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VERTICAL FARMING

By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth’s population will reside in urban centers. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 3 billion people during the interim. An estimated 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today. At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use (sources: FAO and NASA). Historically, some 15% of that has been laid waste by poor management practices.

What can be done to avoid this impending disaster? VERTICAL FARMING

URBAN warehouses, derelict buildings and high-rises are the last places you’d expect to find the seeds of a green revolution. But from Singapore to Scranton, Pennsylvania, “vertical farms” are promising a new, environmentally friendly way to feed the rapidly swelling populations of cities worldwide.

In March, the world’s largest vertical farm is set to open up shop in Scranton. Built by Green Spirit Farms (GSF) of New Buffalo, Michigan, it will only be a single storey covering 3.25 hectares, but with racks stacked six high it will house 17 million plants. And it is just one of a growing number.

Vertical farms aim to avoid the problems inherent in growing food crops in drought-and-disease-prone fields many hundreds of kilometres from the population centres in which they will be consumed. Instead, Dickson Despommier – an ecologist at Columbia University in New York City who has championed vertical farms since 1999 – suggests that food should be grown year-round in high-rise urban buildings, reducing the need for the carbon-emitting transport of fruit and vegetables.

Farm of the future <i>(Image: Junko Kimura/Getty Images)</i>

The plant racks in a vertical farm can be fed nutrients by water-conserving, soil-free hydroponic systems and lit by LEDs that mimic sunlight. And they need not be difficult to manage: control software can choreograph rotating racks of plants so each gets the same amount of light, and direct water pumps to ensure nutrients are evenly distributed.

The whole apparatus can be monitored from a farmer’s smartphone (see “Farming from afar“), says GSF’s R&D manager, Daniel Kluko. He says the new farm in Scranton will grow 14 lettuce crops per year, as well as spinach, kale, tomatoes, peppers, basil and strawberries. Its output will be almost 10 times greater than the firm’s first vertical farm, which opened in New Buffalo in 2011.

Proponents see vertical farming as a way to feed a global population that is urbanising fast: 86 per cent of the people in the developed world will live in cities by 2050, the United Nations predicts. It could make food supplies more secure as well, because production can continue even when extreme weather strikes. And as long as farmers are careful to protect their indoor “fields” from pests, vertical farming needs no herbicides or insecticides. They also conserve water far better than earthbound farming.

GSF’s first farm was inspired by the long-term drought that has been afflicting many parts of the US. “Water is a big issue,” says Kluko. “We have designed our vertical farms to recycle it, and they use 98 per cent less water per item of produce than traditional farming.” That’s done in part by scavenging water from the grow room’s atmosphere with a dehumidifier. It’s a machine with a dual role, as excess humidity can lead to problems like leaf mould.

Most vertical farms rely on natural light as much as possible. In sunny, near-equatorial Singapore, entrepreneur Jack Ng’s SkyGreens vertical farm needs no artificial lighting to promote growth. Instead, his four-storey glass-sided farm contains mobile racks of Chinese cabbage and lettuce that rotate slowly up to the sunnier heights of the building on a low-power elevator.

Conversely, in Japan, Kyoto-based Nuvege (pronounced “new veggie”) runs a windowless indoor farm. In a cavernous facility reminiscent of an aircraft hangar, Nuvege’s LED lighting is tuned to two types of chlorophyll, one preferring red light and the other blue. “Tuned to these spectra, you can grow a plant no matter where it is,” Despommier notes. Indeed, Nuvege produces 6 million lettuces a year in this way, for customers including Subway and Disneyland Tokyo.

In such arrangements, the electricity bills can add up quickly. Today’s LEDs are only about 28 per cent efficient, which keeps the cost of produce high and prevents vertical farms from competing in regions where cheap vegetables are abundant. However, lighting engineers at Philips in the Netherlands have demonstrated LEDs with 68 per cent efficiency, which could dramatically cut costs.

And the latest research shows that plants do not need always-on artificial sunlight, Despommier says: they can experience light that varies in intensity through the day – moving from an artificial dawn through to noon and dusk. Mimicking these changes will save energy too. Such tricks already play a small part at GSF: infrared LEDs mimic 5 minutes of a fading sunset at the end of each day. “It puts peppers and tomatoes into their flowering period quicker,” says Kluko.

Advances in vertical farms could trickle through from other sources, too. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is using an 18-storey vertical farm in College Station, Texas, to produce genetically modified plants that make proteins useful in vaccines. Adversity also plays its part: the tsunami-sparked nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 is leading to innovation in vertical farming because much of the region’s irradiated farmland can no longer be used.

“Fukushima has had a riveting effect on this field,” says Despommier. “People were taking their food to the Geiger counter before the checkout counter.”

This article appeared in print under the headline “Legume with a view”

Farming from afar

vert farming

With software to handle much of the day-to-day tending of crops, vertical farmers will probably look after multiple farms remotely, claims Daniel Kluko of Green Spirit Farms.

The app he and his colleagues are developing will allow farm managers to tweak nutrient levels and soil pH balance from a smartphone or tablet, and sound alarms if, say, a water pump fails on a vertical-growing system. “So if I’m over in London, where we’re looking for a future vertical farm site to serve restaurants, I’ll still be able to adjust the process in Michigan or Pennsylvania,” says Kluko.

This will help drive down the labor costs of vertical farms, he says, so that they can compete with conventional ones.

SPEAK UP!  What do you think about all of this?

 

 

 

credit: verticalfarm.com and newscientist.com

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A hearing aid that wirelessly streams audio from an MP3 player. Google Glass with visual recognition. A bracelet that lets friends send each other “smiles.” These are just a few of the devices forging the future of wearable tech.

From personalized medicine to fashion, wearable technology is making a splash in the tech world. In honor of National Engineers Week (the third week in February), Live Science chatted with two engineers about some of the promises and challenges of this evolving field.

“I think wearables is a technology for the next decade,” said Rob Shaddock, chief technology officer of the Swiss technology company TE Connectivity. “It’s at the very beginning; there are some great things to come.”

 Medical devices were one of the first applications of wearable tech. Devices such as hearing aids have been around for decades. But what if hearing aids could stream audio directly from a music player?

“That’s where I see the future — integrating technology with the rest of the world around a user,” said Kalyani Malleia, a senior systems engineer at Starkey Hearing Technologies, a hearing technology company based in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Wearable tech has infiltrated the consumer health market, too. Fitness trackers, GPS watches and blood-pressure monitors are just a few of the devices that allow individuals to record and track their health, and share that information with their social network — almost like a “diary of your life,” Shaddock said. As devices get smaller and more efficient, they will become increasingly common, he added.

