Lenovo Considering Setting Up Smartphone Manufacturing Unit in India

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Chinese electronics major Lenovo is looking at the possibility of setting up a manufacturing unit for smartphones and tablets in India.The company already has a computer manufacturing plant in Puducherry.

“We are exploring the opportunity of setting up a manufacturing unit in the country,” Bhaskar Choudhuri, Director (Marketing) of Lenovo India said.

This is particularly because of the government’s impetus on ‘Make in India’ as well as the huge opportunity which country presents, he said.

Lenovo, which enjoys leadership positions in sales of laptops, PCs and tablets in India, is also planning to aggressively boost smartphone business in the country.

He said that the smartphone penetration in the country was only 30 percent. “This shows that there is enough headroom for growth,” he said.

Lenovo was particularly looking at the 4G LTE enabled smartphones as the company had already launched few such products. “The response to the smartphones was stupendous”, he said.

“We believe that 4G LTE will be the dominant technology in the years to come,” Choudhuri added.

The company would also expand retail presence with the opening of more exclusive Lenovo stores, he said.

In the meanwhile, Lenovo launched the K3 Note at a launch event in New Delhi on Thursday. The K3 Note has been priced at Rs. 9,999. It will be available to buy via exclusive retail partner Flipkart in its first flash sale on July 8, and will go up for registrations from 2pm IST Thursday. The Lenovo K3 Note supports both LTE bands in India (FDD-LTE 1800MHz Band 3, and TDD-LTE 2300MHz Band 40).

Raje Meets SoftBank CEO to Discuss Partnerships in Emerging Technologies

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Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Wednesday held a meeting with Masayoshi Son, Chairman and CEO of SoftBank, discussing possible partnerships in emerging technologies.Recalling his earlier interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Son spoke of the commitment of Japanese corporations to step up investment to India.

Raje, on her part, briefed the accompanying delegation about investment opportunities and partnerships in the state.

She made a special mention of public-private partnerships and the existing social and economic infrastructure.

Executive Chairman of SBG Cleantech, the JV involving SoftBank, Bharti Enterprises and Foxconn, Manoj Kohli and Executive Advisor of SoftBank Raman Nanda were also present at the meeting.

SoftBank is a Japanese corporation with wide ranging interests in telecom, e-commerce and the like.

The Japanese firm had earlier this week teamed up with Taiwan’s Foxconn and Bharti Enterprises to invest $20 billion (roughly Rs. 1,27,272 crores) in solar power projects in India, as the country ramps up its clean energy sector.

Mobile phone operator SoftBank said the venture aimed to generate 20 gigawatts of energy through solar and wind power plants across coal-reliant India, up from the country’s 4.1 gigawatts of current capacity.

“With this partnership, our goal is to create a market-leading clean energy company, to fuel India’s growth with clean and renewable sources of energy,” SoftBank’s billionaire founder Masayoshi Son said in a press release.

Son said his company would help manufacture solar equipment in India for the project, adding that SoftBank has invested $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,362 crores) in the country in the last nine months.

Bharti SoftBank-Backed Tiny Mogul Games Loses Studio Head

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Bharti SoftBank, a joint venture between Bharti and Softbank Japan, is best known for its messaging application, Hike. It also is behind Tiny Mogul Games, one of India’s more prolific game studios.

In the two years since its inception it has made twelve games for Android including Shiva: The Time Bender, which was one of the first Indian games to be featured by Google Play globally, and Dadi vs Jellies, which won the Game of the Year award at the Nasscom Game Developer Conference in 2014 . Needless to say, it’s been one of the better Indian studios around in terms of output and quality of games.

Which is why we were taken by surprise when sources close to the company told NDTV Gadgets that Anshumani Ruddra, Studio Head at Tiny Mogul, is on his way out. He will be joining health startup, Practo. Ruddra was unavailable for comment. Sumit Mehra of Zynga India is slated to take his place.

