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Technology

Now get the bus and train times nearby your drop-off point through Uber

At some point, we all have experienced that hustle of chasing a bus or train. Many of us take a cab to the railway station, but keeping tabs on forthcoming departure times for the train while riding in a cab just makes you toggle between the apps. So what can you do to make this a bit easy? Well, Uber and Transit together have come up with a solution for this.

Uber is all set to upgrade its Android app that will avail the users with departure times for trains and buses that are close by where a passenger will be dropped off. The public transit data is being unveiled in collaboration with the Transit app. At present, this new feature will be only available to the Android users after its launch. It would comprise 50 locations, including Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

When you are in an Uber cab and if your drop location has a nearby transit stop, the app will show you up the forthcoming departure times in the Uber feed. The time will be refreshed regularly so as to provide the user with the latest data right at their fingertips. Apart from this, if the users desire to learn more, they can just go to the Transit app with a single tap for the service disruption information, a-to-b directions, and more.

With this new approach the team hopes to offer:

  • A feasible substitute to personal car ownership as they can always get a ride whenever they want. And also, it is often less expensive to use several transit alternatives instead of owning a car.
  • Better linked cities, where individuals can simply access all localities including areas unprivileged by transit.
  • Decreased parking and traffic as carpooling and public transit can result in fewer cars on the street and less congestion.

Transit’s Chief Operating Officer, Jake Sion, said, “Our combination with Uber is a great match, as we both envisage a future in which each journey is shared with the use of a permutation of transit alternatives.” We can hope this feature to be soon rolled out for iOS too.

But this app will be only useful for users seeking for transit after their drop off from the ride, isn’t it?

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Health Technology

A new fitness-focused smartwatch introduced by Acer: Leap Ware

People from all around the world are becoming tech savvy. And even the manufacturers are coming up with new and advanced technology. A number of products were launched at the recently conducted event, Next@Acer, of Acer in New York. One of it was the introduction of the Leap Ware smart fitness watch. The smartwatch is presented with inbuilt sensors that enable the wearer to keep the track of their stamina, heart rate, fatigue/stress as well as exposure to ultraviolet rays.

Talking about the appearance of the smartwatch, it has a 1.6-inch stainless steel circular frame. It sports a Gorilla Glass SR+, which gives it the scratch resistance property coupled with optical clarity, touch sensitivity, and toughness of Gorilla Glass. The wearable has an IPX7 rating, thus it is water resistant. It also has an inbuilt LED light that lights up at the press of a button. Acer Leap Ware is powered by an MT2511 bio-sensing chip and a MediaTek MT2523 chipset. The battery life of the wearable is up to 3–5 days, as claimed by the company.

The bands of Acer Leap Ware are interchangeable and have light brown or navy blue as the color alternatives. The wearable is compatible with Android as well as iOS through the Liquid Life app. It exhibits messages and calls in addition to the fitness data. With the use of the Liquid Life app, the users can set everyday fitness objectives with notifications to instruct them. It also lets the users gain Power Coins by the means of several activities such as biking, running, and more. The Power Coins can be claimed in the Liquid Life Market for a range of items, discounts, and rewards.

The Acer Leap Ware will be made available in July in North America, in Taiwan by August, whereas the Middle East, Africa, and Europe will receive it in the third-quarter of this year. The cost of the fitness tracker will be as such: $139 (approximately Rs 8,900), TWD 4,990 (around Rs 10,600), and EUR 139 (approximately Rs 9,700), in the respective regions.

So, all the fitness conscious individuals can keep a track of their heart rate, stamina, and more with this fitness tracker, isn’t it?

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News Phones

Xiaomi Mi 6 will not be rolled out in Europe and the US

Fans of Xiaomi in Europe and the United States have to wait a bit longer as the company has no plans of launching its smartphones in these markets. Xiaomi initiated its business in 2015 in Europe and the United States markets by selling audio accessories and power banks. Afterward, in 2016, Xiaomi also rolled out Mi Box in the United States, but however, the company hasn’t yet launched a smartphone in these regions.

Last week, the company has rolled out its iconic smartphone in China. What draws the attention to the smartphone are its sleek design, the recent Snapdragon 835 SoC, and the dual camera arrangement at the back. The company is also considered to introduce several smartphones such as Mi Note 3, Xiaomi Mi 6 Plus, Mi MIX 2, Mi Max 2, and Redmi Pro 2 by this year. Nevertheless, people from the United States and Europe will have to wait as it won’t be possible for them to buy these smartphones in their countries. Xiaomi’s Vice President, Wang Xiang, said that the company has no thoughts about tapping the smartphone market in Europe and the Unites States for now.