Wearables will perform many of the functions of today’s personal computers. Systems such as Google Glass have been experimenting with projecting a screen in front of the eye, which eliminates the need for a screen. For example, new software and apps will allow users to look at the name of a restaurant or bar and instantly view reviews.

Communications technology will shift more toward wearable devices, Shaddock predicts. Reminiscent of the VISOR worn by the character Geordi La Forge in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” which restored his damaged vision by detecting electromagnetic signals and transmitting them to an implant in his brain, wearables are being created to assist people who are disabled. For instance, eye- and head-tracking technology is allowing people who are paralyzed and unable to speak use computers to communicate.

Of course, some wearable-tech applications could be considered novelties. So-called smile bracelets allow friends to send each other vibrations, or “smiles,” remotely.  The applications of wearable technology are limited only by people’s imaginations, Shaddock said.

With more and more devices measuring personal data and uploading it to computer networks, security is definitely a concern, experts say. Indeed, even as engineers develop the technologies, others are working to crack them.

Encrypting devices takes computing power, but as the cost of computing goes down, it gets easier to add more encryption. “It’s always going to be a challenge, but the technology is there to solve the problem,” Shaddock said.

 

 

 

 

credit: This article was previously published at livescience.com


google lobbyGoogle is working on a new WiFi app that could take a lot of the drudgery out of accessing wireless hotspots. According to our sources, the search giant has built Android and iOS versions of an app that automatically authenticate and connect to its free hotspots inside Starbucks stores or wherever they are available. Google is currently trialing the Android app at its Mountain View HQ.

For now it looks like a very limited test, and there’s no definite guarantee that Google will release it officially. Nevertheless, we hear that Google has internally discussed linking the app to its rollout of faster WiFi connections to all 7,000 Starbucks stores in the US (replacing AT&T), connecting Latte-drinkers to ‘Google Starbucks’ hotspots with no button presses required. Currently, Starbucks customers need to find the access point, open their browser and agree to the terms and conditions. However, with Google now at the helm, existing processes could be abolished to include more encrypted access points. Google may also expand its partnership with Boingo, extending logins to locations where it’s footing the bill for free wireless. The app could utilize a user’s Google account and install a dedicated security certificate on their device to automatically authenticate devices when a connection is available.

It’s a little known fact that Google was one of the first companies to offer free city-wide wireless internet when it launched Google WiFi in 2006. The company rolled out over 500 streetlight hotspots across Mountain View to provide access to all of its residents, but as smartphones and tablet use boomed, the network struggled to cope with demand. Users were also required to log in with a Google account to access the service. We’re told that Google is working to improve connectivity in the city, and that it has specific plans to roll out Google WiFi to more locations across the US and Canada.

Speaking of which, the search giant has already donated $600,000 to equip 31 of San Francisco’s public parks with free WiFi for at least two years. However, its efforts to expand beyond that have been hampered by negotiations with city authorities and a lack of spectrum. To counter the spectrum issues, Google has teamed up with Microsoft, Motorola and major cable companies to lobby the US government to free up bands for unlicensed uses. Google has said it will provide Starbucks stores with a 100x speed boost in Fiber cities like Austin, Provo and KC, and is now exploring the feasibility of deploying fiber connections in 34 US cities. That could see it expand its Google WiFi footprint significantly.

 

 

 

 

 

This article was previously published @ engadget.com

ASUS: Padfone 2


padfone2

Tablets and phones currently have many things in common and they are very much alike. The only big difference  is the different screen sizes they have and the processors, not anything more! As of this, the idea of having a device partially tablet, partially phone is not something out of mind and may not surprise us. This goal is already achieved by Asus and they could record their name as the first manufacturer producing such a device.

The sale of over 2 million in just 3 months shows the lack of such device in the market.

Design

Unlike the prototype, the gadget is designed to be needless of any support cover to hold the phone on the back side of the tablet. Tablet is useless without the phone and if you remove it from the tab, you will have nothing more than just a large display and a battery! As you place the phone back onto the tablet, it is activated in less than just 3 seconds and starts charging the phone battery. The phone is placed firmly on its place and you can be sure it doesn’t fall while you walk.

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Hardware

Padfone 2 has a 1.5 GH Qualcomm quad core processor plus an Adreno 320 as the GPU and 2 GB of RAM. The display is unique, however, A Super IPS with a phone resolution of 1280 x 720 and tablet resolution of 1280 x 800. The phone display is 4.7” and th e tablet has a 10.1” display. The camera installed on the phone gadget is a 13 MP camera with Full HD video recording. There comes a digital pen with special abilities with the package. You don’t believe it but you can use the pen as a headset and answer your calls! It means you simply need to place the correct end of the pen on your ears and the other end of it, in front of your mouth and start talking right away, just like any telephone! The pen has also another great feature and that it will notify you if you leave it somewhere. The bad news is that it is sold separately and it doesn’t come with the package.

Hardware specs

Lets start by looking at what the phone offers:

  • Dimensions: 137.9 x 68.9 x 9 mm
  • Weight: 135 grams
  • 4.7″ Super IPS+ LCD, 720×1280 HD display
  • Scratch resistant Gorilla Glass display
  • 2140 mAh battery
  • 13 megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash with full 1080p HD recording @ 30fps
  • 1.2 megapixel front facing camera
  • 1.5GHz quad-core Krait CPU, Adreno 320 GPU, Qualcomm S4 Pro chipset
  • 2Gb of RAM
  • 16/32/64Gb storage
  • 50GB free ASUS Webstorage for 2 years
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, dual-band, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • GPS receiver with A-GPS
  • NFC
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • microUSB port with MHL support
  • Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP
  • FM Radio

The specification of the PadFone Station dock is:

  • Dimensions: 263 x 180.8 x 10.4 mm
  • Weight: 514 grams
  • 10.1inches, WXGA 1280×800, IPS with Capacitive touch panel
  • 19 Whr/5000 mAh battery
  • 1 megapixel front facing camera

Hardware overview

Amazingly, the hardware specs of the PadFone are no longer absolute top end despite being that just a few months ago, but the design of the PadFone is absolutely up there.  Some people have unfairly criticised the phone as being generic, but I couldn’t disagree more strongly.  Unfortunately, the Station certainly IS generic and in some ways close to unpleasant.

