TomTom Launches Campaign To Strengthen Its Sports Wearables Brand

TomTom Launches Campaign To Strengthen Its Sports Wearables Brand



TomTom (TOM2) unveiled a new advertising campaign supporting TomTom Sports — its sports wearable brand. The campaign will push to strengthen its consumer business while reinforcing the company’s commitment to continue to launch sports wearables that inspire people to move. It’s calling the new ad campaign “Get Going.”

Created in partnership with Amsterdam-based agency Pool Worldwide, the campaign spans global markets with television, cinema, print, digital and out-of-home ad placements.

Patrick Stal, VP of marketing at TomTom Sports, said, “This campaign marks a milestone for our brand. It showcases a TomTom Sports brand that caters to the needs of audiences ranging from those that are taking their first step down the road to those that are stepping over the starting line of their first marathon. We are claiming a unique space in the world of sports. TomTom Sports is not here to shout at you to beat the impossible, be unstoppable, go harder, tougher, longer, deeper, rougher or sweatier. Let other sports brands do that.”

TomTom has been developing sports and fitness products since 2011. “We were the first to add an optical heart-rate monitor to a GPS Sports Watch with TomTom Cardio,” said the brand.

[SGB Media]

October 27, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , ,
The 8 Morning Secrets of Successful People (Infographic)

gettyimages-531215156 Image credit: Greg Doherty | Getty Images


Want to start your day like Richard Branson?


Rise and shine. Don’t hit that snooze button!

How you wake up can often dictate how the rest of your day will go. That’s why it’s important to approach every day with a strong and optimistic routine.

How do you think the most successful people in the world start their days? Definitely not by sleeping in or rolling out of bed.

Waking up early with a positive mindset is the first step to a healthy morning routine. If you often feel like there’s not enough time in the day, extra early hours will help you get more done. People such as Richard Branson and Olympian Jessica Ennis Hill start their days by eating a healthy breakfast, planning out their days and exercising.

Check out Leisurejobs.com’s infographic below to learn more successful morning secrets.




October 26, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , ,
Your Old Smart Phone Can do Wonders: Phonvert




Do have a smartphone in your drawer which you un-friended long back?  Do you feel that your current smart phone is going to attain an early retirement?  Well think again if you are getting ready to throw away your “almost” working phone. Remember it may have a new life elsewhere — especially as a part of the Internet of Things!


Through this article we are taking you to Japan. Japan is the land of innovation and here is a company called Phonvert trying to convert your phones into useful Internet of things based gadget; while recycling your smart phone’s remaining potential.

Smartphone (s) of the World

If we look at the wastage, America alone trashes 130 million cell phones all by themselves.  Adding to it, the number of smart phones wasted by rest of the world would run down  to about 280 million. Most of them end up as road fills, mine fills or probably a memorabilia which can fetch a great auction price tag few decades from now.

Phonvert is a smart phone savior working towards salvaging the working components in the smart phones. Keeping all the commotions at bay, Team Phonvert wants to create a “cult movement“ and a sea change in the recycling sector.

Founded by Tomo Kihara, Keisuke Shiro, Kosuke Takahashi and Seibe Takahashi, Phonvert is developed on an open source software platform which encompasses other  creative “Purposes” using its mobile app as mentioned below:

  1. Cry Alert: A mother can monitor the baby and watch over her in case of a motion in cradle. The Camera in the smartphone can also get live video footage of the baby and her status for the concerned mom.
  2. Fridge Cam: Install you old smartphone in your fridge and with every open/ closure of fridge door, the app triggers the phone to take a snap shot sensing movement. The snap shot from the cam can be used to know the status of the fridge and what needs to be purchased or missing.
  3. Post cam: You can get an update in the phone when someone drops mail in your mail box. It even takes the snap shot of address mentioned on the mail.
  4. Surveillance cams: Smart phones can be hid or easily installed in nooks and corners for surveillance purposes. Restaurants, bars, offices etc can make good use of the cell phones. If you are unlucky stick you phone with a duct tape and it works like a wonderful surveillance cam!

Readers Zone

The story continues as we require the audience to add your comments and let us know what you think about them. You are free to add in more suggestions and help Phonvert give you more creative solutions too. The beauty of a device with a GSM module!

Some ideas that readers have suggested at our Facebook page:

  • Smart Mirrors
  • Pet Watch
  • Candy vending machines


[Electronics of Things]

October 26, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , ,
How a new wave of VR apps is transforming the creative process

From virtual drums to 360 architecture, we’ve got new tools to play with





Whether it’s cave drawings from the Stone Age or fine art masterpieces from the Renaissance, mankind has a clear obsession for making things and we’re always looking for the next tool to help us.

