Wednesday, January 21, 2015

NASA And Microsoft Using HoloLens To Make It Possible To Work Remotely… On Mars

Microsoft and NASA are teaming up to make remote working on the Red Planet a reality, using the newly announced HoloLens headset, and the Windows Holographic technology that it supports. The platform is called OnSight and is being developed out of NASA’s Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). It uses the Mars Curiosity rover as effectively a telepresence bot for scientists working out of the relative comforts of Earth’s atmosphere.
Data piped from Curiosity will allow the OnSight software to build a 3D simulation of its surroundings on Mars, which scientists will be able to check out first-hand thanks to HoloLens’ ability to project virtual environments onto physical surroundings. The scientists will then be able to examine what’s being worked on by Curiosity from a first-person perspective, and then plan future activities for the rover to complete, as well as see simulations of their likely results.

HoloLens and the holographic computing MS is using with the headset won’t just pipe a 3D recreation of the Martian landscape to scientists. It’ll also overlay the imagery with information, distances, readings and other sensor data and supplemental knowledge to help scientists experience Curiosity’s viewpoint in a way that lets them work within the simulation directly, rather than having to pop out to check some detail on a nearby terminal.
OnSight is part of JPL’s ongoing research into robot-controlled spacecraft and exploration equipment, meaning we could eventually see more robot missions to Mars before we send humans up there to check things out first-hand. Curiosity operations involving the OnSight tech are slated to kick off later this year, and HoloLens and Microsoft’s crazy AR innovations could be included in Mars 2020 rover missions, NASA says.
I literally just finished reading The Martian, so I can’t close without mentioning that this probably would’ve helped a lot with the rescue of Mark Watney, had HoloLens and OnSight existed in that fictional near future.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

iPhone 6 Plus Sales Boost Apple’s Market Share in Asia As Samsung Continues To Struggle

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have helped grow Apple’s market share to record levels in Asia, says a new report by Counterpoint Research. Globally, iPhone sales grew 26 percent year-over-year in November 2014.

In Japan, where iPhones have been the top handset by market share since the fourth-quarter of 2012, Apple accounted for 51 percent of all smartphone sales in October and November.

No foreign brand has gone beyond the 20 percent market share market in the history of Korea’s smartphone industry. It has always been dominated by the global smartphone leader, Samsung. But iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have made a difference here, denting the competition’s phablet sales,” wrote Tom Kang, Counterpoint’s research director based in Korea.
He added that Apple could have sold even more phones, but there weren’t enough iPhone 6 and 6 Plus 64GB and 128GB devices available to meet demand.
The iPhone 6 Plus also helped iPhone sales in China increase by 45 percent year-over-year in November. Though China is Apple’s most important growth market, its dominance there has been challenged by the rapid increase of inexpensive Android smartphones made by fast-growing competitors like Xiaomi.
Furthermore, iPhone sales in China dipped at the beginning of fall thanks to a combination of regulatory and inventory issues.
They began to recover in November, however, and iPhone sales that month pushed Apple’s market share to above 12 percent, putting it behind Xiaomi and Lenovo, the number one and two smartphone vendors in China, and taking further market share away from Samsung, which was once at the lead but has been struggling with slowing mobile sales.
“Apple with iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have been able to impact Samsung’s premium Galaxy S5 and Note 4 sales. But with the launch of Xiaomi and Note Pro it is going to be a fierce battle in the premium segment, with Samsung being attacked from both ends,” wrote Counterpoint research director Neil Shah.

SpaceX Raises $1 Billion In New Funding From Google And Fidelity

SpaceX, the space exploration startup helmed by ex-PayPal founder Elon Musk, has confirmed that it has raised $1 billion in new funding, in a round including Google and Fidelity, who join existing investors Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Valor Equity Partners and Capricorn. Google and Fidelity get an ownership stake just shy of 10 percent in exchange for their investment.
A report from the WSJ broke yesterday that Google was considering a sizeable investment in SpaceX, with a valuation of more than $10 billion (which is in keeping with Google and Fidelity getting less than 10 percent ownership for their combined $1 billion contribution). The investment was said to be aligned with Google’s plans to make Internet connectivity more accessible on a global scale.

The Information originally reported that Google was investing in SpaceX in order to support a satellite project specifically aimed at broadening Internet availability. Musk has discussed the project, which is being run out of a newly opened Seattle office, as involving hundreds of micro-satellites that will operate in very low orbit, offering faster communication vs. traditional satellites, and helping to pave the way for future Mars missions.
Google’s Project Loon is also striving to increase the availability of Internet connectivity, using a network of high flying balloons to network hard-to-reach areas. Musk’s plan has a couple of differences, though the projects actually share a lot in common: SpaceX’s design calls for satellites flying higher and faster than Google’s balloons, but the aims of casting off the limits of terrestrial networks still apply.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cristiano Ronaldo wins Ballon d’Or over Lionel Messi & Manuel Neuer

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Ballon d'Or world footballer of the year award for the second year in a row.
The Portugal captain beat Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to the award.
Wolfsburg and Germany midfielder Nadine Kessler was named women's player of the year, while Colombia's James Rodriguez won goal of the year.
Germany's World Cup winner Joachim Low won men's coach of the year.
Wolfsburg boss Ralf Kellermann was named women's football coach of the year after a successful defence of the Champions League.
The three candidates for the Ballon d'Or were all picked in the team of the year, along with defenders Philipp Lahm, David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Sergio Ramos, midfielders Andres Iniesta, Toni Kroos and Angel Di Maria and forward Arjen Robben.

Ballon d'Or

Cristiano Ronaldo successfully defended his world player of the year status convincingly with 37.66% of all votes, winning for a third time. Barcelona and Argentina counterpart Lionel Messi - who won four years in a row until Ronaldo beat him last year, was second on 15.76%. He was narrowly ahead of Bayern Munich and Germany keeper Manuel Neuer, who had 15.72%.

Ronaldo, who scored 52 goals in 43 games during 2014, looked emotional when collecting the award from former France, Barcelona and Arsenal striker Thierry Henry.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Apple Sells 10 Million iPhone 6 And 6 Plus Devices During Launch Weekend

Apple has officially confirmed a total of 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales during their initial weekend on sale. This is a new record for an iPhone launch, besting the 9 million iPhone 5s and 5c sales from that launch last year, and far outpacing the 5 million new iPhone 5 devices sold back in 2012.
Analyst estimates for launch weekend sales ranged from between 7-8 million from Bernstein’s Toni Sacconaghi, up to sales in the “low teens” of millions from Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um. Many had pegged launch device numbers at around 10 million, citing supply constraints as a limiting factor. Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus also launched in one fewer country than did the iPhone 5 and 5s, and that country was a significant one for Apple: China, which has recently become one of its primary hardware revenue drivers.

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