So, the only means to buy the Xiaomi smartphones is to place an order on the online retailer sites such as Giztop and GearBest. These sites are trading the smartphones a little costly. During an interview, Xiang mentioned that the company, at present, is concentrating on 30 countries it is serving and it is also busy trying to function and enlarge in those countries. He explained that Xiaomi has achieved huge impetus in countries such as Ukraine, Myanmar, Indonesia, & India and it is seeking to concentrate its energy to establish its existence in these markets asserting, “We are in no rush to serve the developed markets.”

Xiang also stated that the engineers do not have the sufficient time required to do the robust testing for a launch in the United States to guarantee its compatibility. Though, he hasn’t shut the hope of bringing their smartphones to these markets as he also said that it will be probably entering these markets in the next 2 years.

 

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Technology

A material that may lead to self-healing smartphones

What if your smartphone could repair itself if it breaks? Yes, you are reading it right. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have designed a novel self-healing substance that can transfer ions to produce current and perhaps, some day could also aid in repairing your broken smartphone on its own. The scientists have fabricated the transparent and stretchable substance that can repair itself by taking into consideration soft robotics and electronics.

Chao Wang said, “A self-healing substance, if sliced into two pieces, has the potential to get back together as if nothing had occurred similar to a human skin. I have been assessing to make a lithium-ion battery that is able to self-heal, so if someone drops their smartphone, it can fix itself and thus become more durable.”

Chemical bonding is the basis of the mechanism of self-healing. In a material, two types of bonds are present, namely, covalent and non-covalent bonds. Covalent bonds do not readily reorganize once broken and are strong, whereas non-covalent bonds are more dynamic and are weak. The hydrogen bond formed between the water molecules is a type of non-covalent bond; it breaks and reforms continuously in order to give water its fluidic characteristics.

According to the scientist, the majority of self-healing materials form metal–ligand coordination or hydrogen bonds; however, these are not appropriate for ionic conductors. So, instead of opting for the abovementioned non-covalent bonds, the team shifted toward another type of non-covalent bond, i.e., ion-dipole interaction, which is a force between polar molecules and charged ions. This gives the material the capability to heal by attracting the molecules and the ions to each other whenever it has a scratch or breaks.

Wang further added, “Until now, no self-healing material has been developed via the ion-dipole interactions, but it seems that they are particularly appropriate for ionic conductors.” The basic design thought in the material development was to utilize a polar, stretchable polymer, namely, poly(vinylidene fluoride-co-hexafluoropropylene), and a mobile, ionic salt. The resultant material is able to extend up to 50 times its standard size. When torn into the half, the polymer automatically sutured itself back together entirely within a day.

Isn’t it just great?

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Technology

Small robots to be powered with a new ‘tree-on-a-chip’ device

Intense research is been done in the field of robotics and researchers are making continuous efforts to come up with better improvements to the present technology. A team of MIT engineers has developed a microfluidic ‘tree-on-a-chip’ device. This device imitates the mechanism of pumping of plants and trees and can be utilized to power composite motions in small robots. The chip functions passively and doesn’t need external pumps or moving parts. It is capable of pumping sugar and water via the chip at a stable flow rate for days.

The common understanding between biologists is that water, impelled by surface tension, pass through the tree’s network of xylem, then disperses via a semipermeable membrane, and finally downward into the phloem channels that enclose sugars and other nutrients.

If the quantity of sugar is more in the phloem, the more water streams to phloem from xylem in order to maintain the sugar-to-water gradient through a passive mechanism called as osmosis. Thus the occurring flow of water washes down the nutrients to their roots. The plants and trees are considered to control the process of pumping as more water is taken up via their roots. In order to fabricate the chip, the team sandwiched 2 plastic slides together and then a tiny channels were drilled to correspond to phloem and xylem.

The xylem channel was filled with water, whereas the phloem channel with sugar and water. These 2 slides were separated via a semipermeable substance so as to imitate a membrane between the phloem and xylem. Another membrane was mounted onto the slide consisting of the phloem network and then a set of sugar cube on it as an extra sugar source disseminating from the leaves of the tree into the phloem. The team clipped the chip to a tube that supplied water into the chip from a tank. With such an easy setup, the chip was capable of passively pumping the water at a steady flow rate from the tank via the chip and then out into a beaker. And also did this for many days in contrast to earlier designs that were capable of pumping water only for several minutes.

Don’t you think this can lead to a cost-effective and reliable technique for powering small robots?

Categories
Technology

Green tea-knotted capacitor to power wearable devices

Green tea is widely known for the various health benefits it provides to the user. But have you ever thought that green tea can power wearable devices? Yes, you read it right. A team of researchers has utilized green tea components to make a novel supple and compacted rechargeable energy storage tool that can be used to power comfortable wearable electronics, including the heart rate monitors.

