Nasa Mars Rover Finds Clear Evidence for Ancient, Long-Lived Lakes

Three years after landing in a giant Martian crater, Nasa’s Curiosity rover has found what scientists call proof that the basin had repeatedly filled with water, bolstering chances for life on Mars, a study published on Thursday showed.

The research offered the most comprehensive picture of how Gale Crater, an ancient, 87-mile (140-km) wide impact basin, formed and left a 3-mile (5-km) mound of sediment standing on the crater floor.

Early in its mission, Curiosity discovered the gravel remnants of streams and deposits from a shallow lake.

The new research, published in the journal Science, showed that the crater floor rose over time, the result of sediments in water settling down, layer after layer, for what may have been thousands of years, California Institute of Technology geologist John Grotzinger said.

“We knew that we had a lake there, but we hadn’t grasped just how big it was,” Grotzinger said.

Water from north of the crater regularly filled the basin, creating long-lasting lakes that could have been a haven for life. Scientists suspect the water came from rain or snow.

“If one discovers evidence of lakes, that’s a very positive sign for life,” Grotzinger said.

Eventually, the crater filled with sediments. Then the winds took over and eroded the lakebed, leaving behind just a mound at the centre. That mound, named Mount Sharp, is why Curiosity was sent to Gale Crater to look for ancient habitats suitable for microbial life.

Scientists have learned that Mars had all the ingredients thought to be necessary for life.

Exactly how Mars managed to support long-lived surface water is a mystery. Billions of years ago, the planet lost its global magnetic field, which allowed solar and cosmic radiation to gradually blast away its protective atmosphere. Under those conditions, liquid water evaporates quickly.

“If you have a body of standing water that lasts more than hours to days without boiling off, that is a huge surprise,” Grotzinger said.

Current computer models of Mars fall well short of an atmospheric blanket thick enough to support the long-lived lakes, the researchers noted.

Grotzinger suspects that Mars may have had greenhouse gases or some other chemistry that so far has gone undetected.

Last week, another team of scientists published research showing that trickles of briny water seasonally flow on present-day Mars, carving narrow streaks into cliff walls throughout the equator. The source of the water is not yet known.

Samsung Gear S2 Circular Tizen-Based Smartwatch

Samsung has launched the Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic smartwatches. The firm is juicing up its smartwatch lineup with circular faces and more battery life than the Apple Watch, but it’s unknown how many apps will be available for it.

The limited selection of apps is one of the main challenges facing Samsung’s smartwatches. They have been around for longer than the Apple Watch but haven’t generated as much interest or sales.

Samsung’s newest, the Gear S2, is based on Tizen OS, and faces competition not just from Apple but also from a variety of manufacturers using Google’s Android Wear software. According to IDC, Apple was the number two maker of wearable devices in the April-June quarter, with a 20 percent worldwide market share, behind the Fitbit and its fitness trackers at 24 percent. Samsung was fifth with 3.3 percent.

So far, outside app developers have focused their efforts instead on the Apple Watch and Android Wear watches. Samsung’s watches use their own operating system, Tizen OS, which means extra work adapting apps for them.

Samsung promised a variety of apps designed for the new watch’s circular face, but it didn’t provide details. The company said demos of the new apps will come Thursday at the IFA tech show in Berlin.

The Korean electronics company didn’t announce a price or release date Monday for the Gear S2.

The Gear S2 is the first Samsung smartwatch with a circular design, and the company says the watch’s frame will rotate to help users access apps and notifications. It’s not a new shape for smartwatches – Motorola and LG make circular frames, too, but the rotating bezel is a novelty.

The Gear S2 will come in two styles – the modern Gear S2, and the Gear S2 Classic. The Samsung Gear S2 will be available in a Dark Grey case with a Dark Grey band and Silver case with a White band. The Samsung Gear S2 classic will be available in a Black case with a Leather band.

samsung_gear_s2_classic_official.jpgBearing a 1.2-inch circular Super Amoled display with a 360×360 pixel resolution, the Gear S2 is powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor coupled with 512MB of RAM.

It bears 4GB of inbuilt storage, and is IP68-certified dust and water resistant. The smartwatch supports Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity, apart from NFC, enabling mobile payments. The Gear S2 features an accelerometer, gyroscope, heart rate sensor, ambient light sensor, and barometer. It is powered by a 250mAh battery that supports wireless charging.