Virtual reality, which has become one of 2016’s biggest tech trends, has the potential to transform the creative process greatly. From painting tool Tilt Brush to music-making app SoundStage, there is a new wave of apps and platforms, particularly for high end headsets like HTC’s Vive, kicking things off.


Music made easy

creative vr apps


Creating music doesn’t come cheap. Not only do you need the right instruments and recording equipment, but you also need tools for the production process. But VR app SoundStage is changing the cards here. It’s a music sandbox built for room-scale virtual reality.

Designed specifically for the HTC Vive, the tool has been designed for a range of music creators. For instance, there are production features for professional DJs who want to experiment with new sounds or hobbyists who want to play virtual instruments like drums.

It lets you create your own music studio by playing around with drums, speakers and synthesizers. The idea is that it attempts to capture the feel and experience of the music production environment through the power of VR. You’re able to create music from the comfort of your home.

Logan Olson, the creator of SoundStage, explains that he wanted to get creative with music but struggled to use professional software packages. So he decided to develop his own VR app as a solution. “I wanted to make music, but I don’t know how to use any modern programs. I tried to learn Ableton, but it was a bit difficult, so I thought I would just make my own tool,” he says.

“The VR market is small enough that I thought I should broaden my appeal a bit. So as I developed and iterated, the product morphed from just synthesizer to a nascent ‘GarageBand for VR’ – it’s not there yet, but with every update it’s inches closer.”

Olson believes that his solution is a major attraction for music professionals and hobbyists because it offers all the tools they need to experiment with new sounds. “It would probably be the user interface design. Beyond being a set of audio tools, for me, SoundStage is a user interface sandbox. It is a place where I can play with new ideas about how we can interact with objects and abstract ideas,” he says.


VR masterpieces


The potential of virtual reality also extends to the realm of art and design. There are now VR-ready apps that can help you create your own masterpieces without having to get messy or buy physical tools. Google’s Tilt Brush is still one of the best examples. The tool, available through Steam, allows you to paint in 3D space using a VR headset.

Using the simulator, you can create your own paintings within a virtual studio. Again, it’s been designed to work with the HTC Vive, primarily because the headset comes with a hand controller. This acts as a brush and a palette while you create your own pieces of art. There are a selection of brushes, colours and other tools to choose from.

Luciana Se, a VR evangelist who is working on the upcoming AVR incubator and centre in London, says the creative potential of VR is endless and believes that apps like Tilt Brush are revolutionary. “There is so much to say about linking creativity and VR, as it forms the pillar of what immersive reality is about: building, creating and exploring new worlds. Immersive storytelling is incredibly powerful,” she says.

“Tilt Brush is one of the most extraordinary apps out there today. It’s a simple concept, basically transposing a modeling and painting software to 3D. But I think experiences that allow people to change their environment and create for others will ultimately be the most enduring experiences. You can create art pieces with full-room scale VR. Essentially drawing/painting/sculpting are all rolled out to you. It’s mind-blowing.”


The 21st century creative

vr creative apps


Toronto-based technology firm Yulio, founded in 2015, has developed a platform that allows architects and interior designers to edit, publish and share projects easily through the medium of VR. It also helps clients to visualise the plans for the space, something that is easier for the architects themselves, and can speed up the collaboration stage by 50%.

Robert Kendal, Yulio’s CEO, says the power of VR is creating a revolution in the creative space and is giving designers a unique opportunity to improve their work. “VR is a medium that enables, like never before, creatives in the architectural and interior design space to explore their designs in what feels like a living breathing environment,” he tells Wareable.

“Designers are able to do design iterations very quickly, share ideas to get feedback from friends, colleagues or mentors from wherever in the world they happen to be. VR also enables those looking at new building and interior designs, possibly overseas property buyers, to ‘experience’ an unbuilt or remote space virtually in a way that gives a true sense of its scale and style.”


Creative hardware

vr creative apps


Developing VR hardware is a competitive task, considering the amount of products that have been launched by industry leaders such as Oculus, HTC and Sony. This wasn’t a concern for 3Glasses, though. The firm has designed a VR headset that puts creativity first.

While you can use it to immerse yourself in virtual worlds, there’s a big emphasis on using it to create your own experiences. It’s supplied with software kits for game and application development. 3Glasses is currently in the processing of developing its own VR development platform too.

“As VR is a relatively new industry, creativity mostly refers to its potential adaption into different fields, this can be anything from gaming to medicine,” Philip Kong, COO of 3Glasses, says. “To help foster creativity, headset manufacturers like 3Glasses focus on the enhancement of the technology and user experience. This gives developers and partners a strong foundation on which to create.

“3Glasses is also developing an open source mobile operating system, input-output VR solutions, and a VR platform to encourage collaboration within the developer community to bring out the most creative side of the VR experience.”

