Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon Flight Platform for Drones with 4K Cameras, GPS

Qualcomm has announced a new integrated platform for high-end drones, allowing designers and developers to create new products that support 4K video recording with stabilisation, GPS navigation with obstacle avoidance, and real-time flight control. The Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight is a single development board measuring 58x40mm and is based on a Snapdragon 801 SoC.

Qualcomm will be providing hardware and software aimed at high-end drones. Camera capabilities include simultaneous 4K and 720p recording and encoding, video stabilisation, image enhancement, inertial measurement, and optic flow for navigation and obstacle avoidance. There is also support for additional sensors such as a barometer.

The Snapdragon 801 has a quad-core 2.26GHz CPU, integrated Adreno 330 graphics, a Qualcomm Hexagon DSP, and dedicated image and video processing hardware. Dual-band Wi-Fi n, Bluetooth 4.0 and global satellite navigation will allow for remote control and communications. Qualcomm’s Quick Charge tech will allow for rapid charging between flights, allowing for longer deployments and less turnaround time.

The design potentially reduces the size and weight of a drone’s electronics, allowing for more flexible, less expensive designs, as well as longer flight times.

“Today, drones are made from multiple component vendors providing separate solutions for photography, navigation and communications, adding to the cost and bulk of consumer drones,” said Qualcomm Senior Vice President, Product Management, Raj Talluri, in a press statement. “The Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight brings together the technologies that have defined the mobile industry onto a single board, enabling OEMs to build drones that are lighter, smaller, easy to use and affordable with long battery life and superior functionalities.”

The Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight platform will be targeted at high-end commercial and consumer drones as well as other robotic applications. It can be implemented as a reference design or customised further by developers. The first drones built on the platform will launch in the first half of 2016, including one from Yuneec.

Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear Headphones Launched

American audio products manufacturer Bose has announced the launch of its latest product, the SoundTrue Ultra in-ear headphones. This is the first Bose product to feature a noise isolating in-ear design. The earphones are available now in two colours: charcoal and frost.

“We’re known for our active noise cancellation, but the SoundTrue Ultra headphones reduce noise passively,” said Bernice Cramer, general manager of Bose Wireless Headphones. “Noise-isolating headphones have typically come with all kinds of trade-offs. They’ve required you to push an earbud deep in your ear, and that compromises how your music sounds and how you feel when they’re on. So, we designed something better. SoundTrue Ultra headphones reduce noise through a soft, proprietary seal and sound great. And they’re so secure, you won’t worry about them falling out, and you won’t want to take them out, either.”

The improved isolation is thanks to Bose’s new StayHear Ultra ear tips, which sees its debut with the SoundTrue Ultra in-ear headphones. Although similar in shape and size to Bose’s previous winged tips, the new StayHear Ultra tips rely not only on a good fit, but also rest on the outside of the ear canal for an effective acoustic seal. It’s also designed to be a secure fit that does not require constant adjustment.

Bose has also addressed the cable noise issues that in-ear headphones are prone to, with the use of a T-shaped cable splitter which is less likely to come in contact with the body during movement, according to the company. The in-line remote and microphone are compatible with select Apple devices and most Android products.

Bose also announced the new SoundTrue around-ear headphones II and SoundSport in-ear headphones. The former now features a slimmer profile with two new colour options: navy blue and charcoal black. The latter is designed for exercise, with secure-fit StayHear tips and water-resistant features.

The new SoundTrue Ultra in-ear headphones are available for Rs. 11,138. The new SoundTrue around-ear headphones II are available for Rs. 14,513, and SoundSport in-ear headphones are available from Rs. 7,763 to Rs. 10,013. All of the above are available now through Bose retail stores and authorised resellers.

HandyCase Adds Touch Control To The Back Of Your iPad

HandyCase

Tong Luo has created a new mobile device casing called the HandyCase, that can be added to Apple’s iPadtablets and enables touch controls to be added to the rear of the tablet.

Allowing users to keep the screen free from messy fingers and easy to see when in use. Providing full operation of your Apple mobile device using your fingers from behind your screen.

Watch the video below to learn more about this unique and revolutionary control device for the iPad tablet, that is sure to add a new range of functionality to already existing applications and games as well as those in development.

The HandyCase is currently over on Kickstarter looking to raise $100,000 to take the concept into production and thanks to over 110 backers is already on its way, raising over $44,000 in just the first few days after launch. Its creators explain a little more about the inspiration and design behind the HandyCase :

Our idea is developed by leading talents in Silicon Valley, California and protected by numerous patents. Our sleek design is crafted by top industrial design firm and artists in the United States and in Europe. Our high quality and low cost product is made by a reputable Chinese manufacturer.

