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MWC: Samsung reimagines the phone camera

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At this year’s Mobile World Congress Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones with a dual aperture lens that powers a low light camera, Super Slow-mo video capabilities and personalised AR Emojis.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ deliver an enhanced entertainment experience with powerful stereo speakers tuned by AKG, surround sound supported by Dolby Atmos and a refined edge-to-edge Infinity Display – a key staple in Samsung’s design heritage. In addition, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ will come with the new SmartThings app, which unites Samsung’s existing IoT services into one single, smart experience.

“The way we use our smartphones has changed as communication and self-expression has evolved,” said Craige Fleischer, Vice President of Integrated Mobility, Samsung South Africa. “With the Galaxy S9 and S9+, we have reimagined the smartphone camera. Not only does the Galaxy S9 and S9+ enable consumers to shoot the best photos and videos anywhere, it’s a smartphone that’s designed to help them connect to others and express themselves in a way that’s unique and personal to them.”

Samsung provided the following information:

Today’s cameras are for more than taking pictures – they’re for connecting and communicating. Consumers want a smartphone camera with state-of-the-art technology, so they can express themselves with high-quality images and tools to tell their own, unique story. The Galaxy S9 and S9+’s cameras are built with these consumers in mind, with a Super Speed Dual Pixel sensor with dedicated processing power and memory that can combine up to 12 frames into one amazing shot for the highest photo quality possible. The Galaxy S9 and S9+’s camera features include:

  • Super Slow-mo: Make every day moments epic with dynamic, slow-motion video that captures 960 frames per second. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ also offers automatic Motion Detection, an intelligent feature that detects movement in the frame and automatically begins to record – all users have to do is set up the shot. After capturing the Super Slow-mo video, users can select background music from 35 different options or add a tune from their favourite playlist. Users can also easily create, edit and share GIF files with a simple tap in three playful styles of looping to watch the action over and over.
  • Low Light Camera: Good lighting is the secret to any great photo. But often, photos are taken in less-than-ideal lighting conditions and most smartphone cameras have a fixed aperture that can’t adjust to low or bright lighting environments resulting in grainy or washed out pictures. Similar to the way the iris of a human eye expands and contracts, Samsung’s Dual Aperture (F1.5 – F2.4) automatically lets in more light when it’s dark and less light when it’s too bright, taking photos that are crisp and clear anytime, anywhere.
  • AR Emoji: Samsung lets users create an emoji that looks, sounds and acts just like them. AR Emoji uses a data-based machine learning algorithm, which analyses a 2D image of the user and maps out more than 100 facial features to create a 3D model that reflects and imitates expressions, like winks and nods, for true personalization. AR Emoji shares your real-life feelings not only in video but also with a range of stickers in uses a standard AGIF file format, so users can share their emojis across most third-party messaging platforms.
  • Bixby: Samsung’s intelligence platform, integrated into the camera, uses augmented reality and deep learning technologies to provide helpful information about a user’s surroundings. With real-time object detection and recognition, Bixby instantly generates information directly on top of the image that the camera is pointing at. Users can translate foreign languages and currency in real time with Live Translation, learn about their surroundings, purchase products seen in the real world and track calories throughout the day.

Entertainment Reimagined

Smartphones are often our go-to choice for entertainment, which is why Samsung created a device that offers premium sound experiences with stereo speakers tuned by AKG. Whether users are watching their favourite movie or streaming their favourite artist’s latest album, sounds are clear, crisp and rich in quality. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ also support Dolby Atmos, giving the effect of 360-degree sound.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ audio experience is complemented by Samsung’s revolutionary Infinity Display. First introduced on the Galaxy S8, the bold, bright Super AMOLED Infinity Display blends right into the phone with virtually no distracting bezels. With adaptive contrast enhancement, users can use their device even in direct sunlight.

A Device that Fits with the Connected Lifestyle

As the first smartphone to support the new SmartThings app, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ are the central hub to manage every facet of the connected lifestyle at home, at the office or on the go. The SmartThings app will be introduced with S9 and S9+ and will connect to other Samsung and non-Samsung devices.

