Archive for the ‘APPS & STUFF’ Category

The pocket radar: Get ready for phones that can look through walls

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

How the $149 Walabot is already sparking the interest of developers, who plan to use it for everything from collision detection in cars to honing their martial arts skills

walabot-pocket-radar-image www.freepnonelink.net

The Walabot Pro.
Image: Vayyar Imaging

Fancy looking through walls using your phone? Well soon it will be possible using a handheld radar.

The Walabot is a radar unit that attaches to smartphones and can be used to scan the world around you.

While radar-imaging technology typically costs at least thousands of dollars, the cheapest Walabot will cost $149, thanks to Vayyar Imaging shrinking the necessary technology down to a phone-sized system on a chip.

As proof of what the Walabot can do, the Pro version of the device will come with an Android app that can peer through walls — allowing the user to find pipes and wires, for instance.

“Since Walabot can sense minute changes and very small movement, you’ll be able to see when pipes are dripping and other problems,” said Raviv Melamed, CEO and co-founder of Vayyar Imaging.

The device can see through about 7cm to 10cm of concrete, enough to allow it to look through a typical wall and can penetrate more deeply through less-dense obstacles, such as drywall. Melamed says Walabot can see through almost any material other than metal, which Melamed describes as the Walabot’s kryptonite.

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An Android app uses the Walabot’s radar to see pipes through a section of wall.
Image: Nick Heath / TechRepublic

But the uses of the technology go far beyond locating a leaking pipe, Melamed foresees a host of applications being developed for the device after it launches at the end of April. These apps will not only take advantage of Walabot’s ability to “see” through solid objects, but to track people and objects in 3D space.

For instance, collision detection and avoidance in vehicles — with a Walabot-connected app letting you know when you get too close to the car in front.

“You could put this on the dashboard connected to your phone and get an alert.”

Smart homes could be another potential use, with the Walabot providing the imaging for an app that watches over people and things. The Walabot attaches to the back of the phone via magnets but it could be attached to any metallic surface in a home, such as a fridge or air-conditioning unit, and paired with a small computer such as the Raspberry Pi. Melamed gives the example of how the technology could help an app spot when an elderly person had had a fall and was unable to move.

“People fall in their bedroom or in the shower and these are places where you cannot put cameras. For example, I would love to have something that tracked my mother or father without compromising their privacy.”

If the Walabot is pointing at a person the device is sensitive enough that it can track a person’s breathing, for instance, letting you know if someone is in a particular room. That person’s breathing is detected by measuring the movement of the person’s chest, which the Walabot captures by detecting radio waves that it bounces off the person’s body. When used in open space, the Walabot can detect people and things over a range of about four to five metres.

The device is even sensitive enough to measure a person’s heartbeat, said Melamed, by detecting blood vessels pulsing under the surface of the skin.

Intelligent cities are at the forefront of the next wave of the Internet of Things. The goals are to streamline communication and improve the lives of citizens. And save a little money along the way.

These are some of the obvious uses for Walabot, but Melamed says “there are so many things you can do with this technology”, which Vayyar Imaging hopes will emerge once developers get their hands on the device.

“You could do a lot of things with Walabot and there are a lot of smart people out there who should come up with some crazy ideas to play around with.”

Developers are already coming up with ideas Vayyar Imaging would never have thought of – for example, someone from Norway plans to use it to check which logs will burn best in their fireplace by scanning them to detect differing moisture levels. Another developer wants to use Walabot to measure the speed of his kicks when he practices martial arts.

“You can just go wild with it,” said Melamed.

One of the most difficult things to see through is human skin, according to Vayyar Imaging. Even though the technology Walabot relies on was originally developed to detect breast cancer, Walabot’s makers don’t recommend using the device to carry out medical examinations.

“Walabot is not a medical tool, it’s mainly for makers to play around with.”

When it comes to safety, the electromagnetic frequency of Walabot’s radar is “close to that” typically used by wi-fi, said Melamed, but “we are sending signals using more than 1,000-times less power than your wi-fi”.

What is the Walabot?