All mobile device users can benefit from this technology on a daily basis.Your kids, your siblings, your parents, your best friends, HandyCase makes it easier to interact with your mobile devices. We have developed games and apps to prove our technology is not only beneficial, but also practical and fun. HandyCase is available for iPhone 6, iPhone 6+, iPad Mini 2&3 and iPad Air 2.

 

Jump over to the Kickstarter website to make a pledge from just $99 to be one of the very first to own the revolutionary control device.

DJI Inspire 1 Drones Receives Two New Micro Four Thirds Cameras

DJI Inspire 1 Drone

Drone maker DJI has this week unveiled two new cameras it’s created that have been specifically designed to be used with its DJI Inspire 1 Drones, in the form of two new Micro Four Thirds cameras called the Zenmuse X5 and X5R.

The new DJI cameras have been specifically designed for aerial use and offer drone pilots the ability to capture 4K Ultra HD footage at either 24 or 30 frames per second.

DJI Inspire 1 Drones

The cameras also offer 13 stops of dynamic range and include 16 megapixel sensors, and support four different wide-angle lenses from DJI itself, Panasonic and Olympus. The camera can be attached to DJI’s Zenmuse gimbals and DJI has also announced that the company will soon be offering optional wireless follow focus systems for the new cameras. Together with a new hardware plug-in for the inspire remote.

Watch the video below to learn more about the new DJI aerial Zenmuse X5 and X5R cameras. Frank Wang, DJI CEO and founder explains a little more:

In order to achieve the quality of video produced by Zenmuse X5 and X5R, pilots used to have to spend many thousands of dollars for large, complicated aerial equipment. Now, pilots can simply mount the Zenmuse X5 series cameras to their Inspire 1, put on their props, get up in the air, and have full control of their shot while in flight. This saves valuable time on film sets and makes high-quality imaging for industrial applications smaller, lighter and easier to manage.

 

A stand-alone Zenmuse X5 camera will be available later this month priced at $2,199 and an Inspire drone bundle with the X5R will be available before the end of the year priced at $7,999, unfortunately stand-alone pricing hasn’t as yet been announced by DJI but as soon as more information becomes available we will keep you updated as always.

Smartwatches Vulnerable to Hackers, Researchers Say

If you are using a laptop keyboard while wearing a smartwatch, motion sensors on the watch could leak information about what you are typing, researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have warned.

Smartwatches are vulnerable to hackers, say researchers who used a homegrown app on a Samsung Gear Live smartwatch to guess what a user was typing through data “leaks” produced by the motion sensors on the device.

The project, called Motion Leaks through Smartwatch Sensors, or MoLe, has privacy implications, as an app that is camouflaged as a pedometer, for example, could gather data from emails, search queries and other confidential documents, said researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“Sensor data from wearable devices will clearly be a double-edged sword,” said Romit Roy Choudhury, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois.

“While the device’s contact to the human body will offer invaluable insights into human health and context, it will also make way for deeper violation into human privacy… The core challenge is in characterising what can or cannot be inferred from sensor data and the MoLe project is one example along this direction,” he said.

The app uses an accelerometer and gyroscope to track the micro-motion of keystrokes as a wearer types on a keyboard. After collecting the sensor data, researchers ran it through a “Keystroke Detection” module, which analysed the timing of each keystroke and the net 2D displacement of the watch. For example, the left wrist moves farther to type a “T” than an “F.”

While Illinois researchers developed MoLe, it is conceivable that hackers could build a similar app and deploy it to iTunes and other libraries.

A possible solution to motion leaks would be to lower the sample rate of the sensors in the watch, said He Wang, a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering at Illinois. For instance, the sample rate is normally around 200

Hertz, meaning the system logs 200 accelerometer and gyroscope readings per second. However, if that number is lowered to below 15, the users’ wrist movements become extremely difficult to track. The team still has a long way to go in polishing the data-collection process.

Their current system can’t detect special characters such as numbers, punctuation and symbols that might appear in passwords. The “space” bar or key also poses an obstacle. In addition, researchers can only collect data from the hand wearing the watch and from people who have standard typing patterns. The team will develop more models to account for typing differences in the future.

While a Samsung watch was used in this project, the researchers believe that any wearable device that uses motion sensors – from the Apple Watch to Fitbit – could be vulnerable as well.

