Saturday, 30 June 2012

 Canon has announced a comprehensive firmware upgrade for its (almost) three year-old 18-megapixel EOS 7D DSLR camera. An impressive list of new features includes higher maximum RAW burst rate, in-camera editing, user-definable Auto ISO and support for the company's GP-E2 GPS Receiver.
An upgrade to firmware v2 for the EOS 7D will add the same memory management algorithms from the flagship EOS 1 series cameras to improve the camera's continuous shooting capabilities. It will also extend the maximum RAW buffer to a new high of 25 RAW files or 130 JPEGs, or 17 consecutive RAW+JPEG images.
Photographers will be able to begin post-production using the camera itself, which will be able to process RAW files and correct artefacts such as peripheral illumination, distortion and chromatic aberration. Users will be able to adjust white balance, sharpness and Picture Style adjustments immediately after a shot is taken, with modifications being saved as new image files to preserve the originals, and resizing of JPEG images will be possible without needing to head for the PC or Mac.
A new image rating facility will allow for the filtering of large volumes of images in-camera, with the rating stored in the metadata. The rating information is compatible with a range of editing software including Canon Digital Photo Professional, Apple Aperture, Adobe Lightroom and Bridge.
The upgrade will add the ability to limit the maximum ISO sensitivity to any point within the ISO400 - 6400 range for greater control over exposure, and also the ability to adjust the ISO Auto range from 100 - 3200 to 100 - 6400. In the same vein as the new EOS 5D Mark III, the firmware upgrade will cater for file name customization. Time zone settings, faster scrolling of magnified images and a quick control screen during playback will feature, too.
The camera's audio capabilities will also receive some welcome attention, benefiting from a digital wind-cut filter and similar 16-bit digital stereo sound capabilities as the EOS 5D Mark II, sampled at broadcast-quality 48 KHz, with manual control of audio levels.
The new free-to-download (and install) firmware upgrade will be available from early August, 2012.
 Autonomous vehicles and personal transportation pods featured quite heavily in our recent round-up of the Top Ten railways of the future, and the JPods concept from Bill James has both. At the center of the scheme is a driverless, on-demand electric four to six seat vehicle suspended beneath an overhead rail structure, which is topped with photovoltaic panels. A user would let the JPod know the desired location via a touchscreen interface and the vehicle's networked computer system would determine the best route and motor there without further input from the passenger.
They may well have become economic linchpins that heavily influence our cost of living but unfortunately, as much as many of us might like to believe otherwise, both coal and oil are finite resources. James is of the opinion that an oil famine is just around the corner and that the time is ripe for a radical shift to sustainable transport. His solution: the JPods system.
The JPod is described as "a 500 pound (226 kg) vehicle that can carry 1200 pounds (544 kg) of people and/or cargo at about 260 passenger-miles per gallon (0.90 l/100km)." Similar to subway trains, the computer-chauffeured pods pick up power from a third rail using brushes. Encoders in the wheels and sensors in the track allow for each vehicle to be programmed to avoid close proximity to one another.
The design has the potential to offer similar levels of mobility as cars without wasting all that valuable time sitting in congestion or trying to find a parking spot, and the computer system removes the need for users to work out exactly how to get to a destination by automatically handling any route planning.
Unlike the Pininfarina and Vectus PRT system and the ULTra PRT electric transport pods we covered recently, JPods will be suspended underneath the rail track structure. The main advantage with this idea is that the 4-m (13-ft) wide upper surface of the structure is available for the installation of PV panels, predicted to provide between 5,000 and 30,000 vehicle-miles of power per mile of rail per day. At JPod stations, the width of the PV panels would be increased to between six and 10 meters wide (19 - 32 feet).
A short rail working demo unit has been built to demonstrate various operational aspects of the JPods concept and, while it may not be the most attractive prototype in the world, it is functional. James admits that "aesthetics really matter, but function and getting started is critical. Things made in a garage look like they were made in a garage. They work." It features two 1-watt motors fitted to a bogie that sits inside the overhead rail. He told us that production JPods are likely to have motors of 700 watts to 6.5 kilowatts, depending on need, and will run at speeds of up to 30 mph (48 km/h) in both directions, using about 200 watt-hours of energy per mile.
"The ET3 provides personal on-demand mobility between cities in a high speed network that uses one fiftieth the energy of cars, passenger trains, buses or airplanes," he said. "JPods provides personal on-demand mobility in commuter-range transport of people and cargo using one tenth the energy of car, passenger trains and buses. JPods cut the cost from about 56 (US) cents a mile for cars to about 4 cents a mile."
For JPod users that need to get to a location that's not covered by the rail infrastructure, James proposes developing vehicles that can operate off-rail, perhaps by clamping the chassis onto a drivetrain "similar to how containers attach to railcars and trucks."
The JPods concept is, for the moment, just that: a concept. James is looking to start with small construction rollouts at shopping malls, universities, theme parks, airports and the like, and once the technology is seen to have proven itself (although the various technologies necessary for solar-powered rail networks have already been in use for some time), it's hoped that larger installations will follow. He believes that the "barrier to implementation is central planning, not technology."
"JPods are simple, unbelievably simple," said James. "But we can scale simplicity. We are pretty well set to build. There are always things we can learn, but the drawings we have are good to 110 mph (177 km/h) winds, earthquakes and the normal stuff you have to do for best practice behavior. I have a database of 35,000 service academy graduates I can call. Many will rally to build in their communities. We have a very scaleable approach that will support a pretty significant rollout."
James told us that a JPods system would operate round-the-clock and initially be powered from the grid and natural gas generators but the long term plan is to convert and store the solar energy as synthetic gas, as part of a move away from centralized supply to distributed power networks.
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 Google released a new version of Android, Android version 4.1 at the Google I/O 2012. The Android version 4.1 OS is called “Jelly Bean”.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean would start being rolling out from mid-July 2012. Along with the Jelly Bean, Google also launched “Project Butter”. Project Butter would make the touch experience on Jelly Bean super smooth.
The total touch experience of Jelly Bean is very smooth. The main reason for this is that the frame rate of Jelly Bean has been increased to 60 FPS (frames per second). The screen has also been made more sensitive by implementing vsync and triple buffering. The screen has been made very responsive and you would be amazed to see the responsiveness of the touch screen on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Google demonstrated the difference between Android Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich by running them both together at the same time. Attendees could easily make out that Jelly Bean was much more responsive and faster than Android ICS. Developers were also given access to new tool called Systrance. With the help of this tool, developers could easily know what rendering engine is actually up to.
Another difference between Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich is that Jelly Bean would give you Sharper Notifications. You will find all the notifications at one place using the slide down notification in Android Jelly Bean. You can also directly call back or text the person, if you have received a missed call directly from the widget of notifications. Same is true with the Gmail messages. You never have to actually switch between different apps.
Also, with Android v4.1 Jelly Bean, you will have access to Google Now. Using Google Now, you can directly know which route to take while walking or which restaurant to pick up for lunch or dinner. Jelly Bean will have support for NFC – Near Field Communication with Android Beam. So users just need to hold their devices to share anything like videos, music or photos. Along with all these, there is also a smarter Keyboard which has the capability to predict words. Smarter keyboard will also come integrated with Android Jelly Bean. There is also much improvement made in the Camera App with which you can now review your photos in a much faster way.
All the above features sound simply great. But when does the official version of Android version 4.1 Jelly Bean roll out? Google would start OTA updates with Motorola Xoom, Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S. All these would be available from the mid of July, 2012. As of now SDK is available to developers.
Looks like Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is the nest version of Android released till date. We all are eager to get hands to it. Aren’t you?

