Category Archives: Electromatics

Feel unsafe while crossing roads. Well not for long guys.

A Future Smartphone System Could Warn Oblivious Pedestrians Of Oncoming Traffic

Researchers at the University of Missouri, Kansas City are designing a system to alert pedestrians and drivers of potential crashes before they happen.

Wi-Fi Honk, an Android system recently presented at a conference on mobile systems, harnesses the bits of information your phone constantly sends out while searching for available wireless networks to connect to. The app picks up data on speed, location, and direction from nearby devices, which is then fed into an algorithm that predicts whether the user needs to be warned about an oncoming car or pedestrian.

Even if you can’t hear the traffic coming–whether because you’re hard of hearing or because you’re really wrapped up in your favorite podcast–it’ll ping you with vibrations and on-screen alerts as well as sound. It can also warn a driver that a pedestrian (or even a cyclist) is about to move into the car’s path, allowing the driver to brake.

It’s hard to say whether this (or similar cell-phone-enabled safety systems) could work before it is really put into widespread practice. A lot of phones would need to be equipped with Wi-Fi Honk to make it truly effective, since the app relies on the data beacons sent out by other Wi-Fi-Honk-enabled phones. But it does purport to solve what is becoming a significant safety issue: The more invested we get in fiddling with our phones as we walk, the less we pay attention to the world around us.

Several studies indicate that talking on a cell phone inhibits our ability to cross streets safely. And that’s just talking–not being immersed in Candy Crush or listening to music through noise-canceling headphones. Walking across an intersection can be deadly dangerouseven for those crossing legally, with the light. Sure, what we really need is slower cars and better intersections, but in the meantime, we could also use a little heads up.

The Shapeshifting technology by MIT. Just Amazing.

We live in an age of touch-screen interfaces, but what will the UIs of the future look like? Will they continue to be made up of ghostly pixels, or will they be made of atoms that you can reach out and touch?

At the MIT Media Lab, the Tangible Media Groupbelieves the future of computing is tactile. Unveiled today, the inFORM is MIT’s new scrying pool for imagining the interfaces of tomorrow. Almost like a table of living clay, the inFORM is a surface that three-dimensionally changes shape, allowing users to not only interact with digital content in meatspace, but even hold hands with a person hundreds of miles away. And that’s only the beginning.

Created by Daniel Leithinger and Sean Follmer and overseen by Professor Hiroshi Ishii, the technology behind the inFORM isn’t that hard to understand. It’s basically a fancy Pinscreen, one of those executive desk toys that allows you to create a rough 3-D model of an object by pressing it into a bed of flattened pins. With inFORM, each of those “pins” is connected to a motor controlled by a nearby laptop, which can not only move the pins to render digital content physically, but can also register real-life objects interacting with its surface thanks to the sensors of a hacked Microsoft Kinect.

To put it in the simplest terms, the inFORM is a self-aware computer monitor that doesn’t just display light, but shape as well. Remotely, two people Skyping could physically interact by playing catch, for example, or manipulating an object together, or even slapping high five from across the planet. Another use is to physically manipulate purely digital objects. A 3-D model, for example, can be brought to life with the inFORM, and then manipulated with your hands to adjust, tweak, or even radically transform the digital blueprint.

The solution is programmable matter, and the inFORM is one possible interpretation of an interface that can transform itself to physically be whatever it needs to be. It’s an interesting (and literal) analogue to skeuomorphism: while in the touch-screen age we have started rejecting interfaces that ape the look of real world affordances as “tacky” in favor of more pure digital UIs, the guys at the Tangible Media Group believe that interface of the future won’t be skeuomorphic. They’ll be supermorphic, growing the affordances they need on the fly.

Although the inFORM is primarily a sandbox for MIT to experiment with the tactile interfaces to come, it would be wrong to dismiss this project as mere spitballing. “We like to think of ourselves as imagining the futures, plural,” Follmer says. “The inFORM is a look at one of them.” But while the actual consumer implementation may very well differ, but both Follmer and Leithinger agree that tangible interfaces are coming.

 

Mozilla sets its sights on India, Indonesia with $25 Firefox OS phone

I really want this one guys and I hope you too. Aiming a low cost smartphones is really a good approach but the question is would it work a good as we hope or would just be a weaker one like micromax.

Gigaom

Hoping to tap into the large population that hasn’t yet made the move from feature to smartphone, Mozilla is aiming to bring a $25 phone to India and Indonesia. The company doesn’t actually make hardware but instead has been working on its Firefox OS software to power low-cost phones. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Mozilla COO Gong Li said the phones could be available this year.

Firefox OS Smartphoen

Phones running the Firefox OS are already available from carriers in Latin America and Europe but are priced higher. You can, for example, purchase a Firefox OS phone from ZTE on eBay for between $70 and $100. At $25 off-contract, the Mozilla-powered phones would cost similar to or not much more than a standard feature phone while providing some smartphone features. And by “some,” I mean the basics.

Unlike other mobile operating systems that focus on native apps, the Firefox OS…

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Starbucks US menu updated to include wireless phone charging

Awesomely Done (y) .

Gigaom

After a two-city trial that started last year, Starbucks is adding in-store wireless charging for customers’ phones throughout all of its nearly 13,000 U.S. locations. Announced on Thursday, the expansion is now starting with stores in major markets to have the wireless charging stations in place by 2015. Just as it did in the trial, Starbucks(s sbux) is partnering with Duracell Powermat for the technology.

Powermat charging

According to the news release: “Stores will be equipped with ‘Powermat Spots’ — designated areas on tables and counters where customers can place their compatible device and charge wirelessly. Select Starbucks stores in Boston and San Jose offer Powermat today and the broader rollout can be tracked at www.powermat.com/locations.”

As I noted when the trial started last year, very few phones that come with wireless charging capabilities out of the box are compatible with Powermat, which is part of the Power Matters Alliance (PMA)…

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