Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Going autonomous is the future of mobility with self-driving cars

I believe that self-driving cars are going to be the next big thing, with mainstream companies like Tesla, Google, and start ups like Zoox leading the way.

Although Tesla has gotten a head start and is planning on launching their technology in 2020 or sooner, don’t underestimate Zoox, who has a new CEO in Aichia Evans, a native of Senegal, with impressive credentials and a track record to match with tech giants like Intel Corporation and Communication and Devices Group.

Evans has been responsible for wireless engineering in past roles, especially at Intel, where she engineered WiMAX networks, and also during stints with firms like Conexant, Rockwell Semiconductors, and Skyworks.

Now the former Intel senior vice president, with an army of gurus from other tech companies, will try to work her magic in the autonomous driving sector, with a vision of robo-taxis tooling passengers around town . With testing going in San Francisco, the Zoox team is hoping to be on the streets in 2020. Time will tell if Zoox is able to turn its visionary ride-hailing idea into a successful business and revenue.

As reported in Business Insider, Zoox co-founder and CTO Jesse Leninson said Zoox is developing autonomous vehicles for “ride-hailing” instead of individual ownership. This makes more economic sense to me, as monies will be accepted by the same vehicle multiple times of day and night. Whereas, with individual ownership, sure you’ll pay a bundle to purchase the self-driving vehicle, but then what? It’ll stay parked and depreciate until you need to make a trip.

One big gamble for Zoox is that Waymo, owned by Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Cruise Automation, backed by General Motors, are using vehicles already in operation by traditional auto manufacturers, while Zoox is building their vehicles from the ground up, with custom hardware and software. While Waymo has been testing their vehicles on a limited basis in Arizona, they recently got permission to test their prototypes on roads in Las Vegas, which might be more challenging than the streets of their home territory in San Francisco.

Waymo has been developing their public ride-hailing service for a couple of years now with an early-rider program and recently launched apps in the Apple and Google Play stores.

Let’s certainly not count out Elon Musk and Tesla’s Autopilot system, which has been around since 2014. While not entirely self-driving at this point, this innovative system does offer limited autonomous driving, lane changing and “summon your car” features.

The Autopilot feature, which is now standard on every Tesla, has had several updates over the past years and is now available as an enhanced package for customers who purchase the Full Self-Driving, or FSD, package for around $7,000. Just be aware that even with Telsa’s ability to drive autonomously, a driver must stay alert and ready to take over the controls.

Depending on who you believe, Tesla is pushing for their FSD package before the end of 2019 or a debut in 2020. The company also has plans in the works for s Tesla robotaxi service.

A fleet of self-driving vehicles for autonomous Chinese startup AutoX.
Chinese startup AutoX has been developing their self-driving technology since 2016.

On the world stage, another player in the autonomous arena is Chinese startup AutoX, founded by Jianxiong Xiao, or Professor X, who has vast experience in computer learning and robotics. With a team of notable engineers, they have been developing their self-driving technology since 2016. Their approach to self-driving includes real-time cameras, sensors and artificial intelligence for quick reactions and autonomous decisions. They have already earned the coveted “California Public Utilities Commission” permit and completed their first Robotaxi service to a passenger in California.


The AutoX team is also turning their attention to deploying RoboTaxis in Europe by partnering with Swedish EV manufacturer NEVS, who acquired Saab Automobile AB in 2012. We’ll probably see more autonomous development from this team in 2020.

Simply because of who they are, and with deep pockets, Waymo is probably considered the market leader in the autonomous driving arena, The Google-backed company seems to be further along with their technology while shuttling real passengers who are using their service.

I imagine it’ll be that way for a while, or at least until Apple and Amazon reveal their autonomous plans.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

BMW launches smartphone Digital Key for latest luxury cars

BMW drivers can now turn their smartphone into their car key if they’re driving the latest X5 SUV or 8 Series Coupe.

These luxury BMW drivers will be able to unlock their car and start the engine with Digital Key using the “Near Field Communication” technology, also known as NFC. They’ll also be able to share their Digital Key access with up to five family members or friends, who'll use a four-digit code for access.

