The legislative arm of the European Union has proposed new rules for mobile phone and tablet reparability. It says manufacturers should make at least 15 components available for at least five years after they release a new phone in the EU. Within that timespan, consumers would be able to replace parts such as batteries, displays, chargers, back covers and SIM and memory card trays, as The Verge notes.
The European Commission is also eyeing improvements to battery durability. It says that phone and tablet batteries should be able to endure at least 500 full charges before dropping below 83 percent of their capacity. Under the proposed regulations, phones would need to have a label detailing information like battery endurance, as well as drop and water resistance ratings.
The idea, as the Financial Times points out, is to reduce e-waste and the environmental impacts of phones and tables. According to a study, increasing smartphone life cycles by five years would equate to taking around 5 million cars off of roads in terms of emissions. The proposal suggests that making phones and tablets more recyclable and repairable would reduce energy consumption costs associated with their manufacture and use by a third.
Smartphone makers have hit back against some elements of the rules by claiming that greater availability of parts will increase plastic consumption. “A potential overproduction, subsequent warehousing and destruction of spare parts will naturally result in wasted resources, reduced material efficiency and negative economic value ultimately resulting in higher costs for the consumer,” Digital Europe, an organization that represents tech companies and trade groups, said.
Nevertheless, some phone manufacturers are attempting to get ahead of such regulations by offering consumers components and tools to self-repair their devices. Apple, Google and Samsung have all started selling parts for phones and other products.
The proposed rules would also impact software updates. Manufacturers would need to keep providing security updates for five years after they stop selling a device and provide functionality updates for at least three years.
Back in June, the EC announced a directive for USB-C to become the charging standard for most electronic devices, including all phones, by fall 2024. Some tech companies had long opposed such a move, particularly Apple, which uses the proprietary Lightning charger for many of its portable devices.
Google Kills Stadia, Its Cloud Gaming Service, Refunding Everyone – Kotaku
Google talked a massive game back when Stadia was first unveiled at the Game Developer Conference 2019, but it was clear by the time the service launched later that year that it wasn’t ready for primetime. The tech was impressive but promised features were missing and the launch library wasn’t very impressive. While Stadia did continue to add new games, most had to be purchased a la carte, making it a steep investment for the casual audience it was aimed at. Then Xbox Game Pass came along and married a huge library with a single monthly fee. Stadia, meanwhile, reportedly struggled to get big games on its platform, spending tens of millions to attract titles like Red Dead Redemption 2.
Of course, none of that is to say Stadia was doomed from the start. Google’s track record, and Stadia’s own past, call into question whether it was ever properly committed to the ambitious endeavor. Stadia’s first-party studios shutdown last year, scuttling projects that were still in pre-production and leaving some developers who had moved across the country for the company feeling betrayed. At the time, Kotaku reported that Harrison had told Stadia staff that Microsoft buying Bethesda had been one of the reasons for the closures, convincing Google that the price of competing in first-party development was more than it wanted to pay.
“We remain deeply committed to gaming, and we will continue to invest in new tools, technologies and platforms that power the success of developers, industry partners, cloud customers and creators,” Harrison wrote in today’s blog post.
This new underwater camera is powered by sound – CBC.ca
As It Happens6:24Scientists develop a wireless underwater camera that’s powered by sound
What if you could photograph the deepest depths of the sea using a camera powered only by the ocean’s soundscape?
That’s the end goal of a new prototype device developed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) — a wireless, battery-free underwater camera that runs on sound waves.
“The way it works is that, underwater, actually, you have a lot of sound,” Fadel Adib, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, told As It Happens host Nil Köksal.
“The sound comes from the waves, sounds of animals and so on and so forth. You also have ships. And all of these cause underwater sound.”
Adib and his colleagues authored a paper outlining their prototype, published this week in the journal Nature Communications. They say it can take colour photos in dark environments, and is 100,000 times more energy-efficient than other undersea cameras.
So much ocean left to explore
Adib blames that on the limitations of existing underwater cameras. In order to keep them running for a significant period of time, you have to keep them powered by tethering them to a research vessel, or sending a ship to recharge their batteries.
“And so what we ended up doing to overcome this is that we built the first underwater camera that needs no battery, and it can self-power and it can also get data and transmit it back to us,” he said.
WATCH | How MIT’s wireless underwater camera works:
Guadalupe Bribiesca-Contreras, a postdoctoral researcher at the U.K.’s Natural History Museum who has used underwater photography to discover new deepsea life, called the findings “so exciting.”
“Time-lapse cameras have been used to understand more about life in the deepsea, but a challenge has been how long the batteries last,” she told As It Happens in an email.
“Having a battery-free camera could allow us to better understand the deepsea ecosystems, as well as monitor these.”
How it works
The prototype underwater camera is made up of two domes and a cylinder. One dome houses the image sensor, and the other houses the flash.
The cylinder is covered in a specialized material that allows the camera to harness sound waves and convert them into electrical energy, which it uses to power up. Once powered, the camera emits a low-powered flash that allows it to capture images. It then transmits those images to a remote receiver.
