Walyou http://walyou.com Cool Gadgets, New Gadgets, Tech News and Geek Design Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:38:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Sony Launches Spotify-Powered PlayStation Music http://walyou.com/sony-spotify-powered-playstation-music/ http://walyou.com/sony-spotify-powered-playstation-music/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:38:45 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215803

The Sony-Spotify partnership announced earlier this year wasn’t made in vain, as their brainchild, known as PlayStation Music, finally got launched today.

The Japanese corporation already had an audio streaming service, called Music Unlimited, but that one wasn’t exactly available in as many countries or on as many devices as Sony would’ve wanted. In consequence, the company had to collaborate with others to target a greater audience with its products. The partner came in the form of Swedish startup Spotify, and the resulting product was named PlayStation Music.

Judging by the name, you might think that PlayStation Music is available exclusively on Sony’s gaming console, but you would be wrong. Not only is it available on the PS4, but also on the previous generation, and on top of that, users can also take advantage of this music streaming service on Xperia smartphones and tablets. Sony wouldn’t advertise the fact that the service is actually available on Android devices regardless of the brand, but my guess is that you could use PlayStation Music on any smartphone or tablet running Google’s mobile OS, as long as you’re in a country where Spotify works.

Getting started is pretty intuitive, but Sony insisted to post a guide on the PlayStation Network website. There are two sets of instructions, actually, and you need to follow the one belonging to the type of device you own.

Gaming console users will have to download the Spotify app and login or create a new Spotify account. Next, they need to link their PlayStation Network account to Spotify and enjoy all the music they can stream. The instructions for Xperia devices are much simpler, but very similar.

An ad-supported version of the app is available for free, but the ones who want an uninterrupted experience will have to pay $10 for a subscription. The bad news is that Xbox One users will have to wait a bit to get a similar streaming service for their consoles. Even worse, there are some chances that Sony may benefit from exclusivity in its relationship with Spotify, and seeing how the forum thread requesting an equivalent for the Xbox one has gone past 40 pages, one might conclude that there’s no room for Microsoft in this monogamous relationship.

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Researchers Invent Self-Powered Liquid Metal Machine http://walyou.com/liquid-metal-robot/ http://walyou.com/liquid-metal-robot/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 19:23:32 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215796

The T-1000 from Terminator 2 is one step closer to becoming something real, even though the liquid metal machine developed by Chinese researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China is nowhere as fast or dangerous.

Their project wasn’t born from the wish to put an end to humanity, and may indeed have some practical applications besides creating lean, mean, metal killing machines. The most fascinating aspect of this experiment is that the machine does not require any programming and as long as there is “fuel” around, it can move forward by eating.

“The soft machine looks rather intelligent and [can] deform itself according to the space it voyages in, just like [the] Terminator does from the science-fiction film,” explained Jing Liu from the Tsinghua University during an interview with Technology.org. “These unusual behaviours perfectly resemble the living organisms in nature.”

The liquid metal machine is actually made from galinstan, an alloy of gallium, indium and tin in these proportions: 68.5%, 21.5% and 10%. Since this mix has a melting point of -19 degrees Celsius, at room temperature it can always be found in a liquid state. The aforementioned fuel is represented by aluminum flakes, which the galinstan robot eats in order to propel itself.

It should be noted that the liquid motor can move by itself for up to an hour, as long as it’s placed in a Petri dish with sodium hydroxide or brine, and it’s fed an aluminum flake. If it’s locked into place, the galinstan machine can act as a pump. In this scenario, it can shift 50 milliliters of water per second. It might not sound like a lot, but a greater liquid machine would move greater quantities of water.

The liquid motor has been described by its inventors as having “large surface tension, desirable flexibility, high electrical conductivity and low toxicity,” and with so many advantages, we shouldn’t be surprised if it finds its way to industrial applications.

More details about this project are available in the journal Advanced Materials, where the Chinese researchers have published a paper titled Self-Fuelled Biomimetic Liquid Metal Mollusc. Adding intelligence to these robots is the next logical step, but that might indeed be a challenge, as coordinating a swarm of liquid metal drops to move together is not exactly child’s play.

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Google Feud Uses Search Suggestions for Online Gaming Fun http://walyou.com/google-feud-uses-search-suggestions-for-online-gaming-fun/ http://walyou.com/google-feud-uses-search-suggestions-for-online-gaming-fun/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:56:15 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215747

New browser game ‘Google Feud’ combines Google’s search suggestions with the iconic game show, Family Feud.

