Posts tagged Aims

How Nvidia Aims To Game Self-Driving Cars

Nvidia’s press conference Sunday was like a tale of two missions: Announce its new Tegra X1 “mobile super chip,” a processor so powerful it could put Xbox One-worthy graphics on a smartphone. And then reveal where the company wants to put it first…in mobiles, yes, but of the auto variety.

According to CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, the Tegra X1—built on the Maxwell architecture it unveiled last year—is twice as fast as its lauded predecessor, the Tegra K1. The tiny chip is also energy efficient, which should make it a natural fit for mobile devices.

Too bad it’s not heading to smartphones or tablets. But mobile’s loss could be automotive’s gain. Because the chip could power Nvidia’s vision of self-driving cars, using a system of sensors and cameras.

Chips Ahoy

The Tegra X1, Nvidia claims, can handle a teraflop of computing power. For comparison, that would give the world’s fastest supercomputer from 2000 could a run for its money. Although that may not seem smoking fast by today’s standards, the company claims the eight-core, 64-bit chip does not lack for performance.

To illustrate the X1’s chops, Nvidia showed off a demo of a smartphone running a video built with Unreal Engine 4, a tool used to build graphic-intensive games. The demo worked well, which presumably speaks to the chip’s capabilities. 

Unfortunately, Nvidia doesn’t think smartphones can handle the X1’s computational power yet. So instead, it’s taking the X1 to carmakers.

The company announced the Drive CX, a “digital cockpit computer” that brings simulated graphics, realistic finishes—like bamboo or aluminum finishes—and contextual data to gauges, maps and in-dashboard displays.

Nvidia X1 CES 2015

Nvidia also unveiled Drive PX, a new platform powered by a couple of X1 chips, for 2.3 teraflops of computing power that can use high-powered graphics from sensor- and camera-festooned cars to enable autonomous driving.

Driving The Future Of Smarter Cars

Automobiles will boast more processing power “than anything you currently own today,” Huang said. 

To explain what he meant, the exec veered into somewhat academic territory, over-explaining the nature and merits of computer learning, neural networks and specifically “GPU-accelerated learning”—a fancy way of describing processor-intensive image recognition technology that can interpret results and make decisions. 

But his enthusiasm, and his company’s vision, were plain: Nvidia sees X1-powered cars that can park themselves, drive on their own and not only stop for animals, but can even tell you what breed of dog has skipped into your path. The chipmaker believes it has the super-fast processor capable of the sort of detailed graphics necessary for split nano-second decisions.

Audi appears to agree. The carmaker joined Nvidia on stage to wax poetic about autonomous cars and graphics-festooned vehicle interiors—hinting that our rides may be on the verge of accelerating into the future. 

Photos by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

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Amazon’s Fire TV Stick Aims To Compete With Chromecast

Amazon is ready to compete with Google thanks to its just-launched Fire TV Stick.

At $39, it is a tiny and affordable alternative to other streaming media options on the market. And good news for Prime users—it’s only $19 with free shipping until this Wednesday, October 29. 

Lest you think for a moment the Fire TV Stick is not a direct salvo at Chromecast, check out its very similar but slightly better stats. It has 8 GB of RAM, compared to Chromecast’s 2. On top of the WiFi technology that Chromecast also shares, it offers MIMO WiFi technology for the odd buyer who happens to have 802.11ac on their home network.

Most useful is that the Fire TV Stick ships with its own remote. This is a feature the Roku 2 and Apple TV share, but Chromecast, meanwhile, relies on buyers’ iOS or Android phone to serve as the remote control.

See also: Review: The Amazon Fire TV Is Kind Of A Mess

Even as Amazon’s Fire TV launched this spring to lukewarm reviews, the Fire TV Stick may capture a larger audience with its bargain bin price and the assurance it brings that even if it tanks like so many other Amazon products, at least you got what you paid for.

Photo via Amazon

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Google Patent Aims to Use TV as a Signal in its Search Algorithm

A new patent granted to Google will use signals related to TV shows that are “currently being displayed in proximity to an electronic device” being used to perform a search.