Following the exit of Reliance Games’ Manish Agarwal which appeared to be extremely abrupt even to the company’s own employees, it would seem to be yet another tumultuous turn for the games industry. In this case however, we have been told that this has been in the works for awhile and that it will be business as usual for the studio. Aside from making standalone games for Android, Tiny Mogul is also working on bringing its games to Hike in an attempt to compete with the likes of Line and WeChat.

Indian Software Market Grew 10 Percent in H2 2014

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The Indian software market registered a stable year-on-year growth of 10 percent in the second half of 2014 owing to the steady double-digit growth of top vendors, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).”The Indian software market registered a stable year on year growth of 10 percent. However, the market is expected to gain a steady momentum starting 2016 and beyond as deals would have closures and implementation would start,” IDC said on Thursday.

It stated that some of the reasons for the stable growth include a steady double digit growth for the top vendors such as SAP, Microsoft, Oracle and the likes.

“More investments are expected to pour in from sectors such as government, manufacturing and retail among others.”

The Indian IT Software market is segregated into three primary markets which include Application Development Deployment (AD&D), Applications and System Infrastructure Software (SIS).

The total AD&D market grew by 9.5 percent year-on-year while applications market pegged a growth of 10.8 percent year-on-year and SIS market grew by 8.5 percent during the second half of calendar year 2014.

Some of the secondary markets that registered a strong growth during the review period include application platforms, content, operations & manufacturing applications and integration & orchestration middleware among others.

“Some of the larger software vendors restructured their organization in line with the emerging technologies and re-aligned their strategies to capture the mindshare in the growth markets such as SMB, cloud, analytics and mobility. This has worked quite well for them and they have managed to grow inspite of the uncertainty in the market,” Shweta Baidya, senior market analyst of software, IDC India said.

“Application developers are becoming a strong part of the larger ecosystem and vendors are working closely with the developer and partner community to offer best-in-class solutions to their target customers.”

It stated that Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, IBM, and Synopsys retained their dominant position in the market collectively cornering more than 60 percent of the total share.

IDC expects the software market to grow at a healthy pace in the next five years (2015-2019) with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6 percent.

Some of the software categories that will trigger the uptake include mobile applications, in-memory analytics, database security and privacy, open source applications, DLP, encryption, application security among others.

‘World’s First Skin-Like Display Developed’

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Indian-American researcher Debashis Chanda from University of Central Florida (UCF) has developed a nature-inspired technique for creating the world’s first full-colour, flexible thin-film reflective display.Simply put, if someone at a wedding reception is wearing the same dress as you, the technology can help you switch yours to a different colour in the blink of an eye.

“All manmade displays like LCD and LED are rigid, brittle and bulky. But you look at an octopus. He can create colour on the skin itself covering a complex body contour and it is stretchable and flexible,” said professor Chanda.

That was the motivation: Can we take some inspiration from biology and create a skin-like display?

Chanda was able to change the colour on an ultra-thin nano-structured surface by applying voltage.

The new method does not need its own light source. Rather, it reflects the ambient light around it.

“Your camouflage, your clothing, your fashion items – all of that could change,” he said.

Traditional displays like those on a mobile phone require a light source, filters and a glass plates.

eurekalert_display.jpgBut animals like chameleons, octopuses and squids are born with thin, flexible, colour-changing displays that do not need a light source – their skin.

Chanda’s display is only about few microns thick, compared to a 100-micron-thick human hair.

Such an ultra-thin display can be applied to flexible materials like plastics and synthetic fabrics.

The research has major implications for existing electronics like televisions, computers and mobile devices that have displays considered thin by today’s standards but monstrously bulky in comparison.

The potentially bigger impact could be whole new categories of displays that have never been thought of.

“This is a cheap way of making displays on a flexible substrate with full-colour generation.”

The research is detailed in the journal Nature Communications.

Google Chromebox for Meetings Bundle Launched for Larger Rooms

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Google on Wednesday launched a new Chromebox for meetings bundle, which can support video-conferencing between large groups of up to 20 people. The firm notablylaunched its first Chromebox for meetings bundle, which could support up to eight people, in February last year priced at $999 (roughly Rs. 63,500). The new hardware bundle is available in the US at $1,999 (Rs. 1,27,000), and would be reaching other regions later this year.