The process and verifications might seem a little intimidating at the beginning, as you’ll need several levels of authorization, the BMW Connected app, a Connected Drive account, and a compatible smart phone with NFC capability. At present, Android devices have been given the nod, such as the Samsung Galaxy family and the latest Note devices. Unfortunately, iPhone owners will not be able to play with the Bimmer’s Digital key system. But I’m sure Apple has something in the works. Read more...

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

IoT is digital transformation, AI, innovation, many more things

The "Internet of Things" (IoT) will connect your mobile devices,home, your favorite applications to the internet for data analytics and useful information.

If you haven't heard about IoT, you soon will and stay tuned, as it’s likely to be the next big thing.

This technology is known as the "Internet of Things" (IoT) and will be connecting your mobile devices, your home and even your favorite applications to the internet for data analytics and useful information.

It’s so important that leaders of this digital world will be meeting in Barcelona for the fifth IoT Solutions World Congress October 29 – 30. The international event of over 400 exhibitors, along with 200 sessions, is being pitched as the largest gathering of minds focused on innovations, digital transformations, and artificial intelligence. Read More...

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Samsung takes the stage with Galaxy Fold, S10 line, 5G networks

The Samsung Galaxy Fold is a slender smartphone when folded, but opens up to a 7.3-inch display with content on both screens for a tablet-like experience.
There is a lot of innovation happening in the Samsung camp, with the release of the Galaxy Fold and the upcoming Galaxy S10 5G. The Galaxy Fold is already out in the wild for early adopters with mixed reviews and 5G on the Galaxy S10 will be available in May. The Galaxy Fold is being pitched as one of greatest groundbreaking devices and Samsung is thinking it will change the mobile landscape. According to Samsung, their engineers created over 1,000 prototypes while creating a revolutionary device with new technologies and materials for a tablet-like experience.

But some early users are reporting problems with the display showing cracks along the crease between the two screens. We’ll have to see how Samsung responds to these complaints and whether a serious defect has been discovered right out of the gate.

Update: The Galaxy Fold was supposed to be available in the U.S.on April 26. But after reports of display issues from early users, Samsung is delaying the launch indefinitely. According to the company, a new release date will be announced in the coming weeks.

And as of May 21, electronics retail giant Best Buy has cancelled all preorders for the Galaxy Fold. There is still no indication of a new launch date for the ill-fated smartphone.

When folded, with a distinctive, perhaps magnetic, click, the unique design Galaxy Fold is a slender or tall, display for regular content on the front side and triple camera lens the back side of the phone. The home screen can show three apps in a row on the narrow display. It can be conveniently slipped into a purse or inside coat pocket.

When the Galaxy Fold is fully opened, it locks in position and there is a 7.3-inch display allowing content to fill both screens and approaches the size of a tablet with a spacious digital keyboard when needed. Samsung and Google collaborated on a feature named App Continuity which allows whatever content that was on the slender, folded display, to suddenly fill both sides of the display in the open position. Two forward-facing cameras occupy a corner of the unfolded display.

When the displays are fully open, the 7.3-inch size can show five apps icons across and six down, for a total of around 30 apps to choose from. Three apps can be opened for multitasking.

If you’re hungry to get your hands on the Galaxy Fold, it’ll be available on April 26 at select AT&T, Best Buy and Samsung Experience stores. You’ll need around $2,000 you probably won’t get any change back.

Major wireless carriers in South Korea are rolling out the 5G wireless service on the Samsung Galaxy S10 with promises of faster speeds and connectivity.

More speed is on the horizon as 5G debuts in South Korea and around the world

Another Samsung showcase is just around the corner, dressing up as 5G wireless service, and promising unheard-of speed and connectivity from major carriers in South Korea.

As 5G is rolled out around the world, Samsung will have the Galaxy S10 5G standing by to take advantage of the new wireless power. According to Samsung, users will experience hyper-fast movies, streaming of games, and faster handling of photos and videos.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 line uses innovative design with bright, prism colors to attract a new generation of Millennials and Gen Z consumers.