The Gear S2 has dimensions of 42.3×49.8×11.4mm, and weighs 47 grams, while the Gear S2 Classic has dimensions of 39.9×43.6×11.4mm, and weighs 42 grams.

Apple Watch requires an iPhone, and the S2 will likely require an Android device from Samsung. Some models will have 3G cellular capabilities that let them do more without the phone nearby, featuring an ‘e-SIM’ with voice capability.

Samsung promises two to three days of battery life for the Gear S2, compared with Apple Watch’s 18 hours.

JK Shin, CEO and Head of Samsung’s IT & Mobile Business, commented on the launch, “For the past several years, Samsung has pioneered and advanced the wearables category, bringing brave new concepts to the smart wearables market. The Samsung Gear S2 reflects Samsung’s most progressive innovation. It is the perfect complement for any occasion, easily taking you from day to night, from work to workout-and ensuring that you get more out of every moment in your day, by making it smarter and ultimately more personal and fun.”

LG Watch Urbane Luxe 23-Karat Gold-Plated Smartwatch

If you ever craved for a luxury Android Wear smartwatch, LG has got something for you. The South Korean technology conglomerate on Monday announced a special limited edition variant of its smartwatch, called the LG Watch Urbane Luxe. Featuring a 23-karat gold-plated body, the smartwatch will retail for approximately $1,200 (roughly Rs. 79,500), and has been made in collaboration with US-based Reeds Jewelers. Rest of the technical specifications remains the same as the Watch Urbane which was announced at Mobile World Congress in February.

The Android Wear-powered LG Watch Urbane Luxe comes with strap made of alligator leather, and is being housed in a “piano-gloss lacquer case.” The 23-karat gold plated body offers more sturdiness than the 24-karat gold used in jewellery, and is also heavier than the 18-karat gold used in traditional luxury watches, LG noted. In addition, the watch sports a deployment clasp, based on the technology invented by Louis Cartier in 1910.

“Wearable devices shouldn’t be thought of as an extension of one’s smartphone but an extension of oneself,” said Chris Yie, vice president and head of marketing communications for LG Mobile Communications Company. “This blending of craftsmanship and technology is a natural evolution of the smartwatch, which is becoming more of a lifestyle accessory than a piece of hardware. We think this is a good direction for wearables and we want to encourage this transformation.”

The LG Watch Urbane Luxe is now available for pre-order in the United States via the Reeds Jewelers website, and will go on sale at the end of October. LG says each of the 500 limited edition smartwatches will be engraved with its own serial number. The company announced that it would soon make it available in other regions as well. The watch will be on demonstration at IFA 2015 trade show event which kick starts on September 4.

Moto 360 Smartwatch Successor

Motorola’s upcoming 360 smartwatch has once again been spotted in a new batch of leaked images showing the wearable device in its full glory. The company has also been tipped to launch the new Moto 360 in two size variants.

One of the most reliable tipsters on the Internet, Evan has posted a press render of two differently-sized Moto 360 smartwatches, indicating it will indeed launch in two case and band options. The new smartwatch from Motorola has also received slight redesign with the crown button moving up to a 2 o’clock position. The external lugs are also seen on the new Moto 360 smartwatch. The new press render corroborates previous leaked images.

In other news, a Lenovo’s Vice-President Smartphone Business Lead of Asia Pacific, Dillon Ye, was recently spotted (via Detik) wearing the next-generation Moto 360 smartwatch during a launch event in Indonesia. On being asked about the new Moto 360 smartwatch launch, Ye claimed that the company plans to launch it by year-end.

Earlier this month, a listing on the Brazil’s Anatel, a federal telecom regulation website, tipped that Motorola could have more than one next-generation Moto 360 watch to launch. The Moto 360S variant was spotted with 270mAh battery, while the Moto 360L was seen sporting 375mAh battery. As compared, the existing Moto 360 model features a 320mAh battery. This however indicates that the ‘S’ and ‘L’ might stand for small and large based on the battery capacities of the listed models.

Two of the biggest visible cosmetic change spotted in leaked images until now has been the presence of the side crown moved up from the 3 o’clock position to the 2 o’clock position and the watch now featuring external lugs.