If you’ve ever searched for something using Google then you’ve probably made good use of the search engine’s search suggestion feature. When you type in a known phrase or word Google gives you a drop down of the most searched for things relating to it. So, for example when I type in ‘chicken’, the drop down list that comes up includes ‘chicken pox’, ‘chicken recipes’, ‘chicken casserole’ and ‘chicken curry’. That’s handy if you want to know what people are searching for about a particular topic or if you want to find out more about something and don’t know where to start. But how good are you at guessing what those search suggestions will be?

Well, if you’re any good at it you might want to try your hand at a new online browser game called Google Feud. How it works is that you choose a category out of People, Culture, Names and Questions and then the game comes up with a related search. Then, there are 10 spaces on the board for 10 search suggestions that you must guess without getting three strikes. If you get three strikes then you’re out which is disastrous if you’re trying to rack up a high score – every correct answer bags you a certain amount of points, starting with 10,000 for the top answer.

If you do get knocked out though, your points roll over and it gives you an overall score for that game session (it also tells you a score for that individual round). This is a nice little gamified touch but it also means that Google Feud is highly addictive. Also keeping you coming back for more is the fact that the game updates in real time thanks to its use of the Google API. Basically, what this means is that the answers change according to what people are actually searching for so the top answer today may not be the top answer tomorrow or even in a few hours’ time. If you’ve got time to kill, play Google Feud at the source link below.

Source: Google Feud

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ECOO 04 Plus Turns It Up a Notch with 3GB of RAM http://walyou.com/ecoo-04-plus/ http://walyou.com/ecoo-04-plus/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:12:54 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215778

Android users have made a habit from running more and more resource-hungry apps at a time, and smartphone manufacturers need to accommodate by increasing the amount of RAM of their devices.

ECOO, a subsidiary of the better-known Chinese smartphone manufacturer Elephone, has launched an advanced version of its flagship, as it’s always a great idea to add a tad of diversity to performance. The only difference between the E04 Aurora and the E04 Plus is that the latter comes with 3GB of RAM, as opposed to the former’s 2GB, while all the other great aspects have been maintained.

The E04 Plus may not be the best-performing Android out there, but it offers a quality-price ratio that’s rather hard to beat. The first thing to catch the eye of the user is the build quality. E04 Plus’ magnesium alloy chassis is meant to make it a lot more durable than its plastic counterparts, which often even cost more. On the back, both the black (or rather deep blue) and the white versions of the phone feature a carbon fiber pattern, even though that’s probably nothing more than just polycarbonate.

Saying that ECOO’s latest 4G LTE Android smartphone is beautifully designed would really be an understatement. The 5.5″ IPS display with a resolution of 1920×1080 resulting in a pixel density of 401 ppi is protected by a 2.5D Arc screen.

Under the hood, the E04 Plus hosts Mediatek’s MT6752 64-bit chipset, which includes a 1.7GHz Cortex-A53 octa-core CPU (that’s almost twice as fast as the 32-bit MT6582 and 20% faster than the 32-bit MT6592) and a Mali-T760 GPU. In terms of memory, the phablet has the aforementioned 3GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. ECOO hasn’t considered launching multiple variants with different amounts of storage since it included a microSD card slot with support for up to 32GB of additional storage.

As far as mobile photography is concerned, the E04 Plus packs an 16MP camera on the back and an 8MP camera in the front. The rear one has a dual-tone LED flash next to it, to make sure that color reproduction is as natural as possible.

ECOO is only concerned about the performance of its flagship, but also about the users’ security and privacy. To protect these aspects, ECOO included a fingerprint scanner in the home button, to help users lock not only the screen, but also messages, picture galleries and apps. This implementation is much convenient, not to mention better-looking, than the one of the phones that feature fingerprint scanners on the back, right next to the camera. ECOO claims that it only takes the scanner 0.1s to identify the fingerprint, with an estimated accuracy of 96%.

Unlike many modern flagships, the E04 Plus has a removable battery, fact that really makes it a keeper. The 3,000mAh capacity, correlated with the phablet’s power-efficient, yet very capable MT6752 chipset, hint at a long-enough battery life to get you through a day or two at the office.

Both the Deep Blue and the White version of ECOO 04 Plus are $198.99 on GearBest, but you can get either of them for $179.99 by using coupon code E04PLUS at checkout. The pre-sale ends on April 15, and the store will start shipping them soon after that.

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Biological Drones Could Explore the Surface of Mars http://walyou.com/biological-drones-on-mars/ http://walyou.com/biological-drones-on-mars/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 20:55:17 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215777

Growing drones after reaching the Red Planet’s surface is a much more convenient alternative to shipping all the hardware and assembling it there, or at least that’s what some genius students are trying to prove.

