Gadgets, Game & Mobile News

Arm chips with Nvidia AI could change the Internet of Things

TechCrunch - Tue, 2018-03-27 14:05

Nvidia and Arm today announced a partnership that’s aimed at making it easier for chip makers to incorporate deep learning capabilities into next-generation consumer gadgets, mobile devices and Internet of Things objects. Mostly, thanks to this partnership, artificial intelligence could be coming to doorbell cams or smart speakers soon.

Arm intends to integrate Nvidia’s open-source Deep Learning Accelerator (NVDLA) architecture into its just-announced Project Trillium platform. Nvidia says this should help IoT chip makers incorporate AI into their products.

“Accelerating AI at the edge is critical in enabling Arm’s vision of connecting a trillion IoT devices,” said Rene Haas, EVP, and president of the IP Group, at Arm. “Today we are one step closer to that vision by incorporating NVDLA into the Arm Project Trillium platform, as our entire ecosystem will immediately benefit from the expertise and capabilities our two companies bring in AI and IoT.”

Announced last month, Arm’s Project Trillium is a series of scalable processors designed for machine learning and neural networks. NVDLA open-source nature allows Arm to offer a suite of developers tools on its new platform. Together, with Arm’s scalable chip platforms and Nvidia’s developer’s tools, the two companies feel they’re offering a solution that could result in billions of IoT, mobile and consumers electronic devices gaining access to deep learning.

Deepu Tallam, VP and GM of Autonomous Machines at Nvidia, explained it best with this analogy: “NVDLA is like providing all the ingredients for somebody to make it a dish including the instructions. With Arm [this partnership] is basically like a microwave dish.”

Aira’s new smart glasses give blind users a guide through the visual world

TechCrunch - Tue, 2018-03-27 13:30

When it comes to augmented reality technologies, visuals always seems to be a pretty essential part of most people’s definitions, but one startup is offering an interesting take on audio-based AR that also calls on computer vision. Even without integrated displays, glasses are still an important part of the company’s products, which are designed with vision-impaired users in mind.

Aira has built a service that basically puts a human assistant into a blind user’s ear by beaming live-streaming footage from the glasses camera to the company’s agents who can then give audio instructions to the end users. The guides can present them with directions or describe scenes for them. It’s really the combination of the high-tech hardware and highly attentive assistants.

The hardware the company has run this service on in the past has been a bit of a hodgepodge of third-party solutions. This month, the company began testing its own smart glasses solution called the Horizon Smart Glasses, which are designed from the ground-up to be the ideal solution for vision-impaired users.

The company charges based on usage; $89 per month will get users the device and up to 100 minutes of usage. There are various pricing tiers for power users who need a bit more time.

The glasses integrate a 120-degree wide-angle camera so guides can gain a fuller picture of a user’s surroundings and won’t have to instruct them to point their head in a different direction quite as much. It’s powered by what the startup calls the Aira Horizon Controller, which is actually just a repurposed Samsung smartphone that powers the device in terms of compute, battery and network connection. The controller is appropriately controlled entirely through the physical buttons and also can connect to a user’s smartphone if they want to route controls through the Aira mobile app.

Though the startup isn’t planning to part ways with their human assistants anytime soon, the company is predictably aiming to venture deeper into the capabilities offered by computer vision tech. The company announced earlier this month that it would be rolling out its own digital assistant called Chloe that will eventually be able to do a whole lot, but is launching with the ability to read so users can point their glasses at some text and they should be able to hear what’s written. The startup recently showed off a partnership with AT&T that enables the glasses to identify prescription pill bottles and read the labels and dosage instructions to users.

The company is currently in the testing phase of the new headset, but hopes to begin swapping out old units with the Horizon by June.

Apple doubles down on book creation with iPad app

TechCrunch - Tue, 2018-03-27 13:06

Apple’s ebook creation tools – first launched in 2012 – have long played an interesting if minor role in the ecosystem. While Amazon has the indie book world sewn up with Kindle Direct Publishing, the desktop-based iBooks Author has always been the multimedia alternative and a favorite for folks creating one-off texts. Although there are no clear numbers (the last announcement happened in 2015 when Apple claimed seeing 1 million new iBooks users per week), there is some evidence that it behooves indie authors to at least support the platform and with the new iPad Author tools it looks like creators – and educators – will be able to create and distribute their own iPad-based texts.

The app, which is part of Pages and is called Digital Books in new iOS parlance, allows users to create multimedia books just as they would create regular documents. The app also supports group editing and multiple templates allow you to flow images and text into the app seamlessly.

