Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Sony's latest sensor shoots ridiculous slow-mo video

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/02/07/sonys-latest-sensor-shoots-ridiculous-slow-mo-video/

Sony has unveiled a sensor that could bring some impressive camera tricks to your next smartphone. The 3-layer CMOS sensor does super slow motion at up to 1,000 fps in full HD (1,920 x 1,080), around eight times faster than any other chip. That's possible thanks to a 2-layer sensor married with high speed DRAM that can buffer images extremely rapidly. Specifically, it can capture 19.3-megapixel images in just 1/120th of a second, "four times faster than conventional products," Sony says.

That kind of readout speed reduces "focal plane distortion," also known as rolling shutter. On CMOS-equipped cameras, including smartphones and DSLRs, the top of the an image is read before than the bottom, causing vertical lines to tilt on fast moving objects. As Sony shows in a test image (below) a faster 1/120th second readout speed significantly reduces that effect. The result will be better photos of moving objects and reduced wobbly "jello" video.

That's all good, but the sensor's standout feature is super slow-mo. As shown below, 1,000 fps is pushing into Phantom Flex camera territory, letting you see the impact of a ball on a bat or a dog vault in precise detail. What's more, Sony says that smartphones could detect sudden movement and automatically launch the high-speed mode, so you only use it when needed. Thanks to the DRAM buffer layer, it would work on any smartphone with a regular image processor.

By contrast, the Google Pixel, one of the better slow-mo models out there, can only do 120 fps at full HD, less than an eighth of the Sony sensor's capability. Sony says it has also figured out how to eliminate the noise inherent in putting DRAM next to an image chip by sandwiching it between the CMOS layer and circuits. There's no word on when the chip will appear in any new smartphone models, but as Sony has just launched it, it could take a year or two.

Source: Sony


Wednesday, February 01, 2017

If Desk Space Is a Priority, This Discounted Lenovo Thinkcentre Can Help

Source: http://deals.kinja.com/if-desk-space-is-a-priority-this-discounted-lenovo-thi-1791862704

What the Lenovo Thinkcentre may lack in bulk, it makes up for it in ability. Despite its impressively small size (that’s not a comically large pencil), this little guy gets you a 128GB SSD, 4GB of RAM, and a 2.2GHz Core i5 processor with integrated Intel HD 530 graphics. If you like tiny things that are the best price…



Monday, January 30, 2017

Explosions may be the answer to mass-producing graphene

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/30/explosions-may-be-the-answer-to-mass-producing-graphene/

Graphene is difficult and expensive to mass produce, but while trying to make something else altogether, Kansas State University (KSU) scientists may have lucked into a promising technique. The team was attempting to make carbon soot aerosol gels by detonating acetylene gas and oxygen with a spark plug. That yielded soot resembling "black angel food cake," according to lead researcher Chris Sorensen. It proved to be graphene, a discovery that could pave the way for cheaper manufacturing of lightweight but incredibly strong materials, superconductors, and more.

Graphene consists of bonded carbon that's just one atom thick, making it one of the lightest, strongest materials out there. It also has interesting electrical properties and has shown tons of experimental promise for rapid-charging "supercapacitor" batteries, solar cells and superconductors. However, more widespread use is limited by its cost -- methods like chemical "cooking" and high temperature heating have proven to be low-yield, expensive and even dangerous.

The KSU team's technique simply requires an oxidizing agent like oxygen or air, acetylene or other hydrocarbons and a spark, according to a patent it filed. The resulting detonation creates a 3,000 degree K temperature inside the vessel, enough to create pure graphene stacked in single, double or triple sheets. "What might be the best property of all is that the energy required to make a gram of graphene through our process is much less than other processes because all it takes is a single spark," Sorenson said.

The researchers are now working to improve the quality of the graphene and scale it up to industrial levels. The aim is to get the material out of the chamber several seconds after the detonation, so it doesn't form into an aerogel. However, the technique seems far along along already compared to other types of promising research, which often never leaves the lab. "The real charm of our experiment is that we can produce graphene in the quantity of grams rather than milligrams," says post-doc researcher Arjun Nepal.

Source: Kansas State University


Thursday, January 26, 2017

LG's G6 reportedly packs Google Assistant instead of Alexa

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/26/lgs-g6-may-nix-removable-battery-in-favor-of-water-resistance/

LG's G6 smartphone is a leaky flagship: CNET is reporting some good and bad points about the company's incoming G6 we've already heard. It will be water-resistant. Great! But it won't have a removable battery. Not so great. While phones with batteries that can be removed (and often swapped out by power-hungry power users), are increasingly rare, it's recently given LG a notable selling point.

What's more, CNET says the handset will feature Google Assistant as its virtual companion instead of Amazon's Alexa. According to the report, LG planned on using Alexa like it does in a number of other products, but the integration wasn't ready for prime time. If you prefer Amazon's virtual assistant, CNET says LG will still likely ship phones with the feature at some point in 2017.

Now it's appears that the G6 going to be an awful lot like the rest: slender bezels, curved corners, metallic shimmering finish, inside and out. The battery choice was done to ensure that water resistance happened, apparently. Given how its unusual modular experiment didn't set the world on fire, it's hard to blame them... from a business view at least.

Is it a case of can't beat them, join them? LG's smartphone arm still weighs down its financial figures, and it's selling less phones than recent years. The teasers and leaks don't suggest anything game-changing, but it might be the right time for LG to strike with a populist, more normal, smartphone that can draw in anyone still wary of buying a Samsung smartphone upgrade. That said, LG still has to fend of cheaper Chinese rivals, Google's own phones, and of course, the iPhone. With what seems like an unremarkable design and water-resistance be enough cut it? Let's see the full reveal first: perhaps the company has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

Source: CNET


Facebook offers extra security with USB key support

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/26/facebook-two-factor-usb-security-keys/

None of us want strangers accessing our accounts online. You might use a password manager, or two-factor authentication via SMS, but there's another way you can stay protected -- physical security keys. Following Google, Dropbox and others, Facebook has added support for these privacy-centric dongles today. When you log into your account, that means you can choose to prove your identity with a special USB stick, rather than a code sent to your phone. Yes, it's another object to keep on your keychain, but in return you'll be getting a superior level of protection.

Physical keys are supposed to be more effective than mobile apps and SMS verification, because there's no chance of phishing or man-in-the-middle attacks. They're also potentially faster -- just a tap on the physical key and you should have access to your Facebook account. It's a welcome move from the company, which is also announcing a redesigned Privacy Basics page today. Neither service is mandatory, but it's good to know they exist for Facebook's more privacy conscious users. Cyberattacks and identity theft are on the rise -- it's never a bad time to strengthen your defences.

Source: Facebook