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Posts Tagged ‘google’

Google Introduces Draco Open Source 3D Mesh Compression Tool

January 14th, 2017 1 comment

Specific compression and/or encoding algorithms are used for video, audio, and files, and each time one watches a video, listens to music, or downloads a file from the Internet, the amount data has likely been reduced thanks to the implementation of one of those algorithms. Google has been involved in the development of some algorithms and their implementation such as VP8/VP9/VP10 video codecs, and brotli file compression. With the emergence of virtual and augmented reality applications and accompanying 3D mesh data, the company has also worked on 3D data compression, and just unveiled Draco.

Sample representation of 3D mesh data

Sample representation of 3D mesh data

A simple web search showed me some other 3D mesh compression tools are already available including Open3DGC and OpenCTM, but Google decided to compare Draco to GZIP instead, and it indeed offers much better compression than this general purpose file compression tool. Encoding and decoding also appear to be fairly fast, although Google did not compare the performance against ZIP or other compressors.

Draco-Compression-Ratio-PerformanceYou can try it yourself in your browser (I used Firefox) with this example. The video shows the same sample loading with either Draco or GZIP decompression.

Draco is open source with the code available on Github.

Categories: Graphics, Video Tags: 3d, compression, draco, google

Vapor Cooled ASUS Zenfone AR Smartphone Comes with 8GB RAM, Supports Google DayDream and Tango

January 5th, 2017 1 comment

ASUS Zenfore AR is an interesting beast, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, it’s the first processor I’ve heard to come with 8GB RAM, and also the first to support both Google DayDream virtual reality, and Google Tango 3D depth sensing camera. On top of that, it’s allegedly cooled by an “advanced vapor cooling system”.
asus-zenfone-ar

Zenfone AR (ZS571KL) specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad core processor up to 2.35 GHz with Adreno 530 GPU
  • System Memory – 6 to 8 GB LPDDR4 RAM
  • Storage – 32, 64, 128 or 256GB UFS 2.0 flash, micro SD/SDCX card slot up to 2TB, 5GB ASUS WebStorage for file, 100GB Google drive for 2 years
  • Display – 5.7″ WQHD (2560×1440) AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 4, 10-finger capacitive touch
  • Camera
    • Tricam system with 23MP autofocus, motion tracking, and depth sensing cameras (Tango)
    • 8MP front-facing camera with autofocus dual LED flash
  • Video – 4K video recording
  • Audio – Built-in mono speaker, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Cellular Connectivity – Dual SIM card for 2G, 3G, and 4G networks; up to 600Mbps download speed (LTE cat12); up to 75 upload speed (LTE cat13)
  • Connectivity – 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2 + A2DP + EDR, GPS/A-GPS/GLONASS/BDS, NFC
  • USB – 1x USB type C port
  • Sensors – Accelerator/E-Compass/Gyroscope/Proximity sensor/Hall sensor/Ambient light sensor/RGB sensor/IR sensor (Laser Focus)/Fingerprint/Barometer
  • Battery – 3,300 mAh (non-removable) with fast charging through PowerDelivery 2.0 and Quick Charge 3.0
  • Power Supply – 9V/2A (18W) power adapter
  • Dimensions – 158.67 x 77.7 x 4.6 to 8.95 mm
  • Weight – 170 grams

The smartphone will run Android 7.0 Nougat with ZenUI 3.0, and ships with a headset and the power adapter.

Zefone AR is expected to be released in Q2 2017, with pricing yet to be announced. You’ll find more details and photos on ZenFone AR product page.

Android Things OS for the Internet of Things Supports Raspberry Pi 3, Intel Edison, and NXP Pico Boards

December 14th, 2016 5 comments

Google introduced Project Brillo a little over a year ago, an operating system based on Android, but with a smaller footprint optimized for Internet of Things applications. Brillo has now just become Android Things OS, with Google releasing a developer preview of Android Things working on Raspberry Pi 3, Intel Edison, and NXP Pico boards.

android-things-architecture

Android Things Software Architecture

The company has also updated the Weave platform to simplify connection of all types of devices to the cloud, and interaction with services like the Google Assistant. The Weave Device SDK currently supports schemas for light bulbs, smart plugs, switches, and thermostats, with more type of device supported in the future, as well as a mobile app API for both Android and iOS.

