Information Technology

Indian-Origin Engineers Create Device For Wireless Technology

By Aglaia Staff

Using an inexpensive Rs 3,600 inkjet printer, two Indian-origin electrical engineers at the University of Utah have for the first time produced microscopic structures that use light in metals to carry information.


This new technique, which controls electrical conductivity within such micro-structures, could be used to rapidly fabricate superfast components in electronic devices — making wireless technology faster for printing magnetic materials.


A recently discovered technology called plasmonics marries the best aspects of optical and electronic data transfer. By crowding light into metal structures with dimensions far smaller than its wavelength, data can be transmitted at much higher frequencies such as terahertz frequencies.


“Very little well developed technology exists to create terahertz plasmonic devices, which have the potential to make wireless devices such as Bluetooth — which operates at 2.4 gigahertz frequency — 1,000 times faster than they are today,” explained Ajay Nahata, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and senior author.


Using a commercially available inkjet printer and two different colour cartridges filled with silver and carbon ink, Nahata and his colleague Barun Gupta printed 10 different plasmonic structures with a periodic array of 2,500 holes with different sizes and spacing on a 2.5-inch-by-2.5 inch plastic sheet.


“Because we can draw and print these structures exactly as we want them, our technique lets you make rapid changes to the plasmonic properties of the metal, without the million dollar instrumentation typically used to fabricate these structures,” Nahata added.


Depending on the relative amounts of silver and carbon ink used, the researchers could control the plasmonic array’s electrical conductivity or how efficient it was in carrying an electrical current.


Plasmonic arrays are currently made using micro-fabrication techniques that require expensive equipment and manufacture only one array at a time. Until now, controlling conductivity in these arrays has proven extremely difficult for researchers.


Nahata and Gupta used terahertz imaging to measure the effect of printed plasmonic arrays on a beam of light. When light with terahertz frequency is directed at a periodic array of holes in a metal layer, it can result in resonance — a fundamental property best illustrated by a champagne flute shattering when it encounters a musical tone of the right pitch.


According to Nahata, with this new printing technique, “We have an extra level of control over both the transmission of light and electrical conductivity in these devices”. You can now design structures with as many different variations as the printer can produce, he added in a study that appeared in the journal Advanced Optical Materials


These faster plasmonic arrays could prove useful for wireless devices and printing magnetic materials for greater functionality in different devices.


 Indian Origin Engineers Create Device For Wireless Technology
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Demis Hassabis, Strikes A Deal For Deep Mind

By Aglaia Staff

A former child chess prodigy and computer game designer from London has sold his company to Google for around £300 million ($498 million) in one of the internet giant’s largest European acquisitions.

Demis Hassabis, a computer scientist, has struck the deal with Google for his secretive start-up business Deep Mind Technologies, which specialises in artificial intelligence (AI) for computers.

Hassabis, 37, has built the company by bringing together neuroscientists and computer computer engineers in an effort to use technology and medical research to help machines to mimic the brain’s ability to improve performance.

He previously led a study at University College London in 2009 that scanned human brains and found “just by looking at neural activity we were able to say what someone was thinking”.

Google founder Larry Page, who has expressed interest in making search commands easier by having an implant in the brain, is understood to have led the move.

 Beat Facebook to it

The website The Information claimed that Google had beaten Facebook to the acquisition and had sealed the deal after agreeing to set up an ethics board to ensure that the AI technology was not abused.

Hassabis is known within the computer gaming industry for having “a brain larger than a planet”. He began playing chess when he was four years old, reached Master Standard by the age of 13 and represented England.

He did his first work in the games industry only two years later when he entered a competition to design a clone for Space Invaders. Going into the industry seemed like “the perfect marriage between games and programing”, he has said.

By the age of 16, Hassabis began working at games company Bullfrog and co-wrote the successful game Theme Park — which was based on an amusement park and released in 1994 — in his year off before going to the University of Cambridge. His student friends struggled to believe tha

o believe that he was the author of such a successful product until they saw his name on the packaging.

After graduating in computer science from Queen’s College, Hassabis quickly returned to the games industry. He set up his own business, Elixir Studios, where he was executive designer of a game called Republic: The Revolution, which attempted to recreate a “living, breathing city” and was nominated for a BAFTA.

