Huawei CarFi: Mobile hotspot especially for cars

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The Huawei CarFi being showcased at Mobile World Congress.

Barcelona — If for some reason you’re looking for another gadget to take advantage of your car’s cigarette lighter, Huawei has something for you. The company unveiled at Mobile World Congress today the CarFi, a mobile hotspot made specifically for cars.

Huawei says the CarFi quickly “converts vehicles into Wi-Fi hotspots on wheels for added convenience in daily life.” Clearly, you don’t need to CarFi for this convenience since putting any other mobile hotspot (including the dual-band E5786 4G-LTE mobile hotspot Huawei introduced last year) in a car would have the same result. However, the CarFi itself also works as a standard car charger, allowing you to plug another mobile device to it, and since it’s plugged in, it doesn’t require a battery to work.

According to Huawei, the CarFi is “inspired by the elegant lines of a golf club” and therefore boasts premium materials, including wood and carbon fiber for better durability, which is useful if you often move it between vehicles. Supporting LTE Cat4, it has the top download cellular speeds of up to 150Mbps down and 50Mbps up and can provide Internet to up to 10 Wi-Fi devices at a time. As a charger, it can provide 5V/1A power to a mobile device.

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The mobile hotspot is just about the size of a standard car charger. Sarah Tew/CNET

Feature-wise, the Huawei CarFi automatically turn off when there’s no Wi-Fi device connected to it for a period of time (though it still works as a charger.) It works both with the cigarette lighter and an in-car charger outlet of a vehicle. The device can be turned on or off via a long press on its top power button and can also be controlled remotely via Android and iOS smartphones using the Huawei Hilink mobile app.

The Huawei CarFi is available now in the European market in three colors including black, brown and red. It’s unclear how much it costs or when it will be available in other markets.

By: Sarah Tew

Volvo Talks Up Its Self-Driving Cars

volvo-drive-me-autonomous-self-driving-cars-vehicles

Volvo last week revealed the latest developments in its Drive Me project, showing off a complete system that could make it possible to integrate self-driving cars into regular traffic with drivers behind the wheel.

Volvo is making progress toward its goal of releasing 100 self-driving vehicles to consumers on selected roads around Gothenburg — Sweden’s second largest city — by 2017, the company said.

The public pilot project is part of a collaborative effort. Volvo is working with legislators, transport authorities and city officials to achieve sustainable mobility and to help ensure a crash-free future on the roads.

“Autonomous driving will fundamentally change the way we look at driving. In the future, you will be able to choose between autonomous and active driving,” said Peter Mertens, senior vice president of research and development at Volvo.

“This transforms everyday commuting from lost time to quality time, opening up new opportunities for work and pleasure,” he added.

The Other 1 Percent

Volvo is not the only auto company that is actively developing an autonomous driving system — Mercedes and Audi announced similar efforts earlier this year. However, Volvo contends that its technology advances a crucial step beyond what has hit the roads in demonstrations so far.

Some of the other systems are considered 99 percent reliable in real-world conditions, but that isn’t good enough, according to Volvo. Autonomous systems need to get much closer to 100 percent reliability before self-driving vehicles should be allowed to merge into actual traffic.

Toward that end, Volvo’s Drive Me solution includes a holistic sensor that can generate exact positioning, as well as a complete 360-degree view of the vehicle’s surroundings. It has a combined radar and camera unit in the windshield, which can read traffic signs, as well as the road’s curvature, and even detect objects or people in the road. A multiple beam laser scanner and trifocal camera also detects objects ahead. The surround radar system in the front and rear bumpers can locate objects in all directions.

Drive Me uses high-performance GPS and a high-definition 3D map, which together can help provide the vehicle with accurate information about its surroundings.

“This high-definition mapping solution is a crucial step forward for self-driving vehicles,” said Egil Juliussen, senior director and analyst for automotive technology at IHS Technology.

Ordinary People

Volvo’s approach to autonomous driving differs from some others in that it puts regular people in the driver’s seat, and it allows vehicles to cruise city streets along with other traffic.

“They’re also testing this in winter conditions instead of the ideal weather of California,” Juliussen told TechNewsWorld.

“What Volvo is doing is trying to get the cars on the road, which is where you will find out what technical problems you’re going to face. You are only going to find these problems if you test, and you may need to try this in different areas,” he explained.”

