Boltt Arnav Kishore Ecosystem Goes Up for Pre-Orders

Indian startup Boltt has developed a range of fitness wearables, such as ‘smart’ shoes and bands, integrated with a first-of-its-kind artificial intelligence (AI) health coach which provides users a personalised feedback, based on their real-time performance and training. On Tuesday, the company announced its products are now up for pre-orders on its site, Boltt.com.

“Through this pre-order campaign, Boltt intends to launch its first batch of products to a select ‘Early Adopter’ community,” the company said in a press release.

While a variety of fitness trackers and apps are available in the market, most generate data that users are not able to appropriately interpret.

“Till now, all activity trackers and wearables gave data. We are conspiring to change that by inferring this data and giving it meaning,” Arnav Kishore, CEO and co-founder of Boltt, told PTI.

“With an ever-growing market for wearables and people taking fitness seriously in India, there is an increased focus on how we consume what is sold in the name of ‘fitness,'” said Aayushi Kishore, co-founder of the company.

The wearables, including ‘smart’ bands, attachable strider sensors and connected shoes, give users “actionable” insights from the data gathered with an interactive app. The app uses statistics and data captured from the connected devices to help make better training and running decisions. The AI-enabled app offers personalised coaching in the form of voice or chat.

The Siri-like voice provides real-time coaching and in-ear dynamic audio feedback, based on the users’ real-time performance and training. The chat-based mechanism allows a user to view a detailed history and analysis of their activity regimen.

24×7 text coaching and user interaction also guides and supports the user in eating healthier, getting more active, and building healthy lifestyle habits. Going beyond traditional tracking, the AI health coach records and analyses the data of the user. This data is broken down into movements classified into various forms of activity, along with automatic detection of sleep and its various stages and patterns.

The data also includes a module for nutrition, which a user can log into the mobile application with millions of items to choose from. Based on this data, the AI health coach provides a real time chat guidance, on the most relevant nutrition elements, depending on what time of the day the user logs in.

The “Central Intelligence” is built via complex integration of rules, algorithms and machine learning. After two years of testing devices and collecting quality feedback from nutritionists, doctors and fitness enthusiasts across the world, the start-up today launched its smart wearables across India, US and the Europe through its website.

Boltt Wearable Ecosystem Goes Up for Pre-OrdersThe products were showcased at the global consumer electronics and consumer technology tradeshow, CES, in Las Vegas, US in January.

The connected sneakers are embedded with sensors that track the biomechanical data, as one indulges in physical activities throughout the day. It is powered by the Boltt Audio AI coach.

The stride sensor is a small advance sensor that can make any ordinary shoe ‘smart’. From analysing the user’s motion and cadence to sensing individual stride and pace, it acts as users’ kinematic running database available to them 24×7.

The fitness-tracker or the smart bands help make fitness a habit rather than a compulsion. Paired with the Boltt application, the wearables become a user’s personalised fitness guide that coaches them on sleep, nutrition, activities, and running, the company said. The Bolt app can be integrated with over 30 Android and iOS apps.

Facebook’s Oculus Fights Sales Ban for Virtual-Reality Headset

Facebook wants a federal judge to let it continue sales of its virtual-reality headsets even though a jury said the social-media giant’s Oculus unit stole another company’s computer code.

ZeniMax Media’s request for a court order blocking sales of unspecified models of the Oculus Rift, which is priced at $600 (roughly Rs. 39,000) with controllers, follows a $500 million verdict in February over claims that Oculus and some of its executives purloined proprietary information when they designed the headset prototype.

Facebook bought Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has said that the company’s bet on virtual reality as the next big computing platform will take years to pay off. Currently, the headsets are mostly popular among video game players – not the mainstream. But projections by Bloomberg Intelligence show the market for virtual and augmented-reality hardware may exceed $40 billion in sales in 2020.

A sales ban would place an unfair hardship on Oculus and its business partners and customers, the company argued in a filing in Dallas federal court, where a hearing on ZeniMax’s request for an injunction is scheduled for Tuesday.