Fender Goes Digital So You Don’t Quit Guitar

Ninety percent of people trying to learn guitar quit in the first year. That’s a big problem for the musical instrument industry, but also a big opportunity for one of the top guitar makers — Fender. If Fender can use digital tools like a new tuner app it’s building to keep musicians engaged, it stands to sell them a lot more guitars, amplifiers and more over their lifetime.

Kaplan was a long-time SVP of technology for Warner Bros. Records before helping start Live Nation Labs, a tech arm for the concert ticket giant. He spent the last seven months as the general manager of audio fingerprinting pioneer Gracenote.That’s why today Fender is announcing the hiring of one of the smartest people in music tech, Ethan Kaplan, as its new Chief Digital Products Officer.

I’ve seen Kaplan speak at music tech conferences, and his no B.S. attitude about what will and won’t work is refreshing in an industry of pipe dreamers. Few have Kaplan’s historical context mixed with modern understanding that’s necessary to see how music will evolve in the face of technology.

Kaplan tells me he’s aiming to build a complement to Fender’s big instrument sales business by using technology to ease “the journey from being a beginner to intermediate to being an advanced player.” To do that, Kaplan says “we’ve got to listen to players” to find out what they need.

Fender’s recently hired CEO Andy Mooney explains that “We have a problem getting the consumers who buy their first guitar to commit for life.” If Fender succeeds in keeping up a musician’s momentum, they’ll end up earning a ton of money buying multiple guitars and amps. “We just need to reduce abandonment of first-time players by 10% to double the industry,” Mooney believes.

FMIC Factory-30

I tried learning guitar when I was 15, but got frustrated because I couldn’t find super easy songs to play with the few chords I knew. Without the satisfaction of hearing real songs come out of my instrument, I quit. It was almost 10 years before I picked up the axe again, and I only stuck with it because I stumbled upon some exceedingly easy tabs for tunes by a singer I love, Bright Eyes.

Mooney had a similar experience. Growing up he was “struggling” because he couldn’t figure out how to play his favorite song. It was 20 years before he figured out it was in a different tuning. Fender wants to deconstruct these obstacles.

FMIC Factory-28Eventually, the company wants to build apps for guitar tablature (basic instructions for how to play songs), track downloads, and deeper music education. But the first step in Fender’s digital transformation will be a new guitar tuning app Kaplan is building.

Breaking out in this crowded vertical won’t be easy. There are already slews of popular indepedently developed tuning apps, as well as ones from music powerhouses like Gibson. Fender will have to work hard to differentiate itself.

That’s where Kaplan’s knowledge of software and networks comes in. He’s working on an identity layer to link the tuning app with future Fender digital products. This way, Fender can learn about a musician and then personalize each experience.

For example, if the tuner knows what kind of music you like, it could recommend different tuning configurations to try. Or if it knows what you’re tuned to or what chords you know how to play, it could suggest tabs for songs you’ll be able to quickly learn. If Fender’s apps can hear your play or at least know how frequently you do, it could recommend you buy new guitar strings or one of its effects pedals. Shortcuts from app to app to products could keep players in the Fender ecosystem.

“It’s not just about making a tuning app, then another app, and another,” Kaplan says. “It’s about how do we build a product that does something more and enables the overall journey, not just the utility. It looks like the ties that bind a bunch of products together.”

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Outside of tuners, the landscape becomes more chaotic and rife with potential for Fender. Most tabs online aren’t verified as accurate, and musicians spend hours coming through mediocre tutorial videos on YouTube looking for assistance. They’re eager to learn all the skills necessary, and Mooney says “We think we’re uniquely suited to connect those dots.”

You might expect the rise of DJing and Electronic Dance Music to be causing hard times for analog instrument makers like Fender. But it turns out traditional instrument sales are still growing, albeit slowly. Mooney says Taylor Swift is inspiring a new generation of young women to pick up a Fender Stratocaster. If Kaplan’s tools can make Swift’s songs easier to learn, those fans might put more guitars in the “Blank Space” on their wish list.

DJI Phantom 3 Professional this drone can capture great 4K video straight out of the box

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED

£1299 inc VAT

DJI PHANTOM 3 PROFESSIONAL & ADVANCED REVIEW

It may look the same as before, but DJI says it has rebuilt the Phantom 3 from the ground up to make aerial imaging as simple as smartphone photography. It doesn’t stop there, either, with the company claiming that this is the best consumer quadcopter that has ever existed, and offers the ultimate flying experience. See also: DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ review

Bold claims indeed, considering the increasing competition in the world of drones. So, let’s get the bad news out of the way first. The Phantom 3 does have a raft of new features but it does not have auto-follow, cannot orbit an object and won’t fold up and fit into your backpack. Nor can you throw it into a lake and watch it burst out of the water and into the air like a certain other drone you may have seen on YouTube.