Often, virtual reality is centred around entertainment. However, more and more it’s proving to be a valuable tool for the creative process. As apps like SoundStage and Tilt Brush demonstrate, VR offers you a way to create essentially without repercussions. With that level of experimentation on offer, maybe the next da Vinci will create paintings made from VR. [Wareable]

October 26, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , ,
How accurate are Fitbits and other wearable devices?


Wearable health-related technologies are becoming more common.

Despite their growing popularity, little has been done to evaluate their accuracy during exercise.  Now, a new study from Cleveland Clinic found that some monitors are better than others.


  1. What is a wearable medical device and how are they being utilized?

Heart rate monitors such as Fitbit, Apple Watch and several others are being used by millions of Americans.  Many use it as part of cardiac rehab—certainly professional athletes and others use very advanced wearable technology to maximize their athletic performances.


  1. Tell us about the newest study on wearables

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart and Vascular Institute tested four different wrist-worn heart rate monitors and compared their accuracy against EKGs and medical quality monitoring equipment used in cardiology offices.

In treadmill tests, the Apple Watch and Mio Fuse were the most accurate.

The other two devices fell short: Basis Peak, which is no longer being manufactured, overestimated heart rate during moderate exercise, and Fitbit Charge HR underestimated heart rate during more vigorous exercise, the study found. All of the devices worked quite well at rest.

Earlier this year, Maggie Newland and I did a similar test in a local gym comparing Fitbit and Apple Watch for accuracy and we found similar findings in our small test.


  1. Based on this new study, how should we use wearables in order to improve health? What does the future hold?

I believe that wearable tech is the future. I think that we have to remember that many of these wearables are not classified as medical devices by the FDA and do not have to undergo rigorous clinical trials. Even so, these devices can provide helpful real time feedback to patients and athletes — steps, resting heart rate, etc. are all very important when training or when in rehab.

It can also provide target HR information when exercising — just know that it is not 100 percent accurate during peak exercise, but it can give you enough information to reassure you that you are exercising where you intend to.

I do think that wearables will only get better. Many companies are now working to produce medical device quality devices. I have a prototype of an EKG that you can do on your phone or on your watch — called AliveCor. [WBay]

October 26, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , ,
Apple Granted 55 Patents Today Covering Wearable Displays, Inductive Charging, Face Recognition & More




The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 55 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover wearable displays, face recognition, Touch ID and an inductive charging system. Apple’s master wireless charging system was first introduced way back in 2013. While I’m not making any predictions, because it’s likely years away, it would certainly be a knock-out surprise if Apple were to deliver on this type of invention at their ‘Hello, Again’ Mac event on Thursday. Making a new iMac the central hub for wireless charging our mobile devices would definitely make headlines. We wrap up this week’s granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple today.

Granted Patent: Wearable Display on Conformable Silicon Substrate

Apple’s newly granted patent covers their invention relating to conformable electronic devices, packages, and methods of formation. The conformable electronic devices may be integrated with a variety of applications and products, ranging from textile products (e.g. as a wearable display as illustrated below) to product packaging materials (e.g. shrink wrapping). Additional embodiments include other wearable flexible surfaces, such as wristbands, watches, hats, shoes, pants, shorts, gloves, etc.


2af 8l8l wearable displays


Apple’s patent FIG. 19 noted above is an illustration of a conformable electronic package that has been integrated into a flexible product; FIGS. 20A-20B are schematic cross-sectional side view illustrations of a conformable electronic package that has been integrated into a bracelet.

One application will allow manufacturers to update pricing, branding, or promotional materials displayed on a package without expensive repackaging costs. Apple could also use this in connection with Apple Watch band smart links that could add new functionality to Apple Watch. In context with a bracelet, it could be a way to cover a future Fitbit-like device as part of the Apple Watch line-up.

Patently Apple covered this invention as a patent application back in June of this year and you could check it out here for more details. Apple’s granted patent 9,478,583 was originally filed in Q4 2014 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Granted Patents: Facial Recognition and Touch ID

Apple’s newly granted patent covers their invention relating to a possible future iPhone configured to automatically lock based on determining that a user’s face is no longer present in images captured by the device’s built-in camera. For instance, consider that the device is initially unlocked. In that state, a built-in camera captures one or more images, and the images are then analyzed to determine whether a user’s face is present. If a user’s face is not present in the images captured over a predetermined amount of time, the device automatically locks. Thus, the device is automatically locked when it determines that no user is currently using the device without having to wait for an idle timer to expire or a manual switch off by the user. The camera capturing and face recognition processing may be triggered by the device having detecting that it has been motionless for a threshold period of time. When movement of the iPhone is detected, the camera captures a new image and unlocks the device if it’s the authorized owner.


