Open Source Software Releases – VLC 3.0 and Android-x86 7.1-r1

Two completely unrelated open source projects have released a stable version of their software this week, but instead of writing a post for each I’ll write about them in a single post. VLC 3.0 Vetinari VLC developers have just released version 3.0 – codenamed Vetinari – of the popular media player with new features such as ChromeCast support, and 8K video playback. Other highlights from the release include: Hardware decoding enabled by default to get 4K and 8K playback 10-bit and HDR support (only on Windows 10 Fall Creators Update for now) 360 video and 3D audio, up to Ambisoncics 3rd order Allows audio passthrough for HD audio codecs Can play Blu-Ray Java menus: BD-J Browsing of local network drives and NAS VLC 3.0 is also the first major version to be released for all platforms at the same time, and you can download VLC 3.0 for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone / RT, and …

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Bolt IoT Platform Combines ESP8266, Mobile Apps, Cloud, and Machine Learning (Crowdfunding)

There are plenty of hardware to implemented IoT projects now, but in many cases a full integration to get data from sensors to the cloud requires going though a long list of instructions. Bolt IoT, an Indian and US based startup, has taken up the task to simplify IoT projects with their IoT platform comprised of ESP8266 Bolt WiFi module, a cloud service with machine learning capabilities, and mobile apps for Android and iOS. Bolt IoT module hardware specifications: Wireless Module – A.I Thinker ESP12 module based on ESP8266 WiSoC Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi secured by WPA2 USB – 1x micro USB for power and programming Expansion – 4-pin female header and 7-pin female header with 5 digital I/Os, 1x analog I/O, and UART Misc – Cloud connection LED The hardware is not the most interesting part of Bolt IoT, since it offers similar functionalities as other ESP8266 boards. But what may make the project worthwhile is built-in support …

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Fingbox Helps You Monitor & Manage Devices on Your Network with Your iOS/Android Smartphone

Fing network scanner mobile app available for iOS and Android that allows you to discover which devices are connected to your Wi-Fi network, map devices, detect intruders, assess network security risks, troubleshoot network problems, and optimize wireless network performance. But in order to go beyond network monitoring, the developers have designed Ubuntu Core based Fingbox hardware to add features such as access control (e.g. parental control), analyze the usage of bandwidth for each clients, find Wi-Fi sweet spots/ avoid black spots, verify your Internet speed, monitor devices in your network, and protects it with a digital fence that works against threats. From a hardware perspective Fingbox is a round shaped Ethernet node with the following specifications: Processor – ARMv7 processor System Memory – 1GB RAM Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet The Linux (Ubuntu Core) device just needs to be connected to your network via an Ethernet cable, and powered by its adapter. You’d then run Fing app on Android or iOS, …

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Google Releases Tensorflow Lite Developer Preview for Android & iOS

Google mentioned TensorFlow Lite at Google I/O 2017 last may, an implementation of TensorFlow open source machine learning library specifically optimized for embedded use cases. The company said support was coming to Android Oreo, but it was not possible to evaluate the solution at the time. The company has now released a developer preview of TensorFlow Lite for mobile and embedded devices with a lightweight cross-platform runtine that runs on Android and iOS for now. TensorFlow Lite supports the Android Neural Networks API to take advantage of Machine Learning accelerators when available, but falls back to  CPU execution otherwise. The architecture diagram above shows three components for TensorFlow Lite: TensorFlow Model – A trained TensorFlow model saved on disk. TensorFlow Lite Converter – A program that converts the model to the TensorFlow Lite file format. TensorFlow Lite Model File – A model file format based on FlatBuffers, that has been optimized for maximum speed and minimum size. The model file …

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Use your Smartphone as an IR Remote Control with ROCK USB Type C IR Remote Control Transmitter

A few years ago, I wrote about ZazaRemote transforming your smartphone into a universal IR remote control. ZazaRemote is a hardware and software solution that combines infrared dongles micro USB port or 3.5mm audio plug, and a mobile app that allows you to control all sort of devices (TV, aircon, etc…) from your smartphone. Over three years later, more and more phones are now deprived from the audio jack, and micro USB ports have given way to USB type C ports, so that solution does not work anymore on newer phones. Some of the recent phones like Xiaomi Mi A1 integrate an IR transmitter, but for others, Zazaremote’s developer (Tiqiaa) has apparently not come up with a USB type C version, but just sells micro USB to USB type C adapters, not the most convenient. Upon further research, I eventually found a USB type C IR transmitter for smartphone sold for about $7 on FastTech. The brand name is “ROCK”, …

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AMBE+2 Vocoder Promises High Voice Quality at Low (2.0 to 9.6 Kbps) Data Rates

Opus 1.2 open source audio codec was release a few months ago with the ability to deliver low power low high-quality audio bitrate for speech with bitrates as low as  12 Kbps. Digital Voice Systems (DVSI) claims to have gone even lower thanks to their AMBE+2 vocoder (Advanced MultiBand Excitation) providing high-quality speech at data rates from 2.0 to 9.6 kilobytes per second. AMBE+2 vocoder is said to outperform the company’s previous generation AMBE+ Vocoder as well as the G.729 and G.726 vocoders, while operating at only 4.0 Kbps. The vocoder is suitable for mobile radio, secure voice, satellite communication, computer telephony, digital voice and storage applications The solution can be integrated into product either using software licensing, or through Vocoder chips, and the company lists the following key benefits: Maintains speech intelligibility and speaker recognition at rates as low as 2.0 kbps Resistant to background noise and channel bit errors Customizable data from 2.0 to 9.6 kbps Uses fewer computations …

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Google Clips is an A.I. Camera Powered by Movidius Myriad 2 VPU

Most consumer cameras offers some ways for the photographer to check the framing of the picture, such as a viewfinder or LCD display, before pressing the button. The first time I saw a consumer camera without such features was with MeCam, a tiny snap-on camera that you can wear on your shirt, and just press a button to take a picture. Convenient, but no ideal as subjects were often out of frame with the camera pointing at the wrong angle. That was in 2013. But today, those cameras can be improved with artificial intelligence, and Google Clips is a camera without viewfinder nor LCD display that can allegedly take good photos – or short clips – automatically, acting in some ways like a human photographer, so that every human in the room / the whole family can be on the shot. Google Clips specifications: Vision Processing Unit – Movidius Myriad 2 VPU as found in Intel Movidus Neural Compute Stick …

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Google Adds Home Mini and Home Max to its Google Assistant Family

As we’ve just discussed in our post about Pixel 2 / Pixel 2 smartphones, Google had a hardware day yesterday, where they made announcements about various devices with new smartphones, Pixel Buds earbuds optimized for Google Assistant, Pixelbook chromebook, and so on. Google Home family has also been extended with two new models: Home Mini with a much smaller device and a lower price, as well as Home Max with premium speakers. Google Home Mini Specifications: Speaker – 360 sound with 40mm driver Microphones – “Far-field voice recognition supports hands-free use” Audio formats – HE-AAC, LC-AAC+, MP3, Vorbis, WAV (LPCM), FLAC Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth USB – 1x micro USB port for power Misc – Play/Pause/Talk button, volume buttons, LEDs, microphone on/off switch Power Supply – 5V/1.8A Dimensions – 98 mm ∅ x 42 mm (h) Weight – 173 grams (device only) Home Mini is compatible with devices running Android 4.2 and higher, or iOS 9.1 and …

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