your Chromebook

Now, a lot of these things are more problems with Chrome OS than with the tablet itself. Some of these bugs might be fixed by updates in the coming weeks or months.

Education features

The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 supports Google Expeditions, which lets you take virtual field trips from the comfort of your desk. The tablet will also support Expedition AR in the future too, eventually allowing students to view objects in augmented reality right in their classroom.

IT departments will be able to manage these tablets with the Chrome Management Console. Each student can have their own profiles with their own login information, so all the data that’s loaded on an individual’s account will stay on that account.

Specs

Display 9.7-inch IPS LCD
2,048 x 1,536 resolution
~264ppi
4:3 aspect ratio
SoC Rockchip RK3399
Dual-core Cortex-A72 and quad-core Cortex-A53 processors
2GHz
GPU Mali T860
RAM 4GB
LPDDR3
Storage 32GB
MicroSD expansion
Cameras Rear: 5MP sensor, 720p HD audio and video recording

Front: 2MP sensor, 720p HD audio and video recording

Battery 34Wh
8,860mAh
Lithium-polymer
Up to 9 hours
Stylus Wacom EMR
Connectivity 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO dual-band Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 4.1
USB 3.1 Type-C
Software Chrome OS
Dimensions and weight 172.2 x 238.2 x 9.9mm
544.3g
Color Indigo blue

Gallery

The verdict

I think it’s pretty clear Chrome OS isn’t ready for the mainstream tablet market. Too many things just aren’t optimized for a tablet form factor right now. However, Google issues frequent updates to the operating system, so things will no doubt change in the coming weeks and months. Next year, there will be plenty more Chrome OS tablets, and they’ll all probably be a lot easier to use.

The Acer Chromebook Tab 10 isn’t meant for “regular” consumer use, and I think you’d be disappointed if you bought one for that. If you work for a school district, that’s a different story. The fact that this device will be primarily used by kids in the classroom saves the Tab 10 from falling flat on its face. All its shortcomings — weak speakers, weaker cameras, and a low-powered SoC — are somewhat excusable in a school setting. A kid just won’t push this tablet as hard as I did.

The Tab 10 isn’t without competition in the education market. The 9.7-inch iPad has the same $329 price tag as the Acer, and is actually discounted down to $299 for educators. The iPad also offers a better screen, a much better camera, and quicker performance. However, it only supports Bluetooth keyboards, and the Apple Pencil costs extra — something school districts will bear in mind when they hear the Acer comes with an included Wacom stylus.

I also don’t want the ruggedness of the Chromebook Tab 10 to be understated. If I taught a fourth grade class, I’d be so nervous giving them an iPad for the day.

Chromebooks have a history of providing schools with easy setup and reliable performance. The Chromebook Tab 10 absolutely delivers in these areas, and also has the benefits of a slim, lightweight form factor. The software has its quirks, but schools already used to Chromebooks will probably feel right at home with the Tab 10.

Next: Buyer’s guide: What is a Chromebook, and what can’t it do?

24
Jul

Xiaomi Mi A2 hands on: putting power before price


There are only two things you need to know about the Xiaomi Mi A2: it’s got a Xiaomi body with Google guts. That means the familiar industrial design, build quality and affordability of Xiaomi combined with stock-standard Android 8.1 Oreo and regular updates courtesy of the Android One program. For any MIUI haters out there, this is a dream mid-range Xiaomi phone. This is the Xiaomi Mi A2 hands on.

Last year’s Mi A1 was Xiaomi’s first dip in the Android One pool, and this year it’s making a splash with not one but two Mi A2 devices. While the Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite makes some familiar concessions to its lower price point like a slower processor and less exciting top memory configuration, it also packs a 25 percent larger battery than the Mi A2 proper, making it more of a battery-lover’s option than the performance- and camera-focused Mi A2. It also has a headphone jack and microSD expansion, two things the Mi A2 lacks, so there’s more going on here than the usual Lite recipe change.

For any MIUI haters out there, this is a dream mid-range Xiaomi phone.

Note: We’re still waiting on Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite pictures: all photos here are of the Mi A2 standard.

