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The Pilot: Flying us to a land without language barriers?

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In a widely connected world, diversity in languages is our separating point. Translation is what came to our rescue. However, much information is lost in the translation process. Obviously, we get the gist of the important bits but what about that banter which might have seemed useless to your translator but is of value to you? Imagining a world without language barriers seemed next to impossible a decade ago but now we have translation, even speech recognition, then what is the problem? Doing all of it in real time was the challenge before us.

To this, Waverly Labs happily said “Challenge accepted” and devoted two years of research into coming up with a portable device which removes all language barriers using technology going by the name “Pilot”. Taking into consideration the fact that it isn’t the first language translating device, what is it about the Pilot which makes it have groundbreaking potential?

It facilitates communication between two people speaking two different languages by recognizing speech and translating it in real time. In simple words, all you need is its two earpieces and the mobile app to have an entire conversation with someone who doesn’t even speak your language.

When it’ll first be delivered in May 2017, it’ll support the following languages-English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. The company plans to add German, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Slavic, East Asian and African languages by Fall 2017.

How does it work?

No clear information has been given about how it technically functions. Waverly Labs claims that it simply uses ‘translational technology’ embedded within an app.

It is designed to work offline and the app can even function as a phrasebook for basic translation. As it’s normal for one to expect the Pilot to drain one’s phone’s battery as it’ll continuously be accessing it wirelessly to do the translations locally, it comes with a portable charger to further the claim “living life untethered”.

Also, it’s not actually an earpiece but rather two earpieces for wireless streaming of music and to share with another person. One say the Pilot is flying an AirPod. You hand over one earpiece to the one you wish to speak to and put one on yourself and you’re good to go. This allows the device to recognize who you’re speaking to thus allowing it to cancel background noise.

pilot

Consumer level real translation is probably the biggest advancement in wearable technology in recent times. A concept not foreign in science fiction has successfully been materialised and has the potential to break age old culture barriers to bring the future to us. To say we’re excited for the Pilot to be available to the consumer market entirely will an understatement.

Do People Really Like Curves?

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Technological advancements are much like fashion trends. Some appeal to the masses, some don’t, but all of them do get the spotlight to some extent.

Introduced to the consumer market in 2014, curved screens managed to create a hype which created expectations for a major change in the realm of displays. However, they failed to create a significant ripple in the technological arena. Fighting against various new developments, advancements with regards to curved screens seemed to have taken a backseat.

With companies like Samsung still working on making curved screens the de facto standard, we can again see a lot of devices coming up to provide a more immersive experience.

Before giving a verdict on the sustainability of this not so new concept, it’s necessary to cover a few basics.

Why were they introduced? What’s so special about a curve in the first place?

The answer to this question is hidden in the answer to another question-Why were CRT’s replaced with flat screens? To relieve the strain on people’s eyes.  The curve responds to the natural curvature of the eyes making it the ideal setting matching our field of view.

However, is this change as big as the change from CRT’s to flat screens? Probably not. When one starts comparing a flat screen to a curved one, the end of the curve brings an end to it. It is not technological leap but rather a technical jump.

What’s the main benefit of having a curved screen?

The provision of a more enigmatic and theatre like experience has been the main selling point for all curved screen devices till now. With an enhanced contrast and sense of depth, one seems to be drawn into the world one is watching. 

curved screen
The curve of the screen matches the natural curve of the eye making it fit for the human field of view.

What’s the main con of having a curved screen?

Unless and until you’re in your own sweet spot, the viewing isn’t all that ‘immersive’ with all the heightened noticeability of corners and reflections. A slight shift in the viewing angle is all that is required to make you feel like you burned a hole in your pocket for nothing.

Do the benefits outweigh the cons?

That’s something which varies from person to person. If you’re hoping to enjoy playing that new game you got for hours, yes. If you’re hoping to spend some decent family time in front of a screen, nein. The fights will branch out from being about the remote to being about where one is sitting.

Final Verdict

On seeing the responsive approach of the consumers towards the new Acer Predator 21 X offering a curved display, one can say that not being confined to a specific place to enjoy a curved display has really appealed to a majority. With more and more people focusing on making their viewing experience more extravagant, one thing we can say for sure that curved screens cannot be written off as a short term gimmick.

In the near future, curved screens are most likely to become a norm mostly because of aesthetic reasons but one can’t say anything about what might happen to them in the long run.

In simple words, for now, people do like curves.

Surface Studio vs MacBook Pro

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Surface studio macbook pro

Microsoft’s Surface family expands to include the Surface Studio as Apple celebrates the 25th anniversary of the PowerBook with the launch of the new MacBook Pro.

Yes, this implies exactly what you think it does. Microsoft and Apple go head to head once again to divide people’s opinions all over the world.

Microsoft unveiled the Surface Studio along with the announcement of the next version of Windows 10, Creators Edition with its expected release in April, 2017. By facilitating a digital canvas to creative professionals in the form of Surface Studio, an outright challenge has been posed to Apple’s iMac and MacPro which have been the sole provider for the creative industry. One can say Apple responded by bringing an end to its four year long hiatus in the laptop line by introducing the all new MacBook Pro.

Here is all that you need to know about the Surface Studio and the new MacBook Pro.

Display

The thinnest ever MacBook Pro features a 67 percent brighter display with a 67 percent higher contrast ratio with a 25 percent increase in the vibrancy of the display. In simple words, the new MacBook Pro has outdone its predecessor by a large extent in terms of display.

The incredible display of Surface Studio has been the core of its marketing strategy. The touchscreen display of “world’s thinnest LCD monitor ever built” outputs 13.5 million pixels making it the best screen in its class. A feature that is appealing to photographers, videographers and designers is “True Colour”, which refers to the expanded colour output. If this wasn’t enough to get one to agree on its extraordinary display features, the provision of the screen being adjusted to a twenty degree orientation on account of the “zero gravity hinge” will do so.

