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Huawei throws the book at P8

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This week, Huawei unveiled the latest addition to its P series of smartphones, the Huawei P8. The dual-SIM, unibody device is available in four colours and is designed to resemble the pages, bindings and hardcovers of books.

Huawei Consumer Business Group yesterday unveiled the Huawei P8 smartphone, which it describes as “a perfect blend of technology, sleek styling, usability and revolutionary low light camera features”.

It says the P8 is based on a deep understanding of human-machine design, delivering a new level of usability for applications impacting everyday life “at work and at play”.

Introduced in 2012, the Huawei P series has redefined the style of the company’s phones. The P6 introduced a new and elegant sleekness in 2015, as the thinnest smartphone in the world, and last year’s P7 maintained that positioning.

The Huawei P8 design, on the other hand, is described as being “deeply rooted in literary tradition, combining elements of ancient manuscripts, illuminated books and the essence of sunlight in stained glass library windows”.

The one-piece aluminium body with diamond shape blasting craftsmanship is intended to highlight the texture of the metal and, says the company, “the design details of the Huawei P8 are said to evoke the pages, bindings and hardcovers of traditional books”.

The phone comes with four colour options: silver, gold, black and grey. The devices come in a translucent package and the unboxing experience is intended to evoke the experience of taking a book from the shelf.

Highlights, as supplied by Huawei, include:

  • • The nano-injection moulding process results in an industry-leading seamless tight junction connecting a 1.5mm thin plastic bar with one of the industry’s largest screens.
  • • The phone is 6.4mm thin, with dual SIM cards, and works seamlessly with a 4G network (where the service is available).
  • • The triple-layer shark-gill design enhances the reliability and robustness of the device.
  • • Inside, the new Kirin 930 64-bit Octa-Core chipset boosts performance by approximately 20 percent compared with other phones with similar levels of battery life.
  • • The body’s sleek back cover is constructed of steel, for reinforced structural rigidity.

“The Huawei P8 is designed to have a natural connection to human nature, providing solutions to common pain points and meeting consumers’ needs – both simple and complex,” read a company statement. “The Huawei P8 has a revolutionary touch screen experience that is innate to consumers.”

Double-tapping a knuckle captures a full-length screen shot, while drawing a circle on the screen quickly captures content. Additionally, a “search phone by voice” function allows users to call out to their misplaced smartphone, which will respond through its speaker to identify.

Power management tools create a bridge between the Huawei P8’s slim design, power efficiently and stunning performance. The device contains a 2680mAh battery and, with Kirin 930 Octa-Core 64-bit chipset, delivering performance that outpaces the smartphone market.

In loud environments users can increase volume up to 58 percent above normal level. In a windy environment, the smartphone can eliminate 90 percent of the sound of wind when using a headset or earphones with a single microphone. Additionally, hands-free functionality supports hands-free speaker calls within a range of 2 meters, while a built-in independent audio decoder chipset enables music volume to double while maintaining the same quality.

Considering the user habits as well as upcoming trends, the Huawei P8 provides a comprehensive line-up of solutions:

  • • For 4G SIM card users, the device features dual 4G SIM card support with two flexible card slots.
  • • Once the Huawei P8 has identified and connected with a Bluetooth device such as the Huawei TalkBand B2, the phone can be remotely unlocked without entering a password.
  • • With network roaming performance optimized for 4G, the Huawei P8 connects with network roaming services approximately three times faster than average phone models.
  • • Additionally, with an optional E-ink screen on the back of the phone, the metal back cover can switch to an eBook in just seconds.

“The goal of Huawei P8 is to become the most user-friendly smartphone for consumers globally” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group, “Through in-depth market research, Huawei has addressed the most pressing pain points for premium smartphone users today.

“Huawei seamlessly combines the best elements of style and durability in this device, delivering a revolutionary user experience – especially in terms of camera capabilities and network connectivity. Building on the outstanding market performance of Huawei’s P series, we fully believe the Huawei P8 will become one of the most popular smartphones of 2015.”

The following information was supplied by Huawei

The Huawei P8 introduces a new philosophy for camera design leveraging a combination of hardware, software and proprietary algorithms to help users capture beautiful photographs, even in the worst lighting conditions. Features include:

  • • Industry-leading Optical Image Stabilizer technology up to 1.2°, enabling high-quality photos and videos, and managing camera shake so images are consistently sharp.
  • • The world’s first four-color RGBW sensor enhances brightness by 32 percent in high contrast lighting situations, reduces it by 78 percent in low light environments. DSLR-level independent image processor enabling noise reduction when shooting and intelligent detection of a high-contrast lighting environment.
  • • Four professional quality low-light shooting modes giving users access to a virtual photo and video studio to capture artistic inspirations.

For example, the Light Painting mode, one of the four professional quality low-light shooting modes, leverages the Huawei P8’s manual camera shutter to capture broad swaths of light. Light Painting mode can capture a rolling ferris wheel at night, showing the circular streams of light in an artistic photo. Users can also “light paint” their own freehand pictures using a small torchlight in the dark. Another industry first low light technology is the light check and preview mode. By giving users a preview of what the shot will look like, the device makes it easier to experiment creatively with light sources in the dark.

The Huawei P8’s Director mode is the industry’s first professional-level video capture function on a smartphone. It allows consumers to direct and control up to three other Android phones when shooting a video scene from four angles simultaneously, while also synchronize video clip editing.

The Huawei P8 also introduces a powerful new Selfie mode, which allows preset image enhancement settings to capture and customize everyone’s unique beauty, enabling even more people to get in on the fun.

Setting New Standards for Mobile Connectivity

During the process of researching and listening to the needs of elite smartphone users, Huawei has addressed emerging pain points around dropped calls and signal degradation. Building on Huawei’s DNA of world-class communications technology, the Huawei P8 has re-defined the industry benchmark for seamless network connectivity.

The Huawei P8 has re-defined the industry benchmark for seamless network connectivity through proprietary Signal+ technology. The compact and powerful dual-antenna design plus rapid switching technology allows the smartphone to instantly switch between antennas, ensuring a continuous strong network connection. Additionally, the devices’ Signal+ enhances the call connection rate, even when users are travelling on a train at a speed of up to 300 kilometres per hour.

For consumers who travel by air, it takes quite a bit of time to connect when landing at an airport; the Huawei P8 increases the speed of connecting to a roaming network. Based on international roaming test data from more than 20 countries and regions across Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America and North America with network roaming performance optimized for 4G, the Huawei P8 synchronizes with network roaming services approximately three times faster than an average phone.

Huawei’s extremely stylish P series has achieved great success around the world. Global sales of the Huawei P6 have totalled 5 million units in 60 countries and the Huawei P7 surpassed 4 million sales across more than 100 countries in just six months. The success of the Huawei P6 and P7 indicates a strong potential demand for the Huawei P8.

There are two versions of the Huawei P8; the standard device for €499 and the premium version for €599. It will initially be available in more than 30 countries including China, Columbia, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, Turkey, UAE and the United Kingdom.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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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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