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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

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Honor 9 Lite Review: Four -camera set-up to disrupt mid-segment market

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Honor 9 Lite

New Delhi, Jan 22: Honor 9i (Rs 17,999) was the first smartphone with a four-camera system that arrived in India last year. To tap into the mid-price segment with the same USP, Huawei’s sub-brand Honor has launched Honor 9 Lite, starting at Rs 10,999.

The device is in a direct fight with Oppo A83 (Rs 13,990) and Samsung Galaxy On7 Prime (Rs 12,990) which were launched on the same day, January 17.

Let us see what works for the device.

Bearing a striking resemblance to the iPhone 8, Honor 9 Lite looks stunning with a plastic frame, sandwiched between 2.5D-curved glasses at the front and back.

The mirror-like glass at the back has more resistance against smudges when compared to other devices.

It comes with a 5.65-inch full-HD+, bezel-less display with an 18:9 aspect ratio in a 5.2-inch screen form factor, giving extra work space to users.

The screen is similar to the display concept by Samsung sans the curved edges that the South Korean giant has in its premium devices.

Honor 9 Lite sports a 13MP quad-camera set-up, Phase-Detection AutoFocus (PDAF) and advanced wide-aperture mode.

As far as the camera performance is concerned, the device offered a somewhat mixed performance. The beauty effects in selfies and portraits came out well at times.

The Beautify feature especially worked well. The face marks vanished and the skin had a soft tone to it while clicking selfies. It took a split second to process the image and the output was good too.

In the Portrait mode, available in both front and back cameras (13MP+2MP), the “bokeh” effect was excellent despite the device not being a premium smartphone.

With “bokeh”, we could also point out edges which were not meant to be blurred out.

The Portrait mode did work wonders for the rear cameras and we had better final images.

The device is powered by 16nm Kirin 659 Octa-core processor that runs it smoothly. The Kirin chip delivered seamless performance.

Even with a four-camera system, we did not find any lag while working with several apps simultaneously in the background.

The user interface has had a minor facelift with new EMUI 8.0 that runs Android 8.0 Oreo. The new interface is also claimed to have Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities which are not available in this device at the moment.

Since Honor 9 Lite has a lighter version of EMUI 8.0, there was no impact on the overall performance.

The smartphone has a 3,000mAh battery that gave us a day-long power with moderate use, including surfing and video data consumption.

What doesn’t work?

Although the camera output was good, the Beautify option did editing to an extent that the images appeared almost fake compared to the original.

The plastic chassis sandwiched between the glass is an unwelcome feature — drop your device and it’s gone for good.

Conclusion: For Rs 10,999 (32GB variant), the device with a four-lens system works perfectly. If you are a heavy user, you can opt for the 64GB model.

IANS

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Less than 10% of Gmail users enable two-factor authentication: Google

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San Francisco, Jan 22: Despite the growth of sophisticated cyber threats globally, Google has said that less than 10 per cent of active Gmail users have enabled two-factor authentication making the remaining 90 per cent more vulnerable to cyber attacks.

According to Google engineers, compromised passwords are the top way hackers gain access to accounts and all users — especially those in the enterprises — should implement two-factor authentication immediately.

“Further, only 12 per cent of Americans use a password manager to protect their accounts,” US-based news website Techrepublic quoted Google engineer Grzegorz Milka as saying in a presentation at the Usenix Enigma 2018 security conference in California late on Saturday.

Two-factor authentication is one of the most effective ways to protect online accounts given that compromised passwords are the top way attackers gain access to accounts.

In the enterprise, if a hacker can break into the email of even one employee, it gives them not only access to company data but also ammunition for future phishing attacks — making it even more important for firms to ensure all employees have enabled two-factor authentication and gone through cybersecurity training.

The feature, which Google calls 2-step verification, requires using a second step-often a single-use key or password-along with the account password to verify a user’s identity and allow them into their account.

With Google, the second step can come in the form of a text message, a phone popup, through a Google Authenticator app or from a number of printed single-use codes.

Google first rolled out its two-factor authentication feature back in 2011, yet users have failed to adopt the safety measure in large numbers. The feature adds a few seconds to the login time but is claimed to be the best option to stay away from cyber attacks.

Milka said that Google did not make two-factor authentication mandatory for all users due to usability.

“It’s about how many people would we drive out if we force them to use additional security,” he was quoted as saying.

Google has made a number of other efforts to improve security for its users.

In January 2017, the company announced new layers of enterprise-grade security controls for “G Suite” to give users more control and visibility over sensitive information.

In October last year, it rolled out the “Advanced Protection Programme” that offers better defenses against phishing, accidental data sharing and fraudulent account access for executives and professionals in fields where confidential information is shared online.

IANS

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OnePlus opens maiden authorised offline store in India

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OnePlus-5T

Mumbai, Jan 20: Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus on Saturday announced the launch of its maiden “OnePlus Authorised Store” in the country here.

Vikas Agarwal, General Manager, OnePlus India, said in a statement, “The new ‘OnePlus Authorised Store’ is designed to complement our online first business strategy and also attract new users, while serving as a destination for our fast-growing community to experience and purchase OnePlus products”.

The store is part of the smartphone player’s focus on creating more offline touch points across key cities to allow users to experience the phone sales, the company  asserted.

The company is offering a free “Bullet V2” earphone on the purchase of any OnePlus smartphone to buyers who will pay visit the “OnePlus Authorised Store”.

Last year in September, the company joined hands with several Croma stores to provide easy access to OnePlus products at a conveniently located store.

The company also launched its flagship “Experience Store” in Bengaluru last year for the OnePlus community to witness products as well as collaborate and share innovative ideas.

WeForNews 

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