Prism colors, luxurious materials to bring attention to Galaxy S10 line

As for the Galaxy S10 line, a lot of thought was put into the design by using bright, prism colors, with emphasis on attracting a new generation of Millennials and Gen Z consumers. You’ll be able to choose from innovative colors, such as Ceramic Black and Ceramic White. Other playful color include Canary Yellow and Flamingo Pink.

The Product Design Team were very thorough with every detail for the Galaxy S10, including where to position the front camera to not interfere with the content and how to ensure a comfortable grip.

U.S. wireless companies preparing to roll out 5G networks

We can expect 5G to increase its presence in the United States in the coming months. But according to AT&T, they are the first to currently offer Mobile 5G in 19 U.S cities and reach 1 gigabit per second wireless speeds. The cities with AT&T's mobile 5G service include Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose.

Verizon is on the move as well, with 5G service in Chicago and Minneapolis using 5G-enabled smartphones on their 5G Ultra Wideband network. Verizon has release plans to "launch its 5G service in more than 30 U.S. cities in 2019."

With the Sprint and T-Mobile merger still pending, these companies also have the potential to make great strides with the 5G technology.

The next generation of technology is fast approaching with foldable phones and super-fast networks.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Ring Alarm offers sophisticated home security, impressive alerts

The Ring Alarm system offers sophisticated home security protection.
The basic Ring Alarm kit has a Base Station, Motion Detector, Range Extender, 
Key Pad, and Contact Sensor. 
I have only had the Ring Alarm system for a few weeks and I’m already a fan of the Ring ecosystem. Before the Ring Alarm, I also had purchased the Ring Floodlight Cam and I am equally as pleased.

With the Ring Alarm basic package, you get a Base Station, Motion Detector, a Range Extender, Key Pad, and Contact Sensor. After experiencing what the Ring Alarm can do, you’ll probably add additional sensors and motion detectors.

Depending on your skills, you can install this system yourself if you’re a handy person, with just a drill and a screwdriver. Or you might not need any tools, depending on your location for the components and whether you use adhesive strips instead of screws.

Installation is a breeze following the instructions

The Ring Alarm is not your typical alarm system and a traditional installation approach is not the best way. I choose to install all the components first and then complete the setup.

But you can complete the setup with the Ring Base Station plugged into power and the sensor and motion detector on a table, as you’ll need to pull tabs from the batteries in the sensors and open/close covers in the process. Depending on the component and whether it’s an additional component, such as a sensor or motion detector, you might need to scan a bar code label on the sensor. All these tasks can be performed best if the Ring motion detector and contacts sensor are not mounted.

After the components have been recognized by the Base Station and the magnetic sensors and motion detector are working properly, then go about installing the components in their proper location.

Be prepared for light carpentry and wall refinishing

Contact Sensor
If you’re replacing an existing alarm system, be mindful that the Ring sensors might be about twice the size of what you are replacing. In my case, the existing door contact sensors from another alarm company were mortised into the door facing, which meant I had to enlarge the mortise to accommodate the Ring sensor. But that was accomplished with my trusty Dremel saw with an oscillating wood blade and a steady hand.

Just a tip on installing the contact sensors: Both components have a slight notch on them that should be lined up. That prevents one of them from being installed upside down.

There is also a chance the Ring components might not cover existing holes from a previous door contact sensor and keypad, especially if the Ring Keypad is mounted on the wall in the same location as the previous keypad. That’s just the difference the design of bracket components from one company to another and no fault of the Ring components. A little Spackle and a dab of matching paint will cover the holes.

The Keypad can be mounted on a wall or table.
Since I choose mounting my keypad on the wall instead of placing on a table, and my wife hates looking at cords, I went to the trouble of hiding the power cord for the Keypad inside the wall by drilling a hole behind the mounting backing and running the cord down to the electrical outlet below, exiting the wall at that point and plugging it in.