But lets start with a look at the phone part of this dual device.  Yes, the back is plastic, but it has a unique design aesthetic and a great, high quality feel with the circles pattern that Asus have chosen to use here.  It is actually a common design pattern for many of their Android devices.  It feels simply great in the hand, easy to hold, light, strong and smaller than its dimensions would have you believe.  It is at least as good as the best of last years flagship Android devices such as the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S3.

The buttons – an important part of the design of a smartphone for me – are excellent.  They are responsive, well positioned and easy to feel for without looking.  I prefer the power button on the side and Asus have not disappointed me.

The front is dominated by the screen of course with a discreet Asus logo beneath it.  Between the screen and the logo is where the capacitive Android buttons appear when the screen is on.  There is a small speaker used for voice calls only at the top with the front facing camera top left.

The right side of the phone houses the buttons and here we can see the effect created by the tapering silver band of what may be metal, I struggled to confirm that exact material.  The phone does not taper nearly as much as is suggested, but it does slightly.  The left side of the phone has nothing on it.

The bottom of the phone is where you will find the micro USB charging port.  This port is actually of a propriety Asus design that is a superset of micro USB so works with any standard cable, but Asus provide their own special cable in the box.  The extra pins here are used for connecting to the PadFone Station.  Using a standard cable works normally but the cable does sit slightly loose in the port and is easy to knock out inadvertently.

The top is where the standard 3.5mm headphone jack is located along with the micro SIM tray.

The back is fairly standard with the camera, flash, speaker and PadFone logos the only features.

Moving on to look at the PadFone station, we can see that the front is dominated by the 10.1″ screen and there is another front facing camera which is necessary as the front of the phone is obscured when it is docked.  The left side of the dock houses the volume rocker, and the power button is up top on the left side.

The back is where the phone docks and Asus have made a nice design feature of the dock itself, looking a little like the back of the phone.  More on the docking mechanism itself later.

The charging port on the bottom of the tablet is of the same type as that on the phone.

Unlike the phone, the tablet portion of this device is made from quite cheap feeling plastic.  The screen is very prone to fingerprints and the whole piece has a cheap feeling to it.  The speaker is fairly poor too and seemingly mono which is a shame. The PadFone Station is quite disappointing in feel when compared to the fantastic quality of the phone.

The Screens

As with the build quality, the screens here tell two very different stories.  The phone has a fantastic 720p screen which is extremely responsive,  bright, very sharp and a pleasure to use.  4.7″ seems like a very good size to me and this is an excellent screen.  It copes well in direct sunlight and Asus actually give a good level of control over the brightness of the screen too.

The tablet portion of this device has a very different looking screen.  I found it to be of poor quality, with a resolution that is lacking these days.  Text is far from crisp and whilst it is perfectly bright enough, at least indoors, and fairly responsive, I have tired quickly of reading text on this screen.  It is fairly decent for watching movies, but I couldn’t read a book on it.

Software

Asus generally provide a fairly lightweight skin on stock Android on their devices and the same is true here.  This is a largely stock looking device and that is to be applauded.  But there are some changes and some extras to discuss.  Unusually perhaps, I am going to focus on the negative first.

Every time I had a notification while the screen was off, I cursed Asus’ decision to not allow you to pull down the notification drawer on the lockscreen.  A very frustrating change for which I can see no logical reason.  The second maddening change that Asus have made to stock Android is that the text message notification sound and the default notification sound are the same.  I could not find a way to set two different sounds for these two different things.

Thankfully though, we can now move on to the positive changes that Asus have made which are plentiful.  This is an impressive device in so many ways, not least because Asus appear to have really given some thought as to what was less than perfect with Android.

Asus have enhanced the notification pull down quite considerably.  I say enhanced, but if you don’t agree, there is one option in the settings to disable their enhancements entirely.  It features a set of customisable quick toggles including things like WiFi, bluetooth, mobile data, power saving mode etc.  There are also settings for screen brightness mode and a slider to manually control the brightness.  All this takes up about a third of the total space available and so could be considered intrusive, but it can be disabled easily.

There are a couple of very nice and useful widgets provided, including a nice weather clock and battery meter which when docked in the PadFone Station shows the battery state for both the phone and station.

Asus tweak the standard settings to include some of their own options including changes under the sound menu allowing you to control the alert tones for text messages, emails and calendar notifications.  There is an Asus Customised Setting area where there is a group of settings such as for the enhanced notification pull down – Asus Quick Settings – and options to control various tablet to phone and vice versa switch settings.  More on that later.

There is a power saver mode available which can do things such as lowering the screen brightness and disabling your data connection whilst keeping it alive when some apps are in use.  It is all quite useful on the surface especially as there is a preconfigured set of options.  I did not find it actually enhanced my battery though, so I fairly quickly disabled it as I did miss a few notifications.

Various apps are provided, some of which are just bloatware and some of which could be useful.  Asus have a backup app which can save your installed apps and data.  It seems to work reasonably well.  App Locker can protect apps with a password so only you can use them.  BuddyBuzz is a social aggregator and there is the Asus WebStorage app which gives access to the free storage provided with the PadFone 2.  One of the more interesting additions is Block List, an app which can block calls from specific numbers.

A final word here on the app drawer which has a special tab for pad only apps, nicely separating apps which are only useful when the phone is docked into the station.

Camera

I am most certainly not a camera aficionado, but even I can conclude that the main camera on the PadFone 2 is an extremely mixed affair.  Sometimes I was able to take fantastically bright and detailed images, other times I couldn’t capture anything good enough to even share on Facebook.  Overall, my feeling is that this is a reasonable camera that has a wide standard deviation on quality but it is better than most cameras I have used recently with the exception of the HTC One and the HTC One X.  I also spent most of the time wondering if the problem was how I was framing the shots as when I took my time, I could get great results.

The camera interface is pretty neat, with buttons for capturing an image or a video without switching the interface at all.  There are settings on the left side for things like camera effects and camera mode and an exposure setting.  Auto focus can be quite slow, but capturing speed is excellent as is the time taken to launch the interface.  It is quick and simple to use.  I actually prefer this interface to the stock Android one.

Battery

I will provide only a brief summary here as everyone’s usage differs.  Suffice to say that the battery in the PadFone 2 performs exactly as I would expect.  It has excellent stand by life, it sips battery during calls and using the screen causes the battery to drain pretty quickly.  Compared to my Motorola RAZR i which lasts me a solid two days, the PadFone 2 consistently lasted me about a day and a half or so.  Pretty decent and better than my Nexus 4, but nothing special.