The thought that future drones might be developed in Petri dishes instead of hardware factories is a bit scary, and could bring some of David Cronenberg’s movies to mind. However, this approach has its advantages, as evidenced by a team of students from Stanford University, Spelman College, and Brown University. Their biological drone was an entry in the 2014 International Genetically Engineered Machine competition, and chances are that a version of that drone could one day fly across Mars.

The iGEM team collaborated with Lynn Rothschild, a synthetic biologist at the NASA Ames Research Center in California, to develop a drone using not much besides fungi and plants. Considering the type of biological material that has been used, one may be concerned of the fungi colony that might form in the event of a crash. However, the “components” of the drone are already dead by the time it’s airborne, so no one should worry about that.

“These are lightweight, cheap, and won’t litter the environment. It’s about as big a concern as leaving your sweater outside,” claimed Rothschild, emphasizing only a few of the bio-UAV’s advantages.

Of course, there still is some technology involved, as designing the bio-drone needs to be done in 3D modelling software. Next, the design file is sent to biomaterials company Ecovative Design that uses vacuforming to create an 8-inch square of fungal mycelium. The hard structure of the drone is composed of straw and dead leaves that are placed in the mold. “The biomaterial gets inoculated with fungus, then fungus grows throughout all the material in the mold,” pointed out Eli Block, one of the team’s members. “Before where it was kind of a loose material, after growing for a few weeks, it was a single solid chunk.”

The bio-drone’s chassis is actually made using two such molds, as Rothschild explained: “So it looks like a dried sandwich, and it’s the weight and feel of Styrofoam.”

Block also emphasized the importance of having the bio-drone sterilized: “The point of it is you’re not flying anything that could introduce negative organisms into the environment. Also you have this new biomaterial that you don’t want to get eaten by mold. So you don’t want it to break down immediately.”

Needless to say, in order to withstand Red Planet’s harsh atmospheric conditions, the drones need a bit more than that. However, the iGEM team has managed to create radiation and extreme temperature-resistant bacteria by inserting genes of “extremophile” bacteria in E. Coli.

“Let’s say you have certain cells that can sense carbon dioxide levels or radiation, and do some kind of color readout. You could be sensing things in parallel, without bulky sensors on your drone,” said Block, pointing out that genetically-modified biological sensors could even be used to replace conventional sensor hardware.

Not at last, the team intends to waterproof the bio-UAVs, and they turned to paper wasps to achieve this. “Paper wasps are an organism that when they build their nests they actually use cellulose, plant cellulose,” explains Jotthe Kannappan, a junior at Stanford, and a member of the iGEM team. “They chew bark on trees, spit it out, and something in that saliva makes cellulose really waterproof and really thermal-resistant. So our experiment was to figure out what protein in the saliva does that.”

The team even thought of a way of making the radiation-resistant cells become biodegradable: “It was changing what some of the genetic code stood for,” says Rothschild. “It’s like you took a book and every time you saw the word ‘today,’ you read the word ‘blue.’ The idea is that if this crashed somewhere and there were living cells on it, they would be speaking a different language than other cells in the environment.”

This is a very ambitious project that should become a reality, if we are to go to Mars anytime soon.

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Razer’s VR Headset to Include Leap Motion Hand Tracking Sensor http://walyou.com/razer-vr-headset-leap-motion-hand-tracking/ http://walyou.com/razer-vr-headset-leap-motion-hand-tracking/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 19:38:41 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215769

As a manufacturer of all-things-gaming, Razer couldn’t have missed the VR revolution. In order to distinguish itself from the competition, Razer plans to integrate Leap Motion hand tracking into its future VR headset.

In order to qualify as some sort of reality, VR should include by default interaction with the surrounding objects in the virtual space. Without presence, the whole immersion concept is brought down exclusively to the visual experience, and that’s not always very satisfactory. Let’s face it, controlling things with your hands in virtual reality is much better than using a controller. If we are to leave the real world for the virtual one, the experience needs to be complete, and that’s exactly what Razer wants to do by implementing the Leap Motion hand tracking sensor in its VR headset.

There’s always the option to get any other VR headset you like and buy the Leap Motion hand tracking sensor separately. That could turn out not only more expensive, but also less convenient to use. Fortunately, Leap Motion has announced that it would cooperate with Razer’s OSVR to put the hand tracking sensors right into the headset.

Leap Motion sensors will be provided in the form of an optional faceplate in OSVR’s hardware developer kit, which means that if you don’t need or want these sensors, you could always opt for the OSVR headset that comes without them.

This implementation is not better only for the consumers, but also for the devs, who no longer have to code for multiple platforms. From a user’s standpoint, the experience is more seamless.

