Ola Offers Benefits to Drivers to Switch to CNG Vehicles

Taxi hailing app Ola on Wednesday said it will offer benefits worth up to Rs. 1,00,000 to enable its driver partners to switch to CNG vehicles.

The move will help the Bengaluru-based firm comply with a Supreme Court ruling that says commercial vehicles cannot ply in Delhi unless converted to the single fuel mode of CNG.

As part of ‘Ola Green Pragati Week’ from August 26 to September 1, Ola will bring together driver-partners as well as financing and car manufacturer partners under one roof, it said in a statement.

Drivers in the city to purchase a new CNG car with benefits of up to Rs. 1,00,000, including a discount of up to Rs. 60,000 in partnership with dealers of manufacturers like Maruti, Hyundai, and Tata Motors, it added.

“We are committed to CNG adoption in the state of Delhi. The intention behind coming up with this scheme is to create an opportunity for all those drivers who are planning to buy new cars or willing to exchange their old cars to consider buying a CNG vehicle and contribute to a clean and green Delhi,” said Deep Singh, Ola Business Head (North).

With this, livelihoods of thousands of driver partners on the Ola platform will be protected and they can continue to work as entrepreneurs with Ola, he added.

A majority of cars on the Ola platform in Delhi are already on CNG. In the last one week, Ola added about 3,000 CNG vehicles to its fleet in the city.

The SoftBank-backed company has about 25,000 cabs in Delhi which are registered on its platform.

Qualcomm Details Snapdragon 820's Hexagon 680 DSP Coprocessor

Qualcomm is sharing information morsel by morsel in its run-up to the launch of the Snapdragon 820 processor next year. At the Hot Chips conference, the chipmaker detailed the digital signal processor it is coupling with its forthcoming SoC, similar to Apple’s M7 and M8 coprocessors that offload certain tasks from their corresponding SoCs to save battery life and deliver increased performance.

Called the Hexagon 680 DSP (digital signal processor), it has been designed to handle some of main processor’s tasks, such as motion tracking, and introduce improvements in camera capability of the device by taking better images and videos at low light and significantly reduce its battery usage.

The Hexagon 680 DSP is meant to improve the low-power motion tracking, low light photo shoots, and media playback, Qualcomm said. The company said that it hopes that the DSP will substantially improve the performance and power.

The chip includes a separate digital signal processor for handling the data it gleans from different sensors. This would allow the Hexagon 680 to simultaneously process a number of things in the background, and get accurate data while sipping less battery. The Hexagon 680 also improves performance of virtual reality and augmented reality apps.

(Also see: Qualcomm Launches Adreno 510 and Adreno 530 GPUs; Due in Early 2016)

“The aptly named “low power island” is designed to improve the battery life of always-on use cases, including step or activity counters as well as sensor-assisted positioning (using your phones’ sensors to provide more accurate location when you don’t have a strong GPS signal),” the company wrote in a blog post.

The second feature aims to bolster a device’s imaging sophistication. The added hardware offers support for advanced imaging and computer vision when used with the recently introduced Qualcomm Spectra camera ISP, company’s image signal processor. The company said that this would significantly improve a camera’s performance under low-light conditions.

(Also see: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC Specifications Leak Ahead of Launch)

It does so by tapping both ISP and DSP to “adaptively brighten areas of both video and photos that would otherwise appear too dark.” The company claims that the Snapdragon 820, thanks to the Hexagon 680, will perform operations faster and use only 10 percent of the power.

Xbox One Preview Program Invites to Become Scarce

The Xbox One Preview Program is one of the console’s bigger draws. It lets you check out features before they’re out for the general public such as game streaming and backward compatibility. Now, getting into the Xbox One Preview Program just got a whole lot tougher. Microsoft has stated that it will be reducing the number of invites sent for this invite-only program as it is now reaching maximum capacity.

“Due to a tremendous response from our fans, the Xbox Preview program has reached a near-capacity level With that in mind, we are slowing the number of new people we are accepting to optimise for testing,” a Microsoft representative said in the Preview Program’s forums. “We are thankful for the amount of interest we’ve received to date and look forward to sharing more details on preview opportunities soon.”

