Qualcomm has released its Connected Car Reference Platform so that the car industry to build prototypes for the next-generation connected car.
Qualcomm could make piles of dosh if car-makers choose its platforms in the future. While it looks like the whole program and hardware package is not there yet, it gives developers something to play with which should see it under the bonnet of the next generation of car automation.
The next trick will be to get autonomous steering and collision avoidance features into the package. Qualcomm will probably apply its machine learning SDK, announced just a few weeks ago, and the Snapdragon 820 processor.
In a press release Qualcomm said the Connected Car Reference Platform uses a common framework that scales from a basic telematics control unit (TCU) up to a highly integrated wireless gateway, connecting multiple electronic control units (ECUs) within the car and supporting critical functions, such as over-the-air software upgrades and data collection and analytics.
The vehicle’s connectivity hardware and software to be upgraded through its life cycle, providing automakers with a migration path from Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) to hybrid/cellular V2X and from 4G LTE to 5G.
It can also manage concurrent operation of multiple wireless technologies using the same spectrum frequencies, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy.
The system supports OEM and third-party applications to providing a secure framework for the development and execution of custom applications.
Qualcomm appears to be working on the problem of over-the-air software updates. Updating software on a mission-critical system such as an autonomous car is a much harder problem than updating a smartphone because it has to be completely secure and work every time without reducing safety. However given that updates have stuffed up the mobile phone business and a car will need lots of them in its much longer working life, it is something which will need to be tackled.
Qualcomm has to solve this problem anyway to accelerate shipments not only to the car market but to the IoT market, where it hopes to sell tens of billions of chips.
Qualcomm says it expects to ship the Connected Car Reference Platform to automakers, tier 1 auto suppliers and developers late this year.
Comments Off on Is Tesla Poaching nVidia’s Engineers?
Tesla Motors,’ which has been poaching engineers from Apple and AMD, could be causing a few headaches for Nvidia.
MKM analyst Ian Ing pointed out that Nvidia and Tesla have partnered in machine-learning which is the key to autonomous driving. Nvidia’s own automotive segment grew 80 per cent to $320 million in revenue.
It had been known that Tesla is swiping Apple and AMD engineers, but the difficulty is that it also needs staff from its old chum Nvidia. Ing said that Apple and AMD staff are not as steeped in graphics processing units and machine learning as Nvidia’s staff.
“Although there are widely reportedly headlines that Tesla has been hiring chip architects from Apple and AMD, we note that expertise has been focused more on multi-purpose application processors vs. the GPU accelerators necessary for machine learning,” Ing wrote.
This could either pressure Nvidia to work more closely with Tesla, or it too might lose staff to the carmarker. However that might be a small headache for Nvidia which is doing obscenely well, according to Ing. He is suggesting everyone should buy Nvidia shares.
Intel has created a new smartphone with a 3D RealSense camera that can recognize objects and detect motion and gestures, much like a Kinect camera.
The smartphone is being made available as a reference device for anyone interested in discovering new uses for 3D cameras in handsets. The 3D camera is a smaller and more advanced version of the RealSense cameras in PCs and tablets.
For $399, users will get an Android smartphone with a 6-inch screen that can display images at a 2560 x 1440-pixel resolution. The RealSense ZR300 depth camera, which is placed at the edge of the phone, can capture 10 million points per second. The phone also has a 2-megapixel front camera and 8-megapixel rear camera.
The phone isn’t for daily use, but more for capturing 3D images, taking cool selfies and experimenting with the RealSense camera. It has only 3G connectivity, so aside from the camera features it isn’t very useful beyond making basic phone calls. It has an Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor, which is in Microsoft’s Surface 3, so don’t expect long battery life. It has 64GB of storage, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and an HDMI port.
Users can reserve the smartphone; Intel did not provide a shipping date. It will only ship to U.S. customers.
Intel is taking its competitive game up a notch by investing in its own drones.
Intel has written a check for more than US$60 million to Yuneec International, a Chinese aviation company and drone maker.
This is not the first time that the Chipmaker has invested in drones. It has written smaller amounts for the drone makers Airware and PrecisionHawk. The Yuneec deal is its largest investment in a drone company yet.
Apparently Intel thinks that drones are potential computing platforms for its processors.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said he believed in a smart and connected world. And one of the best ways to bring that smart and connected world to everyone and everywhere has been drones.
Amazon and Google are developing drones as they seek new ways to deliver items to consumers, Intel just wants to make sure that its chips are delivering the payload. There is no indication that it is building a secret airforce which it will use to take down competition – that would be silly.
Yuneec makes a range of drones built for aerial photography and imaging. Its technology also powers manned electric aircraft.
The announcement was made in a blog posted by Oculus.
Israel’s Calcalist financial news website said the deal was worth tens of millions of dollars.
While other companies pioneering the virtual reality field focus on full-body movement, Pebbles’ technology detects and tracks hand movement. It is aimed primarily at gamers but also has applications for TV, computers, or smartphone operation while driving.
Recently Pebbles integrated its technology with Oculus glasses, which translate finger gestures into virtual movement through a camera mounted on the glass frame, Calcalist said.
Investors in Pebbles include Chinese mobile phone maker Xiaomi, Israeli venture capital fund Giza and U.S. storage firm SanDisk, Calcalist said.
Comments Off on Microsoft Unveils Hologram Visor
The veteran tech pioneer, which long ago lost the mantle of the world’s most inventive company, is making a bold play to regain that title in the face of stiff competition from Google Inc and Apple Inc.
Virtual or enhanced reality is the next frontier in computing interaction, with Facebook Inc focusing on its Oculus virtual reality headset and Google working on its Glass project.