3af 88 facial recognition


Patently Apple covered Apple’s invention as a patent application back in 2012. Apple’s granted patent 9,477,829 was filed in Q1 2015 with history dating back to 2011. It was published today as a granted patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

On the topic of securing your iPhone/iDevices, Apple was also granted patent 9,477,870 which relates to Touch ID as noted below. Patently Apple covered this invention as a patent application back in November 2013. Check out that report for more details and graphics.



Granted Patent: Induction Charging System


Apple’s newly granted patent covers their invention relating to a system for improving the performance of an inductive charging system which includes adding a ferrofluid between the transceiver and receiver coils of an inductive charging system which reduces the cross coupling of magnetic fields of the system significantly.




A ferrofluid consists of ferromagnetic particles that are suspended in a liquid allowing the ferromagnetic particles to move freely in the liquid. When the magnetic transceiver and receiver coils are placed adjacent to the ferrofluid, the ferromagnetic particles will move preferentially to the areas with the highest magnetic flux. The ferrofluid thus provides a bridge between the transceiver and receiver coils which focuses and channels the magnetic flux between the coils. This creates a preferential path for the magnetic flux to travel between the two coils and reduces the losses to the rest of the system.

Patently Apple posted a report back in September titled “Apple Patent Reveals their Continuing work on an Inductive Charging Station,” showing that three years after Phil Schiller downplayed such a device, Apple continued working on an inductive charging system.

Apple’s most sophisticated and comprehensive invention on wireless charging to date was published back in September 2013. Patently Apple covered it in a report titled “Apple Reveals Master Details of Wireless Charging System.”

Apple’s master wireless charging invention would be an exciting breakthrough development if Apple decided to surprise us on Thursday during their ‘Hello, Again’ Mac event. Could this be the time? I’d love to think so, but you never know when an Apple patent will come to life.So it’s not a prediction but rather a hope.

Today’s inductive charging system invention was published today as granted patent 9,479,007 which was filed in Q1 2014.

The Remaining Patents granted to Apple Today


[Patently Apple]

October 26, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , ,
MacBook Pro: Coming October 27, New OLED Touch Bar



Apple’s most powerful portable machines — update coming on October 27.


What’s Next for the Retina MacBook Pro 


Apple has been working on a redesigned MacBook Pro for the last several months, and it’s finally ready to debut. Apple is planning to hold an event on Thursday, October 27, where it is expected to unveil new Macs, with the new MacBook Pro headlining the event.

Just three days before the MacBook Pro was set to debut, Apple accidentally leaked images of the device in the macOS Sierra 10.12.1 update. The images confirm several rumors about the device, including an OLED display touch panel and Touch ID support.




Said to be called the “Magic Toolbar,” the OLED panel replaces the physical function keys at the top of the keyboard. The panel offers up virtual keys that are contextual, changing based on what app is in use. A Touch ID fingerprint sensor is built into a nearly-invisible power button that is located to the right of the panel and blends right in.




According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the OLED panel will be powered by a low-power processor similar to the processor in the Apple Watch, which will allow it to be energy efficient and draw little battery life.

Based on the images, it’s clear the new MacBook Pro uses a flatter MacBook-style keyboard, which is in line with rumors suggesting the keyboard would be thinner and use the same butterfly key mechanism. Rumors also indicate the MacBook Pro will have a a thinner and lighter form factor than the current MacBook Pro, but that’s not immediately obvious from the image.

The MacBook Pro is said to have a flat design that isn’t tapered like the MacBook Air or the Retina MacBook, plus it will feature “shallower” curves around the edges and a wider pressure-sensitive trackpad.



The MacBook Pro is also expected to include Skylake processors, four USB-C ports (with Gen 2 USB 3.1 support for faster transfer speeds up to 10Gb/s), Thunderbolt 3, improved display quality, and a 2TB storage option at the high end. It will include a headphone jack, but other ports, such as MagSafe port, USB A, HDMI, and the SD card slot are being eliminated.

Internal Specs

Apple’s Retina MacBook Pro update schedule has been out of whack for the past two years due to ongoing delays with Intel’s chips. Broadwell delays caused Apple to introduce the 13 and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro at staggered times in 2015, with the 13-inch model last seeing an update in March 2015 and the 15-inch model being updated in May 2015.

While the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro was updated with Broadwell chips in 2015, the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro continues to use previous-generation Haswell chips as Apple waits on Skylake chips from Intel. For that reason, the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro may see a bigger performance boost when a full refresh finally happens.

Skylake chips appropriate for an upgrade to the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro showed up on price lists from Intel in mid-January of 2016, and Skylake chips appropriate for a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro update were announced in September with an early 2016 launch scheduled. Both chips will likely be available to Apple in the first months of 2016.

