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Nymi Band Discovery Kit Released, Unlock Devices With Your Electrocardiogram

Posted by wicked December - 15 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

nymi_picture1

What is one of the things we all dread the most? For me, it’s seeing a pop-up that reads, “Your password has expired, please change it.” And each website or device has different criterias, some like only alpha-numeric, some require special characters, while others require at least one capital letter. Oh, the humanity!

It’s no real surprise when news stories break with details of a company getting hacked because some employee had a simple password or had a litany of passwords written down on a note document in their hard drive. And then there are the less-than-secure password manager apps.

What hasn’t been in the news as much is the release of FIDO Alliance’s v1.0 specifications relating to passwords and authentication. FIDO stands for Fast IDentity Online and is an industry consortium comprised of giants like Google, Microsoft, PayPal, Visa and MasterCard, Netflix, Bank of America, and over a hundred more. (You can read more about the v1.0 release here.)

Lately, Google has been busy implementing some aspects of FIDO. With Lollipop, Google introduced Trusted Devices baked into Android, which allow certain connections like the Bluetooth pairing of your smartwatch to disable your Android device’s lockscreen. Additionally, Google recently added support for the use of USB security keys as a method for its 2-Step-Authentication.

But one of main things FIDO hopes to achieve is the use of biometrics in identity authentication, including among wearables. We have already tasted the first iterations of this technology with facial recognition and fingerprint scanners.

And now, thanks to Nymi, a member of FIDO, we can use our body’s unique electrocardiography as a method of authentication. Nymi, formerly incorporated as Bionym, has just released the developer kit for its biometric wristband purchasable by anyone.

nymi_picture2

The kit includes the final version of the band, but only in one color, charging cable, and a USB bluetooth dongle. The important thing to note, however, is that it only works with certain Windows PC applications at the moment, with Android and Mac support coming soon in the beginning of 2015.

The band works by reading your ECG over the course of several scenarios, like at rest or after mild exercise. There are two authentication steps with the band: the band itself must be in proximity to your device and the band must be worn by you. As an added security step, there is a circuit running through the circumference of the band, so if the band has been cut off or if not being worn, it will not work.

You can pick up the developer kit for $79 and shipping begins today (12/15/14). Nymi reports that the retail price will be $149.

Again remember, this is the developer kit and though it is the final product, support is limited to three Windows applications. However, because it is the final product, as support broadens to Android, Nymi says you will not need to purchase a new band.

Source: Nymi

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Nanoport: A Magnetic Technology That Can Change Smartphones Into A Tablet

Posted by wicked December - 5 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Nanoport_1_to_3_picture1

In the tech world, like physics, there seems to be a quest for unification. One, ultimate, idea that encompasses all other ideas. This hunt manifests itself in the constant debate about the size of smart devices. Whether consumers would be happy with something the size of a phablet and only own one device or would people rather have something that fits better in the hand and also own a tablet?  (This generalization assumes that many would not see the utility in owning both a phablet and a tablet.)

Nano Magnetics Ltd has now begun working on the development of a device that straddles the middle-ground of this discussion.  It’s introducing the concept of possessing multiple small devices that can turn into a larger, connected device.

Nano Magnetics is the company that is famous for its electroplated Nanodots, which are usually the size of balls from ball bearings, and people are able to construct whatever they see fit as if they were playing with magnetic Legos.

How it works is that a user can have one smartphone then, using Nanoport magnets and technology, can connect this first device to another and another and so on. Once the Nanoport magnets are activated, the devices will instantly and seamlessly share data among each other.  So if you wanted a tablet-sized screen, you can connect multiple Nanoport enabled devices.

A Nanoport example device debuted at last January’s CES 2014, but what was shown was more of a demonstration of the hardware aspect, specifically how the magnets stood up to the stress of usage.  Today, as we inch closer to CES 2015 this January, Slashgear has reported that Nano Magnetics will demo a fully functioning Nanoport device.

What we are left in the dark on is how exactly are we to turn pre-existing smartphones into Nanoport “blocks”.  Will we be able to DIY upgrade our current phones? Can we only obtain this function by purchasing devices that come with Nanoport technology?  And how annoying will it be to watch a movie that has gaps in the screen from where one smartphone’s display ends and the other begins?