But the Ring Keypad also works off battery power, so this could be a none issue until it’s time to recharge the internal battery. I also think the Ring Base Station looks the best when placed in a location where it can be plugged into an electrical outlet and the cord is out of sight behind a table. All the neat freaks will nod their heads here.

Don’t forget about downloading the Ring App

Ring - Always Home app
You’ll also want to go ahead and download the Ring App, as this will become your best friend for mobile monitoring and even setting and disarming the alarm. A lot of your sensor settings will be done inside the App, such as the modes for whether you are “home” or “away” from home. You’ll also set up your rooms, such as family room, den, kitchen, bedroom, and door categories, such as main and secondary door.

Just another tip here, the “main door” should be where your keypad is located and where you would arm and disarm the Ring system on exit and entry.

The Ring setup within the app will default to the name of your city for the location. But its easily changed if you have a name for your home or business. You’ll want to adjust the volume of the Base Station speaker and please don’t forget to write down your PIN and Security Code.

Now it’s showtime for the Ring Alarm system

Once everything is installed, it’s time for the Ring Alarm to show its stuff, and it’s quite impressive. Now that you have proper chirps from the door or window sensors and the motion detectors are working, along with exit and entry codes from the keypad, the entire Ring Alarm ecosystem comes alive.

The Keypad can be set to light up as you approach it, which will be helpful in a room with low light. You simply chose whether you’re leaving (Away), at home for a while (Home), or going to bed for the night. And of course, you’ll want to set your exit and entry delay. If this is a threat, there is two-key combination for a panic mode that will send an alarm to the monitoring station.

For me, the best part of the system is the Ring App, which is available for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows. At a glance, I can see if the Ring Alarm system is disarmed or set to Home or Away. There is a wealth of settings or modes to choose from, such as Devices, under which you can view the settings for the Base Station, Keypad, Extender, Sensors and Motion Detectors. The battery level of each sensor is displayed, along with alerts status, event history and a choice of Chirp Tones.

Just another tip here: If the Keypad is in “power save mode” in the settings, the display will not illuminate when you approach it.

Another beauty of the Ring Alarm system is the sophistication of the communication being pushed to your mobile device. You will never be in the dark about what’s going on around your home. The minute a door is opened, you’ll know with a notification something like “Back door in family room opened at 12/20/18 at 05:30. P.M.” You’ll know if someone just came home. Then it might be followed by another notification with “Ring Alarm changed to Disarmed at 12/20/18 05:31 P.M.”

The only person that might escape the watchful eyes of the Ring Alarm is a pet, as our small dog is able to roam freely from couch to couch without being detected. People cannot escape the Ring Alarm notifications.

Any problems with the Ring Alarm system are easily fixed

As with any technology, things might go awry or seem to not be working properly. But the Ring Alarm is so well engineered that any issues are most likely caused by a particular “setting” turned on or off within the Ring App.

It’s important to choose the correct door for the main entry or exit and to set your motion detectors to be deactivated when home. If you just can’t figure it out on your own, a quick call to customer support will your problem solved quickly, as the customer support specialists are very knowledgeable about the Ring products.

The  Ring Alarm system offers ease of installation, remote monitoring, effective motion detectors, sensitive entry/exit sensors and just overall peace of mind.

The minuses are very few in my experience. I had a few erratic alerts and alarms that had me stumped for a while, but everything is working fine now, thanks to the kind and courteous people in Ring customer support.

For around $200, the Ring Alarm kit is a good buy for home security. If you’re replacing an existing system, you might even save a few dollars on the monitoring, as the monthly plan for Ring’s professional security monitoring is around $10 per month or $100 annually, which includes all Ring devices at one address.

With the Ring Alarm, sophisticated security is “Always Home.” The bad guys will just need to keep going.


Friday, November 2, 2018

Bose headphones on deck for Black Friday shopping deals

The Black Friday shopping craze is almost here, and Bose is already out of the gate with some early headphones’ deals. With some help from Spending Lab, a firm who monitors the world of online retail and e-commerce, here are the top picks from the Bose line of devices.