Performance

The specs of the PadFone 2 suggest it should be a screamer of a device and perform exceptionally well.  Whilst that is true in part and certainly it lives up to its billing in synthetic benchmarks, it somehow doesn’t feel quite as fast as it should.  The performance is very consistent, but is simply not stellar.  In general, my Nexus 4 just feels that little bit snappier in all tasks.  The difference is very marginal but a number of people who tried the PadFone 2 said the same thing.  It was never enough to be annoying, but it left me wondering if there was something not quite right with the device.  Asus have made mistakes with the type of flash memory they have used in their tablets – eg the Transformer TF300 – causing poor I/O performance which could be to blame here, but to be clear, this is a phone that performs very well, but it just never felt absolutely up there to me.  In tablet mode, the performance was identical which is a good thing as there are not many very high spec Android tablets around right now.

Switching modes

Switching between phone and tablet mode is the PadFone’s party piece.  Sliding the phone into the station dock causes the dock to vibrate, the screen to come to life and about one or two seconds later you are back where you were but in tablet mode.  At least that is the theory.  Not many apps worked seamlessly for me and I found it easier to set the device to kill apps when switching docking and undocking.  When it does work though, it is a fantastic trick and feels like it takes no longer than a normal screen rotation.  Despite switching off what Asus call Dynamic Display, apps start up fast enough to not be a bother.

The docking mechanism is superbly engineered.  There are no latches or catches, just a slot where the phone goes on the back of the station which has rubberised grippers on the sides to stop the phone falling out.  These work very well and I found it impossible to shake the phone loose once it was docked.  Cleverly, when docking and undocking in the proper manner, the phone slides smoothly in and out.  It is simple and just works.

There are a couple of things to note about using the PadFone 2 in tablet mode.  Firstly, when put on a flat surface, the tablet sits on the phone back which protrudes somewhat, this gives the tablet a slightly unsteady feel.  But, the phone doesn’t get in the way while holding it normally.  Secondly, whilst it is not too heavy overall, the weight balance is a little unusual and slightly top heavy.  I found it slightly less comfortable to hold for extended periods than other similarly heavy tablets.

When docked, the PadFone station can charge the phone but it seems to need some battery life of its own to work at all.  It is super convenient to use the device as a tablet in the evening and take out a nicely charged phone in the morning when heading out for the day while leaving the tablet to recharge separately.

The Play Store Problem

When you first connect any Android device to the Google Play Store, the device is registered as a tablet or a phone with it’s various screen size specifications.  This works perfectly for almost all devices.  The PadFone however has two modes.  The first time I set up the device, I did so as in phone mode and several tablet apps were then simply not available to me.  The Play Store also did not offer me any recommended tablet apps even in tablet mode.  The solution would seem to be to set up the PadFone whilst it is docked in the station.  This certainly solves some problems but I have had problems with a few apps not wanting to work in phone mode.  A few virtual keyboards got very confused and app makers who offer both a tablet and a phone version of their app, each with slightly different purposes makes the situation worse.  An example is the excellent MySMS which I use for backing up my text messages.  With the PadFone registered in tablet mode, the Play Store could not install the phone version of MySMS. This means that my text messages are not being backed up.  There is no perfect solution here, but is certainly something worth considering if you are thinking about buying a PadFone.

source-credit: modaco.com and androidwidgetcenter.com


ubuntu-tv-pc-smartphone-tablet

THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK!!!

canonical-logo1

Canonical has promised to release a fully operational version of its Ubuntu Touch for Phones software by the end of the month, after missing its initial launch deadline.

Originally promised by Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth to be released “in the coming weeks” following its January unveiling, a planned February launch date came and went without the software being made available to the public in a working form. Issues with getting basic phone functionality, such as voice calls and text messaging, fully operational on the chosen handsets meant that the software which was released was all-but unusable for anyone on their main phone – and have allowed Mozilla, with its rival , to gain an early lead having released the first handsets to developers already.

Now, Canonical developer Rick Spencer has promised that a fully-working build of Ubuntu Touch for Phones will be released by the end of this month. “We should drive as hard as we can to making it so that we can use our phones with Ubuntu Touch as our real daily phones as soon as possible”, the engineer explains. “So, we committed our teams to making it so that by end of May, the phone images will be usable as our daily phones.”

ubuntu-lead-1

That means, Spencer explains, that by the end of the month software images will be released which offer the ability to make and receive phone calls and SMS messages, browse the web on both 3G mobile broadband and Wi-Fi connections, switch between the two connectivity types on-the-fly, have the in-built proximity sensor dim the screen during a call, import contacts from third-party repositories and edit contacts directly on the phone, and retain user data between software updates.

This doesn’t, however, mean that the software will be feature-complete by the end of the month. “Off the bat, I can think of things like the ability to find and install new apps, hardware not working on certain reference hardware – camera on Nexus 7 for example – lots of missing features in existing apps, etc.” admits Spencer.

Designed to offer an alternative to Google’s Android OS, Ubuntu for Phones is designed to allow devices to transform from a smartphone or tablet into a fully-functional desktop computer, using the familiar Ubuntu Unity interface tweaked for small screen devices. Thus far, the company has not launched any hardware of its own, concentrating instead on producing software images for Google’s Nexus range of handsets.

As with the most recent versions of Ubuntu desktop, Ubuntu for phones uses the Unity interface, designed to give over more space to applications and removing a lot of the clutter that usually dominates an OS.

With a smartphone this is arguably even more important, as the screen space is even more limited. With this in mind, the interface has been redeveloped, leaving as much of the screen free for content and applications as possible. Ubuntu for Phones is also designed to make accessing your information incredibly fast using just one hand.

WELCOME SCREEN

First, is the lock screen, although as Shuttleworth is keen to point out, “It’s not a lock screen, it’s a welcome screen.”

It’s designed to show you information, including missed calls, new Tweets and the number of new messages. However, it also serves as a launcher for your favourite apps.

Ubuntu for Phones welcome screen

Just swipe in from the left-hand-side of the screen to bring up the Launcher, which will be familiar to anyone that’s used the Desktop version of the OS before. Tap any icon on the Launcher and your app starts immediately. This is one step ahead of most smartphones that only provide access to the camera via the lock screen.

As security could be a concern, Ubuntu for phones can be locked and set so that any of your quick-launch applications that access private data, such as Facebook, will require an unlock code before they launch.

