Android

NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Reviewed: Gaming and Possibly the Ultimate 4K Streamer 24

Posted by timothy
from the ensmallening-rocks dept.
Earlier this week, NVIDIA officially launched its SHIELD Android TV set-top device, with far more horsepower than something like Roku or Apple TV, but on par with an average game console, and at a more affordable price tag of $199. MojoKid writes: What's interesting, however, is that it's powered by NVIDIA's Tegra X1 SoC which features a Maxwell-derived GPU and eight CPU cores; four ARM A57 cores and four A53s. The A57 cores are 64-bit, out-of-order designs, with multi-issue pipelines, while the A53s are simpler, in-order, highly-efficient designs. Which cores are used will depend on the particular workload being executed at the time. Tegra X1 also packs a 256-core Maxwell-derived GPU with the same programming capabilities and API support as NVIDIA's latest desktop GPUs. In standard Android benchmarks, the SHIELD pretty much slays any current high-end tablet or smartphone processor in graphics, but is about on par with the octal-core Samsung Exynos in terms of standard compute workloads but handily beating and octal-core Qualcomm Snapdragon. What's also interesting about the SHIELD Android TV is that it's not only an Android TV-capable device with movie and music streaming services like Netflix etc., but it also plays any game on Google Play and with serious horsepower behind it. The SHIELD Android TV is also the first device certified for Netflix's Ultra HD 4K streaming service.
Robotics

Untethered Miniature Origami Robot That Self-Folds, Walks, Swims, and Degrades 19

Posted by timothy
from the I-can-do-those-things-at-scale dept.
jan_jes writes: MIT researchers demonstrated an untethered miniature origami robot that self-folds, walks, swims, and degrades at ICRA 2015 in Seattle. A miniature robotic device that can fold-up on the spot, accomplish tasks, and disappear by degradation into the environment promises a range of medical applications but has so far been a challenge in engineering. This work presents a sheet that can self-fold into a functional 3D robot,actuate immediately for untethered walking and swimming, and subsequently dissolve in liquid. Further, the robot is capable of conducting basic tasks and behaviors, including swimming, delivering/carrying blocks, climbing a slope, and digging. The developed models include an acetone-degradable version, which allows the entire robot's body to vanish in a liquid. Thus this experimentally demonstrate the complete life cycle of this robot: self-folding,actuation, and degrading.
Google

Google Photos Launches With Unlimited Storage, Completely Separate From Google+ 110

Posted by timothy
from the delete-is-the-hardest-key-to-press dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a report that Google yesterday announced at its I/O conference a photo-storage site known as Google Photos. Says the article: The new service is completely separate from Google+, something Google users have been requesting for eons. Google is declaring that Google Photos lets you backup and store "unlimited, high-quality photos and videos, for free." It's a bit creepy to see all the photos that Google still has on tap, including many that I've since deleted on my phone.
Hardware Hacking

More About Dan Shapiro and the Glowforge CNC Laser Cutter (Video #2) 23

Posted by Roblimo
from the tom-swift-and-his-cnc-laser-cutter-would-make-a-great-book-title dept.
Yesterday Glowforge Co-Founder and CEO Dan Shapiro told us that the Glowforge machine is a CNC laser cutter and engraver, not a 3-D Printer -- even though the first words on Glowforge's main page are, "The First 3D Laser Printer," a description Dan says is there for people not familiar with things like laser cutters and 3-D printers, who want to call the Glowforge a 3-D printer even though people who know about this stuff know what it is at first glance. He also talks about his previous startup, Robot Turtles; what it is, how it came to be, and why kids like it so much. This interview is worth watching (or reading) for the Robot Turtles section alone, especially if you have children or are thinking about designing board games for kids.
Robotics

Florida Hospital Shows Normal Internet Lag Time Won't Affect Remote Robotic Surgeries 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-complaining-about-your-ping dept.
Lucas123 writes: Remote robotic surgery performed hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the physician at the controls is possible and safe, according to the Florida Hospital that recently tested Internet lag times for the technology. Roger Smith, CTO at the Florida Hospital Nicholson Center in Celebration, Fla., said the hospital tested the lag time to a partner facility in Ft. Worth, Texas and found it ranged from 30 to 150 milliseconds, which surgeons could not detect as they moved remote robotic laparoscopic instruments. The tests, performed using a surgical simulator called a Mimic, will now be performed as if operating remotely in Denver and then Loma Linda, Calif. The Mimic Simulator system enables virtual procedures performed by a da Vinci robotic surgical system, the most common equipment in use today; it's used for hundreds of thousands of surgeries every year around the world. With a da Vinci system, surgeons today can perform operations yards away from a patient, even in separate but adjoining rooms to the OR. By stretching that distance to tens, hundreds or thousands of miles, the technology could enable patients to receive operations from top surgeons that would otherwise not be possible, including wounded soldiers near a battlefield. The Mimic Simulator was able to first artificially dial up lag times, starting with 200 milliseconds all the way up to 600 milliseconds.
Robotics

