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Google Assistant finally supports sensors and smoke detectors, paving the way for smarter alerts and automations

One of the cornerstones of the smart home are automations that get triggered based on certain conditions. SmartThings, Wink, and other hubs built their whole proposition on top of that, but then voice assistants came and shook that foundation. Voice commands, and thus active requests, became the focus, but that didn't stop everyone from bemoaning the loss of passive automations. To implemented that functionality you need sensors, and Google Assistant is finally adding native support for them.

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Sony announces 48-megapixel smartphone camera sensor

Sony has announced that it's developed a smartphone camera sensor with a silly-high resolution of 48 megapixels. The new IMX586 is apparently the world's first sensor to feature a pixel size of 0.8 μm — and those tiny pixels allowed for Sony to cram a whole lot of them into a component small enough to fit in a smartphone chassis.

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Galaxy S10 and Note9 cameras may use Samsung's new ISOCELL Plus tech for better low-light performance, color accuracy, and sharpness

Today Samsung has announced its new "ISOCELL Plus" technology, which aims to improve color accuracy and sharpness for the company's CMOS camera sensors. The "Plus" in this case replaces the metal grid over the photodiodes with a Fujifilm-designed material that absorbs and reflects less light, sharpening what each individual pixel can capture. That could give the upcoming Note9 or next year's Galaxy S10 even more accurate and clear photos, especially in low-light. 

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[Update: Rolling out in June OTA] Google has a fix for Pixel 2 XL proximity sensor issues, expect it 'in the coming months'

Back in October, we reported on a change in the Android 8.1 release that made the proximity sensor behave differently. Unlike before, it wouldn't turn Ambient Display off when you covered the sensor, something we saw even in 8.0 for the newer Pixel 2s. That may or may not have been intentional, but it seems there were also other issues relating to the proximity sensor in 8.1, more about which you can read in this mega thread on the Pixel User Community forum.

Many of the problems specifically affect the Pixel 2 XL, and range from the sensor being confused by things like screen protectors, causing 'always on' Ambient Display to turn off unexpectedly, to not being able to use the device at all during calls.

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The New Android Sensor Hub Will Significantly Improve Idle Battery Life While Doing More With Sensor Data

The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P are packed with a number of cool hardware improvements over previous generations, like a shockingly fast fingerprint reader and a fast-charging USB Type-C connector. During today's presentation, Dave Burke spoke about a brand new piece of hardware dubbed Android Sensor Hub that can significantly extend battery life and allows even more inventive features to these phones. It's a dedicated low-power processor designed to efficiently manage sensor data so the main processor can go to sleep for longer periods of time.

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Sony Smart Tennis Sensor Now Available Online In North America, Europe, And Other Markets

The Sony Smart Tennis Sensor is obviously a niche device. Do you play tennis? Are you dedicated enough to want to track how fast you swing? Are you willing to pay $200 to do so?

For the person that answers yes to all of these questions, the Smart Tennis Sensor is now available for purchase in parts of North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific.

Sony demoed off a prototype device two CES shows ago, and sometime after that a consumer-ready product launched in Japan. Now it's coming to other parts of the world.

The Smart Tennis Sensor isn't its own racket—it clips onto the bottom of yours.

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Samsung Is Working On A Wearable Early Warning System For Strokes, May Lead To Better Monitors For Many Other Conditions

Samsung's forays into Wearable technology for the consumer market haven't been very groundbreaking, and a few never even touched down. Perhaps the secret was to aim higher than heart rate trackers and smartwatches. A small team at Samsung has been working in the company's Creativity Lab (a.k.a. C-Lab) developing a headset capable of observing brainwave patterns for signs of a stroke. Not only could the system help millions of people each year to prevent a crippling or fatal stroke, but the technology may have applications for monitoring the heart and brain for many other conditions.

The project began two years ago when the project lead, Se-hoon Lim, and 4 other engineers from the smartphone and washing machine divisions came together with the goal of an early warning system.

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Sony Improves Low-Light Functionality Of The CMOS Sensor By Bending It

Sony announced at the Symposium on VLSI Technology that it is trying to improve the functionality and light capture of CMOS sensors by bending them, using - get ready - a proprietary "bending machine." So far, their efforts sound successful. The manufacturer has created a pair of curved CMOS sensors, one sized for cameras (43mm) and one for mobile devices (11mm), that they say have improved sensitivity 1.4x at the center of the sensor, and 2x at the edges.

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Google Is Planning To Release An SDK For Android-Based Wearables In Two Weeks

It's no mystery that Google has been poking around wearable gadgets for quite some time. The list of projects seems to keep growing as we hear about rumors of an LG-made smartwatch, another prototype watch designed by Motorola, and of course, Google's own Glass. Earlier today at SXSW, Sundar Pichai took to the stage to announce plans to release a brand new SDK for Android-based wearable devices in about two weeks.


Image: Engadget

Pichai explained that the the SDK will focus heavily on better access to sensor data and improving the way devices can communicate with each other.

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Sony QX10 Lens Review: Sony's Odd New Stepping Stone Between Smartphones And DSLRs

Back at IFA, I got my hands on Sony's QX10 lens camera, one of two such devices the electronics manufacturer announced in Berlin. I wasn't sure what I thought about it then, having only played with it for about a day, but I've spent some quality time with the device since, and I'm ready to lay down my full impression.

For those not quite up to speed, the QX10 (and its higher-end counterpart, the QX100) is a camera in a lens. The generally lens-shaped body houses a sensor, microphones, and telescopic zooming lens assembly.

This odd device can clip onto your smartphone with a special adapter included in the box, accommodating most form factors adeptly with its spring action.

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