Display

The Xiaomi Mi A2 standing on a desk from the front.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 display represents the first big difference from its predecessor. Where the Mi A1 screen came in at 5.5 inches, the Mi A2 packs a 5.99-inch IPS LCD into a footprint that’s only 3mm taller than the A1. That extra screen real estate is thanks to the switch to an 18:9 aspect ratio and smaller bezels all around.

The Mi A2 Lite display measures 5.84 inches and has a 19:9 aspect ratio because it includes a notch. Both devices feature Full HD+ resolution: 2,160 x 1,080 on the Mi A2 (403ppi) and 2,280 x 1,080 on the Mi A2 Lite (432ppi), giving the Lite variant a slightly higher pixel density and taller screen. I won’t pass judgment on the notch here, because you probably already have.

Both Mi A2 versions do away with capacitive buttons and now use on-screen navigation keys. Depending on where you stand on soft keys, this will either be a long-overdue enhancement or a total travesty. If you’ve used Xiaomi phones before, you’ll likely find it a little jarring that the back button now lives on the left rather than the right.

Design

The Xiaomi Mi A2 in a hand from behind.

Lovers of Xiaomi design will find much in the Mi A2 to like. Following in the footsteps of the design blueprint laid down by the Mi A1, there are precious few changes. The most notable is the re-orientation of the dual rear camera to a vertical layout and the migration of the flash to the center of the camera module.

There’s also a new color option: the Mi A2 comes in Black, Blue, Gold, Red and Rose Gold and the Mi A2 Lite in Black, Blue or Gold.

Gorilla Glass 5 covers the displays, with a 2.5D edge that meets with the curved metal back plates. The phones have a soft touch feel that makes them grippier and less cold to the touch than some metal phones, and there’s a capacitive fingerprint scanner sitting on the back of both devices.

Specs

The Xiaomi Mi A2 front camera closeup.

With the software largely taken care of, the Mi A2 specs can really shine. Xiaomi’s love affair with the Snapdragon 625 continues in the Mi A2 Lite, but the Mi A2 steps up to the 600 series. An octa-core Snapdragon 660 (clocked at 2.2GHz) with Adreno 512 GPU will be very welcome news to fans of high-performance mid-range gaming, while the battery-sipping 625 should help drag the Mi A2 Lite’s battery life out considerably.

The Mi A2 comes in three configurations: 4GB of RAM with 32 or 64GB of storage and a 6GB of RAM version with 128GB of internal storage. The Mi A2 Lite has 3GB of RAM with 32GB of storage or 4GB with 64GB.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 face-down on a table shot from the side.

The Mi A2 Lite supports dual-SIM with a separate microSD card slot but the Mi A2 only has room for two nano-SIM cards. While the Mi A2 does have a higher memory configuration than the Lite, its base model and mid-spec option would still benefit from the addition of microSD expansion. The reasoning for this is likely that the Mi A2 is based on the microSD-less Mi 6x in China and the Mi A2 Lite is based off the Redmi 6 Pro, which does include microSD expansion.

The Mi A2 and Mi A2 Lite support Bluetooth 5.0, have an IR blaster (you’ll have to download a compatible app though) and mono bottom-firing speaker. Sadly, the Mi A2 lacks a 3.5mm headphone port but the Mi A2 Lite still has a headphone jack.

The Mi A2 packs a 3,000mAh battery with USB Type-C and support for USB 2.0. The Mi A2 Lite bumps that up to a 4,000mAh cell and switches to a micro-USB connection, but both support 5V/2A fast charging via the included brick.

Display 5.99-inch IPS LCD
2,160 x 1,080 resolution
403ppi, 85% NTSC
18:9 aspect ratio
5.84-inch IPS LCD
2,280 x 1,080 resolution
432ppi, 84% NTSC
19:9 aspect ratio with notch
SoC Snapdragon 660 (2.2GHz octa-core) Snapdragon 625 (2.0GHz octa-core)
GPU Adreno 512 Adreno 506
RAM 4/6GB 3/4GB
Storage 32/64/128GB 32/64GB
MicroSD No Yes
Camera Rear: Dual-camera (12MP, f/1.75, 1.25μm Sony IMX486 + 20MP, f/1.75, 2μm Super Pixel Sony IMX376)

Front: 20MP, f/2.2, 2μm Super Pixel Sony IMX376
Front HDR and 4500K selfie-light

Rear: Dual-camera (12MP, f/2.2, 1.25μm + 5MP f/2.2, 1.12μm)
Front: 5MP, f/2.0, 1.12μm
Battery 3,000mAh
5V/2A charging
USB Type-C
USB 2.0
4,000mAh
5V/2A charging
Micro-USB
USB 2.0
Fingerprint scanner Yes Yes
Headphone port No Yes
Software Android 8.1 Oreo
(Android One)
Android 8.1 Oreo
(Android One)
Connectivity Dual Nano-SIM
Bluetooth 5.0
GSM: B2/3/5/8
WCDMA: B1/2/4/5/8
TDD-LTE: B38/40
FDD-LTE: B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B20
GSM: B2/B3/B5/B8
WCDMA: B1/B2/B5/B8
TD-LTE: B38/B40
FDD-LTE: B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B20
Dimensions 158.7 x 75.4 x 7.3mm 149.3 x 71.7 x 8.75mm
Weight 166g 178g
Colors black, gold, blue, red, rose gold black, gold, blue

Camera

The top half of the Xiaomi Mi A2 from behind.

The camera is really where it’s at on the Mi A2. One of the most requested improvements to the original Mi A1 was in the camera department, and Xiaomi has thrown some serious numbers at it. A dual camera setup on the back pairs a 12MP f/1.75 lens with 1.25-micron pixels with a 20MP f/1.75 lens for better low light performance. The lenses share the same aperture, so this is made possible by pixel binning four one-micron pixels on the 20MP sensor into 2-micron Super Pixels. The resulting photo is then upscaled back to a 20MP image.

Some fans might miss the wide/tele combo of the Mi A1, but better low light photography is arguably the better choice. While the Mi A2 will switch between the camera lenses automatically in portrait mode, you can switch between them manually in the custom camera app. To do this, just swipe over to manual mode and toggle between lenses on the far right-hand side. Easy enough, to be sure, but obscure enough that a lot of people will be none the wiser and always shoot with the 12MP sensor instead.



The front-facing camera on the Mi A2 delivers the same Sony IMX376 sensor at 20MP with f/2.2 aperture and support for HDR and Super Pixels for low light scenarios. There’s a “daylight” quality 4500K selfie-light and there’s portrait and AI beauty modes to play around with. Video stabilization is supported, time-lapse and slow-motion modes are included, and the shortcut via a double press of the power button quickly launches the camera. The front-facing camera shoots video at 1080p and the main camera at up to 4K (with stabilization).

The Mi A2 Lite drops things down a little. The dual camera setup pairs a 12MP and 5MP sensor, with a 5MP front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture. If you’re all about photography then you’re going to have to spring for the Mi A2, but if battery life is your gold standard then the Mi A2 Lite will likely serve you better.

Software

The Xiaomi Mi A2 with a closeup of the Android Oreo symbol on its display.

The Mi A1 was in the top 10 best selling smartphones globally in February 2018, five months after release, so it’s fair to say the lack of MIUI isn’t holding the A series back.

As with all Android One devices, there’s nothing much to see here. Just pure, unadulterated Android 8.1 Oreo with a grand total of four Xiaomi apps: Feedback, Mi Drop, the camera app and a more fully featured File Manager than the Files app from Google.

While some people might not like the sameness of Android One devices on the software front, preferring the additional features of MIUI, for many, faster updates and security patch support will win out. The Mi A1 was in the top 10 best selling smartphones globally in February 2018, says Xiaomi, five months after release, so it’s fair to say the lack of MIUI isn’t holding the A series back.



Xiaomi assures me the Mi A2 and A2 Lite will be updated to Android P as soon as it is available for 600 series chipsets. There’s something slightly odd but undeniably reassuring about stock Android on a Xiaomi device. It lets any software concerns vanish into the background with the knowledge that Google has things under control, allowing Xiaomi’s excellent hardware to shine. We’ll bring you more on the performance of these new devices in the full Xiaomi Mi A2 review. Naturally, Google Play, Google Play Protect, Google Assistant, Google Lens and Project Treble are all part of the package here.

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

The Xiaomi Mi A2 product box upright on a table.

