You are here[Hardware]

[Hardware]


Awesome 3D Video Capture with Kinect #hacking #video

I saw this video of scientist, Oliver Kreylos, a few days ago. It's amazing how with some cool software hacked together to work with Microsoft Kinect, Oliver and others may have opened up some interesting possibilities in 3D image production, computing and virtual reality.

Here's the video:






What Will It Take To Match The iPad?

The year 2010 does look like the year of tablet computing, especially after the iPad changed the course of history with its release not too long ago. Already we're seeing "iPad killers" hitting the market, although how well these will do against Apple's latest brainchild remains to be seen.

But what DOES it take to stand up to the iPad? Many are expecting the darned thing to flop at the market after its rather underwhelming debut (and after the Internet began buzzing about a rumored "iPad mini," to be named the "iTampon").

Then again, it's Apple we're talking about. It's marketing ideas are more than enough to make up for the iPad's many limitations. And I'm willing to bet if you ask people about their choice of tablet/e-readers, one of two people are going to want one with an Apple logo at the back.

I just read about the latest e-reader to hit the market, the ASUS DR-900. The DR-900 is ASUS's first-ever e-book reader, and most of its bells and whistles are meant to shine where iPad's fall short. But is it enough to woo e-book fans?

Networking, check. The DR-900 has both Wi-Fi and 3G. And it's got enough battery life to let you read 20 average novels when wireless is turned off.

Storage, so-so. It only has 2 to 4GB worth of storage, but comes with an SD card slot.

Form factor, disappointing. I doubt anything's going to match up to the iPad's sex appeal anytime soon, but ASUS could have at least tried to make the DR-900 ergonomic. All of its buttons are on the right and bottom-right sides, which obviously favors right-handed e-book fans.

Another problem is its feature set -- it looks to be much more powerful than the iPad. That may seem like a good thing, but when you have to price your product any higher than the leading device in the market, you're 99% doomed to fail.

So yes, it's likely to be priced lower than the iPad -- although we don't know much about pricing and availability at this point.

We'll have to admit, Apple really knows how to corner the market with a so-so device. It'll be interesting to see other tablets, tablet-laptops, and e-readers try to enter the already-saturated market and knock the iPad off its lofty pedestal, and believe me, there'll be lots before Fall rolls around.


Holiday Shopping?

Happy Thanksgiving. It's been a tough, tough year for most of us, which makes the pessimist wonder what's there to be thankful for. But I'm too cool to navel-gaze, so I'm kicking off the year with a few tech shopping tips. We don't really celebrate Thanksgiving in these parts, but hey, December is just around the corner.

#1 - Netbooks? I know it's a rising trend, but do you really want to get cramps working the tiny keyboard? (I don't.) If you're really fixed on getting a netbook, get one with the features that you need, as well as a full keyboard. Otherwise, I recommend getting a thin, light (and sleeker) notebook.

#2 - TV's? To enter the new year with a brighter perspective, I suggest you (finally) go flat-screen. LCD and Plasma TV's are all good, and they come in small enough sizes that fit your budget. For longevity, go at least 1080p.

#3 - DVD players? Whoops, hold on. We may not exactly have Netflix yet, but believe me when I say it's going to land in Southeast Asian shores in the next two years or less. Skip the one-trick DVD players and go Blu-Ray. Better yet, look for a device that can play Blu-Ray and DVD, in addition to streaming HD movies from the Internet.

#4 - iPod Touch? Definitely a must-buy -- Steve Jobs wasn't kidding when he said it was the "funnest" iPod ever. It's only a sidestep away from an iPhone, and with the App Store handy, it should give you thousands of hours of fun throughout its lifetime.

#5 - Windows 7? Also a good upgrade, although "good" is relative when it comes to Microsoft. While Microsoft finally got things right, going Mac might be the best "new beginning" you can have, especially with the robust Snow Leopard OS doing very well.

#6 - Printers? Don't make the mistake of buying a one-trick printer this year -- they're already overshadowed by printers that offer more features. Find out what your home office needs (Scanner? Fax machine? Photo printer? All of the above?) and find printer models that solve most, if not all, your deficiencies.

#7 - Gaming Consoles? The Wii is still tons of fun, but the Xbox 360 and slimmer, sexier PlayStation 3 are very quickly catching up. These consoles also have HD movie streaming offerings, which can do away with your DVD needs, as well. But if you're willing to wait another year for a gaming console, you might want to watch out for Microsoft's Project Natal.

#8 - E-book Readers? They're easy enough to get, but it's going to be tough getting books from e-libraries for a while. Singapore, for instance, still isn't on Kindle's global list, and there's no way of knowing when the mobile carriers will get their heads out of their behinds and comply with Amazon's requirements. Best put this off until next year.

What would YOU want for Christmas?