Keep in mind that Leap Motion did not offer exclusivity to Razer, and in fact, it wants to collaborate with other companies from the VR industry, in order to bring the sensors to more VR headsets.

“Using your hands is not only the most natural method, it’s also the most intuitive,” said Michael Buckwald, Leap Motion’s CEO and co-founder. “I love that feeling of ‘Wow, my hand is in the computer.’ When that happens, there’s connection and magic,” added David Holz, Leap Motion’s CTO and other co-founder.

While consumers might have to wait a while till they get their mittens on a Leap Motion-equipped VR headset, it’s good to know this is really happening. Pre-orders for the OSVR headset will be live in May, with shipping expected to start in June.

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How a Marketing Chatbot Fooled Hundreds of Tinder User http://walyou.com/how-a-marketing-chatbot-fooled-hundreds-of-tinder-user/ http://walyou.com/how-a-marketing-chatbot-fooled-hundreds-of-tinder-user/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 18:07:59 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215742

At SXSW, one marketing team uses controversial dating app Tinder to promote an upcoming movie.

Tinder is no stranger to controversy as it recently decided to charge for ‘unlimited swipes’, with this feature costing more for those over 30 years of age. But tongues were wagging for an entirely different reason at this year’s South By Southwest (SXSW) event in Austin, Texas.

At the annual film, culture and technology festival, attendees in the area had their hearts set on meeting a woman named Ava. Ava had a Tinder account and her profile featured a beautiful profile image of a young woman and so as you might expect, many other Tinder users swiped ‘right’ on Ava’s profile to strike up a conversation and possibly meet up with her. Ava’s responses were convincing and she seemed like a real human being. But she was not: Ava was a fake profile that had been created by a marketing team to promote the upcoming movie, Ex Machina.

Ex Machina is a sci-fi film about a computer programmer named Caleb who spends the weekend with his reclusive friend and tech CEO, Nathan. Nathan wants Caleb to perform the Turing Test on a AI (artificial intelligence) program named Ava to see if she can convince people that she is an actual person, but Caleb accidentally grows attached to Ava which means he’s not so keen on the idea of Ava having her memory wiped if she fails the experiment. He helps her escape and thus you have the plot of an engaging techie thriller.

There was no such advanced artificial intelligence behind Ava’s Tinder profile however, as Ava only had some basic chatbot-esque brains behind her. Plus, Ava wasn’t designed to trick anyone for long, as after some conversation she linked users to the movie’s Instagram page where they learned that Ava’s Tinder profile was a setup. It wasn’t all bad news though as a lucky few one movie tickets and passes to Ex Machina’s premiere.

Source: TechCrunch

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Xiaomi Launches $320 40-Inch Android-Powered Mi TV 2 http://walyou.com/xiaomi-android-powered-mi-tv-2/ http://walyou.com/xiaomi-android-powered-mi-tv-2/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 20:27:18 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215759

To prove that it’s not only after Apple and Samsung, but also after the whole TV-manufacturing industry, Xiaomi launched today a new version of its smart TV, at an unbeatable price.

In a world where bigger is almost always better, Xiaomi has decided to trim down the size of its TVs. Whereas the previous Mi TV 2 was a 49-inch 4K smart TV, the current iteration measures only 40″, but it packs so many improvements that I’m going to gladly overlook the size difference.

First of all, the new Mi TV 2 features a 40″ Sharp SDP X-GEN Full HD LCD panel with a contrast of 5000:1.

Since it measures only 14.5mm in thickness, Xiaomi’s smart telly will fit perfectly in minimalist rooms. I only hope that other TV manufacturers jump in this bandwagon and start producing television sets that are as thin as this one.

The included media player has H.265 10-bit hardware video decoding and Dolby MS12 virtual surround sound for the perfect multimedia experience.

Still think that Netflix is the best thing in the world? Well, Xiaomi has partnered with several China content providers and invested $1 billion in order to bring Mi TV 2 users more than 240,000 hours of online content. Most of this content will probably be available in Chinese, but one of the promotional images depicts the Baymax robot from Big Hero 6, and if that’s not just Photoshop, users might get a chance to watch international movies, as well.

Remember the Mi Bluetooth controller that Xiaomi launched in January? Considering that the new Mi TV 2 is advertised by the company as an entertainment center and Android 4.4 gaming console, everything makes a lot of sense now. Xiaomi didn’t want people to play Android games solely on their Mi phones and Mi Pad, but also on larger screens. What sets this scenario apart from the competition? The fact that the Chinese giant did not launch a separate console, but rather decided to integrate the electronics into a TV. And what a TV it is!