The Xiaomi Mi A2 price starts at 249 euros (~$290) for the 4GB/32GB memory option, or 299 euros (~$350) for 4GB/64GB and 349 euros (~$408) for the 6GB/128GB option. The Mi A2 Lite aims to serve those wanting a Xiaomi Android One device at a slightly lower price point, at 179 euros (~$209) for 3GB/32GB memory and 229 euros (~$268) for 4GB/64GB. Both devices will be available in Spain and 40 other markets starting in late July.

Given Xiaomi’s permanent commitment to a five percent profit margin, prices like these are admirable and (seemingly) sustainable. Bringing the reliability and security of a stock Android experience to the mid- and lower mid-range is commendable and Xiaomi looks to have done it again. We’ll put the Mi A2 through its full paces, and through our custom battery of Android Authority tests, in the weeks to come. Stay tuned for the full Xiaomi Mi A2 review for more.

24
Jul

We asked Bill Nye about his plan to save Earth from civilization-ending asteroids


Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Nobody sees it coming. An unidentified asteroid, just a couple miles wide, shatters Earth’s atmosphere with a deafening bang, craters its surface with the energy of a few million nuclear bombs. The shockwave flattens buildings like they’re made of dust. Millions of people, incinerated in the blink of an eye. After the initial blast, molten debris is ejected into the atmosphere and into Earth’s orbit, such that civilization’s final act is set in a rain of fire.

This isn’t the beginning of a History Channel doomsday script. It’s a dramatization of a highly unlikely but nonetheless plausible asteroid impact event that would spell the end for humanity as we know it. After all, dinosaurs ruled Earth the last time a city-sized asteroid hit. And look what happened to them.

When it comes to asteroid’s capable of wiping out a city, we’re practically as in the dark as the dinosaurs, having identified just about 1.5 percent of the million or so out there. Meanwhile, astronomers think they’ve found between 90-95 percent of the civilization-ending space rocks, none of which pose an immediate threat to the planet. It’s the 5-10 percent we don’t know about that are the problem though. If one of those bad boys drops by unannounced, the consequence would be catastrophic.

The technology sounds straight out of science fiction but it’s all within our technological reach.

Asteroid impacts don’t keep Bill Nye up at night but, like a swimmer with a fear of sharks, it’s the ones we don’t see that have him worried. “It’s a low probability event with an enormous consequence,” he tells Digital Trends. “The only preventable natural disaster.” Discovering the remaining 5-10 percent of those asteroids is key. After that, engineers will set out to deflect any inbound asteroids. From nuclear blasts that knock the asteroid off its path to swarms of laser-beaming spacecraft to nudge it in the other direction, the technology may sound straight out of science fiction but Nye says it’s all within our technological reach.

As CEO of The Planetary Society, the fun-loving and often irreverent science guy is currently spearheading a Kickstarter campaign called Kick Asteroid!, which aims to raise money and awareness about these outer space threats and nudge lawmakers into action. Offering merchandise like shirts and posters, the campaign met its $50,000 funding goal but continues to take pledges with a couple days left to go.

So, we spoke to Bill Nye about the possibility of asteroid impact events, why we should worry, and what we can do about it.

Digital Trends: Asteroid impacts make for compelling movie scripts but seem less rooted in reality. How often do they actually happen and how worried we should be?

Bill Nye: Well there was a significant one in 2013 that was 20 meters or so that hit the atmosphere [in Chelyabinsk, Russia]. Everybody ran to the windows and dozens of seconds later the shockwave hit the ground, blew glass in their faces, and hurt a thousand people. Some of them had very serious injuries and had to go to the emergency room. Then in 1909 there was the Tunguska airburst in Siberia that leveled two-thousand square kilometers of trees. 10 million trees were knocked down in an instant. And 1908 wasn’t very long ago. If that airburst had happened over Paris or New York or Sydney, that would be the end of any of those places. And what finally did the dinosaurs in was an asteroid impact, which is now reckoned to have been off the coast of Mexico.

Shattered glass strewn across the foyer of the Chelyabinsk Drama Theatre after a meteor struck down early morning in February 2013.

The smaller ones happen a couple times a century, the big ones happen every few centuries, and the huge ones happen every few million years. It’s a very low probability event but with enormous consequence. It would be just “Control-Alt-Delete” for civilization.

So are we past due for one of the big ones?

“We’ve identified about 90 percent of the catastrophic ones but that leaves 10 percent, which is more than enough to be troublesome.”