There’s also a series of new mobile Xeon E3 chips that could potentially be used in the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro to improve CPU, graphics, and memory performance even further, but pricing constraints at the high end make the standard Core i7 Skylake chips Apple’s more likely choice.




The new MacBook Pros will include more powerful graphics cards aimed at video gamers and professionals who need a lot of GPU power. There is rumored to be an option for a high-performance “Polaris” graphics chip from AMD, which offers better power efficiency in a slimmer package.

AMD’s Polaris 11 architecture will bring a significant improvement in performance over the company’s previous chips, and AMD has promised “console-class GPU performance for thin and light notebooks” and “extraordinary VR experiences” from the new low-power mobile architecture.

Rumors and code found within macOS Sierra suggest Apple’s new MacBook Pros will include Thunderbolt 3 and support for the faster 10Gb/s USB 3.1 Gen 2 specification for improved transfer speeds.

Storage improvements are expected, including a new high-end option offering up to 2TB of space.

Release Date

Apple is planning to hold a Mac-centric event on Thursday, October 27, where the new MacBook Pro will likely be announced. New Mac models have also been filed in the Eurasian Economic Commission database, hinting at an imminent release.

Current Models

At its “Spring Forward” media event on March 9, 2015, Apple released an updated 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. The new machine offers several improvements over the 2014 model, including a Broadwell processor, improved Intel graphics, a “Force Touch” trackpad, faster flash storage, and improved battery life. Apple followed up with an update to the 15-inch lineup on May 19, incorporating the Force Touch trackpad, faster flash storage and graphics, and longer battery life.




While the 13-inch models moved to Intel’s latest Broadwell processors, the 15-inch models continue to use the same Haswell processors from the previous generation, as Intel had not yet released quad-core Broadwell processors suitable for 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro when Apple refreshed it.

13-Inch Retina MacBook Pro

The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro lineup includes Intel’s Broadwell processors, offering increased performance and battery life compared to the previous generation with Haswell processors. Though there are many internal upgrades, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro continues to have the same design as the previous-generation versions, with a 2560 x 1600, 227 pixels-per-inch Retina Display. It weighs 3.48 pounds and is 0.71 inches thick, as it is focused on performance over portability. Three base configurations are available, priced at $1,299, $1,499, and $1,799 depending on processor and storage space.





With updated Broadwell processors, the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro offers an impressive battery life of up to 10 hours of wireless web browsing or 12 hours of iTunes movie playback.

Processor, Graphics and Storage

According to Geekbench 3 benchmarks, the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro’s Broadwell chips offer only small gains over their predecessors, which is not surprising as Broadwell focuses on improved efficiency and better battery life over raw processing power. In general, performance improvements of 3-7 percent are seen in various benchmark tests.




Along with a Broadwell processor, the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro comes equipped with upgraded Intel Iris Graphics 6100, estimated to be slightly faster than a dedicated GeForce 820M.

There is no option to add a discrete graphics card to the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro as there is in the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

According to Apple, the 2015 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro features upgraded flash storage that is two times faster than the flash storage in the previous-generation machine. Independent testing has confirmed that the flash storage in the machine is indeed much faster than the flash storage in previous models.

Force Touch Trackpad

The major new feature in the 2015 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is a revamped “Force Touch” trackpad, which was also added to the new Retina MacBook. The trackpad’s Force Touch capabilities allow it to distinguish between a hard press and a soft press, enabling new gestures.

For example, while a light press is a regular click, a deeper press on a highlighted word while browsing Safari might bring up a Wikipedia entry, much as a control + click does now. There are a number of new built-in gestures, and Apple’s also allowing developers to access Force Touch APIs to build pressure sensitivity into Mac apps.

The trackpad works using four Force Sensors, which allow users to click anywhere on the trackpad. This is an improvement over previous-generation trackpads that were difficult to click near the top portion adjacent to the keyboard.

The Force Sensors that detect presses work in conjunction with a magnet-powered Taptic Engine, giving users tactile feedback on the actions they make. This combination of Force Touch and haptic feedback means the actual trackpad no longer moves — there is no actual physical clicking — but it continues to feel largely the same as the previous trackpad.




Electromagnetic coils on Force Touch trackpad, which push and pull against a metal rail to create a “buzz” of feedback with each click (Source: iFixit)
Essentially, when the trackpad on the new Retina MacBook Pro is pressed with enough force to “click,” the trackpad vibrates against the fingers to let users know they’ve performed the action. According to reviews of the Force Touch trackpad, the haptic feedback feels very much like a physical click.

Other Features

The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro also includes faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, dual Thunderbolt 2 ports to allow users to connect multiple displays, dual mics, stereo speakers, two USB 3 ports, an SDXC card slot, an HDMI port, a headphone port, and a MagSafe 2 power port.

The new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro models no longer support Windows 7 in Boot Camp.

