Category: Network Lifestyle And Activities

Skully to develop a motorcycle helmet with heads-up display

Articles

Skully demonstrates GPS, rear-view camera in motorcycle helmet | The Car Tech blog – CNET Reviews

Skully fits heads-up display into motorcycle helmet | PC World

From the horse’s mouth

Skully Helmets

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My Comments

Those of us who use cars often take features like GPS satellite-navigation and rear-view cameras for granted. But motorcyclists feel left out because there isn’t a way to implement these technologies in a safe manner that works well for two wheels.

If a motorcyclist wants to use GPS navigation while riding their bike, they have to buy and use an expensive portable navigation device that is designed for motorcycle use and mount this to their machine’s handlebars. Or they have to seek out and purchase a smartphone dock that is designed to mount on a motorcycle’s handlebars and install their smartphone in that dock. Some of these accessories may not even look the part on certain bikes such as European-style scooters or “open-style” tourer bikes such as the Harley-Davidsons or Yamaha Viragos.

Now Skully have developed a motorcycle helmet that has an integrated GPS and rear-view camera. Here, this device uses a heads-up display that works independently of how you position the helmet’s visor to show the navigation graphics or the picture from the rear-view camera.

It has a Bluetooth link to your smartphone for updating map data but also provides access to telephony, music and voice-control features that your smartphone offers. THink of having a long ride while listening to your favourite music then telling your smartphone via Siri, S Voice or Google Voice to call the people whom you are seeing to let them know you’ll be there.

The Android-driven helmet has a battery runtime of 9 hours and can be charged using a microUSB data/charging cable connected to a computer or USB charger. It certainly shows that this is an invention that solves a problem many motorcyclists face and brings them on an even par to car drivers.

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The latest Facebook feature is to create photo albums which your Friends can add photos to

Article

Facebook Allows Multiple Users To Upload Pictures To Albums | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

My Comments

Previously, Facebook, the social network that has a lot of people having a love-hate relationship with, has led the field with the concept of people tagging in its early days and has improved on the privacy issues with that. This concept has been taken further with some image-management software like Windows Photo Gallery

A classic scenario that encompasses every Facebook user is a group event like a party or holiday. Here, each member takes plenty of photos of this event with their smartphone or digital camera and most if not all of the members have each other as Facebook Friends. But what do we do with these photos and how do we share them?

Typically, each of us would create an album in our own Facebook Profiles, having it set as “Friends Only” or “Friends Of Friends”. Then we would add the photos that we took at the event to this album. These photos and any subsequently-added photos would then be advertised in each others’ News Feeds and each of us could view each other’s albums of the same event.

One way I thought that this situation may be mitigated would be to create an event-specific tag that you attach to photos or albums and support browsing along photos and albums that contain this tag no matter who created them. This could effectively created a “super-album” for that event or place.

But Facebook have recently added a feature where other Friends can contribute images to an album. Here, the owner of the album can specifically invite others to add the photos or make it a free-for-all; yet be able to edit the images as required. There are three privacy levels for the album – public (everyone can view), friends of contributors (contributors and their Facebook Friends) or contributors only can view the whole album.

In the case of someone who “came in to town” or you went on a trip, they or you could create one album which encompasses the shots around town plus one or more albums with public events which they own. Then, when they are invited to a dinner party or other event by local friends, they (or the hosts) create an album set up for contribution in their Facebook Profile with appropriate settings and use that album for images of that event.

If you hosted a party like a 21st, you or a guest could run one of these albums so that guests can contribute images from that party. The large album size that is being part if the equation can allow you to see the album become Facebook’s equivalent of the photowall that some hosts may use for major parties.

A problem that I do see with the contributable album is Facebook making it difficult to move or copy photos between albums. This is of importance with the “mobile” albums that mobile Facebook implementations always insist on creating such as “Mobile Uploads” or “iOS Photos”; along with generically-named albums that Instagram and other apps like creating. I would suggest that this feature is augmented with the ability to move or copy photos between albums.