Newer, Deadlier Worm Hits Jailbroken iPhones

Image credit: Found on coated.com - Link -

Been hearing the buzz on this for the past 48 hours.
Recently, the first ever iPhone worm spread from Australia to the rest of the world. The worm, which only affected jailbroken iPhones and iPod Touches, subjected users all over the world to the horror of looking into Rick Astley's cold, cold eyes. Other than that, the worm was mostly harmless.

The first worm was a far cry from the second one, which was only very recently discovered by iPhone watchdogs around the world. This new worm scours the jailbroken devices for bank account, credit card, and other private information, and routes the data back to an IP address that researchers have traced to Lithuania.

This newer, deadlier worm uses the same exploit that the Rick Astley worm used. Jailbroken iPhones and iPod Touches have a security hole that lets hackers change the root password and create unique ID's for themselves, essentially accessing the devices remotely.

Several fixes have already been suggested on the Internet, so it's rather easy for stricken users to address the problem. But experts have predicted that the worm can do much more damage in the near future, and are keeping a close eye on developments.

What's worrying about this new worm is that, as of yet, there's still no way of knowing whether or not un-jailbroken iPhones and iPod Touches can be affected by it. So far no legitimate user has reported an infection, but if that changes in the next few days, it's going to cause a ripple of panic among Apple users all over the world.

Apple's no doubt on the case, but it's likely they won't do much for users of jailbroken iPhones and iPod Touches. Perhaps this is just another indication of a lesson that's never learned -- you shouldn't really tinker with other people's intellectual property and expect to go scot-free. Somehow, in some form, the bad juju manages to find its way back to you.

The same goes with pirated software, the use of which is still pretty rampant in this part of the world. Sure, you can get pirated Windows OS's almost free, but without the proper updates and protection, you leave yourself vulnerable to attacks -- and stand to lose much more over the long run. Frankly, if you're on Windows in the first place, you've probably already lost the war, but that's my humble opinion.

So, again and again, respect intellectual property -- only buy legitimate devices and software, and only use them according to the makers' specifications. At the very least, it's one less thing to worry about.

NEC's Eyewear Translator May Do Away With Language Barriers In The Future

While most of today's eyewear may cut back on radiation damage to the eyes, one of Japanese company NEC's devices in development may cut back on language barriers instead. NEC is developing an eyewear translator device that can translate foreign languages into your own in real-time -- definitely a handy tool at a business meeting in a foreign country.

Unlike previous prototypes, NEC's eyewear translator doesn't have any lens, which makes wearers look much friendlier -- very important when trying to make a good impression as a stranger in a strange land. With the help of a mic, the device translates languages in real time and recites the translation into your ear via an earpiece -- and at the same time projects a text translation directly into your retinas.

While using the eyewear translator, you may feel like you're watching a movie with dubbing and subtitles (except, of course, you have to talk back). The great thing about the eyewear translator is that if everyone around the table wears the device, everyone can talk in their native language and be understood completely by everyone else. Translators no longer required.

The technology is still in development, but NEC is confident it'll have it available for commercial use in two years or less. A company set of 30 eyewear translators is estimated to cost around $83,300 -- that's almost $3,000 for one set, and you'll need at least two.

Will it be worth the investment? If it closes business deals, builds friendships, and sets the tone for world peace, then I'll take two.

Google And Apple Make Headway In China

Over the weekend, Google and Apple made significant headway in China (or at least, with things related to China). As time goes by it gets easier to wonder whether or not the two industry giants are out to get each other's throats, since their marketing strategies seem to cross on so many paths.

Let's start with Apple. Last weekend, the iPhone finally made it to China, greeted by the usual droves that go where the world's leading smartphone goes. Sales were brisk, but noticeably subdued at the same time -- while hundreds of people braved the cold rain to get their hands on an iPhone, there weren't many sellouts, unlike in Japan and the US.

Should be expected, I guess -- after all, what do you expect from China? Millions of "genuine imitations" of iPhones have been in use in China for months, and the new iPhone -- with a hefty price tag and no Wi-Fi -- isn't really as appealing as it could have been. While I think the iPhone will eventually make up lost ground in the next few months, I also hope Apple learned a thing or two about the Chinese market from the "lukewarm" reception.

Next up, Google. Now Google hasn't really physically ventured onto China like Apple did, but one of their most recent developments -- Google Voice Search in Mandarin Chinese -- make it so they might as well had. Google Voice Search is a smartphone application that lets you recite your search query instead of typing it out, saving lots of time and effort. (Hmmm... this sounds like what Yahoo! had some 2 years ago. I think I need to dig up some info on them and find out how they're faring in this area of search.)

Google Voice Search recognizes an increasing number of English accents, but stepping into Mandarin Chinese territory is a major feat. I mean, think about it -- it's China! China has two times more cellphone subscribers than the US, posing a very tempting market. Mandarin Voice Search is only available on Nokia S60 phones at this point, but if Google does things right, it poses to reap dividends over the next few months.