Build-to-Order Options

The two middle-tier Retina MacBook Pro options can be configured with a 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, while the high-end model can be configured with a 3.1GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor.

The maximum amount of RAM available for the machines is 16GB, and the high-end 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro can be configured to have 1TB of flash storage. Lower-end models ship with 128GB or 256GB.

15-Inch Retina MacBook Pro

Apple updated the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro on May 19, 2015, and while it does not include Broadwell processors because of Intel’s delays, the 2015 machine does offer many of the same improvements introduced with the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.





Among the improvements are the same Force Touch trackpad as the 13-inch model, improved discrete graphics from AMD, faster flash storage, and a bump in battery life from 8 hours to 9 hours, enabled in part by the thinner Force Touch trackpad making room for a slightly larger battery.

The solid state drive in the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro is the fastest notebook drive Apple has debuted yet, reaching throughput speeds up to 2GB/s. It is 2.5 times faster than the SSD in the previous-generation 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

The 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro still offers a quad-core Crystal Well processor, a variation of the Haswell, and it includes Intel’s Iris Pro HD 5200 graphics. The high-end model now features AMD Radeon R9 M370X discrete graphics with 2 GB of memory, an upgrade over the NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics from the previous generation.

Like the 13-inch model, the 15-inch MacBook Pro offers faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi and PCIe-based flash storage, as well as dual Thunderbolt 2 ports to allow users to connect multiple displays.

The entry level 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro can be upgraded to a maximum 2.8 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor and 1 TB of PCIe-based flash storage. The high-end version includes the same upgrade options, but it also comes equipped with AMD Radeon R9 M370X graphics. With all upgrades selected, the ultimate 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro is priced at $3,199.

Non-Retina MacBook Pro

Apple has not updated its non-Retina MacBook Pros with Haswell processors and has ceased offering the non-Retina 15-inch MacBook Pro. While Apple is still selling the non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro, it has not been refreshed since June of 2012. The stock configuration did receive a $100 price cut to $1099 on July 29, 2014.




As the Retina MacBook Pro has reached near pricing parity with the non-Retina version with recent price drops, Apple will likely discontinue its non-Retina model in favor of an all Retina MacBook Pro lineup at some point.

How to Buy

All of Apple’s MacBook Pro models can be purchased from the online Apple Store, from an Apple retail location, or from select Apple Authorized Resellers. All models of the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro ship within 24 hours from the online Apple Store.

The MacBook Pro – Beyond 2016

According to a leaked Intel processor roadmap outlining future Kaby Lake chips, Apple may need to make some graphics changes to machines set to launch in 2017 and beyond. Intel’s next-generation Kaby Lake chips, the successor to the current Skylake chips, will not offer options for high-performance mobile chips with high-end integrated graphics, spelling trouble for future 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro machines.




Apple uses high-end integrated graphics in the current entry-level 15-inch MacBook Pro models, and without a Kaby Lake option, Apple will need to use Skylake chips for an extended period of time or use discrete graphics for all of its 15-inch machines, rather than just the higher-end 15-inch models.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro is not affected as Intel plans to release 28-watt U-Series chips with high-powered integrated graphics appropriate for use in that machine in the first quarter of 2017.


October 26, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , ,
Bombshell lawsuit reveals drama at Magic Leap, the secretive multibillion-dollar startup backed by Google


Image: Thomson Reuters. Abovitz, CEO of augmented reality startup Magic Leap, waves during the first day of the annual Allen and Co. media conference in Sun Valley


Multi-billion dollar startup Magic Leap, which is building a cutting-edge augmented reality headset, is currently in a legal battle with the engineer who started its first Silicon Valley office.

Court filings reveal new secrets about the company, including a west coast software team in disarray, insufficient hardware for testing, and a secret skunkworks team devoted to getting patents and designing new prototypes – before its first product has even hit the market.

The company believes that Adrian Kaehler and Gary Bradski, two VPs at Magic Leap, tried to rip off its technology and talent to start a new robotics startup.

Kaehler and Bradski, who sued the company for wrongful termination earlier this year,say that Magic Leap unfairly robbed them of their shares in Magic Leap and broke their employment contracts.

Magic Leap countered by suing the pair for misappropriation of trade secrets in Northern California District Court.

While the suit could soon be settled – a settlement conference is scheduled for Friday – documents and emails filed in the case reveal a major disconnect between the Florida-based Magic Leap and its satellite offices in Silicon Valley.


A $4.5 billion startup


magic leapImage: sourceMagic Leap

Magic Leap is one of the most mysterious and hyped startups in tech.

The company has raised a massive amount of venture money – $1.39 billion – from nearly every top technology investor, including Google, Alibaba, KPCB, and Andreessen Horowitz. It has not yet shipped a product, and people who have tried the prototypes are required to sign legal documents that prevent them from discussing them.

