Google Glass EE and the importance of timing

Let’s talk about timing. When it comes to innovations like wearable tech, virtual and augmented reality, move too soon and you risk your potential customers not being ready for what you’re pitching. Move too late and you look like a copycat. Apple is still the master at this – just look at the Apple Watch – there were dozens of high profile smartwatch launches before it.

There’s probably no other device that was so penalised for launching early as the Google Glass Explorer Edition. And to be fair to Google, it didn’t launch as a mainstream gadget in 2013 or really the following year. It was always designed to be an “open beta” experiment in AR. Still, it was treated like a failed product.

Which brings us to the now official Google Glass Enterprise Edition.

As promised back in 2015, Google Glass is back with a bang for 2017. That is, if you work in a factory or hospital, let’s say. The clue is in the name – Enterprise Edition – as the lighter, redesigned glasses are programmed with one specific application, personalised to the wearer and their task.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in here for the future of AR glasses, though. Clients, including Boeing, Volkswagen and GE, are paying $,1300+ per pair. The device has a Glass Pod, which houses all the electronics, and this can be swapped in and out of prescription frames or safety goggles. Battery life is improved as is Wi-Fi speed and reliability. Plus the 8MP camera now features a red light to show when it’s recording, helpful to allay privacy fears.

As for a follow up to the Explorer Edition, on limited or general sale to the public, we return to the question of timing. All Alphabet is saying is that “the Glass team is back at X”. I reckon Google is going to bide its time until Snap or Apple, perhaps, has shown its cards in augmented/mixed reality wearables. It’s not really in its interests to walk out to the end of the diving board, alone, again.

Google is also one of the biggest investors in Florida MR startup Magic Leap which so far has talked the entertainment and productivity talk that you’d expect from a product that is shooting for the mainstream.

Ulysses – The ultimate notes App is finally here

Finally found my notes and text app?

This has been a VERY long road that has taken in testing, adopting (and then ditching):

  • Ulysses
  • Apple Notes
  • Evernote
  • OneNote

And yet, here I am, back (for the long term this time) with Ulysses

What has changed?

In short, Sync – That is what has changed… In the past, the work around of using Ulysses on a desktop and Daedalus on iOS to get notes onto both platforms was a whole bag of hurt.

Well, I am pleased to say that that issues is no longer here – Ulysses for both Mac and iOS (Phone and iPad) sync seamlessly, using iCloud sync.

Moving from Notes

Apple notes has improved massively in the past 6-9 months – Good functionality, great sync – Basically, it is now an option.

But for me, Ulysses still feels like another level of “pro” app – and the fact that there is now a way to import from both Evernote and Apple Notes directly into Ulysses means that the transition for most people should be a painless experience.

Jaguar reveals E-Pace, the crossover SUV for millennial couples

Jaguar reveals E-Pace, the crossover SUV for millennial couples:

The cub of the Jaguar family aims to repeat the success of the F-Pace at a smaller size and price

Crossover SUVs are the pop music of the car world: scorned by purists, liked by the masses, and disproportionately successful in terms of sales. Jaguar’s F-Pace is the perfect example of this trend, selling more than 80,000 sport utility vehicles after launching in 2016 and accounting for almost half of the company’s 172,848 cars sold in the last financial year. With such a runaway commercial success, it was inevitable that Jaguar would return for another bite at the cherry, and today it does so with the unveiling of the new E-Pace compact performance SUV. It’s a scaled-down F-Pace — in price, power, and size — but it’s still the same formula of giving the people what they really want.

I was in attendance at Jaguar’s London launch of the E-Pace, and one of the intriguing peripheral things about it was the press group assembled. The number of Chinese and Russian journalists was nearly equal to the English-speaking ones, signaling Jaguar’s emphasis on capturing the growing opportunity in those Eastern regions. The new E-Pace will initially be built in Graz, Austria, but starting next year it’ll also be manufactured in China specifically for the local Chinese market. Orders for the E-Pace open tonight with starting prices of $38,600, £28,500, or €34,950, and deliveries will be within six months.

Jaguar joins other luxe automakers like Mercedes-Benz in making a smaller, more affordable crossover

So who might be interested in buying a Jaguar E-Pace? Jaguar thinks this will be the ideal car for a young couple, people who probably have no other vehicle and who want to maximize the return on their spending in terms of stowage space, modern connectivity, and attractive design. Though I’m not a couple, I count myself among those intrigued by the E-Pace proposition. I find myself more comfortable riding in an Audi Q7 than an A8, and I see many advantages to these crossover vehicles in my urban environment. Living in London, the times when I need a car are often the ones when I need to move a lot of stuff around — so if I’m going to buy anything on wheels, it’s going to have to be practical. But I also value good and efficient design, and this E-Pace is certainly compact for its class and has an attractively chunky look to it.

