Finnish software house Jolla has announced that its smartphone OS, Sailfish, has been accepted for use by Russia’s government. It means that the platform — which rose from the ashes of Nokia and Intel’s doomed MeeGo — can now be used for official government business. The company also let slip that it’s in discussions to do a similar deal with leaders in South Africa and China, as well as other BRICS countries. As for why, it’s probably not because Vladimir Putin was as outraged as the rest of us when Nokia axed the N9.
Instead, the move is another step along the geopolitical cold war that’s beginning to spread out across the technology world. Russia — as well as regimes like China — feel that the west has too much influence in the digital sphere. A few years back, both nations began pushing for homegrown alternatives to Windows, Android and iOS. That way, leaders could burnish local industry, reduce western cultural dominance and mitigate the risk that the CIA and NSA were watching them.
Microsoft, Apple and Google are also the target of much political ire outside of the US — although these days that’s changing, too. Not to mention that Russian spies breached American Windows systems several times over to steal various state secrets. After all, if your “enemy” is using compromised technology that you can exploit, you certainly don’t want to be tied in to the same platform. That’s why both Russia and China have essentially banned purchases of Windows computers as well as iOS and Android devices.
The groundwork for the deal was laid a while back, and Sailfish has already been licensed by a local company called Open Mobile Platform. OMP is pushing to create a developer community in Russia that can help make the software more secure. In an interview with TechCrunch, Jolla co-founder Sami Pienimäki believes that we’ll (well, Vladimir Putin) see Sailfish OS devices arrive for sale as early as 2017.
Source: Jolla (.PDF)
Nokia made some great smartphone cameras back in the day, but we certainly didn’t expect that to lead to the Ozo, a $60,000, 360-degree 3D virtual reality camera. Now, the Finnish company will provide expertise and Ozo cameras to Sony Pictures, which will use them to create VR content. The studio will also take advantage of the Ozo Live VR broadcast capability “to transport fans to Sony Pictures events that they couldn’t otherwise attend,” the company wrote.
There are other VR rigs out there that can take higher-quality images. And it seems odd that a camera manufacturer with Sony’s professional experience would turn to Nokia, of all companies, for equipment and advice. However, Ozo does offer live VR broadcasting, real-time on-set Oculus Rift VR playback and rapid stitching from the eight cameras. With other systems, it can take ages to patch together multiple videos, meaning producers often have no idea what they shot until much later.
You can also do live 4K VR output, provided you have a powerful Mac or PC. In fact, it produces a signal that broadcasters can send through standard UHD equipment, which end-users can decode with an HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or Gear VR headset. That helps it fit in with Sony’s “established production processes and workflows, and enable the real time capture and broadcast of VR content,” Sony Pictures VP Scot Barbour said in a statement.
Sony will also bundle Nokia’s Ozo player into its Privilege Plus app to “bring unique content straight to fans.” (As a reminder, that’s the streaming video player for Xperia Lounge, which is Sony’s answer to Google Play on Android.) If Sony Pictures can produce some decent content on Ozo, that might finally give users of that not-very-popular app a reason to try it.
It’s one thing to wire a house with gigabit fiber, but it’s another matter to outfit an entire apartment building — you need a huge pipeline to accommodate everyone. Nokia, however, might have a solution. It just partnered with SK Broadband to wire an apartment complex in Seoul, South Korea with fiber optics delivering aggregate speeds of 52.5Gbps. That doesn’t guarantee that every user will get that speed (only “selected” customers saw those rates), but it increases the chances that you’ll receive gigabit-class bandwidth in your rental.
The trick was to use Nokia’s “next generation” approach to passive optical networks, which lets internet providers implement multiple fiber technologies on an existing line. That, in turn, will save your telecom from having to spend a fortune to upgrade your tenement (assuming it already has fiber, that is).
It may take a while before it’s easy to get gigabit internet access in any one-bedroom. Nokia has the luxury of running this fiber in South Korea, where population density and government plans work in its favor — the country wants gigabit broadband available to all residents by 2020. It’d be a tougher prospect in the US and other countries where gigabit-grade data largely remains a pipe dream. Regardless, it’s an important step towards democratizing ultra-fast speeds that have been limited to a handful of people worldwide.
Microsoft may have all but given up on Windows Phones, but rookies in the New York City Police Department are now getting them with their gun and badge. As CNET reports, the NYPD only started handing out department-issued smartphones and email addresses in 2015, and the official device of the largest police force in the United States are the Lumia 830 and Lumia 640 XL.
Those phones debuted in late 2014 and early 2015, respectively and the department reportedly passed on iOS and Android devices because the Windows Phone platform offered the best remote management and security features. The NYPD and Microsoft also worked collaborated on a suite of crime-fighting apps like a direct 911 line that goes to an officer rather than a dispatcher, a police records search, in-house messaging, a case management system and a media library for training videos and policy updates. According to the department, the ability to route 911 calls directly to officers has dropped the response time for crimes in progress by over 12 percent.