To maybe answer that last question, I give you a YouTube video uploaded by Nano Magnetics:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Source: Slashgear

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Bluetooth SIG announces new 4.2 standard

Posted by wicked December - 3 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

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The folks that manage the Bluetooth standards over at Bluetooth SIG announced an update to the standard taking it to Bluetooth 4.2, which includes some significant upgrades and changes. Perhaps the biggest change to come with this update is the ability for Bluetooth 4.2 devices to connect directly to the Internet using a new Bluetooth Smart Generic Attribute Profile (GATT) architecture.

Up to now, Bluetooth devices needed some sort of intermediary device to be able to connect to the Internet. With the new standard, devices will be able to connect to an access-ready router or similar access point and establish an Internet connection without the assistance of another device or app. Probably the biggest impact this new capability will have is going to be in the area of home automation as it will make it much easier for manufacturers to produce goods that can be controlled from anywhere in the world via the Internet.

For those concerned with privacy, and who isn’t these days, the new Bluetooth 4.2 standard brings a new level of privacy to devices that have their Bluetooth antennas turned on. The devices will no longer be trackable. The new devices will also be more power efficient. Users will also find that connection speeds are bumped up 2.5 times over the current standard and almost 10 times more data can pushed across a Bluetooth 4.2 connection as part of a huge capacity improvement.

The downside for those who are interested in this new standard is that it will take some time before any manufacturers are able to actually implement the new standard and get devices out to market. We anticipate this should occur during 2015.

source: Bluetooth SIG
via: Engadget

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ARM’s secret recipe for power efficient processing

Posted by wicked November - 20 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off
ARM SoC Fabrication Wafer Processor

There are several different companies that design microprocessors. There is Intel, AMD, Imagination (MIPS), and Oracle (Sun SPARC) to name a few. However, none of these companies is known exclusively for their power efficiency. That isn’t to say they don’t have designs aimed at power efficiency, but this isn’t their specialty. One company that does specialize in energy efficient processors is ARM.

While Intel might be making chips needed to break the next speed barrier, ARM has never designed a chip that doesn’t fit into a predefined energy budget. As a result, all of ARM’s designs are energy efficient and ideal for running in smartphones, tablets and other embedded devices. But what is ARM’s secret? What is the magic ingredient that helps ARM to produce continually  high performance processor designs with low power consumption?

A high-end i7 processor has a maximum TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 130 watts. The average ARM-based chip uses just two watts max budget for the multi-core CPU cluster, two watts for the GPU and maybe 0.5 watts for the MMU and the rest of the SoC!

In a nutshell, the ARM architecture. Based on RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing), the ARM architecture doesn’t need to carry a lot of the baggage that CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computing) processors include to perform their complex instructions. Although companies like Intel have invested heavily in the design of their processors so that today they include advanced superscalar instruction pipelines, all that logic means more transistors on the chip, more transistors means more energy usage. The performance of an Intel i7 chip is very impressive, but here is the thing, a high-end i7 processor has a maximum TDP (Thermal Design Power) of 130 watts. The highest performance ARM-based mobile chip consumes less than four watts, oftentimes much less.

This isn’t the world of desktops and big cooling fans, this is the world of ARM.

And this is why ARM is so special, it doesn’t try to create 130W processors, not even 60W or 20W. The company is only interested in designing low-power processors. Over the years, ARM has increased the performance of its processors by improving the micro-architecture design, but the target power budget has remained basically the same. In very general terms, you can breakdown the TDP of an ARM SoC (System on a Chip, which includes the CPU, the GPU and the MMU, etc.) as follows. Two watts max budget for the multi-core CPU cluster, two watts for the GPU and maybe 0.5 watts for the MMU and the rest of the SoC. If the CPU is a multi-core design, then each core will likely use between 600 to 750 milliwatts.

These are all very generalized numbers because each design that ARM has produced has different characteristics. ARM’s first Cortex-A processor was the Cortex-A8. It only worked in single-core configurations, but it is still a popular design and can be found in devices like the BeagleBone Black. Next came the Cortex-A9 processor, which brought speed improvements and the ability for dual-core and quad-core configurations. Then came the Cortex-A5 core, which was actually slower (per core) than the Cortex-A8 and A9 but used less power and was cheaper to make. It was specifically designed for low-end multi-core applications like entry-level smartphones.

arm-cortex-a15

At the other end of the performance scale, came the Cortex-A15 processor, it is ARM’s fastest 32-bit design. It was almost twice as fast as the Cortex-A9 processor but all that extra performance also meant it used a bit more power. In the race to 2.0Ghz and beyond many of ARM’s partners pushed the Cortex-A15 core design to its limits. As a result, the Cortex-A15 processor does have a bit of a reputation as being a battery killer. But, this is probably a little unfair. However to compensate for the Cortex-A15 processor’s higher power budget, ARM released the Cortex-A7 core and the big.LITTLE architecture.