Friday, 29 June 2012

 It has been a busy week for Google, but alongside the unveiling of the Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q streaming media player and providing more details on Project Glass, the search giant still found time in its diary to release Chrome for iOS, bringing features such as Incognito and tab syncing across devices to owners of the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch running iOS 4.3 or later.
Unfortunately, due to Apple's restrictive policies on third-party apps, Google Chrome is restricted to using a slower version of the website rendering engine Webkit than Safari, thus resulting in a less speedy overall experience than we might have hoped from the typically lightning fast browser. In addition, Chrome cannot be set as the default iOS web browser - at least, not until a Jailbreak extension such as Browser Changer is updated to incorporate the new browser. Still, it's not all bad news, and those users willing to take a moderate hit in perceived browsing speed will appreciate some compelling features in the form of Incognito Mode, tab and bookmark syncing across devices (with the use of a Google ID) and address bar searc
 How can you possibly keep track of how much you're "winning" if you don't have something to keep score on? The simply named Portable Scoreboard is a scoreboard for the new generation of winning. Whatever your game is, the digital scorekeeper gives you a variety of ways of tallying up - everything from old fashioned push buttons to an open-source build that allows for external sensors and custom programming.
As much as nice folks tell us that it's about having fun or playing the right way, that doesn't always ring true in the real world. When you're in a heated 3 a.m. game of drunken foosball with your roommate, no one cares how you're playing the game - it's about who's going to bed a champion and who's staying awake practicing until morning while crying into his warm beer. Problem is, when you're in the middle of a drunken foosball match, sometimes you forget to tally a point here or there and totally lose track of who's actually in the lead.
Bob Baddeley had that exact experience, many times from the sounds of it. Instead of doing what the average guy would do - argue, throw things, declare his own victory and storm away in anger - he did something more productive: he designed his own portable smart-scoreboard.
"I like playing games and sports, but I don't like when everyone forgets the score," Baddeley explains on Kickstarter. "I wanted something I could use for all my sports that could travel with me and not get in the way of the game. When I bring a prototype to places, people feel like the game is more important and pro, and they rely on the scoreboard almost immediately."
Baddeley didn't just ape one of the existing portable scoreboards on the market; he built an updated model. It gives users a lot of flexibility in what they keep score of and how they control the score. It has external buttons on top for manual score keeping, a remote control, and Bluetooth and USB for keeping score via smartphone/computer. It can keep track of either score or time, and its large, bright digits are easy to see, even if it's across the court. At 18 x 10 x 2 inches (46 x 25 x 5 cm) and 2 lbs. (907 g), it's small enough to fit in a backpack for easy transport. Hang it on the wall; prop it up on its kickstand; or mount it on a tripod.
Now, the problem with keeping track of score isn't necessarily that there isn't a tool for doing so. Many games, including foosball and air hockey, have built-in scoring systems. The problem is more that players forget to actually use them. While a big, bright scoreboard is harder to overlook, it won't necessarily solve the problem altogether. That's why Baddeley equipped the Portable Scoreboard with ports for external switches. End users can customize the scoreboard for their games of choice. Baddeley mentions adding things like under-table switches for ping pong scoring or a waterproof sensor mat for tracking swimming laps. 
To give the Portable Scoreboard life beyond sports, the open API allows users to develop their own uses, such as displaying website hits, professional sports scores or Twitter followers. The accompanying website supports a developer community, where users can research and share information about building switches and designing software for the device.
Baddeley has already built a few prototypes and says that he's been working with some Chinese manufacturers on the design. He had an ambitious Kickstarter goal of $200,000 for ordering components, prepping for manufacturing and paying for licensing fees, but subsequently canceled the campaign. Baddeley admits that the campaign was a bit hurried and tells us that he expects to refine his effort and relaunch on Kickstarter within about a month.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

 Google kicked off its three day I/O event at the Moscone Center today with several announcements, the most significant of which may well be a 7-inch Android-based tablet named the Nexus 7. Built by Taiwanese hardware manufacturer Asus and offered at a price of just US$199 for the 8 GB storage model, the Nexus 7 is already available for pre-order for consumers based in the US, UK, Canada and Australia.
Details are still pouring in, but Google has stated that the Nexus 7 will be the first tablet to ship with the newest iteration of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which contains apps such as Gmail, YouTube, Google+ and the Chrome browser. On the hardware side, Google's slate boasts 1 GB RAM and a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, plus some other goodies like NFC, GPS, a gyroscope and an accelerometer.
Here's the full run-down of the specs:
Display and camera
7" 1280x800 HD display (216 ppi)
Back-lit IPS display
Scratch-resistant Corning glass
1.2MP front-facing camera
8 GB or 16GB internal storage
1 GB RAM
Quad-core Tegra 3 processor
Connectivity
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth
Micro USB
Battery
4325 mAh (providing a reported 8 hours of active use)
Dimensions and weight
198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm (7.8 x 4.7 x 0.41 in)
340g (11.9 oz)
Features
Microphone
NFC (Android Beam)
Accelerometer
GPS
Magnetometer
Gyroscope
Pricing for the Nexus 7 starts at just $199 for the base 8 GB model and $249 for the larger 16 GB storage version, with $25 of Google Play credit thrown in for good measure. Orders are open now in the Google Play store for residents of the US, UK, Canada and Australia, with a reported shipping estimate of mid-July.
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 A new mineral, named panguite, has been discovered by Caltech researchers examining the Allende meteorite that broke up in the skies over northern Mexico on February 8, 1969. Panguite, an oxide of titanium, becomes the ninth new mineral to be discovered in the meteorite by the team since 2007.
Panguite was discovered using an electron microscope, examining what is known as an ultra-refractory inclusion, a scientific term for the oldest, least volatile objects within meteorites. Panguite's discoverers have therefore concluded that the mineral would have been one of the first solid materials in the solar system and is therefore in the order of 4.5 billion years old.
"Panguite is an especially exciting discovery since it is not only a new mineral, but also a material previously unknown to science," said Caltech's Chi Ma, an author of the paper in which the discovery was described.
Occurring in grains only 1.8 µm to 500 nm in size, the panguite samples were too minuscule for researchers to determine properties such as its color, hardness or refractive index. However, they were able to determine that it is opaque, and calculated its density at 3.746 g per cubic cm (2.165 ounces per cubic inch).
The scientists named the material for Pangu, the creator of Chinese mythology whose cleaving of Yin from Yang with his mighty axe created the Earth and sky. The name has been accepted by The Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association.
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 iBall upgraded its Andi Series with the launch of two new Android smartphones Andi 3e and Andi 4d. Both these phones Andi 3e and Andi 4d are powered by Gingerbread Operating System. You can get Andi 3e and andi 4d at a cost around Rs.6,990 and Rs.9,490.
Andi 3e and Andi 4d smartphones are going to join the already available dual sim phones Andi and Andi 2 in the market.
Andi 3e features 3.2” Capacitive Display which runs on 650MHz Processor. It has a Dual SIM Connectivity, and a Rear end Camera and Front Camera. iBall fixed Andi 3e’s price at Rs.6,990 while Andi 4d’s price is fixed at Rs.9,490.
Andi 4d features a 4” Display which runs on 1GHz Processor. Like Andi 3e, Andi 4d also has a 5MP Rear end Camera and also a Front Camera with Dual SIM Connectivity.
iBall Andi 3e – Features:-

