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Huawei Mate 9 camera takes on the best

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At a launch in Munich this week, Huawei unveiled a smartphone that positions it alongside the market leaders in quality and performance

At a global launch event in Munich yesterday, Huawei Consumer Business Group unveiled two of the most anticipated devices of the year – the Huawei Mate 9 and the Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9. Building on its growing reputation for well-designed, powerful mobile devices, it has focused strongly on the user experience, with a new Kirin 960 chip for fast computing performance.

“In developing the Huawei Mate 9, we started with a simple question – how can we improve every element of the smartphone experience?” said Richard Yu, CEO, Huawei Consumer Business Group. “We know that for today’s business users, a fast and functional smartphone is just the beginning. Consumers also want a gorgeous design and intuitive features, so we created two new devices at the forefront of hardware and software innovation. The result is a device that is breathtakingly new, inside and out.”

Initial tests show that the phone competes with both the Samsung S7 edge and the iPhone 7 in performance and quality. The screen quality and updated user interface provide a satisfying look and feel, while the battery life is far superior to most other flagship phones on the market.

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Huawei provided the following information:

The HUAWEI Mate 9 features a dynamic interplay of industry-leading hardware and advanced software that work together to keep users a step ahead. Key features include:

  • Kirin 960 chipset, the world’s highest performing smartphone processor
  • EMUI 5.0, an intuitive user interface that streamlines the users’ experience with the OS
  • SuperCharge technology that delivers a full day’s charge in 20 minutes
  • Second generation Leica dual-lens camera with 12-megapixel RGB sensor, 20-megapixel monochrome sensor and Hybrid Zoom, featuring a superior 2x magnification

Maximized Performance and Speed with Kirin 960

With over 100 million units sold, Huawei’s Kirin chipsets showcase the company’s deep understanding of the kind of power and experience users are looking for – a fast mobile device that is intuitive and reliable. The Huawei Mate 9 Series debuts the premium Kirin 960 chipset with Huawei’s Machine Learning Algorithm to deliver a fast and smooth experience, even after 18 months of continuous usage.

The Kirin 960 is the world’s first chipset to feature an ARM Cortex-A73/A53 Octa-core CPU and Mali G71 Octa-core GPU. The CPU delivers the best multi-core performance among all smartphone SoCs, while reducing power consumption by 15 percent. The GPU boasts a 180 percent performance uplift and a 40 percent improvement in energy efficiency compared to its predecessor. The Kirin 960 also takes full advantage of the pioneering Vulkan graphics standard on Android 7.0, increasing graphics performance by up to 400 percent.

A Safe, Faster-Charging Battery

The Huawei Mate 9 combines a 4000 mAh high-density battery with Huawei’s all new SuperCharge technology. With its advanced power saving technology, the Huawei Mate 9 increases battery life to provide over two days of uninterrupted performance. This includes a 40 percent increase in CDMA call time and a 20 percent increase in gaming time.

Supporting 5A fast charging, SuperCharge technology enables a 50 percent improvement over the previous generation – 10 minutes of charge provides enough power to watch two full movies. Most importantly, the battery sets a new standard in charging technology including Super Safe 5-gate protection, which offers real-time voltage, current and temperature monitoring to eliminate safety hazards and safeguard battery life.

A New Standard for Professional-quality Smartphone Photography

Following the incredible success of the Huawei P9, the Huawei Mate 9 features the second generation dual-lens camera co-engineered with Leica. Huawei and Leica have continued to improve and enhance the optical performance of the camera module, which now includes a 12-megapixel/F2.2 RGB sensor, a 20-megapixel/F2.2 monochrome sensor and enhanced image fusion algorithms that work in concert to produce stunning photography.

The RGB sensor captures true-to-life colours, while the monochrome sensor captures intricate details and depth resulting in the iconic Leica Image Style. When paired with the leading dual-lens camera Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) solution and the industry’s first dual-camera pixel binning technology, the Huawei Mate 9 has a superior night shot capability. The Kirin 960 is designed specifically to support the Huawei Mate 9’s second generation Leica dual-lens camera with Hybrid Zoom. The 4-1 Hybrid Auto-focus features laser focus, phase detection focus, depth focus and contrast focus.