Sadly, the chances of the new Mi TV 2 selling outside of China are slim, despite Xiaomi’s announcements that it will open stores in the US and Europe. While it did say that it won’t sell smartphones in these stores, it’s more likely that it will sell accessories and peripherals, rather than tellies. But we can still hope, can’t we?

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Scrap Metal Transformers Bring Chinese Farmer $160K a Year http://walyou.com/chinese-scrap-metal-transformers/ http://walyou.com/chinese-scrap-metal-transformers/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 17:27:27 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215750

There are only two good things people could ever do with scrap metal: recycle it or repurpose it by building geeky Transformers sculptures that bring in tons of cash each year for you and yours.

Chinese farmer Yu Zhilin and his son Lu Yingyun went for the second options, for obvious reasons. For the past three years, the two have turned scrap car parts into beautiful Optimus Prime and Bumblebee sculptures that don’t only look good, but also generate quite a lot of profit.

Needless to say, getting from a pile of metal as the one seen in the above picture to an enormous sculpture takes a lot of time and effort, but the results are worth every penny, especially since Yu Zhilin has been selling these for 1 million yuan (north of $160,000) a year.

If the Transformers franchise wasn’t so successful in China, maybe the sculptures wouldn’t have attracted such big profits, but it looks like people in that country have great love for Optimus Prime and his metallic gang. Even though I’d like to think that’s because of the cartoons and the comics, the truth is that Transformers sell like hot donuts there, regardless of the media, and that schlep Michael Bay‘s movies are probably playing a big part, too. After all, when it comes to blowing up, no director is his equal.

What’s interesting about the creator of these sculptures is that Yu Zhilin, despite currently being a farmer, has a background in fine arts. The Optimus Prime and Bumblebee sculptures are built in his spare time, which means that he still dedicates most of his time to his main job.

Ironically, these sculptures are made of scrap car parts, whereas the Transformers disguise themselves as cars and trucks. In this Universe or in a parallel one, the Transformers and Yu Zhilin’s sculptures surely share the same origins.

It will be interesting to see how the copyright holders will react as soon as they get wind of this. In my humble opinion, they should mind their own business, as this something made by fans of the franchise for other fans, but chances are they might want a slice of this metallic pie. Well, the copyright holders launch miniature action toys, whereas these modern artists are selling gigantic sculptures that make the former green with envy.

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InfiniteUSB Makes USB Cable Stacking a Reality http://walyou.com/infiniteusb-makes-usb-cable-stacking-a-reality/ http://walyou.com/infiniteusb-makes-usb-cable-stacking-a-reality/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 20:59:02 +0000 http://walyou.com/?p=215729

What’s the right number of USB connectors for you? Regardless of how many USB gadgets you need to charge or how many flash drives you need to transfer data from, with InfiniteUSB, you always use only one USB port on your laptop or desktop PC.

What if a single port was enough for charging and transferring data from multiple devices? In this context, Apple definitely looks like a visionary company, with its single USB Type-C port-equipped Macbook. However, InfiniteUSB is confident that this could be achieved in a much simpler way, without having to spend a fortune on hubs and adapters.

One of the cable’s ends looks perfectly normal, having a microUSB, female USB or Lightning connector. Obviously, it’s the other end that makes this little gadget extraordinary. That double-connector plugs into USB ports at a right angle and enables users to plug another InfiniteUSB cable into it and so on, until there are plenty for all their charging or data transfer needs.

Speaking of charging, this might turn out problematic when using multiple InfiniteUSB cables for this purpose, as in the end, they are all charging from a single USB 2.0 port. On the upside, the bulkier end is magnetic and allows users to stick the connectors together, fold the cable and tuck everything away. This particular feature is not something entirely original, as some microUSB cables have had this design for a couple of years, now.

InfiniteUSB is currently featured on Kickstarter, where backers can pledge $12 or more before April 22 to get one magnetic cable in June. The funding goal of $10,000 has long been exceeded, even though the crowdfunding campaign has just started, and now the pledged sum rests at around $45K.

While the concept is interesting, I’m pretty sure that InfiniteUSB will share the same fate as pressy, the $27 3.5mm dust-plug/shortcut button for Android smartphones that got $0.79 clones in no time. In other words, Chinese manufacturers might catch wind of this design and turn into something of their own. To be honest, InfiniteUSB seems a bit over-priced, so cheaper versions may be out, soon.

Price aside, it’s great to see that there’s still room for innovation in this field, and while the implementation may not be the best, the developers for InfiniteUSB are definitely worth a bit of praise.

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