Monthly Archives: February 2017

Nokia 6 Said to Be Receiving July Android Security Patch Ahead of Google Pixel

At MWC 2017, HMD Global’s Chief Product Officer, Juho Sarvikas had confirmed to Gadgets 360 that Nokia Android phones will receive timely security and software updates for its smartphones. Keeping that promise, the Nokia 6 is now reportedly receiving the July Android security update via an OTA to all users in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The report came ahead of the July Android security update rollout for Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL smartphones, making it the first smartphone to get this month’s security patch.

The security patch brings a lot of fixes to recent vulnerabilities ensuring your device is not exposed to new flaws and bugs. Nokiapoweruser has shared screenshots from a Nokia 6 smartphone downloading the security patch (above), and the update size is reported to be at 149MB. HMD Global had promised timely updates and software support for up to two years for its Android phones. The company also confirmed that Android O will arrive on Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6 smartphones.

The Nokia 6 has been made available in China, Hong Hong and Taiwan only for now, but is set to arrive in many markets in a month or two. It was supposed to arrive in the UK this month, but got delayed till August 16 due to high demand. In India, the Nokia 6 has been launched at Rs. 14,999. The Nokia 6 registrations for the first sale will start on July 14, but the company has not announced when the smartphone will go on sale.

Nokia 6 specifications

Nokia 6 sports a 5.5-inch full-HD display with a 2.5D Gorilla Glass on top. It is powered by a Snapdragon 430 SoC coupled with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The dual-SIM Nokia 6 smartphone comes with a 3000mAh non-removable battery with fast-charging support. On the camera front, Nokia 6 comes with a 16-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, phase detection autofocus, and dual-tone flash, as well as an 8-megapixel front camera with f/2.0 aperture. The Android 7.0 Nougat smartphone has USB 2.0 port for connectivity, fingerprint sensor in the front, stereo speakers and Dolby Atmos audio enhancement.

The Future of Tactile Touch Screens

As he swipes his finger over the touch screen, Joseph Quintanilla senses a subtle bumpiness. Rubbing back and forth, he feels the roughness give way to what seems like a flat glass surface. “Yeah, I can feel it getting smoother,” says Quintanilla, who is blind.
The touch pad in his hands displays a snowy, frosted window that his finger wipes smoother with every pass. It’s an effect created in part by Ali Israr, an engineer at Disney Research labs. Israr specializes in haptic engineering, which focuses on applying tactile stimulation to our interactions with computers.

John Heller/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/2015 (All rights reserved. Printed with permission)
The texture under Quintanilla’s finger doesn’t mimic the exact feeling of snow under fingertips — the temperature shifting, solid becoming liquid — but it does convey the feeling of a rough texture becoming smooth and even. Once Israr describes the image, Quintanilla immediately gets it. “Oh yeah, I can picture it now,” he says. “That’s very cool.”

Quintanilla, who works at the National Braille Press as its director of major gifts and planned giving, is looking for a tool that could help blind children read maps and graphs when taking standardized tests. Currently, these students use sheets of paper with raised lines to represent images — a format essentially unchanged since the 1820s and increasingly costly to print.

Quintanilla heard about Israr’s work on Disney’s TeslaTouch**, a flat screen that uses frictional forces to make users feel like they’re interacting with images on it, and he decided to check it out to consider it for grant funding.

Israr is part of a community of researchers working to make touch screens more, well, touchable. Movements with our fingers across a flat screen have come to replace pressing buttons and keys on everything from ATMs to phones, and researchers now are working on the next frontier: adding tactile feedback to help enhance the feeling that users are interacting directly with the technology. Advanced touch screens like the TeslaTouch are on the cusp of widespread use, according to Israr. “It might seem crazy now, but I bet in 10 years it will just seem like, ‘Of course that happened,’ ” he says. “It’ll just become what we expect of our devices.”

Bacterial Spores Power Small Engine

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A car that runs on bacteria? It might not be quite the kind of car you’re imagining, but researchers report they have built a rotary engine powered by bacterial spores.

A spore lengthens as it soaks up water from the air and shortens with evaporation. To harvest energy from those natural movements, biophysicist Ozgur Sahin and his Columbia University colleagues glued spores to both sides of small tapes, shown in yellow. When dry, the spores make the tapes curl; in humid surroundings, they stretch out.

The team arranged about 100 tapes evenly around a wheel scaffold and encased it in a moist shell that covers half of the wheel. After they rigged it up to a toylike car that weighs as little as a small apple, their contraption, reported in Nature Communications, actually propelled the car — albeit at less than 4 inches per minute.

Controlling Robot With Augmented Reality

While robots are getting increasingly more capable and autonomous, they may still require our help to carry out tasks in real-world environments. That’s why robotics researchers continue to look for new ways to allow human operators to control robots without extensive training.

At New York University, Jared Alan Frank has turned to augmented reality (AR) to develop a robot control interface that runs on a conventional smartphone or tablet. The system uses the device’s camera to capture details from a scene and overlay virtual objects, as other AR applications do. But in this case, you can simply tap and swipe on the screen to make the robots move or pick up objects.

“You no longer need some of the expensive laboratory-grade equipment that roboticists normally use to do their projects, such as motion capture systems,” says Frank, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering.

Using Xcode, Apple’s software development platform, Frank built an app that can detect robots and objects in the environment and create a virtual grid—along with a coordinate system—to keep track of those objects on the screen. The user can then manipulate the objects on the device and watch as the robots carry out the desired actions in the real world. Commands from the app are sent via Wi-Fi to the robots, which in the current version use Raspberry Pi as the main controller.

To help his app make sense of the environment, Frank places visual tags on the robots and on the objects he wants the robots to move. The smartphone or tablet captures the scene using its camera, and the app detects the tags, using that information to keep track of marked objects. These tags, also called fiducial markers, are commonly used in AR apps to integrate physical landmarks and objects into a virtual world.

Ease of operation is one of the key features of this technology, but another advantage that Frank emphasizes is its mobility. He explains that if you’re able to control a swarm of robots using a simple mobile device, it becomes much easier to bring robotic applications outside the confines of the lab environment.

And that’s part of what Frank wants to do next. His plan is to test the technology in places like construction sites and factories. To do that, he might need to improve some of the software and hardware he’s been using, to make sure they can operate safely and reliably under real-world conditions. But above all, his main goal is to keep the system as simple and accessible as possible.

“What we really want,” Frank says, “is for people who’ve never had the ability to do this before to be able to take their device out of their pocket and control a robot.”