It “would serve no one but ZeniMax, who would use it only as leverage to try to extract money from Oculus,” lawyers for Oculus said in the filing. “The injunction would create a windfall for ZeniMax while detracting from the public’s enjoyment of Oculus’s groundbreaking products.”

It’s tough to get a product pulled from the market in these types of cases, even when the two sides are direct competitors. If the judge decides ZeniMax can be made whole with money, then he’s unlikely to disrupt Facebook’s business. US District Judge Ed Kinkeade will consider Facebook’s chances of winning on appeal, the existing or potential harm to each company and what’s in the public’s interest.

Oculus said that re-engineering the software for the Rift to work around the disputed technology wouldn’t be easy.

The company “would have to hire clean-room engineers to make myriad changes not just to the code fragments ZeniMax presented at trial, but to numerous other segments of interrelated and interdependent code,” according to the Oculus filing. “The process would be lengthy, burdensome, and costly.”

Representatives of ZeniMax and Oculus declined to discuss specifics of how an injunction would affect sales of the current line of Rift products. A spokeswoman for Oculus said there would be “business effects,” but declined to elaborate.

Oculus is also set to ask Kinkeade at Tuesday’s hearing to set aside the February verdict, or to reduce the damages to no more than $50 million, saying in a filing that amount reflects the value of “a lump-sum license to use copyrighted material.”

David Dobkin, a Princeton University computer science professor who testified as an expert witness for ZeniMax, told jurors during the January trial he found numerous examples of computer code containing ZeniMax trade secrets in then-current versions of Oculus software.

Facebook's Oculus Fights Sales Ban for Virtual-Reality HeadsetThe trial turned on a non-disclosure agreement signed in 2012 by Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey, a virtual reality hobbyist whose crude headset was developed into an early working prototype by John Carmack, then a star video-game programmer with ZeniMax.

Luckey and Brendan Iribe formed Oculus shortly after Carmack demonstrated the device at a video gaming trade show. Carmack, designer of hit games such as Doom and Quake, defected to Oculus in 2013 and became its chief technology officer. He acknowledged during the trial that he took with him e-mail records including computer code related to virtual reality.

The jury rejected ZeniMax’s claim that Oculus stole trade secrets but hit Oculus with $200 million in damages for violating the non-disclosure agreement, $50 million for copyright infringement and $50 million for improper use of ZeniMax’s trademarks. Jurors also ordered Iribe and Luckey to pay $150 million and $50 million in damages, respectively, for the trademark misuse. The jury found that Carmack took property belonging to ZeniMax but didn’t order him to pay damages.

Luckey left Oculus in March after Facebook began distancing itself from him following a report that he was financing a group creating anti-Hillary Clinton memes for the internet ahead of the US presidential election.

Delhi Metro Now Lets You Use Wristwatches for Payments

Delhi Metro commuters will now be able to wear their smart cards on wrists as DMRC has allowed the use of wristwatches launched by Austrian company LAKS to make payments at the gates.

“These watches (called Watch2Pay) are available through an online e-commerce site. The new facility is expected to provide the commuters a more convenient and fast access to the Delhi Metro network. The commuter will simply have to touch the wristwatch to the screens of the AFC (Automatic Fare Collection) gates at the metro stations to get access,” said a Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) statement.

Delhi Metro Now Lets You Use Wristwatches for PaymentsThe watch will carry a SIM card inside it, which can be removed and reinserted whenever the user wants, like in case when he or she wishes to change the watch.

The SIM-equipped watch can be recharged also like any usual metro smart-card over the counter or through recharge card terminals, a DMRC official told IANS.

In 2015, the same watch company had joined hands with Hyderabad Metro Rail to facilitate payment of fares.

