Saturday, February 22, 2014

Google Project Tango Redefines the Smartphone


Google is redefining what a smartphone is, with the advent of Project Tango. The Mountainview company is betting on the next generation phone that will have motion and depth tracking. The five inch device is packed with cameras that will render the world around you in real time.

Microsoft Kinect pioneered how normal people can interact with their game system and Google has hired former lead engineers to work on their phone. Over 200 developer units are currently available to corporations and schools. The intention is to make a slew of new apps, augmented reality games and tools to really showcase what the phone can do.

The essence of Tango is to utilize the phone sensors to make 250 million 3D measurements every second and use that data to build a 3D model of the phone’s surroundings. It includes custom APIs that give developers access to the phone’s position, orientation, and depth. One of the more interesting aspects is the compatibility with the Unity Game Engine.

"Project Tango strives to give mobile devices a human-like understanding of space and motion through advanced sensor fusion and computer vision, enabling new and enhanced types of user experiences – including 3D scanning, indoor navigation and immersive gaming," said Johnny Lee, ATAP's technical program lead.

What are the practical uses of this phone in the real world? Think about someone who is visually impaired and the phone can render the world around them. Audio cues can be given on what shops they pass by, or if there is an intersection ahead.

Google Project Tango Redefines the Smartphone is a post from: Good e-Reader

Book Expo America Aids Self-Published Authors via Author Hub


Book Expo America is introducing new programming to assist self-published authors.  The new Author Hub project will run in parallel with a conference introduced in 2012 called  uPublishU.

The Goal of Authors Hub is to “to further integrate the self-publishing community into the publishing mainstream by providing platforms where entrepreneurial authors may interact and share the spotlight at North America's leading book industry event.” This year's uPublishU day-long conference is set for Saturday, May 31.

The event will focus on two different types of authors and will provide guidance and assistance. The first will focus on an author’s first book and exactly how they bring it to the market. The second will give more specialized knowledge to indie authors who have been in the game for a few titles.

Book Expo America Aids Self-Published Authors via Author Hub is a post from: Good e-Reader

Independent Bookshops in UK Fall Below 1000 For The First Time


There are less than 1,000 independent bookshops in the UK, a figure that is  the lowest the country has had since accurate records of shops began being kept. The Booksellers Association has already called it a crisis situation, as there are just 987 bookshops across the entire country.

“Bookshops are important cultural and community hubs, and make a vital contribution to the health of our high streets and local economies in particular, so it is always disappointing to see them close,” said Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association, in an interview with The Bookseller.

“Everyone should sit up and take notice of this. The book trade, the government and the general public need to realise that if we don't take action now, the future of our bookshops – and therefore the health of the publishing industry and reading itself – is at risk.”

The rise of the ebook culture is being held responsible for the slow demise of independent bookshops across the world. Not surprisingly, Amazon is held as the prime culprit, with Ibis Bookshop owner Linda Jones putting the blame squarely on the online retail giant for driving her out of business. Ibis Bookshop had been in business for 76 years and is the oldest independent bookshop in the UK; it is slated for closure next month.

Other reasons cited for the steady decline in bookshops are high rent (which has made it difficult to maintain a high street presence of late for the owners), parking fees–another factor that too is acting as a deterrent for buyers to actually travel to the bookshops–and supermarkets offering steep discounts on books and periodicals, luring customers away from the bookshops.

The country had 1,535 bookshops in 2005. Sixty-seven bookshops have closed in 2013, though 26 new bookshops also opened last year.

However, not everyone paints a negative picture. As Morag Watkins of Chorleywood Bookshop told The Bookseller, “It's not all doom and gloom though. Those that have changed their models have been alright. We run festivals, go into schools and basically take the bookshop on the road. We've evolved into community-based hubs because we had to.”

Independent Bookshops in UK Fall Below 1000 For The First Time is a post from: Good e-Reader

Visionect Introduces a New Way To Develop e-Reader Apps


Here is a device that comes with a familiar e-ink display and can pass on as another ebook reader but is unlike any out there. Rather, Visionect, a Slovenian startup would like to call its e-ink based device as a platform that is designed to make it convenient for users to develop e-ink based apps based on HTML5, CSS and Javascript easily. The system can be used to develop even complex apps and allows developers to have an idea of what the app will look like in reality in an e-ink based device.

Another stand-out feature of the device is that most of the processing is done at the Visionect servers, which also explains the use of a rather meager 120 Mhz chip to power the device. The working is seamless though and users won’t ever have any inkling of the device merely acting as a terminal in most of the cases with the processing being carried out at Visionect Servers. This is much like the Chromebook strategy of using slightly low powered hardware while relying on cloud computing to get the work done. The obvious benefit of such a setup is keeping a check on the price, which in this case is 239 Euros ($320). The device also boasts of gsensor and Wi-Fi connectivity. Other tech specs include a 6 inch capacitive e-ink display that is encased in a sturdy water proof casing that can take quite a beating.

Visionect also mentions companies such as Plastic Logic, eInk, Epson, ST as its key partners. The company also claims to have delivered solutions to Sony, Samsung and such. The Wemar Nautipad pictured above is also based on the Visionect hardware that acts as a boat information display and can be used as an interactive control system to aid in navigation. Visionect products can also be used as a product information display system, as has been done by Slovenia’s biggest telecom company in their stores.

Visionect Introduces a New Way To Develop e-Reader Apps is a post from: Good e-Reader

Microsoft Slashes Windows 8.1 Price by 70%

Windows Tablet

Microsoft is said to have slashed license fees of Windows 8.1 by 70 percent to help companies roll out cheaper tablet devices. What this means is that companies will now be required to pay just $15 for each Windows device they sell against the $50 that it used to be. This is applicable to devices that are priced $250 or lower though there is no specific mention of this being applicable only in case of tablet devices. Further, there are no size limitations either or whether the devices should offer a touchscreen experience.

Microsoft hopes this will drive demand for Windows tablets while they can look forward to maintain their profits from increased sale of the tablet devices. Such a move is expected to ward off the challenge posed by the low cost Android tablets. Google's Android make up the bulk of the tablet purchases in the budget segment. Also, if tablets aren’t reason enough for the dwindling sales of notebook devices, the Chromebooks seems to have the potential to wipe off whatever is left of the once mighty notebook segment. Microsoft hopes to reverse the trend now that companies will have to pay just $15 to license Windows 8.1 thereby helping maintain a balance against the growing clout of Google and its Android OS.

We have already seen a clutch of 8 inch tablets running Windows 8.1 though nearly all of them are priced $299. Its not known whether these will benefit from the new licensing rates as Microsoft had started to offer these are reduced rates via its own stores. Meanwhile, we sure can look forward to a new crop of tablet devices coming our way that will be priced $250 at the most. Worth mentioning here, Microsoft had resorted to a similar approach earlier when it had slashed Widnows XP fees that helped them score a win against Linux based netbooks. It is up against a more established Android user base this time and it will be interesting to see how things pan out in the days to come.

Microsoft Slashes Windows 8.1 Price by 70% is a post from: Good e-Reader