As well, Facebook allowing the use of user-determined tags could allow for the creation of “super-albums” for events or places without the need for one person to create contributed or other albums.

Similarly, the ability to create shortcuts to albums or photos between one’s own profile and a Page that one is administering could work as a way to avoid the need to upload pictures twice for a page and one’s own profile.

As for client software, I would like to see Facebook mobile clients be DLNA servers / control points so that one could “throw” single images or collections of images such as the albums to a Smart TV or TV attached to a DLNA-capable Blu-Ray player if you want them on a large screen or for group viewing.

At least Facebook are taking better steps to making it easier to “pool” photos of group events in order for all of the members of that group to enjoy them.

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Microsoft’s XBox One to satisfy the games-console reality

Articles

Microsoft unveils Xbox One as home entertainment hub | The Australian

Xbox One moves Microsoft closer to living room hub | CNet

Video of press launch

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My Comments

Just lately, Microsoft had launched the XBox One games console which underscores the role of games consoles as a device for watching content and playing games on the TV screen.

This console uses up-to-date computer hardware and software including elements of the Windows and XBox operating systems. As well, it implements up-to-date requirements like USB3.0 connectivity, Wi-Fi Direct wireless connectivity as well as a Blu-Ray optical drive. Similarly, the main unit implements design cues from premium consumer-electronics sold during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

This underscores the fact that the XBox One is designed to work as a multimedia box for the TV as has occurred commonly with the XBox 360 and the PS3 games consoles. This includes an HDIM input for passing video from a set-top box through the console. At the moment, this functionality may have questionable support with various free-to-air and pay TV setups. Personally, I would like to see this function underscored with an add-on digital-TV tuner module in order to pick up digital broadcast TV services.

It also has Kinect which provides motion and voice control and the user experience for changing content is expected to be as quick as flicking between broadcast channels.

Microsoft underscores the use of cloud-hosted functionality for gameplay such as persistent worlds, multiplayer multi-machine play and content “drop-off” points. But they still allow users to watch video content from TV or disc and play games without needing to be online.

Questions have been raised about whether users can sell / give games to others and take games between consoles such as playing at a friend’s home. Another issue I would like to see raised is whether Microsoft will provide an on-ramp for small-time and independent games developers like what has happened with the XNA program for the XBox 360. If such a program existed for this console, it could allow Microsoft to keep their credentials as a company whose founding stone was small-time software development.

Similarly, there were issues raised about the integrated secondary storage that the XBox One came with. Some of the press were disappointed with the hard disk and would like to see it come with solid-state storage and the ability for users to add on extra hard-disk space by connecting or installing a hard disk.

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Facebook uses the trusted-person concept to help you get back to your account

Articles

Locked Out Of Your Facebook Account? Trusted Contacts Will Save You | Gizmodo Australia

Facebook puts account security in the hands of your friends |CNet

My Comments

Commonly most of us leave a set of keys for our home with someone else that we trust like a close friend or neighbour. This is to allow us to get back in to our home if we lock ourselves out, which can be easily done if you can lock that front door without the need for a key typically by flicking a thumbturn or pressing a button.

Facebook has taken this practice to their account-security procedures by allowing us to work with a “trusted person” to gain access to our accounts. Here, you let Facebook know the contact details of the three to five trusted people and if a lockout occurs, Facebook would send the codes to these people and you contact these people preferably via phone or SMS for these codes. This can come in handy with older people who forget their Facebook credentials or if someone’s account was hacked and the password was changed.

Facebook are in a position to do this not just because of them being a highly-popular social network but users are using their Facebook parameters to sign in to a large number of consumer-oriented Websites and mobile apps. I wouldn’t put it past Microsoft or Google to implement this in to their account systems, especially more so with Microsoft using the Web-hosted credentials as the key to our Windows 8 computers.

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An increasing number of home systems and personal health devices link to our mobile devices

Article

Home, health devices controlled by apps on the rise | The Age (Australia)

My Comments

A trend that is becoming very real in this day and age is for more appliances, home systems and personal healthcare devices to be linked to the home network and the Internet.

