Haptic Feedback – The New 3D Touch Technology. A Force To Be Reckoned With?

Apple Watch 5 With Taptic Engine Inside – Image Credit, Runners World

We are all used to the senses such as sight, hearing, smell and touch. Up to now and more recently, with regard to current technology, the forth sense, touch, was not used very much in consumer based products apart from say PlayStation controllers, expensive gaming joysticks and some, mass produced low cost wearable devices which used Piezoelectric effects to create ‘vibrations’, although it was questionable if they could be properly sensed at all if worn or held.

Haptic feedback goes back a few decades, albeit in higher-end commercial usage. The more obvious application was the yoke (aircraft control stick) in which a servo-system within the aircraft would ‘shake’ the pilot’s yoke giving force feedback of say a stall situation or other serious inflight occurrence.

Fast forward a few decades and I think IMO anyway, Apple has shaken (literally) the market with some of there consumer products such as the Apple Watch and latest Generation iPhones to name a few, although it must be said other vendors have also incorporated this technology, but I’ll continue to discuss Apple as its a popular vendor across the board and they are the current leaders in this field.

What I find interesting in the Apple products, they coined the term ‘Taptic Engine‘ for say the Apple watch, which is probably the most sophisticated smart watch our there at the moment, is the inclusion of the ‘mechanical’ haptic engine in a device which relies on digital processing and unlike a mechanical watch, has no internal moving parts.

Onto the basic mechanics of the Taptic engine. Using a very small motor within the ‘engine itself, called a electromagnetic linear actuator (ELA) it does not rotate at all but oscillates from side to side extremely quickly, causing an immediate, strong and focused sensation, say on the wearers skin if using say an Apple Watch. The Taptic Engine has been designed to produce an immediate sensation for the wearer, something that cannot be easily ignored by the wearer.

Apple’s Taptic Engine Motor Assembly – Credit AppAdvice

Furthermore the Taptic feedback is totally synced with say an alarm going off on the display, turning the Apple Watch crown and so forth. Indeed the Apple Developers forum has both rules for would-be developers looking to leverage the Taptic engine in there own Apps such as not allowing too many Taptic feedbacks for the user, as it may diminish the urgency and attention of the force beed back experience for that user.

And the future of Haptic technologies? Virtual reality is one of the major contenders, say playing a virtual boxing match and feeling the blows on a VR vest that the gamer might wear. Or in medicine, say rehabilitation of paralysis, whereby a patient could ‘experience’ touch or feel to help with recovery following a trauma. The future is exciting for this fellable force.

ATB, Nick

Is Betelgeuse about to go supernova in the sky soon?

Artist’s impression of Betelgeuse going supernova – Image credit ESO/L.Calcada

One of the brightest stars in the night sky (northern hemisphere) located in the Orion constellation is the red supergiant called Betelgeuse (or some call it Beetlejuice as its easier to spell). A truly gigantic ball of gas plasma, firstly here are some facts about this supergiant..

Around 30 times the mass of our own Sun

Located at a ‘close’ 600 or so light years from our own Earth

Its ‘only’ 10 million years old compared to our Sun which is 4.6 Billion years old

Its around 100,000 as bright as our Sun

Its size, if it replaced our Sun would stretch to Jupiter or beyond

Its around the 10th brightest star in the sky (northern hemisphere)

But something is up with Betelgeuse. Its starting to dim, although not totally unusual for a semi regular variable star it appears to be dimming faster than normal. That could be down to a number of reasons, but it could also be its running out of its fuel, mostly Hydrogen, Helium and so forth.

The pressure caused by the star’s burning balances out the force of the immense gravity that is trying to collapse the star, so far its in equilibrium.

But being a fast burning star and the way it uses up its Hydrogen fuel and its relatively young age of around 10 million years old (a toddler compared to our own Sun) many astronomers believe it will go Supernova in around 1 million years or 100 days, anyones guess, but all bets are off on what’s happening to this supergiant at the moment.

How will it go bang?

Basically if Betelgeuse does go pop it will be an incredible experience. The explosion will outshine a full moon and mean you could read pages of text on a paper just by the Supernova, that’s how bright it will be, probably lingering in the sky for a few weeks before it starts to dim but be ever present in the sky.

Does it pose a risk to Earth?

Being pretty ‘close’ by astronomical standards at around 600 or so light years away does not mean we on Earth will be effected, apart from the light show. Gamma rays, x-rays or cosmic rays might ‘spike’ our atmosphere for a time (during the initial bang) but apart from that scientists think no danger, but then again they could be wrong!

Black Hole anyone?

Black hole engulfing our Earth? Image credit ESO

Due to its mass (20 or so times the mass of our Sun) the star will collapse within microseconds and depending on the total amount of star mass left after the explosion it could turn into a Black Hole, or if less than around 3 solar masses then its probably it will turn into a Neutron Star (Pulsar maybe, a spinning Neutron star).