Performance in Design

The Huawei Mate 9 builds upon the Mate Series’ highly-regarded design DNA and uses the finest materials to deliver a smartphone that features a 5.9” FHD display and is both beautifully designed and comfortable to use. Based on an extensive process of research and development, the HUAWEI Mate 9 is constructed using 50 unique processes including one hour of CNC milling, resulting in a high-precision unibody metal frame. Every detail – from the soft sandblasted texture to the gorgeous colour palette – is a result of more than 25 years’ experience in delivering refined craftsmanship.

Design Icon Meets Technology Leader

The Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 is a limited edition smartphone combining Porsche Design’s signature brand aesthetic with Huawei’s mobile engineering expertise. Together Huawei and Porsche Design have achieved a new pinnacle where Porsche Design’s unique signature aesthetic meets Huawei’s market-leading technology. With the Porsche Design Huawei  Mate 9, Huawei introduces a remarkable 5.5” curved AMOLED display that offers a smooth, sleek feel. It will be available exclusively in Graphite Black. (See additional Porsche Design Huawei  Mate 9 details.)

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The Android Experience Reimagined

With the introduction of EMUI 5.0, the Huawei Mate 9 reimagines the native Android operating system using Linux to improve the experience, aesthetics and functionality. With EMUI 5.0, the Huawei Mate 9 becomes more intelligent and efficient over time by understanding consumers’ behaviour patterns, and ensures the highest priority applications are given preference subject to system resources. This guarantees a long-lasting, smooth experience as over time, EMUI 5.0 slows down the performance erosion that all smartphone devices experience. EMUI 5.0 also introduces a brand new intuitive interface design. More than 50 percent of features can now be reached within two clicks while over 90 percent can be reached within three clicks.

Pricing and Availability

  • The Huawei Mate 9 is available in Black, Space Grey, Moonlight Silver, Champagne Gold, Mocha Brown and Ceramic White.
  • The exclusive Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 is available in Graphite Black.
  • The Huawei Mate 9 will be available in the following first-wave launch markets:

 

China

France

Germany

Italy

Japan

Kuwait

Malaysia

Poland

Saudi Arabia

Spain

Thailand

United Arab Emirates

Version                                 EUR (includes tax)

Huawei Mate 9 4GB + 64 GB €699
Porsche Design Huawei Mate 9 6GB + 256GB €1395

 

Huawei Consumer Business Group also launched the Huawei Fit, a fitness watch featuring heart rate monitoring, automatic step counting, sleep tracking and support for multi-sport activities. The Huawei Fit, provides comprehensive and customized running programs and offers real-time coaching; after a run the watch displays VO2 max, recovery time and a training score. It is the first wearable device to achieve the TÜV-WT reliability and accuracy certification.

The Huawei Fit is available in Titanium Grey and Moonlight Silver for €149 in the following first-wave launch markets: France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and the United States.

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Why your first self-driving car ride will be in a robotaxi

Autonomous driving will take longer than we expect, and involve less ownership than the industry would like, writes Intel’s AMNON SHASHUA

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As we all watch automakers and autonomous tech companies team up in various alliances, it’s natural to wonder about their significance and what the future will bring. Are we realizing that autonomous driving technology and its acceptance by society could take longer than expected? Is the cost of investing in such technology proving more than any single organization can sustain? Are these alliances driven by a need for regulation that will be accepted by governments and the public or for developing standards on which manufacturers can agree?

The answers are likely a bit of each, which makes it a timely opportunity to review the big picture and share our view of where Intel and Mobileye stand in this landscape.

Three Aspects to Auto-Tech-AI

There are three aspects to automotive-technology-artificial intelligence (auto-tech-AI) that are unfolding:

  1. Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS)
  2. Robotaxi ride-hailing as the future of mobility-as-a-service (MaaS)
  3. Series-production passenger car autonomy

With ADAS technologies, the driver remains in control while the system intervenes when necessary to prevent accidents. This is especially important as distracted driving grows unabated. Known as Levels 0-2 as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), ADAS promises to reduce the probability of an accident to infinitesimal levels. This critical phase of auto-tech-AI is well underway, with today’s penetration around 22%, a number expected to climb sharply to 75% by 2025.1

Meanwhile, the autonomous driving aspect of auto-tech-AI is coming in two phases: robotaxi MaaS and series-production passenger car autonomy. What has changed in the mindset of many companies, including much of the auto industry, is the realization that those two phases cannot proceed in parallel.

