jfruh writes "Every time a company rolls out a new version of a product, it extols how much better it is than the previous version. Thus, Apple spent a part of its iPhone 5 rollout touting the staying power of the latest version of its battery. But have iPhone batteries really seen improvement since the original came out in '07? Kevin Purdy crunches the numbers and concludes that, while the 5's battery beats the 4S's, we still haven't returned to the capabilities of the original phone."
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MrSeb writes "Intel often uses the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) as a platform to discuss its long-term vision for computing as well as more practical business initiatives. This year, the company has discussed the shrinking energy cost of computation as well as a point when it believes the energy required for 'meaningful computing' will approach zero and become ubiquitous by the year 2020. The idea that we could push the energy cost of computing down to nearly immeasurable levels is exciting. It's the type of innovation that's needed to drive products like Google Glass or VR headsets like the Oculus Rift. Unfortunately, Intel's slide neatly sidesteps the greatest problems facing such innovations — the cost of computing already accounts for less than half the total energy expenditure of a smartphone or other handheld device. Yes, meaningful compute might approach zero energy — but touchscreens, displays, radios, speakers, cameras, audio processors, and other parts of the equation are all a long way away from being as advanced as Intel's semiconductor processes."
Lucas123 writes "Western Digital subsidiary HGST today announced that after 10 years of development it is preparing to release 3.5-in data center-class HDDs that are hermetically sealed with helium inside. The helium reduces drag and wind turbulence created by the spinning platters, all but eliminating track misregistration that has become a major issue to increasing drive density in recent years. Because of that, HGST will be able to add two more platters along with increasing the tracks per inch, which results in a 40% capacity increase. The drives will also use 23% less power because of the reduction of friction on the spindle. HGST said the new seven-platter helium drives will weigh 29% less per terabyte of capacity that today's five-platter drives. In other words, a seven-platter helium disk will weigh 690 grams, the same as today's five-platter drives."
Razgorov Prikazka writes "There is a lot of technology involved in sailing these days. EPIRB, FHV-DSC, GPS, NAVTEX, Inmarsat, fishfinders/depth sounders, different kinds of radar (with MARPA or ATA) — you name it and there are dozens of manufacturers out there willing to provide, all of them with a range of different products. Right now I am planning a 'round-the-world-trip,'' and my ship (an 18-meter Skerry Cruiser sailing yacht) is in its early construction phase, so I need to shop for some hi-tech gear and, basically, I got lost in all the possibilities. What kind of hardware would you recommend as necessary for a trip of this kind? What would you have installed in your ship in order to have a safe trip?"
YokimaSun writes "Nintendo has revealed the release date of the Wii U: in Japan it will launch on the 8th December, and in the U.S. it will launch on November 18th. The console will ship in two versions: a basic version with 8GB of internal memory and a Deluxe version that has 32GB of internal memory and comes with a stand and docks. Both versions have 1GB of main memory and as much again for game memory. Nintendo claims the console is 20 times more powerful than the Wii and supports 1080p visuals out the box. It comes with an HDMI cable. All existing Wii accessories will work with the Wii U, but the new Tablet Gamepad will set you back around £100/$173 when you convert yen over. The price of the Deluxe SKU is $350." Here's a list of launch titles.
An anonymous reader writes "Ten years since the debut of the Roomba vacuum cleaner and military PackBot, robots are mainstream but still not in every home. Meanwhile, a new generation of robotics companies is taking off. Where does that leave iRobot, the godfather of the field? With its military business taking a hit from the U.S. defense budget, the 22-year-old public company is looking to reinvent itself with new kinds of robots, including a telepresence machine for doctors and hospitals and, further down the road, inflatable robots that could be cheaper, safer, and more portable than their metallic predecessors. The question is whether these new machines will be successful enough to keep the company growing — and add to its legacy in robotics."
Esther Schindler writes "When Star Trek hit the air waves, talking computers were just a pipe dream. While teleportation remains elusive, several once-fictional technologies are changing the way people live and work. Here are some ways in which we're approaching the gizmos that Star Trek demonstrated. Speech recognition? Check. Holodeck? Sort of. Replicator? Workin' on it."
