piatok, 10. februára 2012

GeekBytes: Doing Christmas the Geek Way

Welcome to GeekBytes, where we roundup up other notable stories we didn't want you to miss out on. In today's edition, we show you how to do Christmas the GeekTech way, with some awesome wrapping paper, cool gifts and clever decorations.


Have you ever ended up embroiled in a Christmas decorations war with your neighbors? This house would win hands-down. Not only is the house entirely decked in 20,000 festive Angry Birds LEDs, it's also a game. Those pesky pigs are trying to ruin Christmas, so it's up to you to grab that slingshot and fire a host of pretty cranky birds. Take that, neighbors! [via Ubergizmo]


Okay, so you may be pushing it to order a last-minute gift online now, but these pillows would make a good gift for any occasion (you can always be really organized for next year too). The handmade camera-shaped pillows start at $38 and feature various vintage cameras, from Kodak to Amico. Creator Ronda Smith also takes custom orders, but these are too cute to pass up. [via Gizmodo]


If you really want to make your geeky friend, partner, child, etc... happy, wrap up their gifts in Minecraft wrapping paper. The pixel paper is available from J!NX for $8 for a pack of three sheets, and you have a choice of diamond or cobblestone patterns. While you are browsing J!NX though, it's possible you may be tempted by the variety of the official Minecraft merchaindise on offer. [via Geekosystem]


 

pondelok, 6. februára 2012

Translogic hangs out with Daimler's Zetsche and Ford's Mulally at CES

 Translogic at CES

Usually our sister publication Translogic is out putting futuristic transportation hardware through the paces or talking to geeks who are trying to reimagine the very infrastructure of our world. But this week, the show has a decidedly more conventional subject: Interviews with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche and Ford CEO Alan Mulally.


Both of these automotive bigwigs were wandering the halls of the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month (Zetsche was the keynote speaker, a job Mulally performed two years ago), which is where Translogic caught up with them for a chat and demonstration of their CES wares. Zetsche showed off a new gesture-based in-car interface, as well as some new active safety technology for Mercedes-Benz. Mulally plugged Ford's new hybrid and plug-in hybrid Fusion, as well as showing off the Ford Evos concept's fancy infotainment system. Give it a watch after the jump.


 

sobota, 21. januára 2012

MyFord Touch gets overhauled for 2013, existing models included [UPDATE]

DEARBORN, Mich., Nov. 7, 2011 – Ford customers said MyFord Touch® could be faster and feature simpler graphics that are easier to use and that's exactly what Ford plans to deliver with a broad set of performance upgrades to the system – launching first on the new 2013 Ford Escape, Flex, and Taurus.

Available early next year – and also offered at no charge to existing MyFord Touch owners – the software upgrade enhances the ownership experience as it was developed by listening and responding to customer feedback.


"SYNC® has clearly been a game-changing technology, and now we're changing the game again, showing how quickly we can deliver more of what customers really want," said Graydon Reitz, director, Ford Global Electronics and Electrical Systems Engineering. "Our strategy to create the SYNC software platform and add the customizable screens of MyFord Touch gives us a level of flexibility and speed to respond to customer input like never before seen in the auto industry."


The new touch-screen interface features new simpler graphics and controls that are easier to use. Customers will also experience significantly faster touch-screen response times, one of the top requests from owners.


New features include support for tablet devices and Audible.com audiobooks, improved navigation maps and enhanced voice recognition interaction.


Listening to customers
Since MyFord launched last fall, Ford has held four customer clinics in which owners talked directly to Ford engineers about their experiences with the new technology. Owner feedback was clear and consistent, revealing that MyFord Touch was a key purchase reason.


A survey of 2011 Ford Edge owners shows that four of the top seven purchase reasons were elements of the MyFord Touch system: the touch-screen, steering wheel controls, voice recognition and interior styling.


While owners reported that they love the system, there were distinct areas where they wanted improvements. Earlier this year, Ford started delivering on their requests, beginning with more instructions and information on how to best utilize the capabilities of the system.


Ford launched two programs modeled after what consumers experience when purchasing a new electronic device. First, the company added a new MyFord Touch owner support website featuring how-to videos at HYPERLINK "http://www.syncmyride.com" www.syncmyride.com. Second, free "SYNC My Ride" personalized training sessions for new owners are now offered through Ford dealers – scheduled at customers' convenience.


"The keys to continuous improvement are simple: Listen, learn and respond. That's how we're going to keep our customers happy," said Gary Jablonski, manager, SYNC Platform Development. "Evolving the software with meaningful enhanced features was part of our plan from the very beginning. It's no different than the experience with our smartphones and laptop computers – except now, it's your car that gets better."


New look
The visual enhancements to MyFord Touch are based on simplifying the graphics with larger, bolder fonts, removing low-priority visual content, and designing screens based on a consistent pattern. More than 1,000 screens in total have been updated with the improved look.


"Our goal when designing the upgrade was to simplify the screens and give customers a fast and easy way to get information at any given moment," said Jennifer Brace, user interface Design engineer for Ford. "That meant removing buttons, relocating high-use controls closer to the driver's reach, simplifying tasks and improving font size."


The new fonts are as much as 40 percent larger on some redesigned screens. The fonts also are wider and bolder to provide easier legibility, particularly among the rapidly increasing number of drivers age 60 and older.


New features
Ford also took the opportunity to update the performance of the system and add new features for customers to help them keep pace with the fast-moving consumer electronics market.


Faster touch-screen response time, for example, was a key request from owners. Initial testing shows that touch and voice response is at least two times faster than the current system.


Also, the software upgrade includes the following enhancements:


Improved voice recognition experience powered by Nuance
Quicker voice recognition upon startup and faster command prompt when the voice button is pushed Voice commands used in conjunction with navigation are simplified through elimination of the need to provide street direction, e.g., "Main Street" instead of "North Main Street"
Music requests are simpler by removing the need to include the additional song, album or artist information often found at the end of a name in (parenthesis) or [brackets]
Customers can find their favorite sports team in action via new Sirius Game Finder simply by saying a command such as "Tune to Detroit Lions game"


Tablet device compatibility
Music and other media content from most popular tablet computers like the Apple iPad can now be accessed through a simple USB connection


Audible.com audiobook support
Listen to Audible.com content using voice commands or the easy-to-use touch-screen controls


Connected navigation powered by TeleNav features new map data by NAVTEQ
Updated map views are richer and feature more 3D landmarks
Views of freeway junctions and signs are enhanced through photorealistic screen images
Smart routing options are provided based on a database of historical traffic patterns


Phone compatibility
Automatic Bluetooth® connection upon vehicle entry has been improved
Noise and echo cancelation during phone calls has been improved to enhance call quality


Gracenote® album cover art database
Inclusion of the latest music metadata available enhancing the music playback experience
Improved voice recognition for music search allowing drivers to pinpoint artists with hard-to-pronounce names or nicknames


 

Sync Applink gets new NPR app, Destinations hands-on

 Ford Applink

Our friends at Engadget got up close and cozy with the new Ford Sync Applink interface at CES 2012. Ford has put plenty of time ironing out some of the wrinkles in the voice-command system, and the company's work has paid off. Sync Applink is designed to allow users to access certain applications on their compatible smartphones without ever having to take their hands from the wheel. It sounds nice in theory, but Ford has had its fair share of issues getting the technology to produce desired results. Judging by the quick video, that's a thing of the past.


Ford demonstrated how the revised system easily pulls up the new NPR app and how users can easily shuffle through the application's various features. The app even lets users chose any NPR station in the country. How's that for snazzy?


Click past the jump to see Applink do its thing.


 

nedeľa, 15. januára 2012

Mini Connected Driving Excitement app taps ECU for performance data

Never lose sight of driving fun - thanks to the new functions from MINI Connected. The Driving Excitement app from MINI Connected displays sports instruments, car analysis and acceleration data on the on-board monitor.

Munich. What degree of lateral acceleration are you experiencing mid-way around a quickly-taken corner? How much output is the engine currently producing? The latest version of the MINI Connected app answers these questions and more. The functions Condition Check, Force Meter and Digital Sports Instruments offer Apple iPhone owners unique ways to experience MINI driving fun in even greater depth. For example, the driver can find information on the status of the car and its surroundings, plus acceleration, coolant temperature, engine output, and rpm and/or torque on the on-board monitor's high-resolution colour display. The new MINI Connected app underlines once again the leading role of the British premium small car manufacturer in the intelligent link-up of the driver, car and outside world.


Like the preceding versions of the MINI Connected app, the latest update is uploaded into the car via the iPhone. The MINI Connected app can be used in all current MINI models equipped with the radio MINI Visual Boost or MINI navigation system and MINI Connected option. The functions are operated using the MINI joystick, steering wheel buttons and on-board monitor, where the displays for each function are presented safely and with customary MINI flair.


The Condition Check function keeps an eye on – among other things – the engine temperature, fuel level, status of the optional Sport Button, outside temperature and signs of rain. Should conditions allow, the display in the on-board monitor proudly declares everything "BE MINI".


The Force Meter, meanwhile, presents a new and unique visual showcase for the hallmark MINI go-kart feeling. This function measures and records the longitudinal and lateral acceleration generated over a pre-defined timeframe when pushing on and braking, and through right and left-hand corners. The on-board monitor uses a virtual MINI to show the direction in which the forces are developing at any particular moment. The strength of the acceleration forces is displayed within a circle, with various segments illuminating to reflect the driver's responses at the wheel.


The Digital Sports Instruments turn the on-board monitor into an attractive extension of the standard cockpit dials, presenting vehicle data graphics in typical MINI style. In the centre of the virtual instrument the driver will find the coolant temperature gauge, while to the left the engine output currently being requested by his right foot is shown in the form of a bar chart and concrete figures. Displayed in the same form on the right of the temperature gauge is the engine's current rpm or torque, according to driver preference. The output and revs/torque data are presented in drag indicator mode so that the maximum values achieved remain visible in the display for a short time after the driver has taken his foot off the gas. The driver can choose to have output shown in either kW or hp. The MINI Connected app for the iPhone also includes a detailed tutorial outlining the fundamentals of skilled, sporty and, above all, safe driving.


The new functions of the MINI Connected app can be activated via a new mode selection route. The focus in Excitement mode centres on the driver and his MINI, with the aim of injecting as much go-kart feeling as possible into the driving experience. When the audio function is activated, the driver can make the choice between web radio and Mission Control/Dynamic Music. All other functions are deactivated in this mode, but can still be accessed by switching to MINIMALISM/Infotainment mode.


The new MINI Connected app is the latest example of innovative infotainment technology designed to enhance the enjoyment of driving. MINI Connected takes the in-car integration of telecommunications, entertainment and online functions offered by the latest smartphones into a new dimension, and uses intelligent networking technology to create a scope of in-car infotainment functionality unmatched in the automotive world. The existing range of MINI Connected functions, which can be activated in the usual way in MINIMALISM/Infotainment mode, include a web radio function, in-car use of Facebook and Twitter, reception of RSS news feeds, use of Google services, the Mission Control and Dynamic Music functions, and the MINIMALISM Analyser. With each new app update, MINI Connected offers customers the option of integrating new services and functions into their car. The uniquely future-proof MINI Connected technology therefore gives customers the reassurance that they will continue to benefit from fresh entertainment, communications, navigation and information innovations as they become available.


 

Pioneer bringing Siri-like control to the car

 

The problem with most voice-recognition systems in modern cars is the stilted, unnatural commands required to execute even the simplest functions. Cadillac is supposedly working on bringing more natural voice commands to market with CUE, but Pioneer and its new Zypr voice-to-cloud platform aims to take it a step further.


Utilizing a tethered smartphone or embedded modem, the new system listens and acts on commands based on conversational direction. Say, "Play some music" and Zypr responses with "Which artist?" or "Which source?" Tell the system "I'm in the mood for Thai" and it will list off the nearest restaurants, provide Yelp ratings and allow you to get directions and email the address to your friends. Facebook and Google integration is also part of the package, and since it's all handled in the cloud, the expansion of sources and options is infinite. And Zypr won't just be limited to cars.


Pioneer wants the technology to find its way into every consumer electronics device on the market (for obvious licensing reasons), and with Apple's Siri functionality on the iPhone 4S putting a new emphasis on natural speech recognition, consumers will be demanding similar tech in almost everything they own within the next few years.


 

streda, 11. januára 2012

Yes, Porsche Design has made its own Blackberry

Engineered Luxury Meets Powered Performance
Introducing the Porsche Design P'9981 Smartphone from BlackBerry


Stuttgart/Waterloo/Dubai. Today, Porsche Design and Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM; TSX: RIM) announced the elite new Porsche Design P'9981 smartphone from BlackBerry®. Designed by Porsche Design, in collaboration with RIM, the luxury brand's first smartphone delivers engineered luxury and performance.


The Porsche Design P'9981 smartphone from BlackBerry is instantly identifiable as a Porsche Design product. The exclusive material choices for this unique smartphone include a forged stainless steel frame, hand-wrapped leather back cover, sculpted QWERTY keyboard, and crystal clear touch display. Customized inside and out, the new Porsche Design P'9981 comes with an exclusive Porsche Design UI and a bespoke Wikitude World Browser augmented reality app experience. It also includes premium, exclusive PINs that help easily identify another P'9981 smartphone user.


"Since 1972 Porsche Design has presented milestone products with iconic style, and the P'9981 smartphone from BlackBerry will be our next landmark," said Dr. Juergen Gessler, CEO Porsche Design Group. "The pure and distinctive design, coupled with authentic materials and an emphasis on the manufacturing process, perfectly match our philosophy and complement the Porsche Design product assortment."


"This collaboration stems from the shared belief that form equals function," said Todd Wood, SVP for Industrial Design, Research In Motion. "The Porsche Design P'9981 is a truly modern luxury smartphone, where the timeless style of Porsche Design meets the unmatched mobile experience provided by BlackBerry."


Powerful hardware and software
The Porsche Design P'9981 is built on a performance driven platform that features a 1.2 GHz processor, HD video recording, 24-bit high resolution graphics, and advanced sensors enabling new augmented reality applications. It comes with 8GB of on-board memory, expandable up to 40GB with a micro SD card.


BlackBerry® 7, the operating system for the new Porsche Design P'9981, includes a next generation BlackBerry® browser with a fast, fluid web browsing experience that is among the best in the industry. It also features Liquid Graphics™ technology, which delivers a highly responsive touch experience with incredibly fast and smooth graphics.


The Porsche Design P'9981 includes built-in support for NFC (Near Field Communications), which will enable many new and exciting capabilities.


The Porsche Design P'9981 smartphone from BlackBerry will be available from Porsche Design stores later this year.


For more information please visit www.BlackBerry.com/ae/P9981smartphone or www.BlackBerry.com/sa/P9981smartphone.


About Porsche Design
Porsche Design is a luxury brand with a special focus on products that are technically inspired. The brand Porsche Design was founded in 1972 by Professor Ferdinand Alexander Porsche. The products are the embodiment of functionality, timelessness and purist design. They impress by the technical innovations they incorporate. The product portfolio includes watches, sunglasses, luggage, electronic products, a line of fragrances for men as well as a sport and fashion collection. All products of the brand are designed at the Porsche Design Studio in Zell am See, Austria, and are sold worldwide in the brand's own stores, in franchise stores, shop-in-shops, quality department stores and exclusive retailers.


About Research In Motion
Research In Motion (RIM), a global leader in wireless innovation, revolutionized the mobile industry with the introduction of the BlackBerry® solution in 1999. Today, BlackBerry products and services are used by millions of customers around the world to stay connected to the people and content that matter most throughout their day. Founded in 1984 and based in Waterloo, Ontario, RIM operates offices in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. RIM is listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market (NASDAQ:RIMM) and the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:RIM).