But whatever happens, a Black Hole or Neutron Star apparently, according to the people in the know Earthlings are not in any danger…lets hope so.

ATB, Nick




New Russian Missile Locked, loaded and Ready to Fire!

Hypersonic Avangard Missile System – The Moscow Times

Russia has apparently deployed a new type of missile system that according to Russian sources makes it totally immune to all current and near future countermeasures with regard to missile defence in the western world (according to BBC news).

Reminiscent of the cold war (which really never warmed up to be honest) its part of President Putin’s plan to re-equip and modernise its forces since the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 80s. The new missile called Avangard, or should I say its re-entry vehicle, has some mind-blowing credentials which help it to evade its targeted area defence systems including..

Up to Mach 27 (that’s 27 times the speed of sound, or 20,000 MPH!) re-entry vehicle

Ability to have multiple warheads, up to 2 Megatons (2 million tons on TNT!)

Nothing can intercept it – Immune to anti ICBM defence systems (apparently)

The system, launched by a ‘normal ICBM’ and based in the central Ural’s region and operated by the Russian Strategic Missile Forces is ready and provides yet another global weapon to further flex Russian growing military muscle.

Opinion

Russia, under President Putin has a long term goal to totally modernise its forces, land, sea and space. This new system is yet another step forward for Russia, as it longs for its global military dominance that it once enjoyed post WW2.

Avangard gets the headlines but already Russia is building up its ICBM force in other ways, with its new RS-28 ‘Sarmat’ system which under ‘test’ at this time will be ready for deployment in 2022. With around 10+ independent nuclear tipped warheads (MIRVs) its pretty obvious that Russia has grand plans.

RS-28 Mobile Transport and Missile – Image Nationalnterest

But why all this arms build-up by Russia? Its a three horse race now, the United States under President Trump, has made it clear that wants to pursue a military build up of his own and recently launched his ‘Space Force’ for in orbit offensive and offence capabilities.

And China, a nation with big plans. Already with decades of experience in strategic missiles and now with big plans to conquer space. A thorn in both Trump’s and Putin’s arse, the new cold war is getting colder by the day. Launch codes anyone?

ATB, Nick




China soon to be in the hunt for ETs..

Possible alien visitation – ET go home

For many years now the US and a few other countries including the UK have been patiently listening to signals from space, with the hope that one or more of these signals will be from alien life in the universe. Projects like SETI with a vast array of radio telescopes in the US, hope to one day, maybe soon, grab a possible alien signal generated somewhere in the cosmos.

Now China, not wanting to be out done by the US in particular, will soon have on stream its gigantic FAST (five hundred meter aperture spherical telescope), looking not unlike the US Arecibo Observatory located in Puerto Rico.

FAST, located in Southern china has been undergoing testing since 2016 but according to Space.com these tests will soon be coming to an end, so full ET hunting and radio astronomy can commence.

Apart from ETs the ‘scope has apparently found neutron stars and other exotic cosmological objects in deep space, so with another radio telescope going online, it might not be too far in the distant future we might make contact with ET!

FAST Radio Telescope, southern china

Opinion
Searching for alien civilisations is a natural human instinct based on curiosity that we all have, the same way that that hundreds of years ago man sailed to the new world, or just 50 years ago project Apollo put a man on the Moon.

However there is some danger on what is being done. Back in 1974 the Arecibo Observatory blasted out a radio message to a globular cluster around our own Milky Way, shouting ‘hey guys we live hear..come and visit us!’

How do we not know an aggressive, but highly intelligent civilisation, thousands of years more advanced than us won’t be attracted to our signal and pay us a visit and wipe us all out?

ATB, Nick

Chrome looks set to ‘name & shame’ slow loading sites

Example of Google Chrome in Dark Mode

Google, the developer of the popular Chrome bowser might be introducing a badging system on websites to indicate how quickly (or slowly) a website takes to load (ComputerActive).

Part of Google’s plan towards making the web faster for users, the badging system (seen within the Chrome browser) may introduce a type of traffic light system and may also work if the user right-clicks on the URL before the site is loaded – helping users to make better educated guesses if the site will be frustrating when loaded, especially on slow user connections.

From a users’ perspective this sounds like a good idea, however the downside (from the company or individual that owns the fore mentioned website) maybe forced to pay more for a ‘faster’ hosting company with this extra expense being passed onto users/buyers of the site or they might just have to absorb these extra costs.

Again not sure when Google will introduce this to Chrome but an educated guess might be sometime in the first half of 2020.

ATB, Nick

SCAM WATCH! £50 Tesco offer on FB is a scam

Extract from Eastern Daily Press – Scam Tesco coupon mockup

As reported in ComputerActive, it appears that there is s scam circulating on Facebook that tries to trick users into sharing a post with a ‘reward’ of a £50 Tesco shopping coupon giveaway.