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Ralph Lauren Aims To Make Fitness Tech Fabulous

When the ball boys hit the court to collect tennis balls during the U.S. Open in New York this week, their t-shirts will be tracking them.

The young men running up and down the court will be testing out Ralph Lauren’s newest wearable technology—shirts that monitor heart rate, breathing and stress levels, the New York Times reports.

See also: OMsignal’s New Smart Shirt Shows The Challenge For Wearables

Produced in collaboration with OMsignal, the biosensing shirts collect and distribute the information to software that can be displayed on a smartphone or computer. The black nylon-polyester blend shirts will feature the signature Ralph Lauren polo-pony logo, and mark a distinct transition for the company known for its expensive and preppy fashion.

“Everyone is exploring wearable tech watches and headbands and looking at cool sneakers,” David Lauren, the company’s vice president for advertising, told the NYT. “We skipped to what we thought was new, which is apparel. We live in our clothes.”

OMsignal’s shirts, which start at $200, are expected to hit the market later this year. The shirts track body data by using silver conductive thread and a “black box” that monitors data and transmits it to an application.

It’s unclear when Ralph Lauren’s specialty shirts will be available for purchase, and how, or whether, they’ll differ from the OMsignal designs that are now available for pre-order.

Fashion Meets Tech

As wearable technology slowly sheds its geeky stigma, fashion designers and high-profile brands are jumping on board to make smart tech sexy. Good thing, too, because unless wearables look good, fashion-conscious consumers are likely to shun their connected devices.

Ralph Lauren joins designers including Tory Burch, who partnered with FitBit to launch gorgeous wearables women want; DVF, which created desperately needed stylish frames for Google Glass; and Rachel Zoe, who created USB chargers in the form of unisex bracelets.

See Also: What Not To (Android) Wear: One Woman’s Search For Smartwatch Bliss

Startups, too, are putting fashion first when developing wearable devices. Ringly, a minimalist device, vibrates whenever the wearer receives a notification—and you can hardly tell it’s a “wearable” because it looks exactly like jewelry you might find in a department store.

Hardware manufacturers should pay close attention to the designers that are flooding the market. While Google’s partnership with DVF underscores the importance of making Google Glass look good, smartwatch makers using Android Wear have created manly smartwatches that leave much to be desired for those of us who wear watches for style, not purpose.

As my colleague Adriana Lee wrote when Google unveiled Android Wear earlier this year, smartwatches like the LG G watch just aren’t what women want. It makes sense for brands to start with function over fashion, but unless smartwatches can become something pretty, they’ll forever remain a techie tool.

Instead of launching at a tech conference, Ralph Lauren is showing off its new wearable fashion at one of the biggest sporting events of the year—one at which many spectators may well be wearing styles from the company’s previous collections. We’ll see the ball boys doubling as fashion models for the new biometric shirts can make fitness technology fabulous. 

Lead image by OMsignal; U.S. Open image by Steven Pisano

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“Let Me Google That For You” Bill Aims To Replace Government Agency With Google Search

Senators Tom Coburn and Claire McCaskill have introduced new legislation aimed at saving taxpayers $66 million a year. What’s their plan? It’s the “Let me Google that for you” Act, and its goal is to replace the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) agency with a…

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LinkedIn’s Latest App Aims To Reconnect You With Your Contacts

Every morning, my phone fills up with notification badges—a dozen little inboxes asking to be cleared before I even get to my email. Dutifully or obsessively, I open them all as I walk my dog.

There’s a special pleasure I take in swiping through LinkedIn Contacts, a standalone app from the professional network. Job changes, work anniversaries, and mentions in news articles add up to a customized newsletter about people I know through my world of work. 

LinkedIn is doubling down on this aspect of its Contacts app for iPhones, and it’s even renaming the app LinkedIn Connected in an update available in the App Store Thursday morning.

LinkedIn Plays Its Cards Right

The first thing you’ll notice about LinkedIn Connected is its visual design, which uses the “card” metaphor you now find everywhere from Twitter to Tinder to iPhones. Where LinkedIn Contacts had blurbs next to small profile photos, Connected presents each person’s news on a full-screen card. 

