We'll start this week with the first smartphone based on the new "Mango" edition of Microsoft's Windows Phone platform was unveiled on Wednesday in Tokyo. Developed by Fujitsu Toshiba Mobile Communications, the I-S-twelve-T has a 3.7-inch screen and a 13.2 megapixel camera.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are included in the CDMA-based phone, which is also waterproof. It will be available in Japan only in September or sometime after. The Mango release, which Microsoft officially declared ready to ship on Tuesday, adds some 500 improvements to the original platform, according to Microsoft.
They include an email "conversation view" that is said to make long email discussions more efficient, a "threads" feature that brings together text, instant messages and Facebook chat together, and Internet Explorer 9 for faster Web browsing. IDC predicts Windows-based smartphones will account for 20 percent of the market in 2015, second only to Android.
Samsung and Verizon Wireless announced that an LTE version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1is available now. It's one of the few tablets to date that critics have called a viable opponent to the Apple iPad. White and metallic gray models of the tablet will be available at Verizon Wireless stores and online starting at 530 dollars for a 16gig model and 630 dollars for a 32gig model with 2-year customer agreements.
Monthly broadband data plans for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 range from $30 to $80. The new Samsung tablet features a 10.1-inch touch screen, supports WiFi, runs Android Honeycomb, supports Flash apps and is powered by an Nvidia Tegra2 dual-core 1GHz processor. It has rear and front facing cameras as well.
Nintendo will slash the price of its 3DS handheld gaming device worldwide as it attempts to turn around dismal sales and grab market share ahead of the launch of Sony's PlayStation Vita. The price of 3DS will be cut by 40 percent from 25,000-yen to 15,000-yen on August 11 in Japan. U.S. gamers will see the price drop from $250 to $170 a day later on August 12. Such a steep drop in price less than six months since launch is unusual for a gaming device and indicates the pressure Nintendo is under to make the 3DS a success. The move comes as Nintendo reported losses and a sharp drop in sales for the three months from April to June.
A few weeks back we showed you some prototype technology from Volvo that helped avoid collisions with wild animals, well this week we'll take a look at Toyota technology that can automatically stop a car before hitting a pedestrian. Martyn Williams got a chance to look at the system that uses a millimeter wave radar and a stereo camera to constantly monitor what's in front of the vehicle. The radar is mounted behind the grill and the camera in front of the rear-view mirror. Anti-collision systems already exist, but they guard against collisions with large objects, such as stopped vehicles or walls, and don't do a good job when it comes to people. Toyota says it's new system is the world's first to detect pedestrians. Driving towards a mannequin at 40 kilometers per hour, or about 25 miles per hour the system first makes an audible warning, then applies the brakes. Toyota said it will begin appearing in cars in the near future.
Martyn also got the chance to check out the world's most advanced driving simulator, designed to replicate the sensations of sitting behind the wheel of a car. Inside the dome is a Lexus loaded with electronics and sensors to interface with the simulation system. The wheels have been replaced with mounts that simulate road vibrations and speakers reproduce wind noise. Toyota has programmed a Japanese town into the system since research shows that most accidents happen near the home in settings just like this one. The simulator allows Toyota to run the same simulation past many drivers to see how reactions change depending on age and sex. The computer-powered simulator can do things that are too dangerous to do in real cars, even on test tracks, like measure the effects of drowsiness, alcohol or reactions times to a last-minute emergency.
We had the chance to play around with the Contour+ the latest in the company's line of wearable cameras. It just so happened that our office went on a Segway tour of Boston last week so we took the Contour+ along. The unit ships with three mounts, a rechargeable battery, mic adapter, mini HDMI cable and a USB cable. Also included is a 2 GB micro SD card that can hold 16 minutes of high quality 1080p video footage or 30 minutes of high quality 720p video.The wow feature on this camera is its ability to pair via Bluetooth with a cell phone and allow users to preview what the camera sees. The video is jerky and pixilated, but for lining up a shot, it's just what you need. This is the first Contour helmet cam to include an external mic input. It allows for clear audio with minimal wind noise if you want to do a narration while moving along.
For its size the video quality is great, but keep your expectations realistic and don't count on Blu Ray quality HD from this tiny unit. For $500 it's really aimed at outdoor enthusiasts and extreme sports fanatics and while the video quality may leave a little to be desired, the Bluetooth viewfinder and audio input propel it ahead of its predecessors and competition.
Well that's our show for this week, thanks for joining us here on World Tech Update. To find out what's coming up on every week's show, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. As we head out this week we'll leave you with shots of robots dancing at the China National Robotics Championship.