Gadgets news: Modular phones, voyeurism through walls and batteries

2 Nov 2015

Gadget news is here and chock-a-block, with a bendy wearable battery, a way to spy through walls, a new speaker and a modular phone.

Last week’s gadget news was dominated by Samsung’s giant 18.4in tablet, coming from another Galaxy perhaps. See what we did there? Did you? Ah, you did. You got it.

Apple has gained a boundary-pushing reputation for its innovative devices in the past, but its 12.9in iPad Pro is a mere dot on the horizon behind the new Galaxy View, which is optimised, naturally, for video.

The device runs Android 5.1 Lollipop and its interface is designed with the video content consumer in mind.

It comes pre-installed with apps for various TV and video streaming sites, with a  dedicated home screen for videos showcasing various content services all in one place.

The Galaxy View also comes with a 5700mAh battery optimised for long viewing with a battery life of up to eight hours. It also comes with a versatile two-way stand and two 4W speakers.

What is happening elsewhere in the world of gadgets? Well, let’s get down to it.

Wireless ways to view you through walls. Yep.

MIT researchers have developed a new technology to wirelessly track human movement through walls. In what seems like a weird, heat-map review of an obscure football game, the results are fairly impressive examples of successful monitoring what is invisible to (or rather obscured from) the naked eye.

Since 2013, MIT researchers have been developing technologies that use wireless signals to track human motion. Now they have simply (!) shown how to detect gestures and body movements from the other side of a house.

“The possibilities are vast,” said PhD student Fadel Adib, who is lead author on the new paper, his co-authors include MIT professor Frédo Durand, PhD student Chen-Yu Hsu, and undergraduate intern Hongzi Mao. “We’re just at the beginning of thinking about the different ways to use these technologies.”

Qube – A Bluetooth speaker and powerbank

I like both Bluetooth speakers and powerbanks. A combination of both, Qube is currently seeking $50,000 on Kickstarter, with it a seemingly achievable target.

The team behind the project wanted to create a speaker with “excellent sonic range, tremendous bass capability, and outstanding stereo performance on mid-to-high tones”.

The problem with this is, until you get to actually mess around with these devices, you never really know their suitability.

Samsung’s wearable-enabling battery evolution

Last week, Samsung showed off a cool new battery style, slim strips of bendable power sources primed for wearables.

“The batteries are an embodiment of the age of wearable batteries that is applicable to any curves of a human body,” said the company in a wonderfully flowery statement.

The batteries can bend like any fibre strap and are equipped with “innovative energy density”. Samsung says that, as it’s bendy, it can double as a necklace, hairband or fashion accessory, which, when you think about it, could well fuel fresh wearable ideas.

Samsung battery | Gadgets

The first model is called Band and can strap to watch straps. When applied to smartwatches it can make batteries last 50pc longer, which seems pretty excellent.

Fairphone modular phones

Fairphone’s modular phone ‘2’ is finally launching (in “select” European countries). A Dutch start-up, Fairphone made its name two years ago when it raised €7.5m to fund an “ethically sourced smartphone” which, to the lay person, means no mining in the Congo.

Finally, the Fairphone 2 is ready for shipping. It’s a seven-part device, with a main frame, back cover, removable battery, removable camera module, display assembly, receiver module and speaker module.

Fairphone | gadgets

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Running man image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic