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CES 2016: Qualcomm and Tencent team up for drone stream

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At CES 2016, Qualcomm Technologies, Tencent and ZEROTECH have announced and demonstrated YING, a commercial drone based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight platform.

YING uses the Snapdragon 4K capture to “supersample” the video image, providing stabilised high-definition video and picture recording at 1080P as well as first person view at 720p that can be directly streamed or uploaded to Tencent’s drone social community platforms Wexin and QQ.

Tencent and ZEROTECH have co-designed YING, a small, lightweight drone that can be easily controlled right from your smartphone, leveraging the companies’ advanced software, and the computational power of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, making it fun and easy to capture great video that can be streamed directly to your friends using QQ and Wexin. “As the industry’s leading unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturer, we continue to bring a range of new research and development products to meet the needs and demands of our customers across various industries,” said Jianjun Yang, Founder, ZEROTECH. “We’re excited to work with two companies who are technology leaders in their space – Qualcomm Technologies who has brought their mobile expertise to the consumer drone industry, and Tencent with its popular social networks, to bring a lightweight, highly integrated consumer drone that enables users to share their photos and videos instantly with their friends.”

ZEROTECH 4K Drone

“The consumer drone market is expected to soar in the next few years, and YING is a good example that shows how Tencent is working closely with the fast growing drone market by enriching use cases of our core and leading social communication services,” said Roland Cai, vice president, IEG, Tencent. “ZEROTECH’s expertise in UAV manufacturing and, Qualcomm Technologies’ highly integrated drone development board coupled with our social networking platforms allows us to provide our hundreds of millions of active users with a competitive price on a high quality drone such as YING that can share their experiences in real time.”

Snapdragon Flight is a highly optimized 58x40mm board targeted specifically for consumer drones and robotics applications. Snapdragon Flight is based on the Snapdragon 801 processor, with GPS, 4K video capture, and robust connectivity, along with advanced drone software and development tools, bringing cutting-edge mobile technologies to create a new class of consumer drones.

“Consumer drones are becoming the ultimate selfie camera but with advanced capabilities such as 4K capture and high performance computing and connectivity,” said Raj Talluri, senior vice president, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “We are tapping into our proven mobile technologies for the exciting drone opportunity, and teaming up with ZEROTECH and Tencent enables us to support smaller, smarter drones that deliver real-time content to China’s largest social media network.”

Availability

The YING drone is expected to be available globally by 1H 2016.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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