Series-production passenger car autonomy (SAE Levels 4-5) must wait until the robotaxi industry deploys and matures. This is due to three factors: cost, regulation and geographic scale. Getting all factors optimized simultaneously has proven too difficult to achieve in a single leap, and it is why many in the industry are contemplating the best path to achieve volume production. Many industry leaders are realizing it is possible to stagger the challenges if the deployment of fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) aims first at the robotaxi opportunity.

Cost: The cost of a self-driving system (SDS) with its cameras, radars, lidars and high-performance computing is in the tens of thousands of dollars and will remain so for the foreseeable future. This cost level is acceptable for a driverless ride-hailing service, but is simply too expensive for series-production passenger cars. The cost of SDS should be no more than a few thousand dollars – an order of magnitude lower than today’s costs – before such capability can find its way to series-production passenger cars.

Regulation: Regulation is an area that receives too little attention. Companies deep in the making of SDSs know that it is the stickiest issue. Beside the fact that laws for granting a license to drive are geared toward human drivers, there is the serious issue of how to balance safety and usefulness in a manner that is acceptable to society.

It will be easier to develop laws and regulations governing a fleet of robotaxis than for privately-owned vehicles. A fleet operator will receive a limited license per use case and per geographic region and will be subject to extensive reporting and back-office remote operation. In contrast, licensing such cars to private citizens will require a complete overhaul of the complex laws and regulations that currently govern vehicles and drivers.

The auto industry is gradually realising that autonomy must wait until regulation and technology reach equilibrium, and the best place to get this done is through the robotaxi phase.

Scale: The third factor, geographic scale, is mostly a challenge of creating high-definition maps with great detail and accuracy, and of keeping those maps continuously updated. The geographic scale is crucial for series-production driverless cars because they must necessarily operate “everywhere” to fulfil the promise of the self-driving revolution. Robotaxis can be confined to geofenced areas, which makes it possible to postpone the issue of scale until the maturity of the robotaxi industry.

When the factors of cost, regulation and scale are taken together, it is understandable why series-production passenger cars will not become possible until after the robotaxi phase.

As is increasingly apparent, the auto industry is gravitating towards greater emphasis on their Level 2 offerings. Enhanced ADAS – with drivers still in charge of the vehicle at all times – helps achieve many of the expected safety benefits of AVs without bumping into the regulatory, cost and scale challenges.

At the same time, automakers are solving for the regulatory, cost and scale challenges by embracing the emerging robotaxi MaaS industry. Once MaaS via robotaxi achieves traction and maturity, automakers will be ready for the next (and most transformative) phase of passenger car autonomy.

The Strategy for Autonomy

With all of this in mind, Intel and Mobileye are focused on the most efficient path to reach passenger car autonomy. It requires long-term planning, and for those who can sustain the large investments ahead, the rewards will be great. Our path forward relies on four focus areas:

  • Continue at the forefront of ADAS development. Beyond the fact that ADAS is the core of life-saving technology, it allows us to validate the technological building blocks of autonomous vehicles via tens of new production programs a year with automakers that submit our technology to the most stringent safety testing. Our ADAS programs – more than 34 million vehicles on roads today – provide the financial “fuel” to sustain autonomous development activity for the long run.
  • Design an SDS with a backbone of a camera-centric configuration. Building a robust system that can drive solely based on cameras allows us to pinpoint the critical safety segments for which we truly need redundancy from radars and lidars. This effort to avoid unnecessary over-engineering or “sensor overload” is key to keeping the cost low.
  • Build on our Road Experience Management (REM)™ crowdsourced automatic high-definition map-making to address the scale issue. Through existing contracts with automakers, we at Mobileye expect to have more than 25 million cars sending road data by 2022.
  • Tackle the regulatory issue through our Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) formal model of safe driving, which balances the usefulness and agility of the robotic driver with a safety model that complies with societal norms of careful driving.

