Monday, February 29, 2016

Scientists model a Coronavirus' infectious bits for the first time


A collaboration of scientists from University of Washington (UW), the Pasteur Institute and the University of Utrecht have harnessed a state-of-the-art microscope and supercomputer to model a coronavirus' infection mechanism for the first time.

Coronaviruses are really good at infecting the respiratory systems of humans and other mammals. Once inside, these viruses can cause pneumonia (if you're lucky). The strains that become SARS and MERS have a mortality rate as high as 37 percent. Plus, there is currently no antigen for SARS or MERS, which makes them especially dangerous.

The virus is so effective because of its "transmembrane spike glycoprotein," which binds to the surfaces of other cells, allowing the virus to enter. This structure is what gives coronaviruses their spiky, crown-like shape and determines what species of animals the virus can target.

The research team leveraged a single particle cryo-electron microscopy technique to model the spike of a coronavirus that infects mice in terrific detail. The team managed a 4 angstrom resolution -- about a tenth of a nanometer.

With this new analysis, the team believes they've identified a potential weaknesses in the virus' defenses. Turns out, the spike has a small peptide chain running along it. That peptide helps facilitate the virus' entry into a cell but could easily be hijacked by a treatment.

"Small molecules or protein scaffolds might eventually be designed to bind to this site," UW assistant professor of chemistry, David Veesler said in a statement, "to hinder insertion of the fusion peptide into the host cell membrane and to prevent it from undergoing changes conducive to fusion with the host cell. We hope that this might be the case, but much more work needs to be done to see if it is possible."

Source: UW Health Sciences


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Google bets that smart software will improve health care


Google's DeepMind project has mostly focused on solving high-minded computer intelligence issues. Today, though, it's tackling something far more practical in the short-term: health care. The new DeepMind Health initiative relies on smart mobile apps to deliver medical data to doctors and nurses in time to save lives. The first app, Streams, helps spot acute kidney injuries that would otherwise go unnoticed. There are also plans to integrate technology from a third-party task management app, Hark, to identify patients that are at risk of deteriorating quickly.

The initial DeepMind Health effort is focused on the UK's National Health Service. And despite the name, it doesn't currently use artificial intelligence -- Google is "excited" about the possibility of using AI, but it's not part of these early tests. If everything pans out, though, this could go a long way toward streamlining health info and eliminating the need for archaic tech like fax machines and pagers to make sense of a patient's status.

Source: Google DeepMind


Monday, February 22, 2016

Cheap smartphones will soon get much better graphics


The company that created the iPhone's graphics chip wants to bring its pixel-crunching expertise to dirt-cheap smartphones. Imagination Technologies is launching the PowerVR 8XE, a new series of chips that offer vastly better graphics for far less cash. The hardware's designed to support the new Vulkan API that promises graphically-intensive mobile games without the usual jerkiness or slowdowns. Imagination's pitch is that rather than just building ever-bigger slices of silicon, it's learning to do a lot more with a lot less. In addition to dirt-cheap smartphones, the chips will be used in cheapie set-top boxes and cars.

A more efficient graphics chip is also a smaller one, and smaller chips are often cheaper to manufacture and install. That means Imagination can offer chips with higher resolution and performance for the same price as the current generation. Given that there's so little difference between so many low-end smartphones these days, being able to offer better graphics is a big deal. It's also expected that the VR8XE chip will sip, rather than guzzle, at the smartphone's power reserves. Joe Chen, Co-CEO at MediaTek is pretty excited about the technology, saying that he's "delighted" to be one of the first firms that'll get access to the goodies.