The Cortex-A7 processor is slower than the Cortex-A9 processor but faster than the Cortex-A processor. However, it has a power budget akin to its low-end brothers. The Cortex-A7 core when combined with the Cortex-A15 in a big.LITTLE configuration allows a SoC to use the low-power Cortex-A7 core when it is performing simple tasks and switch to the Cortex-A15 core when some heavy lifting is needed. The result is a design, which conserves battery but yet offers peak performance.

64-bit

ARM also has 64-bit processor designs. The Cortex-A53 is ARM’s power-saving 64-bit design. It won’t have record breaking performance, however it is ARM’s most efficient application processor ever. It is also the world’s smallest 64-bit processor.  Its bigger brother, the Cortex-A57, is a different beast. It is ARM’s most advanced design and has the highest single-thread performance of all of ARM’s Cortex processors. ARM’s partners will likely be releasing chips based on just the A53, just the A57, and using the two in a big.LITTLE combination.

ARM Cortex A50

One way ARM has managed this migration from 32-bit to 64-bit is that the processor has different modes, a 32-bit mode and a 64-bit mode. The processor can switch between these two modes on the fly, running 32-bit code when necessary and 64-bit code when necessary. This means that the silicon which decodes and starts to execute the 64-bit code is separate (although there is reuse to save area) from the 32-bit silicon. This means the 64-bit logic is isolated, clean and relatively simple. The 64-bit logic doesn’t need to try and understand 32-bit code and work out what is the best thing to do it each situation. That would require a more complex instruction decoder. Greater complexity in these areas generally means more energy is needed.

A very important aspect of ARM’s 64-bit processors is that they don’t use more power than their 32-bit counterparts. ARM has managed to go from 32-bit to 64-bit and yet stay within its self-imposed energy budget. In some scenarios the new range of 64-bit processors will actually be more energy efficient than previous generation 32-bit ARM processors. This is mainly due to the increase in the internal data width (from 32- to 64-bits) and the addition of extra internal registers in the ARMv8 architecture. The fact that a 64-bit core can perform certain tasks quicker means it can power-down quicker and hence save battery life.

ARM Cortex A57

This is where the software also plays a part. big.LITTLE processing technology relies on the operating system understanding that it is a heterogeneous processor. This means the OS needs to understand that some cores are slower than others. This generally hasn’t been the case with processor designs until now. If the OS wanted a task to be performed, it would just farm it out to any core, it didn’t matter (in general), as they all had the same level of performance. That isn’t so with big.LITTLE. Thanks to Linaro hosting and testing the  big.LITTLE MP scheduler, developed by ARM, for the Linux kernel which understands the heterogeneous nature of big.LITTLE processor configurations. In the future, this scheduler could be further optimized to take into account things like the current running temperature of a core or the operating voltages.

The future is looking brighter than ever for mobile computing.

There is also the possibility of more advanced big.LITTLE processor configurations. MediaTek has already proven that the big.LITTLE implementation doesn’t need to be adhered to rigidly. Its current 32-bit octa-core processors use eight Cortex-A7 cores, but split into two clusters. There is nothing to stop chip makers from trying other combinations that include different sizes of LITTLE cores in the big.LITTLE hw and sw infrastructure, effectively delivering big, little and eve smaller compute units. For example,  2 to 4 Cortex-A57 cores, tx performance tuned Cortex-A53 cores, and two smaller implementations of the Cortex-A53 CUP tuned towards lowest leakage and dynamic power – effectively resulting in a mix of 6 to 8 cores with 3 levels of performance.

ARM Cortex A50 BIG.litte

Think of the gears on a bicycle, more gears means greater granularity. The extra granularity allows the rider to pick the right gear for the right road. Continuing the analogy, the big and LITTLE cores are like the gears on the crank shaft, and the voltage level is like the gears on the back wheel – they work in tandem so the rider can choose the optimum performance level for the terrain.

The future is looking brighter than ever for mobile computing. ARM will continue to optimize and develop its CPUs around a fairly fixed power budget. Manufacturing processes are improving and innovations like big.LITTLE will continue to give us the benefits of peak performance with lower overall power consumption. This isn’t the world of desktops and big cooling fans, this is the world of ARM and its energy efficient architecture.

