Learn robotics at Udacity

Robotics is no longer just a hobby but serious stuff.  NVIDIA’s Deep Learning Institute is now working with online learning provider Udacity to develop a programme that will immerse students in the field of robotics, giving them career-ready skills.

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Sweet quarter for Apple in China

iPhone 8
The iPhone 8 helped spur Apple’s growth in Q3.

The launch of the iPhone 8 and drop of prices of older models have helped Apple turn in a sterling quarter in China, with shipment rising 40 percent to 11 million units this Q3.

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Enter the gaming smartphone

Razer Phone
Play Final Fantasy XV on the new smartphone.

Finally, a smartphone that’s made for gamers. Razer has launched in London the latest high-end smartphone with a focus on mobile gaming.

But what makes this phone different from others in the market? And how does it enhance the mobile gaming experience?

Continue reading “Enter the gaming smartphone”

Samsung Pay extended to smartwatches

Samsung Gear 3Guess it was only a matter of time as Samsung Pay has been extended to the Gear 3 and Gear Sport. This will let consumers use their smartwatches, on top of their smartphones, to make purchases.

Samsung Pay on Gear is protected by Samsung Knox for enhanced security. It functions independently so users need not bring their phone along to make payment with their smartwatches. They can view their transaction record on Samsung Pay Plugin, an associated application for Samsung Gear.

In another development in Hong Kong, HSBC and Hang Seng Bank have become Samsung Pay partners. Both banks’ customers can start using Samsung Pay for their credit cards from November 2.

 

 

Smartphone makers in a rush?

Google Pixel 2 XLIn 2016, Samsung had battery overheating issues with its Note 7. Recently, Apple is constantly pushing out iOS 11 fixes to improve battery life for the iPhone 8. And now, Google is working on a solution to address the screen burn-in issues of the Pixel 2.

What’s happening? Are smartphone makers in such a rush to launch new phones that they are cutting short quality tests? Admittedly, this is the probably the hottest segment of the consumer technology market and every player is trying its best to outdo each other.

According to IDC, the worldwide smartphone market will reach a total of 1.53 billion units shipped in 2017, up 4.2 percent from the 1.47 billion units shipped in 2016. That’s a lot of phones and perhaps the reason why makers are hurrying to snare a share.

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GeForce GTX 1070 Ti arrives on November 2

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 TiNo matter how hard NVIDIA tries to keep things quiet, it always seems that some sites out there know something about unannounced products. Case in point is the much touted GeForce GTX 1070 Ti.

Media frenzy was already high in the weeks running up to the announcement, thanks to drips of information that were permeating the Web.

NVIDIA finally announced it hours ago in a blog post. Truth be told, it sounds like a good product with its award-winning Pascal GPU architecture, 2,432 cores and 8GB of memory running at 8Gbps for a total bandwidth of 256 GB/s. And it performs twice as fast as the immensely popular GeForce GTX 970.

 

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5 reasons why I like Google Home

By Edward Lim

Perhaps it’s something like a forbidden fruit. The harder it it to get, the more we want it. Google tempted us with the Google Home smart speaker but it was not available in Singapore or anywhere in the region. It was only in July that the device was finally available in Australia.

Anyway, as with most gadget lovers, there’s always a way to get our hands on the desired device. In my case, I managed to snare one in Walmart in San Jose while attending a conference there in April. Actually, I bought two — one as a gift to a friend.

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E-commerce to account for a quarter of retail sales by 2025

Greater internet and mobile device accessibility are driving e-commerce growth in Southeast Asia.

According to ABI Research, Smart Retail has gone through revolutionary changes in the past 10 years and will exponentially continue to do so going forward.  Brick and mortar stores are no longer the only option for consumers across the globe to make their everyday purchases, due to significant advancements in technology, both in-store and online.

Key players include Senion, who implements some of the world’s largest Indoor Positioning System (IPS) solutions to enhance in-store experiences, and AisleLabs who provides shopper traffic behavior analytics to help retailers optimise store layouts.  Leading POS software vendors, Shopkeep and Square are allowing retailers to sell across multi-channels from a single platform. These and other key vendors are paving paths to making the offline and online worlds seamless experiences.

