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Infineon Showcases the Radar Board used in Google’s Project Soli, and Sense2Go Development Kit (Video)

June 30th, 2016 2 comments

Google’s Project Soli sensing technology uses a miniature radar to detect touchless gesture interactions, so that you can control devices such as wearables using gestures without having to physical touch the product. The 60 GHz radar technology used in the project has been developed by Infineon, and the company was recently interviewed by Arrow Electronics where they showcased Soli board, as well as another 24 GHz radar development kit called Sense2Go.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The Soli board called BGT60TR24 features Infineon XMC4500 ARM Cortex M4 MCU, and a 60 GHz “CRIS20” radar chip designed specially for Project Soli by Infineon, and allowing 20mm resolution, falling to less than one millimeter with Google’s algorithms. The micro USB port will be used for power and programming. This board should be the one included in Project Soli development kit to be shipped to developers this fall.

Infineon also have a Sense2Go 24GHz sensor development kit that can detect motion, speed, and direction of movement in applications such as indoor/outdoor smart lighting, intruder alarm, motion detectors, intelligent door openers, and more.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Sense2Go board specifications:

  • MCU – Infineon XMC 4200 ARM Cortex M4 MCU @ 80 MHz with 256 KB flash, 40 KB RAM
  • Radar – BGT24MTR11 24 Ghz radar transmitter and receiver IC
  • USB – 1x micro USB port
  • Debugging – Cortex debug connector
  • Misc – 2x User LEDs, 2x 10-pin headers
  • Power – 5V via micro USB port or header
  • Dimensions – 4 x 3.5 cm

The CPU is already preprogrammed using Infineon’s DAVE development tool, and the module comes bundled with a standalone firmware for movement detection without the aid of a PC. It samples up to 2 IF channels of the transceiver chipset and communicates via USB interface to a connected PC, and provided PC application GUI (Windows XP/Vista/7/8) can be used to display and analyze acquired data in time and frequency domain.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The kit also includes a User’s Manual, schematic and Bill-of-Materials of the module, and a micro USB-to-USB cable. Sense2Go can be purchased from various distributors using part number, including Future Electronics ($244) and Avnet.

Raspberry Pi Zero Based Google’s Project Bloks Aims to Teach Programming to Young Children

June 28th, 2016 No comments

Visual programming development tools such as Scratch or Blockly are now becoming more popular to introduce school children to programming, and Google Research is now working on bringing the software visual programming concept to physical blocks “programming” though Project Bloks targeting younger children who may not be able to write or read yet. It might also help older children grasping programming concepts faster than when programming by typing on a keyboard.

Project_Bloks

Project Bloks is comprised of three main hardware components connected together:

  • Pucks – Those are the buttons, dials, switches, and other inputs from the project. Pucks have no active electronics, and even a piece of paper with some conductive ink could be a Puck.
  • Base Boards –  They read a Puck’s instruction through a capacitive sensor, and forward a Puck’s command to the Brain Board.  Each Base Board is also fitted with a haptic motor & LEDs, and can trigger audio feedback from the Brain Board’s built-in speaker.
  • Brain Board – Built around the Raspberry Pi Zero, and adding WiFi, Bluetooth, and a built-in speaker, the Brain Board take care of all the processing, provides the other boards with power, and sends the Base Board(s) instructions to any device with WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity
Brain Board

Brain Board

Children can then assemble Pucks, a Base Board, and the Brain Board together in various forms and shapes to create projects. Google partnered with IDEO to create Coding Kit reference device to show researchers, teachers, and developers how kids could learn basic concepts of programming.

More information can be found on Project Bloks website.

Via HackerBoards

Project Ara Modular Smartphone is Not Dead After All, Just Not Quite as Modular as One Would Wish For

May 22nd, 2016 7 comments

A few weeks ago, one person asked me if Project Ara, Google ATAP project aimed to design a modular phone was still going on. I did not know, but it surely did not seem good with the official website showing a black page at the time, many developers claiming they’ve yet to receive the development kit, a lack of communication, and Google ATAP latest tweet was dated December 2015. That’s until Google I/O, where a project update was given during the event, and the developer kit will be provided in Q4 2016, while a consumer version will be for sale in 2017. That’s the plan at least.

Project_Ara_Developer_KitIf you have 10 minutes, you may want to watch the part of Google I/O 2016 video about Project Ara on YouTube.

The developer phone supports up to 6 hot pluggable modules, meaning you can just insert or replace a module, and use it straightaway with turning off your phone. When you want to remove a module, you’ll need to let the phone know you want to eject the module, and/or you can use voice control to eject the camera module with “OK, Google, eject the camera” as shown in the demo during the presentation.

They’ve also re-explained how it works with UniPro high-speed interface technology, and Greybus protocol to handle the communication with modules (up to 11.9 Gbps) including hot-swapping, as well as specially designed baseplates, connectors and latches.

