Thursday, July 3, 2014

Google Ready to Launch Modular Smartphone in January 2015 for $50


What started as a concept last year and then a promise is quite closer to becoming a reality; modular phones are all set to be on sale by January 2015 as per Google. Smartphones have become such an important part of our daily lives that the conventional smartphones just don’t cut it anymore. This is where the Project Ara by Google came in. The project promised a modular phone that could be upgraded by merely swapping out modules.



Recently, Google has revealed the working version of a modular smartphone from Project Ara at Google’s I/O Developer conference held in San Francisco. The head of Project Ara, Paul Eremenko, was quite optimistic when he waved the smartphone and stated that up till now, it was under development at a laboratory bench but now it has been set free by the team to check out the phone’s features. He further talked about how it was a challenge to design the phone in such a way that it looked attractive to customers. In words of Paul; ‘The design must overcome the connotations of boxiness and brick-like that people associate with modularity.’ Google is currently working with New Deal Design on this particular project and has announced a project worth $100,000 to design modules for the handset.



This particular smartphone that is modular has been named as ‘Grey Phone’ and shall come with a rather simple frame, screen, Wi-Fi connection and processor and will be fully customizable via a myriad of modules, colors and accessories. Paul explained why it is called the Grey Phone; ‘It’s called the Grey Phone because it’s meant to be drab grey to get people to customize it.’ Grey Phone will be capable of running on multiple batteries; when one dies you can simply detach it and replace it with a full battery module.



Great news is the fact that users will be able to 3D print parts for this smartphone. This will give users the capability to completely customize these parts. Google says that each phone will come with a central ‘spine’ coupled with an endoskeleton which has been nicknamed ‘endo’. The endoskeleton is the structure to which the modules will attach and be detached from. These ‘endos’ will come in three sizes; mini, medium and large. This will allow the ‘Grey Phone’ to take on every kind of smartphone in the market, including the phablets.



Google’s kit explains various modules which include batteries, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth chips, cameras, speakers and more. In ideal conditions; any sensor that will be capable of being attached to a module shall be device compatible. The life span of this Grey Phone is 5-6 years as per Google. Paul, speaking about the functionality of this smartphone, said; ‘If it can be other things, we encourage that. But we intend it to be, ultimately, a great smartphone first and foremost.’ Oh and the smartphone will cost $50 – yeah, that cheap – quite a news, isn’t it?


MIT Invents A Revolutionary New Method To Provide Heating To People


We all are accustomed to a particular temperature at which we are comfortable, isn’t that so? So when the climate gets harsh, what do we do? We either employ the use of a heater or an air conditioner to bring the temperature down or up respectively. However, have you ever noticed that the conventional method of cooling or heating a room consumes a lot of energy? Why do you need to heat up or cool down an entire area when it is only you who is feeling cold or hot? Realizing this glitch in the methodology, MIT has come up with a rather improved and efficient method of warming individuals who are present in a room by employing motion detecting spotlights.


The approach has been put forward by MIT’s Senseable City Lab which also came up high-tech bus stops, flying 3D displays and the GPS robot heads. The concept is known as Local Warming and comprises of an assembly of panels which have big infrared heat lamps incorporated into them in the ceiling. By making use of Wi-Fi, the lamps are capable of operating in conjunction with the motion detection system. This allows the lamps to ascertain if someone is in the room and where exactly is the person(s). Once the presence and position is confirmed, the lamp turns on and by relying on a series of motors and mirrors, aims at the person and heats him up directly whereas the rest of the room remains more or less at the same temperature.


The prototype as of now is quite bulky and therefore commercial use is limited, however, the MIT team is hopeful that by incorporating smaller LEDs into the current installation, it will be simplified and shall also rid the system of the need to rotate when it has to follow a person, which translates into increased efficiency for the system.


The system is designed for areas where only few individuals shall be working; if you are looking at a room that is crowded, then the traditional heating system will be more efficient of course. According to MIT, however, a room with only two personals heated by Local Warming resulted in energy consumption saving of above 90%. The team also has plans for implementing this idea when it comes to cooling down people. The Local Warming is on display at the 14th Venice Architecture Bieannale and shall be there until November.


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