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Jan
05
2017

#CES2017: LG Unveils Range of Robots That Will Clean Airports, Mow Lawns…

Ever since robotic technology became a mainstream thought, people have imagined a future where robots would deal with all of the housework in the home, or even help clean up in the office environment, so that us humans wouldn't have to. LG Corporation wants to make some of these dreams a reality, today unveiling a trio of intelligent robots at CES in Las Vegas, which together offer attendees a glimpse into a future where robots can help you around the house, make sure you catch a flight on-time, mow your lawn, or clean-up trash at the airport.

The trio of robots are part of the company's movements in developing Internet of Things objects; and are designed to showcase LG’s advancements in artificial intelligence. Leading the pack is the Hub Robot, a robot designed to interact with a household through voice-recognition technology and an anthropomorphic design. Hub's "face" is an interactive display which can show a wide variety of information; and even express emotions using a digitised face.

The LG Hub Robot

The LG Hub Robot (Image Courtesy LG Newsroom)

The Hub Robot connects to other smart appliances you own; then, using Amazon’s Alexa voice recognition technology, the robot can be instructed using simple voice commands to perform tasks such as turning on air conditioning, setting a washing machine, or any other task made possible by the smart gadgets in the home. The robot can also "speak" to guide you through recipes or provide you with information in addition to what's on screen; and the robot can even respond using simple body language like nodding. The Hub Robot also contains a built-in camera; and can be programmed to recognise different family members and respond to them in different ways, for that more personal touch.

But LG isn’t just interested in building robots to help you around the house; and for the second part of its technology triple-punch, the company has unveiled two robots designed for use in the Airport. The Airport Guide Robot is exactly what the name suggests – already being prepared for deployment in Seoul’s Incheon International Airport, this robot is designed to help travellers by answering their questions in English, Chinese, Japanese or Korean; and can offer directions, provide detailed flight information like boarding times or the gate location, scan a passenger's ticket or escort you to the gate itself. It can even tell you what weather to expect when you arrive at your destination.

Joining it is the Airport Cleaning Robot, which LG describes as "a super-sized robot vacuum". Using a combination of smart light sensors, multiple cameras, and sensitive bumpers, the Airport Cleaning Robot offers enough cleaning power to clean everything from carpeted floors to tiles – all while avoiding obstacles and passengers to provide the most effective performance in crowded airports.

On a very similar tangent, the company's final offering is the Lawn Mowing Robot, which uses the same advanced sensors and bumpers as the Airport Cleaning Robot to map out a user's garden and avoid obstacles, hedges and trees as it trims the grass. According to LG, this robot is ideal for all types of yards and uses its fast-moving blade to trim grass safely and accurately.

All of these robots are now on display at LG's CES booth in Las Vegas, alongside other gadgets such as a smart refrigerator with Amazon Alexa voice-recognition tech and a razor-thin television set. Needless to say, 2017 may prove to be a stellar year for technological advances.

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    Previous Articles


    Nov
    08
    2016

    Is Pokémon GO About To Expand Its Pokédex?

    Pokémon GO has proven popular with nostalgic Android and iPhone users worldwide, and Niantic has shown a strong willingness to maintain that popularity with special events, daily rewards and other updates – but for many players, one thing has held back the game's fun. With the game's Pokédex currently limited only to Pokémon from the original crop of 151 First-Generation species (and no Legendaries or Ditto), many Players have already exhausted all there is to catch. However, there's evidence this is finally about to change.

    Data miners from The Silph Road, looking at the most recent v0.45.0 release of Pokémon GO on Android, claim to have found references to the names of all 100 Pokémon from the franchise's Second Generation – from Chikorita to Celebi. However, while the Pokémon may be referenced, the game currently lacks models for the additional 100 Pokémon or any data for their movesets, suggesting that a full Johto-flavoured update is still a while away.

    There may be one Pokémon coming in even sooner though: Ditto. The only non-legendary from the first 151 not available in-game, Ditto has so far been held back from Pokémon GO due its single attack, Transform. After all, coding a Pokémon that can transform into other Pokémon is a tough job. However, v0.45.0 introduces new code for the move, complete with its own in-battle animation, suggesting that Niantic may be planning to introduce Ditto's special move – and possibly Ditto itself – very soon. If so, it would mark the first new move since the game's release.

    Would the introduction of Johto-era Pokémon to Pokémon GO excite you? And what about Ditto? Sound off in our comments!

    Oct
    07
    2016

    Forum and Mobile Updates, and minor fixes

    For the last few months, I have been inviting users to help Beta Test a new Forum to replace our long-standing one, which has been found to cause performance issues for our server. Although the new Forum works well, something that personally disappointed me was that the new Forum Software did not have the capability to enable guest posting. The current Technically Motivated forum has a public "Site Troubleshooting" section which permits all visitors, whether registered or not, to post if they have any problems using our website; and unfortunately, this was not something the new Forum would allow.