Mackadoodledoo writes "Details of an immersive video games display system that projects images of the title's environment around a player's room have been revealed in a U.S. patent belonging to Microsoft."
jehan60188 writes about a research project (involving Steve Mann) that combines a welding helmet and realtime HDR image processing to give welders a clear view of what they're working on. From the article: "In this demonstration, we present a specialized version of HDR imaging (use of multiple differently exposed input images for each extended-range output image), adapted for use in electric arc welding, which also shows promise as a general-purpose seeing aid. TIG welding, in particular, presents an extremely high dynamic range scene (higher than most other welding processes). Since TIG welding requires keen eyesight and exact hand-to-eye coordination (i.e. more skill and more visual acuity than most other welding processes), being able to see in such extreme dynamic range is beneficial to welders and welding inspectors. ... We present HDRchitecture as either a fixed camera system (e.g. for use on a tripod), or as a stereo EyeTap cybernetic welding helmet that records and streams live video from a welding booth to students or observers, nearby or remote. By capturing over a dynamic range of more than a million to one, we can see details that cannot be seen by the human eye or any currently existing commercially available cameras. We also present a highly parallelizable and computationally efficient HDR reconstruction and tonemapping algorithm for extreme dynamic range scene. In comparison to most of the existing HDR work, our system can run in real-time, and requires no user intervention such as parameters fine tuning. ... Our algorithm runs at an interactive frame rate (30 fps) and also enables stereoscopic vision. Additionally, a hardware implementation, which uses FPGAs, will be presented. The initial hardware configuration comprises an Atlys circuitboard manufactured by Digilent Inc., which is small enough to fit inside a large shirt pocket. The circuit board includes two HDMI camera inputs, one being used for the left eye, and the other for the right eye, as well as HDMI outputs fed back to the left and right eyes, after processing of the video signals. The circuit board facilitates processing by way of a Xilinx Spartan 6, model LX45 FPGA." The demonstration video is pretty cool, and you can read about the FPGA and details of the HDR algorithm in the research paper.
hypnosec writes about a neat little hack using Lego, Raspberry Pis, and Scratch to construct a "supercomputer." From the article: "A team of computational engineers over at the University of Southampton led by Professor Simon Cox have built a supercomputer using Raspberry Pi and Lego. The supercomputer is comprised of 64 processors, 1TB of storage (16GB SD cards in each of the Raspberry Pis) and can be powered on using just a single 13-amp mains socket. MPI is used for communications between the nodes through the ethernet port. The team managed to build the core of the supercomputer for under £2500. Named 'Iridis-Pi' after University of Southampton's supercomputer Iridis, the supercomputer runs software that was built using Python and Scratch. Professor Cox used the free plug-in 'Python Tools for Visual Studio' to develop code for the Raspberry Pi." Lots of pictures of the thing, and a howto on making your own.
An anonymous reader writes "A bald eagle that lost its beak to a poacher's gun receives a 3-D printed beak prosthetic like a dental implant." More (with pictures): "Mr Calvin, a founder of the Boise-based Kinetic Engineering Group, made a mold of Beauty's shattered upper mandible, laser-scanned it, fine-tuned it in a 3D modeling program, and created a prosthetic beak from a nylon-based polymer."
aarondubrow writes "2011 Nobel Prize Winner, Bruce Beutler, is using the Ranger supercomputer at The University of Texas at Austin for an ambitious new project to discover all of the genes involved in the mammalian immune response – the so-called 'resistome.' Over several years, Beutler's lab will sequence the protein coding portions of genes in 8,000 mice to detect the impact of mutations on immunity. This means scanning, enriching and sequencing 500 billion base pairs every week. The project represents a 'Big Data' problem of the highest order."
adeelarshad82 writes "At IDF, Intel announced the company's fourth-generation Core processor code-named Haswell. The chip is based off of the same 22nm process used in the current third-generation Core products. What makes this chip remarkably different from the third-generation chips is its ability to product twice the graphic capabilities at a much lower power consumption, which Intel has achieved by making use of a number of tactics." HotHardware has video of Haswell running a 3D benchmark.
Lucas123 writes "Furniture and auto makers are already ramping up production of wireless charging for mobile devices that will also allow I/O for music and data synchronization. Thanks to the widely accepted Qi standard, there shouldn't be a problem with interoperability, but how advantageous is wireless charging? Would it really offer more charging opportunities for mobile users in coffee shops who are today hamstrung by how many outlets are available? And then there's the added cost and reduced efficiency. As wireless systems are more complicated, a wireless battery charger will be more expensive and there are resistive losses on the coil, stray coupling, etc."
New submitter Covalent writes "I'm a science teacher and have, over the years, accumulated a number of lost graphing calculators (mostly TI-83s). After trying to locate the owners, I have given up and have been loaning them out to students as needed. I want to something more nerd-worthy with them, though. I would feel wrong for selling them. What is the best use for bunch of old calculators?"