Outside of the welcome screen, there’s the full OS with its home screens. These are all built around different aspects of the phone, and are designed to show your most popular data. For example, on the Apps screen, you can see what’s running, what your most common apps are and apps you can install; the Contacts screen shows you the people that you most commonly talk to; and the messages screen shows you new messages no matter which service they come through, such as Facebook, email or SMS.

STATUS ICONS

As with most modern handsets, status icons appear at the top of the screen to show you things such as the current wireless network you’re connected to and notify you about new messages. Unlike in other operating systems, you can swipe in from the top of the screen, hover over an icon and change settings without having to leave the app.

Ubuntu Phone

For example, if you move to the battery status icon and select it, you can change battery-related settings, such as the screen’s brightness. It’s a neat and clever way to change settings immediately without having to delve through page after page of settings.

PROGRAM OPTIONS

Furthering the need to save on screen space, apps don’t have any buttons or options visible on screen. Instead, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to display any available options, such as the ability to share a photo in the Gallery app.

It certainly saves on space and having a consistent way to display program options is key to maintain usability.

APPS

Every smartphone needs apps and Ubuntu supports both web (HTML5) and native apps. Web apps were introduced in Ubuntu 12.10 and let websites integrate into your phone. For example, Facebook can have its own icon and display updates and new messages as though it were a native app.

There will also be full support for native apps, which will be more feature-rich and should run more smoothly. Technically speaking, any existing Ubuntu app should run, although it will need to have the new front-end in order to appear as an option for installation on the phone.

While this means that Ubuntu for phones will launch with a wide range of apps, it currently doesn’t have the breadth of commercial apps or the support of big companies, such as Sky, that both Apple and Android enjoy. Getting these companies on board is going to be key to help convert people to Ubuntu, but it’s going to be tough, as Microsoft has found with Windows Phone.

INTEGRATED SEARCH

As with the desktop version of Ubuntu, search is a key part of Ubuntu for phones. Although not implemented in the test version we saw, the search will allow you to find content on your phone and online.

Ubuntu Phone

Ubuntu will decide what kind of content you’re searching for and display the relevant results based on context. This does include shopping results, which were widely criticised in the latest version of Ubuntu, which surfaced Amazon results.

We’ve been told that there will be an option to disable which resources the search algorithm looks at, as direct feedback from the integrated shopping options inUbuntu 12.10.

DESKTOP MODE

As well as running a standard phone OS, Ubuntu for Phones will also include a Desktop mode. When the phone is docked and you have a keyboard and mouse present it would let the handset become a desktop computer with full-blown Linux on it.

In the long term it’s hoped that you could take your smartphone and dock it with a tablet for one experience and with a monitor, keyboard and mouse for another. It’s all quite clever, but it’s going to need decent hardware peripheral support for it to work.

HARDWARE

Ubuntu for phones runs the Android kernel, which means that it will be compatible with most existing Android handsets. That’s important, as it means handset manufacturers can easily convert existing models to run Ubuntu rather than Android. It also means that braver users can root their phones and install Ubuntu for phones instead of the OS that their phone originally shipped with.

Ubuntu for phones will support all Arm processors, including dual-core and quad-core models. It will also support screen resolutions up to 1080p, making it suitable for low-end and high-end devices alike.

All of the demonstrations we saw were run on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which is now a generation old. In general, the Ubuntu phone OS was very slick with smooth scrolling and transitions. Only the occasional jerkiness slipped in, mostly when starting a new application, although as this was a pre-release OS that’s to be expected.

CONCLUSION

There’s no denying that Ubuntu for phones looks impressive. From the early first look, it was found to be smooth, clever and intuitive to use. Using the Linux code base for complete application compatibility and convergence is a great idea, too. However, until there’s a handset manufacturer, Ubuntu for phones isn’t really a product for anyone outside die-hard enthusiasts. It’ll be hard for Canonical to get partners on board and tempt people away from Android, Apple and, to a lesser degree, Windows Phone, but having another competitor that does something different is always good to see.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?????????????????????????????????

 

 

 

source: this article was previously published @ expertreviews.co.uk


HTC_One_360_Wide

With its stellar design, great camera, and hardy processor, the HTC One is the phone to beat.

HTC knows how to make good-looking hardware. I loved the white ceramic body of the HTC One X and Nokia could learn a thing or two about making Windows phones by taking a closer look at the HTC Windows Phone 8X. The company’s latest offering, the HTC One, is a paragon of industrial design: Its chiseled chamfers, rounded edges, and chrome accents are sure to turn more than a few heads when you whip out the phone in public. But the One is more than just a pretty face: HTC packed a lot of power under the phone’s hood, and the handset’s camera benefits from numerous software and hardware tweaks that should excite fans of mobile photography.

A feast for the eyes

HTC OneJASON CROSS
The HTC One is a well-crafted handset.

The first thing you’ll notice when holding the One is how well it sits in your hand. At 5.4 by 2.7 by 0.4 inches, the phone is larger than Apple’s iPhone 5 but smaller than HTC’s previous handset, the Droid DNA. Though the phone comes with a 4.7-inch display (shades of the Samsung Galaxy S III), the One’s aluminum unibody design and gentle curves compare favorably to the S III’s primarily plastic body. That slick exterior does come at a price, however: The One’s power and volume buttons sit flush with the phone’s chassis—which makes them difficult to press—and the 2300mAh battery is nonremovable. The phone also lacks a microSD card slot, meaning that you’re stuck using the supplied 32GB (or 64GB, if you buy the larger model) of on-board memory to store your photos, apps, music, and movies.

HTC OneJASON CROSS
The One has two front-facing stereo speakers.

The absence of expandable storage is lamentable, especially since in other respects HTC designed the One to function as a multimedia powerhouse. The One’s 1920-by-1080-pixel display packs 468 pixels per inch, which makes viewing HD content a feast for the eyes. Bordering that gorgeous display are two large, front-facing stereo speakers, which pump out surprisingly loud, clear audio. One big advantage of positioning the speakers on the front of the device rather than on the back is that audio doesn’t get muffled when you set the phone down on a flat surface. I did notice an occasional pop at higher volumes, but the speakers’ sound quality was more than acceptable overall.

The TV app on the HTC One.

