Google is bringing Fast Pair to Windows and TVs and more. It’s also planning Wear OS watch unlocks for phones.
Google laid out its plans for a number of new features coming to its ecosystem of devices and operating systems this year, a lot of which is focused on connecting them all or making setup easier. Whether you have an Android phone and an Android TV or a Chrome OS devices and a Wear OS watch, there is a good chance they will start to talk to each other.
Quicker setup of all devices
One of the biggest items Google announced today involves Fast Pair, the quick-connect technology that Google pushed out to phones and headphones a couple of years ago. In the coming weeks and months, Fast Pair will work on more devices and throughout more operating systems.
Tractors that steer themselves are nothing new to Minnesota farmer Doug Nimz. But then four years ago, John Deere brought a whole new kind of machine to his 2,000-acre corn and soybean farm. That tractor could not only steer itself but also didn’t even need a farmer in the cab to operate it.
It turns out the 44,000-pound machine was John Deere’s first fully autonomous tractor, and Nimz was one of the first people in the world to try it out. His farm served as a testing ground that allowed John Deere’s engineers to make continuous changes and improvements over the last few years. On Tuesday, the rest of the world got to see the finished tractor as the centerpiece of the company’s CES 2022 press conference.
“It takes a while to get comfortable because … first of all, you’re just kind of amazed just watching it,” said Nimz, who on a windy October afternoon described himself as “very, very interested” but also a “little suspicious” of autonomous technology before using John Deere’s machine on his farm. “When I actually saw it drive … I said, ‘Well, goll, this is really going to happen. This really will work.’”
It’s also building chips for Microsoft’s AR glasses.
At the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) currently taking place in Las Vegas, chip maker Qualcomm’s CEO Cristiano Amon announced several key new initiatives.
Amon described Qualcomm’s technology roadmap as including connectivity, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon premium-tier Android smartphones. Snapdragon is a suite of system-on-a-chip (SoC) semiconductor products whose central processing units (CPUs) utilize the ARM architecture.
Qualcomm’s new initiatives will be in the spaces of: next-generation ARM PCs, the metaverse, wireless fiber, Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS), and virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR).
With plans for a nationwide rollout in the United States.
While the coronavirus pandemic undoubtedly brought grave hardships to most of us, it has also provided some opportunity for innovation. At this year’s CES 2022, the world’s largest technology show that takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada, the tech startup Ottonomy IO presented tremendous progress in building fleets of autonomous delivery robots. Its machines have already been employed at retail locations around the U.S., with a very real possibility they are coming to a store or drive-through near you soon.
How the robots work. At CES, Ottonomy IO explained how its robot delivery service functions. Once you make an order online through an app, the package you ordered gets placed in a cart-like robot, which navigates to a designated pickup location, which can be quite flexible. After the robot finds you, it scans your phone, then opens up a secure locker inside, allowing you to pick up your package. One major advantage of this human-less process from a Covid-safety standpoint is that the whole interaction is contactless.
From the Terminator to Spiderman’s suit, self-repairing robots and devices abound in sci-fi movies. In reality, though, wear and tear reduce the effectiveness of electronic devices until they need to be replaced. What is the cracked screen of your mobile phone healing itself overnight, or the solar panels providing energy to satellites continually repairing the damage caused by micro-meteorites?
Digitization results in a high energy consumption. In industrialized countries, information technology presently has a share of more than 10% in total power consumption. The transistor is the central element of digital data processing in computing centers, PCs, smartphones, or in embedded systems for many applications from the washing machine to the airplane. A commercially available low-cost USB memory stick already contains several billion transistors. In the future, the single-atom transistor developed by Professor Thomas Schimmel and his team at the Institute of Applied Physics (APH) of KIT might considerably enhance energy efficiency in information technology. “This quantum electronics element enables switching energies smaller than those of conventional silicon technologies by a factor of 10,000,” says physicist and nanotechnology expert Schimmel, who conducts research at the APH, the Institute of Nanotechnology (INT), and the Material Research Center for Energy Systems (MZE) of KIT. Earlier this year, Professor Schimmel, who is considered the pioneer of single-atom electronics, was appointed Co-Director of the Center for Single-Atom Electronics and Photonics established jointly by KIT and ETH Zurich.
In Advanced Materials, the KIT researchers present the transistor that reaches the limits of miniaturization. The scientists produced two minute metallic contacts. Between them, there is a gap as wide as a single metal atom. “By an electric control pulse, we position a single silver atom into this gap and close the circuit,” Professor Thomas Schimmel explains. “When the silver atom is removed again, the circuit is interrupted.” The world’s smallest transistor switches current through the controlled reversible movement of a single atom. Contrary to conventional quantum electronics components, the single-atom transistor does not only work at extremely low temperatures near absolute zero, i.e.-273°C, but already at room temperature. This is a big advantage for future applications.
The single-atom transistor is based on an entirely new technical approach. The transistor exclusively consists of metal, no semiconductors are used. This results in extremely low electric voltages and, hence, an extremely low energy consumption. So far, KIT’s single-atom transistor has applied a liquid electrolyte. Now, Thomas Schimmel and his team have designed a transistor that works in a solid electrolyte. The gel electrolyte produced by gelling an aqueous silver electrolyte with pyrogenic silicon dioxide combines the advantages of a solid with the electrochemical properties of a liquid. In this way, both safety and handling of the single-atom transistor are improved.
In the 2002 science fiction blockbuster film “Minority Report,” Tom Cruise’s character John Anderton uses his hands, sheathed in special gloves, to interface with his wall-sized transparent computer screen. The computer recognizes his gestures to enlarge, zoom in, and swipe away. Although this futuristic vision for computer-human interaction is now 20 years old, today’s humans still interface with computers by using a mouse, keyboard, remote control, or small touch screen. However, much effort has been devoted by researchers to unlock more natural forms of communication without requiring contact between the user and the device. Voice commands are a prominent example that have found their way into modern smartphones and virtual assistants, letting us interact and control devices through speech.
Hand gestures constitute another important mode of human communication that could be adopted for human-computer interactions. Recent progress in camera systems, image analysis and machine learning have made optical-based gesture recognition a more attractive option in most contexts than approaches relying on wearable sensors or data gloves, as used by Anderton in “Minority Report.” However, current methods are hindered by a variety of limitations, including high computational complexity, low speed, poor accuracy, or a low number of recognizable gestures. To tackle these issues, a team led by Zhiyi Yu of Sun Yat-sen University, China, recently developed a new hand gesture recognition algorithm that strikes a good balance between complexity, accuracy, and applicability.