This is typically manifested in the form of the devices having control apps being made available for smartphones and tablets that run on common mobile-computing platforms, especially iOS and Android. Typically the device would like to the smartphone or tablet either via a direct Bluetooth link or the home network with the mobile computing device linking to that network via Wi-Fi wireless. Some of these devices that promote “cloud-driven” or “remote-access” functionality make use of the Internet connection offered by the home network or the mobile computing device.

Of course, you have to remember that the use of the “cloud” word is primarily about the vendor or service provider providing either simplified remote access to the device or having user data being stored on the vendor’s servers.

A lot of the apps offer various device control or monitoring functions, with some of the apps linking to a remote Web server for storing user data. This is more so with personal healthcare devices where the goal is to keep a record of measurements that the device obtains on behalf of the user.

Of course, the mobile-computing-platform app may not he the only way to benefit from the connected device’s online abilities. Here, the device could work with a Web-based dashboard page that users can view with a Web browser on their regular-platform or mobile-platform computing device. This situation would come in handy if the concept is to provide more information at a glance or provide greater control of the device.

There is a reality that by 2022 a household with 2 teenage / young-adult children will maintain 50 Internet-connected devices compared to 10 such devices in 2013 according to OECD data and this situation is being described as the “Internet Of Things”.

But there are some issues here with the current ecosystem for these devices and apps. For example, if a user has more appliances and other devices from different manufacturers or service providers, the smartphone or tablet will end up being crowded out with many different apps. The same situation may occur as a device comes to the end of its useful life and is replaced with a newer device which may be from a different vendor. It can lead to users finding it difficult to locate the monitoring or control apps that they need to use for a particular device.

Here, the situation could be rectified through the use of application standards like UPnP so that one can develop apps that can manage many devices from different vendors.

This could also encourage innovation such as the design of “car-friendly” apps or voice-agent (Siri / S-Voice) plugins so that one could benefit from a monitoring or control app when they leave or arrive in the car. Similarly, the software would need to exploit the abilities that iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8 / 8 / RT offer within their platforms for “at-a-glance” viewing or user notifications.

It is a change that could take place over the years as the home network exists to be the easy-to-manage small network for an increasing number of devices.

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The relevance of broadband Internet for the expat and migrant community

A group of people that I do come across a lot are the expatriates and migrants who move from one country to another on a medium to long term basis. Some of them move out on a permanent basis whereas others do move on a temporary basis such as establishing a business in the new country.

One example that I deal with regularly is my barber who is an Italian and who has family members who are at home in Italy. Here, I spend a fair bit of time with him making sure his computer and home network works properly because he uses Skype and Facebook a lot to communicate with his relatives in Italy rather than using the telephone service.

But this class of user is very dependent on communications with their home country. This can be underscored by regular telephone and email communications between relatives and friends in their own country along with a desire to benefit from content that reflects on what is going on in that country while they exist in their new abode.

One technology that I have noticed that has swept expats and migrants off their feet lately is Skype. These people can engage in long video chats with their relatives who are based in their home country for nothing. The software is available across nearly all regular and mobile operating systems and an increasing number of smart TVs are being equipped with Skype, with the user just buying an accessory camera-microphone kit in order to have these videocalls on the big screen.

Similarly, an increasing number of network-capable video peripherals like Blu-Ray players are being equipped with Skype functionality which comes alive when the user buys the accessory camera-microphone kit. Here, this enables people to add Skype to their existing large-screen TVs in a similar manner to what the video recorder has done for older and cheaper TVs.

Another technology that pleases this market is the availability of newspapers and news services online through the Web or the mobile interface, provided by the news publishers themselves. This allows the expat to know what is going on at home and benefit from the publisher’s look and feel that has the “homely” taste rather than the weekly print editions that appear at some newsstands. In some cases like Britain’s Daily Telegraph, this is augmented by the establishment of a dedicated online department who furnishes resources targeted at this market.