Android 2.3.5
3.2” Display
650MHz processor
3.2MP Rear Camera & a Front Camera
16GB MicroSD card
3G Video Calling
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
iBall Andi 4d – Features:-
Android 2.3
4” Display
1GHz Processor
5MP Camera & a Front camera
3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS
Dual-SIM
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Sunday, 24 June 2012

Rumours are buzzing around that HTC will launch its 3 Windows phone 8 models namely HTC Zenith, HTC Accord and HTC Rio. Most probably these 3 smartphones are expected to launch in October.
HTC Zenith being a top class model will have 4.7” 720p Super LCD 2 Display. It will have an 8MP Camera and HSPA+. HTC Zenith will sport a Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Processor.
HTC Accord is mid range phone which will a 4.3” Super LCD 2 Display with 720p Resolution. It will have Dual Core Qualcomm MSM8260A Snapdragon S4 Processor with 1 GB of RAM. HTC Accord will also have 8MP Camera with 1080p Video Recording, 42Mbps HSPA+, and NFC Support.
HTC Rio is a lower end device which has a 4” Capacitive Display with WVGA 800×480 p Resolution. It also has a 512MB RAM, 5 MP Camera, 14.4Mbps HSPA and 720p Video Capture. Though HTC Rio is a low-end device but it features a premium power with Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8227 S4 with a dual core chip.
HTC Rio and HTC Accord are expected to arrive in October while HTC Zenith will launch at quarter end.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

 The new agreement puts some official ink on a working relationship that's been in effect for more than 20 years. Bowler will get access to Land Rover components and technical support. In turn, it will recognize the help by designating its vehicles "Powered by Land Rover." Besides the advertising, the partnership will allow Land Rover engineers to hone their skills and expertise on Bowler's extreme off-roaders, bringing back insights to the Land Rover brand. The announcement mentions that Bowler will borrow powertrain and chassis components, specifically.
"Bowler vehicles demonstrate the kind of performance, ride, handling and chassis dynamics that a vehicle powered by Land Rover is capable of when taken to the extreme and liberated of most practical constraints," Land Rover brand experience director Mark Cameron explains in a statement. "For over twenty years, Land Rover's technology has powered Bowlers on some of the toughest and most grueling off-road sporting events in the world."
Mentioned in conjunction with the partnership, the EXR S debuts as Bowler's first road-going model. Bowler says that it developed the model in response to consumer demand for a road version of the EXR rally car and claims that it offers the same handling, strength and weight distribution of the EXR. It's built atop the same hydro-formed base chassis as the EXR and includes an MSA-approved tubular roll cage. It also shares its composite body panels, body layout and some components with its burly older brother.
Thanks to the lack of FIA T1 regulations, the EXR S is considerably more powerful than the EXR. The supercharged Range Rover 5.0-liter V-8 engine spits out 550 bhp and 705 Nm (520 lb ft) of torque in EXR S tune. That engine is mated to the same six-speed ZF automatic transmission with E differential as is used in the Range Rover Sport 5.0-liter V-8 Supercharged. It can hit 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 4.2 seconds and keep accelerating up to 155 mph (249.5 km/h).
As a road car, the EXR S gets a more civilized interior with leather seats, climate control and an entertainment system. Bowler is careful to point out, however, that the focus is on driving and performance, not luxury. Bowler will debut the EXR S at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which gets underway on June 28. The gentrified rally rat will cost £155,000
 After a rather lackluster showing at this year's E3, Nintendo took to the web to announce the newest model in its hand-held line up, the 3DS XL. Featuring 4.88 inch (12.4 cm) 3D display and improved battery life, the 3DS XL is set to launch around the globe Q3 2012.
The 3DS XL is slated to launch a year and a half after the release of the original 3DS, and beyond the increase in screen size and battery life, there isn't much separating the XL from its predecessor. Despite Nintendo's release of the Circle Pad Pro, the unit lacks a second analog stick. Interestingly, Nintendo has stated that the 3DS XL will sell without a basic AC adapter, citing a goal to keep costs down, yet the system still comes with a 4-GB SD card.
This isn't the first time Nintendo has released a larger variant of a portable console. The DSi XL featured extra large screens, and was aimed at the elderly and those who have trouble focusing on small displays. However, the 3DS XL console's primary selling point is still the stereoscopic 3D display, and those with eye troubles aren't exactly the target audience. Nintendo is making no bones about the larger screen offering an enhanced gaming experience to all.
The 3DS XL is priced at US$200 will launch on July 28 in Europe, August 19 in North America (alongside New Super Mario Bros 2), and August 23 in Australia and New Zealand.
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Friday, 22 June 2012