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Robotaxis on the way

No steering wheels, pedals or mirrors. Sounds like science fiction but the fully autonomous robotaxi is on its way with the launch of a new system that NVIDIA has codenamed Pegasus.

Pegasus extends the NVIDIA Drive PX AI computing platform to handle Level 5 driverless vehicles. NVIDIA DRIVE PX Pegasus delivers over 320 trillion operations per second — more than 10 times the performance of its predecessor, NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2, announced Jensen Huang, Founder and CEO of NVIDIA at his keynote address at GTC Europe in Munich.

Robotaxis powered by NVIDIA DRIVE PX Pegasus will have interiors that feel like a living room and arrive on demand to safely whisk passengers to their destinations, bringing mobility to everyone, including the elderly and disabled.

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Google sets up online Singapore store

Hurray, Google has finally set up an online store for Singapore! Amid the flurry of announcements made yesterday, this is probably the most significant for those in Singapore. After all, what’s the point of reading and hearing about all the launches in recent years without being able to buy the products anywhere in the country.

The bad news, however, is that only three products were listed on the Google Wifi, Google Chromecast and the newly-launched Google Pixel 2 XL.

Google’s latest smartphone sports front-facing stereo speakers, and front and rear cameras capable of producing amazing shots using fused image stabilisation of optical and digital zoom. Though the headphone jack is gone, Google has introduced Pixel Buds that can translate up to 40 languages on the fly. Continue reading “Google sets up online Singapore store”

Nokia 3310 makes comeback at under S$100

Nokia’s announcement at Mobile World Congress in February that it was resurrecting the iconic Nokia 3310 was met with enthusiasm, which was quickly dampened when the phone was said to run on 2.5G.

However, Nokia has responded remarkably by upgrading the 3310 to 3G and making it available at “below S$100”.

“Our fans around the world have been asking for this iconic phone to support 3G. Fans asked, we listened, and today welcome the Nokia 3310 3G,” said Mr Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer of HMD Global, maker of the Nokia phone.

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Enterprise wearables to hit 118m units in 2022

Royole flexible display.
Royole flexible display.

Enterprise wearable shipment will reach over 118 million in 2022, increasing from just over 38 million in 2017, a CAGR of 25 percent, according to ABI Research.

The enterprise wearables market is continuing to see stronger growth than the consumer market, which has shipment numbers increasing at a lower CAGR of 13 percent.

Healthcare devices, wearable cameras, and wearable scanners will account for 73 percent of enterprise wearable shipments in 2022. Innovative companies are leading the charge, such as Royole with flexible components, Waverly with real-time translation, and Axon (previously Taser) with wearable cameras.

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Google snares HTC hardware talents

Google is flexing its muscles in the hardware business with the acquisition of a team of hardware talents from HTC.

The move marks another milestone in a decade-long relationship between the two companies.

“These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we’re excited to see what we can do together as one team. The deal also includes a non-exclusive license for HTC intellectual property,” blogged Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President of Hardware at Google.

 

New Apple iPhone is real X — for eXpensive!

Even though the X in the newly announced iPhone X is supposed to be pronounced as “10”, it can be interpreted as eXpensive. At S$1,648 for the 64GB version and S$1,888 for the 256GB iteration, the new iPhone X is a costly device, bringing it right into the price range of notebook computers.

Apple seems to be pushing the price ceiling on how much consumers are willing to pay for a high-end smartphone. It may even cause some die-hard fans to consider if it’s really worthwhile upgrading to this new rendition. The iPhone X comes with a six-core A11 Bionic processor, GPU, a bezelless super retina display, wireless charging, dual 12-megapixel rear cameras with optical image stabilisation, and Face ID. Most of these are already available in other high-end smartphones without such a hefty price tag.

Face ID, which lets users unlock and pay with the device, is probably the most unique value proposition but is this enough to justify the high price?