MIT Trains Robots To Jump 61

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-don't-tell-them-how-important-necks-and-heads-are-to-humans dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: MIT just announced that its researchers have programmed a robotic cheetah that can leap over obstacles without a prompt from a human controller. The machine's onboard sensors rely on reflected laser-light to judge obstacles' distance and height, and use that data to fuel the algorithm for a safe jump. The robot's controlling algorithm takes into account such factors as the speed needed to launch its mass over the obstacle, the best position for a jump, and the amount of energy required from the onboard electric motor. As of this writing, the robot can clear 90 percent of obstacles on an open track. "A running jump is a truly dynamic behavior," Sangbae Kim, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, is quoted as saying in a university press release. "You have to manage balance and energy, and be able to handle impact after landing. Our robot is specifically designed for those highly dynamic behaviors." For years, some tech pundits have worried that robots and software will gradually replace human workers in key industries such as manufacturing and IT administration. Now they have something else to fret over: Robots replacing the world's hurdlers.
Upgrades

New Freescale I.MX6 SoCs Include IoT-focused UltraLite 24

Posted by timothy
from the update-from-the-race-to-the-bottom dept.
DeviceGuru writes: Freescale has announced three new versions of its popular i.MX6 SoCs, including new DualPlus and QuadPlus parts featuring enhanced GPUs and expanded memory support, and a new low-end, IoT focused 528MHz UltraLite SoC that integrates a more power-efficient, single-core ARM Cortex-A7 architecture. The UltraLite, which will be available in a tiny 9x9mm package, is claimed by Freescale to be the smallest and most energy-efficient ARM based SoC. It has a stripped-down WXGA interface but adds new security, tamper detection, and power management features. All the new Freescale i.MX6 SoCs are supported with Linux BSPs and evaluation kits.
Hardware Hacking

Glowforge is a CNC Laser Cutter, not a 3D Printer (Video) 44

Posted by Roblimo
from the some-machines-add-material-while-others-cut-it dept.
Co-Founder and CEO Dan Shapiro says, right at the beginning of the interview, that the Glowforge machine is a CNC laser cutter and engraver, not a 3-D Printer. He says they've "simplified the heck" out of the hardware and software, and are making an easy-to-use, non-costly ($2500 has been bandied about as the unit's likely price) device that can fit on a kitchen table -- or, more likely, a workbench at a maker facility. Although Dan did very well on Kickstarter (and afterwards) with his previous venture, Robot Turtles, this time he seems to have raised his first $9 million in the venture capital market, with participation from several MakerBot executives.

Glowforge is not the only CNC laser cutter/etcher device out there (or about to be). In Australia, Darkly Labs appears to have raised $569,397 (AUD) on Kickstarter to bring their LazerBlade to life, and already makes a small laser device called the Emblaser. There are others, too, including Boxzy, which did the Kickstarter thing and will now sell you a device that "rapidly transforms into 3 kinds of machines: CNC Mill, 3D Printer & Laser Engraver while enhancing precision & power with ballscrews." All this, and their top-of-the-line "does everything" machine sells for a mere $3500. Obviously, devices to give makers and prototypers the ability to make ever more complex and accurate shapes are coming to market like crazy. We'll continue to keep an eye on all this activity, including a second video interview with Glowforge's Dan Shapiro tomorrow.
Android

Android M Arrives In Q3: Native Fingerprint Support, Android Pay, 'Doze' Mode 82

Posted by timothy
from the sleep-beats-death dept.
MojoKid writes with yet more news from the ongoing Google IO conference: Google I/O kicked off this afternoon and the first topic of discussion was of course Google's next generation mobile operating system. For those that were hoping for a huge UI overhaul or a ton of whiz-bang features, this is not the Android release for you. Instead, Android M is more of a maintenance released focused mainly on squashing bugs and improving stability/performance across the board. Even though Android M is about making Android a more stable platform, there are a few features that have been improved upon or introduced for this release: App Permissions, Chrome Custom Tabs for apps, App Links (instead of asking you which app to choose when clicking a link, Android M's new Intent System can allow apps to verify that they are rightfully in possession of a link), NFC-based Android Pay, standardized fingerprint scanning support, and a new "doze" mode that supposedly offers 2X longer battery life when idle.
Power