Microsoft said its wire-free Microsoft HoloLens device will be available around the same time as Windows 10 this autumn. Industry analysts were broadly excited at the prospect, but skeptical that it could produce a working model at a mass-market price that soon.
“That was kind of a ‘Oh wow!’ moment,” said Mike Silver, an analyst at Gartner who tried out the prototype on Wednesday. “You would expect to see a relatively high-priced model this year or next year, then maybe it’ll take another couple of years to bring it down to a more affordable level.”
Microsoft does not have a stellar record of bringing ground-breaking technology to life. Its Kinect motion-sensing game device caused an initial stir but never gripped the popular imagination.
The company showed off a crude test version of the visor – essentially jerry-rigged wires and cameras pulled over the head – to reporters and industry analysts at a gathering at its headquarters near Seattle.
It did not allow any photographs or video of the experience, but put some images on its website.
At an event in Las Vegas ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show, Nvidia Chief Executive Jen-Hsun Huang said the Tegra X1 chip would provide enough computing horsepower for automobiles with displays built into mirrors, dashboard, navigation systems and passenger seating.
“The future car is going to have an enormous amount of computational ability,” Huang said. “We imagine the number of displays in your car will grow very rapidly.”
The Tegra X1 has twice the performance of its predecessor, the Tegra K1, and will come out in early 2015, Nvidia said.
An upcoming platform combining two of the X1 chips can process data collected from up to 12 high-definition cameras monitoring traffic, blind spots and other safety conditions in driver assistance systems, Huang said.
Combined with next-generation software, the chips can help detect and read road signs, recognize pedestrians and detect braking vehicles, he said.
Santa Clara, California-based Nvidia in recent years has been expanding beyond its core business of designing high-end graphics chips for personal computers.
After struggling to compete against larger chipmakers like Qualcomm in smartphones and tablets, Nvidia is now increasing its focus on using its Tegra mobile chips in cars and is already supplying companies including Audi, BMW and Tesla.
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has announced that all its new smart television products launched in 2015 will be powered by the Tizen operating system, marking a fresh effort by the company to increase the usage of the software platform.
Smart TVs offer additional software and connectivity functions, such as video streaming and web browsing capabilities. Samsung demonstrated TV sets powered by Tizen at developer conferences last year.
“We are focusing our efforts on Tizen right now,” Kim Hyun-suk, Samsung’s president of visual display business, told Reuters in an interview. “We hope that other TV makers will also use it and help build an ecosystem that will help the platform grow.”
Televisions would be an addition to the modest stable of Tizen products, which consists of a few smartwatches and cameras despite years of development and support by the world’s top maker of smartphones and TVs.
The platform represents the most visible effort on the software front by Samsung, which has sought to free itself from Google Inc’s Android platform.
But Tizen has so far failed to take off, due in part to Samsung’s failure to launch a smartphone powered by the system. Some analysts are skeptical about the platform’s viability despite Samsung’s standing as top smartphone maker, especially as Android and Apple Inc’s iOS tighten their grip in the smartphone sector.
Developers say that until there is a meaningful user base for Tizen they will have little incentive to make innovative software applications for the system, deemed crucial if Samsung is to convince wary consumers to try it out.
While the launch of Tizen-based TVs will increase the platform’s user base, it is unclear if that alone will be enough to pique developers’ interest. Users of smart TVs tend to use fewer apps than they would on smartphones.
Still, the operating system is expected to play a key role in Samsung’s smart-home business. Tizen can also run on devices with low computing power such as refrigerators and washing machines, offering a way for users to monitor and control such devices remotely.
Many people use their smartphone as their primary camera because it is always with them and sharing those photos is easy from your phone. Kodak announced they will be offering an Android-powered smartphone at CES in a couple weeks with a tablet and connected camera coming later in 2015.
The Kodak brand has been synonymous with cameras so it is encouraging to see them placing their brand on a new smartphone.
Apple’s iPhone is one of the most popular camera phones, primarily due to its simplicity and solid quality. The press release states that Kodak will not compromise on design and user experience while improving the printing and sharing experience.
The release also states that Kodak will include advanced remote management software to allow family members and friends to provide help and support. This sounds like Amazon’s Mayday service for the Fire Phone. With statements like this, it sounds like the new Kodak Android smartphone will be targeted to the masses and not the smartphone enthusiast.
Comments Off on Office 365 Goes Video Streaming
“Office 365 Video provides organizations with a secure, company-wide destination for posting, sharing and discovering video content,” said Mark Kashman, a senior product manager with the Office 365 team, in a blog posting.
Kashman touted Video as a tool for internal communications, citing the examples of new-employee orientation, management messaging and worker training. Employees will also be able to contribute to a “Community” section, though most companies will probably frown on cat antic clips.
The service rolls out over the next few days to companies that have registered for Office 365′s First Release early distribution program, then through early 2015 to others.
Video will be available only to subscribers of Office 365′s plans for enterprises — E1 through E4 — and universities (A2 through A4). It will not be offered to consumer subscribers or firms with small business-oriented plans like Business Essentials, Business and Business Premium.
Kashman also said Office 365 plans for government agencies will get Video at some point, but he did not proffer a timeline.
The other requirement is SharePoint Online, an off-premises component of the enterprise and academic plans, but missing from the increasingly popular Office 365 ProPlus, the rent-not-buy plan used by organizations that have decided to retain their back-end services, like SharePoint and Exchange, on premises.
Although Office 365 Video has elements of consumer streaming services like Google’s YouTube, it’s strictly an in-house affair: It will be available only to employees, and then only those whom IT administrators have assigned access rights.