Project_Ara_ModulesThe other good news is that they collaborate with other companies such as Samsung, Micron, Toshiba, Panasonic, and others to develop modules with speakers, high resolution cameras, extra storage, secondary display, sensors, and so on. They also plan to work on a glucose meter module for people suffering from diabetes. Google also wants to extend modularity to tablets, and other computing platform, so Project Ara is not just for smartphone.

However, since the Ara frame “contains all the functionality of a smartphone”, the processor, memory (RAM), and main display are part of the body, and can’t be updated by module, so they have to scaled down the ambitions of the project when it was first announced. I’m not even sure the battery is replaceable in the developer phone shown by Google, which would be sad.

If you’re a developer and would like to design a module, or develop software for Ara scroll down to the bottom of Project Ara website to leave your details.

Categories: Android, Hardware Tags: google, project ara

Xiaomi Mi Box Comes to the US with Android TV 6.0 Running on Amlogic S905X Processor

May 19th, 2016 34 comments

Xiaomi Mi Boxes have been available in China for a couple of years, and the only way to ship them to the rest of the world was to purchase via Chinese e-retailers. Xiaomi and Google have now worked together to bring Mi Box with Android TV 6.0, instead of the usual Chinese MIUI TV interface, to the US, and possibly to other countries.

Xiaomi_Mi_Box_GoogleXiaomi Mi Box (US) specifications:

  • SoC –  Amlogic S905X-H quad core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 2.0GHz with penta-core Mali-450MP GPU @ 750 MHz
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz with HDCP 2.2 and CEC support
  • Audio Output – HDMI, optical S/PDIF and 3.5mm audio jack
  • Video Codecs – VP9 Profile-2 & H.265 MP-10 up to 4K @ 60 fps, H.264 AVC up to 4K @ 30 fps, H.264 MVC up to 1080p60
  • Audio Codecs – DTS 2.0+ digital out, Dolby digital plus up to 7.1 pass-through
  • HDR –  HDR10 and HLG HDR processing
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host ports
  • DRM – Widevine L1 + PlayReady 3.0
  • Power Supply –  5.2V/2.1A
  • Dimensions – 101 x 101 x 19.5 mm
  • Weight – 176.5 grams

The device will run Android TV 6.0 and ships with a Bluetooth voice remote control powered by two AAA batteries, an HDMI cable, a 100/240V 50/60Hz to 5.2V power supply, and a user’s guide. Mi Game controller can also be purchased as an option. The device obviously supports all DRM options to get 1080p and 4K video playback for YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and so on.

Xiaomi_Mi_Box_Android_TV_6.0The company did not mention Amlogic S905X processor by name, but given the specs, and the fact that a contact told me Amlogic designed S905X for Xiaomi, because Android TV now requires VP9, there’s no doubt it’s the one. That’s probably also explain why they did not go with a more powerful solution as found in their latest Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced Edition. The H is S905X-H is for Dolby license.

The TV box is coming soon at an undisclosed price. For reference, the (hardware-wise) similar Xiaomi Box 3 TV box based on Amlogic S905-H, 1GB RAM, and 4GB storage, is sold for 299.00 CNY (~$46 US) in China, so I’d not be surprised if the price ends up being around $60. Further details can be found on Xiaomi Mi Box page.

Via Liliputing and Hugo Barra

Android N Developer Preview 3 Adds VR Support, Instant Apps, and Sustainable Performance Mode

May 19th, 2016 2 comments

Google has also unveiled the third Android N Developer Preview at Google I/O 2016, and the first “beta quality” release, available on Nexus 6, 9, 5X, 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C, and Android One as a “seamless updates” if you opt-in to the Android Beta Program in order to get an over-the-air update with the very latest firmware.

Android_N_Developer_Preview_Devices

Google wants Android N to be faster, safer and more productive. The first two previews addressed performance with a new JIT compiler and Vulkan 3D graphics API support, productivity with multi-window support and direct reply from notifications, as well as security thanks to seamless updates bringing the latest security patchsets to your phones in a timely manner.Google_Daydream_VR

The third preview brings fixes, and some interesting new features:

Daydream

Daydream

  • VR Mode in Android – Google has modified and augmented the Android stack in N to reduce lag between sensor data readings (e.g. head motion) and sending pixels to the display. Motion-to-photon latency on Nexus 6P is now less than 20 ms, a required to make the user feel he/she is really in the rendered scene. You can read Imagination Tech blog post for more details about low latency implementation. Google has now two VR kits: the good old Cardboard and  a new platform called Daydream, just like Android screensaver, that’s virtual reality kit with a two button motion controller that will be available in fall 2016, and work with upcoming Android N smartphones.
  • Android Instant Apps – So far if you want to install and an app, you need to go to Google Play, search for it, install it after agreeing to permissions, and finally you can tap to run it. Google has decided to develop a faster way with Android Instant Apps which let you skip the installation part. You just need to tap to run the app as you would do when you click a link on your web browser. Android Instant Apps are compatible with Android 4.1+ using Google Play services.
  • Sustained Performance Mode – Most recent devices will throttle under heavy load, leading to dramatic performance fluctuation of long-running apps. To address these limitations, Android N includes support for sustained performance mode, enabling OEMs to provide hints about device-performance capabilities for long-running apps. App developers can use these hints to tune apps for a predictable, consistent level of device performance over long periods of time. The new API is currently only enabled on Nexus 6P device.

