Pebble Time Steel Launched, Looks Like the Apple Watch


With over $12 million (roughly 75 crores) in funding and pre-orders for more than 65,000 smartwatches, you’d assume that the Pebble Time was all that the company, Pebble had to offer. However this changed with the announcement of the Pebble Time Steel, which bears a striking resemblance to the Apple Watch.

As the name suggests, it’s made of stainless steel. Due to this it’s thicker and heavier than the Pebble Time that’s mostly made of plastic. There are three colours to choose from. These include Black, Gold, and Stainless Steel. It will ship with a metal bracelet and a leather strap. Much like the Pebble Time, it will be available through the company’s highly successful Kickstarter campaign.

pebble_steel_colours_pebble.jpgWith a regular retail price of $299 (around Rs. 18,500), Kickstarter backers can get it for $250 (around Rs. 15,500). And if you have already backed the Pebble Time but want to upgrade to the Steel, you can do so without losing your spot in queue. What this means is if you backed Pebble Time on February 24, you’ll be one of the first to receive the Steel when it ships in July.

In addition to this, the company announced smartstraps. These are straps that contain sensors and electronics can be used with apps on the Pebble Time. The possibilities are intriguing to say the least with the company stating that you could use them to enhance battery-life, make payments via NFC, or even use them as pollution sensors.

Apple Watch’s impending launch in April has certainly spurred major manufacturers to come up with their own wearable offerings, and Huawei and HTC are some of the latest entrants into the smartwatch and fitness tracking club.

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Israel's TowerJazz to Produce Sensors for Intel's 3D Cameras


TowerJazz has won a contract from Intel Corp to produce infrared sensors for Intel’s 3D cameras, the Israeli chip manufacturer said on Tuesday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a market source who asked not to be named estimates that the agreement could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars within four years.

The 3D cameras installed on laptops recognise gestures, enabling users to control their computers with hand and head movements.

The technology was developed by Intel’s Israeli subsidiary close to TowerJazz’s manufacturing plant in northern Israel.

Avi Strum, general manager of TowerJazz’s CMOS image sensor business, said the technology has numerous potential uses, such as the ability for the likes of cooks or car mechanics to operate a computer with gestures rather than having to touch it with dirty hands.

The camera can also capture images of an object and quickly create a model for use in 3D printing.

“Intel sensing solutions will bring consumers new experiences and will change the way people capture and share 3D images,” Strum said.

“That Intel chose us for mass production of such sensors is very positive.”

While gesture control is most common in laptops or gaming systems, it is expected to become more widely used in mobile devices such as smartphones.

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Samsung Gear VR Headset Upgrade Launched for Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge


In addition to launching the new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung slipped in a new version of its Gear VR Headset at MWC 2015. While it has no new name, it sports a host of welcome additions along with support for the aforementioned just announced handsets.

The updated Gear VR Innovator Edition now lets you charge it while in use. This should let you be able to use it longer. It’s 15 percent lighter and sports a larger field of vision as well.

Along with this, it’s easier to use over extended periods of time thanks to modified straps. Slicker ergonomics aside, thanks to the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung claims this newer version of the Gear VR headset will sport better graphics and improved performance.

While the Gear VR is a result of the Korean company’s partnership with Facebook-owned virtual reality pioneer, Oculus VR – whose primary focus is gaming, Samsung believes there’s use for it in terms of general media consumption as well such as videos. This should come as no surprise what with the company launching the Milk VR app earlier in the year to supplement this endeavour.

The virtual reality space is heating up. Aside from Sony with Project Morpheus, Oculus, and Razer, HTC threw its hat into the ring announcing its partnership with Valve for the HTC Vive VR as well. With immense competition, this latest revision to the Gear VR just further cements Samsung’s commitment to virtual reality.