The new Chromebox for meetings bundle comes with additional hardware in order to support larger rooms. The bundle includes a USB-enabled full-HD Logitech PTZ Pan-tilt-zoom camera, which can zoom up to x10 and has 90-degree field of view with mechanical 260-degree pan and 130-degree tilt. Two omni-directional microphones with noise filter, mute, end call and volume buttons, and a speaker with wideband frequency response, built-in DSP for speed clarity also come with the bundle. In addition, a full Qwerty keypad remote is included along with bundle, apart from a Chromebox powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i7 processor. Connectivity options on the Chromebox include HDMI, DisplayPort++, four USB3.0 ports, Ethernet and dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n.

Furthermore, Chromebox for meetings now features a full-screen mode function – and is available for any size of meeting room powered by Chrome. Support for dual-screen viewing is also present. In addition, several new management controls have been added to the admin panel. Admins can now monitor the Chrome devices and see which are switched on and which are switched off, remotely. Assigning the administration of a device to other users is also possible.

Google says that it got positive feedback from companies like Whirlpool Corporation,Netflix, and Foursquare, which were given the Chromebox for meetings for larger rooms to use.

Batman: Arkham Knight Pulled From Steam

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In the light of the horrendous performance of Batman: Arkham Knight on PC, publisher Warner Bros. Interactive has decided to pull the game from Steam.

“We want to apologize to those of you who are experiencing performance issues with Batman: Arkham Knight on PC. We take these issues very seriously and have therefore decided to suspend future game sales of the PC version while we work to address these issues to satisfy our quality standards,” a post on the game’s Steam Community page reads. “We greatly value our customers and know that while there are a significant amount of players who are enjoying the game on PC, we want to do whatever we can to make the experience better for PC players overall.”

This marks another twist in the ongoing saga of what has been a rather poor launch for a hotly anticipated game. And it also means that until the game meets Warner Bros.’ “standards”, which seemed perfectly non-existent when launching the game in the state it did, your only options for playing Batman: Arkham Knight are restricted to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

And in a case of poor timing, it seems that those who bought the physical PC version of the game in Australia, India, and Singapore can finally unlock the game. This wasnot possible till now. While NDTV Gadgets has been informed that the disc version of the game on PC will still be sold in India, we won’t put it past Warner Bros. to issue a full-scale recall given how poor it has been performing on PCs.

Alibaba Affiliate Launches Internet Bank for SMEs, ‘Little Guys’

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Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s financial affiliate launched on Thursday Internet bank MYbank, targeting the small- and medium-sized Chinese enterprises that have struggled to obtain credit from major financial institutions.MYbank, which is 30-percent owned by Alibaba-linked Ant Financial Services Group, has CNY 4 billion (roughly Rs. 4,095 crores) of registered capital and will offer loans of up to CNY 5 million (roughly Rs. 5 crores), it said in a statement.

It will only be able to take in deposits when regulators approve a facial recognition technology that allow its customers to remotely open bank accounts, an Ant Financial spokeswoman told Reuters.

“MYbank is here to give affordable loans for small and micro enterprises, and we are here to provide banking services, not for the rich, but for the little guys,” said Eric Jing, Executive Chairman of MYbank.

MYbank follows in the footsteps of Alibaba arch-rival Tencent Holdings Ltd, which began trial operations of its WeBank, China’s first online bank, in January.

MYbank’s target clientele means it will pose little immediate threat to China’s big state-owned lenders, who have seen deposits eroded by Alibaba-related wealth management product Yu’e Bao, which his now China’s biggest money-market fund.

The Internet bank said its lower overheads from operating online allowed it to offer more competitive interest rates, compared to the bigger banks.

Credit conditions have remained tight for SMEs, despite a series of policy easing, as banks avoid the companies worst hit by an economic slowdown. State-owned banks have also avoided customers such as farmers and smaller businesses because of the difficulties in assessing their credit worthiness and they have little to offer as collateral.