Andhra Pradesh Plans to Use Drone Cameras to Check Red Sander Smuggling

The Andhra Pradesh government is planning to use drone cameras in Rayalaseema region to increase surveillance on red sander smuggling, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said on Saturday.

Mooting the suggestion during a meeting in Vijayawada to review law and order situation in the state, he said drones cameras or static balloon cameras may be used to keep a vigil on the red sander smuggling.

These cameras will use unused (TV) spectrum under TV White Spaces Project.

The state government in recent months intensified its efforts to check red sander smuggling in the districts bordering Tamil Nadu.

It stepped up patrolling by special task force in Seshachalam forests. In April this year, the police gunned down 20 wood cutters in the forests in Chittoor district.

The wood cutters from Tamil Nadu were allegedly hired by smugglers operating from that state.

Several smugglers have been arrested and red sander worth crores of rupees was seized in last few months. The arrested smugglers include a Chinese national.

Also called red sandalwood, the precious wood is used in traditional medicines and woodcraft across China, Myanmar, Japan and other countries of East Asia.

Indian Scientists Making Snake Robot for Search and Rescue Missions

Indian scientists are developing snake robots that could help save lives in disasters and accidents and aid surveillance.

Two prototypes of the Snake Robot for Search and Rescue Missions, called SARP (Snake-like Articulated Robot Platform) have been designed by scientists of the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Indian Institute of Technology-Hyderabad (IIT-H).

“In a disaster site, like a collapsed building in an earthquake, a building on fire, or a dangerous environment, like a nuclear power plant in an accident, a snake robot can be used to access difficult-to-reach spaces and look for survivors under the debris,” R. Prasanth Kumar, associate professor at the department told IANS.

“It can then relay valuable information about the environment and help rescue workers in planning their missions,” Kumar said.

Developed from fire-proof ABS plastic, the snake-like motion of the prototypes (about a metre in length) helps in navigation of rough terrain, he said. The robots can also communicate with each other.

“When deployed in a search and rescue operation or a surveillance mission (defence-related), snake robots communicate with each other and with a central station from a cyber-physical system through various sensors such as video camera, GPS, Infrared and ultrasonic range finders,” Kumar said.

Further, the robots could also touch and identify survivors.

“We are working on improving the semi-autonomous performance of snake robot for navigation and haptic feedback for survivor detection. Haptics is the science of applying touch (tactile) sensation and control to interaction with computer applications and the robot would be able to touch and identify survivors,” explained Kumar.

The project is part of ‘Innovation hub for cyber-physical systems’ sponsored by the department of electronics and information technology, ministry of communications and IT.

The prototypes have been built with motors sourced from abroad but when manufactured locally, the cost would be around Rs. 20,000, he said.

Android Wear 1.3 Update Brings Interactive Watch Faces

Google has finally started rolling out an Android Wear 1.3 update, bringing a much-anticipated feature – interactive watch faces. It will arrive for users over-the-air (OTA) in the coming weeks, with the Android Wear LCA43 build.

Interactive watch faces mean that Android Wear users will be able to access widgets within individual watch faces that would give access to various functions or information of one or more app without opening it.

Google has introduced a new section called ‘Interactive Watch Faces’ in Google Play, which for now has over 20 watch faces, both paid and free.

To give an idea of what interactive watch faced can do, Google describes a few new watch faces in its blog post. The Bits watch face lets users see weather, unread mail, and upcoming meetings. The Together watch face on the other hand lets Android Wear users communicate with each other by “turning the entire watch face into a space for sharing” emoji, images when using the same watch face. Android Police earlier this month performed an apk tear down of the feature and revealed some more details, which Google for now has not yet revealed officially.

pujie_interactive_watch_face_google_play.jpgGoogle separately also announced that the same Android Wear version 1.3 would be reaching users in the coming weeks, and would additionally bring Google Translate to Android Wear. The feature would let users have bilingual conversations using their smartwatches. Initially, the Android Wear update would come with support for 44 languages.

All users would have to do is to flip their wrists to show the translation to the other user, and when they respond, flip the wrist back and see the translated version.

The search giant has also provided the Interactive Watch Face API for developers. However it says developers would need to upgrade their build.gradle to version 1.3.0 before they can build interactive watch faces. The details steps have also been mentioned on the Google’s Android Developers blog post. “Now, with just a tap, your watch face can change its design, reveal more information, or even launch a specific app,” adds the blog.