Source: Imagination Technology


Epson unveils its third-generation Moverio AR glasses at MWC


Epson debuted the third iteration of its Moverio AR glasses series, dubbed the BT-300, at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona on Monday. The new smart specs boast completely transparent lenses impregnated with OLED displays, a quad-core Intel Atom X5 processor and the Android 5.1 operating system. Plus, they weigh 20 percent less than their BT-200 predecessors, making them the world's lightest AR glasses. They're currently available for preorder and are expected to ship later this year.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Meet HP's Elite X3, a Windows Phone with a wireless lapdock


It's been ages (fine, two years) since HP released a smartphone, so surely a device making its debut at Mobile World Congress ought to be special, right? Well, HP's newest mobile -- the Elite X3 -- is special, for a few reasons. First off, it's a Windows Phone in an age where Windows Phone growth has basically stopped. And second, HP is looking at it as a productivity powerhouse, supplementing it with a lapdock that the phone connects to wirelessly. The result? A mostly full-size laptop with all the power of a smartphone. ​

First, the facts. Like plenty of other phones here at the show, the X3 comes loaded with a Snapdragon 820 chipset and 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, along with 64GB of internal storage. That puts it in the same category as devices like the LG G5, though its dual front-facing speakers (augmented by Bang & Olufsen) could make it a handier media machine. It also sports all the security features your IT department has been clamoring for, two SIM card slots for frequent fliers and a surprisingly nice 5.96-inch Quad HD display.

All told, that's a pretty solid package. And from HP! Who knew? Really, though, it's the productivity angle that's most puzzling. The Elite X3 is meant as a business-only machine, sold in fleets to both tiny and corporate IT departments, and the lapdock (technically the "mobile extender") is a way to turn a phone into a full-blown work machine. The extender is supposed to come with a 48Wh battery and a 12.5-inch diagonal screen, along with a full-size keyboard and trackpad. If you're really itching to hunker down and work, there's a dock, too, which basically just lets you route video from the phone to a bigger display for universal apps.

I got the chance to play briefly with the phone (the lapdock was just a mock-up) and walked away more confused than anything. Would a mobile professional prefer a proper laptop and smartphone every single time? The notion of having productivity accessories orbiting around a smartphone sun is great and all (especially for small IT departments that would rather not have to deal with managing all those assets), but the fact of the matter is, Continuum sometimes doesn't work reliably enough to make any of this feasible. Most of my Continuum experience has been with a Lumia 950 connected straight into a screen with cables — I couldn't get Miracast connectivity to work even with a dongle Microsoft provided, and I'm wondering how many people will experience these same kinds of headaches with HP's wireless lapdock.

That's kind of a shame, too, as the Elite X3 is one of the nicer Windows Phones I've come across. It's not as downright fancy as the NuAns Neo, but it's got the horsepower to make some people reconsider the Windows Phone lifestyle.


Samsung has a 360-degree camera for Gear VR video


Along with the expected Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge, Samsung is also taking the wraps off the a 360-degree video camera, the Gear 360. It's built around two 15-megapixel sensors, each nestled behind a fisheye lens, and also has a tiny 0.5-inch display. You can use it handheld with the included handle, or set it down on a surface with a mini-tripod. In the latter mode, it looks kind of like a Portal Turret had a baby with an old Logitech webcam. In the best way possible. Both the handle and the tripod screw into an industry-standard threaded port (the same that probably graces the underside of your camera), so you can always bring your own accessories to the party.

Although it's difficult to rate the resolution of 360-degree video, Samsung says it'll capture 3,840 x 1,920 video at 30 frames per second. That's just a few vertical pixels shy of 4K. Still images are far larger: 7,776 x 3,888, or 30-megapixels. There's no on-board storage, but it supports MicroSD cards up to 128GB in capacity.

While the Gear 360 will output plain MP4s or JPEGs, it's really designed to allow anyone to create video for the company's Gear VR headset. You can sync the camera with a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge for remote-control features, and you'll also be able to preview footage in real-time on your phone screen. Any videos you take on the 360 will be able to be viewed, stitched, and saved directly to a smartphone.

We got to play with the Gear 360 very briefly at a meeting in New York, and while the thing may look like a video game tchotchke, its ease of use is its biggest asset. Popping in the battery and a memory card (just in case) took seconds, and so did pressing the button on top of the sphere to start it all up. After that, you're more-or-less meant to forget about it — Samsung's aiming to capture more meaningful slices of life, ones that wouldn't normally by shot by professional VR rigs, so off-the-cuff usage is encouraged. We even managed to get a short 360 video loaded onto a Galaxy S7 Edge for a bit of auto-stitching — which is faster than it sounds — and wound up with a perfectly serviceable slice of VR. We don't have a price or an exact release date for the Gear 360 yet, but it'll be available in "select countries" at some point between April 1st and June 30th.