 Unitedly RIM and Porsche Design launched the luxurious smartphone BlackBerry Porsche Design P’9981 in India. The Canadian company RIM (Research In Motion) combined with the sports brand Porsche design to make this new phone. RIM is renowned for its business Playbook Tablet and smartphones. Finally this smartphone reached India, Earlier it was launched in many different countries.
BlackBerry Porsche Design P’9981 is backed by a powerful hardware with 1.2 GHz Qualcomm MSM8655 SoC processor and with Liquid Graphics Technology, which gives a higher response in its touch experience. This smartphone includes 768 MB RAM and 8 GB Internal Memory capacity which is expandable upto 32 GB via a MicroSD card. It has a 2.8” Touchscreen Display with 640 x 360 p Resolution and 5 MP Camera which can record 720p HD videos. BlackBerry Porsche Design P’9981 also has an ‘Optical Trackpad’ and a Qwerty Keypad with 35 backlit keys.
BlackBerry Porsche Design P’9981 operates on Blackberry OS 7.0 which can be upgraded to 7.1 version. It has certain specific features like 3G ,Dual band Wi-Fi 802.11n, in-built NFC support. This device is packed up with a 1230 mAh Battery. 
BlackBerry Porsche Design P’9981 is priced at a luxurious budget of Rs.1,39,000 in India.
RIM India’s MD Mr. Sunil Dutt said, “We will not be selling this through the traditional channels. The discerning customers can order their phones to begin with and later on, we will have select outlets like Luxe watch and accessories showroom located on the high streets”.
 GM is looking at ways in which semi-autonomous driving technologies, which could be available in production vehicles by mid-decade, will influence driver behavior. Because the technologies set to be introduced in the coming years are designed to lighten the driver's load in certain circumstances but aren't advanced enough to let them "tune out" completely, GM is attempting to ascertain which technologies will help ensure the safety of vehicles with future autonomous systems.
For the research, GM and its partners looked at the "human factors" of semi-autonomous vehicles. "The focus was on how people might change their behaviors from what they normally do when they drive cars," GM's Research Program Manager Jeremy Salinger tells Gizmag. "How people behave when they start experiencing vehicles that do more of the driving for them."
GM conducted the studies at a driving simulator at Indiana University - Purdue University in Indianapolis, and on a test track in Michigan, in which the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) was also involved. Researchers observed participants to examine a driver's visual attention in hands-on steering and automated steering situations, both with full-speed range adaptive cruise control engaged.
When drivers were engaged in non-driving activities (think texting), the researchers observed that the participants split their visual attention between the roadway and secondary tasks by making relatively frequent but brief off-road glances. Salinger points out that, even in semi-autonomous cars, it's necessary to remain focused on driving, and on the road. "This is not a time that you can start reading a book," he said.
GM and other auto manufacturers are at work adding sensors and automated actions to cars, but the designers are very conscious of the fact that drivers still need to keep an eye on the road to monitor the car and its safety. GM had to ask, "What does it take to encourage drivers to continue to pay attention to the roadway and traffic?" Salinger said.
"One of the things it takes to manage a driver's attention is to keep track of where the driver is paying attention. How much do you monitor the driver's behavior and encourage the driver to pay attention," says Salinger.
The study showed that when automated steering is in operation, advanced driver monitoring and assistance features, such as Forward Collision Alert, which visually and audibly warn drivers when a collision is imminent, increases drivers’ focus on the road ahead by 126 percent.
When self-driving cars first become available to the public, there will likely be monitors in place to ensure human attention is directed in the right place. "I'm certain that it will require the driver to pay just as much attention as they do now … to keep track of the vehicle and respond if something happens that the vehicle is not capable of handling," Salinger says.
With Google experimenting with autonomous cars and Nevada implementing regulations for them, it's important for auto manufacturers to look at how loosening the grip on the wheel affects drivers.
This isn't GM's first experience with self-driving vehicles, with the company having created the EN-V concept vehicle, a two-seat self-driving vehicle for urban mobility. Self-driving features, however, are moving from concept vehicles to the production line. The 2013 models of the Cadillac XTS and ATS sedans will include a Driver Assist Package, which includes features such as full-speed range adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.
"Driver assist features such as adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking are paving the way to self-driving automobiles," says Salinger. "Some things are coming out this year that are basically the precursors to allowing cars to drive themselves." These technologies focus on safety features, warning systems and crash avoidance and are the stepping stones that will allow future cars to drive autonomously. 
"There is going to be a progression of features that will become available over the next number of years that will allow the drivers to give the car more control," says Salinger. "Most car companies will understand that customers, in many cases, want to drive themselves. In situations where driving isn't more enjoyable, they will let the car do more of the work." Salinger offers examples such as the car taking over in inclement weather, or elderly drivers who might benefit from a car that will get them where they want to go safely.
“At GM, we recognize that autonomous vehicles will require robust safeguards,” adds John Capp, GM director of Global Active Safety Electronics and Innovation. “By studying driver behavior in automated driving scenarios we are better able to identify the types of driver assistance and safety features that automated cars will need.”

Ireland-based B9 Shipping has started work on a full-scale demonstration vessel as part of its goal to design the modern world’s first 100 percent fossil fuel-free cargo sailing ships. Unlike most conventional large cargo vessels, which are powered by bunker fuel, B9 Shipping’s cargo ship would employ a Dyna-rig sail propulsion system combined with an off-the-shelf Rolls-Royce engine powered by liquid biomethane derived from municipal waste.
The company says all of the technologies that will be used in its cargo vessels are already proven and readily available. The Dyna-rig sail system was originally conceived in the 1960s by German hydraulics engineer Wilhelm Prolls and was first used by Italian shipbuilders Perini Navi in its 289 ft (88 m) clipper, The Maltese Falcon, which made its maiden voyage in 2006. The free standing and free rotating system has no rigging and comprises multiple relatively small sails that are operated electronically from the bridge. This allows them to be trimmed quickly to maximize wind power and turned out of the wind in the event of sudden squalls.
The Dyna-rig sail system is expected to provide around 60 percent of the vessel’s thrust, with the remainder coming from a biogas-powered Rolls Royce engine. The biogas will be produced by the anaerobic digestion (AD) of food waste and other commercial and industrial organic waste. B9 Shipping’s sister company, B9 Organic Energy, has recently sunk money into a 50,000 tonne per annum AD plant in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, to demonstrate the biofuel production technology.
To demonstrate the engineering and economic validity of its fossil fuel-free cargo ship design, B9 Shipping has started work on a full-scale demonstration vessel, wile a testing program, which is set to begin this month, is being conducted at the University of Southampton’s Wolfson Unit for Marine Technology and Industrial Aerodynamics (WUMTIA). This will involve tow tank and wind tunnel research using a scale model to identify a basic hull design and how it interacts with the Dyna-rig system. 
The testing program will also examine the calibration of the thrust from the sailing rig with various hull shapes to ensure the maximum efficiencies in a wide range of wind and sea conditions, whilst conforming to the loading, unloading and port constraints of commercial cargo vessels. Once the towing tank and wind tunnel testing has been completed and the data validated, the company will undertake an economic analysis of the designs later in the year.
"We are designing B9 Ships holistically as super-efficient new builds transferring technology from offshore yacht racing combined with the most advanced commercial naval architecture,” says Diane Gilpin, Director of B9 Shipping. “We're combining proven technologies in a novel way to develop 'ready-to-go' future-proof and 100 per cent fossil fuel free ships.”