If you tend to mislay your TV remote, you’ll appreciate the One’s built-in IR blaster, which lets you use the phone as a universal remote control. The phone has a TV app with a setup wizard that simplifies the task of programming the One to work with your TV, cable box, and home theater. The app also pulls listing information from Peel, showing which TV shows and movies are currently playing. You can arrange for the phone to remind you when your favorite shows are on and to provide a brief synopsis of specific episodes. I tested the remote functionality of the phone with an LG TV and a Motorola cable box in our office and was surprised at how well the combination worked. Though I was 13 feet away from the cable box, I noticed little or no delay when I changed channels or browsed through the guide. The app is so well made that I almost wish I subscribed to cable…almost.

Built to be social

HTC’s BlinkFeed app.

Another cool bit of software that the One offers is BlinkFeed. HTC is marketing BlinkFeed—which resembles the Live Tiles on Windows Phone to some extent—as a “magical” way to stay up-to-date on your social networks and news feeds, but in reality it’s just a glorified RSS reader that lives on your home screen. You can tie BlinkFeed to your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts so that your friends’ updates show up there; however, clicking an update just kicks you into the corresponding app. You can also instruct BlinkFeed to display news headlines, but the news outlets you can subscribe to are limited to a handful of blogs—though you can subscribe to a catch-all news category like ‘lifestyle’.

Despite using the phone for several days, I never felt inclined to spend much time with BlinkFeed. Though I loaded all of my social accounts into it, I ended up using the stand-alone Twitter and Facebook apps to update my status and to see what my friends were up to. Being able to browse headlines quickly was convenient, but other dedicated apps such as Zite perform better in that regard. Most annoyingly, you can’t turn BlinkFeed off: It always appears as your leftmost home screen, and you can’t get rid of it without installing a different launcher.

UltraPixels make a difference

HTC OneJASON CROSS
The HTC One has a 4-megapixel camera.

The other features that HTC played up when it announced the phone were the One’s camera and camera software. Rather than perpetuate the myth that the more numerous the megapixels, the better a camera’s image quality, HTC opted in favor of a 4-megapixel camera with larger pixels than those traditionally used in smartphones. These UltraPixels are designed to take in more light, making them better for capturing photos in low-light environments.

After taking the One’s camera out for a spin, I think HTC may be on to something with UltraPixels. The One handled everyday shots well enough, but it excelled at taking photos in areas with less-than-optimal lighting. Photos were less noisy than comparable shots taken with an iPhone 5 or a Nokia Lumia 920 under the same conditions, and the One’s flash didn’t completely wash out the subject. The iPhone 5’s outside shots looked better than the One’s, but the two were more evenly matched on indoor photos.

A sample photo taken with the HTC One.

The One’s biggest advantage over the iPhone, however, is in the number of features that HTC packs into the phone’s native camera app. The default Android camera has various extras built into it already, but HTC seems to have omitted only a kitchen sink app in assembling the One’s camera software: Among the available shooting modes are HDR and panorama; and you can apply filters to your photos without having to resort to third-party apps such as Instagram.

Another noteworthy shooting mode is Zoe. When you activate Zoe, the phone takes up to 20 photos and records about 3. seconds of 1080p video. The feature is designed for action shots, of course, where you’d expect a lot of movement; and you can select and pull additional stills from the 1080p video. Though Zoe mode is a neat extra, I didn’t find much use for it in my day-to-day life. Perhaps very creative people will find some cool uses for the feature.

The processor steps up the power

The One’s many features require a lot of processing power, which the One has in good supply. The One is the first handset to ship with Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor, which is supposed to deliver superior graphics and battery life. The phone gracefully handled every app I threw at it, including games like Shadow Gun and Temple Run, though it did get noticeably warm when performing processor-intensive tasks (like gaming) or downloading 20+ apps at once.

The phone’s battery should survive an entire day of normal use (about 9 hours), so you don’t have to worry about the One dying on you in the middle of the day. If you like to play lots of movies or games on your phone, however, you’re well advised to bring along your charger: The One’s high-resolution screen can be a real drain on the battery if left on too long.

We received the Sprint version of the One for testing. (It will also be available on AT&T and T-Mobile.) Call quality over Sprint’s network was solid, with little or no static on either end of the call. Unfortunately, Sprint’s data speeds were somewhat underwhelming. In San Francisco, where we have access to Sprint’s LTE network, I often found myself using the One on Wi-Fi when streaming HD video or downloading large apps. Its performance might improve as Sprint fleshes out its LTE network, but for now don’t expect miracles if you’re a Sprint customer looking to upgrade to the One.

Bottom line

Even with its handful of quirks, the HTC One is among the best Android phones you can buy. Heck, it’s among the best smartphones you can buy, period. A superb design, a beautiful screen, and such extras as the IR blaster and the Zoe camera mode help it stand out from the pack. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, this is the one to get.

 

 

credit-source: This article was previously published at pcworld.com


Be sad, fellow geeks, for we are witnessing the slow death of a staunch companion.

Between the proliferation of Retina displays, ultrahigh-resolution smartphone screens,überexpensive 4K televisions, and the ironically named Chromebook Pixel, eye candy has never been so abundantly available, nor so abundantly delicious. Screens are saturated with millions—millions—of tiny little squares, rendering images and text alike in buttery-smooth fidelity.

The jagged edges of yesteryear are bleeding away. On-screen images are looking more and more like continuous-tone photographs. The pixel as we know it is all but dead.

Children of the future will look back at games like E.T. and Doom, and rather than waxing nostalgic, they’ll shake their heads at how utterly bad we used to have it. (Dot-matrix printers? Please.) Resolution specs will eventually fade into the annals of history, as all screens will look equally splendid. And you’ll never, ever find a dead pixel on a new display—because even if it’s there, you won’t be able to notice it.

It’s enough to make your eyes water, but it won’t happen today. For although the pixel’s final gasp is indeed on the horizon, it isn’t quite here yet. And you can thank the PC for that.

It was the best of times…

Pixel-packed consumer electronics displays may be only a couple of years old, but they’re already far from rare. Retina-sporting iPads sell by the gajillions. Every premium smartphone released in the past year and a half has boasted at least a 720p display, while newer entries such as the HTC One rock full-blown 1080p resolutions.

HTC One
The HTC One’s display. Yes, it’s okay if you drool.

More important than the total resolution numbers is the fact that those small mobile screens are veritably crammed with pixels. Sky-high pixel densities are giving displays a pixel-less quality.

Stuffed into a 4.7-inch screen, the One’s 1080p resolution is good for an eye-popping 468 pixels per inch. Sitting slightly farther away from your peepers, Retina iPads rock 264 ppi. Even the $200 Nexus 7 boasts a display with 216 ppi.

