Archive for the ‘NEW USES DISCOVERIES’ 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

Organic power: Nokia charges Lumia 930 with 800 potatoes and apples Video shows how to do it.

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

nokia-potato-apple-640x0 image www.freephonelink.net

Nokia recently showed off an interesting new way to charge a smartphone, though we don’t imagine it’ll be commercializing the method anytime soon.

Part science experiment, part art installation, and (large) part publicity stunt, the Microsoft-owned mobile firm recently teamed up with multimedia artist Caleb Charland to create an organic charging wall comprising 800 potatoes and apples, among other bits and pieces.

While creating an electrical current from edible items has long been the stuff of science class experiments, Charland’s project took the experiment to the extreme, enabling him to charge a Lumia 930 smartphone in the process.

nokia-potato-apple-project-625x625 image www.freephonelink.net

The installation, which was set up on a busy shopping street in London over the weekend, also used copper wire and galvanized nails to help create the necessary electrical current, which was then fed through to the Lumia handset to bring it back to life.

In case you’ve forgotten the details of your primary-school science class, Nokia’s Rhea Fri explains:“Voltaic batteries are composed of two metals that are connected and suspended in an acidic solution. In Caleb’s installation, the metals were copper and zinc (from the galvanized nails).

“They comprised the positive and negative electrodes – the parts of a battery where electrical current enters and leaves. Meanwhile, the acid from the fruit and vegetables (phosphoric from the potatoes and ascorbic from the apples) provided an electrically conductive solution.”

Charland’s hand-built wall-based circuit of apples, potatoes and metal created an electrical current equating to an average of 20mA and 6 volts, Fri said.

Commenting on his installation, the Maine-born artist said, “This work speaks to a common curiosity we all have for how the world works, as well as a global concern for the future of Earth’s energy sources.”

But possibly the best thing about Charland’s battery is that you can eat it once your device reaches full power. Just remember to take the nails out first.

GUKYGT

Henry Sapiecha

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

GOOGLE INTERNET IN YOUR GLASSES

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Google has given the world a glimpse of its vision for letting people look at life through internet-tinted glasses.

A video posted at a Project Glass page at Google+ social network confirmed the rumour that the technology titan is working on eyewear that meshes the online world with the real world.

“We think technology should work for you – be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t,” members of the project team said in a Google+ post.

project glass

Google plans to release Android-powered internet glasses with a heads-up display.

“A group of us from Google X (Labs) started Project Glass to build this kind of technology; one that helps you explore and share your world.”

Images showed people wearing eyeglasses with stylish silver frames that featured tiny cameras and on-lens displays to discretely show information such as walking directions, weather forecasts or messages from friends.

Built-in microphones let wearers command the internet-linked glasses by speaking.

“We took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do,” Google said, stressing that the glasses were a concept far from being brought to market.

“We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input.”

The project team invited people to express ideas for the glasses at the Google+ page.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin is deeply involved with the California company’s X Labs, best known for its work on a self-driving car.

A YouTube video of legally blind Steve Mahan “driving” an autonomous Google car in his California neighborhood has been viewed more than 1.2 million times since it was uploaded on March 27.

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

NEW SMARTPHONE APP COULD WELL BE CALLED DOCTOR SMARTPHONE

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

ARE WE ON THE WAY TO A DOCTOR SMARTPHONE?

(Reuters) – Tired of long waits at the hospital for medical tests? If Korean researchers have their way, your smartphone could one day eliminate that — and perhaps even tell you that you have cancer. 

A team of scientists at Korea Advanced Institute of Science of Technology (KAIST) said in a paper published in Angewandte Chemie, a German science journal, that touch screen technology can be used to detect biomolecular matter, much as is done in medical tests.

“It began from the idea that touch screens work by recognizing the electronic signs from the touch of the finger, and so the presence of specific proteins and DNA should be recognizable as well,” said Hyun-gyu Park, who with Byong-yeon Won led the study.

The touch screens on smartphones, PDAs or other electronic devices work by sensing the electronic charges from the user’s body on the screen. Biochemicals such as proteins and DNA molecules also carry specific electronic charges.

According to KAIST, the team’s experiments showed that touch screens can recognize the existence and the concentration of DNA molecules placed on them, a first step toward one day being able to use the screens to carry out medical tests.

“We have confirmed that (touch screens) are able to recognize DNA molecules with nearly 100 percent accuracy just as large, conventional medical equipment can and we believe equal results are possible for proteins,” Park told Reuters TV.

“There are proteins known in the medical world like the ones used to diagnose liver cancer, and we would be able to see the liver condition of the patient.”

The research team added that it is currently developing a type of film with reactive materials that can identify specific biochemicals, hoping this will allow the touch screens to also recognize different biomolecular materials.

But confirming that the touch screen can recognize the biomolecular materials, though key, is only the first step.

Since nobody would put blood or urine on a touch screen, the sample would be placed on a strip, which would then be fed into the phone or a module attached to the phone through what Park called an “entrance point.”

“The location and concentration of the sample would be recognized the same way the touch of the finger is recognized,” he added.

There are no details yet on a prospective timetable for making the phone a diagnostic tool, however.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

LATEST WRIST PHONES BY BURG NEON

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Burg Neon watch phones launch at CES


Despite the fact that it’s getting more and more difficult to find someone who doesn’t carry a smartphone with them at all times, the notion of the Dick Tracy style watch phone isn’t dead yet. In the past few years, we’ve seen examples from companies such as LG, Samsung, Hyundai and Orange, just to name a few. This week at CES, watchmaker Burg officially added its Neon line of watch phones to that list by announcing two models that will be coming to the U.S. market.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

PHONE USE BY THE POOL USING THE LATEST INVISIBLE PROTECTIVE COATING

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Liquipel nanocoating adds invisible waterproof coating to mobile devices


We all know that water and mobile electronic devices aren’t a good mix. But living on a world whose surface is around 70 percent water can sometimes make it hard to keep the two separate. While wrapping your device in a waterproof case will provide protection, they add bulk and can sometimes affect usability. California-based company Liquipel claims to have developed a hydrophobic nanocoating one thousand times thinner than a human hair that can be applied to a smartphone to protect it from accidental spills without affecting its functionality.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


 

GPS TRACK YOUR LOST DOG WITH AN IPHONE APPLICATION

Monday, January 16th, 2012

SMART PHONE APP HELPS FIND YOUR LOST DOG VIA COLLAR FITTED

GEODOG GPS-enabled collar lets you find your dog using your smartphone
We’ve all experienced that moment of panic when we open the back door to let the dog inside only to find that he’s not there. Technology has provided a solution to this dilemma with GPS tracking devices designed specifically for our four-legged friends entering the market in recent years, but this offering from GEODOG claims to improve on those that have gone before with a new slimline design that’s shockproof, waterproof, user-friendly and unobtrusive.