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From driverless cars to smart speakers, ieDecode demystifies new technology

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The first edition of ieDecode, India’s first exclusively online techknowledge summit organised by indianexpress.com in partnership with Airtel 4G, saw some of the best minds in the tech industry try to demystify everything from autonomous cars to AI-powered smart speakers. Thousands of indianexpress.com readers viewed the two-hour long event to learn more about the new technologies that are slowly becoming a part of our lives.

In her welcome address, Durga Raghunath, CEO, Indian Express Digital said it is clear now that users are maturing based on the trends we see on IndianExpress.com, the second largest newspaper website in India. “They are comparing more before buying, they are reading and watching more reviews – the deeper the better. We believe that the mature user has moved beyond the single vector of price,” she said.

In the opening keynote, Rajiv Gupta, Partner & Director, The Boston Consulting Group said M-commerce, omnichannel, use of predictive analysis, voice and chat bots and personalisation will be key to the growth of digitisation of India.

 

In what was a masterclass on autonomous cars, Jeff Schneider, Engineering Lead at Uber, said the car of the future will take advantage of machine learning and artificial intelligence and will end up replacing the driver itself. “Uber has already driver 3 million miles in autonomous mode and given 50,000 trips,” he said, on the pilots that are going on in the US with self-driving cars. Schneider hoped someday Uber would be able to bring its self-driving cars to India.

Speaking on how India is dictating the smartphone product development, Pranav Shroff, Global Director, Portfolio Strategy & Planning, HMD Global said his company saw India as an important market and phones like the Nokia 2 and Nokia 7 Plus have been designed keeping the Indian user in mind. He said network conditions and other peculiar factors here ensure India becomes a test bed for companies like HMD Global.

Giving an insight into how artificial intelligence can help improve creativity, Shanmugh Natarajan, MD, Adobe Systems said Adobe was combining art and technology to bring digital experiences to life. He said artificial intelligence and machine learning will prove disruptive in nature in all segments. “We believe that when we put art and science to work, magic will happen.”

In the only AMA segment of the event, Manu Jain, Global VP and Country Head of Xiaomi answered questions from customers and smartphone users. He said Xiaomi’s aim was to bring more people online through its affordable smartphones, but also wanted to move beyond smartphones with TVs, Air Purifiers, smart fitness bands, etc. Asked how Xiaomi was dealing with supply shortages in both offline and online markets for budget offerings like Redmi Note 5 Pro, Jain said: “The demand for Redmi Note 5 Pro is significantly higher and we are doing everything possible to ramp up the production.”

Explaining the relatively new concept of AI-driven smart speakers to the Indian audience, Puneesh Kumar, Country Manager, Alexa said the Echo range has been customised for the Indian market and there are already over 12,000 skills live for this new geography.

Explaining how air purifiers work, Sudhir Pillai, General Manager at Honeywell, said air Pollution has become the biggest environmental health risk and one should acknowledge it as a public health concern.

Speaking on things to keep in mind while designing a product or a service for India, US-based Internet entrepreneur Soujanya Bhumkar said beautiful and intuitive design was a priority for our ancestors.

“In today’s world I am surprised to see that while India provides tremendous back end support to a lot of applications, how few of the top engagement or top grossing apps are made or rather designed in India. We collectively need to change that,” he added. The sessions are now viewable on ieDecode.com.


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Xiaomi has been working on improvements for in-display fingerprint scanning

The Kashmir Monitor

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By Nancy Cohen

Fingerprint sensors—modern tools of convenience or awkwardly placed tools that are just plain difficult for instant use?

Aamir Siddiqui in XDA Developers is no stranger to the shortcomings in present-day in-display fingerprint scanners. He thinks they have “a long way to go before they can completely and perfectly replace the conventional fingerprint scanners,” but he foresees change.

 

“In-display fingerprint scanners are fast gaining popularity, and we are surely going to see a lot more of them in 2019. While the current generation in-display scanners may not be quicker or even more reliable than the conventional fingerprint scanners, future generations of this tech will continue to improve on these areas to provide a better experience.”

Better news does seem to be in the wings; The Verge’s Sam Byford, who covers Asia happenings, reported on in-display fingerprint sensors being worked on by Xiaomi.
The news revolves around a new type of in-display fingerprint scanner technology which has been confirmed by Xiaomi President and co-founder, Lin Bin. GSMArena similarly described a “next gen under display fingerprint scanner.”

The new sensor will solve one big issue, and that is being unable to unlock the phone without having to look at the screen. User to fingerprint sensor: Hey, you’re reading one tiny tiny area of my screen. Just.

“This means you have to be very specific about where you tap your finger, and makes it almost impossible to unlock your phone without looking at the display,” wrote Hadlee Simons in Android Authority.