Netflix Comes To Sony PlayStation 3 - #movies #internet #film

Last week, Netflix announced that their live HD movie streaming feature, back then only available to very happy Xbox 360 users (with the annual $49.99 LIVE subscription, that is), was going to be made available to "another device" soon -- and speculation was rife in the blogosphere. Was it going to be the iPhone? Maybe on Google Android? Perhaps on a new platform Netflix wants to promote?

My own guess was right -- it was going to be released on the Sony PlayStation 3.

Netflix+Sony+Playstation+3+PS3+Chris+Gomez+EngineAlpha+Engine+Alpha

Image credit: Found on ecoustics.com  - Link -

It was a no-brainer for me and many other experts in the industry* -- I think the PS3 actually provides a better platform for Netflix's HD movie streaming offering. Since the PS3 slimmed down, both physically and price-wise, it had rocketed to the top of sales lists mere months ago. Now, with Blu-Ray support and fantastic online support, it looks like the PS3 is going to stay on top for a while.

Some Xbox 360 fans may dislike the idea. After all, Netflix's offering used to be "exclusive" to Xbox. Unfortunately, nothing really stays exclusive forever, at least not in this industry. Eventually Netflix will have to go where the profits lie, otherwise someone else will beat them to it -- worst case, with an even better offering.

PS3 users will definitely be pleased -- Netflix's service will only cost $8.99 a month. Unless something big comes along to challenge Netflix over the next few months, it's likely the PS3 will be spending them gaining even more ground on the Wii.


* Yes. I am an expert in my industry :)

Archon Defender -- Feature Film Created On Second-hand Computers

Archon+Defender+premier+poster+Engine+Alpha+Enginealpha+Chris+Gomez

Image credit: Found on Digipendence.com   - Link -

If you were into movies or video games when you were growing up, you probably fantasized about coming up with your own feature-length production all by yourself. Later you may have realized that there's a reason why the credits at the end of a movie can last a full half-hour -- you get the idea that to come up with a good feature, you'll need a team. No, not a team -- an army.

David T. Krupicz busts the myth.

David is an ordinary guy who works in a call center as his full-time day job. But during his free time, he tinkers with obsolete animation software and second-hand computers to create animated shorts. If you've come across the "Rocketmen vs. Robots" series on YouTube, then you're familiar with David's work.


But now, David has finally finished his first feature length animated film -- the 65-minute masterpiece, "Archon Defender." The film is set in a sci-fi/fantasy world called Echelon, where the evil Empress Lucia is waging war against all who oppose her, particularly the magical "Shard Sensitives." Collette, a young girl whose Shard powers have recently awakened, must set aside her feelings of loneliness and isolation to face the Empress.

What's great about "Archon Defender" is that it's totally free for viewing -- David posted his entire film on YouTube, and is now offering paid downloads of the movie. It's a great way of sending the message, "If you like this movie and would like to see more in the future, please buy a copy." That way viewers would be funding David's next project. Brilliant -- it pulls the chair from under video piracy.

Sure, the animation may look "unusual" to the masses, and the computer-generated voices (in the YouTube video, though David has hired voice actors since then) may be a little monotonic, but David still shows what old software, second-hand computers, and three years' worth of free time can do.

N.B.: I strongly urge you to support Dave's work by purchasing a copy of Archon Defender here: http://www.filmbaby.com/films/4289

Amazon Kindle Goes Global -- Well, Almost

Amazon did a great job getting us on our feet when it recently announced it was coming out with an international version of the Kindle electronic book reader. Readers outside the United States have long wanted to get their hands on the most popular e-reader today, and it would seem that the wait will be over in October 19. Well, for most of us, at least.

Possibly the biggest buzz-kill of the season, Amazon surprisingly isn't offering the international Kindle in some of the biggest markets in the world -- Canada, China, New Zealand, South Korea, and (you guessed it) Singapore. Readers around the world have e-mailed Amazon asking for an explanation, but all Amazon could say is that they're working to make the international Kindle available in all countries down the line.

Adding salt to the wounds is the fact that Zimbabwe, with its million-percent inflation rates, are getting the Kindle. What gives?

There are two major hurdles to offering the Kindle in a particular country -- the first are local publishers, who may argue the Kindle may be stepping on some touchy copyright issues. The other reason are the local carriers, who need to offer AT&T's WhisperNet service to reach Kindle users -- and this might take a bit of negotiation.

In most countries, local publishers are saying they're not the ones holding things up.

I'm an optimist, and I like to think that this is just the first of many stages in which Amazon plans to make the Kindle available to the rest of us. I'd like to think that Amazon is really negotiating with Singapore's carriers, and I'd like to think that I'll still have the chance of getting my own Kindle before Christmas.

Let's just hope Amazon gets moving soon, before Sony and other rivals move in with some new stuff before them.