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Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

Kinsight builds depth camera-based system to retrieve lost objects, Kinect sensors used

A project, still in the development stage, and known as Kinsight uses a depth camera-based system to retrieve lost objects in and around the house, like wallets and keys. Using Microsoft’s Kinect sensors, this project has been shown to work when used in real-life by two computer science researchers at a conference in China.
One of the researchers describes its use, in saying, “Imagine if we had a system that could keep account of all the objects that we interact with in our daily lives. By keeping track of the locations of the objects, we could build a smart search engine for our home that could answer queries like – where are my eye glasses, or my TV-remote, or my wallet?”. The researchers also understood that building a computer program to track several objects in real-time would be processor-intensive, and chose a ‘common sense’ approach instead.

This system tracks humans first and then locates objects whose locations might have changed in their immediate surroundings. It is based on the principle that it is only when humans move objects that their position changes.

But that’s not all – this project also involves the use of an algorithm that helped the computer learn the appearance of almost 48 objects, and where they were most likely to be found – amounting to almost 80 locations around a house.

The limitations of this project are mainly due to the Kinect sensors, which allows the system to see object at a distance of no more than 11 feet. Also, errors were possible if the objects were too small, placed far away, and transparent or located too close to each other. Some of the objects used in the demonstration were knives, forks, keys and quite singularly, even a Rubix cube.

Apples Response to Antenna Problem

Recent news states that Apple, Inc. will be giving away free cases to the buyers of the Apple iPhone 4 to resolve the reception issue whenever a user covers the outer antenna of the device. The CEO of Apple Inc. has already made an apology to the public and to the users of the recent iPhone stating that not all phones are perfect and they do not get perfect reception all the time. As of today, there are over 3 million people in the United States who have already bought he device and as recently released in Apple’s website, these people are entitled to a free case. But since the company cannot make Bumper cases for every buyer, they will let their customers choose from various case designs.

Apple has also stated that they will be giving refunds for those people who have already acquired a Bumper case. Aside from this, buyers who buy the latest iPhone up to the 30th of September 2010 will be entitled to a free case. This problem was brought about when people started complaining about their calls being dropped every time they held a certain part of the device. Further investigation revealed that the cause of these reception problems rooted from the gamble on Apple’s part when they decided to make a new design, making use of the outer parts of the phone as its antenna. This new design may have saved space for the sleek appearance of the phone, but it has caused a number of complaints.The Consumer Reports magazine has stated that in order to fix this problem, a covering should be placed in the antenna spot to fix the problem, hence the release of the free phone cases from Apple.

    So They Knew About It?

    Right now, Steve Jobs probably wishes he could act like an Ostrich and bury his head in the sand. These days, embarrassments seem to be the norm when it comes to anything Apple. First it was the AT&T breach on the iPad 3G(which can’t be blamed too much on Apple), then it was the Antenna issue on iPhone 4G and then the Exchange Active Server issue. These issues are bad enough for any company, but for one that sneers down at others and portrays itself as “untouchable” in quality and usability, these are disastrous.

    But what is worse is the new revelation that Apple was aware of one of these issues before the release of the iPhone 4G and did nothing about it.According to Bloomberg, a senior Apple engineer and antenna expert, Ruben Caballero warned the company about the exact antenna problem as far back as last year. Whether they hoped it would go away by ignoring it or whether they decided that the development process was too far gone to fix it is something we will never know. What we do know is that Apple has suffered a lot of bad press because of their obstinate nature; this purely refers to their statement of “hold it the right way” as a fix to the antenna problem.However in light of the Caballero issue, it seems that Apple is now ready to offer a better response.

    The company announced that they will be holding a special press conference on Friday. The aim is to respond to all the problems that their customers are facing. BUT, they did not state if a solution to the antenna issue will be presented or whether it will be discussed at all.

      iPhone 4G – Lost & found

      Losing a phone is traumatic enough for most people, but if you happen to work for Apple and the phone you lost was a prototype iPhone 4G, then you probably will have a heart attack. Gray Powell recently went to German beer garden to celebrate his 27th birthday and promptly lost his iPhone 4G. The person who found it apparently tried to locate the owner and upon failing to do so sold it to the gadget blog known as Gizmodo.

      According to Briam Lam, the editorial director, the iPhone 4G was soon remotely shut down by Apple. This led to the interesting question of what type of control Apple has in store for us with the 4G or even now with the devices we have. After the news broke, Apple sent a letter to Gizmodo asking them to return the device. The website complied after making a few observations.

      The prototype has a camera with a bigger lens at the back and includes a flash as well. A front facing camera was also present which hinted at video conferencing capabilities. An extra microphone was also spotted at the top of the device and this will probably be used for noise cancelling purposes.
      Although the device looked more “boxy” than the 3GS, it is widely acknowledged that this may not be the final design. There are also several conspiracy theories going on about the find, including one that suggests that this was a plant by Apple to generate interest in the upcoming product.