For those constantly on the move, the next-generation Samsung DeX empowers a mobile lifestyle by bringing a large, full-screen experience to the mobile handset. With DeX Pad, a new docking system, users can easily connect the Galaxy S9 and S9+ to a larger monitor, keyboard and mouse to expand the mobile experience with enhanced document editing or even full-screen gaming. Users can also transform the Galaxy S9 and S9+ into a Touch Keyboard and Touch Pad with the DeX Pad.

The Best Comes Standard with the Galaxy Foundation

Samsung sets the gold standard for smartphones including IP68 water and dust resistance, and fast wireless charging. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ go a step beyond. The devices now support expandable memory of up to 400GB and are equipped with the latest premium application processors offering powerful performance and sophisticated image processing.

In addition, the Galaxy S9 and S9+ give users the peace of mind knowing that their phone is protected by Knox 3.1, Samsung’s latest defence-grade security platform. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ support three different biometric authentication options – iris, fingerprint, and facial recognition – so users can choose the best way to protect their device and applications. The devices support Intelligent Scan, a new verification that intelligently uses the collective strength of iris scanning and facial recognition technology to quickly and conveniently unlock a user’s phone in any environment. The Galaxy S9 and S9+ also introduce Dedicated Fingerprint, giving users the option to use a different fingerprint to access Secure Folder than the one used to unlock the phone.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ takes health to the next level with an improved optical sensor built directly into the device, providing richer, more accurate information on user’s health status. This sensor allows the Galaxy S9 and S9+ to keep track of users’ Heart Load Factor, a new measurement of the real-time demand placed on your heart.

The Galaxy S9 and S9+ will be available starting in March 16, 2018 in select markets and will be offered in Midnight Black, Titanium Grey and a new hue, Lilac Purple.

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ Product Specifications

  Galaxy S9 Galaxy S9+
OS Android 8 (Oreo)
Display 5.8-inch Quad HD + Curved Super AMOLED, 18.5:9(529ppi) 6.2-inch Quad HD + Curved Super AMOLED, 18.5:9,  (570ppi)

 

Body 147.7mm x 68.7mm x 8.5mm, 163g, IP68 158.1mm x 73.8mm x 8.5mm, 189g, IP68
Camera Rear: Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF sensor with OIS (F1.5/F2.4)

Front: 8MP AF (F1.7)

Rear: Dual Camera with Dual OIS

–       Wide-angle: Super Speed Dual Pixel 12MP AF sensor (F1.5/F2.4)

–       Telephoto: 12MP AF sensor (F2.4)

–       Front: 8MP AF (F1.7)

AP 10nm, 64-bit, Octa-core processor (2.7 GHz Quad + 1.7 GHz Quad)
Memory 4GB RAM

64GB + Micro SD Slot (upto 400 GB)[11]

 

6GB RAM

128GB + Micro SD Slot (upto 400GB)

 

SIM Card Single SIM:  Nano SIM

Dual SIM (Hybrid SIM): Nano SIM + Nano SIM or MicroSD slot

Battery 3,000mAh 3,500mAh
Fast Wired Charging compatible with QC 2.0

Fast Wireless Charging compatible with WPC and PMA

Network Enhanced 4X4 MIMO / CA, LAA, LTE Cat.18
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), VHT80 MU-MIMO, 1024QAM, Bluetooth v 5.0 (LE up to 2Mbps), ANT+, USB type-C, NFC, Location (GPS, Galileo, Glonass, BeiDou)
Payment NFC, MST
Sensors Iris sensor, Pressure sensor, Accelerometer, Barometer, Fingerprint sensor, Gyro sensor, Geomagnetic sensor, Hall sensor, HR sensor, Proximity sensor, RGB Light sensor
Authentication Lock type: pattern, PIN, password

Biometric lock type: iris scanner, fingerprint scanner, face recognition, Intelligent Scan: multimodal biometric authentication with iris scanning and face recognition

Audio Stereo speakers tuned by AKG, surround sound with Dolby Atmos technology,

Audio playback format: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA, APE, DSF, DFF

Video MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM

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Prepare your cam to capture the Blood Moon

On 27 July 2018, South Africans can witness a total lunar eclipse, as the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon.

