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CES: Asus unveils rugged Chromebooks for education

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ASUS will unveil a new Chromebook Education series at CES in Las Vegas next week. The devices provide lightweight, ruggedised Chrome OS computer solutions for educational use, which ASUS says continues its commitment “of providing an extensive range of innovative products and services for the education sector”.

ASUS provided the following information ahead of CES:

ASUS Chromebook Tablet CT100: ASUS’ first Chrome OS tablet

The ASUS Chromebook Tablet CT100 is designed to serve as a familiar introduction to technology for younger kids. It has the same version of Chrome OS that is available on the notebooks but fits into a recognizable form factor that’s reinforced to withstand life in the hands of children. The tablet’s rubberized chassis measures just under 10 mm thick, making it easier for small hands to hang onto and less likely to take a tumble as a result. And if it does end up in freefall, it’s rated for drops up to 100cm; the height of most tables and desks.

Its 9.7-inch QXGA display is covered in a strong tempered glass to help it stay protected against scratches while it travels to and from school. A stylus slides into a little garage in the tablet’s frame for safekeeping, when it’s not being used for art, tracing letters, or practising numbers. The tablet sports a Hexa-core OP1 processor that is made especially for Chromebooks. That works alongside 4GB of RAM to keep performance smooth as students skip between Chrome and Android apps. School work can be stored on the 32GB of onboard storage, which is ample room for files as well as a few games. It has a 35Wh lithium-polymer battery, enough for a full school day, and it charges via the same standard USB Type-C (USB-C) connection that’s found on most smartphones.

Click here to see how the new line of ASUS Chromebooks are the ideal laptops for schools.

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CES: Most useless gadgets

The worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Language tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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