Meanwhile, Sharp—a major component supplier for Apple and other parties—is working on new IGZO display technology designed to pack the pixels in even more tightly. Last year,the company showed off a 6-inch IGZO LCD panel with a whopping 2560 by 1600 resolution, for an impressive pixel density of 498 ppi. Few 30-inch desktop monitors have that many pixels.

On such stacked screens, text is as sharp as it is in a book, if not sharper. Yes, they’re that good.

It was the worst of times…

Compare those ever-increasing mobile resolutions with the status quo on the PC side of things. While the stunning screens on the Chromebook Pixel and higher-end MacBook Pros may snatch all the headlines, everyday reality is much more ho-hum for most folks.

STATCOUNTER
StatCounter tracks display resolution usage. (Click to enlarge.)

Nearly 40 percent of all North American machines tracked by StatCounter have either a 1024 by 768 or 1366 by 768 display, with the former accounting for a hefty 22.64 percent of all displays.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Twist, part of the first wave of Windows 8 hybrids, sports one of those laptop-standard 1366 by 768 displays. Across its 12.5-inch screen, that resolution equates to just 125 ppi. And for laptops with a similar resolution on a larger 13.3- or 15.6-inch display—far more common notebook sizes—the pixel-density number plummets even lower.

ROBERT CARDIN
The ThinkPad Twist is an otherwise excellent laptop brought to earth by its humdrum display.

Even when you take into consideration that laptop screens need fewer pixels than phones to achieve Retina-level quality (since you hold them farther away from you than mobile devices), the ThinkPad Twist’s pixel density fails to impress. Its 125 ppi is barely half the pixel density of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display’s 227 ppi—and as I said, the Twist’s screen is smaller (read: denser) than most laptop screens. Another model, the IdeaPad Yoga 13, packs a higher 1600 by 900 resolution into its larger 13-inch display, and still offers only 138 ppi.

That doesn’t cut it, folks.

Who should shoulder the blame for the PC’s eye-straining status quo? Manufacturers who pump out computers at the lowest cost possible, or people who treat PCs as commodity appliances? It matters not. Regardless of the industry’s general recalcitrance toward Retina-level displays, the death of the pixel marches ever closer, even on Windows computers.

Peering into the future

TOSHIBA
Toshiba’s Kirabook is the first Windows laptop available with an ultrahigh-resolution.

High-resolution displays aren’t the norm even on premium Windows laptops quite yet, but they are becoming more popular as economies of scale drive the cost of displays down—and as the economy in general forces manufacturers to tinker with bold new designs to spark lagging consumer interest.

Behold: the recently announced Toshiba Kirabook, the first Windows laptop to bear an ultrahigh-resolution display with 221 ppi. Starting at $1600, it also sports a matching ultrahigh price tag, unfortunately.

But higher resolutions are starting to work their way into slightly less expensive Windows devices, too. Many early Windows hybrids and touchscreen laptops rock a full 1080p HD resolution, including the $1100 Dell XPS 12 and Microsoft’s own $899 Surface Pro slate. On the Dell’s 12.5-inch display, that’s good for a far-better-than average 176 ppi, while the Surface Pro’s 10.6-inch screen boasts a peeper-pleasing 208 ppi.

That’s not quite pixel-less, but it’s close.

The Surface Pro’s pixel-packed display makes everything from movies to games look absolutely gorgeous.

“In comparing Surface Pro to my third-generation iPad, I really had to search for visible pixels and differences in display quality, and any deficits exhibited by Surface Pro melted away when the tablet was farther away from my face, and propped on a desk,” PCWorld editor Jon Phillips wrote in his Surface Pro review.

In other words: Wow.

We’re likely still a few years away from widespread adoption of 1080p-plus PC displays, but that day is a-coming. One encouraging stat: Over 30 percent of gamers connecting to Steam already own 1920 by 1080 displays, though the pixel density is obviously lower on a 21-inch desktop display than on a smaller mobile screen. The black line representing 1080p displays on that StatCounter chart above is rising slowly—but steadily. Intel expects that ultrahigh-resolutions will be the norm sooner rather than later.

And the same day that Sharp showed off its 498-ppi mobile panel, the company also presented a 13.5-inch IGZO OLED panel designed for laptops. Its resolution: a stunning 3840 by 2160, with a 326-ppi density—a full 99 ppi higher than even the vaunted MacBook Pro’s Retina display.

Sharp started mass-producing IGZO displays in March.

Laying the groundwork

In a way, the PC’s delayed adoption of dynamite displays is a good thing. Everyday technology simply isn’t ready for the en masse embrace of pixel-packed screens.

Most computer programs and the Web as we know it were designed with pedestrian displays in mind, not ultrahigh-res stunners. As such, Retina iPad users have complained of blurred text and imagery, while the Surface Pro ships with the desktop display automatically scaled to 150 percent to keep text from appearing itty-bitty on its pixelicious screen. Images created for Retina-level displays are far larger, file-size-wise, than standard-resolution graphics, placing a burden on bandwidth and storage alike.

JARED NEWMAN
The Chromebook Pixel’s stunning screen was built for tomorrow, not today.

But fear not: Big brains are already hard at work to fix these irksome issues. Witness the rise of vector-based images, the enhanced desktop display scaling feature reportedly built into Windows Blue,and the very existence of the impressively astronomical Chromebook Pixel.

The death of the pixel isn’t here, but it is very close. One day, in the not-too-distant future, your child will gaze up innocently at you and ask, “What’s a pixel?”

And on that day, the displays of today will seem just as ancient as mainframes, Minecraft (in all its glory) be damned.

 

 

 

 

credit/source: This article was previously published by pcworld.com


images

The pro versions of Photoshop (and the rest of Adobe’s Creative Suite) have always had a steep admission fee. In some cases, we’re talking thousands of dollars. Makes sense for big companies, but those costs put a bigger strain on self-employed pros and smaller indie operations. So it makes sense that Adobe’s Creative Cloud – which lets you rent these apps for a monthly fee – has been such a big hit. In fact, it’s done well enough that Adobe is closing the door on its retail Creative Suite apps, putting its full weight behind subscriptions.

So CS6 will be the last of the Creative Suite series. From now on, it’s all “CC.” Adobe will still sell CS6, and owners of the retail version will still get bug fixes. But no CS7, and no more major updates. Now it’s all about the cloud.