With the Bose Quiet Comfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones, loud noises are reduced to a whisper and sounds from music you not have noticed before.

Try Bose noise cancelling headphones for peace and quiet

First up for grabs is the Bose Quiet Comfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones designed for Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch 2nd generation or the later iPod classic and iPod Nano.

The headphones, with rotating earcups, also include an inline mic/remote to control music functions. For noisy environments, such as the roar of an airplane, Bose says all you’ll hear is a whisper. When listening to music, you’ll be surprised at the subtle details you may have not noticed before. You can pick up a pair at this link for under $200.

The Bose SoundSport in Energy Green in-ear headphones for iOS devices can stay in your ear comfortably all day long and are sweat and weather resistant.

Active lifestyles call for the Bose SoundSport in your ears

If you’re looking for some snazzy in-ear headphones, these Bose SoundSport in Energy Green might satisfy your needs. Bose is pitching deep, clear sound quality using their TriPort technology for clear high and lows with a natural sound.

According to Bose, these have proprietary “Stay Hear” tips to help them stay in your ear comfortably all day long and they are sweat and weather resistant.

If you have an iOS device, these headphones’ controls will answer calls and adjust the volume directly from a control pod on the cable. For around $90, you could be sporting the Bose SoundSport for the holidays season.

The Bose SoundLink around-ear wireless headphone are worth a look for deep, immersive sound, 15 hours of play time and wireless connectivity up to 30 feet.

Eliminate background noise with wireless Bose SoundLink

The Bose SoundLink around-ear wireless headphone are worth a look for deep, immersive sound and Bluetooth for wireless connectivity up to around 30 feet from your sound source. These wireless headphones offer up to 15 hours of play time with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

According to Bose, the ear cushion is made up with rayon and nylon and does not contain latex.

A user report says you can listen to two audio sources simultaneously, such as music on your computer while monitoring your phone for voice calls. If you get a call, the music can still play in the background if you desire.

With these features, a price for $230 or less, or a Black Friday deal, would be a winner.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday deals expecting record sales

Spending Lab is saying that as Black Friday deals draws near, along with Cyber Monday, the sales are expected to break online and spending and web traffic records. As further proof of the popularity of these shopping extravaganzas, Adobe Analytics concludes American shoppers spent $19.62 billion online during Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2017, with an increase of $2.6 billion or 15% over the previous year’s sales.

So be on the lookout for more shopping deals in the coming weeks.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

MBC Connect app offers information for breast cancer patients

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is when breast cancer charities organize an annual international health campaign to increase awareness.
The Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance has launched MBC Connect, an iOS and Android app to assist patients with building a database of patient information to drive research and seek solutions for the MBC community.

MBC Connect is an interactive patient registry designed specifically for people with stage IV or metastatic breast cancer (MBC) or advanced breast cancer
MBC Connect app
The features of the app, which is designed by patients, for patients, include access to an interactive patient registry and capabilities to explore patient data, as well as create a link between patients, clinical trials and relevant research.

"MBC Connect is designed to address some very serious challenges in the MBC community," said Marc Hurlbert, Chairman, MBC Alliance. "It not only represents an opportunity to unlock the mysteries of a marginalized patient population, it also represents significant opportunity for a disease that's only received a fraction of breast cancer research funding."


MBC Connect app provides clinical trials information

Stage IV MBC is categorized as having spread beyond the breast to the bones, lung, liver, brain or other body organs. It is considered treatable but not curable.

According to the MBC Alliance, existing cancer registries do not count metastatic recurrences, and few patients participate in clinical trials. The MBC Connect app gives patients and caregivers a platform to update their information, respond to short surveys and create a holistic treatment profile. The app’s users will receive information on breast cancer news and events, personalized insights, and possible clinical trial opportunities.

MBC Connect app data is encrypted, HIPPA compliant

As for security and privacy concerns, all patient data is encrypted and stored in HIPAA-compliant database that can be accessed here.

The patient app is currently available in the App store or Google Play, with plans to launch in four more countries in 2019. More information is available here.