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SanDisk Unveils 200GB microSDXC Card, USB Drive With Type-C Connector

Pushing the boundaries of portable storage, SanDisk has unveiled a new microSDXC memory card with an astonishing 200GB capacity. This is particularly impressive because SandDisk has continued to push more and more gigabytes onto a storage medium that is the size of the average human fingernail.It’s interesting to note that despite paying the cost of an average smartphone ($400) for the SanDisk 200GB Ultra microSDXC UHS-1 Premium Edition card, users may not actually be able to use it with anything just yet. Most devices that support microSD are rated to support up to 128GB cards for the time being, including the just unveiledHTC One M9. The new Samsung Galaxy S6 does not even support expandable storage, departing from Samsung’s typical strategy of flagship phones supporting microSD cards. SanDisk rates the card speed at 90MB/s, which means that it will take in excess of 30 minutes to actually fill it up with data.

Also launched by SanDisk is a new 32GB dual-USB drive with a reversible Type-C USB 3.1 connector, and one USB 3.0 connector. Again, here isn’t anything you can actually connect the Dual USB Drive to, with Type-C compatible phones and tablets expected to launch in the coming months. Whenever they do, this card will keep you ready though, and in the meantime, you can always use the regular USB plug to connect it to the vast majority of computers available in the market.

Neither of these products are actually launching just yet, with SanDisk just content to showcase the fact that it’s ready with the next generation of products. Both will be available in the coming months, with the Type-C USB drive also expecting storage capacities higher than 32GB.

SanDisk has also revealed a new 128GB version of its popular iXpand Flash Drive range, designed to quickly transfer pictures and video from iOS devices to Mac computers or PCs. There are also updates to the iXpand Sync app, which now supports Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the new iPhones and iPads. The new 128GB capacity costs $150 (roughly Rs. 9,300) and is already retailing via

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MWC 2015: Mad Catz Unveils S.U.R.F.R and L.Y.N.X. 3 Controllers


Not content with unveiling the quirky L.Y.N.X. 9 at CES 2015, Mad Catz announced the S.U.R.F.R, a controller that manages to cram a full QWERTY keyboard, and mouse pointer input along with a smartphone clip for Android device.

Furthermore it includes palm grips for comfort, trigger buttons, and will be available in three colours when it retails in May for $79.99 (roughly Rs. 5,000). There are integrated media controls as well which makes the Mad Catz S.U.R.F.R extend its use beyond gaming, allowing you to surf, text or navigate media.

“Today’s living room is rapidly evolving beyond proprietary cable boxes and gaming consoles. While consumers continue to gravitate towards connected devices as their preferred platform for streaming digital media content, gaming, surfing the web and social media, current controllers just don’t deliver on the experience they desire. The S.U.R.F.R has been designed to get the most out of these different devices we are now accustomed to in our daily lives,” said Darren Richardson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mad Catz.

lynx_3_mad_catz.jpgIn addition to this, the company also announced the L.Y.N.X. 3 (pictured above). It’s a smaller version of the Mad Catz L.Y.N.X. 9 shown off at CES 2015 sporting the same fold-out design. It retains the console controller layout and phone holder but forgoes the keyboard and tablet holder of its bigger brother. The L.Y.N.X. 3 will retail for $69.99 (roughly Rs. 4,300) and be available in May.

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Uber Slashes Fares Up to 40 Percent Across India

Uber has slashed taxi fares up to 40 percent across various cities in India that includes Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Pune. Notably, Kolkata has not seen any price drop yet, but is expected to shortly.The prices are have been dropped on all Uber Products – UberGo, UberX and UberBlack – depending upon the region. The lowest of all prices across cities is now on Jaipur where the UberGo and UberX base fare is Rs. 15 and per kilometre charge is Rs. 7 and Rs. 8 respectively.

“We’re dropping our prices so everyone can now try the full Uber experience. Nothing can beat the fares and the convenience of moving around in an Uber. Press a button and the cheapest ride in town will come to your doorstep,” said company on its blog.