At present, the majority of famous editions of wearable devices are put up for sale as sports bands or smartwatches. The researchers believe that more products that are comfortable can be made accessible in softer materials that are prepared from unexpected components such as a green tea. One of the prominent challenges faced by the available soft wearable devices is the availability of a long-lasting source of energy.

Nevertheless, most of the supercapacitors designed so far are rigid and face some obstructions. Kothandam Krishnamoorthy, CSIR-Network of Institutes for Solar Energy, said, “Our aim is to manufacture wearable electronic devices. Compressible energy storage tools are the step forward to attain that goal.”

Supercapacitors are usually manufactured with carbon-coated polymer sponges; however, the coating substance is likely to heap and compromise the functioning of the device. TO overcome this, the team wanted to try a new approach. For this, the researchers made polymer gels in green tea extract that fills the gel with polyphenols.

 

The silver nitrate solution was transformed by the polyphenols into a homogeneous covering of silver nanoparticles. Then it was applied with slender layers of conducting poly (3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) and gold. The resultant supercapacitor illustrated energy and power densities of 22 W⋅h/kg and 2,715 W/kg, which are adequate to operate LEDs, a Bluetooth module, or a heart rate monitor.

Hence, this new method can give a new insight for powering the electronic devices. This is an out-of-box and reliable method. Isn’t it?

Categories
Technology

New material to keep buildings and cars cool

We have already started to feel the heat of summer. Have you ever thought of a material that can keep the car and building from heating? So, this is something you should know. The existing substances that accurately take up light are bulky and can rupture when bent. Further, they are not capable of absorbing only the required wavelength while letting others pass through, which limits in use in some applications.

Now, the scientists at the University of California San Diego have designed a flexible, thin, lightweight material, known as a near-perfect broadband absorber, which is capable of blocking thermal exposure and take up light from each angle in order to keep cars and buildings cool during hot summer days.

The material is claimed to take up almost 87% of near-infrared light, that is, at 1,200–2,200 nm wavelengths, with 98% assimilation at 1,550 nm. The material has the power to absorb light from each angle. Hypothetically, it can be modified to take up specific wavelengths of light without absorbing the other wavelengths.

The absorber depends on optical fact called as surface plasmon resonances that are combined motions of free electrons, which takes place on the exterior of metal nanoparticles on contact with specific wavelengths of light. Metal nanoparticles can hold many free electrons and hence display tough surface plasmon resonance specifically in the visible light, but not in the infrared.

The scientists also believe if they are able to alter the digit of free electron carriers, it would enable them to adjust the surface plasmon resonance of the material to various wavelengths of light.

Isn’t it a great development?

Categories
Technology

Instagram albums: all you need to know

Are you an Instagram user? Instagram has been working a lot on upgrading its app. One of the features that would surely grab all the attention of the users is a new Instagram’s album feature. Now, it will enable the user to share several videos and photos in a single post.

So, let’s have a look at what all new it has brought for us.

  • The users of Instagram can choose up to 10 videos or photos from the camera rolls to be uploaded all at a time in one post.
  • It is possible to edit every video or photo with the use of inbuilt tools of Instagram and reshuffled after or before sharing the post.
  • You can tag the individual profiles in each video or photo, but the location and the caption tag would be applicable to the complete collection.
  • You can find a thumbnail of the post at the top right with a small album icon that will point out if the post has multiple videos or photos. You can just swipe through the videos or photos to have a look at them. You can even comment on or like the post with multiple videos and photos. It’s just that it would appear on the whole post instead of the individual video or photo present in that album.

This feature would be available soon as an update for Android and iOS. Are you eager for its roll out?

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Technology

Android’s dialer to be replaced with these calling apps

With the new technologies and advancements offered with the smartphones, we use them more than just making a call. And, at most of the times, the default dialing app is ignored while updating. At present, the number of available third-party application is increasing on the Google store. When you search for calling apps on the store, you are provided with plenty of options, but there a few that stand out of the crowd. Let’s have a look which are they.

TrueCaller

TrueCaller is a highly functional app that not only blocks the spams accurately but also provides the names of the unknown callers from its dataset of the call logs. It also tells whether the person you wish to talk with is available (green dot) or not (red dot) at that particular moment. You can even ask that person to call back and they will be sent a notification once they are available.

Drupe

Drupe is a multifunctional dialer with an interesting platform. The app enables dragging people to the frequently used mode of communication. Thus you can drag a contact and drop it to, for instance, Facebook or WhatsApp, to open up a chat directly with that person. Likewise, you can also set reminders, send an SMS, and connect with many other apps. It is also provided with an inbuilt call recording feature.

So, which app do you use? Which app would you prefer for making calls? Feel free to share your thoughts.