May 5, 2011

Toyota and WiTricity team up for Over The Air wireless car charging

Some day you'll charge everything wirelessly -- phones, cars, graphing calculators, all using the same basic technology. That's the sort of utopian vision Toyota had in mind when it formed the Wireless Battery-charging Alliance with WiTricity. The young Massachusetts-based company is pushing "resonance" technology, which charges electronics without contact and is supposedly more efficient than induction-based charging -- a category that includes the popular Qi standard. This new partnership ups the ante, adding electric vehicles to the list of chargeable devices, a vision of the future where Prius batteries can be filled wirelessly, while sitting in driveways and parking garages. Exxon's engineers are no doubt working to perfect the hose-free gasoline transfer as we speak. 

LG licenses ARM Cortex-A15 and Mali-T604 graphics, starts scheming up mobile processors of its own

Some of LG's brightest attractions at the moment are the dual-core Optimus 2X and Optimus 3D smartphones and similarly equipped Optimus Pad tablet. The only problem with them? Those multicore chips are produced by NVIDIA for the 2X and Pad and Texas Instruments for the Optimus 3D, leaving LG a clear step behind its arch-nemesis Samsung who is producing its own dual-core system-on-chip. So what else could LG possibly do but buy its own ARM license -- specifically for the Cortex-A9 design that is dominating today and the Cortex-A15 with Mali-T604 graphics that promises to rule the mobile worldfrom 2012 onwards -- and start churning out its own processors? The Korean company certainly has the budget, if not the manufacturing facilities, to produce such chips at volume, and we're all for seeing another competitor enter the ARM arena. This licensing deal also reminds us that the last fresh licensee to ARM's blueprints was Microsoft -- so we can now look forward to two industry giants bringing their technical expertise to this rapidly growing marketplace.

Nokia transfers Symbian development and 3,000 employees to Accenture, will downsize workforce by further 4,000

Nokia's already done quite a bit to cut ties with last year's big push for Symbian and Qt development, though this is perhaps the biggest step yet. The Finnish company has announced it's transferring responsibility for Symbian development to consulting and outsourcing firm Accenture, which sounds odd given the latter outfit's inexperience in delivering mobile OS updates, but the good news is that the 3,000 devs Nokia had working on Symbian will continue their jobs under the new employer. That basically means that Nokia will live up to its unhappy promise that there'll be "substantial reductions in employment" within its own ranks, while still keeping the men and women responsible for updating Symbian employed. Unfortunately, there will still be a further 4,000 job cuts in the company's global workforce, primarily in Finland, Denmark and the UK, which will "occur in phases" between the beginning and end of next year. Nokia's agreement with Accenture also involves continued collaboration on delivering mobility software and services on the Windows Phone platform.

Mini Cooper Connected app adjusts music based on driving style, stops when airbags deploy

We're always looking for excuses to get behind the wheel, so naturally the new Dynamic Music function in the Mini Connected app made us yearn for a chance to hit the road. Version 2.0 brings this headline feature to the iPhone, which includes exclusively-composed music that adjusts based on things like a compatible Mini Cooper's "longitudinal and lateral acceleration." In other words, the faster and crazier you drive, the more exciting the music becomes. So instead of having mom in the passenger seat begging you to slow down, there's music that encourages you to do the opposite. The press release even references a "hallmark Mini go-kart feeling," so you might want to make sure everyone's buckled up before you plug in. Should anyone fail to do so, a new feature called Mission Control will let you know, also nagging about poor driving conditions. How's that for a mixed signal?

iPhone turntable concept brings dropped calls to your record collection

Any audiophile worth their weight in 180 gram vinyl will gladly tell you that nothing sounds quite as good as a record. Unfortunately, the format has a few major drawbacks, like a lack of portability and the fact that it really sucks at making phone calls. The iPhone, on the other hand, is light years ahead of those fronts -- well, one of out two ain't bad. This new concept from designer Olivier Meynard offers the best of both worlds, embedding a horizontal iPhone dock next to a wheel of steel, so you can play back your favorite LP through the built-in speakers and encode those tracks as MP3s, which are uploaded to your handset as it charges. Finally, a way to turn your long out of print prog rock albums into ringtones, as they were meant to be heard.

LG's MeeGo smartphone and tablet prototypes to be demonstrated next month

You may have written off MeeGo handsets after Nokia all but abandoned the OS -- LG hasn't. While the company doesn't have any "definitive plans" to release a MeeGo smartphone commercially yet, LG is willing to show off some ports of MeeGo on multiple prototypes, including tablets and smartphones, at next month's MeeGo conference in San Francisco. With any luck, LG will use the spotlight to announce its intentions, proper like, and make a MeeGo handset running Intel silicon a retail reality in 2011.

HTC's latest qHD phones, Kingdom and Rider, courtesy of Mr. Blurrycam

Likely feeling neglected after the arrival of HTC's Sensation, Mr. Blurrycam is looking to remind us that he can leak some qHD handsets with the best of 'em -- though with decidedly more... blurry results! On the left we have HTC's Kingdom, and right next to it the Rider. Given the proportion of the fascias (and what we know of qHD technology), we're likely looking at two 4.3-inch devices here, and if you look closely enough (or increase the brightness) you'll see buttons on the Rider that clearly resemble something from the EVO lineup. While we wish there was more to say about these devices, knowing that the shots were leaked by 911Sniper, we're mostly just surprised there's no accompanying ROM.

WSJ: Google plans a 'digital newsstand' to unite all newspapers and magazines under Android's umbrella

The Wall Street Journal has rounded up its cabal of sources today to present another delicious new battlefield in the struggle between Google and Apple for mobile supremacy. Specifically, it reports that the Mountain View team has approached Time Warner, Condé Nast and Hearst -- three of the biggest publishers of periodicals in the US -- with a view to offering their content through a Google-operated "digital newsstand" for Android devices. The appeal for media companies will be an easier route to monetizing their content, apparently, including the possibility that Google could take a smaller slice of revenues than the 30 percent charged by Apple and Amazon. There's also word of developments behind the scenes at Cupertino, where "several changes in iTunes" are expected to improve the publisher's experience of using the service, including making it easier to offer long-term subscriptions and related discounts. Apple's had nothing to say on the matter, while Google's responded by noting it's always in discussions with publishers and has nothing to announce at this point.


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