The Scam is a ‘celebration’ of Tesco’s 100th anniversary, so you need to be careful. Also, other scams from the likes of Morrisons and Argos are doing the rounds also – at this time of year some people maybe particularly vulnerable to this scam with regards to the extra expense of the Christmas period.

Check here the official Tesco Social Media Scams section to help keep you safe

ATB, Nick

Google’s Quantum Computer solves impossible calculations in just over 3 minutes

HAL 9000 – 2001: A Space Odyssey. All rights reserved

Quantum computing is nothing new, companies such as D-Wave, IBM and Google have been building these non-classical computers for a few years now. Non-classical means, unlike normal computers (the ones you are reading this article on) which use Bits for memory for processing, quantum computing leverages quantum mechanics – the ultra strange world of quantum theory of entanglement and superposition that scale exponentially to HUGE values, these are called QUBITS, instead of bits.

Google’s research quantum computer, code-named Sycamore, according to Livescience.com, has recently solved a problem considered near impossible by the world’s current, classical supercomputers.

Mind-boggling figures on the latest milestone are:-

Latest Super-Computers would take around 10,000 Years to finish the given problem

Google Sycamore SOLVED the problem in around 200 SECONDS!


I’m not going to go into the problem, needless to say researches say the quantum computer is over 1.5 trillion times faster than regular computers on the way it processes the data due to the freaky nature of quantum mechanics.

Opinion
With more and more research being done and with this phenomenal processing power, what will this mean for science overall, medicines, drug research and life sciences?

Producing medicines is a time consuming exercise, simulating complex drug chemicals and how they react with human cells, proteins, DNA takes a vast amount of time and effort, especially when computers are involved. Will this be the start of the end of major diseases and cures for once life threatening diseases – I hope so.

For more information on Google’ Sycamore Quantum Computer click here

ATB, Nick

Addiction to online shopping is a ‘medical condition’

Looking after ones mental health should be at the top of your personal list and it now appears that shrinks’ are calling for online shopping to be recognised as a medical condition (according to ComputerActive).

Known as BSD (not BSE, that’s for cattle) Buying-Shopping Disorder affects around 5% of adults, around 2.5 million buyers here in the UK.

Compulsive online shopping is shown to cause severe levels of anxiety, depression amongst other mental disorders and compulsive buyers get so-called ‘relief’ from negative thoughts when they buying something. However the ‘spike’ in relief is only short lived and can lead to a downward spiral in mental health and money problems.

IMO the public are subjected to a HUGE amount of advertising 24/7, Black Friday, Sales you name it, so for more vunrable people this can just make online buying a whole lot worse.

Are you addicted to online shopping? Click here for the tell tail signs

ATB, Nick

Whats in a NAIM?

Welcome to the 21st century! Having toiled with the idea of upgrading my current HiFi system and reducing the amount of HiFi boxes, I took the guided bus to Cambridge City centre today and auditioned the Naim Unity Atom all-on-one streamer, music hub and a lot more besides.

The friendly people a Richersounds Cambridge (Olivia) had a demo setup for me of the Naim Uniti Atom coupled with Chord Rumour X speaker cables to the renowned (also British built, like the Naim) KEF LS50 speakers. And the sound? Amazing in one word!

Connected with Chord Rumour X speaker cable in the sound room, playing Canadian rock band RUSH (YYZ..) the sound stage and clarity had been impressive. Only 40 Watts per channel on the Atom! No problem, to me they sound as good as the newer, NAD M10

The NAD M10 is the new kid on the block, the Atom being out a few years now, the NAD steams MQA (via Tidal Masters) and has two way APTX Bluetooth, the NAIM only as an input BUT does have a 3.5mm Phono input, the NAD does not.

But the NAIM is a thing of beauty, great British build quality, heavy as f! (7Kgs) and a top mounted huge volume control knob, it’s worth buying the box on that alone.

Pricing, both the NAIM and NAD are priced at around £2,300 exVAT and then you need to factor in some descent stand mounts, like the KEF LS50s for example. Don’t skimp on some decent speaker cables, budget around £18-£30 per metre from the likes of Chord or Audioquest.

Information on the NAIM Unity series can be found here
https://www.naimaudio.com/range/all-in-one-player#uniti

Information on the new NAD M10 can be found here
https://nadelectronics.com/product/m10-bluos-streaming-amplifier/

ATB, Nick

Has my email address been breached? Then find out.

Email addresses, most of us have at least one, maybe two or more. Buying stuff online, renewing memberships or even setting up some smart IoT devices. But do you know what exactly happens to your trusted email address?

A great site to check if your’s (or indeed anyones) email address has been compromised is to check this free and highly regarded site..Have I Been Pwned

Its a bit on an eye opener in the fact that it lists at the bottom of the home page the largest breachers, how many email addresses have been affected etc.