Nobody knows. We speculate about that all the time. Lisa Randall wrote a cool book where she speculated that the Earth is passing through a disk of dark matter every few million years and the periodicity of 35 million years of asteroid impacts is related to matter we don’t understand yet. It’s a very cool idea — but neither here nor there. All it would take is one. We’ve identified about 90 percent of the catastrophic ones but that leaves 10 percent, which is more than enough to be troublesome.

You said if one did hit it would be essentially Control-Alt-Delete scenario. What would the aftermath of a big asteroid impact look like?

In the impact [that killed the dinosaurs], what we now call the Chicxulub crater, the cone of ejected material is thought to be bigger in diameter than the diameter of the Earth. This red hot debris ended up essentially in Earth’s orbit for days or weeks. That caused global fires and killed off whatever the large animals ate, so they couldn’t make a living. The only creatures that lived through it were living underground in burrows and stuff.

Say we were going to be hit by one of the 10 percent of unknown asteroids. How long beforehand would we have a warning? Would we be able to see it approaching?

Probably not. Let’s say it’s 30 kilometers in diameter. That’s big compared to a football stadium but tiny compared to the vastness of space. So as we like to “hilariously” joke — looking for asteroids is like looking for a charcoal briquette in the dark. They’re very hard to see but with the right instruments, especially infrared telescopes, we can see them. They glow about 150 degrees Celsius above absolute zero. So we want to advocate for space to build systems to look for these things, so that we get 20 or 30 years notice. If we have 30 years notice then we can send a spacecraft out to give it a nudge so it doesn’t cross the Earth’s orbit when we are there.

A visual representation of Asteroid laser ablasion, a recent development in laser technology, being used to deflect an incoming asteroid. DE-STAR: Directed Energy System for Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation

What sort of nudges are we talking about? How would we deflect an asteroid?

Well you can just run into it with the spacecraft going at a high speed, using a kinetic impactor, as they’re called. Maybe detonate a nuclear weapon near it so that it causes some of the asteroid’s surface material to shoot off into space, to oblate. The Planetary Society sponsored a cool line of research where we’ve proposed building spacecraft with lasers on them. We’d then we have a swarm of our laser “bees” and they would beam laser light at the surface of an asteroid and cause the surface to burn off, to oblate a little bit. That momentum of that ejected stuff would give the asteroid a little push through space. I’ve always been charmed by that idea.
But whatever we do it’s almost certain to not require anything new. By that I mean new technology. It would be a whole new spacecraft with a whole new set of gizmos, but it would be made from the existing spacecraft technology and components.

What sort of investment would we be talking here to build one of these spacecraft?

“Compare that to the destruction of humankind. We should probably come up with the cash.”

I don’t know, but compare it to what a flagship mission cost. This would be something akin to Cassini, which flew for 20 years for four billion dollars. That’s not that much but, still, say it’s 10 times that. Compare that to the destruction of humankind. We should probably come up with the cash. And all the money is spent in space is really spent on Earth! Don’t forget that! There would be no aerospace contractors we presume involved and, as I like to say, space brings out the best in us. We solve problems that have never been solved before.

The Kick Asteroid! campaign is in part about raising awareness for asteroid threats, and to light a fire under lawmakers to fund some of these missions. What are lawmakers currently doing to mitigate the risk of asteroids and what they can do better and your better?

We can dedicate more resources for a more thorough search. We have the NEOWISE spacecraft (Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infared Survery Explorer) but we could use two or three more of those things. 10 percent of the asteroid population may end life as we know. That’s a lot of asteroids.

Progression of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) investigation during the first four years since its restart in December 2013. NASA

But you used the word mitigation and I’m all for it. I mean in Chelyabinsk it would have been good if there were some type of public warning, maybe like an AMBER Alert on your phone. “Stay away from the windows for the next three minutes!” Something like that. But better yet would be to not have to do that at all and just deflect every one of them.

This last question comes courtesy of our emerging tech editor: “Deep Impact” or “Armageddon”? Which film is more scientifically accurate when it comes to a potential asteroid impact?

The one where they didn’t blow up the asteroid is better. (Note: he means “Deep Impact” is better.) Blowing up an asteroid is problematic.

“Amateur astronomers are different from amateur golfers, in that amateur astronomers genuinely contribute to the science of astronomy.”

