Vodafone India Eyes More Spectrum to Increase Network

Vodafone India Eyes More Spectrum to Increase Network

Leading telecom player Vodafone India Wednesday said it plans to acquire more spectrum to increase its network.

“We have plans to acquire more spectrum, whether they are in trading route, sharing route or action route, we have not announced yet. But we do have plans to have more spectrum.

We feel that we need to increase our portfolio,” Vodafone India managing director and CEO Sunil Sood told reporters in Mumbai.

Sood said that in the next phase of its 4G roll-out, it will cover the key circles of Gujarat, Haryana, UP (E) and West Bengal soon. The company is already offering 4G services across the five circles of Mumbai, Delhi & NCR, Kolkata, Karnataka and Kerala.

With this roll out, its 4G services will be available across 1,000 towns this year, he said.

Announcing the second phase of its 4G roll-out, Sood said, “The response from customers who have experienced our 4G services in the five circles of Kerala, Karnataka, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi & NCR is positive and encouraging. As we expand our 4G coverage across the country, we remain steadfast in our commitment to offer our customers a world-class data and voice experience.”

The nine circles of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Karnataka, Kerala, Haryana, Gujarat, UP (E) and West Bengal, together contribute to just under 70 percent of Vodafone India’s data revenues.

Speaking about Vodafone 4G service, Sood said, “In the past year, significant investments have been made to expand, enhance and upgrade our network enabling us to provide a better and richer network experience to 198 million customers.

“We will continue our focus on deploying multiple technologies-2G, 3G & 4G to cater to the myriad connectivity needs of both urban and rural customers. Our future-fit network is ready to service the rising demands of an increasingly Digital India.”

Commenting on the call drop issue, Sood said, “We are working on it. We have already invested over Rs. 2,000 crores in Delhi, NCR region and Mumbai circles for adding fibre network and adding more sites. We have invested Rs. 1,000 crores and added 3,185 sites and 600km of fibre network last year in Delhi and NCR. In Mumbai we invested Rs. 1,261 crores and added 4,963 sites along with 250km fibre in last one year period.”

“We have registered 40 percent improvement in drop calls issue and 35 percent reduction in network complaints,” he added.

Tags: 4G, India, Spectrum, Telecom, Vodafone

Nasa Eyes ‘Growable Habitats’ to Get Humans to Mars

Nasa Eyes 'Growable Habitats' to Get Humans to Mars

In a bid to develop “magnetoshells” to “growable interplanetary habitats to take humans to Mars”, the US space agency has selected eight technology proposals that can transform future aerospace missions by building efficient aerospace systems.

Awards under phase II of the Nasa Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) programme can be worth as much as $500,000 for a two-year study.

It will allow proposers to further develop concepts funded by Nasa for Phase I studies that successfully demonstrated initial feasibility and benefit.

“The NIAC programme is one of the ways Nasa engages the US scientific and engineering communities by challenging them to come up with some of the most visionary aerospace concepts,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of Nasa’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington, DC.

This year’s phase II portfolio addresses a range of leading-edge concepts, including an interplanetary habitat configured to induce deep sleep for astronauts on long-duration missions.

It also has plans for a highly efficient dual aircraft platform that may be able to stay aloft for weeks or even months at a time.

Phase II includes a method to produce “solar white” coatings for scattering sunlight and cooling fuel tanks in space down to 148 degree Celsius below zero with no energy input needed.

Nasa selected eight projects through a peer-review process that evaluated innovativeness and technical viability.

“Phase II decisions are always challenging, but we were especially challenged this year with so many successful Phase I studies applying to move forward with their cutting-edge technologies,” added Jason Derleth, the NIAC program executive at Nasa headquarters.

“Whether it’s tensegrity habitats in space, new ways to get humans to Mars or delicate photonic propulsion, I am thrilled to welcome these innovations and their innovators back to the programme,” Derleth noted in a Nasa statement.

All projects are still in the early stages of development, most requiring 10 or more years of concept maturation and technology development before use on a Nasa mission.

