Google Home

Seems like Amazon Echo has a competition.

Since the release of Google Home, it has grown a lot as a not so portable of ‘Siri’. It acts as a personal assistant of some sort. You can tell it to do things just like Siri. It can do a wide variety of things it can do like respond to what you or others say. It is has a voice recognition so it can learn how to respond to individuals which you can add through the app that controls it which can be found on iOS and Android devices. The Google Home can also play music through its speakers using Bluetooth

With the home, you can basically talk to it and get it to do things you normally would with a phone or computer like remind you of events, play the news, set and snooze an alarm and so on. The way that that happens is that it gets information from your Google account so Apple fans are going to have to make a Google account to use it. The Google Home seems to have a personality of some sort as it contains Easter Eggs that Google added such as saying “I am your father” which is a Star Wars reference. In order to have several users on the same Google Home, each user has to be added through the main user and has to install their own Google Home app. The Google Home voice recognition system can be easily fooled if you sound alike to a person that is registered to it so that is why Google have not used it to do things that is very personal such as payments and unlocking things.

Google Home can be activated by a phrase or something that you say a lot to it or by tapping the top of it. To stop audio, alarms, timers, and responses from playing, just tap the top of the Google Home once. To change the volume of the audio playing, just swipe on the Google Home clockwise to increase the volume and anticlockwise to lower it. Long press to activate it and pressing the mute button will deactivate it.

I personally feel that the Google Home is going to come very handy when we are in a rush or are short in time as it can allow us to do things without even taking our phone out from our pockets especially when it is made available at $114.

Photo courtesy of: https://thenextweb.com/google/2016/05/18/google-home-official-amazon-echo-worried/#.tnw_qfozAw9o

Pokemon Sun & Moon

Pokemon Sun and Moon is newly released on November 2016 to commemorate the Pokemon franchise’s 20th anniversary.

Following the usual story line of almost all the Pokemon games, you will be a Pokemon trainer training Pokemons with your friends in the Alola region which is based on Hawaii. The objective of this game in the story is to defeat/stop the criminal organization, Team Skull, while battling other Pokemon trainers along the way.

The game introduced 81 new Pokemon species and includes new features such as Alolan forms of previous Pokemons, powerful moves called Z-Moves, powerful creatures known as Ultra Beasts, updated battle and training mechanics, and improved polygonal 3D graphics. The game also has Mega Evolution which evolves Pokemon into a better form. Just like Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, Pokemon Sun and Moon has almost the same story plot.

Alike the other previous Pokemon games, it contains similar and more features like being able to customize your own character in Pokemon X and Y.

The game takes places in the Alola region which consists of mostly islands. You start off by moving in to the region and you meet Professor Kukui. Unfortunately, Professor Oak is not around (Professor in other Pokemon games) and instead his cousin Samson Oak will be taking his place and Professor Kukui being the leading scientist. You then continue on into the normal situation where you have to save someone from a Pokemon or witness someone getting saved from a Pokemon and from there you continue on with the story.

The game was very well received by people and critics and it even shipped over 10 million units worldwide within a week, becoming one of the fastest selling games in Nintendo’s history.

Pokemon Sun and Moon costs £32 and £35 respectively on Amazon and GAME. I personally feel it is worth it as the game is quite different from the usual game mechanics.

Photo courtesy of:

http://assets.pokemon.com/assets/cms2/img/video-games/_tiles/pokemon-sun-moon/sun-moon-169-en.jpg

Pokemon GO

The newest game, Pokemon GO has made a huge impact on not just gamers, but others who did not like games at first. To those, whose childhood are with pokemon, then this is the game that you would probable love for the rest of your life. Using the AR ( Augmented Reality) and GPS, the game requires you to move about in the world to catch pokemon. When one appears, it shows up in the real world and you would have to point your phone’s camera towards it and catch it through your phone. There are also PokeStops along the way that allows you to collect things that will help you in your journey to catch more pokemon.

While the game being a global hit, it has some minor server issues. During its publish, it had to stop as its server was overloading after it being released only at 4 countries.