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Also known as a blood or red moon, a total lunar eclipse is the most dramatic of all lunar eclipses and presents an exciting photographic opportunity for any aspiring photographer or would-be astronomers.

“A lunar eclipse is a rare cosmic sight. For centuries these events have inspired wonder, interest and sometimes fear amongst observers. Of course, if you are lucky to be around when one occurs, you would want to capture it all on camera,” says Dana Eitzen, Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive at Canon South Africa.

Canon ambassador and acclaimed landscape photographer David Noton has provided his top tips to keep in mind when photographing this occasion.   In South Africa, the eclipse will be visible from about 19h14 on Friday, 27 July until 01h28 on the Saturday morning. The lunar eclipse will see the light from the sun blocked by the earth as it passes in front of the moon. The moon will turn red because of an effect known as Rayleigh Scattering, where bands of green and violet light become filtered through the atmosphere.

A partial eclipse will begin at 20h24 when the moon will start to turn red. The total eclipse begins at about 21h30 when the moon is completely red. The eclipse reaches its maximum at 22h21 when the moon is closest to the centre of the shadow.

David Noton advises:

  1. Download the right apps to be in-the-know

The sun’s position in the sky at any given time of day varies massively with latitude and season. That is not the case with the moon as its passage through the heavens is governed by its complex elliptical orbit of the earth. That orbit results in monthly, rather than seasonal variations, as the moon moves through its lunar cycle. The result is big differences in the timing of its appearance and its trajectory through the sky. Luckily, we no longer need to rely on weight tables to consult the behaviour of the moon, we can simply download an app on to our phone. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is useful for giving moonrise and moonset times, bearings and phases; while the Photopills app gives comprehensive information on the position of the moon in our sky.  Armed with these two apps, I’m planning to shoot the Blood Moon rising in Dorset, England. I’m aiming to capture the moon within the first fifteen minutes of moonrise so I can catch it low in the sky and juxtapose it against an object on the horizon line for scale – this could be as simple as a tree on a hill.

 

  1. Invest in a lens with optimal zoom  

On the 27th July, one of the key challenges we’ll face is shooting the moon large in the frame so we can see every crater on the asteroid pockmarked surface. It’s a task normally reserved for astronomers with super powerful telescopes, but if you’ve got a long telephoto lens on a full frame DSLR with around 600 mm of focal length, it can be done, depending on the composition. I will be using the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with an EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Ext. 1.4 x lens.

  1. Use a tripod to capture the intimate details

As you frame up your shot, one thing will become immediately apparent; lunar tracking is incredibly challenging as the moon moves through the sky surprisingly quickly. As you’ll be using a long lens for this shoot, it’s important to invest in a sturdy tripod to help capture the best possible image. Although it will be tempting to take the shot by hand, it’s important to remember that your subject is over 384,000km away from you and even with a high shutter speed, the slightest of movements will become exaggerated.

  1. Integrate the moon into your landscape

Whilst images of the moon large in the frame can be beautifully detailed, they are essentially astronomical in their appeal. Personally, I’m far more drawn to using the lunar allure as an element in my landscapes, or using the moonlight as a light source. The latter is difficult, as the amount of light the moon reflects is tiny, whilst the lunar surface is so bright by comparison. Up to now, night photography meant long, long exposures but with cameras such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV now capable of astonishing low light performance, a whole new nocturnal world of opportunities has been opened to photographers.

  1. Master the shutter speed for your subject 

The most evocative and genuine use of the moon in landscape portraits results from situations when the light on the moon balances with the twilight in the surrounding sky. Such images have a subtle appeal, mood and believability.  By definition, any scene incorporating a medium or wide-angle view is going to render the moon as a tiny pin prick of light, but its presence will still be felt. Our eyes naturally gravitate to it, however insignificant it may seem. Of course, the issue of shutter speed is always there; too slow an exposure and all we’ll see is an unsightly lunar streak, even with a wide-angle lens.