Tags: Mars, Nasa, Science



Swift Eyes New Technology to Spot Cyber Theft

Swift Eyes New Technology to Spot Cyber Theft

The Swift secure messaging service, which banks use to transfer money around the world, outlined on Friday areas in which it hopes to improve security, following attacks in which hackers stole millions of dollars from banks in Bangladesh and Ecuador.

Swift said on Friday it would consult its users, which are also its owners, about new measures, including the potential to develop new tools that could allow it to spot fraudulent payment instructions.

Historically, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication’s (Swift) core business has focussed on simply passing authenticated messages between banks.

In future it may seek to check inside the messages to ensure payment instructions are consistent with customers’ normal account patterns — akin to the checks retail banks conduct to spot unusual credit card transactions.

The Belgium-based co-operative has been the backbone of international finance for four decades and revelations in recent months that several banks have suffered attacks on their Swift terminals has hit confidence in a service previously seen as totally secure.

In February, thieves hacked into the Swift system of the Bangladesh central bank, sending messages to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York allowing them to steal $81 million.

The attack followed a theft from Banco del Austro in Ecuador that netted thieves over $12 million and a previously undisclosed attack on Vietnam’s Tien Phong Bank that was not successful.

On Friday, European Banking Authority Chairman Andrea Enria urged authorities in European Union member states to stress-test their financial institutions for cyber risks, warning banks might be required to hold extra capital as a buffer against what is an emerging threat.

Swift said it will also look into requiring customers to use existing security measures, such as two-factor authentication of payment instructions, which are currently optional on the system.

The group will also look at developing new audit frameworks such that larger banks offering correspondent banking services can confirm that their clients — often in developing countries — have appropriate security measures in place around their Swift terminal.

Swift said it would seek to encourage banks, which have hitherto been reluctant to inform others when they are attacked, to share information so that trends and tactics in cyber criminal behaviour can be identified and tackled.

The co-operative may also devise new systems for cancelling payment instructions. Currently cancellation messages can only be sent between users which have a direct banking relationship. This makes it harder to cancel a fraudulent instruction sent via intermediary banks.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Tags: Bangladesh Bank, Hack, Hacking, Internet, Swift

Foodpanda Says Automated Order Flow, Eyes Profits in 3 Years

Foodpanda Says Automated Order Flow, Eyes Profits in 3 Years

Online food ordering platform Foodpanda, which was under fire for laying off over 300 employees earlier this year, has implemented a near complete automation of its order flow to become more operationally efficient with lower staff levels, a top company executive said.

“The last six to eight months, we have worked on near 100 percent automation of order flows to ensure operational efficiency to meet our target of becoming profitable in the next three years,” FoodpandaCEO Saurabh Kocchar told PTI.

The Rocket Internet-backed company has over 2,000 employees in India, and is working on optimising its resources.

“It is imperative to make systems quick and responsive internally, as we have to work with several external challenges.

“We serve about 40 percent of our orders through our internal fleet, and the rest is through the restaurants who partner us,” he said.

Active in over 200 cities in India, the company is not planning to expand to more locations but will focus on improving its existing offering.

“We have partnered over 12,000 restaurants in over 200 Indian cities, and will look at making these more efficient this year,” he said.

In 2015, Pisces eServices, the promoter of Foodpanda India, had reported losses of Rs. 36 crores on the back of revenues of Rs. 5 crores.

The company is working on a commission model, which stands between 10-25 percent on each order, and “in certain cases, 35 percent”, focussing on delivery times, Kochhar said.

It has recently launched a service to ensure delivery within 45 minutes which will be available in Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

The industry is still nascent, with less than 1 percent of food orders being generated online, and is growing at a very fast clip despite several starting hurdles, he observed.

The country’s food services market is worth $48 billion (roughly Rs. 3,23,449 crores), of which the organised business is valued at $14 billion (roughly Rs. 94,337 crores) and this is growing at over 25 percent, according to industry estimates.

Foodpanda has raised over $300 million (roughly Rs. 2,021 crores) since its launch in 2012 and counts Rocket Internet, Goldman Sachs, Phenomenon Ventures and Falcon Edge, among others, as its investors.

Kochhar said the company is “sufficiently funded” at present.