The Great Gamer

For many years, Hassabis

was a successful competitor in the London-based Mind Sports Olympiad, taking part in its elite Pentamind contest — a sort of mental pentathlon. Hassabis was Pentamind champion in five of the first seven years after the Olympiad was founded in 1997. His success meant that he was described as “probably the best games player in history”.

His next computer game Evil Genius, which was based on a Bond-style villain in an island lair, was more favourably received by critics. 

After selling the rights to publishers, Hassabis went into medical science to pursue his interest in AI technology. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts for his game designs.

As a cognitive neuroscientist he specialised in autobiographical memory (combining personal recollection and general knowledge) and amnesia. He investigated whether patients with lesions to the Hippocampus parts of their brains suffered damage to their imagination process as well as their memory recall. He completed

his doctorate in cognitive neuroscience in 2009 at University College London and was visiting scientist at MIT and Harvard.

In 2012, he left academia to set up Deep Mind Technologies, developing technology for e-commerce and gaming. The company has a reputation for secrecy. Its aim is said to be to develop computers that think like humans. It is said to employ 50 people, including cofounders Shane Legg, a 40-year-old New Zealander, and Mustafa Seleyman, a 29-year-old Briton.

Deep Mind’s investors include US Tesla car mogul Elon Musk, early Facebook investor Peter Thiel and the family of Summly creator Nick d’Aloisio, who are all set for windfalls following the sale to Google.








 Demis Hassabis, Strikes A Deal For Deep Mind
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People of Bangalore Expect More From IT Tycoons: Mohandas Pai

By Aglaia Staff

After questioning former Infosys colleague and technocrat Nandan Nilekani‘s credentials as a political candidate from Bangalore, Mohandas Pai has now targeted IT moguls who have struck gold in India‘s Silicon Valley for not doing enough for the metropolis.

“The big issue is that many people have created enormous wealth from the IT industry in Bangalore and have been residents of Bangalore. People are looking for big institutions from them as (Wipro founder Azim) Premji has done,” he said.

“There is some degree of unhappiness in this area,” added this former board member of Infosys Technologies. Pai’s earlier remark, made first in an interview to the media, that “nobody knows about what Nilekani had done for Bangalore” was a major embarrassment for the chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India who is expected to contest this year’s Lok Sabha polls from Bangalore. Nilekani has yesterday confirmed that he would be contesting for the Congress. A noted figure in the industry, the technocrat would have been better off not allying himself to any political allegiance; but then individual choices are different. 



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Xbox One Makes Hot Debut

By Aglaia Staff

Gamers in more than a dozen countries started snapping up the new-generation Xbox One consoles on Friday as Microsoft battled Sony to be at the heart of Internet age home entertainment.


Xbox fans queued at consumer electronics shops to be among the first to get their hands on Microsoft’s beefed up system that extends beyond gaming to online films, music, social networking and more.

A man in New Zealand, 24-year-old Dan Livingstone, become the first person in the world to officially own an Xbox One. He said he was immediately retreating for five days to play with it.

International time zones meant New Zealand was the first country to launch the console.

Australia was next in the global roll out. The distinctive Sydney Tower turned green and another 3D projection beamed onto the water beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge to mark the midnight launch.

In California, people were also eager to get one of their own.

“It’s a big upgrade; a big change,” said 23-year-old Jonathan Guerrero, who staked out a spot at the front of the line at a Best Buy electronics shop in Northern California 13 hours before the consoles went on sale a minute into Friday.

“You are jumping from okay to super great.”

Hassan Ali said he queued to get an Xbox One because he has an ideal television for the rich graphics pumped out by the console. He described his set as a 3-D, high-definition, smart television with a 65-inch screen.

“It’s kind of amazing that you can look at the game and it looks like real life,” said 34-year-old Ali.

Sony last week unleashed its new champion in the long-running console war, getting a slight jump on Microsoft heading into the prime holiday shopping season.

The Xbox One, successor to the Xbox 360, the top-selling console in North America, debuted at a price of US$500 while Sony’s PS4 is priced at US$400.

Sony said it sold more than a million PS4 consoles in the 24 hours after its release on November 15.