Jaguar design director Ian Callum explained today that “the thing with Jaguars is that they should always be exaggerated in some way to give that excitement.” He waxed poetic about the oversized paws of big cats and how they were evoked by the large air intakes at the front of the E-Pace. The front grille is the same as you’ll find on the Jaguar XF, and the headlights are, in Callum’s words, unashamedly derived from the F-Type. During its development, the E-Pace was codenamed “the cub” inside Jaguar, and many of its aesthetic cues are thus inherited from the elder, pricier siblings.

Jaguar defines the look of the E-Pace as “confident and assertive, but not aggressive.” Callum believes “Jags should never be aggressive.” That makes me wince a little, because I’ve only ever heard the term “Jag” in the context of tabloid journalism about spendthrift sports stars or perfidious politicians. This car brand’s reputation is thus a little uneven, but the approach with the E-Pace seems a good one: Jaguar’s offering a high standard of practicality wrapped up in a high standard of design and engineering.

Some stowage numbers: in total, the E-Pace offers 1,234L of space, of which 577L are at the luggage area at the back. You get 970mm of headroom and 892mm of legroom at the rear, plus a generous 10L glovebox and a “mega bin” in the center column that can accommodate two wine bottles. If Jaguar is serious about appealing to millennials, it would probably do better to tell us how many bottles of Soylent one can tote around, but the point is well made regardless.

Designed like a larger car shrunken down in size, and it feels that way, too

Unfortunately, I didn’t really find the extravagant generosity of space that Jaguar wants us to believe is on offer inside the E-Pace. The front seats are quite wonderful, offering endless adjustability and comfort. However, I discovered that to be comfortable sitting at the front, I had to move the seat into a position that made me feel cramped while sitting at the back. I’m only 5 foot 10, but I don’t think that two of me sitting at the front and back of this car would both experience great comfort. Additionally, the foot room at the back is quite restricted. I definitely think the E-Pace has the width to accommodate five people and a reasonably large pile of their things at the back, but the car just feels like it needs to be a bit longer to accommodate everyone properly. For context, the F-Pace has two inches more legroom at the back, which makes a big difference.

Returning to Jaguar’s idealized millennial family, I don’t suppose they’ll mind those restrictions too much while their offspring are growing up — and there’s always the F-Pace and Jaguar’s luxury limos to upsell them to later on in life.

In terms of tech niceties, the E-Pace includes five USB charging ports, a smartphone and tablet holder, an HDMI/MHL port, and a SIM card slot for the provision of a 4G hot spot on demand. The infotainment system on board is Jaguar’s flagship InControl Touch Pro, offered up on a tablet-like interface on the 10-inch screen in the middle. The instrument readout is also digital and will be familiar to drivers of other recent Jaguar or (sister brand) Land Rover cars. It can be augmented with an optional, laser-based heads-up display.

“We ought to hold on to tactile switches in our cars. It can’t all go to touchscreens.”

Before leaving the stage, chief designer Callum advised everyone to try the “lovely” rotary dials inside the E-Pace, stressing his belief that “we ought to hold on to tactile switches in our cars. It can’t all go to touchscreens.” Those dials, inspired by the ridged design of camera lenses, do indeed feel nice, though like much of the rest of the E-Pace’s interior, they’re made out of plastic. It’s good and solid plastic, but it doesn’t scream luxury at you. The leather seats are also not of a particularly luxurious class, similarly to what you’ll find on the F-Pace. These material choices are among the very few ways in which Jaguar’s SUVs betray their lower price point relative to the rest of the brand’s lineup.

Alan Volkaerts, Jaguar’s director for this vehicle line, claims that the E-Pace “drives every single bit as good as it looks.” Given the award-winning and best-selling quality of the larger F-Pace, I’m willing to believe Jaguar’s boasts of superior driving performance. The E-Pace is available with a choice of five 4-cylinder Ingenium engines (three diesel and two petrol options), which are all made out of aluminum and designed and manufactured in-house in the UK. The transverse engine layout helps trim down the length of the car, which was evidently a design priority inside Jaguar. The company even designed the nine-speed automatic transmission specifically for transverse engine applications.

 

The R-Dynamic variant of the E-Pace (which I have photographed for this article; starting price of $47,250) has a few extra design touches and the more powerful 296-horsepower engine. It can go from 0–100 kmh in 6.4 seconds, whereas the regular 246-horsepower E-Pace does it in seven seconds. Jaguar also touts a sophisticated suspension system, though you’d need to purchase the extra Adaptive Dynamics package to get a continuously variable damper system that “monitors vehicle movements every 2 milliseconds (0.002 seconds) and calculates the required damping force every 10 milliseconds (0.01 seconds).”