Tags: Apps, E Commerce, Foodpanda, Internet, Rocket Internet



TCL 560 Smartphone Can be Unlocked With Your Eyes: Price, Specifications, and More

TCL 560 Smartphone Can be Unlocked With Your Eyes: Price, Specifications, and More


  • TCL 560 will be available via Amazon India from Tuesday
  • It is powered by a Snapdragon 210 SoC
  • The smartphone sports a 5.5-inch display

TCL, a Chinese company best known for its television sets, has entered the Indian mobile market with its first offering, the 560 smartphone. Priced at Rs. 7,999, the TCL 560 will be available exclusively via Amazon India starting Tuesday 12am.

The biggest highlight of the smartphone is its Eye Verify technology which the company touts can unlock the smartphone using the front camera of the handset. TCL 560 unlocks only after the eye verification of the user to prevent unauthorised access, touted Nicolas Zibell, Vice President of TCL Corporation at the launch.

For specifications, the TCL 560 features a 5.5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) IPS display and is powered by a 1.1GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 (MSM8909) processor. It comes with 2GB of RAM and bears 16GB of inbuilt storage. The handset supports expandable storage via microSD card (up to 32GB).

The Android 6.0 Marshmallow based smartphone sports an 8-megapixel rear autofocus camera with LED flash and also houses a 5-megapixel front camera on board. The dual-SIM smartphone also supports 4G and VoLTE (voice over LTE). Other connectivity options include GPRS/ EDGE, 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS/ A-GPS, and Micro-USB. The handset packs a 2500mAh removable battery.

Commenting on the launch, Praveen Valecha, Regional Director, TCL India, said “The Indian smartphone market is constantly evolving and the young generation understands technology, consumers are looking for unique smartphones with advanced features and high standards to gain the maximum experience. Our strong in-house research and development team have helped in customising the smart phone especially for such consumers. Maintaining the brand’s legacy, we are looking forward to make this brand a success in the Indian fast growing Smart Phone Market. This launch is just the start of a journey of launching a comprehensive mobile and digital portfolio”.

TCL 560

TCL 560

Rs. 7,998





Front Camera



720×1280 pixels




Android 6.0



Rear Camera


Battery capacity


See full TCL 560 specifications
  • Amazon
    TCL 560 (Dark Grey, 16GB) –
    Rs. 7,998
  • Amazon
    TCL 560 (Metal Gold, 16GB) –
    Rs. 7,998
Tags: Mobiles, TCL, TCL 560, TCL 560 Price, TCL 560 Price in India, TCL 560 Specifications, TCL Mobiles



Pokemon Go Players Feel Real-World Pain on Hunt

Pokemon Go Players Feel Real-World Pain on Hunt

Beware: “Pokemon Go,” a new smartphone game based on cute Nintendo characters like Squirtle and Pikachu, can be harmful to your health.

The “augmented reality” game, which layers gameplay onto the physical world, became the top grossing app in the iPhone app store just days after its Wednesday release in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Players already have reported wiping out in a variety of ways as they wander the real world – eyes glued to their smartphone screens – in search of digital monsters.

(Also see:  Pokemon Go International Release Delayed – Here’s Why)

Mike Schultz, a 21-year-old communications graduate on Long Island, New York, took a spill on his skateboard as he stared at his phone while cruising for critters early Thursday. He cut his hand on the sidewalk after hitting a big crack, and blames himself for going too slowly.

“I just wanted to be able to stop quickly if there were any Pokemons nearby to catch,” he says. “I don’t think the company is really at fault.”

Real world, virtual creatures
The game was created by Niantic Inc., a San Francisco spinoff of Google parent Alphabet Inc. that previously became known for a similar augmented-reality game called “Ingress.”

To play, you fire up the game and then start trekking to prominent local landmarks – represented in the game as “Pokestops” – where you can gather supplies such as Pokeballs. Those are what you fling at online “pocket monsters,” or Pokemon, to capture them for training. At other locations called “gyms” – which may or may not be actual gyms in the real world – Pokemon battle one another for supremacy.

Naturally, the game has also induced people to post pictures of themselves on social media chasing creatures in all sorts of dangerous situations.

(Also see:  How to Download, Install, and Play Pokemon Go Right Now)

Zubats and Paras have appeared on car dashboards. Caterpies have been spotted at intersections. Police in Darwin, Australia, have even asked players not to waltz into their station, which of course is a Pokestop in the game.

“You don’t actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokeballs,” the Northern Territory Police Fire and Emergency Services says on its Facebook page.

(Also see:  Cops to Pokemon Fans: Do Not Come Looking for Pikachu in Our Police Station)

Ankle injuries, mishaps with revolving doors and walking into trees have been among the painful results.

Kyrie Tompkins, a 22-year-old freelance web designer, fell on the sidewalk and twisted her ankle while wandering in downtown Waterville, Maine, on Thursday night.

“It vibrated to let me know there was something nearby and I looked up and just fell in a hole,” she says. Her parents had to drive her and her fiancé home.

As an upside, players get more exercise than usual and can learn more about the historical landmarks incorporated into the game as Pokestops. Digital signposts describe their significance in the real world.

A new social medium
And players are actually meeting face to face, despite the fact they arrived at nearby high schools, water towers and museums by staring at their screens.

Lindsay Plunkett, a 23-year-old waitress in Asheville, North Carolina, made a point on Friday of parking six blocks away from the restaurant where she works, instead of the usual three. “Just so I could get some more Pokestops on the way,” she says.

(Also see:  Playing Pokemon Go in India? Here’s Everything You Need to Know)

She’s still nursing a bruised shin from the previous night, when she and her boyfriend spent hours wandering downtown in the rain. She tripped over a cinder block that had been used as a doorstop at a local women’s museum.

But she’s got something to look forward to. Soon, she’ll be traveling cross country to California with a friend. That means more chances to encounter Pokestops and Pokemons “the whole way,” she says.

At least the game has one failsafe – you can’t hatch digital eggs while driving. That requires slower in-person movement in the real world. “It doesn’t count as walking if you’re going more than 20 miles per hour, so that’s good, I guess,” Plunkett says.

Tags: Android, Apps, Gaming, Niantic, Nintendo, Pokemon, Pokemon Go, iOS



Verizon Eyes Automotive Technology Market, Could Spur Other Deals

Verizon Eyes Automotive Technology Market, Could Spur Other Deals

Verizon Communications Inc’s recent purchases of two vehicle tracking firms could spark more deals as the No. 1 wireless provider and rival AT&T see fleet management as a source of growth, analysts said.

Faced with a saturated wireless market, several telecom companies are looking beyond their main phone business for ways to extract more value from existing networks. Just last month, Verizon bought Yahoo for $4.8 billion, diving into digital media and advertising.

But Verizon also recently acquired privately held connected-vehicle technology firm Telogis for an undisclosed sum and said it would buy GPS vehicle tracking company Fleetmatics Group Plc for $2.4 billion (roughly Rs. 16,012 crores).

Telecom providers are moving towards acquiring “eyeballs or a fleet of people” that can use applications built on top of the wireless network, said Richard McBee, chief executive officer of Canadian communications technology company Mitel Networks Corp .

The fleet and mobile workforce management business connects fleet vehicles to the wireless network and collects data, like driver behaviour, to manage vehicles and workers. The business delivers a source of recurring subscription-based revenue from clients such as large logistics companies and local delivery services.

After buying Fleetmatics and Telogis, Verizon could be on the lookout for a security or software technology firm to pair with its data-heavy automotive technology business, Susan Beardslee, analyst at ABI Research, said. Potential targets could be Israel-based cyber security firm Argus and software management company Movimento, she added.

Rival AT&T has its own fleet management business and could look into buying fleet tracking firms such as Teletrac Navman, Omnitracs, Geotab and Zonar, analysts said.

Verizon, Argus, Movimento, AT&T, Omnitracs and Zonar Systems declined to comment. Teletrac Navman and Geotab could not be immediately reached for comment.

While Verzion’s second-quarter revenue of $31 billion dwarfs that of Telogis and Fleetmatics, both firms are expected to grow quickly. Fleetmatics reported $285 million in sales last year and is seen growing at an annual revenue rate of 15 percent to 20 percent.