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

 A 3D printer that pops out steaming hot burritos before your very eyes? That sounds like the plot of the next stoner movie turned cult hit. In this case, though, it's actually the thesis project of an NYU masters student. And it's fast becoming a reality.
The first thing we learned about the Burrit0bot is that it needs to analyzed on several levels to be truly appreciated. As the thesis project of recent NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program graduate Marko Manriquez, the idea wasn't conceived as a fast way of preparing a delicious, steaming Mexican meat roll to stifle the midnight munchies. It was far more academic in origin.
"Burritob0t invites critical questions about the food we regularly consume, particularly in regards to fast food (labor practices, environmental consequences, nutritional value)," the Burritob0t website explains. "Mexican fast food is emblematic of the assembly line: it is mass-produced in an era of modern consumables, appropriating a false authenticity. Burritob0t, in turn, aims to encourage dialogue about how and where our food is grown, methods of production, environmental impact, cultural appropriation, and, perhaps most importantly: what our food means to us." 
Yeah, yeah, all that sociological talk is really deep and stimulating and all, but we're still talking about a machine that spits out piping hot burritos on command, right? Kind of, but not exactly. The Burritob0t doesn't actually bake your burrito from scratch. What it does is allow you to mix your ideal combination of different types of salsa, guacamole and crema, and extrude it out onto your tortilla. You can control the mixture by way of an accompanying smartphone app.
Unfortunately, there's not much mention of the meat, beans and rice that really make up the bulk of a good burrito. They'd have to be liquified into a fine paste to make it through the machine, anyway, so it's either sloppy, dripping wrap o' mush or add the actual substance on yourself.
The Burritob0t doesn't appear fully functional just yet, so our dreams of a burrito-making machine-servant popping out savory meat treats at our beck and call may never see fruition. Manriquez does mention that he plans to demonstrate the device at a live event sometime this summer.
There are no plans to sell the unit directly to consumers or to a manufacturer with the means to produce it. Instead, Manriquez is focusing on the creative and philosophical aspects of the endeavor. The project is entirely open-sourced, however, and Manriquez explains the build in detail on the Burritob0t website in hopes that end users will build their own and join in the experiment. He also mentions that people wishing to commission a model for home or business can contact him directly through the website. 
Manriquez plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in July to raise more money to develop the Burritob0t and experiment with conceptualizations of food and man. He also aims to create an exhibition in which a series of bots make a five-course meal, so there may be some other foodie bots on the way.
 Here's a novel take on the home residence: a block of eight apartments in Japan designed exclusively for the motorcyclist. The C-shaped block, named NE apartments, envelops a central courtyard, optimally shaped for the greatest apartment volume while providing a sufficient turning circle for motorbikes. At ground level are small garages, one per apartment, in which residents can lock up their motorcycles. Theses garages also serve as the entrances to each apartment, with stairs up to the living quarters above.
Seven walls and a slab make up the apartment block's reinforced concrete skeleton, the walls extending radially, perpendicular to the courtyard, vertically separating each of the apartments. Because the exterior facade walls are not load-bearing, the architects were free to maximize its thermal properties, and include continuous strips of glazing running the entire length of the building.
Phtography of the apartment interiors reveal incredibly efficient if compact living spaces for one, and the interior layout of the block as a whole is a veritable rabbit warren of a design.
It's tough to describe the interior arrangement because it appears, from the model at least, that no two apartments are the same. Some are larger than others. Some appear to occupy two rather than the full three floors. 
Bathrooms often double up with the garages at ground level, which saves space by elimintating the need to run pipes vertically through the apartment, but does mean residents will share quality getting-to-know-you time with their choppers.
Located in Suginami, Tokyo, NE apartments were a design collaboration between Japanese architects Yuji Nakae, Hirofumi Ohno and Akiyoshi Takagi. They've been up and in use for several years now, but are currently riding a wave of web interest. Despite their age, we felt the combination of biking interest and architectural interest made this one to mention.
 From the Jetsons to Back To The Future, hopping onto or into a personal flying vehicle has been on the engineering "To Do" list for a good many years. We've seen a number of noteworthy attempts at defying gravity and taking to the skies here at Gizmag (many of which are featured in this roundup from 2010) and now another possible addition to that growing collection has landed on our desk. Known simply as the Flying Bike (or FBike), this collaborative effort from a bunch of Czech companies and enthusiasts is still very much in the early stages of development, but the proposal is to fit a number of electrically-driven propellers to the custom frame of a two-wheeler that will allow the pilot to rise above the traffic for as long as the batteries hold out.
The FBike project began in the autumn of 2011 with a proposal to create an e-bike, but enthusiasts from Czech companies Technodat, Evektor and Duratec set their sights on loftier designs instead. Inspired by the stories of Jules Verne and Czech author Jaroslav Foglar (who penned a trilogy of works featuring a flying bike invented by a young apprentice locksmith), project members Jan Cinert, Jindrich Vítu, Martin Dršticka, Michal Krivan, Filip Plešinger, Milan Duchek and Jozef Lajda have been using 3D modeling tools from Dassault Systèmes to create a number of concept renderings of a multicopter bicycle (think somewhere between Chris Malloy's Hoverbike, the Gamera human-powered helicopter and Larry Neal's Super Sky Cycle). It would operate exactly like a normal bike while on the ground, but would also be capable of vertical take-off and landing - and of course, flight.
An early design featured eight propellers mounted to the bike, but two of the stabilizing propellers have been sacrificed to cut down the weight of vehicle. Calculations by FBike engineers have shown that four 10kW compact brushless electric motors for the 1300 mm (51-inch) diameter front and back twin propellers surrounded by composite casing and two 3.5kW stabilized motors for the 650 mm (25.5-inch) blades at the side should be enough for vertical lift-off (which will be performed from a static position rather than while on the move) and flight.
"Theoretical power needed to lift a weight of 5-grams (0.17 ounces) is about 1-watt," explained Vítu. "We have in total 47kW of power (and the motor can be overloaded for a short time), so theoretically the maximum lifting force is 2350N (235kg/518 pounds). The flight weight has been determined as 170kg (374 pounds), including the pilot, the difference being the losses (efficiencies of the components) and some for a power backup."
The current design features 50Ah Lithium-polymer batteries positioned below the crossbar of the roughly mountain bike-shaped light alloy frame. They're arranged in ten accumulator blocks positioned one above another, each containing 14 cells connected in series, and will weigh more than 20 kg (44 pounds).
When on the ground, the FBike will have all of the features commonly seen on everyday pedal bikes. The side props and telescopic stabilizer, though, can be rotated 90 degrees to provide the rider with a boost if needed. According to Vítu, the four main motors will be disconnected from the batteries in this mode. When the rider pulls over to prepare for take-off, the side props are returned to the horizontal position to ensure maximum force is applied to lift the bike off the ground, and telescopic dampers are extended for balance. The rider's feet will be placed on supports during the flight.
Vítu also told us that gyroscopes and accelerometers housed in an onboard control unit will keep stability in check, automatically adjusting the speed of each propeller for a smooth and steady flight. As there are to be no mechanical parts for controlling the flight, he says that forward motion of the vehicle while in the air would be achieved as with a helicopter. It's expected that the FBike will be capable of a flight time of three to five minutes, or an assisted ride time on terra firma of between 30 and 50 minutes per charge. 
"We have completed the final design and are about to start with the production," Vítu told us. "The very last thing to be done is to select LiPol batteries manufacturer. So we are expecting the production will start this or next week. It follows the 3D model presented at the press conference held on 24th May."
A special composite seat has been designed to cater for the rider, to be strapped into the vehicle for safety and comfort. Work on the control unit and related elements is still being considered, with options including the installation of a third-party box unit integrating the main unit and sensors or an in-house, tailor-made solution.
 People just love their iPhones ... sometimes to the point where they don’t want to stop using them when they enter the water. That’s why the driSuit Endurance was invented. It’s a water- and shockproof case for the iPhone 4 and 4S, that allows users to still take advantage of all of the phone’s touchscreen controls – even when underwater.
Needless to say, there are tons of rugged and/or waterproof smartphone cases already on the market. One of the things that sets the Endurance apart, however, is its proprietary fluidic touchscreen. This consists of transparent inner and outer membranes with a clear inert fluid sandwiched between them. It sits in place over top of the phone’s existing screen, allowing users to access all of its features – although they may have to press a bit harder than usual. Additionally, when used underwater, the iPhone may take up to 20 seconds to “electronically acclimate” to the fluidic touchscreen.
Besides allowing for touchscreen functionality, the Endurance’s screen also provides the phone’s display with some protection against impacts and scratches. Shocks and vibrations are soaked up somewhat, by a soft plastic lining inside the case.
Should underwater users not be content with things like taking photos and checking their email while below the surface, they can also use the case’s waterproof headphone receptacle to listen to music ... assuming they have waterproof earphones, that is, which driSuit Technologies also sells.
The staff there inform us that the Endurance is rated to a depth of one meter (3.28 feet), although they factory test their units down to five meters (16.4 ft) for one hour. That sounds good for people like snorkelers and surfers, although scuba divers might want something that can go considerably deeper, such as the TAT7 iPhone Scuba Case – although that case only allows users to take photos, using mechanical button controls.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