      The Battle for the Handhelds Heats Up

      The Apple iPad is doing well in sales; selling over 300,000 on the first day seems to be a good indication of its popularity. Another good indication is how much the hackers are interested in it. The device was jailbroken in less than a day giving Apple a bittersweet experience. The positive side is that the tech community and hackers want the device and the negative side is that Apple is starting to become a bit like Microsoft, having to release fixes on a fairly regular basis.

      The software used to hack the iPad seems to be a variant of “Spirit”, an application that is used to crack iPhones. Apple has not reacted to the reports of the jailbreak and it is not known if users of jailbroken iPads will be treated like some users who have jailbroken Apple products. In the past Apple has rendered devices useless and even banned some users from the Apple App Store.

      While all this drama ensues, HP decided to seize the moment and release a tiny sneak peek at the new Slate Tablet. The device in the video appears to be about the same size as the Apple product but in features it differs significantly. It has two cameras, one in front and one behind, and it also has USB and SD card support. None of these features are found on the iPad. The Slate runs Windows 7 as the OS and features touch controls and supports Adobe Flash and Air. The latter software is also not supported on the iPad.

      Hot & Cold iPads

      With over 300,000 units being sold on the very first day, the iPad is very hot at the moment. Whether Apple will hit it big with this product is still a big mystery. The initial boom in sales can be mainly attributed to the “techies and gadget freaks” factor that have to have the newest technology available. However, the future of the iPad solely rests on how relevant it can be to users and how word of mouth spreads, especially from the initial tier of buyers.

      The problem with the iPad, as perceived by many, is that it looks and functions like an iPod Touch. So the hesitation to go out and get an oversized iPod Touch is only natural. Add to this that there is still no multi-tasking support, no flash support and no camera and the appeal for Apple’s new über gadget begins to drop.

      Users need to give the product a chance. The iPad is a new approach at the Netbook and eBook reader market. What Apple is trying to do is give users a lightweight device with a large display which is uncluttered and familiar to use. The lack of certain features is, in Apple’s case, only to be expected; think about how long it took for them to include cut, copy and paste in the iPhone! While the debate runs strongly over the virtues and failures of the iPad, it is only prudent to wait and see what Apple offers us in the next iteration.

      Choosing an Internal Blu-Ray Drive

      If you hanker after quality in everything you do, then investing in a Blu-Ray drive is worth it. Although somewhat expensive, the quality that Blu-Ray offers is so far ahead of DVD that the price is justified. When it comes to choosing a Blu-Ray drive for your PC, it is the features you should look out for rather than the brand. There are also two technologies that you should know about as well.

      The first of these is High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP). HDCP is a content protection method which is verified all the way through up to the point of display. This means that the Blu-Ray drive, your graphics card AND your monitor have got to be HDCP compliant. If not, you will see a less defined image or in most cases, nothing at all.

      The other thing you should know about is High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI). HDMI is a new type of connector that facilitates high quality video and audio transfer. This cable connects your graphics card and to your monitor. The current HDMI standard is 1.3 which supports deep color, DVD Audio, lip-sync, extended gamut, Super audio CD, Dolby TrueHD bitstream and DTD-HD Master Audio bitstream.

      As you have obviously gathered by now, these are the main criteria you have to consider when buying a Blu-Ray. So when you do go out to get one make sure that:

      it supports HDMI 1.3
      it has the highest possible write speed
      it can write all other CD/DVD formats
      it has upgradeable firmware

      Once you have ensured that all these options available, it is down to your personal preference in picking a brand.

      A Brief History of Netbooks

      The first version of the netBook (also known as mini-notebooks) for general computing applications and for accessing web applications first appeared in 2007. These “primitive” models lacked many of the features of today. They had smaller screens and did not even have an optical drive. Nevertheless their potential was immediately recognized by the masses and lapped up.

      The predecessor of the netBook can be traced back to 1991 when the Psion-3 was released. The key factor that sets this particular model apart is that it included a dial-up modem. Since then, we have had the Toshiba Libretto 20, Casio Cassiopeia, Psion netBook, HP Jornada, OQO Model 01, Sony VAIO X505 and finally, the netBook that has really kicked off the phenomenon in 2007, the Asus Eee PC 701.

      The reason for the netBook’s popularity is simple. The reliance that people now have on the internet is great which means that people need to have access or to be plugged in to the World Wide Web wherever they are. With the advent of Wi-Fi and free internet access points popping up everywhere, it became normal for people to purchase laptops and carry them to whatever location they travelled to. Yet the problem of weight was a pressing one and this is where the netBook has won hands down.

      The netBook’s primary function is to be a device that provides access to the internet. Although mobile phones and handheld devices like the iPod Touch provide the same function, the netBook with a larger screen, QWERTY keyboard and now with an optical drive is a clear winner for anyone who needs to be in touch with the world without being hampered by the limits of a tiny device.

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