Tech Talk: Phones, Bouncing Robots & a Traffic Ticket for Google Glass!


A Lego-Style Phone Would Make Upgrades Easy‏, Google’s Nexus 5 Phone Released, Gimball the Bouncing Flying Robot, and the First Traffic Ticket for a Google Glass Wearing Driver is Issued!

PhoneBloks: Dave Hakkens, a Dutch designer has come up with a novel idea for getting around the annual smartphone upgrade quandary: a block based smartphone that clicks together like a Lego set. The idea is still only in its concept stage, though Hakkens has created imagery of the idea, in which every component would be housed in a different block, identified by a specific icon. These blocks would then clip together on a  motherboard basic frame with electronic contacts, allowing users to not only replace broken parts, but easily upgrade to better or new functional  component blocks over time. In this sense it resembles an MCU (microcontroller) which has a processing core and some base functionality at its heart, and then surrounds itself with the require IP blocks: USB, WiFi, Bluetooth etc.


Such a design faces major technical challenges, such as protection against dirt, dust and moisture compromising where the blocks join the motherboard. And it would be likely the phone would be much bulkier than existing models. And of course, the big show stopper is it would require a major coming-together of phone and  component manufacturers: could you imagine Microsoft handing over Nokia’s superior camera modules, or Apple’s new fingerprint reader?

Still, the concept has fans even if it lacks viability – Hakkens has a site to allows campaigners and supporters to lend their social media accounts to spread a message through a single automated, simultaneous post, a tool described  as “crowd-speaking.” Originally setting a goal of 500 people to sign up, the minimum  requirement for the tool to operate, he now has a staggering 968,351 people’s accounts signed up to make postings about the phone…

Google Nexus: Google has officially unveiled the latest incarnation of its flagship Nexus smartphone. Made by LG, the Nexus 5 handset is smaller, slimmer and lighter than the Nexus 4 but its 4.96in (126mm) touchscreen is bigger, and is a showcase to show off the capabilities of the new version of the Android operating system, Kitkat, which has been designed to work well on both high-end smartphones and cheaper feature phones. The alliance between Google and LG is progressive, although, it is still a long way behind rivals Samsung and Apple – in the April-to-June quarter, 3.8% of all smartphones sold were LG handsets putting the South Korean firm in third place, behind Apple accounting for 18.8% of all sales and Samsung 29.7%.

The phones shares some DNA LG’s G2 handset, in that it can record and play back HD video at the full 1080p resolution; its camera also has a rapid burst system that captures several photographs at the same time so owners can pick the best shot. Google said a base 16GB version of the device would cost $349 in the US (£299 in the UK), unlocked and without a contract. The 32GB version should cost $399 (£339 in the UK). Google also claim that KitKat uses less memory so it could be used on handsets with much lower specifications than top end smartphones.

The Weird Stuff: Gimball is an insect-like flying rescue robot that can bounce off trees and buildings, developed to be used in situations that are hazardous to humans. The robot is designed to be able to deal with crashes, and to self-right after a collision. Gimball has a protective spherical roll-cage, and is mounted on pivots to stay upright, and bounces off walls, moving in a similar way to a mosquito.


Normally flying robots are taken out of action by a major collision, but rather than adding more anti-collision sensors to solve the problem, designers took this more novel “roll with it” approach, and to keep Gimball lightweight, they decided to allow the robot to ricochet off obstacles instead, to be more be resilient in disaster situations

And Finally

… A number of Dell users have complained that their Latitude 6430u Ultrabooks “smell of cat urine”. Customers first raised the issue with Dell’s high-end business laptop in June. “A few weeks ago I got a new Lattitude 6430u for work,” one user called Three West complained on Dell’s hardware support forum. “The machine is great, but it smells as if it was assembled near a tomcat’s litter box. It is truly awful!” Another customer, Hoteca, said: “I thought for sure one of my cats sprayed it, but there was something faulty with it so I had it replaced. The next one had the same exact issue. It’s embarrassing taking it to clients because it smells so bad.” Other users said they had blamed their cats for the smell. Dell engineers say the problem lay in the manufacturing process, which has now been changed. “The smell is not related to cat urine or any other type of biological contaminant, nor is it a health hazard,” Dell support technician SteveB said.

… A Californian woman has been issued with a traffic ticket for driving while wearing Google Glass. Two days ago, Cecilia Abadie was pulled over and issued with a ticket for speeding and wearing the smart spectacles while driving – she was actually cited for breaking a Californian law which prohibits people from watching TV while driving. She on the other hand, is now considering whether to take legal action to fight the ticket on the grounds that the device was turned off. Other supporters suggest that Google Glass might be covered by exceptions in the 27602 code that let a driver view a display if it shows maps, GPS or can help “enhance or supplement the driver’s view”. The irony that this happened in California, the home of Google, is not lost on me…

Sources: PhoneBloks, BBC,, Huffington Post, Cecilia Abadie

GS Reporter: SilverFox

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