Digital technology, media and intellectual property
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The built-in microphone and speakers of an iPhone can be used for far more than just talking.


Eric De Grasse Chief Technology Officer

21 November 2016 - I was at a MIT Media Lab workshop last week and learned a very funky thing: controlling an app via sonar, generated by the phone’s original hardware.

This is made possible by software built by Wei Wang and Alex X. Liu from the Department of Computer Science and Technology at Nanjing University in China. It uses the phone’s onboard speakers to emit sound at frequencies between 17 and 23 kilohertz—toward the upper end of human hearing, and just barely audible to younger ears. By analyzing the reflected signals detected by built-in microphones, it’s possible to measure the proximity of an object, such as your hand, to within four millimeters.

Controlling a device without having to directly touch it isn’t a cheap... Read more

November 21st, 2016 | Published in Apple

Future iPhones could fold in half


4 November 2016 -  Apple has just received a patent, titled "electronic devices with carbon nanotube printing circuits," that suggests future iPhones may be foldable -- at least to some degree.

Getting rid of the headphone jack isn’t really an innovation, and it doesn’t actually require courage to do it. But an iPhone that folds in half? Now you’re talking.

And yes, it does look an awful lot like the Microsoft Courier concept that you never had a chance to buy. It also looks like a scaled-down version of the recently-released Lenovo Yoga Book, which you can actually buy right now.

Based on the language in the patent, it doesn’t sound like Apple is specifically talking about a device that has a fully bendable display. It mentions one that can bend “along edges... Read more

November 4th, 2016 | Published in Apple

The iPhone 7 product cycle: here is the problem when you use 2 chips


25 October 2016 - For years, Apple has had its modem chips supplied solely by Qualcomm. This isn't a unique method of procuring components for Apple, which has generally preferred to stick with one supplier per component type when it can. Business reasons for such a decision are obvious: with one supplier, Apple can better ensure it is putting out a quality product that performs similarly across the entire global user base, and the company only has one supplier to keep an eye on to ensure proper quality control. On the other side, single suppliers have strong bargaining power and it exposes Apple to supplier risk (supplier not meeting volume requirements of components needed to meet device demand).

This changed with the iPhone 7 product cycle, with Intel finally getting a major win within its mobile division on what... Read more

October 25th, 2016 | Published in Apple

Taming our technologies


Humanoid robot iCub is used for research into cognition and artificial intelligence


18 October 2016 - I am attending a rather off-beat workshop, "The Weaponization of Social Media in International Politics”, as a precursor to the next chapter in my artificial intelligence series. For the last two months I have been running through the rapid advances in AI technology that have fueled an explosion of surveillance capabilities: commercial surveillance satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles, social media analytics, biometric technologies, and cyber defenses.

In all of this, ethics is a ... well, nonstarter. Technological innovation in fields from genetic engineering to cyber warfare is accelerating at a breakneck pace, but ethical deliberation over its implications has lagged behind.

Read more
October 18th, 2016 | Published in Cognitive computing

Google releases an open source font that supports 800 languages


11 October 2016 - Google has been working on the project over the past five years in collaboration with Monotype in hopes of eradicating so-called "tofu" -- the blank boxes you see when a PC or website can't display a particular text -- from the web. Noto, or No more tofu, is Google's answer, and it's available now to download.

Said Scott Landers, president and CEO of Monotype:

"We are thrilled to have played such an important role in what has become one of the most significant type projects of all time. Monotype played the biggest role, though Google also collaborated with Adobe and had a network of volunteer reviewers. As far as Monotype is concerned, Noto is one of the expansive typography projects ever undertaken".

There's 110,000 characters, and Google says the project "required design and... Read more

October 11th, 2016 | Published in General Technology, Google and the World

"The mind that lies fallow but a single day sprouts up follies that are only to be killed by a constant and assiduous culture."
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