You can get a complete list of API changes for Android N (all preview versions) on Google Developer’s Android N page. Google has still not decided about the actual name for Android N, so they’re asking for your help.

Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview Release

May 19th, 2016 No comments

Google I/O 2016 has started, and among several announcements, Google released Android Wear 2.0 develop preview which according to the company is the “most significant update” since the launch of Android Wear two years ago.

Android_Wear_2.0Some noticeable changes include:

  • Standalone apps Android Wear apps can now access the Internet directly over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular, without relying on a paired smartphone or tablet.
  • New system UI – New notification design and app launcher, as well as a new watch face picker.
  • Material design for wearables
  • Keyboard and handwriting input methods added
  • Google Fit platform – Improvements to the Google Fit platform make it easier to app developers to use fitness data and detect activity.
  • Android N Support – Data Saver, Java 8 Lambda support, emojis, etc…

A new Complication API has also been added to display small pieces of information directly on the watch face.

Preview images for LGE Watch Urbane 2nd Edition and Huawei Watch, so you can give it a try if you own any of these two smartwatches, or alternatively you could run the preview in the emulator. Bear in mind that it only a developer preview, so there should still be some bugs. Android Studio v2.1.1 is required for development on Android Wear 2.0.

Android N Developer Preview Released with Multi-Window Support, PiP, Background Apps Optimizations…

March 10th, 2016 6 comments

Google has just released an early developer preview of Android 7.0 N (Nutella?) before the OS officially launched later this summer with new features such s multi-window support, TV recording,  Picture-in-picture, bundled notifications, and efficiency improvements.

Multi-window Support in Android N

Multi-window Support in Android N

So let’s have a look at some of improvements:

  • Multi-window – A new manifest attribute called android:resizableActivity is available for apps targeting N and beyond, allowing your activity to be launched in split-screen modes on phones and tablets. In addition, activities can also go into picture-in-picture mode on devices like TVs by setting android:supportsPictureInPicture to true.
  • Direct reply notifications: Initially an Android Wear only features, the RemoteInput notification API has now been added for smartphones and tablets, and allows user to reply directly within the notification shade.
  • Bundled notifications – The Notification.Builder.setGroup() method can be used to bundle notifications from the same app together.
  • Efficiency Improvements – Doze has been further improved to save battery whenever the screen turns off, and work is still being done on Project Svelte to reduce memory usage so allow Android to runs on more devices, and in Android N they’ve made background work more efficient using JobScheduler.
  • Improved Java 8 language support – Google has brough Java 8 language features to Android, and Jack compiler (Java Android Compiler Kit) can use many Java 8 features in Android 2.3 and greater.
  • Data Saver – Users can enable Data Saver in order to use less data with the system blocking background data usage and signalling apps to use less data in the foreground wherever possible. Users can also whitelist specific apps to allow background metered data usage even when Data Saver is turned on.
  • TV Recording Improvements – TV input services let the user pause and resume channel playback via time-shifting APIs. Android N expands on time-shifting by letting the user save multiple recorded sessions. Users can schedule recordings in advance, or start a recording as they watch a program. Once the system has saved a recording, the user can browse, manage, and play back the recording using the system TV app
Picture-in-Picture in Android N

Picture-in-Picture in Android N

You can try the N Developer Preview on the Android emulator, Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Nexus 9, and Pixel C devices, with the latter being sold at a $150 discount. To get Android N SDK, you’ll also need to install Android Studio 2.1, because the new version of Android required Jack compiler not supported in earlier versions.

Android N Preview in Android Studio 2.1 (Click to Enlarge)

Android N Preview in Android Studio 2.1’s SDK Manager (Click to Enlarge)

I’ve just been informed Android N source code is, or soon will be in AOSP, since android-n-preview-1 tag has been spotted, and that’s the way to get the source:

NayuOS is a Developer Friendly Chromium OS Fork without Google Services

February 1st, 2016 4 comments

People at Nexedi, an European based open-source software publisher, are doing a lot of development work on Chromebooks, but with Chrome OS, all your data is kept on Google servers when you login, and by default the OS basically runs Chrome browser with barely any development tools. So the company leveraged Chromium OS, the open source version of Chrome OS, to create their own operating system, called NayuOS, that does not run any proprietary software, does without Google servers, and comes with git, nmp and other developer tools by default.

NayuOS_Nayu_OSThe operating system should also provide a better Chromebook experience in China, thanks to the company’s re6stnet app and GrandeNet system allowing to have IPv6 available even when ISPs only provide IPv4, and to work around the unreliable Internet infrastructure in China.

The source code and instructions to build an image yourself are available, but the company also released binary images for several Chromebooks including Dell Chromebook 13, Acer C720 Chromebook, Toshiba Chromebook 2, Chromebook Pixel 2015, and more.

You can find all details on NayuOS website, as well as on the introduction page on Nexedi.

Via Liliputing and HackerNews