Software

With Quad-core 6th Generation Intel Core processors, an NVIDIA GeForce graphics processor with up to 4GB memory, and up to 2TB storage, Surface Studio serves as a rather powerful workstation with the built-in Windows assistant, Cortana, just a calling even when you’re in a different room.

Inside MacBook Pro we find Intel Core i5 and i7 chips cooled by a new thermal arrangement promising to fix problems faced earlier- overheating and excessive noise. The company claims to have improved the graphic performance, speeding it up by 130 percent and to have made access to the amicable AI assistant, Siri, easier.

surface studio macbook pro

What makes the two special?

The Studio mode supports a variety of accessories which add onto the appeal of it such as-the Surface Pen and the Surface Dial whereas the Surface mode works with a wireless keyboard and mouse. The main purpose of the Surface Dial is to provide an easier and intuitive way to trigger menus, scroll and access various features and shortcuts in apps by its simple placement on the screen. The Surface Pen comes with 5 interchangeable colour tips and 1024 pressure points highlighting the focus on the provision of a platform for people to unleash their creative side.

Apple says goodbye to its row of function keys as it introduces a mini Retina display Touch Bar between the screen and keyboard as the people anticipated due to the leaks. The multitouch screen uses various taps and gestures to perform a wide variety of tasks, making it the most significant change in the MacBook Pro. It also includes TouchID allowing one to access their MacBook with their fingerprint.

Final Review

What one can say about Surface Studio for sure that Microsoft has truly pushed it to make it all about creativity. A new category of device has been created which seems to be paving the way to making 3D content easily available to people.

Whereas in the case of MacBook Pro, one can see major improvements being made over previously tried and tested technology to make the experience of users better with only the Touch Bar being the only new and innovative feature introduced.

All in all, Surface Studio is a game changer while the new MacBook Pro is a product refresher.

What Do You Call Patents Stolen From Tesla?

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Edison?

Elon Musk of Tesla thinks it is nothing but technology sharing. A move made with the intention of accelerating mass market advancement of electric cars to provide a sustainable alternate form of transportation, in June 2014 it was announced that the company will allow anyone to use its technology patents in good faith. With a rather vague statement, Musk managed to protect Tesla’s intellectual property while taking a grand leap towards his desire of providing everyone with electric cars.

Musk’s extravagant claims ranging from guaranteeing trips to Mars to producing a Tesla that can drive itself without any human, astonishingly, haven’t been the reason behind Tesla’s frequent mentions in the technological realm but rather the blame of crashes of Tesla Model  S by the drivers on its supposed prematurely introduced Autopilot feature.

While Tesla’s logs and independent reviews make the claim that the drivers were responsible for the crashes, the drivers continue to blame the vehicles. Before entering into a discussion of who’s at fault, certain questions must be answered.

Tesla Motors Munich Showroom

 

What is the Autopilot?

Despite its name, it’s a semi-autonomous system. Taking this into consideration German regulators asked US automobile company to drop the name Autopilot as it seemed to “over promise capability” to which Tesla just said nein, dropping hints about the recent claim to introduce complete self-driving capability by the end of 2017. Starting from October 2014, all Tesla vehicles were equipped with a camera, a forward-looking radar, ultrasonic acoustic location sensors and digitally controlled brakes. In simple words, the vehicles were facilitated with all required equipment for detection of lane markings, road signs and obstacles such as other vehicles. The technology was in a state of dormancy until the introduction of Tesla 7.0.

Tesla 7.0

This software package enabled the Autopilot feature in practicality. Even now, owners have to manually turn on the feature before using it which requires certain criteria to be met before it can be used which include- clear lane lines, a somewhat constant speed, a map of the surrounding area and a good sense of the cars around.

Tesla 7.1

The latest version added new features which enabled owners to call their cars from a distance of 40 feet after which the car will semi-autonomously drive itself out of a parking space and head towards the owner which goes by the name ‘Summon’ and introduced ‘Autopark’.

What makes Tesla unique?

Not only does the Autopilot system facilitate over-the-air software updates but also sends real-time feedback to Tesla so that the company can improve the system and fix the bugs.

Also, unlike other automakers, Tesla does not use single purpose , large battery cells but thousands of small, cylindrical, lithium-ion 18650-like commodity cells. Thus, in order to allow quick charging of Model S and X on longer journeys, in 2012, Tesla Motors began establishing a network of 480-volt fast-charging Supercharger stations.

Tesla Autopilot- The Controversy

When a 40-year-old man, Joshua Brown, suffered a fatal crash into an 18-wheel truck using his Tesla Model S in Autopilot mode in Williston, Florida, Tesla had no other option than to release its logs and make an official statement regarding how the Model S was unable to recognise ‘the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky”.

Two of the accidents involving Tesla vehicles had them crashing into businesses: a Model S crashed into a gym in Florida and a Model X crashed into a beauty salon in California.

A similar accident happened in Quebec on October 21st where a Model S drove through a store causing a lot of damages but no fatalities. For a change, the driver accepted her fault and didn’t blame it on the vehicle or the Autopilot system.

With questions being raised about the safety of the self-driving function, what is to follow?

Recovery

With Tesla vehicles now being built with the hardware to facilitate full self-driving capability at safety level which Musk considers to be twice than that of a person, the target for the upcoming cheaper Model 3 is the general public, making Tesla’s efforts to make electric cars available to everyone quite apparent.

Whether people want to entrust their lives with a computer and Elon Musk is what only sales figures will tell.