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Wireless power system charges devices up to 20 feet away

A plethora of firms are racing to develop a feasible method for delivering power wirelessly, but thus far the best we’ve managed are short-range standards like Qi and PMA. A company called Energous is on hand at CES with a demo of its new wireless power system known amusingly as WattUp. It uses a mix of Bluetooth and RF to combine the convenience of wireless power with the security of a wireless network. If it all pans out, WattUp could juice up your phone from up to 20 feet (6.1 meters) away.

WattUp

The heart of WattUp is a hub that’s basically a powerful RF transmitter station. Devices that want to receive power from the hub announce their presence via Bluetooth 4.0. WattUp then uses that connection to direct the wireless power signal to the device. It operates in the same unlicensed spectrum as WiFi, which makes me wonder about possible interference in busy wireless environments. Assuming the connection holds, though, the WattUp signal is absorbed and converted to DC power in the phone or tablet by a receiver chip.

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As the Internet of Cars draws near, here’s what drivers don’t want

Automakers think car buyers are in love with slick connected car features, like buying a song you just heard or updating your Facebook status while parking. Not so. More often, drivers and passengers want mainstream features that get them to their destination faster and then find a place to park. The driver’s top five requests today are on-demand real-time traffic information, automated map updates, real-time weather and news, real-time parking spot finder, and driving assessment/coaching.

OnStar Vehicle Health 1

“This is a defining year for the auto industry [and] the connected vehicle,” said Thilo Koslowski, VP for automotive at the Gartner tech consultancy, speaking at the Consumer Telematics Show in Las Vegas the day before CES opened. “You will see lots of examples [at CES] of the connected vehicle becoming the main innovator of mobile and IOT [Intenet of Things] innovation. It’s about how the car is connected in the future to the other pieces of our daily lives.” This is the Internet of Cars, or IOC.

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Canonical unveils Snappy Ubuntu Core, a lightweight operating system for your home

For the past few years, Canonical, the UK software developer behind the Ubuntu operating system, has been working to extend its traditional desktop operating system into a much broader range of products. Today, the company launched the alpha version of Snappy Ubuntu Core — an ultra-lightweight Ubuntu distribution designed to interface with large-scale cloud application build outs and power the so-called Internet of Things.

Snappy Ubuntu Core is built on the Ubuntu Core project. As the name implies, Ubuntu Core is a barebones, stripped-down implementation of Ubuntu that’s designed to operate in extremely constrained environments. Its advantage is that its software loadout can still be customized with very specific applications, without the additional overhead typically imposed by the full operating system.

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Apple Watch to reportedly feature powerful CPU, 60 fps display, terrible battery life

Ever since Apple announced that it was building its own smartwatch, fans of wearables have been eager to see what the Cupertino company would deliver. Whether you love it or hate it, Apple has a reputation for excellence, and for waiting until it can deliver a superior experience that make previous products from lesser companies look like floundering newbies by comparison. Now, that long-time reputation for excellence may be sorely tested by the one force in the universe that remains impervious to the company’s Reality Distortion Field — physics.

iWatch

New reports indicate that while the Apple Watch will pack significant processing power and a fluid, 60Hz display, it won’t deliver much in the way of battery life. 9to5 Mac is claimingthat the CPU inside the Watch is close in power to the Apple A5 and running a stripped-down version of iOS known as SkiHill.

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New microprocessor claims 10x energy improvement

As power consumption has become one of the most important metrics of CPU design, we’ve seen a variety of methods proposed for lowering CPU TDP. Intel makes extensive use of dynamic voltage and frequency scaling, ARM has big.Little, and multiple companies are researching topics like near threshold voltage (NTV) scaling as well as variable precision for CPU and GPU operations. Now, one small embedded company, Ambiq Micro, is claiming to have made a breakthrough in CPU design by building a chip designed for subthreshold voltage operation — with dramatic results.

Ambiq Micro

Ambiq’s new design strategy could be critical to the long-term evolution of the wearables market, the Internet of Things, and for embedded computing designs in general — if the company’s technology approach can scale to address to a wide range of products

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Vivaldi: Opera team builds a better browser, but is there room for it?

Opera was one of the original internet browser companies, and the only one that is still alive — and independent — from that era. Jon Von Tetzchner was a co-founder of Opera, and his new company, Vivaldi Technologies, has just launched a technical preview of its new browser. Von Tetzchner has said that the purpose of Vivaldi is to build a browser for sophisticated users and to bring back the community, which was a key differentiator for the Opera browser platform.

Vivaldi

Competing in the browser market is no mean feat. Today it is a fundamental piece of every operating system platform — that’s the reason Microsoft, Google, and Apple all have integrated browsers in their desktop and mobile offerings. The browser is also a very important piece of tying an end user closer into the platform. Thankfully, browsers have become increasingly better at supporting standards like HTML5 making it easier to build sites and web apps that work consistently across browsers. Compare that to mobile applications, where apps are clearly tied to iOS, Android, Windows, or Blackberry. While browsers are critically important, because of great standards support it’s becoming harder to differentiate the feature set.

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Flexible nanogenerator harvests muscle movement to power mobile devices

The consumer world is becoming powered by mobile devices, but those devices are still powered by being tethered to a wall or a reserve power pack. What if you could generate power for your mobile devices simply by moving your body, and the power source was almost unnoticeable? A new device developed at the National University of Singapore aims to fulfill both of those requirements.

Skin patch generator

The flexible nanogenerator resembles a small, stamp-sized patch that attaches to your skin. It uses your skin as a source of static electricity, and converts it to electrical energy — reportedly enough to power a small electronic device, like a wearable. The device, presented at the MEMS 2015 conference last week, can generate 90 volts of open-circuit voltage when tapped by a finger. The researchers presented the patch as a self-powered device that can track the wearer’s motion.

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