But, by the way, in one of them (He means “Deep Impact” again.) the premise was that a kid had seen an asteroid that no one else saw. Well, a lot of asteroids are identified by amateur astronomers. Amateur astronomers are different from amateur golfers, in that amateur astronomers genuinely contribute to the science of astronomy. This is real science done by regular people. The thing that amateur astronomers are able to contribute is what we call “tracking.” Somebody’ll find it and then all these hundreds or thousands of astronomers around the world train their telescopes to the same part of the sky to see if they get agreement on watching this thing move across the sky against the background stars, stars that are so fantastic that they don’t seem to move from our point of view.

So the Planetary Society supports amateur astronomers with we call the Shoemaker NEO grants, named after the famous astronomer who studied asteroids and comets. Every two years we give away grants to amateur astronomers to improve their equipment or their systems associated with their telescopes to track these objects.

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24
Jul

Reprogrammable Braille could capture the Harry Potter series in a few pages


Dimples are formed on an inverted plastic fruit bowl by poking the dimple location with a simple stylus, in much the same way that the pages of a traditional Braille book are printed.

Why carry around a tome when you can carry around just a few pages? That seems to have been the question that launched the latest innovation in Braille, which should help to reduce the size and weight of books for the visually impaired. Researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have created a so-called reprogrammable Braille — it’s described as “a framework to encode memory, in the form of Braille-like dimples and bumps, onto a blank, lattice-free material.” In essence, this material is as dynamic as the words it can contain, changing as needed to reflect new text.

The design is surprisingly simple. First, there’s a thin elastic shell that is compressed on each end. Next, a stylus is used  to create simple indentations, much in the same way that a traditional Braille book might be printed. The shell keeps these indentations where they were even when the force is no longer applied. But once the shell is stretched back out to its original position, those indentations disappear.

“We show how an otherwise featureless curved elastic shell, when loaded appropriately, can store elastic bits (e-bits) that can be written and erased at will anywhere along the shell,” said L. Mahadevan, the Lola England de Valpine professor of applied mathematics at SEAS and senior author of the study. “This system could serve as the basis for small-scale mechanical memories.”

This new material marks the first time that scientists have proven that mechanical memory is possible in a system without any inherent lattice. Moreover, researchers say that their method can be used on any scale — whether it’s one-atom-thick graphene or paper, you should be able to use this  technique to create reprogrammable Braille. If implemented correctly, this could turn Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace from a massive 21 Braille volumes into just a few pages.

“Simple experiments with cylindrical and spherical shells show that we can control the number, location, and the temporal order of these dimples which can be written and erased at will,” Mahadevan added. “This paper is a first step in showing that we can store memories. The next step is to ask if we can actually compute with them.”

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24
Jul

Nomad creates a wireless charging pad just for the Tesla Model 3


While you’d imagine that Elon Musk and his team would have thought of every tiny detail when it comes to the  Tesla Model 3, they did manage to leave one thing out: A wireless charging pad for smartphones. Sure, there’s a charging dock with two USB ports that’s tailor-made for phones, but who wants to deal with messy cables?

Luckily, Nomad has the perfect solution. The company has created a premium wireless charging pad that fits perfectly into the charging dock on the Tesla Model 3. The wireless charging pad is powered by the dual USB ports and simply slides into the charging dock. And since it’s coated with a thermoplastic rubber and has walls on both the sides and bottom, you won’t need to worry about the pad or your devices moving while driving.

In addition to being a perfect fit for the Tesla, the charging pad has been engineered to ensure you get a quick charge. There’s two 7.5-watt charging coils, allowing you to charge two devices simultaneously. There’s also an integrated 6,000mAh battery that can give your phones an extra boost, even when the car is turned off.  Nomad claims its custom-engineered pad for the Tesla is able to charge a completely depleted phone to 50 percent within an hour.

And it’s not just iPhones and other flagships that will charge via the wireless charging pad: Nomad promises any phone that has wireless charging capabilities will work with the pad. There are even optional spacers in the box that will allow you to easily prop up smaller phones so they can charge wirelessly.

The wireless charging pad for the Tesla Model 3 is just the latest creation from the minimalist team at Nomad. The company is known for creating products that are both durable and gorgeous.