While those Nokia workhorse might seem a little bit out of date, CNET notes the department is looking into upgrading to Windows 10 devices by next summer. And, in any case, any smartphone at all is a vast improvement over the department’s previous policy — a downright archaic system of shared voice mailboxes.
Microsoft’s association with the Nokia brand has been especially turbulent, but it appears the company has one last hurrah for its feature phone business. Today, it announced the Nokia 216, a Series 30+ handset that can browse the web and lasts up to a month on standby. It’s as basic as Nokia feature phones get, but it’s notable in that it’s probably the very last Nokia-branded handset Microsoft will ever produce.
You see, when Microsoft acquired Nokia in 2014, it bought both the feature phone business and Lumia brand. This gave the Redmond company access to Nokia’s manufacturing plants, patents and feature phone brand for 10 years. Microsoft quickly dropped the “Nokia” from Lumia smartphones and hoped that interest in the Finnish company’s budget handsets would “on-ramp” users to Windows Phone.
That never materialized. Microsoft, with next to no interest in its phones, then decided to sell the feature phone business to Foxconn subsidiary FIH Mobile for $350 million and the naming rights to Finnish company HMD Global, which was founded by ex-Nokia employees with the purpose of creating Nokia-branded Android smartphones and tablets.
Confusing, right? Don’t forget that Nokia Oy, the company that sold its phone businesses to Microsoft in the first place, is still successful in its own right. It operates a multi-billion dollar cellular networking business, makes a $45,000 VR camera, bought wearable maker Withings and recently sold its mapping business to a group of German car makers for a tidy sum.
Microsoft’s feature phone deal is still undergoing regulatory scrutiny but both companies expect it to complete by the end of the year. With October almost upon us, it’s safe to assume that the Nokia 216, with its 0.3-megapixel camera and all-important headphone jack, will be the last new model out of the door before Microsoft can finally wash the unsuccessful Nokia venture out of its hair.
Via: The Verge
Sure, researchers have been showing off terabit data speeds in fiber optics for years, but they’ve seldom been practical. That exotic technology may work over long distances, but it can quickly fall apart when you throw typical network loads in the mix. However, it’s about to become much more practical. Nokia Bell Labs, Deutsche Telekom and the Technical University of Munich have shown off 1Tbps data speeds in a field trial that involved “real conditions,” with varying channel conditions and traffic levels.
The secret was a new modulation technique, Probabilistic Constellation Shaping. Instead of using all the networking’s constellation points (the “alphabet of the transmission”) equally, like typical fiber, it prefers those points with lower amplitudes — the ones that are less susceptible to noise. That helps transmissions reach up to 30 percent further, since you can adapt the transmission rate to fit the channel. It’s so effective that the team got close to the theoretical peak data speeds possible for the fiber connection.
You’re likely not going to see these terabit fiber lines in regular use for a while, since there’s a large gap between a field test and making commercially available lines. The timing might be ideal, mind you — 5G cellular data is just gathering momentum, and telecoms will need gobs of bandwidth to cope with the increased demands. A realistic 1Tbps fiber option would make sure that the internet’s wired backbones don’t collapse under the load.
Via: FossBytes, ZDNet
It’s been a banner week for mobile devices not made by Apple (you’ll have to wait until the 7th for those). Samsung, quite literally, blew its chance to gain ground on Apple, given the new iPhone’s reputed lackluster feature set. Google likely killed off Project Ara, its modular smartphone. Verizon and T-Mobile both rolled out new service plans aimed at stretching subscribers’ data plans. Hasselblad actually made a photography device that won’t require the life of your first born to obtain. And Nubia unveiled its newest flagship phone — but where’s the bezel. Numbers, because how else would we determine market share?
By Cat DiStasio
Cell phone technology continues moving forward year after year, but many of the developments are incremental—a better camera, more storage space, or a faster processor. Those are just the improvements that make it to the mass market, though. There’s is a whole world of innovative developments in cellular phone design and technology that most people have never heard a word about, and some of them even come from leading cell phone manufacturers. Nokia, for instance, has developed a cell phone that can recharge in your pocket and other models made from largely recycled materials. Other companies are working hard to develop modular phones that are easier to repair and upgrade, thereby cutting down on electronic waste. It’s impossible to know which of these futuristic technologies we’ll actually be able to get our hands on, but it’s fun to dream about what kind of features your cell phone might have in another five years.
Nokia’s E-Cu phone charges in your pocket
Long-time leader in cellular phone technology Nokia developed an amazing concept phone that uses body heat to recharge its battery. Although we haven’t seen this technology hit the consumer market, the Nokia E-Cu’s unique charging ability would afford cell phone owners some major freedom if it ever came to fruition. The phone’s copper exterior and its internal integrated thermogenerator converts heat from the body into electricity, making it super easy to ditch the plug-in charger and portable battery packs without any concerns of the dreaded low battery indicator.