Magic Leap’s still unrevealed product will be a set of AR glasses, according to testimony in the lawsuit. The glasses will be attached to a smartphone-sized computer, according to a source with knowledge of Magic Leap’s product.

The highly anticipated augmented reality glasses will superimpose computer images into the real world. (As opposed to virtual reality, which immerses the viewer in a computer-generated world.)

The company was reportedly valued at $4.5 billion in February.

Magic Leap declined to comment, citing pending litigation. Kaehler declined to comment through his attorney. Bradski could not be immediately reached.


Disgruntled employees


Earlier this year, Bradski told Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz that he wanted to form a new startup focusing on cutting-edge robotics with his friend Kaehler, and planned to try to hire Magic Leap employees from its West Coast office. Then in May, the pair found they were no longer Magic Leap employees – or even advisors – and their access to email was cut off.

Then came the dueling lawsuits.

Magic Leap paints Bradski and Kaehler, who worked on software for Magic Leap, as disgruntled employees, even producing an email that Bradski sent to Kaehler in August 2015 from his Magic Leap work email address:

“Like Jobs, R has a reality distortion field. Unlike Jobs, R’s is more like a bad high, just leaves you feeling tired with a vague headache in the morning and is not productive.”

In this note, R likely refers to Rony Abovitz, the CEO of Magic Leap, and compares him unfavorably to former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who was known for being difficult to work with.

Abovitz says that Bradski and Kaehler were planning to start their startup for a year before they quit. “Dr. Bradski did not tell me what his future plans were going to be, and led me to believe that he was excited about being at Magic Leap,” Abovitz wrote.

Magic Leap’s lawyer, David Lundmark, implies that Bradski wanted more power in the company, and was primarily worried about his personal income, even though he personally chose the location for the company’s Mountain View and Sunnyvale offices.

“Dr. Bradski told me more than once that he did not have confidence in the leadership or processes of Magic Leap,” Lundmark wrote. “Dr. Bradski expressed to me a lack of confidence in the proposition that certain compensation-related milestones, such as a secondary offering and bonus program, were going to happen in a timely manner.”


Jobs reality distortion field

Image: source Public documents

He notes that when Kaehler received his bonuses and liquidated stock in a secondary offering, he put a sticky note on his monitor that said “gone for two weeks.”


Sunshine state of mind


Magic Leap is unusual among high-value tech startups because it’s based in Plantation, Florida, where its CEO, Rony Abovitz, grew up and lives. Most tech startups are concentrated in Silicon Valley, New York, or a handful of other tech hubs like Boston, Seattle, or Austin, Texas.

Bradski had a good reputation before joining Magic Leap – he founded OpenCV, an open-source computer vision library in wide use, and previously founded a robotics startup that was bought by Google. He founded the West Coast office for Magic Leap in 2013, growing it to over 100 employees.

According to Bradski’s testimony, as well as other sources close to the company, the Florida location has made it hard to recruit and retain software talent, especially in artificial intelligence. Bradski claims he had to promise hires not to move them to Florida.

“It was difficult to recruit top people in the deep net field to Magic Leap, since everyone external wanted to live in New York or Silicon Valley, but Magic Leap’s base of operations is in Florida,” Bradski testified in writing. “We lost several deep net hires that I thought would be key leaders because of this.” One of those hires ended up at Google Brain, Google’s artificial intelligence research group, according to the court documents.

Once the Silicon Valley office was established, there was plenty of friction between it and headquarters.

“What is not recognized … is just how many hours I spent in ‘worker therapy’ with so many employees who expressed deep dissatisfaction with the ‘us v. them’ mentality that existed in the way the Florida executives tried to absentee manage the California talent,” Kaehler wrote in testimony.

“From my familiarity with the spectrum of engineering work being done in the company, the majority of the best work was being done on the West Coast,” he continued.

“I spent a lot of time dealing with convincing disgruntled and frustrated employees to stay,” Bradski wrote. One carrot that he used was a Magic Leap-scheduled secondary market stock buy, which would allow employees to turn their options into cash.

In an private email to an investor uncovered by Magic Leap, Bradski explains that he will try to help hire and retain employees at the Mountain View office, but “hell, many are leaving anyhow.”

Sources also tell Business Insider that Abovitz’s attention is primarily focused on Florida operations.

So why is Magic Leap based in Florida instead of Silicon Valley?

One theory, posited by Kaehler: “It seemed to me and was expressed to me by many employees in various language that the East Coast operation existed for the pleasure of senior people who preferred to live in that [income] tax-free state,” he wrote in testimony seen by Business Insider.


