On this week’s show, Intel is investing $5 billion in new chip technology, U.S. President Barack Obama is hanging out with Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, and Motorola’s Xoom is launched.
But we begin with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. On Thursday, a British judge approved a request from Swedish authorities to extradite the Wikileaks founder. Swedish prosecutors want to question him in relation to allegations about sex offences. Assange denies the allegations.
Assange has seven days to appeal the ruling, something he says he plans to do. If he doesn’t appeal, extradition could proceed in ten days.
Lawyers for Assange have suggested that Sweden’s pursuit of their client is connected to Wikileaks continued release of some 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables.
U.S. chip-maker Intel said late last week that it plans to hire 4,000 workers this year and commit five billion dollars to building a new chip plant in Arizona. The investment is in addition to previously announced plans to spend between six and eight billion dollars over the next few years upgrading existing factories.
The new factory will enable production of a new generation of chips that are more powerful than today's processors.
PAUL OTELLINI, CEO, INTEL: "Building it will create approximately 3,000 construction jobs over two years, the structure will require 19 tonnes of steel, 40 miles of pip, 13,000 truckloads of cement. When finished D1X will have a clean room as big as four football fields. It is scheduled for start-up in 2013 and it will be the first fourteen nanometer microprocessor factory in the world."
The announcement came as U.S. President Barack Obama toured the chip-maker's Hillboro, Oregon, factory.
BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT: "We just had an amazing tour. One of my staff, he said, it’s like magic. He did, that’s what he said."
Obama was at Intel to speak about the role education plays in maintaining U.S. competitiveness. A day earlier in Silicon Valley he met ten IT industry leaders including the CEOs of Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and Oracle to discuss much the same thing.
BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT: "If we want the next technological breakthrough that leads to the next Intel to happen here in the United States -- not in China or not in Germany, but here in the United States -- then we have to invest in America's research and technology; in the work of our scientists and our engineers."
You don't have to look far, or wait long, for a new tablet PCs these days. Would-be competitors to Apple’s iPad have been appearing for a few months, but this week things got a bit more interesting.
On Thursday Motorola launched its Xoom, the first tablet to run a version of Google’s Android operating system specifically developed for tablets.
Until now, Android tablets have been based on an Android version intended for smartphones. Xoom is based on Android 3.0, the so-called “honeycomb” version. It features full web browsing, and tablet-optimized interfaces applications like Gmail, YouTube and Google's e-bookstore.
Apple sold three million iPads within 80 days of launch last year – a tough act for anyone to match, but with Apple’s dominance so total at present, most competitors would settle for a fraction of that.
Like the iPad, the Xoom goes on sale without flash support. It's missing in both tablets, but for different reasons. Apple says it drains battery life and there are better alternatives. Motorola doesn't use it because it's not available. Adobe hasn’t finished making the Honeycomb version, but said on Monday that it would be available in a few weeks.
The Xoom will cost $600 with a two-year contract, or $800 contract-free. International launch plans have not been announced.
A handful of people won’t have to pay. Motorola said it is giving away limited edition gold Xoom to some of the Hollywood stars attending this weekend’s Oscars.
Sticking with tablets and Fujitsu has one aimed at corporate users, with security features not found on most consumer tablets.
MARTIN KEIL, FUJITSU: "We are using Windows 7 operating system as well as security features such as a smartcard slot, fingerprint possibility, as well as an integrated TPM module, which can be used to crypt data."
The Stylistic 550 will get its official unveiling at next week's Cebit trade show in Germany. It has a 10-inch screen, front and rear cameras, and uses the Oak Trail version of Intel's Atom processor. We’ll have price and launch details next week.
Now, If you’re wondering where Nick is this week, here’s the answer. He’s off skiing on vacation but has taken time out to report back on a couple of gadgets. Nick, what do you have for us.
Thanks Martyn. I’m here in Vail, Colorado taking a look at two ski related tech stories. You’ll notice the Contour GPS on my helmet, we’ll get to that in a little bit. But we’ll start with Epic Mix, which is Vail Resort’s social networking application that’s run off of this, an RFID lift ticket.
Mike Slone, Interactive director, Vail Resorts: "Each time you pass through an RFID gate on the way to a lift, your vertical feet is logged and recorded. Then you’re awarded virtual ski pins by completing different tasks and exploring different parts of the mountain. Epic Mix is similar to location based social networking app Foursquare, but one way it differs is that you don’t have to check yourself in manually.
"It doesn’t require any special technology other than your pass. It doesn’t require that you have a mobile phone, it doesn’t require that you get your phone out or have a GPS device. You go about your day as you’ve always done. You ski, you have fun and then if you choose to you can log in to your Epic Mix account, you can look at it on your iPhone or Droid app and then you can chose to look at your vertical feet."
You can also view which virtual pins you’ve been awarded as well as check the stats of friends and family. Epic Mix is available across five resorts in Colorado and California and while this is the first season the service is available, Vail Resorts said there’s still more to come.
They were vague on the details, but next year they’re going to integrate photography into the application. Now moving on to the Contour GPS helmet cam I’ve been using this while I’m out here in Vail taping some of my exploits while I’m on the mountain, let’s take a look.
It can shoot 1080p video at its highest setting while logging GPS coordinates in real time. The image quality for a camera this size is good and while audio is good when stationary, there’s a lot of wind noise when skiing. When you hook the camera up to your computer, you can tweak settings on the unit like brightness, exposure and audio sensitivity. It comes with a 2gig micro sd card, rechargeable battery and a few mounts to get you started. Additional mounts can be purchased separately.The bundled software also lets you view your GPS track which you’ll also be able to see if you upload your video to contour’s website. One of the biggest drawbacks of the device is the fact that there are only two lasers that help you set up your shot, but fortunately the camera will be getting an upgrade soon.
The folks at Contour are going to be pushing out a firmware update that turns your Android or iOS phone into a viewfinder for the Contour GPS. The Contour GPS is available now for $350. Now, back to you Martyn.
Thanks Nick. Enjoy the rest of your vacation. To Europe and on Wednesday next week a new navigation service will launch that aims to make landings safer at small airports.
Called Safety of Life Service, the system is based on a satellite navigation service called EGNOS that was launched in 2009. It will allow aircraft with suitable equipment to make computer-assisted approaches to airports using the system.
Large airports use a technology called ILS, instrument landing system, but that’s not installed at many small and medium-sized airfields. The new service offers a GPS signal accurate to within seven meters, so should provide a viable and safe alternative when ILS is not available.