The new Interactive Watch Face API would let developers recognise whenever a user taps on the watch face of the device and views information without opening the actual app. This feature could be used for changing background colour, sending a message, starting a workout, or launching tools like Tasker.

Along with an update for developers, Google also revealed that it has finally brought Wi-Fi support to the LG G Watch R. This would let the G Watch R users receive notifications and stay connected to the Internet without the support of the connected smartphone.

Jolla Tablet With Sailfish 2.0 Goes Up for Pre-Orders

Jolla’s tablet is finally here. The company had took it the crowdfunding platform to get funding for its tablet in 2014, and a year later, the company announces that it is ready to ship the device in India, United States, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Norway, Switzerland, Russia, and all EU countries. For those of you who didn’t pitch in on the crowdfunding, the 32GB variant of the tablet is available for EUR 267 (roughly Rs. 19,900), and the 64GB variant for EUR 299 (roughly Rs. 22,200), directly from the company’s website. The first batch will start shipping in the end of October.

Jolla, a Finland-based company formed by several ex-Nokia employees, launched its first smartphone Jolla in 2013. Being a small company with a limited budget, the company went to crowdsourcing platform Indiegogo to get funding for its tablet. At the website, Jolla was seeking $380,000 (roughly Rs. 2.5 crores), which to its own surprise, was successfully funded in roughly 2 hours. It hit $1 million in funding within 48 hours, and shortly after started introducing stretch goals that would add new features.

The Jolla Tablet offers hardware specifications similar to the iPad mini (2nd generation). It sports a 7.85-inch display with a resolution of 2048×1536 pixels. It is powered by a 64-bit 1.8GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F chipset coupled with Intel HD Graphics GPU, and 2GB RAM. Other features include a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 2-megapixel shooter on top. The tablet comes in 32GB and 64GB storage variants, with both offering support for microSD card (up to 128GB) should you want to extend the storage.

It is backed by a 4450mAh battery. The tablet features Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, Micro-USB, 3.5mm audio jack, and A-GPS/ GPS connectivity options. The Jolla Tablet features an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, gyroscope, digital compass, and hall sensor. It measures 203x137x8.3mm and weighs 384 grams.

The tablet runs on the company’s homegrown Sailfish 2.0 which supports Sailfish apps while also offering compatibility to Android apps. In addition, Sailfish OS also offers multi-tasking, gesture-based user interface, and fast interaction. The company touts security sophstication in its new tablet, noting that there isn’t any “backdoor,” and also third-party apps can’t track users’ activities.

LG Announces New Wireless Speakers Ahead Of IFA 2015

lg wireless speakers

LG has announced some new wireless speakers that it will be showing off at IFA 2015 in Berlin next month.

The company has added two new devices to its line up which include the LG Music Flow P5 and the LG SoundPop 360.

The LG Music Flow P5 is an extremely portable speaker that belies its powerful sound. As part of LG’s smart Music Flow series, the P5 supports LG’s Auto Music Play feature which automatically begins playing music when the audio source comes within range. Its rechargeable battery allows for 15 hours of continuous playback, more than enough for a full day of use on a single charge. The P5 and its previously announced sibling, the P7, represent LG’s commitment to expanding its wireless audio category to offer the most advanced products with compelling design and versatility.

Meant to appeal to today’s active listeners, LG designed the SoundPop 360 to be extremely portable. The speaker’s unconventional design was inspired by a coffee tumbler, helping it fit naturally into listeners’ daily lives. The easy to use LG SoundPop 360 is a perfect fit for any interior decorating scheme, blending in seamlessly with the user’s other furniture and appliances.

We will have more details on these two new wireless speakers from LG when they are shown off at IFA 2015 next month.

Apple Watch Hacked With Custom Watch Faces

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch does not offer the ability to install custom watch faces, but developed Hamza Sood has managed to get some custom watch faces running on the device.

Previously we saw a video from Hamza Sood where he hacked a Flappy Bird clone onto the Apple Watch and now we have another video, showing the custom watch faces running on the device.

You can see the video below which was posted on Twitter and shows two custom watch faces running on Apple’s smartwatch