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Courtney Stodden On Breakup: I Couldn’t Neglect My Desires

By Aglaia Staff

Days after the split from her significantly older husband Doug Hutchison, aspiring singer and reality star Courtney Stodden isn’t shy in voicing her excitement for her newfound freedom.

Stodden was just 16 when she married Hutchison in 2011. The “Lost” actor was 51 years old at the time, making him more than 30 years her senior.

“I’m feeling good. Obviously, any breakup is really stressful,” she told the media in a recent interview.

When asked what went wrong, the answer was pretty straightforward.

300px Big Brother 2007 %28UK%29 logo Courtney Stodden On Breakup: I Couldnt Neglect My Desires

Visit Big Brother 2007 (UK) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“My age, obviously,”  said Stodden, now 19.

When asked if this breakup was for publicity, she quickly denied those claims, saying, “I don’t understand why we would do that right now with how many people were against us.”

Stodden told E! that when she was away for her stint on “Celebrity Big Brother UK,” it was the first time she had been away from her husband for more than a day.

“I was missing him, but not intimately,” she said. “I couldn’t neglect my desires and wanting to embrace my independence and my freedom.”

She now admits and understands why everyone was so shocked when the two became intimate.

“I got that it was unconventional. I didn’t get how weird and strange that came across,” she added. “When I was 16, I got my marriage license instead of my driver’s license, come on!”

She also said that there was a lot of weight on her shoulders when the two got together, as Hutchison lost his family and some of his friends after the unlikely union.

“I became his world,” she said.

Now, Stodden is just enjoying being single and being a teen.

“I feel like a little girl again, just being able to start over,” she said.


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India’s Broadband Dream: Making It A Reality

By Aglaia Staff

As per the 2013 edition of the State of Broadband report released recently, there are now more than 70 countries where over 50% of the population is online. The report emphasises that broadband internet has become a key tool for social and economic development, and points out an important caveat that 90% of the people in the world’s 49 least developed countries remain totally unconnected.

300px India Internet Segments Indias Broadband Dream: Making It A Reality

The Indian government set itself a target of 160 million broadband users by the year 2017 and 600 million by 2020. A quick look at the recent performance indicators published by Trai indicates the following: wire-line broadband subscription stands at a paltry 15 million with a maximum in Maharashtra at about 2.5 million; of these 15 million, 85% are provided through the digital subscriber loop (DSL) technology deployed by the fixed line service providers; wireless internet subscriptions has reached an astonishingly high number of 143 million with a maximum of about 14 million in UP.

What is interesting is that while the top 10 states in wire-line broadband subscription accounted for about 80% of the total wire-line broadband in the country, the same set accounts for only 65% of mobile internet subscriptions. The above statistics indicate that mobile internet access is a possible substitute for wire-line broadband service. Going by the existing definition of 256 Kbps downlink speed, most of the mobile internet subscribers that use 3G services might qualify to be broadband subscribers. So, we seem to have almost reached the target set for next year, now itself!

300px Vertical vs horizontal approach Indias Broadband Dream: Making It A Reality

Visit English: Vertical versus Horizontal approach to overcome barriers to mass usage of Mobile Internet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is the problem then?

Though NTP 2012 has a clause for the grand revision of the definition of broadband from 256 Kbps to 512 Kbps to 2 Mbps by 2015 and thereafter to 100 Mbps, the mobile internet access still crawls. Though Trai is yet to come up with detailed metrics for measurement of quality of service for data and internet services over mobile, the response time and call disconnects do not make it worth browsing content-heavy websites on our mobiles—unless of course we do not have a wire-line broadband service at home, which seems to be

the case especially for those who live in suburban areas and less dense locations.

On the other hand, countries are marching ahead with improving broadband penetration levels, which research indicates has a positive correlation with economic development. While most of the European countries have mandated 100 Mbps broadband connections to homes, companies such as Google are experimenting with providing fibre-to-home with a speed of 1 Gbps in the US!

Amongst the OECD countries, Japan and Korea lead the pack with over 60% of the wire-line broadband deployed over optic fibre cables. However, despite opening up basic telecom services with no cap on the number of operators, the wire-line connectivity has not picked up in our country.

Is there any solution in sight?