Ant Financial has said it will use its Sesame Credit arm, which analyses data from its payment processing arm Alipay and Alibaba’s e-commerce sites to assess risk and price loans for MYbank customers.

Some analysts, however, said MYbank would still face risks.

“The biggest risk for them is more than likely going to be credit costs, and will they be able to properly assess the risks?” said Matthew Smith, a banks analyst at Macquarie.

“It’s not clear, if they grow too aggressively, potentially the answer would be no.”

Nasa Prepares for Deep Space Missions With Undersea Expedition

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Nasa will send an international crew to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean this summer to prepare for future deep space missions during the 14-day Nasa Extreme Environment Mission Operations (Neemo) 20 expedition to begin from July 20, Nasasaid in a statement.Neemo 20 will focus on evaluating tools and techniques being tested for future spacewalks on a variety of surfaces and gravity levels ranging from asteroids to the moons of Mars and the Martian surface.

“The Neemo team is particularly excited about this mission as it is a huge milestone to have achieved 20 missions at Aquarius over the past 15 years,” said Bill Todd, Neemo project leader.

“Living and working in the highly operational, isolated and extreme environment of the aquatic realm has provided significant science and engineering for the benefit of human spaceflight. It has also clearly proven to be as close to spaceflight as is possible here on the Earth,” Todd said.

The mission will test time delays in communications due to the distance of potential mission destinations.

They will also assess hardware sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA) that allows crew members to read the next step in a procedure without taking their hands or eyes away from the task using a tablet, a smartphone and a head-mounted interface.

Earlier this month, Nasa researchers revealed a mission architecture for a manned mission to Mars that is considered to be a more efficient and cost-effective way than previous plans. In the plan, astronauts must first be prepared to touch down on one of Mars’ two tiny moons – Phobos or Deimos, which will also minimise the risks involved. The new mission architecture envisages landing astronauts on Phobos by 2033, and then down to Mars by 2039.

Virtual Reality Could Help Treat Alcoholism

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There is new hope for heavy drinkers who want to quit drinking. A ‘virtual-reality’ therapy may help people with alcohol-dependence reduce the craving for their favourite tipple, says a new study.The researchers said they are optimistic about the potential for virtual reality as a therapy for alcohol-use disorders.

“This technology is already popular in the fields of psychology and psychiatry,” said senior researcher Doug Hyun Han from Chung-Ang University Hospital in Seoul, Korea.

“Virtual-reality therapy has been used to treat phobias and post traumatic stress disorder,” Han said.

The idea is to expose people to situations that trigger fear and anxiety, in a safe and controlled space. Then, hopefully, they learn to better manage those situations in real life.

According to Han, less is known about whether virtual reality can help with substance use disorders. But there has been some evidence that it can reduce people’s craving for tobacco and alcohol.

For the new study, his team recruited 12 patients being treated for alcohol dependence. All went through a week-long detox programme, then had 10 sessions of virtual-reality therapy done twice a week for five weeks.

The sessions involved three different virtual scenes one in a relaxing environment; another in a ‘high-risk’ situation in which the patients were in a restaurant where other people were drinking; and a third, ‘aversive’, situation.

In that aversion scene, patients were surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of people getting sick from too much alcohol.

Before they began the programme, all of the patients underwent positron emission tomography (PET) and computerised tomography (CT) brain scans, which allowed the researchers to study the patients’ brain metabolism.

It turned out that, compared with a group of healthy people, the alcohol-dependent patients had a faster metabolism in the brain’s limbic circuit – which indicates a heightened sensitivity to stimuli like alcohol.

After the virtual-reality therapy, however, the picture changed. Patients’ revved-up brain metabolism had slowed – which, Han said, suggests a dampened craving for alcohol.

According to Han, the therapy is a promising approach to treating alcohol dependence and that is partly because it puts patients in situations similar to real life and requires their active participation.