Fleet management businesses may also get a boost from a recent federal regulation that mandates that companies digitally record driver work hours with electronic devices, analysts said.

“It will be interesting to see how they leverage up here in coming years,” said Angelo Zino, an analyst at S&P Capital IQ. “But I wouldn’t expect (Fleetmatics) to be the last of their deals.”

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Tags: AT And T, Internet, Telecom, Verizon, Yahoo



Volkswagen Eyes Transportation Deals to Boost Self-Driving Car Plans

Volkswagen Eyes Transportation Deals to Boost Self-Driving Car Plans

Volkswagen is planning further acquisitions in the market for new transportation technologies and services, a leading manager at the German carmaker said, as it seeks to make up ground after its emissions scandal.

Europe’s largest automaker, which had been reluctant to commit to new industry trends like car sharing, is also looking for more alliances with technology firms as it tries to capture new business post-Dieselgate, Volkswagen (VW) digital chief Johann Jungwirth said.

“Yes, there are further opportunities” for purchases, Jungwirth said in an interview with Reuters this week. “We have quite a few things in the pipeline,” he said, without going into details.

VW took a $300 million stake in May in ride-hailing company Gett which competes with Uber as it builds a services business that VW expects to generate billions of euros in sales by 2025.

But Jungwirth, a former Apple and Daimler manager, acknowledged that VW is a latecomer on new technologies as it pushes into self-driving cars and ride-sharing – areas where rivals have already made inroads.

“We have a massive need to now work with the same passion for detail and the same focus on software and services as on hardware (cars),” said Jungwirth who joined VW last November when it was struggling with the aftermath of its Diesel emissions scandal.

Fully Autonomous
VW, through its Audi luxury flagship brand, has committed to developing a fully self-driving car rather than working on incremental autonomous-drive features that would occasionally require the intervention of the driver.

To help speed its development of self-driving cars, the manager said VW will “massively expand” its presence in Silicon Valley where it is setting up centres for future design and autonomous driving alongside its electronics research lab.

VW will be at the forefront of carmakers rolling out fully automated driverless vehicles for commercial ride-sharing no later than 2021, according to Jungwirth.

It is a competitive field. Uber formed an alliance with Volvo this week and plans to test driverless control systems in Volvos and Ford Fusion models in a pilot scheme in Pittsburgh.

VW group may target overseas cities for its autonomous vehicle programme as the United States and China are likely to push harder than Europe to authorise the operation of self-driving cars.

“I expect the first such vehicles to hit the market in the next 3-5 years,” said Jungwirth.

Wolfsburg-based VW may use the Paris Motor Show on Sept. 29-30 to update industry observers on its digital transformation, Jungwirth said, without being more specific.

VW has moved to embrace new technologies as part of its recovery from its worst business crisis when it was found to have cheated emissions tests.

Chief Executive Matthias Mueller said in June VW would hire another 1,000 software engineers. Two months on, the carmaker has more applicants than vacancies with the post-Dieselgate strategic shift acting as a catalyst, Jungwirth said.

“That (transformation) is having extremely positive effects,” he said, referring to candidates from the Silicon Valley, start-ups, suppliers and rival carmakers.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Tags: Autonomous, Driverless, Volkswagen



LeapPad Inventor Wants to Turn Your Eyes Into a Mouse

LeapPad Inventor Wants to Turn Your Eyes Into a Mouse


  • Eye-based technology is key to improving and popularizing VR technology
  • System designed to help alleviate the nausea experienced by some VR users
  • Eyefluence is currently hammering out licensing deals with headset makers

First came the computer mouse. Then the touchscreen. Now the tech industry is looking for a new human-machine interface-this time, one that will make virtual-reality headsets as mainstream as personal computers and smartphones.

The man who invented the LeapPad tablet for kids is betting the killer app is right in front of your face: the eyes.

Jim Marggraff’s startup, Eyefluence, has developed technology that knows where people are looking and lets them manipulate objects the way we do now by clicking a mouse or tapping an icon. Besides fostering a more natural and immersive experience, the system is designed to help alleviate the nausea experienced by some VR users and enhance security with iris scans.