Yet Another technology that also helps the expat and migrant community is Internet-based broadcasting. Typically this allows these people to benefit from content that is broadcast from home in their new country. It manifests in the form of the Internet radio with access to Internet streams of radio stations that broadcast to particular towns and neighbourhoods. This has been assisted through the use of TuneIn Radio, vTuner and similar Internet-radio directories.

As for TV, some companies and groups have targeted the expat market well with the AFL providing an overseas-only IPTV service for Aussies away from home wanting to know what the team they barrack for is up to. As well a few companies are running similar IPTV services but there needs to be a lot more work done on discovery and provisioning of these services. This includes integrating them in to the main smart-TV platforms, allowing for “buy from the couch” opportunities and providing a good-quality service.

At least the broadband Internet is showing itself as being highly relevant to the expat and migrant community and I always recommend the establishment of a good broadband service and home network for such groups.

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Setting up Apple iChat for Facebook Chat and Messaging

Windows users have been able to use the Facebook Messenger as a desktop option for gaining access to Facebook’s chat and messaging features. Similarly, users of the iOS and Android mobile platforms have benefited from having access to the Facebook Messenger app as a dedicated path to this same service.

But how can you gain full-time access to the Facebook chat and messaging functionality on your Apple Macintosh without the need to open your Web browser? You can when you use the iChat software that is integrated with the Mac OS X operating system.

Here, the Mac has to be equipped with iChat AV 3 or later which is part of the operating system from 10.4 Tiger to 10.7 Lion. It will provide an “always-live” messaging and “green-dot” presence feature that you would expect with the Web-driven Facebook messaging interface.

  1. To set this up, you click on the “Preferences” item in the iChat menu.
  2. Click on the “Accounts” option in this window, then click the + icon at the bottom of this window as if you are adding a new iChat account.
  3. Select “Jabber” as the account type.
  4. Supply the credentials as:
    Screen Name: <Your_Facebook_User_Name>@chat.facebook.com
    Password:<Your_Facebook_Password>
  5. For the Server Options, make sure that “Automatically find server name and port” option is checked. If this doesn’t work, you may have to fill in “chat.facebook.com” in the Name and 5222 in the Port for the Server details
  6. Then click Done to add the account.

For this acoount to work automatically, you have to select the “Enable this account” and “Log in Automatically” options for it to log in and show you as online when you use your Mac. Here, you will see the list of all the Facebook Friends who are currently online with that green dot.

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What was network gaming about before online gaming?

Before the rise of Internet-hosted online gaming setups, we saw the existence of multi-player multi-machine gaming setups that existed either peer-to-peer with a cable or a local area network.

What was valued about these setups was that you could establish ad-hoc local games challenges ranging from connecting up a pair of PlayStations to each other towards the huge “LAN party” frag-fests with players playing various games on many overclocked PCs connected via a business-grade Ethernet network to a games server in a large room that is hired for that party. In some cases, it could include a Bluetooth link between two phones or PDAs to play a game while on a train or over a coffee at that café/

There were advantages like being able to play against people you know well, through having the network game become a feature for a party to the ability for a venue to host their own challenges based on these games.

As we have moved towards the online games model, we have drifted from the localised multi-machine gaming model. But we can re-integrate the localised model with the online model if the game or situation allows for it.

One approach would be to create local teams, gaming challenges or play spaces for your immediate area. These would require users with the online accounts to be aware of and play with the teams, challenges or spaces. They could be locally authenticated using GPS, network discovery or manually through the user entering in a seat number or room number for the local challenge.

Another way of facilitationg these local challenges is to “go hybrid”. This is where you have the online gaming setup but you also have a local games server available to a local network, which could be the function of a high-end network-attached storage device. This local server can team with the online server either to cache activity when the online link is a slow link or to host the local challenges.

This concept of local-network gaming may go against the dream for the purely cloud-driven online lifestyle but can allow for increased opportunities for developing the network-gaming concept further. It doesn’t matter whether you are at home, run a public-access network or want to take gaming further than the online gaming services.