Guess the answer will be known when the iPhone X becomes available in Singapore on November 3.

New Android devices boost Australia smartphone market in Q2

New Android mobile phone launches spurred growth in Australia, leading to year-on-year growth of 18.4 percent to 2.16 million units, exceeding expectations in Q2, according to IDC.

Smartphones accounted for nearly all of the shipped phones — totalling 2.06 million.

Android returned to being the most popular smartphone OS in Australia. Recently, iOS had overtaken Android as the most popular smartphone OS in Q4 2016 as it held over 54 percent of the market compared to 47 percent for Android.

Continue reading “New Android devices boost Australia smartphone market in Q2”

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 available in Singapore from Sep 15

After missing a beat with the Galaxy Note 7, which resulted in a massive recall and lots of bad press, Samsung has launched the Galaxy Note 8 with availability in Singapore from September 15.

Sporting a similar look to the Galaxy S8, the new smartphone’s key differentiator is the S Pen, which is designed to communicate in more personal ways. It has a finer tip, improved pressure sensitivity, and features such as Live Messaging that enable users to better express themselves.

The always on display allows users to stay on top of notifications without unlocking their phone. Screen off memo lets them take up to one hundred pages of notes as soon as they remove the S Pen. Users can also pin notes to the always on display and make edits directly.

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NVIDIA invests in Chinese auto startup

NVIDIA is among a group of investors led by Chinese social media company Sina investing more than US$20 million in Chinese startup TuSimple.

Formed in 2015, TuSimple has more than 100 employees in R&D centres in Beijing and San Diego developing technology for autonomous long-distance freight delivery. It uses NVIDIA GPUs, NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2Jetson TX2CUDATensorRT, and cuDNN to develop its autonomous driving solution.

In June, the company successfully completed a 200-mile Level 4 test drive from San Diego to Yuma, Arizona, using NVIDIA GPUs and cameras as the primary sensor.

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Singapore to trial on-demand bus service

Bus commuters are currently using apps such as MyTransport to plan their journey.

Bus commuters have always been dependent on fixed bus routes and timings. What if you can customise your own time and route? That’d be a bus commuter’s dream come true.

Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) is calling for a tender to seek proposals to trial on-demand, dynamically-routed public bus services.

According to the LTA press release, the trial will enable LTA to evaluate the feasibility of operating public bus services based on real-time commuter demand and along dynamic routes, instead of plying on the basis of pre-determined and fixed timetables and routes. Through a mobile application, commuters will be able to request pick-ups and drop-offs at any bus stop within a defined operating area.

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China to dominate APAC robotics spending

Spurred by growing interest in artificial intelligence (AI), the Asia-Pacific (APAC) robotics market is expected to growth to US$162 billion in 2021, accounting for 70 percent of the world’s total robotics market in 2021, according to IDC. China is expected to dominate with 45.7 percent market share over the next five years.

From a technology perspective, APAC spending on robotic systems is expected to grow to US$92 billion in 2021.This includes industrial, service and consumer robots and after-market robotic hardware. Meanwhile, services-related spending, which encompasses application management, education and training, hardware deployment, system integration, and consulting, will grow to more than US$44 billion in 2021.

“The convergence of robotics and artificial intelligence technologies are accelerating the development of the next generation of intelligent robots for industrial, commercial, and consumer applications. Intelligent robots with innovative capabilities such as cognitive interaction, self-diagnosis, and learning are emerging and driving wider adoption of robotics in many industries including manufacturing, resources, healthcare, retail, and so on,” said Dr Jing Bing Zhang, Research Director of Robotics at IDC Manufacturing Insights.

5 reasons why I like the Google Pixel

By Edward Lim

When the Google Pixel was first announced late last year, my antenna went up as my trusty Samsung Note Edge though working generally fine and still looking great was slowing down.

I’ve been a Samsung user since the original Note and love the phablet with its stylus but the Google Pixel is something else. It looks great, has powerful features, including a 12MP rear camera, and best of all, runs on stock Android. Goodbye, bloated Android!