In Ahmedabad, base fare of UberGo and UberX is dropped to Rs. 20 with per kilometre charges of Rs. 7 for both. In Bangalore, Uber operates all three products – UberGo, UberX and UberBlack – with a base fare Rs. 25, Rs. 30 and Rs. 60 along with per kilometre charges of Rs. 7, Rs. 8 and Rs. 13, respectively.

In Chandigarh, UberGo and UberX base fare is Rs. 20 and Rs. 25 with per kilometre charge of Rs. 5 and Rs. 7 respectively, which is cheapest per kilometre charges across India. Uber in Chennai has dropped the UberGo and UberX base fare to Rs. 30, and per kilometre charges to Rs. 8 and Rs. 9 respectively.

In New Delhi, where Uber has had the most tough ride so far, UberGo now has a base fare Rs. 25 and charges of Rs. 7 per kilometre, while the UberX base fare is now Rs. 40 with charges of Rs. 9 per kilometre, and the premium UberBlack now has a base fare of Rs. 60 and charges of Rs. 12 per kilometre.

In Mumbai, Uber now has base fares of Rs. 60, Rs. 100, and Rs. 150 for its UberGo, UberX, and UberBlack services respectively, corresponding with Rs. 8, Rs. 10, and Rs. 13 per kilometre fares.

Finally, in Pune, UberGo and UberX are now Rs. 25 base fare and have charges of Rs. 8 and Rs. 9 per kilometre respectively. UberBlack is priced Rs. 80 base fare and has charges of Rs. 15 per kilometre.

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World's First 'Non-Intrusive' Smartphone Announced

Tired of smartphone’s intrusion in your personal space? A new device may be your new hope to stay connected without much hassle.Monohm Inc. has announced the creation of Runcible – a personal device modelled on the pocket watch.

Flaunting a high resolution, round screen, the device includes a high-performance phone and camera which is meant to “refocus users’ attention on real people and the real world”.

“People need something to let them control their digital lives in clean, quiet, simple ways,” said Aubrey Anderson, CEO and co-founder, Monohm Inc in a statement.

“Runcible is the alternative to the increasingly invasive and commodified smartphone whose app-centric approach distracts us from our lives instead of helping us live them,” Anderson added.

Runcible is built on top of Mozilla’s Open Source Firefox OS, and KDDI Corporation is Monohm’s first carrier partnership.

runcible_official_2.jpgRuncible’s operating system is based on Open Web standards.

Unlike other systems which rely upon complicated middleware and cannot integrate across platforms, applications and devices, Runcible users can simply access the power of the web to command and control the growing number of IoT devices and connected things around us.

What’s heartening is that unlike smartphones which become obsolete within two or three years, Runcible’s parts can be removed, repaired and upgraded, enabling the device to be kept for decades.

Runcible will never beep, alert or otherwise interrupt us, enabling us to keep our attention where it was always meant to be.

The device would be available by the end of this year.

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Internet Voting a Possibility in Future: Chief Election Commissioner

Chief Election Commissioner H S Brahma on Friday said voting by Internet could be a possibility in the future and the first step in this direction is the EC’s plan to make electoral rolls “totally error free”.”Voting by Internet is the next stage. The first step in the direction was the Election Commission’s ambitious plan to make the electoral rolls totally error free,” the CEC said.

He, however, did not give a time-frame for it.

“We need funds, infrastructure and some training. India can do it…,” Brahma said, adding, young voters think that Internet voting can save a lot of time, resources, and energy.

“When I was standing in queue to cast vote in the Delhi Assembly polls, five young voters standing in front of me said casting vote takes a few seconds but standing in queue for two hours is a difficult task…,” he told a press conference in New Delhi

However, only yesterday, Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda had informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply that there are no plans to introduce Internet voting.

The Election Commission (EC) will launch National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP) between March 3 and August 15. As part of the programme, EC will link electoral photo I card with UIDAI number to ensure there is no duplication.