 The Ultraportable MacBook Air instead of getting a downfall coz of the announcement at WWDC 2012 about MacBook Pro with its retina display, is at the top of the ultraportable range. The MacBook Air which is Windows powered ultrabook is a favourite proven design with a set of processors made up of Intel’s Ivy Bridge chips & also with a refresh to the spec sheet.
MacBook Air 13″ - Design:-
There is nothing to discriminate the MacBook Air from its prototypes except the design for the new MacBook Pro with retina display which Apple had saved earlier and now announced in the WWDC 2012. MacBook Air is still the good looking and distinctive ultraportables.
The profile is split between the left and right edges. The 13” MacBook Air includes a 3.0 USB & a second USB of 3.0, a headphone socket, a microphone on left side, thunderbolt and an SDXC card slot on right side of the profile. The 11” model is similar to the 13” MacBook Air but only lacks in SDXC slot.
To use older power supplies with new notebook one will need a $10 adapter, because there is a change in the 2011 power connector with the 2012 model of MacBook Air. MacBook Air 2012 model uses the same MagSafe 2 port but slimmer and wider.
While opening the lid one would find the same bare display, having no glass cover layer on top & large multitouch trackpad with a backlit keyboard. MacBook Air is the lightest and the most portable notebook in the market with 0.68” thick when closed and 2.96 pounds (For 11” it is 2.38 pounds).
MacBook Air - Specification:-
MacBook Air is basically changed in terms of its internal components and most of its external component is unchanged.
With the new MacBook Pro, Apple brought the following changes:
For 11” model of MacBook Pro:-
Intel’s 3rd Gen Core processor
1.7 GHz dualcore Core i5 ( 2.6 GHz Turbo Boost)
For 13” model of MacBook Pro:-
Intel’s 3rd Gen Core processor
1.8 GHz dualcore Ore i5 ( 2.8 GHz Turbo Boost)
Both of these model comes with an option of Core i7 upgrade and a 2.0 GHz dualcore Core i7 with upto 3.2 GHz Turbo Boost.
Both of the model uses Intel HD Graphics 4000 & the onboard GPU paired with Ivy Bridge processors. You can only drive 1 external display in MacBook Air and there is no discrete graphics as it is in MacBook Pro. In terms of battery life portability , mobile users had to compromise. And if one plans to do HD video editing or gaming then the limitations becomes clear about the HD graphics 4000 chipset.
It includes double the memory as that of the 2011 model, i.e, 4 GB of 1600 MHz DDR3L standard memory & 8 GB with $100 upgrade. MacBook Air haves a storage capacity of 64 GB flash memory on 11” and 128 GB on 13” model, which could also be doubled for $100 and $300. For $500 one can get it upgraded to 512 GB. It is almost impossible to upgrade the MacBook Air because of the soldered RAM and proprietary flash storage system. So its better to pay proper attention while going through its specifications at the time of purchase only.
The Webcam is the other noticeable feature which changed from 2011 Air to 2012 with a better FaceTime HD camera having 720p, 1280x720resolution. 11” MacBook Air have 1366x768resolution and 13” MacBook Air have 1440×900 resolution. No one knows when one is going to see the Retina Display Version of MacBook Air and nor about the IPS panels which haves broader angles to view.
MacBook Air 13″ - Performance:-
Apple and Intel are confident enough that their Ivy Bridge would strike the best market. Basically it becomes a matter of compromise with ultraportable in terms of their power consumption and portability. The following review runs on 4 GB memory and 1.8 GHz dualcore i5-3427U:
Now it is the turn to test in terms of processor and graphic components which is a test of 3D rendering & OpenGL named as Cinebench test. MacBook Air scored lowere than machines with discrete GPUs ,i.e, 2.56 points for CPU and 16.41 fps for OpenGL. In X-bench testing MacBook Air showed 347.67 score in terms of flash storage and high-speed low-voltage RAM which is just 143 points less than the new MacBook Pro with retina display.
MacBook Air runs multiple browser windows, multimedia playback, email app., & image editing in a very effective manner. Intel brought 60% improved graphics performance than the GPU and also faster HD video clips exported by iMovie than the last generation model. To import an 8 minute long 1080p video it takes 15 mins.28 secs. To export the same video it takes 33mins.35secs. The new MacBook Pro took 12mins 5secs. to import the same video 20mins 48secs. to export the same video. Its better to go for a notebook with discrete GPU if you are planning for a larger amount of video processing. Go for MacBook pro with retina display or get an external video processing dongle for MacBook Air ( like from Elgato).
Consumers are guaranteed for a free update to OS X Mountain Lion (when it will launch in July) but for now they would get the new MacBook Air with OS X Lion.
MacBook Air 13″ - Battery:-
The 13” MacBook Air has a runtime of 7hrs and 11” MacBook Air has 5hrs runtime. It can play a 2 hour long video with brightness set at 50%, with WiFi & Bluetooth turned on and with continuous browsing. And it can play a looped video for 6hrs 18mins. before its battery runs out.
MacBook Air 13″ - Conclusion:-
MacBook Air lacks in terms of retina display. Still its available in the new MacBook Pro but it is quite expensive to go for this new edition. Entry to the MacBook Air Club has been reduced by Apple, which is $999 for 11” and $1,199 for 13” model.
It provides extreme portability and higher performance with an addition of USB 3.0 and HD webcam and haves a very negligible impact on its runtime instead of a heavy processor.
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 It might not be as big as the 152-inch plasma TV Panasonic has been parading around, but Sharp is claiming the title of the world’s biggest LED TV with the launch of the 90-inch AQUOS LC-90LE745U. Measuring nearly four feet (1.2 m) tall and six feet (1.8 m) across, you’ll need a fair chunk of free space to place this monster. Unfortunately, with a retail price of US$10,999.99, you’ll also need some pretty deep pockets.
Despite the 90-inch screen, the AQUOS LC-90LE745U is less than 5-inches (12.7 cm) deep and tips the scales (sans stand) at 141 lbs (64 kg), which Sharp says makes wall mounting “easy.” Since you probably won’t have a lot of spare cash to splash about after slapping down your hard earned on the TV, Sharp points out that it uses less energy than two 75-watt light bulbs and averages just $28 a year to run – you’ll probably also save a bit of cash by not having to go to the cinema anymore.
While a TV of this size might have benefited from 4K x 2K resolution – at least down the track when there’s some content available - you’re stuck with 1080p. You do get localized dimming of the 500 LED backlight array that results in an 8,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, (AquoMotion) 240 Hz refresh rate, and 3D, with two pairs of active shutter glasses thrown in for good measur
The built-in Wi-Fi allows users to take advantage of Sharp's SmartCentral hub that provides direct access to a variety of apps and video on demand services, including Netflix, YouTube, CinemaNow, Hulu Plus and VUDU. There’s also an integrated web browser and Skype support with the use of an optional webcam.
Sharp’s AQUOS LC-90LE745U is available now. That price again: $10,999.99.