Nexus 4 Lollipop OTA Zip file now available to download and install

Posted by wicked November - 16 - 2014 - Sunday Comments Off

android_lollipop_tweet

We saw the Lollipop factory image for the Nexus 4 (occam) land a couple of days ago, so we knew it was only a matter of time until the OTA Zip file was posted. Good news for this Sunday morning. It’s available right now for your downloading pleasure.

Updating via OTA route is preferred since you don’t have to worry about losing your data, assuming your device is locked. You should still backup your data however.

We have the download link below and be sure to check out our extensive guide on how to install this bad boy. You won’t find more detailed instructions anywhere else.

source: Nexus 4 (occam) From KTU84P to LRX21T

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Is Google Glass’ allure fading away?

Posted by wicked November - 15 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off

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Just months ago, Google opened up the purchase of Glass to the public, but for the insane price of $1,500. Of course, the units are meant for developers only, but one might question when the prototype will hit its final stage and get released to the mass market for an affordable price.

According to a recent report by Reuters, the allure of Glass is starting to wear off — a miserable, miserable sign for Google, especially since the public hasn’t even gotten its hands on a finished product.

Reuters contacted 16 Glass app makers — nine of the 16 said they had stopped or completely abandoned their project, because of the lack of customers or limitations on the device. It seems like a pretty obvious business decision — if there are no customers, why build something?

Little Guy Games Chief Executive Tom Frencel told Reuters, “If there was 200 million Google Glasses sold, it would be a different perspective. There’s no market at this point.”

Although Google continues to say it’s 100% committed to Glass and the development of the product, the market may not be.

For more, check out the Reuters article in the source link.

Source: Reuters

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CF-Auto Root updated for Android Lollipop on Nexus devices

Posted by wicked November - 15 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off

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Want a quick way to root your Nexus device?

In the past, one such option has been CF-Auto Root — until now, that option hasn’t been available for Lollipop users.

But with a recent update by XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire, Nexus devices running Android 5.0 can join in on the fun. Hit the break for details:

The included devices are as follows:

  • Nexus 4
  • Nexus 5
  • Nexus 7 (2012)
  • Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Nexus 9
  • Nexus 10

Here’s an official changelog of sorts:

  • The new variants of CFAR have the SuperSU ZIP embedded
  • A second included ZIP (if on Lollipop or newer) patches the current kernel to run SuperSU at boot
  • Current CFARs have SuperSU v2.20 which is not currently available elsewhere and only has CFAR compatibility

For more, hit the source link.

Source: XDA Developers

 

 

 

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LG G3 (D855) gets Lollipop through flashable ROM from latest build

Posted by wicked November - 11 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

LG_G3_Back_Rear_Controls_LG_Logo_TA

So far, LG has only pushed the Lollipop update to the G3 in Poland, but that won’t stop others from enjoying it. If you have the European model (D855), Skin1980 from XDA has a surprise for you.

He put together a flashable Zip that’s even rootable. You will need the TWRP recovery installed and you will need to do a factory reset. If this is something that interests you, hit the source link below for full instructions, and be sure to consider giving Skin1980 a donation because I’m sure this took a lot of work.

source: XDA

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Legendary developer Chainfire roots Nexus 9 mere hours after the source code is made public

Posted by wicked November - 5 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

google_nexus_9_color_fan

It was only a matter of time before the Nexus 9 was rooted, and thanks to veteran developer Chainfire, that time is now. Less than a few hours after the source code for the HTC-designed tablet was released, Chainfire has come up with a root method that will be familiar to anyone who has used ADB and FastBoot in the past. If you’re looking to get down and dirty with your new tablet, hit the source for instructions on how to get started.

Source: XDA

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Google bringing SD card support back to Android in 5.0 Lollipop

Posted by wicked November - 5 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

Android_Lollipops_Multiple

It was long thought that Google wanted to phase out external storage in Android, opting for cloud-based solutions, not including SD card slots in Nexus devices and slowly removing SD card functionality in AOSP Android. However, Google is adding some new APIs to Android 5.0 to allow easy access to SD cards after bringing back limited SD functionality in Android 4.4. The new APIs will grant developers access to SD card directories and files after the user grants the application permission once.

Many manufacturers include SD support in their devices by default, but its nice to see Google listening to users and adding native support. Cloud storage is great but traditional expandable storage is nowhere near obsoletion and Google has made a wise move by supporting SD cards in their upcoming version of Android. Do you still use an SD card? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Android Developers
Via: Phone Arena

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