Stretchy, wearable device to monitor heart functioning

Stretchy, wearable device to monitor heart functioning

Using gold nanoparticles, South Korean scientists have created an ultra-thin and stretchable wearable device that can provide continuous heart rate monitoring. The device could lead to improved personal and mobile health-monitoring systems.

The researchers said that currently available wearable devices such as watches and bands are not suitable for all situations. “Rapid developments in wearable electronics have led to an urgent demand for deformable electronic devices,” the researchers said. “Most deformable memory devices reported so far, however, are just flexible. These kinds of memory devices are not compatible with wearable applications that require complicated modes of mechanical deformations such as stretching,” they said.

Future wearable systems that pursue mobile healthcare monitoring and data analysis based on high-performance bioelectronics should monolithically integrate various stretchable electronic components, such as sensors, amplifiers, and memory modules. However, there have been limited studies for system-level demonstrations using high performance, stretchable, non-volatile memory and related electronic devices.

“Here, we demonstrated reliable data storage of heart rates, which are obtained from ECG signals,” the researchers said. “The stretchable, high density, and ultra-thin memory array with the enhanced charge storage capability has great potential for various wearable electronics applications,” they pointed out.

The circuit of the device made from a stretchable silicon membrane containing gold nanoparticles which are regarded suitable for long-term memory storage.

The findings appeared in the journal Science Advances.

Ford plans to expand self-driving test car fleet to 30

Ford plans to expand self-driving test car fleet to 30

Ford Motor said it plans to triple to 30 the size of its fleet of self-driving test cars as part of an effort to accelerate autonomous vehicle development.

In an announcement coinciding with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Ford said it will begin using a new, lower cost LiDAR sensor made by California-based Velodyne. The high cost of such sensors, which act as the eyes of a self-driving car, is one of the main technical obstacles to widespread commercialization of self-driving vehicles, industry executives say.

Ford said it will be the first automaker to use Velodyne’s new solid state “hybrid Ultra PUCK Auto” sensor. The compact device replaces the spinning scanners mounted on the rooftops of some autonomous test vehicles. Ford said two of these sensors could replace four current LiDAR sensors. The Ultra PUCKs are small enough to mount on a side-view mirror, Ford said.

Ford said it will add 20 hybrid Ford Fusion sedans to its existing 10-vehicle self-driving car fleet, and test them on roads in California, Arizona and Michigan. Rival automakers are also testing fleets of self-driving cars on and off public roads. Alphabet’s Google has been testing self-driving cars of various kinds, including some of its own design, since 2009.

Separately, Ford said it is exploring ways to link in-home automation devices such as Amazon.com’s Echo to the Sync communications systems in its cars to allow consumers to control lights or thermostats inside the home from the car, or start up cars and check fuel levels from inside the house.

In a third technology-related move, Ford said it will collaborate with drone maker DJI to sponsor a contest to develop drone-to-vehicle communications systems using the connectivity systems on a Ford F-150. Contestants would design a system that United Nations workers can use to survey disaster areas, Ford said. The winner would get $100,000.

Renault-Nissan alliance plans self-driving cars over next four years

Renault-Nissan alliance plans self-driving cars over next four years

The alliance between automakers Renault and Nissan will launch more than 10 cars with self-driving technology over the next four years in the United States, Europe, China and Japan, the partnership’s leader said. The alliance also said it hired technology executive Ogi Redzic to lead its connected car efforts as senior vice president for connected vehicles and mobility services. Redzic most recently worked at mapping business Nokia HERE overseeing the automotive business group.

Vehicles with self-driving technology will debut this year, said Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and chairman of the Renault-Nissan alliance. The cars will have a feature called “single-lane control” that allows them to drive autonomously on highways without switching lanes. Renault-Nissan will also launch an app for mobile devices this year that allows users to interact remotely with their cars, such as by controlling music or the car’s temperature.