“Volvo is going to launch in a city they know, in a city where they have a lot more control,” said Praveen Chandrasekar, automotive and transportation research manager at Frost & Sullivan.

Three key points stand out with Volvo’s Drive Me program he told TechNewsWorld.

First, “drivers need to be in the car, to have the ability to take control, as Gothenburg is known for bad weather,” Chandraseker noted.

“Volvo is also working with traffic control in the city,” he said, “and finally, Volvo has really focused on developing vehicle infrastructure that can read traffic lights [and] road signs, and input all that information to ensure the car is safe on the road.”

The Road Ahead

Equipping vehicles with advanced sensors is just one part of the autonomous driving effort. Development of a compatible infrastructure, including roads and traffic control, is also critical. Self-driving vehicles currently can handle parking and low-speed traffic, but the next level of autonomous driving will require interaction with the roads.

“This is why the high-definition maps are so important,” said Chandrasekar.

“Communication with the traffic control center is going to be important, and Volvo is working on this,” he added, “because the car needs to know what is ahead and down the road a mile or two — not just what is immediately around it.”

While Volvo expects to put its Drive Me cars on the road by 2017, that goal applies to its test vehicles. Mass adoption of autonomous driving tech likely is still way down the road.

“Level four automation, where the car can actually drive itself, won’t likely go mainstream until 2025,” said Juliussen, “with some early adoption in some markets maybe by 2020.

By Peter Suciu

Samsung’s Galaxy S6 hard to build and extremely expensive, report says

Six Appeal

Earlier this week, an image leaked from T-Mobile of the upcoming Galaxy S6 with a curved screen. As shown above, the leaked “Six Appeal” shows a modestly curved screen and a device that looks broadly similar to previous Samsung Galaxy products. A new leak suggests that the Galaxy S6’s edged screen is difficult to manufacture — and that the device will be far more expensive than previous models.

According to Ars Technica, an unnamed contact at a European mobile partner has told them that the Galaxy S6 will launch in both curved and normal variants, with the curved variant carrying a premium. European prices can’t be easily compared to US ones (Ars has the full details on specific pricing), but the entry level prices will reportedly be €749 and €849 for the non-curved and curved products. Compare that to the S5’s launch price of $650, and the gain is significant.

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Samsung is reportedly putting its technical push behind the curved display version of the phone despite having trouble stocking it, and early rumors have suggested that the S6 doesn’t fix most of the design features that Android users tend to dislike about Samsung devices. The new phone is expected to pack Samsung’s 14nm SoC Exynos 7420 as opposed to the 20nm version of that chip that’s already shipping in devices like the Galaxy Note 4.

If these pricing rumors carry over to the US, they could kick a hole in the device’s uptake. It’s a puzzling move for Samsung — the Galaxy S5 might be the company’s premium handset, but it looks and feels like a cheap plastic device. Consumers have been calling for the company to create upmarket versions of its products for years, but the Korean manufacturer has resisted doing so. After the Samsung Galaxy S5 sold 40% fewer units than anticipated, many predicted that company would respond by retooling the S6 to meet more of its customers’ demands. Apparently that hasn’t happened — unless, of course, consumers were secretly demanding higher prices.

With Apple now tying it in terms of total phones shipped and low-cost manufacturers surging in China and India, this is the wrong time to lead with the launch of a luxury platform built around an edged screen gimmick. While we do expect good things from Samsung’s 14nm hardware, the company’s bog-standard Cortex-A57 design will have to offer extraordinary performance to justify such a large premium over other Android handsets or the Apple iPhone 6. That’s to say nothing of the disaster that’ll ensue if the customers opt for a curved version that isn’t widely available.

By

Microsoft’s OneNote Staff Notebook for Education app enables school staff collaboration

OneNote Staff Notebook

Microsoft has launched a free tool to help teachers and school staff to collaborate more effectively on curriculum development, administrative duties and internal policies.

OneNote Staff Notebook for Education lets education staff leaders — like principals or faculty heads — set up shared workspaces for teachers and administrators and enable them to organize and share internal information, event and meeting schedules, student progress, parent feedback, lesson plans and more.

http://www.onenoteforteachers.com:80/en-US/Guides/Collaborating%20with%20the%20OneNote%20Staff%20Notebook%20for%20Education

The service can be set up and synced using Office 365 or SharePoint 2013, and users can access all content on the OneNote note-taking app across desktops and mobile devices.