While Walabot’s imaging capabilities may sound similar to those of Microsoft Kinect, the technology works in a fundamentally different way. While the Kinect uses infra-red scanning to map 3D spaces, the Walabot uses radar to detect people and objects. This contrasting approach means the devices have differing strengths. Whereas the Walabot has a higher detection range and can penetrate solid objects, said Melamed, the Kinect can map 3D objects in finer detail, as the resolution of the captured image is higher.

“When you go further away from the Kinect the resolution gets worse. Where Kinect ends, this starts. So these are very complementary.”

To get the Walabot’s radar technology into a low-cost device the size of a smartphone, Vayyar Imaging developed a “very complex” system-on-a-chip for collecting and handling the radar data. This is paired with a set of algorithms that analyse and make sense of the radar data and also compensate for the distortion caused by Walabot’s casing.

Walabot will cost between $149 and $599, depending on the model. The three models differ in the number of antennas and the range of data they make available to developers via an API. Walabot’s four APIs will expose various data derived from the radar signals, such as 2D range and direction tracking and movement sensing, as well as, for the top-end model, offering access to the raw radar data and spatial sensing in 3D.

“We’re trying to provide a full breadth [of data] so people at all levels can play with it,” said Melamed.

The $599 Pro version is aimed at high-end users, such as businesses or research institutions. “Basically it’s like a lab that lets you do whatever you want,” said Melamed, recommending this model for uses such as collision avoidance, robotic guidance and 3D tracking.

The Walabot will last one to two hours on a single charge and the company are also planning to release a version with an attached battery.

When used with its demo apps, the Walabot can be set up quickly, for example, the Android wall scanning app that comes with the Pro version takes about four seconds to be ready to use.

However, despite shipping with this sample app, the Walabot is primarily aimed at developers who want to build their own applications around it. The Walabot connects to computers and phones via a Micro-USB cable. Various SDKs will be available, initially an Android SDK for the C++/Java programming languages, followed by a C#/VB/C++ SDK for Windows and a C++ SDK for Linux.

The first Walabot devices will ship to Europe from the end of April and the documentation for the API launches today. The Walabot is expected to be available in the US from about mid-May, as the Walabot, while having passed FCC tests, is waiting for official certification.

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Henry Sapiecha

iSperm turns your iPad into a home fertility test for men

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

isperm app image www.freephonelink.net

Pig farm owner Sam Wang demonstrates how to use an iSperm kit in Yunlin, central Taiwan.

Call home, check your email, count your sperm: Taiwanese start-up Aidmics is hoping to cash in on the $US40 billion global human fertility market with an iPad-compatible gadget it calls iSperm.

Aidmics initially developed the product to help livestock farmers, but founder Agean Lin now plans to seek US Food and Drug Administration approval next year to expand its use to men.

“In the US, one out of every six couples has trouble conceiving,” Lin, 35, told Reuters.

iSperm was released commercially last August and has sold nearly 200 sets to farms around the world. It isn’t the first at-home sperm tester but the only one that offers instant fertility measurements combined with live visuals of the sperm.

Lin said he aims to price the iSperm device between $US100 and $US200, a fraction of the cost of the commercial version.

The technology is simple: a tiny microscope enlarges the contents of a few drops of semen inside a pipette, lit by a backlight. The light beams the moving image to the iPad camera, and algorithms then analyse the sample for total sperm count and motility, or how fast sperm can swim.

Sam Wang, manager of a livestock farm in central Taiwan, is a convert. “Our pregnancy success rate increased by 20 per cent after we started using this gadget,” said Wang, who uses the device to measure the fertility of his boars.

“In the past, we had to use huge, expensive microscopes and physically count each sperm one-by-one,” he said.

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Henry Sapiecha

DEVELOPERS ARE WORKING ON SENSORS FOR SMART PHONES TO TAKE YOUR TEMPERATURE, BLOOD PRESSURE & SUGAR LEVELS

Monday, October 13th, 2014

SMART PHONE IN HANDS IMAGE www.freephonelink.net

Researchers are working on putting sensors in glass so smart devices can do more to monitor users’ health. Photo: Lisa Maree Williams

Imagine if an app in your phone or tablet could take your pulse or measure your blood sugar just when you touch the screen, without any added hardware. New developments in the construction of screen glass might mean such technologies are on the way.

