Categories
Hardware

Apple Pencil

pencil1

The Apple Pencil is an additional accessory which can (only) be used in conjunction with the forthcoming iPad Pro (scheduled to be available in November 2015).

It’s something I’ve been waiting for since the first iPad was released way back in 2010 and should provide that extra bit of precision in addition to the versatility of multi-touch.

pencil2

There are certain minimum requirements in a stylus which all seem to have been covered in the design of this “electronic pencil”

  • Latency – how fast the system responds when a line is being drawn
  • Pressure sensitivity – pressing harder to produce thicker lines

An additional feature is the ability to produce shading effects by varying the angle (tilting) the pencil tip when drawing.

https://youtu.be/iicnVez5U7M

(link: https://youtu.be/iicnVez5U7M)

The pencil has an in-built battery which should last for 12 hours following a full charge. In an emergency, 15 seconds of charge will provide 30 minutes of use. It is charged from the iPad Pro using a lightning connector.

Read more at http://www.apple.com/uk/apple-pencil/

If being a little churlish, I would have liked the top of the pen being available to be used as an “eraser” but hey, well done Apple, this new stylus looks to be a very useful addition especially if you work with a lot of drawings or CAD applications.

Categories
Hardware New Technology

BBC micro:bit

microbit1

The BBC has announced the BBC micro:bit, a pocket-sized programmable computer which is to be given free to every child in year 7 (11-12 years old) across the UK. Its aim is to help children learn the basics of programming.

microbit

Technical specifications for the device will be available as open-source.

The device measures 4cm by 5cm and key features include:

  • Array of 25 red LEDs
  • Two programmable buttons
  • On-board motion detector or “accelerometer”
  • Built-in compass or “magnetometer” (includes an in-built magnet, and can sense certain types of metal)
  • Bluetooth Smart Technology
  • Five Input and Output (I/O) rings to connect the micro:bit to other devices such as the Raspberry Pi or other sensors

(Original Link: https://youtu.be/gJPRMPAbL3Q)

Software will include Blockly, Python and the Microsoft TouchDevelop platform.

https://developers.google.com/blockly/

https://www.python.org/

https://www.touchdevelop.com/

The BBC and partners have committed to provide up to one million micro:bits before the end of 2015. The micro:bit will also be made commercially available later in 2015

Product Partners include ARM, Barclays, element14, Freescale, Lancaster University, Microsoft, Nordic Semiconductor, Samsung, ScienceScope, technology Will Save Us and The Wellcome Trust.

Product Champions include, Bluetooth SIG, Bright Future, Cannybots, Cisco, Code Club, Coderdojo, Code Kingdoms, Creative Digital Solutions, CultureTECH, Institution of Engineering and Technology, Kitronik, London Connected Learning Centre, MyMiniFactory, Python Software Foundation, STEMNET, TeenTech and the Tinder Foundation.

Comprehensive details can be found at

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/microbit

Categories
Hardware

Structure Sensor

The Structure Sensor is a 3D sensor for mobile devices and allows developers to create applications which can use the captured 3D depth data.

Straight_On_Close

It uses structured light to capture depth data. Structured light uses a laser projector to cast a precise pattern of thousands of invisible infrared dots onto objects and spaces. It then uses a frequency-matched infrared camera to record how the pattern changes, thereby understanding the geometry of those objects and spaces. As a result, the Structure Sensor can generate a VGA depth stream at 30 frames per second, with each pixel representing an exact distance to a real-world point.

(original link on YouTube: https://youtu.be/zSXMJaOGRIM)

The Structure Sensor has a sensing range of 0.4 to 3.5 m and a resolution of 640×480 pixels at 30-60 frames a second to a precision of 1% of measured distance. Its rechargeable, integrated lithium polymer battery allows for 3-4 hours of active sensing or 1000+ hours at standby.

(original link on YouTube: https://youtu.be/vGDzqKWQ6Kg)

It works with iPads using a Lightning connector or other devices with a standard USB port (using a USB Hacker Cable available separately) and is available from $379 at

https://store.structure.io/store

For more information visit the web-site at

http://structure.io

Categories
Hardware New Technology

Holus

Holus

Holus is a tabletop holographic platform that converts digital content from a computer, tablet or smartphone into a 3D holographic experience. It is being developed by H+ Technology a company based in Vancouver, Canada.

The Holus is pyramid shaped to reflect the display in multiple (4) directions. Future plans are looking to remove the need for the pyramid completely and display the hologram in mid-air.

(https://youtu.be/2QXaUgY1oXo)

An interesting project, currently live on KickStarter (June 2015), which has surpassed its goal of $50,000, having reached a current total of $270,567.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1314339634/holus-the-interactive-tabletop-holographic-display

Follow the progress of the project at the company web-site

http://www.hplustech.com/

Categories
Hardware New Technology

Magic Leap

In October 2014, Magic Leap announced it had raised $542,000,000 in funding from a group including Google, Qualcomm, the world’s leading phone chipmaker, Andreessen Horowitz, KKR, and Legendary Entertainment.

With this amount of investment this company is certainly one to watch.

You can get an idea about what they’re up to by examining details contained in a number of patents applied for by the company including:

PLANAR WAVEGUIDE APPARATUS WITH DIFFRACTION ELEMENT(S) AND SYSTEM EMPLOYING SAME
US20150016777A1

SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY
US20150032823A1

MagicLeap

So it would appear that they are producing a lightweight wearable AR/VR Headset which is likely to produce high-quality realistic images which may or may not be projected directly onto the retina.

More will become clear, in the meantime visit their website at

http://www.magicleap.com