The Jaguar E-Pace represents one of those “you can have it all” propositions that I rarely see working out in practice. Yes, it would be quite terrific to have a car that’s beautiful and spacious enough to fit both people and plunder, and so delightful to drive as to make me forget about its rivals. But in trying to check so many boxes, the E-Pace risks falling into the forgettable category of being a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.

 

(Via The Verge – All Posts)

Until holodecks arrive, AR not VR will be where the action is

Comment: Until holodecks arrive, AR not VR will be where the action is:

While I’m generally more of a hard-SF fan, I’m not above a little lighthearted fun where sci-fi is concerned – so I can enjoy a good Star Trek episode as much as the next person. And there are a couple of Star Trek toys I think most of us would like to see: replicators and holodecks.

Replicators as the kind of ultimate Amazon Prime, putting anything you might want into your hands instantly. Holodecks as a way to experience any sights and activities you could ever wish, without even having to leave the building.

But while VR might be the first stepping stone toward holodecks, I think it’s augmented reality rather than virtual reality that will be where the action – and the money – is …

more…

(Via 9to5Mac)

Geneva 2017: Artega Scalo Superelletra by Touring

Artega Scalo Superelletra by Touring to debuts at Geneva 2017

Artega is one of several automakers presenting a new electric supercar at the Geneva motor show, in the form of the Scalo Superelletra.

The German manufacturer, which has had chequered history since it debuted in 2008, has commissioned Italian coachbuilders Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera to style the Scalo Superelletra. Just 50 examples will be made when production begins in 2019.

Like other recent electric supercars, the Scalo Superelletra boasts some eyebrow-raising power, torque and performance figures – significantly outpunching the firm’s existing electric sports car, the Scalo, which already develops 575lb ft from its two electric motors.

Full details are yet to be confirmed, but our sister title Auto Express cites reports suggesting the supercar will develop up to 1006bhp, and 1195lb ft of torque from a quartet of water-cooled electric motors. Given this setup, we’d be surprised if the Scalo Superelletra didn’t use some kind of torque vectoring to aid handling.

A 0-62mph sprint of 2.7 seconds is rumoured – 0.9 seconds quicker than the regular Scalo – and a 186mph top speed, up from 155mph. The other important electric vehicle figures, range and recharge time, are claimed to be 311 miles and 17 minutes for an 80 per cent boost.

The Superelletra’s styling also moves the game on from the regular Scalo. Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera’s previous projects include the stunning Disco Volante and pretty Mini Superleggera roadster shown in recent years and the striking Artega supercar follows in those footsteps.

Notable are the use of rear vision cameras rather than mirrors (whose pods do look a little like insect antennae) and a fastback-style roofline that belies a McLaren F1-style seating arrangement, with the driver centrally positioned and passengers further back and to each side.

Production plans are yet to be confirmed but it’s expected that the aluminium and composite bodywork would be built by Touring in Italy, but full assembly would take place at Artega’s facility in Delbrück in north-western Germany. Pricing too is uncomfirmed, but is likely to be in the £850k-£1.3m range.

Geneva 2017: Infiniti Project Black S concept

Infiniti Project Black S concept – Menacing new look for the graceful Japanese coupe

Infiniti Q60 Project Black S - Front

Infiniti has unveiled the Project Black S, a concept based on its sleek and elegant flagship coupe. The Black S version gives the Q60 a more aggressive attitude thanks to matte grey paint and carbonfibre aero additions. The race car aura that the concept sports helps emphasise the alliance between Infiniti and Renault Sport F1 as technical partners. The Project Black S concept will be shown at this year’s Geneva motor show

Despite its name the Black S is actually finished in dark grey matte. The paint alone highlights the Q60’s existing curves and makes the front arches look stretched and the rear three-quarter more defined and stronger. But it’s just an illusion, as most of the Q60’s body has been left unchanged.

> Read our review of the Infiniti Q60S

The Black S isn’t simply a Q60 with some new paint and an off the shelf wing and a diffuser, though. The concept gets a reprofiled front and rear bumper, arch extensions to cover a wider track, wheel-well vents, new sills, cooling vents in the bonnet as well as a bespoke wing and diffuser. Each of the new elements have been designed to complement and accentuate the Q60’s existing sculptured shapes and surfaces.

 

 

Mat Weaver, Infiniti’s European design director, showed evo around the car and described the process in transforming the Q60. ‘I like aggressive cars, but it has to suit the style of the car. We’ve taken cues from the Q60’s sculpture and the surfaces so everything now has an elegance to the surface as well as being quite purposeful.’

When asked if adapting the Q60’s distinctive, almost decorative exterior, to a bolder more macho look was a difficult task, Weaver said: ‘The Q60 has a strong image. So no, it was easy to contrast the elegance and the car takes it very naturally.’                                                  

To integrate the new aerodynamic items the team followed the same philosophy with the Black S modifications as it does on every project, including entire cars. ‘We call it hand of the artist, or hand of the craftsmen’ Weaver explains. The result is that each new element has a delicate, organic shape.

