The Detroit Free Press is reporting that two companies have joined forces to create a push-to-start button that can automatically sense the driver’s blood-alcohol level. Takata, an Auburn Hills-based parts supplier and TruTouch, an Albuquerque-based firm, have received a $2.25 million grant from the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety to help make the creation commercially viable.
Currently, the device is about the size of a bread box and uses an infrared sensor to determine the amount of alcohol in a person’s system. In addition, the invention currently takes several seconds to function and only works accurately at room temperature.
The ACTS grant should help both Takata and TruTouch work through those issues to create a version of the technology that could conceivably fit behind a vehicle’s start button, take just a few milliseconds to determine someone’s BAC and be able to accurately do so in temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero. There’s also the equally challenging feat of getting the device’s total cost down to around $200 per unit. The idea is to take the invasiveness of a Breathalyzer out of the equation while still preventing impaired drivers from taking to the road.
Amazon today announced three new Kindles and a new Kindle Tablet, dubbed the Kindle Fire. However, previous Amazon tablet rumors suggested that there were not one but two Amazon tablets: The 7-inch Fire that we’ve come to known, and a larger 10-inch model that is supposedly set to launch in the first quarter of 2012. The story went that Amazon planned to launch the 7-inch model in time for the holidays and then, if it was successful, launch the big one next year.
Jeff Bezos didn’t say anything about a second Fire during this morning’s press conference. That said, word on the street still says the 10-inch model is coming, and soon. Ryan Block over at GDGT says that today’s Kindle Fire is nothing more than a stopgap and that a “second, better version” is coming in about three months’ time.
“My sources tell me the second-gen Kindle tablet (or Kindle Fire, as it’s now been dubbed) will be out in Q1 of 2012 — yes, that soon. That was always the plan, but the delays of the v1 product have messed up Amazon’s release cycle,” he said, adding that the worst part of it all is that the second device seems to be the one that Amazon truly believes in.
We all know that the current pace of the mobile industry means that there’s always another version coming. However, if Block is right and Amazon is releasing a superior version so soon after the first Kindle Fire goes on sale (it hits shelves November 15), we can see early adopters being very peeved. While there’s definitely a market for 7-inch tablets, the Kindle Fire is supposed to be a media device, and we can’t help but feel that though people may be drawn in by the appeal of this current Kindle Fire, they might realize it’s a little bit dinky to be watching telly on when the 10-inch model arrives.
Amazon has not commented on rumors of a second, larger Kindle Fire, nor has it denied reports that a 10-inch model is coming in the new year.
Mozilla stressed that the add-ons and their data are still intact and they are still part of Firefox. The company is working on a fix for the issue and offers users, who are already using Firefox 7, a simple workaround with the help of a separate “Add-on Recovery Tool”.
Mozilla did not say when the update for Firefox 7 would become available. According to StatCounter, Firefox 7 holds a browser market share of 4.02 percent today, which means that about 15 percent of Firefox users are affected by the bug.
It is unfortunate for Mozilla that it is being hit with this problem, especially since it is struggling with stabilizing its market share against its rivals and add-on problems such as compatibility with future versions is an emotionally debated issue among loyal Firefox users. There is no way to know how Firefox market share will be impacted by this hiccup, but I don’t think it will help Mozilla in its current situation. It really is a minor issue, but Mozilla needs to regain trust and demonstrate that its rapid release process works well. Quality problems are not what Mozilla needs right now.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire is the web company’s first tablet. While it may run Android 2.3 on hardware not dissimilar to that of the PlayBook it has a completely different feel and feature set compared to any of RIM or Google offering.
Besides leaving its content delivery up to the cloud, the Kindle Fire also leverages Amazon’s servers in delivering a nice, fast web browsing experience. Amazon calls its browser Amazon Silk, and says that it introduces a “split browser” architecture that uses Amazon Web Services cloud (AWS).
The Silk browser software resides both on Kindle Fire and on the massive server fleet that comprises the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). With each page request, Silk dynamically determines a division of labor between the mobile hardware and Amazon EC2 (i.e. which browser sub-components run where) that takes into consideration factors like network conditions, page complexity and the location of any cached content.
Any users of the Opera Mobile browser can attest to the benefits of having a big server do the work for you. A browser like Opera Mobile or Silk will also be of great use to those with limited data plans. Instead of downloading a full-sized image that’d designed for high-resolution desktop viewing, the server will compress the image to a suitable size for your device, saving on bandwidth.