Update 10 September: DJI has issued an update for the Phantom 3 range which adds auto-follow and orbit modes. This is great news for early adopters who might otherwise be wishing they’d waited and bought a 3DR Solo instead. We haven’t had a chance to test out these new features, but we’ll update this review as soon as we get a chance. There’s good news for P3 Advanced owners, too. The update brings 2.7K video recording to their birds – about time since the cheaper Phantom 3 Standard had this capability from its recent launch, while the Advanced model was limited to 1080p.

DJI PHANTOM 3 PROFESSIONAL & ADVANCED REVIEW

The Phantom 3 is – unlike many Kickstarter projects – a real product you can actually buy and it’s manufactured by the most popular quadcopter maker in the world. This is important because it means several things. First, you can get spares easily. Second, there’s an SDK which means developers can build new apps for the Phantom 3 which in turn means there will be even more features in the not-too-distant future.

Yet another benefit is a thriving thriving third-party market for things like carry cases  and other accessories – and means there’s often cheaper alternatives to official spares such as propellors.We don’t recommend straying from the official DJI batteries, though. It’s frustrating to have to pay a premium, but there are no guarantees aftermarket batteries will work.

There are three models of the Phantom 3: Standard, Advanced and Professional. We tested the Professional, which you can buy from FirstPersonView but much of this review applies to the £899 Advanced version as well. The only difference between the two is the

See also: Quadcopter buyer’s guide

DJI PHANTOM 3 PROFESSIONAL REVIEW: WHAT’S NEW?

Camera

The most obvious upgrade is the camera. The Professional version gets a 4K camera with a 94 degree field of view. It has a larger sensor with more dynamic range as before and it’s mounted on a three-axis gimbal as you’d expect. For the uninitiated, this means it delivers amazingly stable video as if the camera were mounted on a tripod in the sky. And if you’re gentle with the controls, you should never see the propellers in the footage.

The Pro model can shoot 4096×2160 pixel video at 24 or 25fps and at 60Mbps – a high bitrate.

DJI Phantom 3 Professional review

If you go for a Phantom 3 Advanced, you’ll get a camera capable of shooting 2.7K at 30fps which is higher resolution than the Phantom 2 Vision’s. It’s limited to 40Mbps – 20 less than the Pro. It has a 94-degree FOV like the Professional and also shoots 1080p at 30 or 60fps. The sensor is also different to the Phantom 2 Vision and DJI says it offers less noise and better clarity.

Both cameras – Advanced and Professional – can also shoot 12Mp still photos in JPEG and DNG RAW, just as with the Phantom 2.

The Standard model (separate review to follow soon) has a Panasonic sensor instead of the Sony Exmor sensor in the Pro and Advanced, but can also record 2.7K video (a resolution of 2704×1520).

Controller

The way you control the camera has been improved over the Phantom 2 since you can now do a lot more from the transmitter. You can change aperture, take photos, rotate the gimbal and more without taking your hands off the controller.

Zendure A5 Higher in capacity is now better than ever

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED

£47 inc VAT

ZENDURE A5 POWER BANK REVIEW (THIRD-GENERATION)

Zendure’s A5 power bank is the PC Advisor Gold award-winning Zendure A2, but bigger and better – and now even more so in its third-generation. The A2 hits the perfect middle ground, but if you’re going on a longer trip or have both a smartphone and tablet to charge you may find this the power bank better suited to your needs. Also see: Best power banks 2015

Zendure has now released its third-generation A-series, which once again boosts the capacity – from 16000mAh to 16750mAh. The second-generation version had already boosted capacity from 15000mAh to 16000mAh, and added smarter power management at a slightly lower price – the Zendure A5 now costs £47.95 from Amazon UK. We’ve updated our Zendure A5 review in response.

For an extra £22, you get everything the A2 offers but with 2.5 times the capacity – with 80 percent efficiency that’s roughly 13400mAh usable, and enough to last you several days away from the mains – plus an additional USB output.

Whereas before you’d get one 5W- and one 10.5W USB output, in its third-generation both the A5’s outputs are rated at 10.5W. The total output is still 2.1A (10.5W), which means with two devices you’ll get slower charging (around 5W), but with two 10.5W outputs on offer you don’t need to worry about which one you use to plug in your tablet.

Also new here is Zen+ power-management technology. Rather than a straight 5W/5W split between the two USB outputs, the Zendure can cleverly recognise the devices attached and supply an optimum amount of power for charging them.