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Your smartphone’s camera can take your pulse courtesy of Fujitsu

Article

Fujitsu tech takes your pulse with your camera phone – popular science, mobile applications, mobile, Fujitsu – PC World Australia

My Comments

The platform smartphone or tablet is starting to play an increasingly important role on personal health and wellbeing without the need to be dependent on extra peripherals. It is becoming increasingly relevant for these devices so you can keep an electronic record of observations or easily send the data to a doctor or clinic via email or cloud data service. This would lead to these devices becoming part of various home-based healthcare setups like management of chronic illnesses or catering to the idea of “ageing at home” where older people can stay at home independently or under the care of their relatives, friends or paid carers.

Previously I reported on the use of a smartphone camera and app that implements machine vision for “reading” certain urinalysis sticks, avoiding the need to check against confusing charts. I even put forward the idea of using similar “fluid-analysis” sticks and a smartphone app to check other liquids like drinks for “spiking” or “loading” or to check the pH level in a swimming pool.

Now Fujitsu has developed software code that makes a small digital camera like that installed in a smartphone or tablet as machine vision for taking someone’s pulse.This may be seen to displace the medical skill where you “pinch” the patient’s wrist near their hand and count the beats that you feel for a minute measured by a stopwatch or watch with second hand.

This concept works on the fact that the brightness of one’s face changes slightly as their heart beats and uses the presence of green light to look for haemoglobin which is part of the red (just oxygenated) blood cells. The procedure requires 5 seconds versus a minute with the orthodox method and the software can assess when patient is still for improved accuracy.

Fujitsu hopes to commercialise the technology in 12 months but there are questions on whether they will implement it in their own equipment or license it to other developers. For it to be popular, they would have to license the algorithms to other software developers to integrate in to their projects and / or release a finished software product to the platform app stores for people to use on their devices.

They also see this technology as facilitating unobtrusive measurement of one’s pulse using the camera on a PC, smartphone, smart TV, or tablet this being part of long-term observational-healthcare situations like chronic illness management.

What I see of this is the ability to use the cost-effective and ubiquitous hardware i.e. the multi-functional smartphone, tablet or Ultrabook to work as part of remote health care and allied applications with minimum need to use extra peripherals.

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Using a smartphone app and a QR code to determine the provenance of that beef in France

Article – French language

Flashez votre barquette de bœuf et retrouvez son origine

My Comments

The recent meat-substitution scandal in Europe where a significant quantity of processed beef and beef-based “heat-and-eat” products sold in that area were filled out with horsemeat has put the meat industry, especially the beef industry, on edge.

But how is the meat industry going to restore consumer confidence in the beef that they are going to purchase especially from the supermarket?

A group of organisations in France have put their heads together to provide a way of checking the provenance of that tray of beef. This involved a group of beef farmers in the Pyrenees, the Vignasse et Donney software developers and the Auchan supermarket chain. With this project, there would be a database that has information on the provenance of the retail packages of meat available for sale. As well, each tray of that meat has a QR code that represents the link to the database about the meat. This would be read by a platform smartphone that runs the “Boeuf Blond D’’Aquitaine” app that shows up information about the meat package whose QR code is scanned.

It could work in restoring the necessary consumer confidence in the meat but this concerns more the sausages, the “cut-up” beef like minced (ground) beef or stir-fry strips as well as the ready-meal products like bolognese, lasagne and moussaka. Here, a lot of this class of food is prepared by third parties and it could be feasible to “balloon” the beef product with pork, oodles of fat or offal or, at worst, horse. This is more so with cheaper versions of these products; and this scandal was primarily anchored around the mislabelling of the product at various points of the preparation process.

I would see the QR-code labelling program and the provenance database being more effective with the sausages and “cut-up” beef which was prepared through the known chain of production established by the partners such as “on-demand on-site” preparation of these cuts by Auchan for example. Similarly, the DNA could be worked out for the meat and meat products and represented in to a smartphone-readable label that can be used by customers to determine the origin of the meat they are to purchase.

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