According to Amazon, a typical web page requires 80 files served from 13 different domains. Latency over wireless connections is high – on the order of 100 milliseconds round trip. Serving a web page requires hundreds of such round trips, only some of which can be done in parallel. In aggregate, this adds seconds to page load times. Amazon boasts that its EC2′s connection can score a round-trip latency of 5 milliseconds or less to most web sites.
For a mobile browser, this makes a ton of sense. Even John Carmack of id Software endorses the move. Carmack tweeted: “I always thought some kind of remote aggregator made huge sense for connection-challenged browsing – Amazon Silk seems like a Good Thing.”
It will make even more sense whenever Amazon introduces a 3G model.
A report published in Forbes now suggests that the idea for a fifth core could be translating into about $3.5 to $4 billion for Nvidia – in stock gains alone.
Based on the idea that a fifth companion core that would run background processes at a very low power consumption value when an Android phone is basically in sleep mode, analysts are making the assumption that Nvidia’s stock could climb by about 35 percent to $20 and give the company a market capitalization of more than $12 billion. The report suggests that Kal-El could help Android devices run “better” and therefore attract customers.
Dealing with background process power consumption has turned into the holy grail on the road to mobile devices with greater battery running times. The problem is that simply checking for incoming messages keeps many hardware alive, including the CPU, the graphics processor as well as wireless components.
It is unclear how much Kal-El will be able to reduce standby power consumption in an everyday scenario, but it is our impression that it may not be enough and just part of a much more complex solution. For example, there has been an approach to scale Wi-Fi connections, which could improve battery life by 50 percent.
Google’s strategy of making Android available to developers for free has paid off extremely well. The operating system quickly mounted serious competition for Mac OS and Windows and emerged as the world’s best-selling smartphone platform by the end of 2010. Naturally, that made Microsoft, still reeling from the end of Windows Mobile, and Apple, unhappy with anything less than Blofeld style world domination, feel somewhat uneasy. Both companies have long claimed that Android ‘incorporates’ significant aspects from their operating systems and have demanded that Google either pay them or change Android to remove the contested elements. The legality of those claims is still undecided and so far no litigation has resulted, but in a move that the Wall Street Journal notes may move that kind of activity forward, Samsung and Microsoft have reached a huge patent sharing deal.
Samsung will now pay royalties to Microsoft on its Android-based smartphones and tablets, and the two global supercompanies will collaborate to develop new phones and tablets based on Windows rather than Android. Window’s stake in the deal is obvious, as it gives them official acknowledgment from the world’s second largest smartphone maker that their claim against Android may have merit. It also provides leverage to pressure other cellphone makers to cut similar deals. But Samsung’s reasons for pursuing the deal may have to do with more than simply protecting themselves from Microsoft’s lawyers. The South Korean company is in the midst of a very bitter worldwide legal battle with Apple involving charges of patent and trademark infringement. Partnering with Apple’s chief rival may provide them with an easy out, should they lose that battle and find their current slate of tabs and phones kiboshed.
As of this writing, Google has not made any official comment, but one imagines there are some very loud swear words being exchanged at the top of the company. In a month that has seen them taken to task for alleged anti-trust violations, this is one more headache they don’t need.
Sounds like the upcoming fourth-generation DROID smartphone will be super-fast like the Maserati GranTurismo sports cars. It should come as no surprise that the next Motorola Droid is already in the works. While the company hasn’t announced anything official, rumors indicate that the company has codenamed the device “Maserati” which is supposedly derived from the name of the famous Italian sports car brand Maserati GranTurismo. That said, the Droid 4 sounds extremely “fast.”
So what are the specs? Again, there’s nothing official, but rumors point to the typical DROID slide-out QWERTY keyboard (but sans the D-pad again), a screen somewhere around 4 to 4.3-inches, a removable battery and possible 4G LTE support. As with the previous three DROID models, this fourth-generation instalment will reside on Verizon Wireless.
Unfortunately, that’s it in regards to new information. The current Droid 3 smartphone sports a dual-core SoC clocked at 1 GHz, a 4-inch qHD (540 x 960) TFT display, 512 MB of internal memory, 16 GB of on-board storage, a microSD card providing 32 GB of even more storage, an 8MP camera, Android 2.3 “Gingerbread” and more. That said, consumers will see superior specs in the Droid 4, possibly even Nvidia’s Tegra 3 “Kal-El” SoC (that’s just a guess) and Google’s Android “Ice Cream Sandwich” OS.
With the holiday season just around the corner, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this phone rear its head before the end of the year. If not, perhaps during the Mobile World Congress 2012 event in February.