Using an Android based OS instead of a pure Linux OS should make it easier for Android app developers to create smart devices thanks to the use of familiar Android APIs and Google Services. The workflow is pretty similar to creating mobile apps, with development being done within Android Studio and you’d connect to the target board through adb. One difference is the the Things Support library that provides a peripheral I/O API for interfaces such as GPIOs, PWM, I2C, SPI and UART as well as a user driver API  used to allow apps to inject hardware events in to the Android framework.

nxp-pico-board

NXP Pico Board with TechNexion PICO-i.MX6UL SoM

If you’d like to get started, get one of the three supported boards, and get the Android Things developer preview. You may also been interested in Weave and Google Cloud platform sites to respectively control capable device such as Philips Hue and Samsung SmartThings, and get your data into the cloud. Some sample code is also available on AndroidThings’ github account, and you may want to subscribe to  Google’s IoT Developers Community on Google+ for support and discussions. NXP also has a higher end Android IoT platform equipped with more I/Os and ports called VVDN Technologies Argon i.MX6UL development board.

$49 Dashbot Car Dashboard Assistant is Powered by C.H.I.P Pro Allwinner GR8 Module (Crowdfunding)

November 18th, 2016 2 comments

Most companies specializing in development boards may sell a few accessories for their boards, but usually leave product design to their customers. Next Thing Co. does that too, but the company also produces some products like PocketCHIP portable Linux computer & retro game console, and more recently Dashbot, a voice controller assistant for your car’s dashboard powered by CHIP Pro module.

dashbot

Dashbot hardware specifications:

  • CPU Module – CHIP Pro with Allwinner GR8 ARM Cortex A8 processor @ 1.0 GHz, 512MB NAND flash, 256 DDR3 RAM, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2
  • External Storage – micro SD slot
  • Display – Red LED display
  • Audio – 32-bit audio DSP for beamforming & noise suppression; fairfield audio pre-processor with 24-bit ADC; high fidelity MEMS microphone array (106 dB dynamic range)
  • USB – 1x USB host port
  • Power Supply – 5V via USB port or 12V via power port (aka cigarette lighter) + backup LiFePo4 battery
  • Dimensions – 84 x 60 x 28 mm

The bot runs mainline Linux, source code will be available, as well as hardware design files making open source hardware (likely minus CHIP Pro module itself). Once you’ve stuck the magnetic adhesive mount to the dashboard, and placed Dashbot on top, you can connect it to your car stereo via Bluetooth or your car’s auxiliary jack. Wait what?  My car does not have any of those two connection methods… But no problem as the company also offers a Retro Pack adding an FM transmitter and cassette adapter for older cars.

dashbot-connection-guideThe main goal of Dashbot is to keep your smartphone in your pocket, and control it with your voice in order to keep your eyes on the road. But you’ll still need your phone, and after installing Dashbot app on your Android 5.0+ or iOS 10+ smartphones, you’ll be able to tell Dashbot to start playing music from online services like Spotify, Soundcloud, Google Play Music, and others, or tell it to “go home” and it will show the directions from Google Maps on the red LED display, and of course you can also answer phone calls, and reply to SMS.

Dashbot “AI powered hands-free car kit” launched on Kickstarter a few hours ago, has already raised over $50,000, and I’m confident it will surpass its $100,000 funding target. A $49 pledge should get you Dashbot, a power port for your cigarette lighter and an AUX cable, but if you have a car with a stereo that does not come with Bluetooth nor an AUX IN jack, you can get the Retro Pack for $65 with an FM radio/cassette player adapter. They also have rewards with an OBD-II dongle, and bundles with multiple Dashbots. Shipping adds $9 or more depending on rewards and destination, and delivery is planned for July 2017.