Lenovo adds more mid- and low-end options to laptop range


Lenovo has a bunch of new Windows 10 machines to show off at MWC this year, and if you're familiar with the company's Yoga and Miix lines, they'll seem very familiar.

First up is the ultraportable Yoga 710, which comes in 11- and 14-inch sizes. Both have 1080p IPS touch screens, up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB SSD storage. The smaller has a choice of Intel Core m processors (up to m5) and integrated Intel graphics, while the larger utilizes 6th-generation Intel Core i processors (up to i7), and up to Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics. Like all Yogas, the 710's keyboard rotates a full 360 degrees, giving you a choice of laptop mode, stand mode, tent mode, or tablet mode. The 11-inch model starts at $499, while the 14-inch will cost $799. They'll both go on sale this May.

The Flex 4 (called the Yoga 510 internationally) will be available in 14- and 15-inch configurations. It keeps the general Yoga aesthetic, the 1080p displays, the up-to Core i7, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD options, but its graphics cap out at an AMD Radeon R7 M460 GPU. It's scheduled for release this April at $599 for the 14-inch, or $699 for the 15-inch.

Lenovo's Miix 310 tablet.

For the super budget-conscious, Lenovo has the MIiix 310, a $229 convertible powered by an Intel Atom X5 8300 CPU with integrated graphics. It has a 10.1-inch "up to 1080p" display, "up to" 4GB of RAM, and "up to" 128GB eMMC storage. There'll also be a model with LTE support, but Lenovo's quiet on the price for that configuration. We suspect the exact pricing will become clearer closer to its release date in June.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

13 jobs that are quickly disappearing thanks to robots


Robotic armsChristopher Furlong / Getty Images

Thanks in part to automated mail sorting systems, postal workers may be all but obsolete in the not-so-distant future.

By 2024, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 28% decline in postal-service jobs, totaling around 136,000 fewer positions than 2014.

Mail carriers and processors aren't the only ones whose jobs are disappearing thanks to robots.

Automation technologies that conduct physical, intellectual, or customer service tasks are affecting a variety of fields, most notably metal and plastic machine workers.

Based on the BLS's occupational outlook data, here are 13 jobs that could be on their way out of the US thanks to robots:

US Department of Agriculture

13. Forging Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders, Metal and Plastic

According to the BLS, they set up, operate, or tend forging machines to taper, shape, or form metal or plastic parts.

Median annual pay: $35,480

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2014: 21,600 

Predicted number of people who will hold this job in 2024: 17,000

Projected decline: 21.5%

Why it's declining: According to the BLS, one of the most important factors influencing employment of manual machine setters, operators, and tenders is the high adoption of labor-saving machinery like computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools and robots to improve quality and lower production costs. 

12. Grinding, lapping, polishing, and buffing machine tool setters, operators, and tenders (metal and plastic)

According to the BLS, they set up, operate, or tend grinding and related tools that remove excess material or burrs from surfaces, sharpen edges or corners, or buff, hone, or polish metal or plastic work pieces.

Median annual pay: $34,150

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2014: 71,400

Predicted number of people who will hold this job in 2024: 55,800

Projected decline: 21.9%

Why it's declining: According to the BLS, one of the most important factors influencing employment of manual machine setters, operators, and tenders is the high adoption of labor-saving machinery like computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools and robots to improve quality and lower production costs. 

11. Patternmakers (metal and plastic)

According to the BLS, they lay out, machine, fit, and assemble castings and parts to metal or plastic foundry patterns, core boxes, or match plates.

Median annual pay: $41,670

Number of people who held this job in the US in 2014: 3,800

Predicted number of people who will hold this job in 2024: 2,900

Projected decline: 23.4%

Why it's declining: According to the BLS, one of the most important factors influencing employment of manual machine setters, operators, and tenders is the high adoption of labor-saving machinery like computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools and robots to improve quality and lower production costs. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider


Friday, February 12, 2016

This New App Turns Your Phone Into a Portable Seismic Station


Whoa, did you feel that earthquake? Even if you didn’t, your phone did, and a new app from seismologists aims to capture those vibrations in your very own pocket seismology lab.