How Tesla Batteries Will Force Home Wiring To Go Low Voltage 555

Posted by timothy
from the avoiding-another-conversion dept.
CIStud writes with a story at CEPro suggesting that solar power and home batteries like Tesla's PowerWall "will force the reinvention of home wiring from primarily AC high voltage to DC home-run low voltage to reduce power conversion loss," writing "To avoid the 20% to 40% power loss when converting from DC to AC, home wiring will have to convert to home-run low-voltage, and eventually eliminate the need for high-voltage 110V electrical wiring." As a former full-time Airstream dweller, I can attest to the importance of DC appliances when dealing with batteries.
Hardware

Computer Chips Made of Wood Promise Greener Electronics 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-not-easy-being-green dept.
alphadogg writes: Researchers in the U.S. and China have developed semiconductor chips that are almost entirely made out of a wood-derived material. In addition to being biodegradable, the cost of production is much less than conventional semiconductors. According to the NetworkWorld report: "The researchers used a cellulose material for the substrate of the chip, which is the part that supports the active semiconductor layer. Taken from cellulose, a naturally abundant substance used to make paper, cellulose nanofibril (CNF) is a flexible, transparent and sturdy material with suitable electrical properties. That makes CNF better than alternative chip designs using natural materials such as paper and silk, they argue in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications."
Power

California Is Giving Away Free Solar Panels To Its Poorest Residents 269

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-get-a-panel-and-you-get-a-panel-and-you-get.... dept.
MikeChino writes: Oakland-based non-profit GRID Alternatives is giving away 1,600 free solar panels to California's poorest residents by the year 2016. The initiative was introduced by Senator Kevin de León and launched with funds gathered under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GCRF), the state's cap-and-trade program. SFGate reports: "Kianté London used the program to put panels on his three-bedroom North Richmond home, which he shares with two sons and a daughter. 'It helps me and my family a great deal to have low-cost energy, because these energy prices are really expensive,' said London, 46, whose solar array was installed this week. 'And I wanted to do my part. It’s clean, green energy.' London had wanted a solar array for years, but couldn’t afford it on his income as a merchant seaman — roughly $70,000 per year. Even leasing programs offered by such companies as SolarCity and Sunrun were too expensive, he said. The new program, in contrast, paid the entire up-front cost of his array."
Security

Exploit Kit Delivers Pharming Attacks Against SOHO Routers 30

Posted by timothy
from the north-of-houston-you're-ok dept.
msm1267 writes: For the first time, DNS redirection attacks against small office and home office routers are being delivered via exploit kits. French security researcher Kafeine said an exploit kit has been finding success in driving traffic from compromised routers to the attackers' infrastructure. The risk to users is substantial, he said, ranging from financial loss, to click-fraud, man-in-the-middle attacks and phishing.
Data Storage

No, Your SSD Won't Quickly Lose Data While Powered Down 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the news-that-harder-to-freak-out-about dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A few weeks ago, we discussed reports that enterprise SSDs would lose data in a surprisingly short amount of time if left powered off. The reports were based on a presentation from Alvin Cox, a Seagate engineer, about enterprise storage practices. PCWorld spoke to him and another engineer for Seagate, and they say the whole thing was blown out of proportion. Alvin Cox said, "I wouldn't worry about (losing data). This all pertains to end of life. As a consumer, an SSD product or even a flash product is never going to get to the point where it's temperature-dependent on retaining the data." The intent of the original presentation was to set expectations for a worst case scenario — a data center writing huge amounts of data to old SSDs and then storing them long-term at unusual temperatures. It's not a very realistic situation for businesses with responsible IT departments, and almost impossible for personal drives.
Graphics

Dell Precision M3800 Mobile Workstation Packs Thunderbolt 2, Quadro, IGZO2 Panel 133

