Saturday, April 27, 2013
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Given the ubiquitous nature of smartphones and the ever-increasing megapixel count of their onboard camera sensors, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the compact digital camera may have snapped its very last snap. Sony believes that its new Cyber-shot HX50V superzoom will make you think again. Claimed to be the world's smallest and lightest 30x zoom camera currently available, the low light sensitive 20-megapixel camera features both Wi-Fi and GPS, high-speed AutoFocus, optical image stabilization, and boasts an impressive battery life.
The Cyber-shot HX50V compact superzoom features a 24-720mm F3.5-6.3 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens made up of 11 elements in 10 groups. In addition to the camera's 30x optical zoom capabilities, Sony says that its 60x Clear Image digital zoom technology uses pixel pattern matching to give more realistic, higher quality results than systems that use electronic cropping to get closer to a subject.
Complementing the camera's zoom lens is optical SteadyShot and active 3-way image stabilization, which is claimed to be twice as effective as last year's Cyber-shot HX200V model at maximum zoom.
At the heart of the 4.25 x 2.5 x 1.5-inch (108.1 x 63.6 x 38.3-mm), 9.6-ounce (272-g) camera is a 1/2.3-inch Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor with 20.4 effective megapixels, which works alongside Sony's BIONZ imaging processor to offer ISO80 to 12800 sensitivity, and an impressive 10 fps burst shooting at full resolution. Images are recorded to Memory Stick Duo or SD/SDHC in 4:3 aspect at full 5,184 x 3,888 pixel resolution, or 16:9 at 5,184 x 2,920. Built-in Wi-Fi technology can be used for wireless file transfer and remote control.
The HX50V has a 3-inch, 921,000 dot resolution Xtra Fine LCD display panel with five levels of brightness adjustment. Though a pop-up flash module has been included, the camera also has a hot shoe mount – or Mi Shoe – for connecting accessories like an external flash unit, stereo microphone module or electronic viewfinder.
Rounding out the notable specs are a dedicated exposure compensation control dial and a PASM/settings dial, micro HDMI and USB 2.0 ports, and a 1240 mAh Li-ion battery that's smaller than those used in earlier models, yet still manages to offer 400 photos per charge. The camera is also capable of 1080/60p high definition video recording in AVCHD Ver2 format, with AC3 stereo audio.
The Cyber-shot HX50V will be available from next month for about US$450. In the meantime, have a look at the SNGL by Sony team walking through the main features in the video below.
Posted by gkJr. at 9:24 PM
The two patents, published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, describe Apple inventions for using an iOS device to find a parked car in a parking structure, getting guidance to said car, gathering parking fee information and, once near the automobile, activating vehicle functions like door locks, power windows and the engine starter.
First, Apple's "Method for Locating a Vehicle" outlines a method in which a mobile device can pair with a vehicle via Bluetooth to determine whether it is in a parked state. If the condition is met, the handset then communicates with a wireless system within the parking structure to determine a parking location before moving away from the vehicle.
When returning to the parking structure, the mobile device can access the parking structure's location system to request current positioning data. The received information is then compared to the vehicle location already stored on the device to determine a route back to the car.
In another embodiment, the automobile itself communicates with the parking structure's location system, which logs the car's position and stores the data for later access by a mobile device. This method also allows the parking system to handle guidance and routing directions, which are subsequently sent to a handset upon request.
Digging deeper into the filing's language, Apple's invention calls for the parking structure to hold an array of wireless sensors that are deployed in such a way as to determine the location of a car and a mobile device. An example would be one sensor per stall, or one per row. The system can use Bluetooth technology to transmit positioning data, as well as guidance data if necessary, to the mobile device.
Illustration of parking structure.
Further, the parking system can also incorporate cameras, microphones and other sensors to determine whether a car is in a parked state. Such information would include an opened car door, active running lights or engine noise. In some embodiments, a user can manually inform the system that a car is parked by interacting with a digital interface either in the vehicle or on a mobile device.
Regarding guidance, a handset can receive a map over cellular or Wi-Fi, which can have an overlay of current positioning data much like a GPS navigation system. Indeed, in some examples, GPS can also be used in concert with the parking structure's location data to determine a route back to the vehicle.
As a side note, Apple recently acquired "indoor GPS" firm WiFiSLAM, which developed technology to serve up location data within structures where GPS signals are usually absent. Such systems could be implemented effectively in the utility filing described above.
In Apple's second car-related patent application, titled "Accessing a vehicle using portable devices," a mobile handset pairs securely with a car over Bluetooth or other suitable method to control various onboard functions.