By 2018, Ghosn said the alliance will start selling vehicles with “multiple-lane control,” meaning they can autonomously change lanes on highways and navigate heavy traffic. By 2020, the alliance will have cars that can drive through city intersections and heavy city traffic on their own.

Several companies, including Tesla Motors and Google Inc, are working to build self-driving cars and technology that allows users to control their cars from their smartphones.

Renault-Nissan is a partnership between Paris-based Renault and Japanese carmaker Nissan that combined the companies’ engineering teams. They still operate as two separate companies.

LeTV launches ‘world’s thinnest 65-inch TV’ at CES 2016

LeTV launches ‘world’s thinnest 65-inch TV’ at CES 2016

China-based Internet conglomerate LeTV on Wednesday unveiled what it is calling the world’s thinnest TV, Super 4 Max65 Blade at the ongoing four-day CES 2016 trade show in Las Vegas.

The sleek TV is just 3.9mm thick, which the company says is the equivalent of two coins put together. The Super 4 Max65 Blade has a separate speaker and is the first product of company’s second chain of TV series after 70-inch Super 4 Max70 and 65-inch Super 4 Max 65 Curved were launched in Beijing two weeks ago.

At CES 2016, LeTV also revealed its cooperation with Faraday Future, a new and emerging electric car project in America. The company also unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the Le Max Pro, announced as the world’s first phone that runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor.

Apart from the Snapdragon 820, the Le Max Pro will also pack features such as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sense ID ultrasonic fingerprint technology that’s claimed to be more secure than capacitive sensors. Unfortunately, LeTV hasn’t confirmed all the specifications of the Le Max Pro and we will have to wait for the unveiling of the handset.

The company during the CES keynote also revealed that the Le Max Pro will support Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 technology that can charge the phone from 0 to 60 percent charge in 30 minutes.

To recall, the Snapdragon 820 announced back in November comes with the all-new Qualcomm Kryo CPU which is claimed to have 2x performance and efficiency when compared to the Snapdragon 810. It was also the company’s first 64-bit CPU that uses the ARMv8-A instruction set – Qualcomm had settled for non-custom Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 cores on the Snapdragon 810.

Humavox wireless charging demo

The concept of wireless charging holds a lot of promise, but there is still a ways to go before mainstream utilization. Most wireless charging implementations still involve a cable, even if not directly attached to the device, an extra pad on which the device has to be positioned accurately, and with fast charging capabilities around, wireless charging is comparatively quite slow as well. A company by the name of Humavox is aiming to address at least some of these issues, and are showcasing there wireless charging tech here at CES 2016. Let’s take a look!

Humavox-9

Humavox’s take on wireless charging uses near field radio frequencies, or RF charging, to bring wireless charging to nearly everything, and more importantly, everywhere. The chip is extremely small compared to current generation wireless charging solutions, and can fit into a variety of shapes and sizes, such as a cup holder in a recliner, a bowl, sunglass containers, or a drawer.

Humavox-2

The orientation and position of the device doesn’t matter either, and for example, you can place the device upside down, and it will still be charged. This makes it a lot easier to use, considering how finicky some current wireless chargers can be, and eliminates any guesswork or struggles with finding the perfect placement for your device.

Humavox-13

The benefits of this technology, over something like Qi, is that you can convert regular everyday items into a wireless charging station. Multiple items can also be charged can be charged in a single container at any given time without an adverse affect on charging speeds.

Humavox-5

Devices that can take advantage of this wireless charging capability isn’t limited to just smartphones either. Anything that has this particular chip built inside of it can use it, and at Humavox’s demo, we saw a slew of different devices being charged, including wearables, mock up smart glasses, and a PlayStation 4 controller, and as such, the possibilities are limitless here.

Humavox-3

With wireless charging being around for a while now, it isn’t necessarily the technology itself that makes this impressive, but rather the way Humavox has managed to integrate it into everyday life. Cables or docks may be a part and parcel of the wireless charging game now, but this implementation is the real future of wireless charging.

The coolest thing about this is that it isn’t limited to your home, but can even be seen across various aspects of everyday life, such as a cup holder at a movie theater, or at an airport terminal. There is just so much that Humavox can do, and from what we’ve been able to see at CES so far, it does seem extremely promising.

As always, stay tuned with Android Authority as we continue to bring you more great hands on coverage from CES 2016!

Renault-Nissan to Introduce 10 Self-Driving Vehicles by 2020

Renault-Nissan to Introduce 10 Self-Driving Vehicles by 2020

The Renault-Nissan Alliance is entering the race to build autonomous cars with a plan to introduce 10 different models capable of temporarily relieving humans of their driving duties on highways and city streets.

The roadmap laid out Thursday calls for Renault-Nissan to gradually phase in the self-driving vehicles in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China as its engineers fine-tune the automated technology and its management wrangles with regulators over safety concerns.

If things pan out the way Renault-Nissan envisions, its first batch of self-driving cars debuting later this year will be able to steer while traveling down a single lane on the highway. By 2018, the cars will be able automatically navigate across several highway lanes and then handle traversing city streets on their own by 2020.

Renault-Nissan’s agenda doesn’t represent a huge breakthrough.

Some cars, such as Tesla Motors latest luxury models, already are capable of shifting into self-driving mode on highways, while other vehicles have been able to automatically park themselves for several years.

Renault-Nissan, a partnership between car makers in France and Japan, still isn’t ready to identify which models will be infused with the self-driving technology or specify how much the autonomous vehicles will cost.

The alliance still has lot of work to do to perfect its robotic technology, a point illustrated during a Thursday test drive in a self-driving Nissan Leaf with an Associated Press reporter. The human driver had to grab the steering wheel or step on the brakes on at least three occasions during a 25-minute excursion. During the journey, the vehicle strayed from a lane as the road curved, became confused by a flashing sign in a construction zone and didn’t decelerate quickly enough as a traffic signal turned red.

Thursday’s announcement at Renault-Nissan’s Silicon Valley research center thrusts the alliance into a motorcade of major automakers and technology companies working on self-driving cars. Their goal is to change the way people get around and reduce the number of traffic accidents caused by distracted, drunk or hapless humans behind the wheel.

The competition includes Toyota, Ford Motor, General Motors, Google Inc., ride-hailing services Uberand Lyft and possibly even Apple Inc. The intensifying focus on self-driving technology reflects a belief that people would rather be texting, checking Facebook, reading, or watching videos instead of having to spend so much of their time tediously steering and braking on increasingly congested roads.

Just how long it will take before cars can be trusted to drive completely on their own is a matter of debate.

Google, which has logged more than 1 million miles in self-driving cars since 2009, is hoping to have vehicles that don’t require any human intervention on the road by 2020 in licensing deals with established automakers. Renault-Nissan and most other major automakers believe vehicles will only be able to take over the driving for short periods under certain traffic conditions, requiring a human to still be paying enough attention to take over the wheel when the robotic technology is faltering and unable to respond properly.

Researchers have already determined that the transition from when a car shifts from robotic driving to human control creates a dangerous situation. That’s because people may not be ready to take over the driving responsibilities if they have become too absorbed doing something else while the vehicle was in autonomous mode.

Renault-Nissan believes that hazard will lessen as motorists become more accustomed to what autonomous driving can and can’t do, one reason the alliance is introducing its robotic technology in incremental steps, said CEO Carlos Ghosn.

“It’s going to happen in waves,” Ghosn said. “We want to make sure our technology is accepted, understood and used.”

CES 2016: Smart Showerhead Aims to Save Precious Water

CES 2016: Smart Showerhead Aims to Save Precious Water

French engineer Gabriel Della-Monica was at the gala Consumer Electronics Show with a smart showerhead created to stop precious water from going down the drain.

Della-Monica had his four daughters in mind and the hours they spend in the shower when he set out to create a showerhead that lets people know when it is time to turn off the tap.

Last year, he founded Smart & Blue, the France-based startup behind the Hydrao smart showerhead one of a sea of gadgets on display at the Consumer Electronics Show, which continues through Saturday in Las Vegas.

“I created Hydrao to with the idea in mind that I could educate my little girls on the importance of saving water,” Della-Monica said.

“I needed to make bath time fun and educational in order for them to develop good habits.”

He added that after seeing the positive effects, “I decided to bring the same knowledge and excitement to other families around the world.”

Hydrao showerheads track the flow of water, with LED lights starting out green and then changing from blue to red as use climbs. The shower head light flashes red when the 50-liter mark is breached.

Electricity for the lights is generated by mini hydro power plant in the showerhead, so no batteries are used.

Hydrao showerheads can connect wirelessly to smartphones or tablets running on Apple or Android software, and come with applications that let people set up personal profiles and track water use over time, Claire Curaba of Smart & Blue told AFP.

“It helps you save water by making you aware of your habits,” said Curaba, who noted that it also lets parents see how much water their offspring may be wasting in the shower.

“It stops the shouting of ‘Are you done yet?’ through the bathroom door.”

First-generation Hydrao showerheads produced after a successful crowd-funding campaign have been snapped up, and a second-generation expected to be priced below $100 is in the works, according to Curaba.

Ford to support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on Sync 3

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto coming to Ford cars

Soon your phone won’t just be your car stereo, but also your car keys and even the little light that tells you when the tank is almost empty. Ford is increasing the number of smartphone functions that can be controlled from car interfaces by adding support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and introducing more apps for its Sync in-vehicle connectivity system.

Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto have been designed for users to be able to continue to use their phones to access information and make calls from the vehicle’s native interface while driving, by connecting the phone to the car.

The car company is adding these capabilities in line with its strategy to provide tighter integration between car functions and smartphone apps. It aims, for example, to use its Sync Connect technology to let users remotely lock and unlock cars, check fuel levels, and locate and start a vehicle using a smartphone.

Apple CarPlay added to Sync will give iPhone users access to maps, messages, phone calls and music through Siri voice control or a touchscreen, while Android Auto will allow for easier access to Google’s services like voice search, maps and music streaming through steering wheel controls and a touch screen, Ford said Monday.

The company’s aim with this integration is to let customers “bring the smartphone technology they’re comfortable with into a vehicle and use it without hassle,” Don Butler, Ford executive director for Connected Vehicle and Services, said in a statement.

The announcement comes ahead of the CES show this week at Las Vegas, where a number of automakers are expected to put on display technologies that automate a number of car functions. Some of them are expected to offer technologies from Apple and Google.

Ford also announced Monday new Sync AppLink applications that use voice-activated technology for a hands-free bridge between the user and smartphone applications. The new apps include Concur for trip records, Eventseeker to find new nearby music events, and Cityseeker that uses vehicle GPS data to locate restaurants, nightlife and other nearby attractions in over 500 cities.

Ford is making Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available on all 2017 vehicles equipped with Sync 3 in North America, starting with the all-new Ford Escape. Owners of 2016 vehicles equipped with Sync 3 will get an opportunity to upgrade “later in the year,” the company said without providing details.

The carmaker claims there are more than 15 million Sync-equipped vehicles on roads around the world currently, with 43 million expected by 2020. The company said in 2014 that it had moved Sync to BlackBerry’s QNX operating system from Microsoft’s Embedded Automotive OS.

Whirlpool's new Amazon Dash-integrated smart appliances know when you need supplies

whirlpool laundry pair

Home appliances get more high-tech every single year, which means they get better at doing their jobs and conserving energy in the process. But Whirlpool appliances are getting smarter and doing not just their jobs, but yours, too: Its 2016 line-up of smart dishwashers, top-load washers, and dryers can now order supplies you’re running low on thanks to Amazon Dash integration.

Amazon’s Dash buttons started as brand-specific triggers, so if you placed a Tide-branded Dash button on your washing machine, you could press it to reorder more laundry detergent. Then Amazon opened up the Dash Replishment Service to connected-device manufacturers like Whirlpool, which is the first appliance company to put Dash’s automated ordering system directly into its new smart dishwasher and top-load washer and dryer. If you buy the latest laundry pair, which will retail for $1399 each, or the smart dishwasher, you’ll be able to connect the Whirlpool app to your Amazon account. The machines will use cycle usage to estimate when you’re running low on supplies such as detergent or cleaning tablets and reorder them for you.

“Dash buttons are a great innovation, but a retrofit for people who don’t have smart appliances,” Whirlpool’s Ben Artis, senior manager of connected home products, told TechHive. “Our belief in the future and where we can take away some of those button presses, that’s the long-term vision for both of us [Amazon and Whirlpool].”

A smarter kitchen

whirlpool smart kitchen suite

Whirlpool is also bringing Nest integration, which it added to its washers and dryers last year, to its new smart kitchen suite. The company’s Internet-connected French door refrigerator, oven, and dishwashers will use the Nest “away” signal as a trigger for a whole host of actions—activating the dryer’s wrinkle-shield setting, for example, or putting the washing machine into energy-efficient mode.

The Nest-integrated oven will signal to you if it’s still on when you leave, so you don’t burn your house down. The oven can also be controlled remotely with the Whirlpool app, so you can pre-program cook times and settings for your dishes. The smart fridge, too, has settings you can customize in-app, like a Party Mode that prompts the fridge to produce ice faster.

Whirlpool is showing off its latest appliances, along with its futuristic concept kitchen, at CES. Check back later this week for an inside look at the latest smart-home gadgets and gear from the show floor.

Netatmo’s Presence is a smart home security camera/outdoor floodlight mashup

Netatmo presence home security camera

Most home security cameras are pretty dumb. Sure, they’ll record video when something moves in front of them, and they might even send an alert to your smartphone when they do. But that’s about the extent of their intelligence. French manufacturer Netatmo is promising more with its Presence outdoor camera/LED floodlight combo. The company says its camera can distinguish between people, animals, and cars and will send you an SMS message to tell you what it’s seen—“person seen,” “animal seen,” or “car seen”—so you can pull out your smartphone and check the live situation for yourself.

The camera has infrared night vision, of course, but it can also be programmed so that its motion sensor will trigger its integrated LED floodlight to light up when someone or something moves in its 100-degree field of view. With the area in front of the camera fully illuminated, it can capture full-color video instead of the black-and-white that’s typical of night-vision recordings. Users can also turn on the light from their smartphone to light their way to their door at night—or to startle a would-be intruder. And for those times when you just want a little outdoor mood lighting, you can dim the floodlight.

Netatmo Presence home security camera

The Presence should be easy to install, since most users will typically replace an existing outdoor porch light. The unit connects to your Wi-Fi network, so there should be no requirement for new wires. And unlike too many home security cameras, there’s no cloud-storage subscription fee associated with the Presence. It captures video at 30 frames per second and stores it in MP4 format on an onboard microSD card (the camera comes with an 8GB card, which is enough to store about 100 events, according to Netatmo). Users can also back up video to a personal FTP server.

In addition to viewing live and recorded events, you can use the smartphone app to define zones where you want the camera’s motion sensors to be active. This way you can program it to ignore nearby trees and shrubs blowing in the wind. Netatmo’s app is accessible from a smartphone or tablet (Android or iOS), a PC or Mac, or an Apple Watch.

Netatmo says the Presence will be available in the beginning of the third quarter, but it has not disclosed pricing. We’ll update this story when we get that information.