Airbus is designing a self-piloting flying taxi
Airbus’ A3 subdivision, an innovation-focused unit located in Silicon Valley, is working on building a self-flying vehicle platform codenamed Vahana which is designed to carry both individual passengers and cargo. Airbus said it expects to begin testing its first prototype vehicle by the end of 2017. A key goal of the project is alleviating traffic congestion expected to accompany the growing populations of the world’s cities. But like the self-driving cars currently undergoing testing, one of the major obstacles to the launch of the self-flying taxi is the lack of a reliable sense-and-avoid technology that allows airborne vehicles to avoid crashing into buildings.
More details about this subject here.
Google has released Duo video calling app on iOS and Android with end-to-end encryption
The company said users only need a phone number to sign up, and that the app would be rolled out globally in the coming days. Additionally, the calls will be end-to-end encrypted and it is based on WebRTC’s open project relying on a new protocol titled “Quic” which is capable of performing a “seamless handoff” of calls between Wi-fi and cellular connections. Justin Uberti, Principal Software Engineer at Google said “To make calls feel more like an invitation rather than an interruption, we created a feature in Duo called Knock Knock which lets you see live video of your caller before you answer, giving you a sense of what they’re up to and why they want to chat. Knock Knock makes video calling more spontaneous and welcoming, helping you connect with the person before you even pick up”.
You can read more here.
Facebook AI Research makes fastText open-source
Open-sourcing fastText, Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) lab says, is part of the team’s “ongoing commitment to collaboration and sharing with the community.” As part of that commitment, FAIR has also shared its own research on fastText, giving those who want to help improve it or use it for their own applications a springboard to getting started. FastText supports both text classification and learning word vector representations through techniques like bag of words and subword information. Based on the skip-gram model, words are represented as bag of character n-grams with vectors representing each character n-gram. FAIR’s upload of fastText’s code can be found on GitHub.
Read more here.
Top new products
Samsung will launch the Gear S3 on August 31
The Gear S3 should keep the round shape of its predecessor, as well as the rotary bezel. Furthermore, it might come with an altimeter, a barometer, and a GPS-based speedometer, thus enhancing upon the tracking abilities of the Gear S2. There will be a Classic version too, and both will run Tizen of course. Either way, there’s not long to wait to find out for sure. Like other Samsung unveilings, the Gear S3 launch event will be streamed online so you can watch at your own convenience.
You can read about the new smartwatch here.
Nikon announces the D3400, its first entry-level DSLR with always-on Bluetooth
The new camera doesn’t boast many changes, but there is one big one: this will be the first entry-level DSLR with the company’s Snapbridge software, an always-on Bluetooth Low Energy connection that lets the camera automatically transfer images to a user’s smartphone, no Wi-Fi required. The new camera uses the same 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor found in the D3300, and it also has no low pass filter, a trend in recent years that has allowed camera makers to squeeze more detail out of their image sensors at the cost of making them more susceptible to moire. The camera also employs the same EXPEED 4 image processor found in the D3300.
Full specs and more info can be found here.
Kobo has unveiled a large waterproof e-reader, the Aura One
The device features a large 7.8-inch 300 ppi e-ink display that’s bigger than most other e-readers and is designed to reduce exposure to blue light, so it’s easier for users to fall asleep after reading for a while at night. It’s housed in a waterproof case, which means it’s safe to use by the pool or in the bathtub. The Aura One can store up to 6,000 books in its 8GB onboard memory and last for a month on a single charge. If you’re keen on the Aura One, you can pre-order it on August 30 or find it in stores starting September 6.
More specs and info are available here.
Top interesting info
Intel expects USB Type-C could help kill the 3.5mm audio jack
USB-C can transfer analog audio already, but Intel is also working on a digital audio standard for the data transfer protocol. Intel is updating and expanding the existing USB Audio Device Class 2.0 specification. This could theoretically allow for headsets with integrated audio processing technology — think DACs, acoustic audio suppression, and noise cancellation, except the technology would be integrated into the headset, not the phone. One big problem with removing the 3.5mm jack is that countless sets of earbuds and headphones become suddenly useless unless you buy an easily misplaced adapter. Another is that it’s harder to charge a phone if you have headphones plugged into its sole port.
Details about this subject are available here.
Google releases extension to restore Chrome’s old backspace functionality
Google recently released an extension for Chrome called Go Back With Backspace that restores the backspace key as a back navigation button… that is, unless you’re typing text. The description notes that it doesn’t restore the functionality on special pages like in the settings or extensions sections but should otherwise do the trick. Google’s decision to remove the functionality in the first place stemmed from users that accidentally pressed the backspace key while working on a project or typing data into a form, thus losing their progress. Essentially, by removing it, Google was trying to protect users from themselves.
More info here.
Google may paint the Internet of Things Fuchsia
A team at Google is working on a new operating system called “Fuchsia,” according to information that recently turned up on Github, but details are sparse.
Fuchsia “is a new open source project that is not at all related to Android or Chrome OS,” Google spokesperson Joshua Cruz told LinuxInsider. He declined to provide further details about Fuchsia, saying only that “we have many revolving open source projects at Google.”
More hints and speculations can be found here.