UCLA open sources image detector that can see what we can't


UCLA has released the source code to powerful image detection software that can see an object's every detail at high speed -- key for applications like fingerprint and iris scanning, or self-driving cars. It starts by identifying an object's edges and then looking for and extracting its other, fainter features. For instance, if there are items with textured surfaces in the image, the algorithm can recognize and enhance them, as you can see in the example below the fold. It can even see through bright lights to detect their sources' structures, such as lamps, LED lights and even the moon.

The Phase Stretch Transform algorithm was developed by UCLA professor Bahram Jalali, senior researcher Mohammad Asghari and their team. Their project is a spin-off of the university's research on photonic time stretch that can be used to detect cancer cells. It's also the secret behind what UCLA once called the "world's fastest camera" that can capture events that happen very, very fast. The algorithm is now up and available to the public on GitHub and Matlab Central.

Source: UCLA


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Qualcomm's X16 modem could help gigabit LTE work in more places


While our wireless carriers bicker over who offers the fastest service, Qualcomm went and pulled back the curtain on the Snapdragon X16 modem, a dry sounding bit of networking tech with huge implications. With it comes the promise of insanely fast gigabit LTE download speeds... but shouldn't hold your breath waiting see your Ookla Speedtest results shoot through the roof.

The X16's secret sauce has two ingredients. First, it uses its four antennas and some clever signal management know-how to connect to 10 LTE data streams from only three carrier-aggregated 20MHz carriers. Long story short, each of those streams can carry data at up to 100Mbps, giving us the magical 1Gbps figure. Second, the X16 supports LTE Advanced Pro, which (among other things) means the modem can play nice when carriers tap into swathes of unlicensed spectrum to increase the number of connections they can have going at one time. Too bad this tech won't wind up in the new Snapdragon 820, though; the first X16-friendly devices should show up in the second half of the year.

Here's the thing, though — as awesome as all of this sounds, the chances of actually full gigabit LTE speeds are slim even if a network operator uses unlicensed spectrum to amplify the number of connections it can hang onto at one time. Given our growing demand for data, though, you can bet that we'll get very close before long. Samsung and Korean wireless carrier KT cooked up a kind of hybrid network tech called GiGA LTE that has a theoretical max speed of 1.17Gbps, though it's not clear how many Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge owners are getting speeds even close to that.

Source: Qualcomm


Here's what publishers are doing to keep up with increasing mobile media consumption


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Mobile devices have become the go-to platform for consuming digital media. In June, mobile accounted for two out of every three minutes spent consuming digital media in the US, according to comScore data. As readers spend more time consuming media on mobile devices and less time reading on newspapers, magazines, and desktop computers, publishers must adapt their distribution strategies to align with the mobile shift. 

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we examine how both traditional and digital-native publishers are adjusting their strategies in the face of rapidly increasing mobile media consumption. We will also discuss the role of social platforms in driving a growing share of publishers' referral traffic, focusing on the leading platforms and mobile apps that offer publishers a direct avenue to reach mobile audiences: Facebook Instant Articles, Snapchat Discover, Twitter Moments, and the Apple News App. Finally, we address how the continued mobile shift has the potential to alter the direction of the publishing industry. 

Here are some key takeaways from the report: 

  • Mobile users are choosing mobile apps to consumer digital media. This June, total time spent consuming digital media via mobile apps reached close to 779 billion minutes, vs. nearly 551 billion minutes on PCs, according to ComScore data.
  • Facebook's Instant Articles and Snapchat's Discover allow partnering publishers to directly reach growing audience bases with native content, while Twitter's Moments is less of a purpose-built distribution channel. These social platforms are increasingly popular because of their built-in audience bases, and mobile first nature. 
  • Alternative distribution channels are essential for publishers trying to reach growing mobile audiences, but are not without drawbacks. By relying on other channels to push content to viewers, publishers are giving up control over content and in many instances are handing over a portion of the ad revenue generated. 