Android 7.1 Developer Preview Coming Soon with Image Keyboard Support, App Shortcuts API, etc…

October 12th, 2016 No comments

Google will soon release Android 7.1 Developer Preview for Nexus 5X & Nexus 6P smartphone, as well as Pixel C tablet, listed some of the changes you can expect in the new dot release, and provided a timeline for other devices and the official launch.

android-7-1-featuresAndroid 7.1 developer and user visible changes will include:

  • App shortcuts API will allow developer to set up to 5 shortcuts accessibly from app icon directly in the launcher. For example, a messaging app could have shortcuts to your favorite users and/or open a new conversation.
  • Circular app icons support to create rounded icons similar to what is used in Pixel launcher.
  • Enhanced live wallpaper metadata so that developers can show existing metadata such as label, description, and author, as well as a new context URL and title to link to more information.
  • Image keyboard support will let user easily insert custom stickers, animated gifs, and more from the keyboard app.
  • Storage manager Intent can be used by app to direct the user to Settings screen to clear unused files and free up storage space.
  • New APIs to support multi-endpoint calling and new telephony configuration options.

If you want to receive the Developer Preview automatically, enroll your device on Android Beta. After the first preview, more devices will be supported in the final Android 7.1.x release scheduled for early December, including Nexus 6, 5X, 6P, 9, Player, Pixel C, supported Android One devices, as well as the new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones.

Categories: Android Tags: Android, google, nougat, sdk, smartphone, tablet

Two More Google Products: Google WiFi Mesh Router, and Google Home, an Amazon Echo Competitor

October 5th, 2016 3 comments

Google made a bunch a new product announcements with their Pixel phones, Daydream View VR headset, and Chromecast Ultra 4K dongle, but in this post I’ll write about two other new products: Google Home an Amazon Echo competitor powered by Google Assistant and supporting multi-room, as well as Google WiFi (Mesh) router aiming at providing WiFi all over the house by combining multiple WiFi routers.

Google WiFi Router

google-wifiMost households now use a single router to provide WiFi to the home, but inevitably this introduce some dead or “slow WiFi” zones within the house. One way to work around this is to use WiFi repeaters, but it’s not always easy to setup and may lead to lower bandwidth. Google WiFi router uses a technology called mesh WiFi, where each router work together to determine the best path for your data using Network Assist technology to automatically choose and update the best channel for your device in real-time.

mesh-wifi

The router(s) can also be managed with an Android or iOS app, for example to pause WiFi for your kids when it’s time to go to bed or dinner,  prioritize devices within your network, etc…

Google Wifi will be up for pre-order in the US in November for $129 for a single router, and $299 for a pack of three routers on Google Store, Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart. Visit the product page  for more details.

Google Home

google-home
Google Home is Google’s answer to Amazon Echo, a voice controlled system to play music locally or from services such as Google Music, Pandora, Spotify…, get answers to questions, manage home automation (IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings…), adjust the thermostat or lights (Nest, Philips Hue), etc… But instead of Alexa software, the device relies on Google Assistant.

Google did not provie many technical details about “Home”, but we do know it uses two omnidirectional microphones and neural beamforming in order to hear people from across the room, and “integrates a high-excursion driver with a dual passive radiator design that delivers crystal-clear highs and deep lows for Hi-Fi sound”.

Google Home supports multi-room features so you can have multuple Google Home devices or Chromecast Audio devices playing music all aroudn the house, while at the same time being smart enough to only answer questions within the room your are located.

Google Home can be pre-ordered today in the US for $129 from the Google Store, Best Buy, Target and Walmart including 6 months of YouTube Red (Youtube without ads).

Google Announces Pixel and Pixel XL Smartphones for $649 and Up

October 5th, 2016 No comments

Google used to collaborate with smartphone manufacturers for their Nexus devices, but the company is now promoting their own Pixel brand, and has just launched Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, and running Android 7.0 Nougat operating system.