LinkedIn’s new Connected app highlights job changes and other news about work contacts.

There’s less weight in the interface given to looking up contact information, though you can still do that.

“What we heard from members was the value was the updates,” says LinkedIn’s David Brubacher, who oversees the company’s relationship products. Most, like me, used the old Contacts app in the morning while preparing for their day.

The hope is that Connected’s updates will prompt users to send messages through LinkedIn and use the service for more than just job hunting.

Connected also syncs more directly with the iPhone’s calendar, if users permit it, to find meetings with your contacts and give you a LinkedIn-powered briefing book on the people you’re spending your day with. (Contacts did something similar, but only with Web-based calendars.)

Reconnecting With Users

As a new and improved version of Contacts, an app that’s become habit-forming for me, Connected looks like a winner. And LinkedIn could use a winner in mobile.

LinkedIn is in a fierce fight with the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Facebook to own your professional identity. Connected plays into that strategy, by putting a layer of data that only LinkedIn has over your address book. (On LinkedIn’s website, the existing Contacts feature and its feed of updates serve a similar function.)

Proving that its data has value in building new connections and strengthening existing ones is crucial for LinkedIn. It is facing a lawsuit from users who claim it spammed their professional contacts. Intro, a service which added LinkedIn data to emails, flopped amid privacy concerns and got shut down earlier this year.

Connected seems far less likely to spark such worries. For one thing, it’s so clearly useful (and a little addicting). 

With LinkedIn’s new app, Miranda Priestly might not have needed two assistants to remember her contacts.

And there are futuristic hints within Connected of how it could become even more useful—like the assistants whispering names and biographical details in Miranda Priestly’s ear in The Devil Wears Prada. 

LinkedIn engineering director Vinodh Jayaram says the way Connected combines calendar and contacts data to pop up timely information about people you’re about to meet is an example of “anticipatory computing,” similar to what Google does with its Google Now service or Foursquare does with its location-based recommendations.

If you want to get really crazy, imagine a location-aware version of LinkedIn Connected designed for wearable devices. It would whisper to you or flash an alert on your wrist to tell you how you know all the people in the room, moments before you rub elbows with them. That’s what networking looks like when it’s truly networked.

Photo of business cards by Faruk Ateş

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Microsoft’s Catapult Project Aims To Speed Bing Search, Improve Relevancy

A major datacenter project at Microsoft could lead to faster and more relevant search results on the company’s 5-year-old search engine, Bing. The Catapult project is a collaboration between Microsoft researchers and the Bing team that was presented Monday at an industry conference on…

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MapQuest Aims For Reboot With New Content, Partners, UI

A few years ago, while others were investing in their mapping platforms, AOL was coasting with MapQuest. AOL’s sustained neglect of the online mapping pioneer cost the site its leadership in digital maps. Now the company hopes to claw its way back with new content and functionality in what…

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Box Aims To Hand Businesses Their Own Encryption Keys This Year

Cloud-storage provider Box aims to break with tradition and give some businesses their own keys to their own encrypted data—at least for “very large or sensitive organizations,” CEO Aaron Levie said, according to a report in Ars Technica. “We’re still figuring out the exact details of how we want to integrate it with a customer environment,” Levie said during a Q&A at the InformationWeek Conference in Las Vegas.

When you share files via Box, Dropbox, and cloud-based content-sharing services, your data is encrypted—but you don’t hold the key. For businesses, controlling your own encryption keys matters, especially if the NSA comes a-knocking to ask your provider for access to your data. 

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Enterprise Cloud-Storage Firm Box Aims To Raise $250M In Its IPO

Box, a cloud storage service for business, filed with the SEC to raise up to $250 million in an initial public offering. While going public could give the young company a credibility boost and a currency—i.e., options and shares—for acquisitions and employee recruitment, Box is seeking a smaller sum in its IPO than its rival Dropbox has recently raised from private investors.

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