Marggraff says most of the big headset makers have expressed interest in licensing the technology from his Milpitas, California, company. Motorola Solutions, a leading investor, is testing the technology for emergency responders and sees possibilities in mining and medicine. “You’re able to basically interact in the virtual world simply by looking at what you want to interact with,” says X Prize Foundation founder Peter Diamandis, who advises Eyefluence and has seen the technology.

Most VR headsets use some sort of handheld device (like a game controller) or head movements to navigate. These techniques are far from ideal because they require a lot of moving around that gets tiring, and industry heavyweights including Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg agree that some form of eye-based technology is key to improving and popularizing VR technology. Gaming enthusiasts also say eye-tracking would significantly improve the playing experience by making it easier to follow objects and interact with characters.

Already, a host of companies with names like SensoMotoric Instruments, Tobii and The Eye Tribe are working on eye-tracking devices that could plug into a range of headsets. Another company called Fove says it will soon have the first headset featuring a version of the technology. But most of these are limited to scanning the iris for security purposes and recognizing where the user is looking-pointing but not clicking.

Eyefluence takes it one step further, not only using the eyes as a cursor, but letting them select, zoom, pan-things now accomplished by clicking and double-clicking a mouse or tapping and pinching a touchscreen.

The eyes are the fastest moving organ, capable of shifting 900 degrees per second, which means Eyefluence’s interface software makes it much faster to tell the computer what to do. The technology makes a two- or even three-step thought process into one: say, from look at object, move hand to it and tap or click to simply look. “It almost feels magical, like the system knows what you want before you tell it,” Diamandis says. “It’s almost like it’s reading your mind.”

When Marggraff announced plans to turn the human eye into a computer mouse, skeptics said it couldn’t be done. “People told me, ‘Don’t bother: you consume information with your eyes, but if you try to simultaneously use your eyes to control things, there will be a collision between controlling and directing and consuming,” he recalls.

But Marggraff has a deserved reputation for knowing a good idea when he sees one. He came up with the LeapPad even before the iPod existed. Released in 1999, the device helped kids learn how to read, was for a time the most popular toy in the US and generated more than $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,717 crores) in revenue within five years.

Marggraff, 58, also created the Livescribe, one of the better-known smart pens that record audio and sync it to written notes. Eyefluence co-founder Dave Stiehr, 57, helped build several medical-device companies, including one that sold automatic external defibrillators-gadgets that diagnose and correct uneven heartbeats and are now standard equipment in many movie theaters, airplanes and offices.

In 2012, Marggraff bought all the assets of Eye-Com, a research company led by neurologist William Torch and funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Defense. Torch researched everything from fatigue to blinking and had accumulated more than a decade’s worth of data on eyes as well as built technology to track and analyze the organ. Marggraff and his team used that foundation to create an interactive system that uses looks to direct a computer.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. Eyefluence’s team had to design a way that feels natural for the eyes to communicate a person’s intentions to the machine. Looking at an object for a set amount of time to “click” it, for instance, wouldn’t work: it’s too taxing on the eyes, and it would take too much active thinking to remember to stare for a certain amount of time or not stare for too long for fear of accidentally selecting it. A successful eye-interaction method would have to be just as intuitive as moving a mouse or tapping an app.

In the end, Marggraff solved the problem by embracing aspects of how the human eye works that he’d originally seen as a limitation. Even though it feels like our eyes are providing a constant stream of visual information, there are actually interruptions to the feed when we move our eyes to look at or examine something else.

In those moments, we are essentially blind and the brain fills in the missing images. Using these kinds of movements as a foundation, Eyefluence built an eye-machine interface that acts on intentional looks and ignores incidental ones. The company declined to explain further how the software works, citing concerns about maintaining a competitive edge.

Eyefluence is currently hammering out licensing deals with various headset makers to include its hardware and software in their devices, though the company declined to discuss specifics, citing non-disclosure agreements. Marggraff did say that the company is working with the “major players” and has been “overloaded with the strong amount of business partnerships and interest.”