At Intel and Mobileye, we are all-in on the global robotaxi opportunity. We are developing technology for the entire robotaxi experience – from hailing the ride on your phone, through powering the vehicle and monitoring the fleet. Our hands-on approach with as much of the process as possible enables us to maximize learnings from the robotaxi phase and be ready with the right solutions for automakers when the time is right for series-production passenger cars.

On the way, we will help our partners deliver on the life-saving safety revolution of ADAS. We are convinced this will be a powerful and historic example of the greatest value being realized on the journey.

Professor Amnon Shashua is senior vice president at Intel Corporation and president and chief executive officer of Mobileye, an Intel company.

1Wolfe Research 2019.

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Sea of Solitude represents mental health issues through gaming

It’s a game that provides a tasteful visual representation of mental health issues. BRYAN TURNER dives into the Sea of Solitude.

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Disclaimer: This review is based on four hours of gameplay.

Sea of Solitude, the latest adventure game by Jo-Mei Games and EA Games, takes a sobering look at loneliness. It represents this loneliness visually, using light and dark environmental changes, as well as creatures players must encounter. The main character, Kay, must make it through the sea without finding herself trapped in a sea of loneliness. She meets fantastical creatures along her journey, and she must help them solve their challenges while keeping herself in a sane environment.

The game is systematic in the way it represents its important aspects. It starts with a striking visual art style and a soft storyline, which gives characters a chance to absorb the beauty of the game. As one gets a hang of the controls and used to the art style, the story kicks it up a few notches to reveal the harrowing backstories of the creatures that reside in the sea Kay must travel.

In particular, it features a creature that keeps flying away from Kay. This was frustrating because the previous chapter of the game presents a backstory for the creature that was not only devastating to the main character, but also to the player. Once Kay meets this creature, players must be ready to cry. It’s a brilliantly crafted story and hats off to Jo-Mei Games for being great storytellers.

Cornelia Geppert, CEO of Jo-Mei Games, told EA: “Sea of Solitude centres on the essence of loneliness and tugs on the heartstrings of its players by mirroring their own reality. It’s by far the most artistic and personal project I’ve ever created, written during a very emotional time in my life. Designing characters based on emotions was a deeply personal achievement for our team and we’re so excited for players to soon experience Kay’s powerful story of self-discovery and healing.”

Generally, I steer clear of games that are metaphors about mental health issues because they tend to be crass in how they address mental health. Sea of Solitude is quite different because of its level of relatability. Other games about mental health tend to be about a specific disorder that not many people experience, while loneliness is something that so many of us experience. Additionally, the representation of how loneliness affects Kay in the real world is sharp but tasteful. The combination of relatability and respectful representation is what makes the game’s story so brilliant.

Another great aspect of this game is the music scoring. It uses sound and the absence of sound very carefully to invoke the right feelings expected from players. The game wouldn’t be as good with the sound off and subtitles on, so future players are recommended to turn up the volume or put on headphones.

The game is long for an indie game, at around three or four hours of gameplay until the end is reached. Several sources say there is a hidden ending, so players can look out for that in a second playthrough.

The game’s story isn’t perfect, though. The eventual sameness of creature encounters is a little disappointing. This may be down to the expectation of being extremely devastated by all the stories of the creatures, especially when one is less than devastated by the subsequent stories. One of the most affecting creature stories was also presented at the beginning of the game, which set the bar very high for the rest of the creatures.

One creature, in particular, tries very hard to have the greatest emotional impact, but this comes across as blunt and dampens the meaning of what it was supposed to represent.

While I didn’t mind sharp representation, the perception of themes like bullying, estrangement, and suicidal thoughts may vary in appropriateness from player to player. Prospective players with existing painful mental health issues should consult gameplay videos, like the one below, before purchasing the game, to gauge appropriateness.

Overall, the game is incredible at connecting with what it is to be human and what it means to be lonely. Dealing with issues as physical creatures is a great touch, as the main character tends to resolve the problems of the creature by understanding what the problems mean.

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