But, there was a major letdown. Google had no plan to make its new flagship smartphone available at this part of the world. While not impossible to ship from overseas, the cost is fairly prohibitive, bearing in mind the strengthening US dollar.

However, a recent trip to Sydney proved to be the turnaround. The Google Pixel was staring right at me as I was heading towards the gate at Kingsford Smith Airport. I couldn’t take my eyes off the smartphone and there was added incentive. JB Hifi was offering the phones at A$100 off the retail price. A quick mental conversion of the price of the Google Pixel 128GB version (the smaller model) was more than S$1,100. While not cheap, the deal proved too good to pass and I returned with a spanking new toy.

It’s been more than a month since I switched from my Samsung Note Edge to the Google Pixel and I’m loving it. Here are five reasons:

  1. Stock Android: The smartphone will always get the latest version of Android. Better yet, there’s no service provider additional dead weight.
  2. Fingerprint access: The fingerprint sensor at the back just hits the sweet spot. It’s ideally located with a natural holding position. And it works perfectly, turning on the phone and screen quickly.
  3. Swipe: I love swiping and somehow this feels and works better, making it so convenient for crafting messages.
  4. Rear camera: The 12MP camera is fast, shoots well and produces great shots.
  5. Smooth transition: Nothing dampens getting a new phone more than the pain it takes to transfer the necessary files and data over. With the cable provided, switching over took just a few minutes. It doesn’t get any better.

Do I miss my Samsung Note Edge? Only one thing, the stylus when I need to annotate images. There again, I hardly annotate images. Possible shortfalls are the lack of a replaceable battery and inability to upgrade memory. That’s why I went for the 128GB version.

Overall, thought pricey, the Google Pixel has proved its worth.

AMD back in the game

It’s been a long time coming but AMD has finally launched its new high end Radeon graphics cards. And it has done it in style, at Los Angeles to a gathering of global media, with three models — the Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition with 64 compute unitsthe Radeon RX Vega 64 with air cooling, and the Radeon RX Vega 56 which starts at US$399.

These new additions are pitted against the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080Ti and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080, making for an interest battle, especially as NVIDIA is not known for sitting back and letting others take over its mantle.

“The enthusiast gaming experience is defined by high resolutions and a tear-free, buttery smooth 60 frames per second, something that only approximately 600,000 gamers are capable of enjoying today. But there are four million more gamers who aspire to enjoy that same enthusiast gaming experience without breaking the bank, and with Radeon RX Vega graphics cards we’re working to give them that,” said Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group, AMD.

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Motorola and Neurala to work on intelligent cameras

Motorola Solutions and Neurala will develop intelligent cameras that will enable police officers to more efficiently search for objects or persons of interest, such as missing children and suspects.

The companies will integrate Neurala’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities with Motorola Solutions’ software and cameras, including its Si500 body-worn camera. The integration will create intelligent cameras that can learn “at the edge” and automatically search for persons or objects of interest – significantly reducing the time and effort required to find a missing child or suspicious object in environments that are often crowded or chaotic.

“We see powerful potential for AI to improve safety and efficiency for our customers, which in turn helps create safer communities. But applying AI in a public safety setting presents unique challenges. Neurala’s ‘edge learning’ capabilities will help us explore solutions for a variety of public safety workflows such as finding a missing child or investigating an object of interest, such as a bicycle,” said Paul Steinberg, Chief Technology Officer of Motorola Solutions.

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AI takes centrestage at ICML in Sydney

NVIDIA is bringing its wealth of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions and expertise to the International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML) in Sydney.

Held at Sydney International Convention Centre from August 6 to 11, the event is expected to attract up to 3,000 participants, primarily faculty, researchers and PhD students in machine learning, data science, data mining, AI, statistics, and related fields.