Scientists at Corning, makers of the popular Gorilla Glass found in millions of handheld devices, and Canada’s Polytechnique Montreal, have released a study about building light-based sensors into the physical structure of glass used for device screens. The sensors are placed in stackable layers using finer detail than ever before.

The technology means apps can get more accurate readings from far more sensors than just those already placed under screens to detect a touch or swipe. It uses laser to inscribe wave-guides into the glass that use photons of light to describe the transmission of information.

“[It] can be used to transmit information encoded on to the light, in other words, sense its environment to ascertain the properties of a material placed near that surface,” said Dr Alan F Evans, Corning’s research director.

The team behind the system has already built two prototype applications. The first is a temperature sensor based on interferometer technology, which reads body temperature from the touch of a finger.

The other is a unique authentication system that uses tiny dots to scatter infrared light that can be read by the device’s camera. The pattern of scattered light can then be transposed into ones and zeros read as binary data, making strings of characters of up to a quadrillion patterns.

“It’s like a permanent and unique barcode on every smartphone that’s very difficult to counterfeit and also not easily seen, so doesn’t intrude with the operation of the phone,” Dr Evans said.

With the possibility of more detailed sensors built into an interface substrate like a touchscreen, it potentially makes every glass surface a computer.

The research brings us a step closer to Corning’s own speculative short film series A Day Made of Glass, where computers are embedded in surfaces from kitchen walls to the dashboards of cars.

Of the industries set to receive a boost, observers say wearables will particularly benefit as we demand more responsiveness and accuracy from devices.

“I see this advancement being even more useful for wearables like glasses and watches,” says Joanan Hernandez, founder of Montreal developer Mollejuo AR Studio, which makes mobile apps to help guide travellers in unfamiliar cities.

“Putting transparent sensors on glasses and watches will reduce the circuit box needed for these devices, which in turn will make them more attractive and easier to wear.”

The basis for laser-inscribed wave-guides opens the field to even more circuits based on light. When the glass can distinguish between materials or even within a specific material, the possibilities are endless.

Putting food on your phone to see if it’s been washed in contaminated water or spitting on your screen to see if you have a cold coming on might not sound socially acceptable today, but phones and tablets are soon set to do much more than take calls, send emails and play games.

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Henry Sapiecha

black diamonds on white line

SMART PHONE APP CATCHES THIEF IN ACTION LEADING TO COURT APPEARANCE

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Has a Canberra  ACT Australia smartphone officially outsmarted a crook?

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Police said a 55-year-old man who allegedly stole a mobile phone last Saturday has been charged after he was photographed by a security application installed on the handset.

The Chifley man is alleged to have stolen the phone from a car parked off London Circuit, near the ACT Magistrates Court, about 7pm on Saturday. The owner of the car reported several items stolen, including a mobile phone.

An application on the phone discreetly takes a photo of any user who incorrectly enters the security pass code three times in a row. A photograph of the alleged thief was sent to the owner of the phone via email.

An ACT Policing spokeswoman said: “Investigations by police led them to the 55-year-old man in his Chifley home.

“He was arrested and taken to the ACT Watch House where he was later bailed to appear in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday, September 5.”

The man has been charged with property damage and minor theft.

The charges come after the ACT Magistrates Court ruled last September that using tracking applications to recover devices was legal.

In that case, a Canberra man had a tablet computer stolen and tracked it to a property before calling police. The property was searched and numerous stolen goods were seized.

The ACT Policing spokeswoman could not confirm which application was used or how investigators had traced the man

HRFT

www.crimefiles.net         www.scamsfakes.com

Henry Sapiecha

black diamonds on white line

DO ON SITE POLLUTION FIELD TESTS USING THE LATEST SMART PHONE APP

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

SMART PHONES HAVE NEW APP FOR POLLUTION ON SITE TESTING

Air quality is one of those things that many of us should be more concerned about, but aren’t. According to some people, this is because we’re not easily able to know how clean the air around us really is – we just assume it’s “clean enough.” Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego have set out to change that. They’re developing a compact, portable air pollution sensor that communicates with the user’s smartphone, to provide real-time air quality readings for their immediate surroundings.