WhatsApp Extends Support for BlackBerry, Nokia S40 Platforms

WhatsApp has become an essential messaging app amongst all kinds of mobile users irrespective of the operating system their devices run on. In February last year, Facebook-owned WhatsApp announced to end support for BlackBerry OS and Nokia S40 platforms, which got pushed back to June this year. It seems that the end-of-life date has been pushed back yet again, as the company has reportedly confirmed the extension of its services for BlackBerry and Nokia S40 platforms till December 2017 and December 2018 respectively.

Update: WhatsApp has confirmed the revised end-of-life timelines for the BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10, and Nokia S40 platforms on its website.

As per a report by Netherlands-based fan website WhatsAppen, the WhatsApp apps for BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry OS7+ received an update on Monday that extends support for the platforms until December 31, 2017. According to the website, the changelog of the update, seen on devices, states “changed client end-of-life date to December 31, 2017”. This means that WhatsApp users on eligible BlackBerry devices will be continue sending and receiving messages, calls till the end of the year.

WhatsApp Extends Support for BlackBerry, Nokia S40 PlatformsIn addition, the Nokia S40 platform has reportedly got an extension for WhatsApp support till December 31, 2018 – however, this date may be a typographical error. Spotted by WhatsApp watcher WABetaInfo, the end-of-life date has been moved from December 31, 2017 to December 31, 2018. There are a limited number of customers who use the Nokia S40 platform nowadays, but it will still bring relief to those who still carry the dated devices. However, Nokia Symbian S60 users don’t have much time on their hands as WhatsApp will end its support on the platform on June 30 this year.

If the reports are true, BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry OS7+, and Nokia S40 users still have ample time to access WhatsApp on their platforms. However, the Nokia Symbian S60 devices will cease to support WhatsApp and if you need your chat backed up, you can make a request to get the backup in an email from the company. Notably, there is no option on Nokia S40 and Symbian S60 devices to backup chats.

NASA’s Orion Moves a Step Closer to Deep Space Exploration

NASA said its Orion spacecraft, which will take astronauts to deep space destinations, did well in a key safety test.

At the Promontory, Utah, facility of Orion subcontractor Orbital ATK, engineers tested the abort motor for Orion’s launch abort system (LAS) this week, firing the 17-foot tall motor for five seconds, NASA said.

The motor was fastened to a vertical test stand with its nozzles pointed toward the sky for the test.

It produced enough thrust to lift 66 large SUVs off the ground and helped qualify the system for future missions with astronauts, the US space agency added.

“The launch abort system is an important part of making sure our crew members stay safe on the launch pad and on their way to space,” said Robert Decoursey, manager for Orion’s LAS.

“It takes us another step closer to proving the safety of our spacecraft as we prepare for missions beyond the moon,” Decoursey said.

The launch abort system is positioned on top of the Orion crew module and will play a critical role protecting future crews travelling to deep space destinations in Orion.

NASA's Orion Moves a Step Closer to Deep Space ExplorationThe abort motor is responsible for propelling the crew module away from the Space Launch System rocket in case of an emergency.

While engineers are just getting started analysing the data, the test verified that the motor can fire within milliseconds when needed and will work as expected under high temperatures, according to NASA.

This milestone brings Orion one step closer to its first flight atop NASA’s Space Launch System, Exploration Mission-1 (scheduled for 2019), and to eventually enabling humans to explore beyond the Moon, Mars and other destinations beyond low-Earth orbit.

Meet Shimon, the Robot That Uses AI to Write and Play Its Own Music Compositions

In a first, researchers have developed a robot that can write and play its own music compositions using artificial intelligence and deep learning.

The robot – named Shimon – with four arms and eight sticks can play harmonies and chords on marimba. It also thinks much more like a human musician, focussing less on the next note, and more on the overall structure of the composition.

The researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology in the US fed the robot with nearly 5,000 complete songs – from Beethoven to the Beatles to Lady Gaga to Miles Davis – and more than two million motifs, riffs and licks of music.

Aside from giving the machine a seed, or the first four measures to use as a starting point, no humans were involved in either the composition or the performance of the music.

“Once Shimon learns the four measures we provide, it creates its own sequence of concepts and composes its own piece,” Mason Bretan, doctoral student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said in a statement.

