tech planet

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Nokia Parking helps you find and pay for a spot, we go hands-on (video)

Parking in Paris is a nightmare. No, it's worse -- it's bad enough to keep you awake at night, worrying that your precious machine will be scratched up or simply missing the next morning. Nokia, at least, is trying to make things a little easier with an upcoming service it's just calling Nokia Parking. It's a comprehensive parking database launching in Europe in November that can not only help you find parking but even help you pay for it once you do. More details, and a video demo, after the break.
Let's get this up there first: despite having this demonstrated on a Windows Phone (a Lumia 800, to be exact) this is not an app that Nokia is introducing. Rather, this is a service that, like so many other aspects of Navteq's business, will be licensed to others and basically blended into other apps. So, while you're unlikely to ever get a Nokia Parking app yourself, you may some day in the not-too-distant future get a parking app from your local municipality which itself is using Nokia Parking in the background.
Got it? Good. Here's how it works in its current guise: using GPS coordinates the service determines all available parking nearby. Parking garages have information about their size represented, including minimum heights that could be problematic if you're of the SUV persuasion. But, even more exciting, the app also tracks, in real-time, available spaces just waiting for you to show off those parallel parking skills that earned you a reluctant smile from the judge on your drivers license test.
The service can also aggregate payment information, so once you're an appropriate distance from the curb you can tap a button on your phone and start paying for the parking spot. Then, when you leave, you can tap another button and your payment is automatically processed -- transparently. Or, if you're using the service on something like a 3G-connected navigation unit in your car, the car itself could automatically start and stop payment parking based on its location.
No more fumbling for change and no more hunting for parking spaces -- in theory. The service launches next month in a few cities across Europe and will be built out quickly after that. When will it come to your town? Well, that largely depends on when some local business wants to partners up with Nokia and develop the necessary services. That, we think, could take awhile.
Steve Dent contributed to this report.

Xi3 goes the crowdfunding route for future X3A, X7A modular PCs (video)

Xi3 goes the crowdfunding route for future X3A, X7A modular PCs
Xi3 has been one of the more inventive PC builders in the field, designing its Modular Computers in the belief that small, more upgradable desktops are the way of the future. The company is planning two new systems to further that dream, the X3A and X7A, but it wants our help: it's running a Kickstarter funding drive until October 28th to assist the development and garner some early adopters. Put down $503 or $603 and you'll get the entry-level X3A, a dual-core 1.65GHz (likely AMD E-450-based) PC with 4GB of RAM, a 32GB SSD and either Linux or Windows installed; splurge with $1,103 or more and you'll get the more performance-driven X7A, which jumps to a quad-core chip with a 3.2GHz peak speed, a Windows-loaded 64GB SSD and faster graphics. Assuming Xi3 makes its target, we should see the X3A and X7A arrive in January and February respectively, with Kickstarter supporters beating the larger herd by a week. Even existing owners are accounted for through a Primary I/O Board upgrade, due before the end of this year, that carries more Ethernet and USB 3.0 ports. Crowdfunding is an unusual approach to buying that next PC, without the certainties of shopping at an online store -- but we're also dealing with an unusual PC from the get-go.


Touch Bionics releases new prosthetic fingers, flips the old ones the bird

Touch Bionics releases new prosthetic fingers, flip the old ones the bird
The only upgrades available for our puny human hands are gaming controller calluses, but if you're sporting an i-LIMB digits hand prosthesis, you can now grab a set of improved fingers. Touch Bionics'"smaller, lighter and more anatomically accurate" appendages are now available worldwide, as well as a new wrist-band unit which houses all the necessary computing power and juice for their function. Best of all, these developments allow more people to adopt the tech than the previous generation, including those with more petite hands or finger amputations closer to the knuckle. We don't know how much it'll cost for a fresh set, but we'll let health agencies and insurance companies deal with that part. With these upgrades and RSL Steeper's latest offering, it won't be long before our flesh-based variants are meager in comparison.