pixel-phoneBoth smartphones share most of the same specifications, but XL has a larger screen, a bigger battery, and a higher price tag:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 (MSM8996 pro AB) Quad core Kryo processor with two cores at up to 2.15GHz, two cores at up to 1.6GHz, Adreno 530 GPU
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR4
  • Storage – 32 or 128 GB storage
  • Display
    • Pixel – 5.0″ FHD (1920×1080) AMOLED display; 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4
    • Pixel XL – 5.5″ QHD (2560×1440) AMOLED display; 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Camera
    • 12.3 MP rear camera (IMX378 sensor) with laser and phase detection auto focus (LDAF + PDAF), f/2.0 aperture
    • 8 MP front-facing camera (IMX179 sensor) with fixed focus, f/2.4 aperture
    • Video recording support – 720p @ 30/60/240fps, 1080p @ 30/60/120fps, 4K @ 30 fps
  • Cellular Connectivity
    • Single SIM
    • Supports up to CAT 11 (600Mbps DL / 75Mbps UL) depending upon carrier coverage and carrier rollouts:
      • Telstra – CAT11 (600Mbps DL / 75Mbps UL)
      • All others – CAT 9 (450Mbps DL / 50 Mbps)
    • Quad-band GSM, UMTS/WCDMA, CDMA, FDD LTE, and TDD LTE support
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, NFC
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack, single bottom-firing speaker, 3 microphones, noise suppression.
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 type C port
  • Sensors – Proximity/ALS, accelerometer / gyrometer, magnetometer, pixel imprint (Back-mounted fingerprint sensor for fast unlocking), barometer, hall sensor, sensor hub: CHRE V2 with GPS/Wi-Fi/BT, advanced x-axis haptics for sharper/defined response
  • Battery
    • Pixel – 2,770 mAh battery good for up to 19 days standby (LTE), 26 hours talk time, and 13 hours Internet use
    • Pixel XL – 3,450 mAh battery good for up to 23 days standby (LTE), 32 hours talk time, and 14 hours Internet use
    • Fast charging: up to 7 hours of use from only 15 minutes of charging thanks to USB PD support
  • Dimensions & Weight
    • Pixel – 143.8 x 69.5 x 7.3 ~ 8.5 mm | TBD
    • Pixel XL – 154.7 x 75.7 x 7.3 ~ 8.5 mm | TBD

The phones will ship with a USB-C 18W adaptor with USB-PD, and A-C cable (USB 3.0), a C-C cable (USB 2.0), a SIM tool, a quick switch adapter, and in box promos and collateral. Pixel phones will run Android 7.0, are compatible with Google’s Daydream VR platform, and include the new improved Google Assistant, successor of “OK Google”.

Pixel is available for pre-order for $649 (32GB)  $749 (128GB) and Pixel XL for $769 (32GB)  $869 (128GB) in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany and Australia with pre-orders in India to begin on October 13.  More details can be found on Made by Google phone page scheduled to launch in October & November in several countries.

Upcoming 4K HDMI Streaming Sticks – Chromecast Ultra and EZCast 4K

October 5th, 2016 6 comments

Google has been introducing several “MadebyGoogle” device including the latest Chromecast Ultra support 4K and HDR, but it’s not the only 4K HDMI dongle to stream videos from your phone that’s about to be release as EZCast sticks are also getting an upgrade with EZCast 4K dongle supporting 4K Miracast, DLNA, and EZCast own protocol.

Chromecast Ultra

chromecast-ultraChromecast Ultra specifications:

  • Connectivity – 802.11ac (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) WiFi, Ethernet port (on power adapter)
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K resolution, HDR support
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for power and data
  • Dimensions – 58.20 ⌀ x 13.7 mm
  • Weight – 47 grams (device); 101 grams (power adapter)

Chromecast Ultra ships with a power cable (2m) and a power adapter with an Ethernet port. The device can be used with devices and/or computers running Android 4.1 and higher, iOS 8.0 and higher, Mac OS X 10.9 and higher, Windows 7 and higher.

It will start selling for $69 in November. More details can be found on Chromecast Ultra product page.

EZCast 4K

ezcast-4kEZCast 4K specifications:

  • SoC – Actions Semi AM8270 dual core processor @ 1.0+ GHz
  • System Memory – 512MB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 256 MB NAND flash for firmware
  • Connectivity – 802.11ac WiFi
  • Video output – HDMI up to 4K resolution @ 30 Hz with MHL support
  • Video Codec – 4K H.265 decoding
  • Wireless streaming/mirroring standards – Miracast, Airplay, EZCast, DLNA
  • USB – 1x micro USB port
  • Power Supply – MHL or USB (5V/1A) selectable through switch

EZCast 4K is said to work with platforms running Android 4.4+, Windows 7+, iPhone 4S+(iOS9+), Mac 10.10+, and Chrome OS 39+ with EZCast app. One advantage of the stick is that it can work without external power supply thanks to MHL support.

Price and availability information has not been released for far.  EZCast 4K can be bought for $49.99 with coupon EZCast4K81N03. Delivery is scheduled for November 1st. Some more information may be found on EZCast 4K page.