Known as CitiSense, the device is able to measure local concentrations of ozone, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, which are the pollutants emitted most by internal combustion vehicles. That data is wirelessly transmitted to the user’s smartphone, where it’s displayed on the screen via a custom app – along with an actual number rating, the display also utilizes the EPA’s color code scale, where green is good and purple … isn’t.

One of the ideas behind the sensors is that if commercialized, they would allow everyday people to be more proactive when it comes to air pollution. Users could avoid areas where the levels are dangerously high, for example, and would perhaps be more motivated to pressure local authorities to do something about the problem.

Also, data gathered from a multitude of the sensors throughout a region could provide the public with much more detailed and accurate air quality reports than is currently possible. According to the university, although San Diego County measures approximately 4,000 square miles (10,360 sq km), it is currently served by only about ten air-quality monitoring stations.

A prototype of the CitiSense sensor

A prototype of the CitiSense sensor

To test the technology, 30 people were given prototype CitiSense sensors to use in their everyday lives for a period of four weeks. Among other things, the test subjects discovered that air pollution is worse in particular highly-localized areas – it’s not just evenly diluted throughout the air. Not surprisingly, it was likewise noted that certain times of day are more hazardous than others.

Unfortunately for those of us who do our part to reduce pollution, it was also found that people who cycled or waited for the bus along a given route were exposed to more airborne pollutants than those who drove the same route.

The sensors presently cost US$1,000 per unit to build, but the researchers are confident that the price could be greatly reduced by mass production – they could conceivably even be incorporated into commercial smartphones. Although the constant data exchange between the prototype sensors and their paired phones is a considerable drain on the phones’ batteries, that could reportedly be addressed by limiting such exchanges to spaced intervals, or only when requested by the user.

North Carolina-based tech firm RTI International is developing a somewhat similar gadget known as the MicroPEM (Personal Exposure Monitoring device), although it doesn’t provide real-time readings. The University of Southern California has also created an Android app that uses the phone’s camera to measure particulate matter in the atmosphere, but it doesn’t determine what those particles consist of.

Source: University of California, San Diego

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

GUITAR PLAYING EASY WITH GTAR IPHONE APP LESSONS

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

GTAR IPHONE APP TEACHES YOU HOW TO PLAY THE GUITAR

Learning to play any musical instrument can be a mammoth task, especially for those who aren’t naturally gifted in that regard. The guitar is particularly difficult to learn to play, with a steep learning curve and some extraordinary finger dexterity required right from the start. Therefore, any tool designed to make the process less painful is welcomed with open arms by budding guitar gurus. A company called Incident is hoping that will be the case for gTar, a new digital guitar that utilizes the power of the iPhone.

Incident, a company based in Santa Clara, California, has designed a new digital guitar it hopes will come to the aid of guitarists with various skill levels. The device looks like a cross between a real guitar and a Rock Band/Guitar Hero guitar; it’s easy to spot it isn’t “real” but it’s more authentic than the videogame peripherals that appear to have peaked in popularity several years ago

Ezi Sports

The gTar comprises a digital guitar with strings, frets and various other of the different components that make up the instrument. The big difference is the presence of an iPhone (4 or newer) running a specially-designed app.

Instead of pick-ups to amplify the sound of the string being strummed, the gTar has sensors along the neck that are able to detect, in real time, which note is being played. This information is then relayed to the iPhone docked in the body of the gTar, which produces the actual sound.

The gTar frets display on the iPhone app and the guitar

The app comes bundled with songs that the user can choose from to play along with. Despite the name, the gTar is not limited to guitar sounds, with the app making it entirely possible to play a grand piano by plucking the notes instead. Whatever the song and whatever the instrument, users have a choice of three levels of difficulty: Easy, Medium, and Hard.

