HTC Desire 830 With 5.5-Inch Display, 13-Megapixel Camera Launched

HTC Desire 830 With 5.5-Inch Display, 13-Megapixel Camera LaunchedFeaturing a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixel) display, the HTC Desire 830 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow with the company’s Sense UI on top. It is powered by a 64-bit octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 SoC (MT6753) clocked at 1.5GHz, coupled with 3GB of RAM.

The HTC Desire 830 sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilisation (OIS) and an f/2.0 aperture. It sports a 4-UltraPixel front-facing camera with an f/2.0 aperture as well. It bears 32GB of inbuilt storage that’s expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB).

The Desire 830 comes with a 2800mAh battery, and measures 157.5×78.9×7.79mm. The smartphone will be available in Blue and Red colour variants.

Alongside, HTC launched the Desire 825 in Taiwan. To recall, the smartphone had been unveiledwithout price back at MWC 2016. The company has now revealed a price of TWD 7,990 (roughly Rs. 16,500).

To recall, the HTC Desire 825 sports a polycarbonate shell with a specially-created micro-splash effect. The handset also sports a BoomSound stereo speaker with Dolby Audio enhancements and packs a 2700mAh battery. The Desire 825 also features a HTC Sensor Hub, a feature which will let users keep tabs on well-being and record activity, gestures and movement, and will provide real-time statistics to users.

New Tool Can Help Measure Lung Function Over a Phone Call

New Tool Can Help Measure Lung Function Over a Phone CallIndian-origin researchers have developed a new health sensing tool that can accurately measure lung function over a simple phone call made with any phone not just smartphone from anywhere in the world.

The findings could be of special help for people in the developing world who have asthma, cystic fibrosis or other chronic lung diseases know how well their lungs are functioning without visiting a doctor or a clinic, which in some places can take days of travel.

“We wanted to be able to measure lung function on any type of phone you might encounter around the world smartphones, dumb phones, landlines, pay phones,” said Shwetak Patel, professor at the University of Washington.

The new tool is called SpiroCall.

“With SpiroCall, you can call a 1-800 number, blow into the phone and use the telephone network to test your lung function,” Patel said.

The patients take a deep breath in and exhale as hard and fast as they can until they can’t exhale any more. The phone’s microphone senses sound and pressure from that exhalation and sends the data to a central server, which uses machine learning algorithms to convert the data into standard measurements of lung function.

“People have to manage chronic lung diseases for their entire lives,” lead author Mayank Goel, computer science and engineering doctoral student at University of Washington, said.

“So there’s a real need to have a device that allows patients to accurately monitor their condition at home without having to constantly visit a medical clinic, which in some places requires hours or days of travel,” Goel noted.

SpiroCall is an advancement over SpiroSmart which the researchers introduced in 2012 to let people monitor their lung function by blowing into their smartphones.

Over the last four years, the team has collected data from more than 4,000 patients who have visited clinics in Seattle and Tacoma as well as in India and Bangladesh, where clinicians have measured lung function using both SpiroSmart and a commercial spirometer.

In surveying patients from India and Bangladesh, though, the team realised that a significant percentage did not own smartphones and would be unable to use SpiroSmart in their own homes which was a key goal of the project.

The team realised that the only sensor they were using was a microphone, which all phones have.

So the researchers decided to develop a system that would work with any phone anywhere in the world by having the patient use a call-in service.

How the tool meets the medical community’s standards for accuracy will be described in a paper to be presented in May at the Association for Computing Machinery’s CHI 2016 conference in San Jose, California.

BRICS Think Tanks Agree to Create Digital Diplomacy Roadmap

BRICS Think Tanks Agree to Create Digital Diplomacy RoadmapThink tanks from the five BRICS countries – Brazil, India, China, Russia and South Africa, have agreed to come up with a roadmap to create digital diplomacy.

This merged from the just ended BRICS digital conference held in New Delhi on April 28 and 29, Xinhua news agency quoted Sandiso Ngcobo, who joined a South African think tank delegation to the conference, as saying on Monday.

BRICS think tanks had gathered to find a common ground in addressing the regulation of cyberspace and shared skills, Ngcobo said.

Despite different cultural, political and economic backgrounds, the BRICS have found common ground in main issues, said Ngcobo.

“I am happy with what happened in India. We managed to exchange knowledge and skills. We discussed how the internet could be used to address socioeconomic challenges and we agreed in those aspects,” he said.