The new application is a direct attack on the current popular educational authoring tool, Google Docs. Anecdotally, the Brooklyn schools my kids attend all finish and turn in their homework via the schools own private Google accounts, a fact that probably keeps iOS educational team leads up at night. This move from a dedicated desktop app mostly aimed at indie authors and higher education to an iPad app aimed at small groups and, presumably, elementary and high school teachers who want to produce their own lightweight content, is a step in the right direction.

Nvidia suspends all autonomous vehicle testing

TechCrunch - Tue, 2018-03-27 12:55

Nvidia is temporarily stopping testing of its autonomous vehicle platform in response to last week’s fatal collision of a self-driving Uber car with a pedestrian. TechCrunch confirmed this with the company, which offered the following statement:

Ultimately [autonomous vehicles] will be far safer than human drivers, so this important work needs to continue. We are temporarily suspending the testing of our self-driving cars on public roads to learn from the Uber incident. Our global fleet of manually driven data collection vehicles continue to operate.

Reuters first reported the news.

The manually driven vehicles, to be clear, are not self-driving ones with safety drivers, but traditionally controlled vehicles with a full autonomous sensor suite on them to collect data.

Toyota also suspended its autonomous vehicle testing out of concern for its own drivers’ well-being. Uber of course ceased its testing operations at once.

Apple is finally selling the Space Gray mouse, keyboard and trackpad without an iMac Pro

TechCrunch - Tue, 2018-03-27 12:41

Surprise! You don’t have to pay $5,000 or more to get a Space Gray Magic Mouse 2, Magic Keyboard or Magic Trackpad 2. You can now buy those devices separately.

And because this is Apple, you’ll have to pay more to get the dark items. The Magic Mouse 2 costs $79 in silver and $99 in Space Gray.

The Magic Keyboard costs $129 for the silver version and $149 for the Space Gray one. This keyboard comes with a numeric keypad. The small version of the keyboard only has one color option. The trackpad costs the same price.

This news is going to make many eBay sellers really sad.

Apple iMac Pro mouse

Apple iMac Pro mouse

Apple introduces a cheap 9.7-inch iPad with Apple Pencil support

TechCrunch - Tue, 2018-03-27 11:27

Apple is holding a press conference right now in Chicago. And the company unveiled a brand new device — well, sort of. Apple is going to sell a brand new 9.7-inch iPad that works with the Apple Pencil.

Before today, only (more expensive) iPad Pro models could take advantage of the Pencil. Today’s new iPad will cost $329 for regular consumers. Schools can buy it for $299, just like the previous 9.7-inch iPad.

Based on the introduction video, it looks and works just like the existing 9.7-inch iPad. The bezels are identical and there’s a Touch ID sensor. Apple Pencil support is the only thing that seems new so far on the hardware front.

Existing iPad users will also get new features as Pages, Numbers and Keynote for iOS are all going to be updated to support the Apple Pencil. It’s surprising that those Apple apps haven’t supported the stylus yet, but now it’s possible.

This feature is going to be called Smart Annotation and is going to be available as a beta. Teachers could use it to grade papers for instance.

Apple showed some tech specs. This new iPad should have an LTE version, an 8MP camera, all the sensors you’d expect in an iPad and an A10 Fusion chip. This chip first appeared in the iPhone 7. This sounds like a nice upgrade from last year’s iPad but not a true departure from this product line.

Apple also said that there are 200,000 education apps in the App Store right now. The company is trying to position the iPad as a more capable device against Google Chromebooks. And in order to attract schools, Apple is offering 200GB per iCloud account instead of 5GB of free storage.

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Huawei’s P20 is a shiny, extravagant phone

TechCrunch - Tue, 2018-03-27 09:30

Huawei just unveiled its brand new flagship phone — the P20. It’s a solid, well-designed Android phone with a shiny design, an iPhone X-like notch and some extravagant features, such as not one, not two but three cameras on the back of the P20 Pro.

I’ve played with the phone for a few minutes yesterday, and I would consider it one of the most polished Android phones out there. It’s a good successor to the P10, a good alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S9 and a good incarnation of Android.

The P20 and P20 Pro

Huawei is launching two different phones. The P20 is the most affordable version of the devices. It features a 5.8-inch LCD display with an 18.7:9 aspect ratio. In other words, the screen is more or less just like the one on the iPhone X.

The P20 Pro is slightly larger with a 6.1-inch display. And, for the first time in a Huawei phone, it has an OLED display. This feature alone makes the P20 Pro much nicer than the P20.

Phone manufacturers shouldn’t even try selling a phone with a notch combined with an LCD display. It just looks bad.