 

 

The flicks and shapes that Weaver and his team have created to suit the Q60’s appearance, coincidentally, look similar to the modern wings that appear on modern Formula 1 cars and further signify the relationship that Infiniti has with Renault Sport F1.

The Japanese company has shared information and technology with the F1 team for years; Renault Sport F1 helped refine the V6 that’s in the Q60 and Infiniti helped develop the energy recovery system in this year’s F1 car, the R.S. 17.

> Find out more about Renault Sport’s 2017 Formula 1 car, the R.S. 17

As the Q60 Black S is just a concept for now it’s mechanically identical to the production Q60. However, as the project continues, Infiniti plans to adapt the F1 car’s ERS package to suit the road car’s 3-litre turbocharged V6.

The ERS in the F1 car harvests energy during braking and from the heat of the exhausts, and converts it to electrical energy that is then stored in a lithium-ion battery pack. The electrical energy is used to help spin the turbo’s turbine shaft to help reduce lag, and also adds torque directly to the drivetrain.

Infiniti estimates that adding ERS to the Q60’s drivetrain could increase power by 25%, giving the Black S 500bhp. With that sort of power, combined with its track-ready look, the Q60 Project Black S would be a direct rival to the BMW M4 GTS.

> Read our review of the BMW M4 GTS

As well as the aerodynamic additions, Infiniti has also focused on improving cooling to the engine in the Black S, should it ever need to cope with the extra power. The distinctive grille on the Q60 hasn’t changed, but the bodywork around it has been flared out so air can enter either side rather than just through it. Vents have been cut into the bonnet and the lower bumper has significantly bigger and wider openings, too.

 

 

Infiniti says that the Black S will also receive an appropriately upgraded chassis. The exact details haven’t been released but the concept sits on new 21-inch wheels, and spats have been added to the arches to cover the extended track width.

Infiniti hasn’t confirmed whether it will actually build the Q60 Project Black S, or not. Instead the concept is to introduce the Black S as the top of the range model line, and assert the attitude that cars that wear the badge will have. Infiniti’s current flagship car, the Q60 Red S, combines luxury with a hint of performance. Cars sporting the Black S trim, as clarified by this concept, will be more performance-oriented.

So even if we aren’t lucky enough to be treated to a full production Q60 Project Black S, we will see other Infinitis with increased performance, more focused chassis and more aggressive exteriors.

Geneva 2017: Rolls-Royce Ghost Elegance features paint made from diamonds

Rolls-Royce Ghost Elegance features paint made from diamonds

 

Rolls Royce Ghost Elegance

 

Rolls will also debut spring/summer fashion collection for the Dawn Convertible

Rolls-Royce customers are typically fabulously wealthy individuals – but one collector has gone above and beyond, and the end result will go on display at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. An individual buyer has commissioned Rolls to create a unique long-wheelbase Ghost called the Elegance, which features a paint finish made with 1000 crushed diamonds.

The unique paint is called Diamond Stardust and creates what Rolls calls ‘the most luxurious and lustrous exterior ever seen on a motor car’. While the cost wasn’t specified, Rolls-Royce did say it was the most expensive paint to ever grace the body of a motor car.

 

Rolls Royce Ghost Elegance

 

The diamonds were milled to a fine powder before being mixed with a clear paint, in a process that took Rolls-Royce specialists two months to perfect. It added a further two days to the paint application process, too – though that’s not too much for a car which already takes months to complete.

Elsewhere on its body the Ghost Elegance features hand-painted coachlines in Mugello Red and Black. The same red features on the centre of the wheels, while the theme continues inside, with black leather and Mugello red stitching and piping throughout.

In addition to the bespoke Ghost Elegance, Rolls-Royce will be debuting its first ‘Couture collection’ – the spring/summer 2017 ‘Dawn – Inspired by Fashion’ collection. Essentially it’s a collection of three Dawn convertibles, resplendent in bright Andalusian White paintwork and accented in three bright colours – Mugello Red, Cobalto Blue and Mandarin.

 

Rolls Royce Dawn Inspired by Fashion

 

The final feature on Rolls’ stand will be the Wraith Black Badge – a more driver-focused version of the Wraith, with a redesigned suspension setup and added torque. While the end result is undeniably striking with its black paintwork, blackened chrome and dark Spirit of Ecstasy figure, it’s still a stretch to call any Rolls-Royce ‘sporty’.

All of these Rolls-Royces will be on display at the Geneva Motor Show this week. 

2017 Topics Challenge – February Voting Open

This month is all about Hobbies and Pastimes – As usual, pick the one that says “Hobbies” to you!

Hover over each image and click the icon to see a larger copy, then vote for your favourite.

2017 Topics Challenge – February “Hobbies”

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