The BRICS think tanks also addressed the issue of language barriers, taking into account that information in BRICS countries is mostly communicated in English, thereby leaving many outside, Ngcobo said.

They also agreed to address gender imbalance and empower women by elevating them to powerful positions, he said.

“We reached a common ground to regulate cyberspace. We know that we have different cultures, and different political and government structures. We want to use technology to address social economic challenges and make it inclusive,” Ngcobo said.

This would help harmonise cyberspace to promote international trade and e-commerce, he added.

The BRICS think tanks will meet in India again in October this year prior to a political leadership meeting.

Sea Urchin-Inspired Crawler Developed for Mars Exploration

Sea Urchin-Inspired Crawler Developed for Mars Exploration

Inspired by the sea urchin’s intricate mouth and teeth, a team of engineers and marine biologists from the University of California-San Diego has developed a claw-like device to sample sediments on other planets such as Mars.

Bio-inspiration for the study came from pink sea urchins which live off the west coast of North America.

Researchers extracted the urchins’ mouthpieces, scanned them and analysed the structures at school of medicine at UC San Diego.

This allowed engineers to build a highly accurate model of the mouthpiece’s geometry.

Led by mechanical engineering professor Joanna McKittrick, the team also used finite element analysis to investigate the structure of the teeth.

“The urchin’s extraordinary ability to rip through rock could translate to a good sediment sampler for space vehicles like the Mars rovers, which currently use shovels to collect ground samples,” said Michael Frank, PhD candidate at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.

“Our goal was a bio-inspired device that’s more precise and efficient at grabbing ground samples from different areas and won’t disturb the surrounding area like a shovel would,” he added.

On the third iteration, they connected the teeth differently to the rest of the device, which allowed it to open much easier.

The students were able to quickly modify each prototype by using 3D printers. The device was then attached to a remote-controlled small rover.

The researchers first tested the claw on beach sand where it performed well.

They then used the claw on sand that simulates Martian soil in density and humidity. The device was able to scoop up sand efficiently.

Researchers envision a fleet of mini rovers equipped with the claw that could be deployed to collect samples and bring them back to a main rover.

Indian IT Infrastructure Market to Reach $1.93 Billion in 2016: Gartner

Indian IT Infrastructure Market to Reach $1.93 Billion in 2016: GartnerThe Indian IT infrastructure market will increase marginally to $1.93 billion (roughly Rs. 12,807 crores) this year whereas by 2020, it is likely to grow to $2.13 billion (roughly Rs. 14,137 crores), Gartner said Tuesday.

The IT infrastructure market includes server, storage and enterprise networking equipment.

In 2015, the market stood at $1.90 billion (roughly Rs. 12,611 crores). “The Indian IT infrastructure market will total $1.9 billion in 2016, a 1 percent increase from 2015,” Gartner said.

Indian enterprises will continue to focus on optimising their infrastructure and operations budgets in 2016, it added.

“Optimisation is primarily driven with an objective to create next generation data center architecture that can support the ever increasing challenges of digital business. With the emergence of bimodal IT, there are a lot of investments made in Mode 1, and there is an increasing focus on building Mode 2 infrastructure,” Naveen Mishra, research director at Gartner said.

Gartner said Mode 1 workloads are witnessing investments in areas such as cloud, software defined storage and network coupled with integrated systems.

“Public cloud is increasingly becoming relevant for data center managers and IT leaders in India,” it added.

Enterprise networking is the biggest segment within the Indian IT infrastructure market with revenue expected to total $848 million (roughly Rs. 5,628 crores) in 2016.

“This is an area where enterprises are focusing heavily in terms of their optimisation efforts and evaluating software driven networking, as this is becoming a barrier to a seamless digital experience,” Gartner said.

Mishra said with a revenue projection of $253 million (roughly Rs. 1,679 crores) in 2016, storage investment will witness a decline from last year primarily due to improved performance.

“Enterprises are increasingly investing in software defined storage, evaluating alternate, cheaper devices, such as flash storage, which is helping them to contain the ever increasing storage costs,” he added.

MobiKwik Raises $50 Million to Drive Expansion, Innovation

MobiKwik Raises $50 Million to Drive Expansion, InnovationMobile wallet company MobiKwik Tuesday said it has raised $50 million (about Rs. 330 crores) in funding, led by Japanese payments firm Gateway and Taiwanese chip maker MediaTek.

Its existing investors such as Sequoia Capital and Treeline Asia also participated in the current round of funding.

The company said it will use the proceeds for product innovations, team building and user growth.