The company launched OneNote Class Notebooks for teachers to distribute lesson content to their students last October. Microsoft says it is also working on similar initiatives for business users in the next few months.

From classroom to school–introducing OneNote Staff Notebook for education [Office Blogs]

The Future Is Now: Touch-Screen Hair Dryers Are an Actual Thing

Touch Screen Hair Dryer

The year is now 2015, and although we have been patiently awaiting the launch of the hoverboards promised to us in Back to the Future II, this new hair innovation has us thinking we might not be so far from living like Marty McFly after all. Equipped with a touch-screen control, EGO’s new hair dryer ($198; qvc.com) looks almost like something that Judy Jetson would have adorning her vanity. The tool allows you to customize the temperature and dryer settings to your specific hair texture, but features more than just a pretty interface—the ceramic and tourmaline used on its interior have been proven to increase shine and impart a smoother finish. EGO’s dryer also features conditioning settings to ensure it doesn’t pull too much moisture out of damaged or color-treated strands. With another touch-screen dryer by CHI also on the market, we have one question: Can we link our iPhones up via Bluetooth? Replacing the traditional dryer noise with our latest Spotify playlist would really signal that we’ve reached Zenon-levels of the future.

Neptune Duo smartwatch that REPLACES your phone

The makers of the Neptune Duo want to pair a smartphone and smart wristband.

There’s not much on the surface to set it apart from the myriad other smartwatches on the market, yet this is interesting because it puts far more emphasis on the wearable, while the traditional phone is more the accessory.

For instance, you put your SIM card directly into the band. The phone is intended to give you greater control over the band and act as a larger screen for viewing media and so on.

I’m still on the fence with smartwatches and the like, but I’m intrigued by the different strategy this manufacturer is taking. I’d like to try it out if only to flip my entire on-the-go connectedness on its head, just as an experiment.

That said, I would be most annoyed if the battery on the band ran out and I couldn’t make a call even though I had this otherwise perfectly functional phone-like brick in my hand.

A curved, non-flexible physical design structure is matched with a speaker and microphone, coupled with internal capabilities such as a quad-core processor; 64 GB of storage, Wi-Fi, a GPS, and Bluetooth connectivity. Full efficiency is achieved through the Neptune Pocket, which can be used to charge the Hub on-the-go. Pre-orders can now be placed on Neptune’s official webpage.

Juggling Too Many Remotes? Try This Touch Screen

How many remotes does it take to watch television, stream Netflix or record your favorite show on DVR? The Ray Super Remote wants to declutter your coffee table and become the central nervous system of all of your home entertainment systems.

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The touch-screen device, released Tuesday, is designed to control TVs, cable boxes, DVRs, video game consoles and Internet streaming players such as Roku and Apple TV. What’s more, it runs on software  that learns viewers’ preferences so it can list programs suited to personal interests.

“As we looked at ways to reimagine TV, it seemed like the remote control needed the most help,” says David Skokna, CEO of New York-based Ray Enterprises. “We think we have a big opportunity to do something magical.”

Priced at $199, the remote won’t be released until May or June, but pre-orders are being accepted online at http://www.ray.co. It requires a Wi-Fi system and pay-TV boxes to work properly.

This isn’t the first attempt to build a smarter remote control. Logitech and a few other electronics companies have been making universal remote controls for years. More recently, a variety of mobile  apps have been offering ways to turn smartphones and tablets into multipurpose remote controls.

After nearly three years developing his device, Skokna is counting on the Ray remote’s versatility and intelligence to stand out from the other options on the market.

The Ray remote controls more than 200,000 devices and can run applications that will enable it to control other Internet-connected home appliances, such as Google’s Nest thermostat. The search and recommendation features are set up to eliminate the need to spend a lot of time looking for content. Users can tell the remote what kinds of programming interests them, such as soccer or comedy, so shows fitting those categories are automatically highlighted on the nearly 5-inch screen.

The remote’s battery lasts for about 10 days, and can be easily recharged in a power station that doubles as a holding tray.

The biggest question facing the Ray remote may be this: How many people are so frustrated with juggling multiple remote controls that they will be willing to spend $199 on another device?

Source

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