Not enough glasses


Magic Leap

Image: A drawing from a Magic Leap patent. Not necessarily what the glasses will look like. source Magic Leap

Access to Magic Leap’s glasses is closely controlled, and testers must sign a legal non-disclosure agreement promising not to talk about them before they can get a demo of how they work.

Magic Leap employees in California don’t have enough prototypes to do their work, according to the suit.

“Through Summer 2014, Magic Leap’s actual hardware team based in Florida seemed to be having difficulties making AR headsets for use by Magic Leap personnel,” Bradski wrote.

He says his personal project could not get started until the company “built enough of its AR glasses for most employees to regularly use them day-to-day.”

“We were hardware starved in Magic Leap West until the day I left,” he writes, and says that at one point he asked Florida for “30-50 more headsets” to get “common headset usage started” at Magic Leap’s West Coast office.

“This hardware has still not arrived as far as I know,” he wrote. In a legal filing, Abovitz says that Magic Leap is completing its manufacturing plant.


A secret skunkworks team



Image: Rony Abovitz emails about the N+1 programsourcePublic documents

Last fall, Magic Leap assigned Bradski to a new skunkworks team.

Other leaders of the “N+1” team include Brian Schowengerdt, founder and Chief Science Officer, and Neal Stephenson, famous sci-fi author and chief futurist at Magic Leap.

We previously reported that Stephenson and Schowengerdt are not located at the company’s Florida headquarters, and work out of a satellite office in Seattle.

“Magic Leap’s N+1 projects look to ‘invent the future,’ by developing the future applications of Magic Leap’s technology,” Abovitz wrote.

According to an email sent by Abovitz, the N+1 team was focused on filing patents, creating prototypes, and potentially publishing scientific papers.

However, Bradski saw the new assignment as something of a demotion, and he complains in the suit that he did not have enough staff underneath him to do these special projects.

Before he left, Bradski focused on building a deep learning team as well as working on embedded hardware for computer vision.

A settlement conference between the two former Magic Leap VPs and the company is scheduled for later this week.


October 26, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , , ,
Google’s Daydream VR headset for Android smartphones.

daydreamGoogle’s Daydream VR headset for Android smartphones.


Google’s plans for a new headset are advancing. In July, we wrote that Google had been actively assigning individuals to work on a high-end standalone headset that doesn’t require a computer or smartphone. In the three months since, people familiar with the matter have told Engadget that Google’s device will integrate eye tracking and use sensors and algorithms to map out the real-world space in front of a user.

With these two technologies, Google will be able to augment the reality in front of the headset, displaying digital objects alongside environments and objects from the real world. Sources also confirmed that Movidius, an AI company currently being acquired by Intel, is providing chips that will aid in tracking motion and positional awareness. Sources have previously explained that the headset, which is separate from the company’s Daydream VR platform, will not require a computer or phone to power it.

Earlier today, The Drum reported on a potential “wireless virtual reality” device that passed through the FCC’s approval process. Although the heavily redacted filings reveal very little, beyond some wireless capabilities, it does have Mike Jazayeri, director of product management for Google’s VR group, listed as a contact. We were unable to confirm whether the FCC-approved device, apparently for internal and partner testing, is related to the standalone headset plans.

While we’re unsure what form the final headset will take, there are two companies that are aspiring to achieve similar goals: Microsoft (with its HoloLens headset) and Magic Leap. The latter actually counts Google among its extensive investors list, with the search giant leading one funding round and participating in another.

Magic Leap refers to its technology as “mixed reality.” It differs from HoloLens by generating a digital light-field signal that can apparently create a better illusion of depth than HoloLens. Although all three products have similar goals, one source described the new standalone headset as something that blurs the line between virtual and augmented reality — bringing the world into VR, rather than VR into the world.

When reached for a statement, both Google and Movidius declined to comment.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect Google’s response.


October 25, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , ,
Google Assistant compared to Siri in extensive video, shows a more personable side



With the release of Google Assistant, supplanting Google Now on the new Pixel with Android 7.1, Google’s speech recognition/AI engine is supposed to be more personable and less robotic. At the same time, Apple has been improving the accuracy and intelligence of Siri, which has until now been a distant second in the assistant space when it comes to accuracy. With the below video comparing iPhone 7 Plus and the the Pixel XL, YouTuber MKBHD shows that both have come a long way…

In a series of tests below, Marques Brownlee asks Google Assistant running on the Pixel XL and Siri running on an iPhone 7 Plus the same questions as well as follow-ups. The line of questioning is meant to represent typical use cases.

In most cases, both Google Assistant and Siri come up with correct answers, which is an achievement in itself, but almost always through different means. Most of Google’s AI is based on its internal learning and knowledge graph including its search engine.

Apple conversely relies more on a number of third party services including Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

Watch the video below and let us know what you think.




October 23, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , ,
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