(Also see: Microsoft’s E3 2015 Conference: The Xbox One is Now a PC, HoloLens, and Yes, Games)

It’s no surprise that the program has seen a tremendous amount of popularity. At E3 2015, Microsoft announced that backwards compatibility will be coming to the console and at Gamescom 2015, it announced that it will show up in November. The only way Xbox One owners can play Xbox 360 games on their new console is if they’re a part of the Preview Program.

(Also see: The Good and Bad of Microsoft’s Gamescom 2015 Event)

With Sony announcing its attempts at getting a rabid user base to check out firmware and features before they hit, and PC digital download client Steam being a pioneer in the space, how Microsoft manages to address the burgeoning number of fans who want early access, remains to be seen.

Rover to Mine for Water on Mars Designed

Researchers have developed the prototype of a specialised rover that could one day be used by human colonies on Mars to “mine” for water below the Red Planet’s surface.

The early prototype of the rover, Mars Aqua Retrieval System (M.A.R.S.), was developed through a collaboration between the Singapore University of Technology and Design, and Australia’s Gilmour Space Technologies.

With a budget of just $10,000 (roughly Rs. 6,61,785), the team managed to create a prototype designed to function on Earth, but with the ability to withstand 30 percent of Mars’ temperature and pressure conditions.

Discoveries by Curiosity and the Phoenix Mars Lander, among others, indicate water is present on the Red Planet, either buried in its soil or in non-liquid forms like ice.

M.A.R.S. is designed to extract the water from the soil, collect, and store it. The concept involves the use of microwaves and a cold trap to separate and collect the liquid, Gizmag reported.

Each cycle of the water-collection process involves using a basic locomotion system with two powered wheels to move to the target area, then lowering a microwave unit over the ground and using it to heat up the area for 20 minutes.

The resulting steam then enters collection pipes leading to a condenser bag where it condenses and drips into a collection box.

The team claims it has been able to collect water from frozen soil at a rate of four grams per four minutes in tests. The team also said that details of the M.A.R.S. design were sent to Nasa and the US space agency “replied back favourably.”

Lenovo Vibe P1 With 5000mAh Battery Listed by Online Retailer

Craving for a high-end smartphone with great battery life? Lenovo may have something for you. The Lenovo Vibe P1 has been listed on a third-party Chinese online retailer, hinting at an imminent launch. The phone, which could possibly launch at the IFA trade show event next month, has a mammoth 5000mAh battery.

The same device was reportedly recently spotted on Chinese certification website Tenaa, but there it revealed a difference set of specifications. As per the online retailer, the Lenovo Vibe P1 sports a 5.5-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixel) display resolution. It is powered by the Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz coupled with the Adreno 405 GPU, and 3GB of RAM. The device comes with 16GB internal storage which can be expanded using a microSD card should you need more storage.

The listing further reveals that the Vibe P1 has a 13-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel snapper placed upfront. On the connectivity front, the dual-SIM capable Vibe P1 supports 4G LTE. The highlight of the Android 5.1-based Vibe P1, however, is its 5,000mAh battery. It seems to support 24-watt charging capability, which could charge the device a bit faster.

The pricing of the device, however, could be a downer to many. Pandawill.com lists the device at the equivalent of Rs. 20,500, which is too much for a device that largely has identical features as theXiaomi’s Mi 4i (priced at Rs. 12,999) and Lenovo’s K3 Note (priced at Rs. 9,999), except for the larger battery.

We will get a confirmation in less than two weeks as the phone is expected to be launched at the IFA trade show in Berlin, which kicks of on September 4.

3D-Printed 'Microfish' Could Be Used for Human Drug Delivery

Researchers have developed 3D-printed magnetically controlled fish-shaped microrobots that could be used for directed drug delivery in humans.