Meet Shimon, the Robot That Uses AI to Write and Play Its Own Music Compositions“Shimon’s compositions represent how music sounds and looks when a robot uses deep neural networks to learn everything it knows about music from millions of human-made segments,” he added.

As long as the researchers feed it a different seed, the robot produces something different each time — music that the researchers cannot predict.

In the first piece, Bretan fed Shimon a melody comprised of eighth notes. It received a sixteenth note melody the second time, which influenced it to generate faster note sequences.

This leap in Shimon’s musical quality is because it is using deep learning, which is enabling it to create a more structured and coherent composition, the researchers said.

Shimon’s debut as a solo composer was featured in a 30-minute video clip in the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) keynote and will have its first live performance at the Aspen Ideas Festival at the end of June, the researchers said.

NASA’s Kepler Telescope Discovers 10 New Earth-Sized Exoplanets

NASA revealed Monday 10 new rocky, Earth-sized planets that could potentially have liquid water and support life.

The Kepler mission team released a survey of 219 potential exoplanets – planets outside of our solar system – that had been detected by the space observatory launched in 2009 to scan the Milky Way galaxy.

Ten of the new discoveries were orbiting their suns at a distance similar to Earth’s orbit around the sun, the so-called habitable zone that could potentially have liquid water and sustain life.

Kepler has already discovered 4,034 potential exoplanets, 2,335 of which have been confirmed by other telescopes as actual planets.

The 10 new Earth-size planets bring the total to 50 that exist in habitable zones around the galaxy.

“This carefully-measured catalog is the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy’s most compelling questions – how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?” said Susan Thompson, a Kepler research scientist and lead author of the latest study.

The latest findings were released at the Fourth Kepler and K2 science conference being held this week at NASA’s Ames research center in California.

The Kepler telescope detects the presence of planets by registering minuscule drops in a star’s brightness that occurs when a planet crosses in front of it, a movement known as a transit.

The findings were compiled from data gathered during the first four years of the mission, which scientists processed to determine the size and composition of the planets observed.

The scientists found that the newly discovered planets tended to fall into two distinct categories – smaller, rocky planets that are usually around 75 percent bigger than Earth, and much larger, gaseous planets similar in size to Neptune.

NASA's Kepler Telescope Discovers 10 New Earth-Sized ExoplanetsNASA said the latest catalog is the most complete and detailed survey of potential exoplanets yet compiled. The telescope has studied some 150,000 stars in the Cygnus constellation, a survey which NASA said is now complete.

“The Kepler data set is unique, as it is the only one containing a population of these near Earth-analogs — planets with roughly the same size and orbit as Earth,” said Mario Perez of NASA’s Astrophysics Division. “Understanding their frequency in the galaxy will help inform the design of future NASA missions to directly image another Earth.”

The mission ran into technical problems in 2013 when mechanisms used to turn the spacecraft failed, but the telescope has continued searching for potentially habitable planets as part of its K2 project.

As of next year, NASA will continue its scan of the galaxy using Kepler’s successor, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, which will spend two years observing the 200,000 brightest nearby stars for Earth-like worlds.

Scientists also hope the James Webb Space telescope, which will replace the Hubble telescope in 2018, will be able to detect the molecular make-up of atmospheres of exoplanets, including the possibility of finding signatures of potential life forms.

ISRO to Launch 31 Satellites on Friday, Including Cartosat-2

India on Friday will launch its earth observation satellite Cartosat-2 series weighing 712kg and 30 co-passenger satellites (29 foreign, one Indian) with its rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the Indian space agency said on Tuesday.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the PSLV rocket’s XL variant is expected to lift off on Friday morning at 9.29am from the Sriharikota rocket port.

The 30 satellites will together weigh 243kg and the total weight of all the 31 satellites, including Cartosat, is about 955kg, ISRO said.

ISRO to Launch 31 Satellites on Friday, Including Cartosat-2The rocket will sling the satellites into a 505km polar sun sunchronous orbit (SSO).