Adobe-creative-cloud

+Of course, in this case “the cloud” really means “cloud-based licensing.” Pay Adobe, and get a temporary registration that activates the software for as long as you keep paying. Sure, there are some cloud storage and syncing bonuses, but – let’s be honest – the Creative Cloud is mostly about attracting customers who don’t want to pay a huge lump sum.

Previously, many of those customers had turned to piracy. Photoshop has consistently been one of the most pirated PC apps. Adobe talks up Creative Cloud’s features, but, from a business perspective, it’s more about dangling a lower-cost carrot for potential pirates.

Apparently it works. In the year since Adobe started offering Creative Cloud, the company signed up over half a million paid users, and over two million free users. Considering the Creative Cloud’s monthly costs (starting at US$20 monthly for one app), those numbers aren’t too shabby.

CC-image

New Photoshop

Even if the shift to the cloud was inevitable, it’s sure to tick off some long-time Adobe customers. So, maybe to help ease the pain, Adobe dangled an upcoming new version of Photoshop that will be dropping this June.

The long-teased Camera Shake Reduction Tool will be showing up in the update. Adobe showed it off in some of the early CS6 demos, but it wasn’t ready for its public release last year. It uses advanced algorithms to remove image blur caused by unsteady hands.

There’s also an improved Smart Sharpen tool, which will reduce noise and avoid ugly halos while sharpening those pics. There is also a new Advanced Healing brush that lets you do some content-aware healing with a brush stroke, as opposed to just a circle.

Oh, and remember Photoshop Extended? It is no more. Adobe is unifying all of the new CC features into one app. So no more comparing versions, trying to decide if Extended is worth the extra cost. Just sign up, pay your monthly fee, and enjoy the full Photoshop experience.

Existing CC subscribers will get all the new features in June. Owners of CS6 retail can also get some nice discounted pricing on the subscriptions model.

 

 

 

source & credit: gizmag.com and adobe.com


Terrafugia has announced its plans to develop a vertical-take-off-and-landing flying car, ...

Terrafugia has announced its plans to develop a vertical-take-off-and-landing flying car, known as the TF-X (Image: Terrafugia)

 

Although countless small companies have tried to commercially developflying cars over the past several decades, we’re still not seeing Blade Runner-esque vehicles cruising over our rooftops … yet. Terrafugia is one of the groups currently trying to change that situation – a fully-functioning prototype of its Transition fixed-wing “roadable airplane” is currently undergoing flight tests, and was recently cleared for civilian use by the US Federal Aviation Authority. It still requires a runway for take-off and landing, though, which kind of clashes with many peoples’ flying car fantasies. Well, today Terrafugia announced its plans for a hybrid-drive vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) vehicle, known as the TF-X.

The TF-X in cruising mode, with its wing pod propellers retracted (Image: Terrafugia) The TF-X will have a cruising speed of 200 mph (322 km/h), going up to 500 miles (805 km) ...The TF-X in folded-wing ground mode ... (Image: Terrafugia)

Like the Transition, plans call for the 4-passenger TF-X to feature wings that fold into its sides, allowing it to fit on roads and in garages when in fully-electric ground mode. When it’s time to take off, however, those wings will extend into their flight position, and retractible propellers will open out of two 600-hp electric motor pods – one on each wing tip. Each pod will contain 16 separate motors, to keep everything in the air should one or more of them malfunction.

Initially, those props will be pointing upwards, allowing them to pull the TF-X up off the ground. Once the vehicle is sufficiently airborne, however, the propellers will rotate forward, allowing it to move ahead. Once the TF-X has gained enough forward momentum, the two wing-mounted propellers (butnot the wings!) can once again be retracted, with a 300-hp internal combustion engine powering a single large rear-mounted ducted prop while cruising. The wing props will be re-engaged as the landing site approaches.

The engine will charge the batteries used by the electric motors, although they can also be charged simply by plugging into an electric vehicle charger when parked.

The engine will charge the batteries used by the electric motors, although they can also b...

Before you start picturing yourself flying a TF-X off of your driveway, however, Terrafugia does state that the vehicle will require a clearing at least 100 feet (30.5 meters) in diameter for takeoff. This means that users will most likely drive their vehicle to and from designated landing sites similar to those used by helicopters, and fly between those sites.

That said, unlike the case with a helicopter, the designers believe that it should only take about five hours to learn how to fly the TF-X. This is largely because users will have the option of flying it in automatic mode, in which they just input the location of their destination landing site (along with some back-up secondary choices), then leave the navigation to the vehicle.

It will subsequently travel at a cruising speed of 200 mph (322 km/h), going up to 500 miles (805 km) without needing to refuel or recharge. While cruising in automatic mode, it will be able to automatically avoid other air traffic, along with inclement weather, restricted airspace and tower-controlled airspace (which pilots would require additional training to fly in). It will also automatically land itself at the destination (if weather allows), although the pilot will be able to override that function if they notice any hazards at the chosen landing site.

The TF-X will have a cruising speed of 200 mph (322 km/h), going up to 500 miles (805 km) ...

Should the TF-X just crap out completely in mid-air, the pilot can activate a parachute system to keep it from crashing to the ground. Likewise, if the onboard control system detects that the vehicle is being piloted in an unsafe manner, it will automatically declare an emergency and contact the relevant authorities. Should the pilot be unresponsive to prompts by the system, it will automatically land the vehicle at the closest airport.

All of this is still at least 8 to 12 years away, though, as that’s how long Terrafugia figures it will take to develop a commercially viable product. The only estimate on price is that it could be “on-par with very high-end luxury cars of today.”

tfx2

 

 

 

Source: Terrafugia & gizmag.com


sunThe sun is more than 92 million miles away, but you can almost feel a ripple of heat when watching NASA‘s incredible footage of its fiery hiccup.

The burst comes from a coronal mass ejection (CME) that erupted from the sun this week, creating a gigantic rolling wave of fire.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) caught the explosion on camera. While it’s only 13 seconds long, the video covers about two and a half hours, so the seemingly slow-mo bubble is actually sped up a lot. The footage was taken in extreme ultraviolet light, a method commonly used in solar imaging.

CMEs — massive bursts of solar winds often associated with solar flares — can shoot more than 1 billion tons of particles into space at a speed faster than 1 million miles per hour. According to NASA, this particular CME that occurred May 1 is not headed our way, so it won’t pose any threat to Earth.

solar_flare_416

This event pales by comparison to April’s massive solar flare. According to SDO, it was the most powerful solar flare of the year. The flare was so big that it temporarily knocked out radio communications on Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit: Mashable.com

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