Monday, 18 June 2012

 The Mobile major, Nokia is planning to gear up and come in the field of tablets too. When will the official launch of such a tablet happen, only time could tell. But it is expected that During this year, Nokia would come out with it’s own tablet.
Many other Mobile companies like Samsung and Apple have already ventured into the media tablet market. It is right time for Nokia to put a strategy into place and venture out into the tablet sector.
According to many reports, Nokia is planning to launch the tablet during this quarter itself. With the introduction of tablet from Nokia, the company would strengthen its position against competitors such as Samsung and Apple. Recently, Mr. Marko Ahtisaari, Design Chief, Nokia, said that he was spending almost one third of his total time designing tablet for Nokia.
The tablet from Nokia is expected to come out having a 10-inch screen size and a dual-core processor from Qualcomm. The Operating System of the tablet is expected to be Windows 8 and the expectation of launching this tablet would be in 2012 itself.
The strategy from Nokia regarding the launch of tablet is a good move. Already the company is facing a decline in the sale of phones world over. With the introduction of smartphones, the overall market share of the company declined and this decline was picked up by Samsung which currently sells most number of smartphones throughout the world.
In these times, it is important for Nokia to launch a tablet and reclaim its dominance in the world of mobile phones and related gadgets.
Karbonn is planning to launch a new smartphone into the market known as Karbonn A5. The Karbonn A5 runs on Android OS. It has a touch screen of size 3.5 inch.
Karbonn A5 is a Dual SIM mobile phone and supports high speed internet connectivity. It is a stylish phone from Karbonn that is black in color from front and has white color on sides and back. The phone is powered by 800 MHz processor.

If you look closely at the specifications, it could easily compete with Micromax A50 or Spice Mi-35. The Karbonn A5 has a 2 mega pixel camera and has four touch sensitive buttons. The phone is designed in such a way so that SIM 1 supports 3G while SIM 2 only supports GPRS/ EDGE networks.
Karbonn A5 – Features And Specifications
Fast processor (800 MHz)
2 mega-pixel camera (without flash)
Android OS v2.3
Dual SIM GSM+GSM/3G
High speed 3G (HSDPA up to 7.2 mbps) and WiFi connectivity
Large responsive touch display
3.5mm audio jack
Expandable storage up to 32 GB with external memory card (microSD)
Wireless LAN Wi-Fi
GPRS/EDGE Internet access (where 3G is not available or used)
microUSB , Bluetooth
Dedicated volume keys
Multi-format media player
Loud speaker
GPS Navigation support
G-Sensor (for auto screen alignment) and Proximity Sensor ( to turn off the screen while talkting on call)
Powerful battery (1420 mAh)
Karbonn A5 – Price
The official price of Karbonn A5 is not out as of now. But it is expected that the phone would be priced around Rs 6000 to 7,000 range.
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Sunday, 17 June 2012

Last April, we told you about the FlyNano – a single-occupant petrol/electric microlight amphibious aircraft being developed by a Finnish aeronautical firm of the same name. At the time, some readers expressed skepticism, rightly pointing out that there was no video of the plane actually flying. That changed this week, however, as the company posted a video of one of the prototype’s first test flights.
The flight in the video reportedly took place this Monday at 8:09pm, at Finland’s Lake Hepari. There’s currently no information posted about how long the flight lasted or what altitude was reached – we’ve contacted FlyNano for details, and are still waiting for a response.
When we last reported on the aircraft, deliveries were expected to start around July of last year. The company has now moved that date up to the end of 2013, and has apparently already presold 35 planes – they are priced at approximately €27,000 (US$34,164). 