The co-passenger satellites comprise 29 nano satellites from 14 countries – Austria, Belgium, Britain, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and the US as well as one Indian nano satellite.

The 29 international customer nano satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangements between ISRO’s commericial arm, the Antrix Corporation Ltd and the international customers.

NASA Tests Flexible Solar Array on Space Station

NASA is testing for the first time the effectiveness of a flexible solar array on space station that could one day power satellites and spacecraft.

The Roll-Out Solar Array, or ROSA, an advanced, flexible solar array that rolls out like a tape measure “can be easily adapted to different sizes, including very large arrays, to provide power for a variety of future spacecraft,” NASA said.

It also has the potential to make solar arrays more compact and lighter weight for satellite radio and television, weather forecasting, GPS and other services used on the Earth.

In addition, the technology conceivably could be adapted to provide solar power in remote locations.

NASA tested the ROSA technology in vacuum chambers on the Earth several years ago, but this is its first test in space.

Over the weekend of June 17-18, 2017, engineers on the ground remotely operated the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2 to extract the Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA) experiment from the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship.

The experiment will remain attached to the Canadarm2 over seven days to test the effectiveness of ROSA, NASA said.

NASA Tests Flexible Solar Array on Space StationTraditional solar panels used to power satellites can be bulky with heavy panels folded together using mechanical hinges.

The new solar array design rolls up to form a compact cylinder for launch with significantly less mass and volume, potentially offering substantial cost savings as well as an increase in power for satellites.

“When launching into space, mass and volume are everything, and ROSA is 20 percent lighter and four times smaller in volume than rigid panel arrays,” explained principal investigator Jeremy Banik, senior research engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

“You realise big cost savings from shaving off a little mass and volume, which makes it possible to raise bandwidth on a communications satellite and, for example, make GPS more accessible and reliable for everyone,” Banik said.

Smaller and lighter than traditional solar panels, ROSA consists of a centre wing made of a flexible material containing photovoltaic cells to convert light into electricity.

On either side of the wing is a narrow arm that extends the length of the wing to provide support, called a high strain composite boom.

The booms are like split tubes made of a stiff composite material, flattened and rolled up lengthwise for launch.

The array rolls or snaps open without a motor, using stored energy from the structure of the booms that is released as each boom transitions from a coil shape to a straight support arm.

The technology of the booms has additional potential applications, such as for communications and radar antennas and other instruments, NASA said.

The ROSA investigation looks at how well this new type of solar panels deploys in the microgravity and extreme temperatures of space.

ISRO’s Cartosat-2 Launch Countdown Begins

The 28-hour countdown for the Friday morning launch of India’s earth observation satellite Cartosat and 30 other satellites (29 foreign and one Indian) with Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) has begun on Thursday morning, the Indian space agency said.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Mission Readiness Review (MRR) committee and Launch Authorisation Board (LAB) have cleared the 28-hour countdown to begin at 5:28am IST on Thursday.

India on Friday will launch its earth observation satellite Cartosat-2 series weighing 712kg and 30 co-passenger satellites.

According to ISRO, the PSLV rocket’s XL variant is expected to lift off on Friday morning at 9:29am IST from the Sriharikota rocket port.

The 30 satellites will together weigh 243kg and the total weight of all the 31 satellites, including Cartosat, is about 955kg, ISRO said.

The rocket will sling the satellites into a 505km polar sun synchronous orbit (SSO).

ISRO's Cartosat-2 Launch Countdown BeginsThe co-passenger satellites comprise 29 nano satellites from 14 countries – Austria, Belgium, Britain, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and the US as well as one Indian nano satellite.

The 29 international customer nano satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangements between ISRO’s commercial arm, the Antrix Corporation Ltd and the international customers.

The Indian nano satellite 15kg NIUSAT belongs to Nooral Islam University, Tamil Nadu. The satellite will provide multi-spectral imagery for agricultural crop monitoring and disaster management support applications.