PhoneBloks modular reparable cell phone
PhoneBloks developed a concept phone a few years ago that many others have emulated since. A series of modular components snaps together like LEGO bricks, making it simple to replace a broken part or upgrade the phone. With a modular phone, you wouldn’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a brand new phone just because one component of your current phone stops working. PhoneBloks could save enormous amounts of electronic waste from ending up in landfills, also, since they allow people to get maximum use out of their initial phone purchase.
Kyocera’s waterproof, washable cell phone
Countless cell phones have been rendered useless bricks after being dropped in toilets, tubs, pools, and lakes – and everyone knows at least a few people who have desperately buried their damp phone in a bucket of rice in hopes of reviving it. Kyocera and Japanese telecom firm KDDI partnered to solve this modern-day problem by creating a waterproof, soap-proof phone called Digno Rafre. If washable cell phone technology becomes the norm, it would become even easier to keep up with your Twitter feed while soaking in a bubble bath, and could even lead to cell phones that could be used underwater, which would really make for some awesome Instagram pics.
O2 Recycle phone made from freshly cut grass
Created for the Rugby Football Union’s social responsibility campaign last year, the O2 Recycle phone is composed of reclaimed cell phone parts and grass clippings collected from southwest London’s Twickenham Stadium. Designer Sean Miles of DesignWorks made just one of the ultra-green phones, putting in over 240 hours building the phone case from glass clippings which were freeze-dried within two hours of being cut from the stadium, and then pulped, molded into the casing, and coated in an eco-friendly resin. The result is a crisp green phone that blends in completely with any stadium grounds or field, and has a much smaller environmental footprint than typical plastic phone bodies.
Samsung’s flexible phone
Ever the leader in consumer electronics, Samsung released a concept in 2011 for a truly futuristic cell phone design. The flexible, bendable, OLED phone can practically be folded in half without any risk of cracking the screen or damaging the components within. At the time, Samsung promised to release the flexible phones the following year, but the project has met a number of delays and is currently expected to roll out some time in 2017. The design has evolved over the years, and some of the images Samsung has released suggest a phone that could be curled around your wrist, reminiscent of slap bracelets from the 1980s.
Nokia Remade recycled phone
Finding new ways to incorporate recycled materials into new technology is a goal many companies share. Nokia was an early adopter of the eco-friendly trend, and in 2008 they unveiled a concept phone made from aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and old car tires. The recycled components primarily went into the phone’s casing, but Nokia didn’t overlook the inner workings. The company sought to employ more environmentally sensitive technologies like printed electronics (which reduce waste and CO2 emissions during manufacturing) and a backlit display which saves energy and increases the life of the battery.
Nokia-owned Withings today announced the launch of its newest activity tracker, debuting the Withings Steel HR analog fitness tracking watch with a built-in heart rate monitor. Like the Apple Watch, it uses green LED lights to detect variation in the level of the blood in the wrist, a technology known as photoplethysmography.
Available in two sizes — 36mm and 40mm — the Withings Steel HR uses the same design language as the company’s previous fitness tracker, the Activité. It features a simple and stylish analog watch face with unobtrusive digital meters for tracking heart rate and movement over the course of the day.
It has a stainless steel casing, chrome hands, and comfortable silicone straps. The 36mm watch (available in black or white) comes with an 18mm band while the 40mm watch (black only) comes with a 20mm band. When worn, the Steel HR measures continuous heart rate during workouts, average heart rate during the day, and resting heart rate when sleeping.
“Whether you’re an athlete or simply trying to lose a few pounds and get a better handle on your health, knowing your heart rate can help you better understand your overall health and reach your fitness goals,” said Cédric Hutchings, VP of Digital Health, Nokia Technologies. “With the wealth of insights it provides and the extended battery life for a health watch of its type, Steel HR truly is the first of its kind.”
A sub-dial on the Steel HR tracks the percentage of a user’s daily activity goal that’s been achieved, while an added digital screen displays health data like heart rate and notifications from a connected smartphone. The data that’s displayed can be changed using a navigational button on the side of the watch.
The Steel HR features a rechargeable battery that lasts 25 days per charge and it has a backup power save mode that offers an additional 20 days of battery life. In power save mode, heart rate tracking is disabled, but it continues to monitor basic activity. The Steel HR is water resistant and can be used when swimming.
Withings will begin selling the Withings Steel HR at the end of October. The 36mm version will be priced at $179.95 and the 40mm version will be priced at $199.95.
Tags: Withings, Nokia
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Nokia’s trolley-dash approach to business means that it now makes health gadgets and professional-level VR cameras. The latter arm sells one product, a $60,000 VR camera called Ozo which is bought by studios like Disney and UEFA. In order to gee-up demand and to celebrate launching in China, Nokia is now hacking $15,000 off the asking price for the gear. The first customer to grab the unit in the middle kingdom is LeVR, the surprisingly-named VR arm of Chinese superconglomerate LeEco. From this we can take one of two things: either Nokia overpriced the hardware, or it’s so staggeringly popular that everyone (in the industry) wants one.