Pokemon Go uses players GPS to play the game and catch Pokemon around their area and access PokeStops. Another game that uses the players GPS to play the game is Ingress which is also by Niantic.

Pokemon Go also has another thing besides PokeStops and Pokemon which are Gyms. It resembles the original gyms from the old Pokemon games. Once a player reaches level 5, he/she can join a team (Valor,Mystic or Instinct). Once a players joins a team he/she can battle gyms for their team and take them over. To battle a gym, one has to simply go within the range of it and tap on it.

You can power-up some of the Pokemon by using Stardust which can be obtained by capturing, evolving and hatching Pokemon from eggs and the type of Pokemon Candy for the certain type of its original evolution (Pidgy Candy for Pidgy, Pideotto, and Pidgeot). By powering up the Pokemon, it will raise its CP which stands for Combat Point. For evolving Pokemon, it requires Pokemon Candy to evolve it which will give you XP (needed to level up)  for each evolution a player did.

If the team currently occupying the gym is not the player’s one the the player can battle it using 6 of its Pokemon. When a player defeats a gym which is not his/her own by lowering its prestige to 0, it becomes neutral (white) then anybody can place his/her Pokemon in it to take it over for their team. There are some people who like to wait for others to take down the gym for them and then “steal” it by placing his/her Pokemon in it. When gym’s prestige is lowered down by 1 level, the lowest CP Pokemon in the gym gets “kicked” out which means that it returns to its trainer and will no longer be in the gym.

If it is a friendly gym (players’s own team) then the player can place his/her own Pokemon in it to help defend the gym. Players also can train the gym to raise its prestige. Players can only place the same amount of Pokemon in the gym as the gym level. Therefore by raising its prestige, a player can level up the gym and place his/her Pokemon in it. If a player were to place a Pokemon in the gym, he/she can claim the Defender Bonus once every 21 hours but the Defender Bonus cannot be claimed if your Pokemon got “kicked” out of the gym. The more amount of Pokemon a player places in the gym, the more amount of Defender Bonus one can claim (1 Pokemon in a gym grants 10 Pokecoins and 500 Stardust). However one cannot place more than 1 Pokemon in the same gym meaning that one has to travel to several friendly gyms and place their Pokemon in it.

There are several items in the game to help you advance (Lure Modules, Incense , More Egg Incubators, and Lucky Eggs).

Lucky Eggs

Lucky Eggs can be used whenever a player wishes to do so. However it is advised to use it only when one wants to evolve a lot of Pokemon at once as it doubles the XP one gets for 30 minutes.

Egg Incubators

Egg Incubators allows a player to incubate a egg as the name suggests. To hatch the egg, players must walk the required distance to hatch it. The further the player has to walk, the better the Pokemon the player gets. Having more Egg Incubators mean that a player can hatch multiple eggs at once, thus being more efficient. However, extra incubators that a player gets can only be used to hatch 3 eggs.

Lure Modules

Lure Modules can be used on PokeStops and benefits everyone around it. It lures Pokemon to its area and lasts for 30 minutes.

Incense

Incense benefits the only player who uses it and can be used anywhere. It lures Pokemon to the player and a Pokemon appears every 200m a player moves or every 5 minutes. It also lasts for 30 minutes. However, some players have altered the time on their device to reset the timer or get more time using the Incense and Lucky Egg as it depends on the time on your device.

With the new update, Niantic added the second generation of Pokemon into the game and a few new features like being able to see which Pokestop is the nearest to a certain Pokemon on your nearby list just by clicking on the Pokemon you want to ‘track’.

Courtesy of :https://i.ytimg.com/vi/2sj2iQyBTQs/maxresdefault.jpg

Clash Royale

One of the most recent game that came out is Clash Royale. It is another game from the Clash of Clans creator, Supercell.

Having played the game for a while, in my opinion, it is quite addictive. Despite it being a new game, there are already players in the game who literally maxed out most of the troops.

