The week in gadgets: action-cam drones, iPhone 6 leaks and hands-free tests

16 Jun 2014

Alleged image of the next iPhone devices, tweeted by @SonnyDickson

A look at gadget happenings, as two Kickstarter campaigns go head to head to bring us a action-camera drone, alleged leaked images of the iPhone 6 appear online, and car manufacturers call for better hands-free call quality.

Two large-screen iPhones appear in images online

Last week was peppered with iPhone rumours and speculation around an iPhone 6 with a larger screen size was practically confirmed when the image on the right was tweeted by Sonny Dickson.

Formerly a researcher for 9to5Mac, Melbourne-based Dickson has since made a name for himself as a reliable source of Apple leaks, tweeting early images of devices such as the iPad Mini.

Tipped for release on 19 September, Apple’s latest iPhone is expected to have a 4.7-inch screen with a resolution of 1,704 x 960 – triple the base resolution of the current crop of of iPhone 5 devices, and all the more room for all the split-screen multitasking you’ll be able to do with iOS 8.

However, Dickson’s image shows not one but two large-screen iPhones, and it’s now believed that a 5.5-inch variant may also be on the cards.

Clash of the action drones

This week sees not one but two Kickstarter campaigns competing for funding to build autonomous drones for GoPro film-making.

The AirDog from Latvian start-up Helico Aerospace Industries follows the wearer of a Bluetooth-connected wrist-worn AirLeash controller and can take off and land automatically. Gyro stabilisation technology ensures the subject stays framed and in focus, and can follow its film star at a speed of up to 40mph for a flight time of 10 to 15 minutes.

This autonomous action camera-man doesn’t come cheap with a US$995 price-tag for early backers and an estimated post-campaign retail price of US$1,500, but it is expected to reach backers as early as November 2014.

AirDog, AirLeash and AirDog App

AirDog’s competition comes from the Hexo+ camera drone, a hexacopter to house a GoPro camera and follow a paired smartphone at a perferred distance and spead of up to 43mph. Backers for this project can get the drone itself for US$599 or bundle it with a GoPro for US$799 (or US$699, if they catch the early bird offer). Alternatively, for US$299, backers can get the 3D files to print their own drone, plus the flight controller, app and a how-to guide.

While the cost is lower, the Hexo+ will take longer to reach its patrons with shipping expected in May 2015.

Hexoplus camera drone

The Hexo+ camera drone

Car manufacturers call for hands-free improvements

An International Telecommmunication Union (ITU) test event has highlighted the need for phone manufacturers to improve their products’ capability for in-car hands-free systems.

In these tests carried out on a representative sample of mobile phones available today, about 30pc passed while 70pc were found to produce performance degradation that would be noticeable to drivers and conversational partners.

In the worst-performing phones, serious faults were observed such as a three-fold decline in voice quality or failing to acknowledge connection to the hands-free system. These issues not only result in complaints from users, but could also pose a safety risk for drivers.

Car manfucaters say a resolution can be reached with more co-operation from the phone-makers and major brands including Merceded and Toyota, as well as hands-free terminal supplier Bosch, have united in calling for mobile phone manufacturers to perform starndardised tests on their products.

To put pressure on the manufacturers, a white list of the phones found to have passed the tests will be published.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.