You can pre-order the wireless charger for the Tesla Model 3 now on the Nomad site. The charger usually sells for $150, however there’s a pre-order promotion that brings the price down to a more affordable $130. And while orders for the Tesla Model 3 take nearly a year to fulfill, Nomad plans to begin shipping its wireless charging pad on September 1.

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24
Jul

The Looking Glass brings us closer than ever to Star Wars-like holograms



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1 of 5

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

There are several reasons why 3D televisions failed, and one of them was the lack of 3D content. Well, there’s a new 3D “holographic display” in town — the Looking Glass — and the company behind it is following quite a different strategy. Instead of delivering content-less hardware to consumers, the Looking Glass is designed by and for 3D creators.

Looking Glass Factory is a Brooklyn-based company founded in 2013 that has been tinkering with hologram technology for the past five years. It has produced and sold several products since, including L3D cubes, the Looking Glass Volume, and the HoloPlayer One, but it’s clear everything has been leading up to the new Looking Glass.

looking glass holographic display Looking Glass Factory

The Looking Glass is a heavy, glass box that’s available in 8-inch and 15-inch sizes. It can display 3D holographic content — which looks like it’s floating in air — and you don’t need any kind of headset for it to work. It’s meant to sit on a desk because it needs to be connected to a relatively powerful PC or laptop.

We had a chance to check it out, and we can easily confirm the Looking Glass produces the most lifelike 3D content we’ve ever seen. Animations ported into the Looking Glass — which is easy to do since the platform supports Unity — are fluid, and they look sharp from various angles. You can also interact with the holographic interface, as the Looking Glass supports a variety of peripherals such as the Leap Motion Controller, and even the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers. We tossed around an animated dancing figure with just our hands thanks to the hand-tracking Leap Motion controller, and we also lit up a scene of a frog with our finger acting as a torch.

Peripherals%20-%20Leap%20Motion.gifKlein%20Bottle%20by%20Dizingof%20(3D%20P

The idea is to get the Looking Glass into the hands of 3D creators around the world. These creators can then see what their creations look like through this holographic display, which can even help influence the design process. For example, pulling a 3D model into the Looking Glass and then casting artificial light to it can help animators see exactly where the shadows land quickly.

This will eventually lead to creators populating a 3D App Library, which currently houses dozens of apps from Looking Glass Factory. Once there’s plenty of content, co-founder and CEO Shawn Frayne told Digital Trends consumers will follow — they’ll want the Looking Glass in their homes.

“It’s one of our theories that a few years from now in people’s homes, they do have several Looking Glasses in each of their rooms that has an Alexa or some other voice A.I. running with it,” Frayne said. “There’s a virtual character that speaks with the voice of Alexa, and then she or he will bring up anything you ask for. In that sense, it would start to become a centerpiece of media and communication and creation in the home.”

How it works

looking glass holographic display

looking glass holographic display

looking glass holographic display

looking glass holographic display

The Looking Glass is made up of a combination of light-field and volumetric display technology. The light-field display recreates the rays of light that bounce off the 3D content, which helps you visualize it, and the volumetric display helps create these animated objects in three dimensions. Frayne said the Looking Glass generates 45 views of 3D content, so a group of people can huddle around the device and see the scene without any problems. We didn’t find ourselves feeling any eye strain or nausea after staring at the Looking Glass for quite some time.

With these holographic objects, Frayne believes we will see more data that our brains will prefer over standard 2D screens. For example, looking at map data of Mars through the Looking Glass will provide a better understanding of the terrain than if we simply looked at them on a 2D screen.

“The hope is that at first people get the system because the content feels more alive.”

“The hope is that at first people get the system because the content feels more alive, and then they realize, ‘Oh I can design my characters faster and better in this system,’” Frayne said. “Then it’s this virtuous cycle of the designers creating new media for this system, and then people consuming that and enjoying it and learning from it.”

The Looking Glass starts at $600 for the smaller version, but the price jumps up to $3,000 for the larger model. You’ll be able to nab them for deeply discounted prices through Kickstarter, which is simply where the company is taking its pre-orders. About a 100 units will ship in September, and the rest will follow in December.

It looks like 2018 is shaping up to be the year of holographic displays. RED, the company behind professional video cameras, is working to bring a smartphone with a holographic display later this summer.

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24
Jul

The Looking Glass brings us closer than ever to Star Wars-like holograms



Previous


Next

1 of 5

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

looking glass holographic display

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

There are several reasons why 3D televisions failed, and one of them was the lack of 3D content. Well, there’s a new 3D “holographic display” in town — the Looking Glass — and the company behind it is following quite a different strategy. Instead of delivering content-less hardware to consumers, the Looking Glass is designed by and for 3D creators.

Looking Glass Factory is a Brooklyn-based company founded in 2013 that has been tinkering with hologram technology for the past five years. It has produced and sold several products since, including L3D cubes, the Looking Glass Volume, and the HoloPlayer One, but it’s clear everything has been leading up to the new Looking Glass.

looking glass holographic display Looking Glass Factory

The Looking Glass is a heavy, glass box that’s available in 8-inch and 15-inch sizes. It can display 3D holographic content — which looks like it’s floating in air — and you don’t need any kind of headset for it to work. It’s meant to sit on a desk because it needs to be connected to a relatively powerful PC or laptop.

We had a chance to check it out, and we can easily confirm the Looking Glass produces the most lifelike 3D content we’ve ever seen. Animations ported into the Looking Glass — which is easy to do since the platform supports Unity — are fluid, and they look sharp from various angles. You can also interact with the holographic interface, as the Looking Glass supports a variety of peripherals such as the Leap Motion Controller, and even the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers. We tossed around an animated dancing figure with just our hands thanks to the hand-tracking Leap Motion controller, and we also lit up a scene of a frog with our finger acting as a torch.

Peripherals%20-%20Leap%20Motion.gifKlein%20Bottle%20by%20Dizingof%20(3D%20P

The idea is to get the Looking Glass into the hands of 3D creators around the world. These creators can then see what their creations look like through this holographic display, which can even help influence the design process. For example, pulling a 3D model into the Looking Glass and then casting artificial light to it can help animators see exactly where the shadows land quickly.

This will eventually lead to creators populating a 3D App Library, which currently houses dozens of apps from Looking Glass Factory. Once there’s plenty of content, co-founder and CEO Shawn Frayne told Digital Trends consumers will follow — they’ll want the Looking Glass in their homes.

“It’s one of our theories that a few years from now in people’s homes, they do have several Looking Glasses in each of their rooms that has an Alexa or some other voice A.I. running with it,” Frayne said. “There’s a virtual character that speaks with the voice of Alexa, and then she or he will bring up anything you ask for. In that sense, it would start to become a centerpiece of media and communication and creation in the home.”

How it works

looking glass holographic display

looking glass holographic display

looking glass holographic display

looking glass holographic display

The Looking Glass is made up of a combination of light-field and volumetric display technology. The light-field display recreates the rays of light that bounce off the 3D content, which helps you visualize it, and the volumetric display helps create these animated objects in three dimensions. Frayne said the Looking Glass generates 45 views of 3D content, so a group of people can huddle around the device and see the scene without any problems. We didn’t find ourselves feeling any eye strain or nausea after staring at the Looking Glass for quite some time.

With these holographic objects, Frayne believes we will see more data that our brains will prefer over standard 2D screens. For example, looking at map data of Mars through the Looking Glass will provide a better understanding of the terrain than if we simply looked at them on a 2D screen.

“The hope is that at first people get the system because the content feels more alive.”

“The hope is that at first people get the system because the content feels more alive, and then they realize, ‘Oh I can design my characters faster and better in this system,’” Frayne said. “Then it’s this virtuous cycle of the designers creating new media for this system, and then people consuming that and enjoying it and learning from it.”

The Looking Glass starts at $600 for the smaller version, but the price jumps up to $3,000 for the larger model. You’ll be able to nab them for deeply discounted prices through Kickstarter, which is simply where the company is taking its pre-orders. About a 100 units will ship in September, and the rest will follow in December.

It looks like 2018 is shaping up to be the year of holographic displays. RED, the company behind professional video cameras, is working to bring a smartphone with a holographic display later this summer.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • AT&T to sell the Magic Leap One Creator Edition AR headset in U.S. this summer
  • We tried some of the RED Hydrogen One’s crazy tech: Here’s what you need to know
  • Google Home review
  • Samsung tapped Hollywood talent to bring AR Emoji to life
  • How broke college grads made animation software used in Jurassic Park and Iron Man



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