The main trade-offs are in the Zendure A5’s larger, heavier (but still portable) design, and in its price. However, it’s worth pointing out that while this power bank is more than twice the price of, for example, the £22 similar-capacity RP-PB13 Deluxe from RavPower, several features add to its worth.

With the Zendure A5 you’ll benefit from passthrough charging (allowing you to use the A5 as a USB hub, simultaneously charging both it and your devices), auto-on (removing the need to fiddle around with buttons, you just plug it in and go) and a rugged design built from crushproof PC/ABS composite material with dual-injection molding and a shock-absorbing central belt.

Zendure also claims that 95 percent of the battery’s capacity will remain after six months, which means you could potentially chuck this power bank in the glovebox and forget about it until you need it.

At this price and capacity, and with these features, the A5’s closest rival is perhaps theLimeFuel Rugged L150XR, which costs $84 (around £52), but you’ll need to factor in shipping costs from the US (you’ll get free UK delivery with the Zendure). While that power bank offers two 12W outputs (which are able to simultanously operate at full-pelt), can charge itself slightly faster with a 2A (rather than the 1.5A here) input, and is waterproof, this cheaper Zendure is significantly smaller and lighter, and it looks just as cool and feels just as tough. And hey, speed isn’t everything. (If it is to you then read our advice on how to charge your smartphone or tablet faster.)

This probably isn’t a device you’ll carry in your pocket, at 320g and 127x73x24mm (that’s the same size and weight as the first-gen A5, by the way), but Zendure supplies the A5 with a soft carry case. This isn’t cushioned, yet the A5 is tough enough that it doesn’t need protecting – the case merely keeps together both power bank and the also supplied flat Micro-USB cable, and in that sense it’s very handy.

As with most other power banks a four-LED system is used to show how much power remains. It’s easy enough to understand, although the 4000mAh jump between each LED means it isn’t the most accurate of systems. Using a 1.5A/7.5W charger you can expect to fill this bank in 11 hours, but allow extra time with a phone and/or tablet connected.

Unlike most other power banks we’ve reviewed there’s no LED torch, although we can’t say we miss having one.

Read next: How to improve smartphone battery life.

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.

SPECS

This 3D Printed Machine Sorts Skittles By Color

skittlesAre you a diva who prefers eating Skittles of a particular color? Maybe you have a minion who sorts them for you. Well, that person is out of a job now. This 3D printing project will do it for you.

It was created by Hackaday user MrPrezident (Nathan Peterson). It is a 3D printed machine that can sort Skittles by color all by itself. It does this by using a built-in color sensor that can differentiate the hues of the candy.

The machine also has an Arduino Uno board, a polarising filter to help prevent glare, and a small LED. Consider it your Skittles butler.

 

Peterson says, “I started working on this project because I thought it would be a fun project as it has some unique challenges, and it gave me the chance to make heavy use of my newly acquired 3D printer. I wanted to build a compact machine that would sort skittles accurately and quickly.”

Sadly, it will not sort M&Ms. Peterson claims that it could, but M&M’s are smaller and could get stuck. M&Ms also have six colors while the machine can only detect five. Still, it’s a fun project and fun to watch as well.

AeroCharge Wind Powered Bike Smartphone Charger

AeroCharge Wind Powered Bike Smartphone Charger

Jonathan Roberts has created a unique wind powered smartphone charger he has created called the AeroCharge. Watch the video below to learn more about this very new way of charging your smartphone while cycling.

Which is mounted to the handlebars of your bike and consists of four revolving fans that generate power which is then transferred to your smartphone as you cycle along.

During the prototype stages Jonathan 3D printed is concepts to test out different designs. The final solution uses a small 4 x 2V low-inertia generators that are powered by each of the four fans to provide maximum power output and efficiency.

The system is also fitted with a regulator that checks the current and power to your smartphone is the correct voltage and amperage ensuring that your smartphone battery isn’t overloaded as you pick up speed, Jonathan Explains a little more about his device and the inspiration behind it.

As you cycle, potential energy passes by as wind. This energy is wasted unless it is harnessed and turned into electricity. What AeroCharge does is convert this potential energy into electricity which can then be used to charge up and power a mobile phone whilst you cycle.

The circuit inside the product has a regulator connected to the USB socket. This means that the smartphone can draw as much amperage and voltage (charge) as it needs from the battery and the circuit will regulate to that amount, allowing the device to juice up safely. This is in place to prevent damage to your phone because different devices need different amounts of voltage and amperage in order to charge. All you need is to connect your USB to smartphone lead and you’re good to go.