In full, the report:

  • Illustrates the rise of digital media consumption on mobile devices and mobile apps in particular. 
  • Maps out the global decline of direct desktop traffic for top news publishers in the US.
  • Examines how leading social platforms including Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter, and various mobile news apps are offering publishers a way to distribute content. 
  • Lays out what the benefits and drawbacks for publishers for each distribution channel. 
  • Considers what the future will look like for traditional and digital-native publishers as the shift to mobile continues.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store.» Purchase & Download
  2. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally.» Learn More Now



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NOW WATCH: Hidden Facebook tricks you need to know


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

LG teases G5's 'Always On' display


While the G5 teaser GIF LG's mobile division posted on Twitter doesn't say much, it has enough info to tell us that the device will have an "Always On" display. According to Android Authority's sources, the flagship phone will have a screen that is literally always on. Other phones with ambient screens like the Moto X and the Nexus 6P only show pertinent info on screen (only the pixels needed to show, say, a notification lights up) when you perform specific gestures.

The publication says the G5 won't have an AMOLED display and will instead have a full screen version of the LG V10's second, smaller screen. If you recall, the V10 has a small strip of display on top with app shortcuts. It's unclear what elements the Always On screen will have, but as you can see above, it has the time, date and can show if you have calls, emails or texts.

Another thing we'd love to know is the device's battery life, since the screen would obviously consume energy all the time. We'll know more about the phone when it launches on February 21st, though the manufacturer might be calling the "Always On" function something else by then. Samsung has trademarked the term "Always on Display" for the Galaxy S7, which will presumably sport an ambient screen, as well.

잠들지 않는 Play

Always ON
#LG #LGG5 #G5 #AlwaysON

— LG Mobile (@LG_Mobile_) February 10, 2016

Source: LG Mobile


Thursday, February 04, 2016

Android Wear update adds new gestures and voice-to-text


Since Android Wear's debut, Google has regularly added new features for the wearable software. Today, those gadgets are getting three more tools -- the stuff we first heard about back in November. First, Android Wear is adding new gestures for navigation through what's on your smartwatch. You can push, lift or shake your wrist to peruse cards, pull up a list of apps or return to the home screen. If you're not exactly sure how the movements work, you can get a tutorial on your Android Wear device from the Settings menu.

Android Wear already allows you to search or control music with your voice. Now, you can use those voice controls to send messages. Apps like Google Hangouts, Nextplus, Telegram, Viber, WeChat, and WhatsApp will all accept your spoken cues, so you won't have to pull out your phone to text someone. For example, saying "OK Google, Send a Hangouts message to Edgar: Does 5PM work?" will employ the voice feature to complete the task.

Lastly, if you happen to have an Android Wear device with a built-in speaker, like the Huawei Watch and ASUS ZenWatch 2, you can take calls and listen to messages on your wrist. Of course, you'll be doing so in a speakerphone-like scenario, so you'll want to be sure you have some privacy. All of these features are rolling out "over the next few weeks," which means you'll be able to take advantage soon enough.

Source: Google


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Samsung reportedly launches its VR camera February 21st


Tired of waiting for Samsung's virtual reality-oriented Project Beyond camera to be more than just a well-meaning idea? You might just get your hands on it (or rather, something like it) soon. SamMobile sources hear that Samsung is preparing to launch a finished VR camera, the Gear 360, alongside the Galaxy S7 on February 21st. From the sounds of it, this device won't be as elaborate as Project Beyond -- it'll have two 180-degree fisheye cameras (à la devices like Nikon's KeyMission 360) rather than the abundance of cams on the concept. It'll record a 4K wrap-around picture if you use both lenses, though, and will have trick modes like split image views, panoramas and timelapses. There's no word on whether or not you can stream live footage online.

This remains a rumor, so you might not want to set aside some cash for the Gear 360 just yet. With that said, a launch simultaneous with the Galaxy S7 would make sense. Tech enthusiasts everywhere will already be watching, and Samsung itself makes a big deal out of VR in its Unpacked event teaser. The big questions are the price and compatibility. Will this be affordable enough that you can pick one up out of sheer curiosity? And will it work with phones that aren't made by Samsung? If the claims are accurate, you may get your answers in a few weeks.

Via: The Verge

Source: SamMobile