Nanoengineers used an innovative 3D printing technology to manufacture multipurpose fish-shaped microrobots – called microfish – that are chemically powered by hydrogen peroxide and magnetically controlled. These proof-of-concept synthetic microfish will inspire a new generation of “smart” microrobots that have diverse capabilities such as detoxification, sensing and directed drug delivery, researchers said.

Researchers led by Shaochen Chen and Joseph Wang of the University of California, San Diego, were able to custom-build microfish that can do more than simply swim around when placed in a solution containing hydrogen peroxide.

Researchers installed platinum nanoparticles in the tails of the microfish, which react with hydrogen peroxide to propel the microfish forward, and magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles in the heads, which allowed them to be steered with magnets. “We have developed an entirely new method to engineer nature-inspired microscopic swimmers that have complex geometric structures and are smaller than the width of a human hair,” said the co-first author Wei Zhu, a PhD student at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.

As a proof-of-concept demonstration, the researchers incorporated toxin-neutralising nanoparticles throughout the bodies of the microfish.

The researchers mixed in polydiacetylene (PDA) nanoparticles, which capture harmful pore-forming toxins such as the ones found in bee venom. When the PDA nanoparticles bind with toxin molecules, they become fluorescent and emit red-coloured light. The team was able to monitor the detoxification ability of the microfish by the intensity of their red glow.

“Another exciting possibility we could explore is to encapsulate medicines inside the microfish and use them for directed drug delivery,” said co-first author Jinxing Li, PhD student at UC San Diego.

The new microfish fabrication method is based on a rapid, high-resolution 3D printing technology called microscale continuous optical printing (micro-COP). Some of the benefits of the micro-COP technology are speed, scalability, precision and flexibility.

Within seconds, the researchers can print an array containing hundreds of microfish, each measuring 120 microns long and 30 microns thick.

Since the micro-COP technology is digitised, researchers could easily experiment with different designs for their microfish, including shark and manta ray shapes. The research was published in the journal Advanced Materials.

Faasos Online Food-on-Demand Firm Shifting to App-Only Model in India

Online food-on-demand company Faasos on Wednesday said it is moving to a “mobile app only” service in the country.

The platform has 800,000 downloads and the company expects to hit a million downloads in a couple of weeks, the company said in a statement.

“Faasos has built a niche place for itself in the food ordering space across top 10 cities in India. Surprisingly, even tier-II cities have shown tremendous traction for ordering via the app which led to 97 percent of our delivery sales coming from the mobile app,” said Revant Bhate, head of marketing at Faasos.

The company believes that being app only lends itself well to the changing menu over breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner, along with location-based delivery times, and location.

In terms of the products on offer, the business has recently expanded its offerings, and is among a limited list of breakfast delivering services across India.

The company has recently started delivering tea with snacks in Mumbai, a service that will soon be rolled out in Pune and Bengaluru as well.

In terms of expansion in tier-II cities, Faasos has made inroads in Indore and Baroda, the statement added. Faasos has a strong offline supply chain and distribution coupled with the technology to connect all loose ends together, which has enabled them to generate revenues with bigger margins, Bhate said, adding, “all this is not possible when someone orders via a phone call or through a website.”

Samsung Galaxy O7 Variant Reportedly Passes Bluetooth SIG Certification

As was tipped last week, Samsung might be preparing to launch the Galaxy O series VR-centric smartphones, tipped to be called the Galaxy O7 (SM-G600) and Galaxy O5 (SM-G550). Now, a new Samsung mobile device with with model name SM-G6000 has passed the Bluetooth SIG certification – adding some credibility to the rumour.

While the Bluetooth SIG certification (spotted by GforGames) of the product does not reveal the final name, it does hint towards a carrier version of the Galaxy O7 (SM-G600). The certification however in itself confirms the device comes with Bluetooth support. While it is a possibility that the Galaxy O series could be VR-centric phones, some reports point to it being the new name for the consumer-facing Gear VR headset. The design description of the SM-G6000 says “Samsung Mobile Device”, which could be from a smartphone to even a standalone wireless VR headset.