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Easy means just playing the open strings, and hitting the wrong string means no sound is produced. Medium adds fretwork to the mix, but there is still no danger of messing up thanks to the built-in SmartPlay feature. Hard means needing to play the correct notes; not doing so will result in every mistake being heard. This learning curve is the gTar’s strength, as real guitars start and end on the Hard level of difficulty.

The gTar is initially being sold through a Kickstarter project. Incident asked for US$100,000 to fund the initial production run and has already raised more than that amount. Approximately $70,000 of the target was raised quickly by backers paying US$350 each to get their hands on the first 200 gTars produced. The company has stated the final retail price will be $449.

The device has also made an appearance at TechCrunch Disrupt 2012, where it was actually on show and demonstrated to work as advertised. This is an important step in the Kickstarter model, which requires a certain amount of trust to exist between the project creators and the project backers.

In the future, Incident plans on releasing an SDK (software development kit) that will allow third parties to create apps for the gTar. The possibilities are only limited by the breadth of developers’ imaginations.

In conclusion, the gTar is a relatively expensive way to learn to play guitar. On top of the $350-and-up asking price for the gTar itself, you’ll also need to own or buy an iPhone. However, this isn’t just a learning tool. Even if and when you do reach Jimi Hendrix-like status, the gTar can still be used as a digital guitar to hone your skills on or to show off to friends. It also looks good.

There are other options to consider though, such as Rocksmith, a game/training tool available for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. This lets you use a real electric guitar to play well-known songs with visual guidance. At least with Rocksmith you end up with a real guitar after the lessons have come to an end rather than a digital copy. There’s also the iTar, which incorporates an iPad into a somewhat guitar-like body.

The video below shows the gTar in action along with some brief words from the founder and CEO of Incident.

Source: Kickstarter via TechCrunch
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 Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

DREAM EXPERIMENT FOR IPHONE APP CALLING FOR BETA TESTERS

Monday, April 16th, 2012

DREAM APP FOR IPHONES WANTING BETA TESTERS

In what is being touted as “the world’s largest dream experiment,” a psychologist from Britain’s University of Hertfordshire is inviting volunteers to try using an iPhone app to control their dreams. Prof. Richard Wiseman teamed up with the developers at software company YUZA to create Dream:ON, an app that plays soundscapes while its user sleeps, intended to shape what sort of dreams they have. The project comes in response to a UK survey conducted by Wiseman, in which 15% of respondents claimed that they frequently suffered from unpleasant dreams.

To use Dream:ON, people start by indicating the time at which they would like to wake up. Next, they select an alarm tone, followed by one of several “soundscapes” – examples include titles like Peaceful Garden and A Trip to Tokyo. The phone is then plugged into an external power source, and left turned on at the bedside.

Throughout the night, the phone uses its microphone to monitor the user’s movements. Approximately 20 minutes before their selected wake-up time, and once a decrease in their movements indicates that they’ve entered REM sleep (the sleep stage at which dreams occur), the soundscape will be played. Theoretically, that audio will be incorporated into the existing dream. Of course, it’s possible that someone could simply end up dreaming that an axe murderer was chasing them through a peaceful garden – that’s the sort of thing that the project is looking at.

Once the person starts moving again, indicating that they are no longer dreaming, the alarm will sound to wake them. As a side benefit, by not being woken up while in deep REM sleep, users should wake up feeling more refreshed – a strategy already employed by products like the sleep-monitoring Sleeptracker alarm.

The app will subsequently prompt users to submit a report of their dream.

After a few months, Wiseman and his team will review the various users’ reports, to see how well the app works. Dream:ON is available now as a free download at the App Store, while an Android version is expected to come out later this year. If it does indeed work, more soundscapes could be on the way – some of them would be free, while others would have to be purchased.

Should the idea behind Dream:ON sound at all familiar to some readers, it’s because something similar already exists, in the form of the Japanese Yumemiru app. There’s no word on how effective that one has proven to be.

The video below provides an outline of Prof. Wiseman’s project.

Source: University of Hertfordshire
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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha