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US researchers invent first battery-free cellphone

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San Francisco, July 8: University of Washington researchers have invented a cellphone that requires no batteries — a major leap forward in moving beyond chargers, cords and dying phones. Instead, the phone harvests the few microwatts of power it requires from either ambient radio signals or light.

battery free phone

The team also made Skype calls using its battery-free phone, demonstrating that the prototype made of commercial, off-the-shelf components can receive and transmit speech and communicate with a base station.

Detailed in a paper published in the Proceedings of the Association for Computing Machinery on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies, the battery-free cellphone marks a major leap forward in moving beyond chargers, cords and dying phones, Xinhua news agency reported.

The team of computer scientists and electrical engineers eliminated a power-hungry step in cellular transmissions, namely converting analog signals that convey sound into digital data that a phone can understand, which consumes so much energy that it’s been impossible to design a phone that can rely on ambient power sources.

Instead, the new technology takes advantage of tiny vibrations in a phone’s microphone or speaker that occur when a person is talking into a phone or listening to a call.

An antenna connected to those components converts that motion into changes in standard analog radio signal emitted by a cellular base station. The process essentially encodes speech patterns in reflected radio signals in a way that uses almost no power.

To transmit speech, the phone uses vibrations from the device’s microphone to encode speech patterns in the reflected signals.

To receive speech, it converts encoded radio signals into sound vibrations that that are picked up by the phone’s speaker.

In the prototype device, the user presses a button to switch between the “transmitting” and “listening” modes.

Using off-the-shelf components on a printed circuit board, the UW team demonstrated that the prototype can perform basic phone functions, transmitting speech and data and receiving user input via buttons.

“We’ve built what we believe is the first functioning cellphone that consumes almost zero power,” said co-author Shyam Gollakota, an associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the UW.

“To achieve the really, really low power consumption that you need to run a phone by harvesting energy from the environment, we had to fundamentally rethink how these devices are designed.”

However, the phone does require a small amount of energy to perform some operations. The prototype has a power budget of 3.5 microwatts.

The researchers demonstrated how to harvest this small amount of energy from two different sources. The phone prototype can operate on power gathered from ambient radio signals transmitted by a base station up to 9.45 meters away.

And using power harvested from ambient light with a tiny solar cell, roughly the size of a grain of rice, the device was able to communicate with a base station that was 15.24 meters away.

Next, according to a news release from UW this week, the research team plans to focus on improving the battery-free phone’s operating range and encrypting conversations to make them secure.  The team is also working to stream video over a battery-free cellphone and add a visual display feature to the phone using low-power E-ink screens.

WeForNews Bureau

India

We don’t discriminate: Ola to VHP man who cancelled cab as driver was Muslim

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Ola

New Delhi, April 23: Taxi aggregator Ola Cabs on Sunday gave a thoughtful reply to a man, claiming to be associated with a right-wing outfit, who had cancelled his ride after finding the driver assigned to him was a Muslim.

Abhishek Mishra, a man who claims to be linked to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), had posted on Twitter that he cancelled his Ola booking on Friday after finding that the cab driver was a Muslim.

His Twitter account says Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Ideology First, Hindutva Thinker, Digital & Social Media Advisor (Views Personal), said, “Cancelled @Olacabs Booking because Driver was Muslim. I don’t want to give my money to Jihadi People.”

After cancelling the cab, Mishra took a screenshot of the cancellation and tweeted his Ola booking which named the cab driver.

Mishra’s Twitter post soon went viral and triggered a huge debate on Twitter with some siding with him and while others trolling him for inciting hatred and communal sentiments.

Interestingly, Mishra is followed on Twitter by bigwigs like Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Culture Mahesh Sharma and many others; reported Zee News.

With his tweet creating a lot of buzz on the micro-blogging site, Ola also chipped in and tweeted a thoughtful reply to Mishra.

The cab operator put out a statement, saying that the company is a secular platform and doesn’t discriminate between its customers and driver partners and urged everyone not to discriminate on religious lines.

Mishra’s Facebook profile says he is from Ayodhya and works as an IT professional in Lucknow.

He claims he is an active member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal — both affiliates of the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — and “holds responsibility” of the IT cell of the VHP.

WeForNews

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Apple loses $60bn over reports of weak smartphone demand in 2018

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Taipei, April 21: Apple lost over $60 billion in market cap in two days after Taiwan Semiconductor, Apple’s biggest supplier, said in an earnings update that second-quarter revenues would be hit by “weak demand from the mobile sector”.

Apple shares fell nearly seven per cent on Thursday and Friday over reports of a sharper slowdown in smartphone sales this year, Financial Times reported late on Friday.

Not just Apple, the news led to several global chipmakers losing market valus, including Analogue Devices, Dialog Semiconductor, Qualcomm and Qorvo.

For the first time since 2009, smartphone sales in China fell last year while global sales fell in the fourth quarter of 2017 for the first time since 2004.

In another setback for the iPhone maker, its efforts to get LG Display’s OLED screens for future iPhone production line “have hit manufacturing issues”, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Apple is reportedly divided on whether LG will be able to succeed as Samsung’s replacement for OLED displays.

The Cupertino-based company currently uses Samsung’s OLED displays for iPhone X.

The LCD panels which are currently being used in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are supplied by LG. Apple Watch screen is made by LG Display.

There are reports that Apple is designing and producing its own device screens, secretly at a facility near its headquarters in California.

It is believed that Apple will switch to OLED displays for all of its iPhone releasing in 2019.

IANS

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Canon infusing AI into cameras for Indian millennials

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New Delhi: Kazutada Kobayashi during an interview with IANS

New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) As the millennials in India constantly strive to click that “wow” moment and instantly share it with friends on social media, Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled cameras with “minds of their own” are the future that will create perfect shots for them, a top Canon executive has emphasised.

Cameras have become intelligent in the past few years with integrated capabilities like smarter chips, Wi-Fi support, smart functions, better speed and enhanced performance.

“We are on the right path when it comes to infusing AI into cameras. The experience of the last 80 years has helped us catch new trends early — be it in chips, designs, smart functions or controls. Software development is the key to stay ahead,” Kazutada Kobayashi, President and CEO, Canon India, told IANS.

Sensing the future of AI-enabled cameras, Google has launched “Clips” — a camera that uses AI to figure out when it should take a picture or video.

The clip-on camera automatically adjusts its resolution according to the situation and has a 130-degree lens to fit more of the scene in the frame. When it senses something memorable around, it clicks a 15-second-burst photograph.

Canon India has also launched “EOS M50” — a new mirrorless camera for the youth that houses the “DIGIC 8” image processor to ensure better picture quality and comes with 4K movie shooting capability.

According to Kobayashi, camera-centric smartphones are giving the company a renewed push to come up with “serious” cameras as India is an evolving market and so are the demands and expectations of the customers.

“The relationship between a smartphone camera and a real camera is interesting. With smartphones, more and more people are now clicking pictures which have given us a thrust as people are now keen to have better image quality with AI embedded into it. This is a good takeaway from the smartphone market to build Next-Gen cameras,” Kobayashi added.

Canon is bullish on the imaging technology being a carrier for the Internet of Things (IoT) industry that is growing exponentially in India.

“IoT is the future of the connected devices and systems around us. Canon has capabilities like the entry of optical information via camera lens or data analytics via microprocessors. Camera is a very strong entry point to gather information, process and digitise it, and get the desired output. Camera will provide an edge for all IoT devices in the future,” the Canon executive noted.

On a question whether Canon will also begin manufacturing in India, Kobayashi said: “India has a high potential for manufacturing. We have made visits to prospective venues and done feasibility assessments. We don’t have concrete plans as of now to share on bringing a certain product range for manufacturing into the country but yes, we are certainly looking into this”.

The Indian camera market is growing in both the B2B and B2C segments for Canon.

“The impact of demonetisation and GST are now settled and people are ready to spend more money on cameras. I keep my fingers crossed for the second half of this year when the festive season begins. In the B2B segment, we achieved double-digit growth last year and expect to repeat the performance this year too,” Kobayashi added.

IANS

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