Posted by samzenpus
from the running-the-numbers dept.
MojoKid writes: Dell recently revamped their M3800 model to better entice graphic designers, engineers, and other high-end users who often work in the field, with a true mobile workstation that's both sufficiently equipped to handle professional grade workloads and is thin and light to boot. Dell claims the M3800 is the "world's thinnest and lightest 15-inch mobile workstation" and at 4.15 pounds, it could very well be. In addition, ISV tools certifications matter for workstation types, so the M3800 gets its pixel pushing muscle from an NVIDIA Quadro K1100M GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Other notable specs include an Intel Core i7-4712HQ quad-core processor, 16GB of DDR3L memory, and a 256GB mSATA SSD. One of the new additions to the M3800 is a Thunderbolt 2 port with transfer speeds of up to 20Gbps that allows for the simultaneous viewing/editing and backing up of raw 4K video. Finally, the M3800 is equipped with a 3840x2160 native resolution IGZO2 display, which equates to a 60 percent increase in pixel density over a current gen MacBook Pro with Retina display. Performance-wise, the M3800 holds up pretty strong with standard productivity workloads, though as you can image it excels more-so in graphics rendering throughput.
The Courts

Oculus Founder Hit With Lawsuit 122

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-so-luckey dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Palmer Luckey, founder of VR headset-maker Oculus, has been sued by a company accusing him of taking their confidential information and passing it off as his own. Total Recall Technologies, based in Hawaii, claims it hired Luckey in 2011 to build a head-mounted display. Part of that employment involved Luckey signing a confidentiality agreement. In August, 2012, Luckey launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Oculus Rift headset, and Facebook bought his company last year for $2 billion. TRT is seeking compensatory and punitive damages (PDF).
AI

New 'Deep Learning' Technique Lets Robots Learn Through Trial-and-Error 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-killing-all-humans-didn't-work,-so-kill-all-humans-next-time dept.
jan_jes writes: UC Berkeley researchers turned to a branch of artificial intelligence known as deep learning for developing algorithms that enable robots to learn motor tasks through trial and error. It's a process that more closely approximates the way humans learn, marking a major milestone in the field of artificial intelligence. Their demonstration robot completes tasks such as "putting a clothes hanger on a rack, assembling a toy plane, screwing a cap on a water bottle, and more" without pre-programmed details about its surroundings. The challenge of putting robots into real-life settings (e.g. homes or offices) is that those environments are constantly changing. The robot must be able to perceive and adapt to its surroundings, so this type of learning is an important step.
Google

Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear 102

Posted by timothy
from the teddy-ruxpin-pinned-it-on-the-one-armed-man dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Time Magazine reports that Google has designed and patented an "anthropomorphic device" that could take the form of a "doll or toy" and interact both with people as well as tech gadgets echoing the "super toy" teddy bear featured in Stephen Spielberg's 2001 movie AI. This could be one of Google's creepiest patents yet — especially if movies like "Chuckie" still give you nightmares. The patent filing diagrams a stuffed teddy bear and a bunny rabbit outfitted with microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet. If it senses you're looking at it, the fuzzy toy will rotate its head and look back at you. Once it receives and recognizes a voice command prompt, you can then tell it to control media devices in your home (e.g. turn on your music or TV). According to the patent filing: "To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head, and/or focus its gaze on the user or object of its interest. To express curiosity, an anthropomorphic device may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm. To express boredom, an anthropomorphic device may defocus its gaze, direct its gaze in a downward fashion, tap its foot, and/or close its eyes. To express surprise, an anthropomorphic device may make a sudden movement, sit or stand up straight, and/or dilate its pupils."

The patent adds that making the device look "cute" should encourage even the youngest members of a family to interact with it. But Mikhail Avady, from SmartUp, said he thought it belonged in "a horror film", and the campaign group Big Brother Watch has also expressed dismay. "When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line," says Avady. "Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy."
Graphics

Epic's VR Demo Scene For the GTX 980 Now Runs On Morpheus PS4 Headset At 60 FPS 35

Posted by timothy
from the blit-blit-bloop-bleep dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Originally created as a Unreal Engine 4 demo scene to push the limits of VR-capable graphics on the Oculus Rift 'Crescent Bay' prototype VR headset, Showdown is now running flawlessly at 60 FPS on Morpheus, Sony's PS4 VR headset. The demo was previously only able to run at Oculus' 90 FPS target VR framerate on the Nvidia GTX 980, a GPU which costs nearly $200 more than the PS4 itself. To the delight of UE4 developers, the performance improvement comes from general optimizations to UE4 on PS4, rather than specific optimizations to Showdown.