Motorola Solutions, which led Eyefluence’s most recent fundraising round of $14 million, has been trying out the technology for more practical applications. The company, which sells equipment to first responders and other public safety and government agencies, sees Eyefluence as essential to providing police and firefighters with information via headset in a hands-free way that won’t interfere with their jobs.

“The more stress you’re under, the less cognitive ability you have to devote to menial tasks, so when you need the tech the most, that’s when you have the least capacity you have to extract what you need,” says Chief Technology Officer Paul Steinberg. “By using the very simple and quick interactions, we can lessen cognitive requirements to use the technology.”

Steinberg also foresees using Eyefluence’s technology in headsets for industries such as mining where drones will probably become ubiquitous. To test the eye-tracking and interface, Motorola Solutions has built and tested a virtual command center for emergency responders using Facebook’s Oculus Riftheadset, where users can see camera feeds from field operatives and control what they’re looking at and zoom in and out using their eyes. The next iteration could use Eyefluence technology to develop gaze-matching, where a person in the command center will be able to not only follow where the field operatives are looking, but direct them to check out other things.

The learning curve was almost nonexistent, which surprised Steinberg because he’d assumed using looks to manipulate things would present a challenge. And he says users generally retained their knowledge. However, Motorola Solutions probably won’t have a product ready next year, largely because headsets need to improve first.

Diamandis predicts Eyefluence technology will popularize VR the way the mouse once did the personal computer: “Everyone who’s seen it has completely gotten the power.”

© 2016 Bloomberg L.P.

Tags: Eyefluence, VR Headset, Virtual Reality, VR, Wearables, Gaming, PC, Laptop



Driverless Taxi Firm Eyes Operations in 10 Cities by 2020

Driverless Taxi Firm Eyes Operations in 10 Cities by 2020


  • Company last week kicked off its driverless taxi service in Singapore
  • nuTonomy considering trials in the Middle East, the US and Britain
  • Trips must be booked through the company’s smartphone app

A US software firm which chose Singapore for the world’s first public trial of driverless taxis hopes to be operating in 10 Asian and US cities by 2020, an executive said Monday.

Doug Parker, nuTonomy’s chief operating officer, said the firm is eyeing tests by early next year in three other Asian countries which he declined to name.

He said an announcement of the test venues would be made within the next month or so.

The company last week kicked off the world’s first driverless taxi service in a limited trial for invited people in a Singapore research campus.

Parker, 41, said nuTonomy was also considering trials in the Middle East, the United States and Britain.

More than a dozen people in Singapore have already experienced a ride in the “robo-taxi” within the confines of one-north, an enclave of technology and science research institutes outside the central business district.

‘Pretty excited’
“I think people are pretty excited that the car is driving itself. I would say they start apprehensive and scared but by the second block they start to enjoy it,” Parker said.

The current test car – a modified Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle – plies a 2.5 square mile (4.0 square km) area with set pick-up and drop off points. Trips must be booked through the company’s smartphone app and are currently by invitation only.

Five other test cars – Renault Zoes – will be added to the fleet next month.

Data from the experiment will feed into the rollout of driverless taxis across Singapore in 2018, said Parker, adding that by 2020 “we would like to be in 10 cities in Asia, the United States and maybe Europe”.

He also said a number of real-estate developers from Asia and the United States have contacted the company “about how they can use autonomous cars in their eco-friendly communities”.

Parker said the vehicle, equipped with sophisticated laser, radar and cameras, has so far experienced navigating among buses, slowing down at pedestrian lanes and adjusting to unplanned street scenes.

“One day we pulled out of here and literally five buses of schoolchildren pulled up on this very narrow street. And the buses were trading positions,” he said

“We’ve seen forklifts, we’ve seen people with wheelbarrows just right here on this one street.”

Parker said nuTonomy chose Singapore for the public tests rather than Silicon Valley because of the presence of a “loyal technical talent” – including people with doctorates in robotics – whom it does not have to share with other companies like Ford and Apple.

(Also see: Ford Plans Self-Driving Car for Ride Share Fleets in 2021)

The company also has the full support of the Singapore government and the city-state’s flat terrain, well-marked roads and disciplined drivers make it well suited for driverless cars, Parker said.

Tags: nuTonomy, Driverless, Self Driving, Autonomous