Some characters in the game are copied from Clash of Clans with some add-ons to the old characters and introducing many new characters. There are different arenas in the game, each with its own type of troop to unlock and get. Just like the leagues in Clash of Clans, Clash Royale also uses trophies to allow you to move on to the next arena. When battling, players will start off with just 4 cards in their hand. Deploying a troop on the battlefield requires elixir which is a in-game currency in Clash of Clans. The elixir is being generated overtime and each player can hold a maximum of 10 elixir per match. At the last minute, the production of elixir will double, that is when things start to get tense, players can deploy better troops faster. Each victory is determined by the number of crowns you get in a certain battle-destroying the towers on the side grants you 1 crown, while destroying the tower at the back destroys all the towers, granting you 3 crowns( if the side towers are not destroyed).

After each battle, if you win, you will receive a chest. The chest contains different amounts of coins which will be used to buy more troops and upgrade them and it also contains different troop cards. However the chest does take time to open. By getting troop cards, you can upgrade you troops once you get a certain amount of the same type of troop card. The troop cards come in 3 different rarities: common, rare, and epic.

Just like Clash of Clans, you can join clans. While in a clan, you can donate and request for a certain type of troop card which you own and even have friendly matches between you clanmates.

There are also replays of the battles between some of the top players, where you can learn some strategy from their battle or from them.

Photo courtesy of: http://clashroyalearena.com/wp-content/uploads/bfi_thumb/clash-royale-android-30uc0gkrg77oko631jcfey.jpg

AlphaGo

The Google DeepMind is a developer of the AI (Artificial Intelligence) AlphaGo  in playing games against humans. It first made history this year during January by beating a master of the ancient game of Go. Just in case you have not heard of Go, it is largely played in China, Korea and Japan, the ancient board game requires two players taking alternate turns to place black and white tiles on a grid, jockeying to occupy more of the board than their opponent.
DeepMind was founded by Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman in 2010. However, Google announced that it had agreed to takeover DeepMind which was successful. Google then renamed it as Google DeepMind.
The AI, AlphaGo, beat the European Go champion in October 2015 which was the first time an AI defeated a professional player. Today, DeepMind is playing its second match of Go. AlphaGo was programmed to win at board games. AlphaGo’s 19×19 grid offers nearly uncountable variations of moves and branching outcomes, ruling out typical AI brute-force logic.
DeepMind claimed that AlphaGo was not pre-programmed and it learns from experience, using only raw pixels as data input.
Photo courtesy of: https://deepmind.com/css/images/opengraph/alphago-logo.png
http://img.talkandroid.com/uploads/2016/02/Google_DeepMind_Logo-630×347.png

Bionic fingertip

The bionic fingertip, a device made by neuroengineer Silvestro Micera and his team at Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, allowed the wearer to distinguish texture of different surfaces.

The bionic fingertip interests with the nerves of the wearer. It can be tested without it being planted into an amputee’s finger or hand which requires surgery by piercing needles into ones arms. This would mean that they can develop the fingertip faster by allowing those non-amputees to wear it and enabling the developer to see how fast the wearer’s brain reacts to the fingertip and their own hand which the results are that it shows the same level of brain activity. This bionic fingertip is the first to detect both pressure and the difference between smooth and rough.

“This study merges fundamental sciences and applied engineering: it provides additional evidence that research in neuroprosthetics can contribute to the neuroscience debate, specifically about the neuronal mechanisms of the human sense of touch,” said Calogero Oddo of the BioRobotics Institute of SSSA.
Photo courtesy http://images.mentalfloss.com/sites/default/files/styles/insert_main_wide_image/public/small-size.png

 

Amazon Tap

The Amazon Tap, is a smaller, more portable and cheaper version of the Amazon Echo smart speaker. Of course it also has complete access to Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant. The Amazon Tap is completely different from the Amazon Echo, it is wireless and you can charge it by placing it on the cradle which comes with it and then you can take it to wherever you want to go to. It will stream up to nine hours of audio on a full charge, or last up to three weeks in standby mode. However, The Tap is not always on and you need to press the microphone button instead to wake it up and get access to all the tricks Alexa can do provided you are connected to the internet.

There are several things Alexa can do:

  • Streaming internet radio. (Like from TuneIn and iHeartRadio)
  • Streaming music. (Like from Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, and Spotify.)
  • You are able to do a lot of tricks like commanding Alexa to read audio books from Audible or the Kindle Store, or read the morning headlines.As for the sound, Tap promises to have the same quality as the Echo.

    In my opinion, i would definitely buy the Tap as it is cheaper and more portable and around the same quality as the Echo but at the same time better in its own ways too.

    Photo courtesy of: http://www.droid-life.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/amazon-tap.jpg

    Microsoft’s HoloLens

    Ever wanted to be living in an advanced world like Star Wars ?

    The Mircosoft HoloLens creates a holographic projection of an object as if the object was in front or around you. With developers getting invitations from Microsoft to get the HoloLens provided their  holographic app qualifies for it. Microsoft said that the HoloLens is not for consumers but to create a healthy stable of holographic apps.

    Optics

    • See-through holographic lenses (waveguides)
    • 2 HD 16:9 lightengines
    • Automatic pupillary distance calibration
    • Holographic Resolution: 2.3M total light points
    • Holographic Density: >2.5k radiants (light points per radian)

    Sensors

    • 1 IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit, made up of a gyroscope, magnetometer and an accelerometer)
    • 4 environment understanding cameras
    • 1 depth camera
    • 1 2MP photo / HD video camera
    • Mixed reality capture
    • 4 microphones
    • 1 ambient light sensor

    The Hololens is powered by an Intel processor paired with Microsoft’s “Holographic Processing Unit”.  It has 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage space, and weighs around half a kilogram and only has around 2-3 hours of battery life. It is completely wireless and has Bluetooth 4.1 LE, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. However, this is only the Development Edition which means that when the consumer edition arrives, it may not be run by the same hardware.

    Now that Microsoft is going to start shipping their HoloLens during March, it is now available for pre-order on Mircosoft’s website.

    Photo courtesy of: https://compass-ssl.surface.com/assets/13/b5/13b57736-9875-4332-af9f-dca0accbc331.jpg?n=HoloLens_Homepage_Audiences1_1920_1001.jpg

    Li-Fi

    In the past, we have Wi-Fi. Now, we have Lifi.

    In case you are wondering what Lifi is, it is something like Wi-Fi but better. pureLifi, was the company which invented the Lifi. Lifi uses the visible light spectrum instead of radio frequencies( which is what Wi-Fi uses )to give you network. Using the visible light spectrum instead of radio frequencies means that there will be better security. It also offers  greater data densities than Wi-Fi. Lifi also has inherent properties that eliminate unwanted external network intrusions and is capable of reaching speeds of 224 megabytes per second  . The integration of illumination and data services generates a measurable reduction in both infrastructure complexity and energy consumption.Since the Lifi gives off light and network at the same time, I could just switch off the lights at home and turn on the Lifi.

    In my opinion, i would definitely buy the Lifi as it has 2 uses ,giving network access and lighting up the place at the same time.

    Photo courtesy of: http://www.thetimesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Li-Fi.jpg

     

    Samsung Gear S2 3G

    This smartwatch, unlike others does not require you to pair this to your phone. It works independently.

    The Samsung Gear S2 3G is a smartwatch that has its own cell service. It can work without any phone at all. The smartwatch has a little e-SIM card inside it which would mean that the smartwatch can receive messages, calls, and even allows you to checks the weather.

    This smartwatch’s design is slick and comes with the rim of the watch which can be rotated. Inside it has many apps available for download from Tizen, a separate operating system with a separate app store from smartwatches on the Android Wear platform.

    The rotatable rim of the watch allows you to view different pages of the phone, just like using your finger to swipe through the pages of your phone. Besides those, it also has different layouts of the digital watch within it.

    The smartwatch costs only $200. When i saw it on display in a shop, it caught my eye as it was circular and most of the smartwatches were square which is not really appealing to the eye in my opinion as for those who wear watches who want to get a smartwatch, they may not get used to it as it is square. Overall, in my opinion, $200 is considered a cheap price for me for a smartwatch from Samsung considering that it has quite a lot of abilities.

    Photo courtesy of : http://cdn.slashgear.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Z-7.jpg