A little over a year ago, one of the endless April Fool's jokes that cropped up around tech sites struck a chord with gamers. The "SmartBoy" from Hyperkin, sellers of new replacement parts for classic consoles, was a concept that slid an iPhone into a plastic case that perfectly reproduced the buttons and grip of the original Game Boy from 1989. It also included a real game cartridge slot, so authentic Game Boy games could theoretically be played using a modern smartphone screen. It was a little ridiculous - today's phones can already emulate Game Boy titles with ease, and even simulate the buttons with a Bluetooth controller - but the idea seemed to resonate with Nintendo fans. Read More
Yesterday at Lenovo's Tech World event, the company demoed two concept products that were, frankly, kind of amazing. A foldable tablet-phone, and a bendable wrist-phone. While the on-stage demo didn't really tell us much about them, I sat in on a talk where we were allowed to take a closer look (though not touch, sadly) at these concept devices while learning more about them though. Read More
It's alright if you've already forgotten about Project Soli - with all of the crazy futuristic stuff that the Google Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) team works on, it's easy to get confused. Essentially, Soli is a system that adapts radar-style techniques into tiny hardware in order to enable the tracking of hands and fingers (or anything else, really) which in turn allows software to recognize hand gestures with precision and accuracy that beats anything on the consumer market today. It's pretty cool - watch this video from last year's Google I/O for a crash course. Read More
Few Android OEMs take their updates as seriously and as extensively as Sony does, and Marshmallow is no exception. Ever since the source code for Android 6.0.0 was released by Google, the company revealed which devices in its portfolio will get it (hint: they go as far back as the Xperia Z2), released AOSP binaries for a slew of devices including its new Xperia Z5 and Z5 Compact, and announced concept Marshmallow builds for the Z3 and Z3 Compact that are open for 10,000 testers. Now these builds are starting to roll to users who signed up for them and you have more opportunities to try them out if you own a compatible smartphone. Read More
Sony began tinkering with a cleaner build of Android 5.1 earlier this year with the help of a few hundred beta testers in Sweden. The so-called Sony Concept for Android program is moving forward today with an expansion to more markets and a bump up to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Slots are limited (increased from last time), and it's not available in all regions. For once, it's the US that's getting left out. Read More
A couple of years ago, I couldn't talk to anyone about smartphones for two minutes without them shouting in ecstatic delirium, "Have you seen the new iPhone 5?" Of course, they were talking about this concept video, which everyone in their right mind knew was a "concept" for no less obvious reason than the fact that it was titled as such and created by an animation studio. Except hundreds of people around me still believed it was the real deal. Before I digress any further into the naiveté of common mortals when it comes to technology, I'll remind you of the one feature in that video everyone thought was super cool and that has made it onto countless other concept videos for various companies and products: the projected keyboard. Read More
Does your new phone feel hot? I mean really, really hot, perhaps because it uses a mobile processor that's running much hotter than some of its contemporaries? Maybe it could use an infusion of conceptual tech from Fujitsu. The manufacturer and OEM supplier is currently showing off its "thin cooling device for compact electronics" (catchy!), a liquid cooling solution designed for high-performance mobile chipsets. That's not astounding in and of itself; what is impressive is that they've made it only one millimeter thin.
Liquid cooling for electronics is nothing new - high-end gaming and workstation PCs have been using custom liquid cooling setups for years. Read More
Google Glass still isn't lighting up the world almost two years after release, but it looks like at least one major electronics corporation has taken notice. Sony's primary production division announced its new Single-Lens Display Module today. It's a wearable device that's remarkably similar to Glass in basic structure, with the major difference being that it can be attached to any normal pair of glasses or sunglasses.
Don't pull out your wallet just yet. Sony is really only promoting the module at this point - it's not a finished consumer product. Sony is a huge OEM parts provider, after all, so this gadget is more of a proof-of-concept for Sony's corporate customers. Read More
Google's Finance app is in desperate need of attention. If you haven't checked in on it lately, it's still stuck with Gingerbread design. No seriously, go look. Tiny header bars, legacy menus, odd layouts, and assets that look tiny or pixelated (or both) on today's high resolution devices.
Just for fun, I decided to take a look at the app and see if I could give it a fresh coat of paint, inspired by material design. It's worth noting that, when the rest of Google's product icons were updated in its web launcher, Finance received a new icon too (the basis for the thumbnail of this post), so it's possible that Google really is working on a new design, but that's okay - I think exploring some ideas early is still worth while. Read More
At this point, we've got some really amazing technology in our smartphones, and not just on the inside. Corning's continued work on their Gorilla Glass has made phone screens amazingly resistant to scratches, and as soon as someone manages to figure out how to make synthetic sapphire faster and cheaper, they'll be even better. But no matter how tough your screen is, it's still glass, and dropping it on the pavement is an almost inevitable recipe for a broken screen. (Just ask David Ruddock.)
Indium tin oxide (ITO) layers in current touchscreens. Source: Digi-Key
Dr. Yu Zhu of the University of Akron thinks that he and his team have a solution. Read More