 

On a clear night, mastering the shutter speed of your camera is integral to capturing the moon – exposing at 1/250 sec @ f8 ISO 100 (depending on focal length) is what you’ll need to stop the motion from blurring and if you are to get the technique right, with the high quality of cameras such as the Canon EOS 5DS R, you might even be able to see the twelve cameras that were left up there by NASA in the 60’s!

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How Africa can embrace AI

Currently, no African country is among the top 10 countries expected to benefit most from AI and automation. But, the continent has the potential to catch up with the rest of world if we act fast, says ZOAIB HOOSEN, Microsoft Managing Director.

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To play catch up, we must take advantage of our best and most powerful resource – our human capital. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than 60 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25.

These are the people who are poised to create a future where humans and AI can work together for the good of society. In fact, the most recent WEF Global Shapers survey found that almost 80 percent of youth believe technology like AI is creating jobs rather than destroying them.

Staying ahead of the trends to stay employed

AI developments are expected to impact existing jobs, as AI can replicate certain activities at greater speed and scale. In some areas, AI could learn faster than humans, if not yet as deeply.

According to Gartner, while AI will improve the productivity of many jobs and create millions more new positions, it could impact many others. The simpler and less creative the job, the earlier, a bot for example, could replace it.

It’s important to stay ahead of the trends and find opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills while learning how to work more closely and symbiotically with technology.

Another global study by Accenture, found that the adoption of AI will create several new job categories requiring important and yet surprising skills. These include trainers, who are tasked with teaching AI systems how to perform; explainers, who bridge the gap between technologist and business leader; and sustainers, who ensure that AI systems are operating as designed.

It’s clear that successfully integrating human intelligence with AI, so they co-exist in a two-way learning relationship, will become more critical than ever.

Combining STEM with the arts

Young people have a leg up on those already in the working world because they can easily develop the necessary skills for these new roles. It’s therefore essential that our education system constantly evolves to equip youth with the right skills and way of thinking to be successful in jobs that may not even exist yet.

As the division of tasks between man and machine changes, we must re-evaluate the type of knowledge and skills imparted to future generations.

For example, technical skills will be required to design and implement AI systems, but interpersonal skills, creativity and emotional intelligence will also become crucial in giving humans an advantage over machines.

“At one level, AI will require that even more people specialise in digital skills and data science. But skilling-up for an AI-powered world involves more than science, technology, engineering and math. As computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important. Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.” This is according to Microsoft president, Brad Smith, and EVP of AI and research, Harry Shum, who recently authored the book “The Future Computed”, which primarily deals with AI and its role in society.

Interestingly, institutions like Stanford University are already implementing this forward-thinking approach. The university offers a programme called CS+X, which integrates its computer science degree with humanities degrees, resulting in a Bachelor of Arts and Science qualification.

Revisiting laws and regulation

For this type of evolution to happen, the onus is on policy makers to revisit current laws and even bring in new regulations. Policy makers need to identify the groups most at risk of losing their jobs and create strategies to reintegrate them into the economy.

Simultaneously, though AI could be hugely beneficial in areas such as curbing poor access to healthcare and improving diagnoses for example, physicians may avoid using this technology for fear of malpractice. To avoid this, we need regulation that closes the gap between the pace of technological change and that of regulatory response. It will also become essential to develop a code of ethics for this new ecosystem.

Preparing for the future

With the recent convergence of a transformative set of technologies, economies are entering a period in which AI has the potential overcome physical limitations and open up new sources of value and growth.

To avoid missing out on this opportunity, policy makers and business leaders must prepare for, and work toward, a future with AI. We must do so not with the idea that AI is simply another productivity enhancer. Rather, we must see AI as the tool that can transform our thinking about how growth is created.

It comes down to a choice of our people and economies being part of the technological disruption, or being left behind.

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