“Despite the current business climate when funding has become challenging, unit economics, sustainable growth and a sound business model are what investors are focusing their attention on. We are very excited to live up to the investors’ expectations and raise the funding where even larger players are failing to raise funds,” MobiKwik founder and CEO Bipin Preet Singh said in a statement.

MobiKwik’s growth has been promising as the company’s GMV has grown drastically by 250 percent, he added.

With about 30 million users in the country, MobiKwik is one of the biggest wallet companies in India. It competes with the likes of Paytm and PayU.

“MobiKwik is a dominating player in the Indian mobile payments space and continues its consistent growth trajectory while staying true to its DNA of rapid product innovation and capital efficiency. Our valuation too has increased significantly,” Singh said but did not disclose the details.

Lack of profits has raised concerns over valuations of startups globally, leading to many of these businesses facing difficulty in raising fresh funds.

In the recent past, mutual fund T Rowe Price cut back its valuations in many of its tech startup investments, including India’s Flipkart. Morgan Stanley, too, made a similar move earlier this year.

MobiKwik has previously raised close to $30 million (about Rs. 195 crores) in funding from Sequoia Capital, American Express, Tree Line Asia and Cisco Investments.

MobiKwik has partnered 75,000 retailers, including the likes of Big Bazaar, WHSmith India, Cafe Coffee Day and Store King in the offline space.

Scientists Win $3 Million for Detecting Einstein’s Waves

Scientists Win $3 Million for Detecting Einstein's Waves

Researchers who helped detect gravitational waves for the first time, confirming part of Albert Einstein’s theory in a landmark moment in scientific history, will share a $3 million (roughly Rs. 20 crores) Special Breakthrough Prize, according to the prize’s selection committee.

The Breakthrough Prizes for scientific achievements were created by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner along with several technology pioneers, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

In February, a team from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced a pair of giant laser detectors had measured the tiny ripples in space and time first theorized by Einstein a century ago, capping a decades-long quest.

Einstein predicted gravitational waves as part of his seminal theory of general relativity, which explained gravity as distortions in both space and time caused by bodies of matter.

LIGO’s three founders – Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne and Ronald Drever, who dedicated much of their careers to gravitational wave detection – will share $1 million. More than 1,000 contributors to the project will also split $2 million equally.

“That’s much more modern and much more the way that physics gets done,” said Weiss, a professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, of the decision to honor the entire team. “You can’t credit just the three of us for this.”

Researchers said the gravitational waves came from the collision of two black holes, the extraordinarily dense objects that Einstein’s theory also predicted. The black holes, both many times the mass of the sun, were located 1.3 billion light years from Earth.

The waves should unlock new ways to understand the cosmos, including black holes, neutron stars and the mysteries of the early universe.

“For us to spend basically a half-century since the three of us started working in this field, to have it actually be pulled off successfully in the manner we dreamed – it was really remarkable and wonderful,” said Thorne, who is retired from the California Institute of Technology. “I’m forever grateful to the team that got it done.”

The winners will be honored at a December ceremony, when the regular annual awards for physics, life sciences and mathematics will also be announced. The Special Breakthrough Prize can be conferred at any time to mark “an extraordinary scientific achievement.”

Edward Witten, a prominent physicist who heads the physics prize selection committee, said the discovery’s magnitude warranted immediate recognition.

“There are a lot of basic things about Einstein’s theory of relativity that seemed like science fiction when I was a student,” Witten said. “This is the first time we’ve seen the full force of Einstein’s theory of gravity at work.”

Apple Exploring Investment Options in India: Ravi Shankar Prasad

Apple Exploring Investment Options in India: Ravi Shankar Prasad

Technology giant Apple and other global players are exploring opportunities to invest in India’s electronic segment, which has attracted investments of over Rs. 1,20,000 crores so far, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday.

“When I became minister, we had Rs. 11,198 crores of investments in electronic manufacturing. I am happy to tell you, now it is Rs. 1,20,000 crores plus which has been invested in India or committed,” Prasad said at the annual session of industry body CII.

He said that last year 111 million mobile phones were manufactured in India, logging a growth rate of 81 percent in production.

“Today all the big companies from Taiwan to …. have come in India. Apple is exploring possibility here in India. Therefore from smartphone to ordinary phone to solar panel to what not, immense potential is there in India . We have got a proper incentive scheme available including electronics clusters,” Prasad said.