It is worth noting that the rumoured Galaxy O range of devices are said to be designed in partnership with Facebook-owned Oculus VR, the company that’s also collaborating with Samsung for the consumer-facing Gear VR headset. Last week, an analyst said that the Oculus VR’s upcoming Connect2 developer conference could see the announcement of an all-in-one wireless VR headset, the Samsung Galaxy O series of smartphones, or the release date of the Oculus Rift consumer edition. The Connect2 conference is scheduled from September 23 till 25.

First tipped last week by Sammobile, there are no details surrounding the Galaxy O series beyond the model names (SM-G550 and SM-G600 for the Galaxy O5 and Galaxy O7 respectively) and now rumours about the virtual reality focus.

Lenovo Mobile to Reportedly Be Merged Into Motorola Mobility

A restructuring seems imminent inside Lenovo. The Chinese technology conglomerate which acquired Motorola Mobility in October 2014, plans to integrate its mobile division – Lenovo Mobile – into it. Once the merger is complete, Lenovo Mobile will cease to exist as a separate company, a report added, quoting a Lenovo executive.

Lenovo Mobile will go through a restructuring which will affect the product line as well as its brand, Lenovo Mobile Group President Chen Xudong reported as saying. The company will soon share the new structure. “The new organizational structure will be immediately released,” he was quoted as saying.

As part of the restructure, Lenovo Mobile employees will join Motorola staff. Motorola, having higher headcount, will lead Lenovo Mobile team, report added. Lenovo Mobile’s workshop will also be incorporated into Motorola Mobility. Once the merger is complete, Lenovo’s ZUK will become the company’s “flagship Internet brand” while Motorola will continue to sell high-end devices in international markets, where it has far more presence than Lenovo.

The reported statement is in line with official announcement made by the company for its latest quarterly results earlier this month. The company had then announced a restructuring of its Mobile Business Group (MBG), and said “it will continue to drive the overall mobile business, but will now rely on Motorola to design, develop and manufacture smartphone products.”

Lenovo acquired Motorola from Google in 2014 for a whopping sum of $2.91 billion (roughly Rs. 1,925 crores). As part of the buyout, Google continued to maintain ownership of a majority of Motorola Mobility patent portfolio. Motorola, on the hand, got to retail over 2,000 patents, and a number of cross-license agreements.

Ever since the buyout, it was unclear how exactly Lenovo was planning to handle both the companies. It is not strange to see companies merging its divisions. The merger usually helps a company significantly reduce the time it takes in managerial processes.

LG Google Nexus 5 (2015) Specifications Tipped in New Leak

The rumoured Google Nexus 5 (2015) smartphone, expected to be made by LG, has again come under the spotlight as a new list of specifications have surfaced on the Web. The specifications come from China’s popular blogging website, Weibo.

The post on the blogging website (viaPhonearena) shows an image mentioning the processor, display resolution, RAM, and camera details of the unannounced Nexus 5 (2015).

According to the post, the smartphone would feature a 5.2-inch QHD display resolution, which calculates to a pixel density of 565ppi, and will be powered by the hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor along with Adreno 418 GPU. Besides sporting 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM, the handset would be housing a 13-megapixel camera powered by Sony IMX278 sensor, offering optical image stabilisation. No other details were posted on the website.

The post added that the rear camera on the LG-made Nexus 5 (2015) smartphone can also outperform the rear camera on the Huawei-made Nexus, something which remains to be seen. The front-facing camera is said to include a 5-megapixel sensor with f/2.0 aperture, based on the selfie image said to have taken by a Google employee from the Nexus 5 (2015) last week. However, there aren’t too many days left before Google reveals the smartphones – the search giant generally launches the handsets in the latter half of October.

As for the Huawei-made Nexus smartphone, the device was recently leaked in a couple of images. The smartphone is tipped to sport 64GB of inbuilt storage and the MSM8994 SoC aka the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810. It may also feature a USB Type-C port. A 5.7-inch display, front-facing speakers and a fingerprint scanner are also tipped