The NVIDIA booth (Level 2, The Gallery, Booth #4) will feature many firsts in Australia, such as demos on 4K style transfer, a deep neural network to extract a specific artistic style from a source painting, and then synthesises this information with the content of a separate video; self-driving auto using the Drive PX2 AI car computing platform; Deepstream SDK that simplifies development of high performance video analytics applications powered by deep learning; and NVIDIA Isaac, the AI-based software platform lets developers train virtual robots using detailed and highly realistic test scenarios.

Continue reading “AI takes centrestage at ICML in Sydney”

The 8s are coming

This is the year of the 8s. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is expected to be revealed on August 23 in New York City, according to invitations sent to the media. Samsung will be hoping that this new iteration can wipe away the disappointment of the ill-fated Note 7.

Apple is also likely to announce the iPhone 8 in the next couple of months while Nokia is reportedly readying the launch of its new flagship Nokia 8 shortly,

30 months on the Edge

By Edward Lim

It’s official. The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is my longest lasting phone. After 30 months, I’ve finally moved on to another smartphone — the Google Pixel (I’ll share more about this in another post).

Why have I decided to keep the Edge for so long? Well, there are several reasons:

  1. My daughter bought it for me in December 2014.
  2. My phone was working perfectly fine. Slower yes but fine.
  3. There was no compelling reason to upgrade to any phone throughout this period, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 issue notwithstanding.

Just like I shared “5 reasons why I like the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge” three months after I had it, let me share my 30 months’ experience with what I think is a wonderful device.

  1. It makes a marvellous talking point. Even when newer smartphones with curved edges came out, people were still asking me about the Edge and its unique one-sided curve. Talk about longevity!
  2. It has replaceable battery, something some of the competing top-of-the-line range lack.
  3. Simple adding of storage when needed. Despite been a fairly heavy user, particularly of photos, I never found storage space a problem. When I needed more space, I just swapped to a higher capacity micro SD card.

The downside of prolonged usage is the same as other  devices. The Note Edge did slow down considerably with each software upgrade. The most noticeable was the activation of the camera function. It takes a while to load, resulting in many missed photo opportunities.

Other challenges with owning a Note Edge is the lack of good screen protectors. I paid for a supposedly good one but the protector just couldn’t stick well onto the curved portion. There is also the lack of choices of phone covers/cases.

Overall, I was very pleased with the smartphone. It’s been a great companion throughout the past 30 months. Best of all, it survived numerous trips around the world without a single scratch on the screen — and without a screen protector in place!

 

Vertu no more

Imagine paying more than S$34,000 for a phone? Well, it’s hard to imagine that kind of price tag for mortals who already consider the Google Pixel, iPhone and Samsung S8 expensive.

It’s not surprising then that the luxury phone brand Vertu has breathed its last. Established by then mobile phone giant Nokia in 1998, the British manufacturer was acquired by Turkish businessman Murat Hakan Uzan this March. However, Vertu still struggled financially and is shutting down.

Vertu was renowned for producing hand-made phones made with expensive materials such as gold, leather and diamond.

Beat traffic jam with new Audi A8

At the inaugural Audi Summit in Spain, Audi revealed that its flagship 2018 A8 features a multitude of high-tech wizardry powered by NVIDIA.

“The car of the future will make its occupants’ life easier with the help of artificial intelligence (AI),” declared Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Audi, as he introduced such A8 features as Audi AI Traffic Jam Pilot, Remote Park Pilot, Natural Voice Control and Swarm Intelligence.

The A8 is packed with NVIDIA powered systems, including revolutionary new user interfaces, a new infotainment system, a new virtual cockpit, and new rear seat entertainment options.

Continue reading “Beat traffic jam with new Audi A8”

Full PC backup with Google

Google has launched the Backup and Sync tool for users to easily back up practically all files on their computer. This new tool will replace the Google Photos desktop app and the Google Drive client applications for both Mac and PC.

According to a Google blog post, “Backup and Sync is an app for Mac and PC that backs up files and photos safely in Google Drive and Google Photos, so they’re no longer trapped on your computer and other devices”.

Backing up is done by simply clicking on the desired folders. Once done, these folders are automatically backed up and synced across all devices.