However, the minister did not divulge details on Apple’s plans that whether the iPhone maker was exploring possibilities in retail segment or in manufacturing. Prasad said that Digital India is going to create $1 trillion (roughly Rs. 66,13,770 crores) economy which will include $400 billion (roughly Rs. 26,45,485 crores) worth of electronics market, $350 billion (roughly Rs. 23,16,440 crores) worth IT and ITes sector and $250 billion (roughly Rs. 16,54,600 crores) communication business.

The minister said that government is building Digital India as platform of empowerment with launch of various programmes including digital literacy programme, connecting 2.5 lakh village panchayats with broadband etc. He said that government has given Internet service provider licence to Common Service Centre- Special Purpose vehicle for spreading internet in rural area

“After the gram panchyat is connected through fibre, we will lit it up with Wi-Fi to give service in the adjoining village. CSC nodal agency has been given an Internet service provider licence so that they can inspire all the CSCs to take the Wi-Fi facility and take it to the villages,” Prasad said.

He said that government has trained about 45 lakh under digital literacy program and further trageting to expand it to cover 6 crore people in rural area.

Facebook Starts Using AI to Describe Photos to the Visually Challenged

Facebook Starts Using AI to Describe Photos to the Visually Challenged

Facebook is training its computers to become seeing-eye guides for blind and visually impaired people as they scroll through the pictures posted on the world’s largest online social network.

The feature rolling out Tuesday on Facebook’s iPhone app interprets what’s in a picture using a form ofartificial intelligence that recognizes faces and objects. The iPhone’s built-in screen reader, VoiceOver, must be turned on for Facebook’s photo descriptions to be read. For now, the feature will only be available in English.

The descriptions initially will be confined to a vocabulary of 100 words in a restriction that will prevent the computer from providing a lot of details. For instance, the automated voice may only tell a user that a photo features three people smiling outdoors without adding that the trio also has drinks in their hands. Or it may say the photo is of pizza without adding that there’s pepperoni and olives on top of it.

Facebook is being careful with the technology, called “automatic alternative text,” in an attempt to avoid making a mistake that offends its audience. Google learned the risks of technology last year when an image recognition feature in its Photos app labeled a black couple as gorillas, prompting the company to issue an apology.

Eventually, though, Facebook hopes to refine the technology so it provides more precise descriptions and even answers questions that a user might pose about a picture.

Facebook also plans to turn on the technology for its Android app and make it available through Web browsers visiting its site.

The Menlo Park, California, company is trying to ensure the world’s nearly 300 million blind and visually impaired people remain interested in its social network as a steadily increasing number of photos appear on its service. On an average day, Facebook says more than 2 billion photos are posted on its social network and other apps that it owns, a list that includes Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Until now, people relying on screen readers on Facebook would only hear that a person had shared a photo without any elaboration.

Meizu MX5e With 16-Megapixel Camera, 5.5-Inch Display Launched

Meizu MX5e With 16-Megapixel Camera, 5.5-Inch Display Launched

Meizu, months after launching its MX5 smartphone in China, has launched a variant of the smartphone dubbed the MX5e. Priced at CNY 1,699 (roughly Rs. 17,400), the smartphone is listed on the company store. The handset as compared to the Meizu MX5 is slightly cheaper and features toned-down specifications. Its availability outside the country is not yet known.

The dual-SIM supporting smartphone, like the MX5, features a metal body and a physical home button that also acts as the mTouch 2.0 fingerprint scanner. The Meizu MX5e also features a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixels) Super Amoled display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection like the MX5. The processor however, has been downgraded from 64-bit MediaTek Helio X10 octa-core processor (Cortex-A53) clocked at 2.2GHz to a MediaTek MT6795 processor clocked at 2GHz, coupled with 3GB of RAM.

(Also see: Meizu MX5e vs. Meizu MX5)

The Meizu MX5e sports a 16-megapixel rear camera as compared to the MX5’s 20.7-megapixel camera. However, the 5-megapixel front-facing camera stays the same. It also houses 16GB of inbuilt storage and a 3150mAh battery. Connectivity options on the smartphone include 4G LTE, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS/ A-GPS, Glonass, and Micro-USB. The handset’s Android OS version is not known.

Meizu is additionally expected to launch its Meizu m3 note smartphone on Wednesday. The handset is said to feature the Helio X10 MediaTek MT6795 SoC; 5.5-inch display; 2GB of RAM; 3200mAh battery, and will come with 16GB/ 32GB storage. The report says that the Meizu m3 note is expected to be priced around CNY 799 (approximately Rs. 8,000) for the 16GB model and CNY 999 (approximately Rs. 10,000)