Additionally, FlyNano has stated that thanks to advances in batteries and electric motors, the carbon fiber-bodied aircraft will now be primarily electric – originally, both combustion and electric models were planned.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Microsoft has updated its My Xbox Live application, and now Android users can access their Xbox Live games, friends, and achievements, from anywhere. iOS users also received an update, adding the ability to use their phones to remotely control the Xbox 360, a feature that is expected to come to Android phones in the future. With My Xbox Live, Android users can enjoy a fully-featured Xbox Live client, as well as one of the best looking applications on the platform, as it does a great job of replicating the "metro" look of Windows Phone 7.
Much like Microsoft's upcoming Smart Glass technology, My Xbox Live is going cross-platform, giving Xbox access to more users around the globe. My Xbox Live allows you to do just about everything you can from the Xbox console dashboard besides playing actual games, a feature that is still a Windows Phone 7 exclusive.
After signing into Xbox Live, the application is divided into three segments, Spotlight, Social, and Games. Spotlight is where you'll find video content such as game previews and developer interviews. Social is probably the most useful area of the application, where you can view and make changes to your Xbox Avatar, as well as message friends and see what games everyone is playing. The Games section of My Xbox Live will display a list of all the games in your library, as well as detailed achievement lists for each title.
My Xbox Live is a useful app for gamers, but Microsoft didn't stop there, packing in all sorts of little extras that make the experience a more memorable one. For instance, your Xbox Avatar is fully animated in 3D, and reacts to touch and motion - if you shake the phone violently, your avatar will stumble and fall, and will only get back up if you shake him or her awake. There's also tons of content in the spotlight section, and video playback is smooth, even over a 3G connection. As previously stated, the entire experience mimics that of a Windows Phone 7 app, so it feels as if you're getting the full Xbox experience, rather than a watered-down port.
While iPad users received retina support for My Xbox Live, iPhone users gained the ability to use their phone's touchscreen as a wireless Xbox controller, meaning they can fully navigate the Xbox, even if they don't have an Xbox controller near by. iPhone control is a welcome feature, but it is far more useful for basic navigation and accessing video services like Netflix, rather than actual gaming. It is expected that Microsoft will add remote control functionality to the Android version in a future update.

Friday, 15 June 2012

 Renault has announced that it is to trial a car-sharing scheme that will see a fleet of 50 Renault Twizys take to the streets of the French new town of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.
From next week the scheme, named Twizy Way, will make its fleet of electric two-seaters available without a reservation to its 200 or so testers, before opening to the public at large in September.
The 50-car trial is reminiscent of the inaugural car2go scheme, in which an identical number of Smart Fortwos were released into the wild in the German city of Ulm in 2008. Like car2go, Twizy Way vehicles can be both pre-booked in advance or picked up on a whim by members of the scheme. The car2go program has since expanded to sixteen cities in seven countries, including the UK, Canada and the US. Twizy Way's notable distinction from car2go is the use of all-electric vehicles.
Twizy Way testers are well advised to arm themselves with a smartphone, which can be used to locate the nearest Twizy, book it (though only up to 15 minutes in advance), or to pick up a Twizy on the spot by scanning a QR code on the car - a rare case of a QR code being put to practical use. Twizys can also be booked via telephone or the web, though the same 15-minute window applies.
There are no specifically-allocated Twizy Way pick-up stations, so any designated parking area within the pilot scheme's 27 sq km (10.4 sq mile) zone is fair game. How will the vehicles be recharged? This isa mystery, though Renault says that recharging and vehicle maintenance is its problem. The scheme appears to be wholly funded by Renault which is seeking to demonstrate the suitability of the Twizy to hire schemes of this nature. Its success or failure will become evident by the extent to which the scheme is replicated elsewhere.
Despite increasing numbers of smartphones sporting near field communication (NFC) functionality, the technology hasn’t really set the world on fire just yet. The simple fact is that, apart from the limited rollout of cashless transaction systems from the likes of Visa, Google and Orange, there’s still not a hell of a lot that these NFC capabilities can be used for. Samsung is looking to change this with the introduction of NFC stickers called TecTiles that can be programmed to automate various smartphone functions.
Working in conjunction with the free TecTile programming application running on an NFC-enabled Android smartphone, Samsung envisages individuals automating everyday functions, such as launching an app, sending an “at home” text message when walking in the door, putting the phone on silent, or dimming the display and setting an alarm when climbing into bed. Businesses, meanwhile, would be able to let customers check-in on Facebook or foursquare, or connect to Wi-Fi to download content or discount offers.
While Samsung has said it would like to offer cross-category programming in the future, initially the programming will be limited to combining functions within four separate categories. These are: Settings & Applications
Change phone settings (Bluetooth®, Wi-Fi, ringer/media volume, screen brightness, etc.)
Launch an application
Join a Wi-Fi Network
Show a message 
Communication
Make a call
Send a text message
Start a Google Talk conversation
Share a contact or business card 
Location & Web
Show an address on a map
Open a web page
Foursquare or Facebook check-in 

 Social
Automatic Facebook "Like"
Update Facebook status
Post a tweet or follow a contact on Twitter
Connect on LinkedIn
Once a TecTile has been programmed, it can be read by any NFC-enabled smartphone, including non-Samsung devices such as the HTC One X or LG Optimus Elite. Individual TecTiles can also be reprogrammed, however, the programming can be locked to prevent nefarious types from making changes.
Launching alongside the Galaxy S III, Samsung is selling TecTiles in packs of five for US$14.99.
Daimler-owned car sharing scheme car2go has announced it is to expand its area of operation into three new North American cities in the coming weeks - Toronto, Calgary and Miami. The new cities will join existing programs in Austria, France, Germany, Netherlands, Canada and the United State
Originally developed in 2008 at the Daimler Business Innovation Unit in Stuttgart, Germany, car2go affords enrolled members the opportunity to use a specially designed Smart Fortwo car to navigate cities which host the program. The cars can be prearranged up to 24 hours in advance or picked up on the spot and used as necessary, before being left at a designated area or suitable parking space. Users gain access to the vehicle using a member card which is waved in front of a reader mounted on the windshield. 

We've followed the car2go journey closely, from its inception and initial success to its subsequent expansion. As previously noted, each vehicle in car2go's fleet comes sporting a solar panel integrated into the roof and this design enables the car2go Fourtwo to generate electricity without the use of an alternator while the car is in use, increasing efficiency markedly as a result. 
car2go uses a pricing rate based on the time one spends within the vehicle, meaning that members of the scheme are charged by the minute, without a minimum time limit. Parking fees, insurance and maintenance are also taken care of by car2go as part of membership to the scheme. car2go will launch in Toronto on June 30, Calgary on July 21 and in Miami on July 28. However, those interested in joining up can do so now at the car2go website
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