So far, the researchers have tested the device only in freshwater environments, and they supplied the sound needed to power the device from nearby on the shore. The next phase of research, Adib said, will involve testing it in the ocean off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., and harnessing sounds from the sea itself.
“In the future, you can imagine using the existing sounds [such as] dolphins to be able to power them up. But that’s going to require some level of research before we do that,” Adib said.
They’re also working on expanding its communication range transmission time, Adib said. Currently, it’s limited to about 100 metres and takes about two hours to transmit a colour photo.
Once they’ve perfected the technology, Adib says it could have major implications for ocean exploration and climate change research.
“We want to be able to use them to monitor, for example, underwater currents, because these are highly related to what impacts the climate,” he said. “Or even underwater corals, seeing how they are being impacted by climate change and how potentially intervention to mitigate climate change is helping them recover.”
It could also be useful in aquaculture, also known as seafood farming.
“We can deploy our cameras in these offshore aquaculture farms and use them for monitoring the fish so that we can monitor their health, react and optimize their feeding and so on and so forth,” Adib said. “It’s a fast growing food sector, and it is very important for the world food security over the next few decades.”
And maybe one day, he says, it could even help us understand another vastly underexplored frontier.
“We’ve also been in discussions with NASA for future space missions where they want to use them to search for life in extraterrestrial oceans, because that’s where they need to search for life,” Adib said. “That’s yet another area where battery power is extremely difficult.”
The research was funded, in part, by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, the Sloan Research Fellowship, the National Science Foundation, the MIT Media Lab and the Doherty Chair in Ocean Utilization.
Disney & Apple Join NFT Race
One of the biggest buzzwords in the last five years has been NFTs. Non-fungible tokens are a revolutionary new take on collectibles, blockchain technology, and entertainment. It combines all three in an accessible way—at least for those who understand blockchain and have a digital wallet with some crypto holdings.
Clearly, NFTs are a hit… or, at least, in theory. The trend piggybacks on the success of collectible groups, which range from fine arts to ancient coins to Magic: The Gathering cards. Though largely niche and granular, these collectibles groups tend to be lucrative and highly active. But NFTs are a lot more than just new digital assets to be collected. And just because the concept has seen huge publicity in the last five years, that doesn’t mean it will stand the test of time.
One industry that has stood the test of time is casino gaming. The casino gaming market is worth around $57 billion, according to Straights Research. While poker sees the most coverage from broadcasting groups and gaming publications, the most popular sector is actually online slots. A player can find a platform that offers online slots from anywhere in the world—straight from a mobile device. Developers like NetEnt and Play’s Go release slots like Gonzo’s Quest and Book of Dead that are played by millions worldwide each week. Interest in slots has continued to grow despite minimal coverage from media on both slots and casino gaming in general.
Clearly, an industry’s success isn’t necessarily tied to its publicity… but NFTs will need plenty more support in terms of investment and attention if they are to survive—especially considering the recent crypto crash.
Apple & Disney Opting into NFTs
NFTs landed two huge coups after recent announcements from Apple and Disney. Apple recently updated its Apple App Store policy to allow NFTs to be bought, sold, and traded on apps sold in the store. (The Google Play Store has offered this for a while.)
However, the offering comes with a major catch. The company will take a 30% cut from any developers who earn more than $1 million on the app store and 15% from anyone making less than that.
Meanwhile, Apple still isn’t opening its doors to crypto transactions. And neither is Disney.
But recently, Disney made headlines for a posting for an open job. The company is looking to find a lawyer for ‘emerging technologies’. The role includes a huge emphasis on NFT products, which has led many to speculate about Disney’s plans with NFTs, blockchain, and crypto.
Last year, the company also made a huge leap when a patent was filed for a ‘virtual-world simulator’. Most analysts assume that this refers to a potential VR Disney Land and Disney World. Meanwhile, the company’s Disney Accelerator Program featured multiple companies focusing on NFTs and Web3 projects.
NBA’s Top Shot Market Sinking Quickly
When some people think of collectibles, their minds shoot to the days of sports trading cards from the 1980s and 90s. As a highly successful collectible project, the NBA’s commissioner, Adam Silver, launched his own modern remake with the Top Shot Marketplace. In it, collectors can purchase some of the league’s most memorable ‘Moments’ (lingo for an NFT).
The project quickly took off. In February 2021, the site reached a fever pitch when some Moments sold for more than $100,000—or up to $208,000, in the case of one LeBron Dunk Moment. Today, the average Moment sells for around $180, marking one of the biggest flops in NFT history after one of its biggest booms.
PL Deal Dead on Arrival
With the NBA enjoying much success throughout 2021 with Top Shot, the UK’s Premier League looked to accomplish something similar. The Premier League even shortlisted Dapper Labs, which launched Top Shot on its blockchain platform, as one of its potential partners before siding with ConsenSys in March of this year. However, the project has since been slashed.
Though the project was suspected to rake in over $400 million a year for the league and its teams, blockchain platforms can no longer promise the same return on investment. This is largely due to the crypto crash, which cost holders billions worldwide. However, the Premier League might not totally discard the project and instead could switch gears to offer NFTs based on fantasy football.
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