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in « Weekly recap »,
 July 28 2017

Weekly Tech Recap - № 130 - Lenovo folding tablet, end of Flash, TurtleBot3, Nikon turns 100, etc.

AR’s A-ha Moment

Everywhere you look, you see application demos for ARKit, Apple’s new augmented reality framework for iOS. But the one developed by Chicago-based Trixi studios, called Augmented Reality’s A-ha Moment, is the best. Loosely based on the visual universe of Norwegian group A-ha’s 1986 Take On Me videoclip, the application sets up a virtual portal right in the middle of your surroundings (for the purposes of the demo, a living-room). Within the portal, the room turns into a 3D charcoal sketch complete with characters from the videoclip. The seamless transition between the real world and A-ha’s virtual world is fun and convincing. The application uses various assets from Unity’s Asset Store, like GameFlow, as well as Mixamo animation technology. For old time’s sake, here is the original A-ha video (and if you have 5 minutes…).

The Verge, “Sorry, space cats, this interactive A-Ha video is the best use of ARKit we’ve seen.”

 

Lenovo folding tablet

Folio folding tablet

Folio prototype. © Lenovo.

Just over a month ago, Lenovo showed us a flexible computer concept that left us somewhat skeptical. Today, the Chinese company showcased a tablet prototype that looks far less outlandish. Called Folio, the tablet features a 7.8-inch flexible screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1440 and runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC and Android 7.0 Nougat. The Folio folds down the middle to turn into a phone with a 5.5-inch screen on each side. The concept isn’t particularly original, since Korean Samsung and Chinese Oppo have already shown similar prototypes, but Lenovo’s concept seems more evolved and sophisticated. There are no plans to bring it to market yet.

Android Headlines, “Lenovo demoed a working foldable tablet at its yearly event.”

 

Adobe Flash on death row

Adobe Flash.

Adobe announced that it would end support for Flash at the end of 2020, after which the player will cease to be developed and distributed. The veteran of Web animation and interactivity finally died a death by a thousand cuts: a history of security flaws, poor portability on mobile phones, a crippling blow dealt by Apple, increasing disaffection by browser developers, progress made in Web standards (HTML5 video and audio, Canvas 2D, WebGL…). Adobe has given no indication that it will provide a medium or long-term solution to access the substantial legacy of Flash content. While most Flash content is best forgotten — advertising, splash screens, and other junk — a large number of games and other interactive content will be lost within three years.

Ars Technica, “Adobe ending Flash support at the end of 2020.”

 

TurtleBot3

TurtleBot3.

TurtleBot3 is a robot specifically developed to teach the Robot Operating System (ROS), a popular platform with academic researchers and industrial developers. The robot comes in two flavours, the Burger and the Waffle. The Burger, based on the Raspberry Pi 3, is the cheaper version, at US$550. The Waffle, larger and more expensive (US$1,800), is built around Intel’s Joule 570x Compute Module. The ROS involves a steep learning curve; this isn’t the kind of robot you buy just to have fun. You must be willing to put in the time and effort to learn ROS along with advanced robotics and computer science concepts. TurtleBot3’s architecture is modular and scalable, meaning that you can easily upgrade parts of it and eventually add optional features like arms and grippers.

IEEE Spectrum, “The TurtleBot3 Teacher.”

 

Alphabet, reigning champion of digital advertising

Net digital ad sales in 2017.

Net digital ad sales in 2017. © Recode.

Google parent company Alphabet takes the lion’s share of the world-wide digital advertising market. According to eMarketer, its sales should take in US$74 billion this year, or 33% of the world market of US$224 billion. Facebook comes in second with “just” US$36 billion (16%). 67% of Google’s ad revenue comes from mobile.

Recode, “Google leads the world in digital and mobile ad revenue.”

 

Nikon blows out 100 candles

The celebrated Japanese camera-maker turns 100, and to celebrate the event, it produced a videoclip based on the song Oz, by Tokyo music group Mrs. Green Apple. The dancers are all Nikon employees, but happily, the choreography is simple. The result is… shall we say… hmm… colourful? Very Japanese? Very happy, at any rate.

The Verge, “Nikon made a trippy music video as a 100th birthday present to itself.”

 

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