    However, the Forum we have been using for the Beta has since received updates; and a recent new feature will allow us to enable guest posting, allowing us to restore this functionality for the new Beta forum. We will continue to keep the new Forum as a Beta while we test how well this works and whether it is secured enough to not enable abuse; but if all goes well, it is my plan to announce an official time-frame for phasing out the old Forum and switching to the new solution.

    On a related note, you may have been aware of the boxes on our homepage showing the latest conversations people have been having here on Technically Motivated, be it on our comment boxes, our forum or on Twitter. However, in recent months, you may have noticed only the Twitter feed was properly working. After some investigation, I've been able to restore the latest comments pane, which had been broken by a glitch. However, the Forum pane has been completely removed, as it turns out the current Forum has broken this feature, and the new Beta Forum does not yet offer a replacement. You can still however see the latest Forum posts for the non-Beta Forum on our sidebar.

    In other news, we have recently upgraded our Mobile site, which should now offer an even better experience when viewing us on your mobile or smartphone. You'll now find a much easier-to-navigate menu, as well as easy sharing links atop each article; as well as links to our social pages in the footer. We have also changed the colour scheme to better match our desktop site; and updated the copyright notice. Whether you visit us on your mobile or your PC, we hope you enjoy your time here at Technically Motivated.

    May
    04
    2016

    Notice: Technical Issues With Our Email Inbox

    I would like to apologise to anybody who has been sending email to our public Inbox and patiently awaiting a response. Unfortunately, due to a software glitch, Technically Motivated's Email Inbox has been failing to load on multiple occasions recently, and our Staff have found themselves unable to read any emails we have received.

    We would appreciate everyone's patience while we try to resolve this matter. As the Contact Form on our website also sends emails to this inbox, we ask that you do not use the Contact Form to send us any messages for which you desire an immediate response. Instead, you can contact us via the Forum or any of our Social Networking links, shown to the right throughout our site.

    My humble apologies for this inconvenience.

    Apr
    27
    2016

    Nintendo announce planned launch date, Zelda game for NX

    Over a year since it was first teased, we still don’t know what it looks like, plays like, or even what its final name will be – and Nintendo don’t plan to spill the beans until later this year. But now, thanks to a Tweet by Nintendo of America (based on information discreetly hidden in Nintendo of Japan’s annual financial report), we DO finally have one piece of concrete information about the upcoming Nintendo “NX” console – it’s launch date:

    March 2017. Just under a year away from the date of this article’s publication. For Nintendo, however, the launch likely can’t come soon enough. The Wii U has failed to resonate with players, with the GamePad being seen as a gimmick and games such as Splatoon and Bayonetta not doing enough to pull people on side; and the console’s lack of power compared to the XBox One and PS4 has seen its third-party support dwindle into near-nothingness. That Nintendo has taken a hit for the console’s failure was apparent in the annual fiscal report, revealing that Nintendo as a whole made 45.3 billion yen less in the last 12 months than the previous financial year, though this still equates to 504.5 billion yen or roughly £3.116 billion British Pounds.

    Importantly, however, Nintendo’s operating income came in at 32.8 billion yen last year, an increase of 8 billion yen. The company predicts that its move towards smartphones, combined with the launch of the NX, will pay off in the next year and aim to hit 45 billion yen in operating income by the end of the 2016/17 financial year.

    Of course, Nintendo may also have another ace in the sleeve to get people back on-side – a dynamite launch title. Nintendo also announced today, in a separate announcement to the fans, that the long-awaited Zelda Wii U title has once again been delayed to 2017, for “further quality testing”; and that the game will now launch simultaneously for both the Wii U and the NX – meaning that a new Zelda title may well be a launch title for the next console as well as a swansong for the current generation, paralleling the launch of Twilight Princess for Wii and GameCube ten years ago. 2017 may well be an interesting year for Nintendo fans.

    This article first appeared on Sanitarium.FM

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    Apr
    19
    2016

    Ditch QuickTime on Windows – Apple Drop Support for Vulnerable Plugin

    A recent version of the Quicktime logo.

    A recent version of the Quicktime logo.

    Apple are dropping support for Quicktime, a plugin for viewing and streaming video, on Windows on account of no longer being useful.

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has confirmed it'll no longer update or support Quicktime 7 for Windows.

    Way back when, QuickTime was a requirement to run iTunes, as the Quicktime code was used in part to provide the music streaming capabilities of the software, which resulted in many people who had iPods – and later, the iPhone – installing the plugin to their Windows PCs when they wanted them to properly work with their computers. As Apple notes on its support page, however, this situation changed in later versions of iTunes, and Quicktime has not been a requirement to run iTunes since October 2011.

    Despite not being relevant for iTunes any more, Quicktime continued to be useful to serve up video on the web. However, with HTML5 encouraging browsers to support video directly as part of the standard language of the internet, having a separate plugin for the ability now appears redundant. The combination of these two factors appears to have encouraged Apple to have made the decision to no longer support the plugin on Windows.

    The announcement comes a week after the Department of Homeland Security recommended Windows users uninstall Quicktime because of potential security holes, making Quicktime potentially vulnerable and use of it on Windows PCs a major security risk (these flaws do not affect the Mac OS version, which remains in support). Given its status as a potential security threat and the lack of any updates coming from Apple, many sources, including us at Technically Motivated, now recommend that Quicktime is removed from all Windows PCs as soon as possible.

    For those who are unsure how to, Apple's official support pages offer a guide for how to remove Quicktime from Windows PCs. Apple have been reached for comment to confirm the Wall Street Journal's report.

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2016
    Acknowledgements: Quicktime and The Quicktime Logo is a more...
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    Mar
    09
    2016

    3DNes is a NES Emulator with an added dimension

    Nintendo rose a fair few eyebrows in technology circles when it announced the 3D Classics line – classic games from older consoles such as the NES and Game Boy with a 3D graphic upgrade, offering a unique way to show of the power of the Nintendo 3DS handheld. While the idea has its merits, with a number of classic Nintendo titles getting the 3D Treatment – and persuading SEGA to join in and do the same to some classic SEGA titles – it has to be said that there are actually very few titles that have had the 3D Classic treatment.

    Wouldn’t it be cool if you could take a NES game of your own choosing, and add 3D? If you’ve found yourself thinking that, you may want to check out Geod Studio’s new project, 3DNes – a work-in-progress Unity-based emulator that, as the name suggests, converts NES games into 3D.

    3dmario

    Considering the simplicity of NES games, translating them into 3D is actually a difficult task. Unlike SNES games, which have four background layers, NES games have a single layer for the entire background. Imagine a diorama or a board game – everything in the background is printed on one board, while all the sprites – like your character the ground, enemies, items – are all just pieces on top. To allow the entire game to look 3D, 3DNes uses an algorithm that analyses the flat background and cuts it up into the pieces that make it up, then attempts to turn each piece into a 3D Object. The software is even clever enough to turn round objects into spheres or tubes, so for example, a ball will actually look like a ball instead of just a circle.

    Exactly how well this works depends on the game in question, with things getting messier as the backgrounds get more complex. Games like Mega Man are translated well and benefit greatly from the effect, but games such as Contra or Castlevania somewhat struggle. Perhaps the best-emulated game is the original Super Mario Bros., which the developer admits was the main focus of the emulator and the most tested, which may explain the gap in quality between it and other games.

    This having been said, Geod Studio hopes to improve the number of games that work well through subsequent beta releases, with head of the project Trần Vũ Trúc aiming for one-tenth of the entire NES library as his marker for success. He also suggests that there might be the potential for users to individually tailor the emulator for certain games, but is quick to state this is not currently the case, as he wants to ensure there’s “a strong emulation engine as the backbone” first.

    At the moment, the emulator exists only online, as a WebGL game playable through the Unity Player. This means it only properly supports Mozilla-based browsers, such as Firefox or Seamonkey. It’s also extremely unstable, particularly when not using a AMD Graphics card, and may fail to go beyond loading the ROM, or even fail to work at all. However, Trần states that future releases of the emulator will be made available as software downloads, so it should only be a matter of time before we all get to try it properly.

    3DNes is a NES Emulator with an added dimension" /> 3DNes is a NES Emulator with an added dimension" />
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    Jan
    27
    2016

    Lenovo Grilled By Security Researchers over poor ShareIT Security

    Computer users often make very basic mistakes that make more sensible people wonder just what they were thinking. Case in point: passwords. Splashdata recently published its fifth annual list of the most commonly-used passwords by computer users in North America and Western Europe; and many people will be hitting their heads against their desks when they learn that obvious choices like "password" and "12345678" still top the list.

    While you can expect individuals to make basic mistakes like these, you would assume actual computer manufacturers would be smarter. But if the latest headlines are to be believed, it seems Lenovo's software developers could do with reading this list themselves. As revealed in an advisory posted by Core Security, Lenovo's ShareIT file-sharing software – built in to their computers – has a very serious password-related flaw.

    How bad? The Wi-Fi Network created and used for transferring files between Windows computers "securely" uses a very predictable password: 12345678. Even worse, this password is "hardcoded" into the software, making it impossible for users to change it to something much more secure. The problem is even worse for Android users, where the ShareIT app has no password at all, leaving the network entirely open for anyone within radio range to connect to.

    The implications for the security of transferred files is serious. Merely using a web browser to connect to a ShareIT network can reveal all the files currently stored on the platform by the affected user. While the files cannot be downloaded this way, the researchers also discovered that the files are transferred insecurely, without any kind of encryption, meaning the simple use of a traffic sniffer once connected could allow anyone to obtain a copy of any transferred file.

    Luckily, the flaws may not exist much longer. Lenovo claim that since being made aware of the issues in October last year, the company has worked to bring the software up to snuff. Those running ShareIT on Windows or Android are now advised to download the latest version of the software from the ShareIT website, which was released this week and claims to resolve all the issues found by the Core Security researchers. Given that this is not the first time Lenovo have been found to engage in shady security practices, however, it may be time to think twice about that ThinkPad.

    Jan
    17
    2016

    Forum Updates and News

    Greetings, visitors and Techies.

    Ever since Technically Motivated launched in 2009, our goal has always been to create a technology blog that connects people together whatever their technology expertise; and to create a community of people helping each other or simply having fun and engaging in conversation, while also providing a useful resource.

    Part of the way we've tried to achieve this goal is through use of a Forum where people can start whatever topic is on their mind; and others can join in or start their own. We're now looking for your feedback on potential changes to the Forum to help improve its performance and the overall experience going forward.

    If you're interested in helping out, we ask you to try a new Forum setup we're testing on our specially-crafted page, http://www.technicallymotivated.com/new-forum-test. Here we are testing a brand new Forum Software solution. You'll still find most of the same Forum Categories and sections as in the current Forum, but as well as a different design, you'll hopefully notice a new, more powerful post editor and a much more streamlined approach. What we would like to know is whether a Forum with a simpler feature set and design would not only perform better for Technically Motivated going forward; but also be well-received by our community. Your feedback will determine what route we take for the Forum going forward.

    Don't worry though, we won't be taking down the old one just yet! For those of you who still prefer the current Forum or aren't willing to take the plunge to try something new just yet, the current Forum remains fully functional and open for everyone. Regular visitors might be happy to know that we no longer have advertising on the Forum and Thread Indexes, in order to fix a bug where the adverts would mess up the layout of the Forum and make certain content disappear or look weird, making for an ugly experience on some pages.

    Let us know what you think of both the new Forum and the fixes to the current Forum by posting comments below, or by contacting us directly via our Contact Form. Remember, Technically Motivated is here for you!

    Jan
    17
    2016

    Fixstars launch the highest-capacity SSD yet – and it holds 13TB

    Time was that Solid State Drives were a bit of a compromise. What you gained in speed and safety due to the lack of moving parts and general snappiness of a fully chip-based approach, you lost in capacity – Solid State Drives simply couldn't hold Terabytes of data like classic Hard Drives. Well, thanks to the latest offering from Fixstars, that may soon no longer be the case.

    Fixstars SSD-13000M

    Introducing the new Fixstars SSD-13000M, a new 2.5-inch Solid State Drive capable of holding a whopping 13TB of capacity, making it the biggest SSD in the world at the time of writing. To give some perspective of just how much data that is, you could fit 2,800 full-size DVDs on just one of these monsters, though the company also offers a less-expensive model released at the same time with a slightly lower 10TB capacity.

    Both drives offer read speeds of up to 540MB/s and sequential writes of up to 520MB/s, which means theoretically you could fill just one of those Terrabytes in just 33 minutes and 37 seconds if you've got huge amounts of data to store at once.

    Of course, writing huge amounts of data to a drive at once can severely reduce it's lifespan. However, Satoshi Miki, CEO of Fixstars, commented: "The Fixstars SSD series has been highly regarded for their distinct reliability on steady read/write performance that lasts over time." To this end the drives are temperature-controlled to reduce the amount of heat typically generated when a drive is put under heavy load, preventing heat damage; while the drives offer an optional high durability mode that allows users to cut the storage in half in return for a claimed three times the longevity (so you end up with just 6.5TB usable space, but it will live far longer).

    Naturally, a drive like this is going to be expensive; and the target market for this high-capacity SSD is more tailored towards the enterprise; and for tasks such as heavy-duty video processing. The SSD-13000M's expected retail price in America, where it launches by the end of Febuary 2016, is an eye-watering $13,000 – that's a grand a Terrabyte! This equates to about £9,000 for us British folk, although everything Hardware tends to command a higher premium when it reaches these shores, so take that estimate with a pinch of salt – especially as prices and availability outside the US are yet to be confirmed.

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