Byford reported on a video demonstrating a prototype phone with a new fingerprint sensor that has an active area of 25 x 50mm. Translation: users could unlock it more easily by tapping, Byford said, “within a much larger region than the thumbprint-sized scanners found on several phones released last year.”

Siddiqui similarly noted that “Xiaomi claims that you can unlock the phone without looking at the screen now, which shows off their confidence in the larger recognition area.”

Bam-boom. “You can set up your finger with only one tap and then unlock the locked screen with pressing pretty much everywhere,” said GSMArena. Since the active authentication area is 25mm x 50.2mm, said Simons in Android Authority, “it’s an exponentially bigger area than that found on commercially available in-display fingerprint sensors right now.”

GSMArena added, “According to Lin Bin, the unlocking area is 50 mm by 25 mm, which is more than five times the UD area now and over 15 times the standard scanner on the back, used by Xiaomi.”

On Friday, Ajaay Srinivasan, The Mobile Indian provided some background: “The news comes from a video posted on Bin’s Weibo account which revealed the latest implementation of the advanced in-display fingerprint scanning technology. The video reveals a Xiaomi prototype device feature a new fingerprint unlock sensor which spans for an area that measures at 50 x 25 mm.”

Dates? Byford said Xiamoi president Lin Bin did not mention when such a device would become a shipping product.

GSMArena noted what Bin had to say moving forward. If it has a “great reception among fans, the company will consider placing the scanner in future devices.”

If you have ever fumbled around trying to access your fingerprint scanner, you will appreciate this video, posted on January 15, showing Xiaomi’s improved access design where unlocking does not mean you are required to look at the screen.

Beyond the obvious advantage of being able to access the scanner more easily on the screen, there is another plus that was noticed by Sahil Kapoor in iGyaan: “Notably, the fingerprint sensor appears to be very fast and accurate.”

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Xiaomi Mijia Laser Projector 4K With 150-Inch Virtual Screen Launched in China

The Kashmir Monitor

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Although ordinary projectors are still a popular option, laser projectors have been gaining prominence in the last couple of years. These projectors are designed differently, allowing for a shorter throw area and the ability to project even in a well-lit room. The latest laser projector to make the news comes from Chinese electronics company Xiaomi through its Mijia brand. The company has launched the Xiaomi Mijia Laser Projector 4K in China, priced at CNY 9,999 (approximately Rs. 1,05,000). As the name suggests, the projector sports a 4K resolution on its virtual 150-inch screen projection.

The new Xiaomi Mijia Laser Projector 4K is the successor to the previous Mijia Laser Projector, which was previously priced at CNY 9,999 but came with a full-HD resolution. The latest product keeps the price and virtual screen size the same, but bumps up the resolution to 4K (3840×2160 pixels).

For now, the product is available as a pre-sale offer, and can be booked for an advance payment of CNY 100 (approximately Rs. 1,050). As with other laser projectors, the Xiaomi Mijia Laser Projector 4K can be placed near a wall or projector screen, and directly project onto it from a short throw. This allows for easier placement as compared to traditional long-throw projectors, along with a virtual screen size of up to 150 inches.

 

The Xiaomi Mijia Laser Projector 4K comes with built-in speakers, three HDMI ports, one USB port, and sockets for audio and Ethernet cables. You also get smart connectivity with the MIUI TV interface and a remote to control the projector. Unlike the TV range, the projector is a part of the Mijia brand from Xiaomi.

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Ultimate Ears Boom 3 Wireless Speaker with ‘Magic Button’ Launched in India

The Kashmir Monitor

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Wireless speakers come in all shapes, sizes and prices, but there has been a tendency for certain products and brands to stand out from the competition. One such popular brand has been Ultimate Ears (UE), the personal audio manufacturer owned by Swiss computer peripherals manufacturer Logitech. The Boom range from Ultimate Ears has been among its most popular lines, and the latest product from the line is the Ultimate Ears Boom 3. The new wireless speaker has been launched in India, priced at Rs. 15,995.

The Ultimate Ears Boom 3 is set to go on sale on Amazon India starting January 17. The product will be available in three colour options – Black, Blue, and Red. The speaker comes with an IP67 water resistance rating, which means that it is certified to survive significant exposure to water and dust, and can therefore be used safely outdoors. Interestingly, the Ultimate Ears Boom 3 floats in water, a feature that would appeal to a lot of buyers.

Another new feature on the UE Boom 3 is the ‘Magic Button’, which is said to make music control and playback easier. The speaker does retain the cylindrical design of its predecessors, although the styling has been refreshed. However, the familiar ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ physical volume buttons are still there. The USB port has also been repositioned to make charging the speaker a bit easier.

 

As the successor to the capable Ultimate Ears Boom 2, the UE Boom 3 was launched in August last year globally, and has taken a few months to see a launch in India. Interestingly, the UE Boom 2 is also still on sale for around Rs . 10,000.

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