The invention is basically a more intelligent replacement for existing automobile personalization systems offered by some manufacturers. These methods usually rely on key fobs, which interact with the car via NFC or radio to open doors, roll down windows, start the engine, and so forth. Instead, Apple proposes a mobile device take the place of a fob to offer enhanced control of the vehicle through wireless protocols like Bluetooth.
As noted in the filing, the system can support a primary and a secondary mobile device. Both would use proven authentication methods to access the vehicle, thereby allowing said devices to act as a security point in lieu of a key fob. A user can set preferences to cause the system to act automatically, or have greater control by requiring a PIN or passwords before a device unlocks and interacts with the car.
Some embodiments allow restrictions to be placed on the second mobile device, such as authorization to start the engine only within a given time period, for example between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Further limitations can include speed, entertainment options, number of "uses" allotted and GPS-based fencing, among others.
Besides describing the variety of functions available for operation, much of the patent application focuses on authentication techniques and device-to-car security.
Apple is apparently looking to take advantage of popular "infotainment" systems a number of auto makers include in their vehicles, which usually carry some sort of wireless communications protocol such as Bluetooth. While it is unknown if and when the pair of patent applications will be used in a consumer product, a number of car manufacturers have already signed on to support Apple's "eyes-free" initiative.
Both of the applications were filed in 2011 and credit Brian J. Tucker, Emily C. Schubert, Jess L. Dorogusker, Joakim Linde; Joakim and Stephen Chick as their inventors.
Posted by gkJr. at 4:58 PM
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,429,407 for "Digital handshake between devices," which covers the creation of a secure communications path between two devices by using an image to generate a digital handshake key.
As noted in the patent, modern portable devices like the iPhone can store a wealth of digital content, such as contacts, text documents, video, music, and more. Currently, most users rely on email or direct messaging to transfer said content from one device to another, with copy and paste being an effective, yet tedious, mode of storage.
Other implementations can facilitate a direct communications path between the two devices, leveraging wireless technologies such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to transfer data. However, these methods require the handsets to share a network key, and existing implementations of generating this passkey are limited. For example, in some instances users must generate and type in an identical pass phrase to gain access to another device's content.
While a few apps, such as Bump, facilitate key generation when two devices output similar accelerometer data, such as a "bump," the method may not be viable if one device is without a motion sensor.
Apple's invention instead provides that an image taken of a device will include a key. For example, the second device can display a dynamic key onscreen or have a key embedded in its housing or bezel. Other examples are provided where filters, flash or infrared light can reveal a hidden key. In some cases, a specialized chip is integrated with the camera module to detect and decipher a device key.
Illustration of chassis-located keys.
A process follows that generates a digital handshake key by using the device-provided key or seed with the key captured in the image. This process can support multiple devices, with more dynamically added by using the same initially generated key. For added protection, a device can require a user-generated code to connect.
Further, if there are multiple devices in a captured image, a device can intelligently parse out which is requesting a key through location, distance and content displayed onscreen.
Once the two devices are connected, they can share content based on an open program, or an app that is not running. The patent holds that some or all of the content being displayed can be transferred, depending on user preference.
The language notes that in some embodiments, the digital handshake can merely serve as an authentication system, granting a device access to secured information. An example is provided in which a user's identity can be confirmed when purchasing goods, such as prescription medication.
Apple's camera-based digital handshake patent was first filed for in 2010 and credits Marcel Van Os and Caroline Cranfill as its inventors.
Posted by gkJr. at 12:47 PM
Monday, April 22, 2013
When Yahoo purchased Summly in March for an estimated $30 million, the company revealed that Summly's team would be rolled into Yahoo's own. The impact of that acquisition can be seen now in Yahoo's mobile search technology, CEO Marissa Mayer said Monday in a post to Yahoo's corporate blog.
The new Yahoo mobile app uses Summly's natural-language algorithms and machine learning to deliver quick summaries of news stories in a user's feed. The app now also personalizes story feeds based on a user's interest and gives users the ability to select topics they want more stories about.
Summly is one of the higher profile acquisitions Mayer has made since taking over the Internet giant in June of 2012. Tasked with sparking growth in a company said to have grown stagnant, Mayer has aligned Yahoo on the mobile axis, calling for revamps of existing apps and products even as the company shutters underperforming projects.
Reportedly, Yahoo is looking to tie itself more closely to Apple, as the two companies have discussed greater integration between their products. Such collaboration could take the form of Yahoo News and other web properties coming preloaded in iOS devices, with a heavier focus on Siri integration.
Version 3.0 of Yahoo's iOS app is available in the App Store. The 15.9MB download is compatible with the iPhone 3GS or above, third-generation iPod touch or above, and the iPad. It requires a device running iOS 5.1 or later.
Posted by gkJr. at 6:43 PM