Both phones have a glass back and an aluminum frame, just like the Samsung Galaxy S9. It doesn’t feel as heavy as the iPhone X with its stainless steel frame, but it feels nice in your hand.

It’s a bit surprising that Huawei opted for a glass back even though the P20 and P20 Pro don’t feature wireless charging. Many manufacturers switched to glass cases to facilitate wireless charging. With those new devices, you get the fingerprints on the back of the device without any additional feature.

There are five colors for the P20 and four colors for the P20 Pro. In addition to standard colors (black, midnight blue for both devices, champagne gold for the P20), Huawei has created two gradient colors that look great — twilight and pink gold.

Another thing that differentiates the Huawei P20 from other Android phones, Huawei has kept the fingerprint sensor on the front, below the display. Many manufacturers have put the fingerprint sensor on the back, which works fine if you have the phone in your hand. But if the phone is on the table, you have to pick it up to unlock it — you don’t have this issue with the P20.

Throwing more cameras at the problem

But the real craziness is on the back of the device. The P20 Pro has three camera sensors because two cameras weren’t enough.

There’s a 40 megapixels lens combined with a 20 megapixels monochrome lens and an 8 megapixels telephoto lens. All of this should help you zoom further, take portait photos and take super slow-motion videos at 960 frames per second.

While that sounds like an overkill, Huawei thinks this is the best physical representation of its work when it comes to photography.

The company automatically detects objects and scenes to adjust the camera settings. The selfie camera automatically enhances your skin so that you feel comfortable sharing selfies with your friends. Long exposures are automatically stabilized for those long dark winter nights.

I could go on and on with Huawei’s special camera features, but it’s hard to judge if it’s actually useful without using the phone for a few days.

The P20 is a bit more reasonable as it only has two rear cameras.

Let’s go through some fine prints. Both devices are powered by an ARM-based Kirin 970 system-on-a-chip designed by Huawei. It runs Android 8.1 with Huawei’s EMUI custom skin.

It comes with 128GB of internal storage, no microSD slot, no headphone jack and a USB Type-C port. There will be dual SIM versions of both devices.

The company says that you can unlock the device with your face, but it’s nowhere near as good as Face ID. It takes a 2D photo of your face so you can easily bypass it with a photo.

Trying to be different

When you see the shiny P20, it has a distinctive look. That hasn’t always been the case with Huawei phones. The company has chosen to embrace the notch. It makes the P20 look much different from the notch-less Samsung Galaxy S9.

In many ways, the P20 isn’t groundbreaking. It’s a faster, more capable smartphone. But it’s hard to keep innovating after more than a decade of smartphones. So the P20 feels like a solid Android phone.

The only issue is that you won’t be able to buy the P20 in the U.S. That’s why Huawei introduced its smartphone in Paris with videos featuring Orange, Vodafone, Telefonica and Deutsche Telekom.

TPCast unveils adapter to enable multiple wireless HTC Vive VR headsets

TechCrunch - Tue, 2018-03-27 09:00

Late last year, TPCast announced an adapter that cut the HTC Vive cords. The company is back with an enterprise version that delivers 2k content to several HTC Vive units with sub 2ms latency.

Unveiled at Nvidia’s GTC 2019 conference in San Jose, the product is aimed at VR uses cases where multiple people are sharing content across different VR headsets. The company says this includes medical, automotive, real estate, and training.

Like the consumer version, the units strap on the back of HTC Vive headsets and streams the content wirelessly from the connected PC to up to four VR headsets. At launch only the HTC Vive is supported though the company says it intends to support more models by the third quarter of 2018.

The unit, called the TPCAST Business Edition Wireless Adapter, will be available directly from TPCast at first and then available from retail channels. Pricing was not announced but it’s logical that it will cost significantly more than the $220 the company charges for the consumer version.

Watch Huawei unveil the P20 live right here

TechCrunch - Tue, 2018-03-27 07:02

Huawei is about to unveil its brand new flagship smartphone — the P20. While many details have already leaked, this is going to be an interesting launch. The conference will begin at 3 PM in Paris, 9 AM in New York, 6 AM in San Francisco.

The company chose to unveil its new device at the magnificent Grand Palais in Paris. This is the first time Huawei chooses Paris to launch a major new device. Carriers and retailers in the U.S. have stopped selling Huawei devices. That might be the reason why the press conference is happening in Europe.

Huawei is now the second largest phone manufacturer in the world behind Samsung and just slightly above Apple. The P10 was a great device, so it’s clear that many Android fans will pay attention to today’s launch.

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