He said that 10 to 12 percent entries in electoral roll are duplicate. There are 85 crore electors in the country as per the latest EC data. A city in one southern state has 42 percent duplicate entries, Brahma added.

The voters will be asked to voluntarily apply for removal of their names from multiple constituencies and such cases will be disposed off within 15 days. If a person deliberately registers as a voter in multiple constituencies, he or she can be punished under provisions of the IPC and election laws, he said.

50 crore voters registered with EC have UIDAI number and the UIDAI has told the poll body that by June, it will further expand its base, he further said.

As UIDAI is voluntary in nature, the names of those not having the Aadhar number will be double checked physically.

Brahma said duplicacy in electoral rolls and flaws have given EC a bad name and there is a case pending against it in Bombay High Court.

“By purifying the rolls, we want to end the chapter of allegations against us for ever,” he said.

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New Nasa Earth Missions Exploring Our Complex Planet

Four new Nasa Earth-observing missions are collecting data from space – with a fifth newly in orbit – after the busiest year of Nasa Earth science launches in more than a decade.On February 27 last year, Nasa and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched the Earth-observing Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory into space from Japan.

Nasa’s newest Earth-observing satellite, the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), was launched Jan 31 this year to begin its mission to map global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed.

Data from GPM and the other new missions are making observations and providing scientists with new insights into global rain and snowfall, atmospheric carbon dioxide, ocean winds, clouds and tiny airborne particles called aerosols, the US space agency said in a statement.

“This has been a phenomenally productive year for Nasa in our mission to explore our complex planet from the unique vantage point of space,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC.

Combined with data from our other Earth-observing spacecraft, these new missions will give us new insights into how Earth works as a system, he added.

With these missions, including two instruments mounted on the exterior of theInternational Space Station (ISS), Nasa now has 20 Earth-observing space missions in operation.

Observations from these missions, like all Nasa data, will be freely available to the international scientific community.

“The highly accurate measurements from these new missions will help scientists around the world tackle some of the biggest questions about how our planet is changing,” said Peg Luce, deputy director of the Earth Science Division at Nasa Headquarters in Washington, DC.

In addition to free-flying satellite missions, Nasa deployed two Earth-observing instruments to the ISS.

These are ISS-RapidScat, a scatterometer that measures wind speeds and direction over the ocean and the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) that measures the altitude of clouds and airborne particles.

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PhotoMath Updated to High-School Level, Android App Coming Soon

Damir Sabol, Croatian computer expert and entrepreneur, was helping his son with his maths homework when he had an idea.”I found it a bit tedious, all those additions and multiplications, so I reckoned, ‘We already have intelligent software, why not make it deal with maths?'” Sabol said.

The result was PhotoMath, a free app that scans and solves equations, providing a step-by-step explanation. It has been downloaded more than 11 million times since its introduction in October, and it was just updated on Thursday to take it to high school level. An Android version is due in days.

The app is based on the same technology as an earlier app called PhotoPay that was introduced in 2012 by Sabol’s company, which is also called Photo Pay. That app facilitates mobile banking, by scanning household bills and paying them instantly.

“Basically, what we do is teach mobile phones to read things from the real world,” Sabol told Reuters in his sparsely decorated office in Zagreb, where a dozen young software engineers jot down ideas and algorithms.

He said the PhotoMath averages about 1.5 million users every month and he had received scores of emails from grateful students, parents and even teachers.

“Will I allow my pupils to use the app? Absolutely,” a British maths teacher wrote on, after a pupil proudly presented the app in class.

“As a means for them to check their work it’s unrivalled … They are far more likely to ‘listen’ to an electronic device, rather than teacher, telling them that they are right or wrong,” the teacher wrote.

Sabol says he has never regretted making the app available for free.

“Now, of course, we are looking for ways to be commercial,” he said. “Without that, we cannot continue developing the app.

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