Options for improving broadband penetration

First is the unbundling of the local loop by the incumbents about which Trai released its recommendations way back in April 2004 that will allow internet service providers and cable companies to lease the last mile/bandwidth of the incumbents to provide broadband access. Though unbundling has been touted as unsuccessful until recently, the regulators are using this policy to improve competition in an otherwise natural monopolistic market.

300px Ch3e3d Indias Broadband Dream: Making It A Reality

Visit English: Availability of 4 Mbps-Capable Broadband Networks in the United States by County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Between 2005 and 2013, the number of unbundled lines in the UK has multiplied 70 times to about 9 million copper lines offering more than 24 Mbps. The competition in wire-line broadband has significantly increased leading to drop in prices by about 50% during this period.

With more than 90% of the 35-million-odd fixed lines being owned by the government operators (BSNL and MTNL), it is time that the government mandates unbundling to unlock value of these assets much like the above example to improve broadband penetration in the country.

Second, given the fragmented and minimal spectrum allocations to mobile operators, we can only dream of good broadband connectivity on our mobiles. Hence, release of more spectrum suitable for 3G and higher technologies is warranted.

 Indias Broadband Dream: Making It A Reality
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Jobs And Pirates of Silicon Valley

By Sunil Kumar

To an ardent student of Silicon Valley history; there are no two people more important than Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Computing as we know it today is an offshoot of the inspired rivalry between these two; both of whom started with setups in their own rooms(basements, dorms etc).

The much-awaited biopic of Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher is a damp squib of sorts. With countless books available detailing the history of these tech titans; many people are aware of their lives and other intricate details. The director has missed out on an opportunity to make the movie even more dramatic; and it only turns out to be a pale imitation. Ashton Kutcher looks and sounds like himself; even though he must have worked extremely hard to look and sound like Steve.

Some buzz was created when some footage was taken in India; the hippie trail in Delhi and Uttarakhand. But this great nation is only peripherally touched on in the movie. We know that Steve Jobs lived here for some time and was profoundly influenced by yoga; a few Babas and other esoteric practices such as Zen. In the much more watchable “Pirates of Silicon Valley“; we also had a believable Bill Gates in Albuquerque, New Mexico as well as a more “Steve Jobish” Steve Jobs. The earlier movie; circa 1999 also showed the exchange of ideas between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in a more balanced manner.

This movie plods along and touches on the last sixteen years of Steve Jobs life; in a haphazard, cursory manner. It begins with the unveiling of the iPod; supposedly the seminal change that unveiled the music revolution. The Walter Isaacson biography had more interesting details on how Steve Jobs actually launched iTunes; as well as the last few years that truly shaped his now global iconic perception. The movie however was lopsided; when it came to this aspect.

A few more grand scenes; opening the Genius Bar on 5th avenue; the media frenzy when any new product is announced could have been leveraged. And Hollywood; Indians have been an integral part in most huge technology companies; from Google to Microsoft; as well as Apple. We know you’re homeland WASP centric; but you’re getting financed by Ambani these days; and lots of people watching your movies in India. Namaste!

All in all; the previous movie was definitely more interesting.




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Top 10 Most Used Smartphone Apps

By Aglaia Staff

Of all the apps available today for different platforms, GlobalWebIndex has listed the top 10 apps most actively used by the 969.49 million strong global smartphone population. According to data released by GlobalWebIndex, Google Maps is the most used smartphone app, with over 54 per cent of the global smartphone population using the app in the last month. Apple Maps is nowhere to be seen but Nokia’s Ovi Maps clocks 9 per cent of smartphone usage and ranks No. 11 in the chart.

Though the Facebook mobile app may seem to be the most widely used app by smartphone users, but it is ranked a distant number 2. The app is used by 44 per cent of global smartphone users, Google Maps is a good 10 per cent ahead.

After topping the list with its Google Maps app, Google also takes number 3 with YouTube (35 per cent) and number 4 with the Google+ Mobile App (30 per cent)

Weixin/WeChat makes it to number 5 and the research reveals that the Chinese-based service is being actively used by the 27 per cent of the global smartphone population.

At number 6 is Twitter’s mobile App with a 22 per cent active usage, closely followed by Skype and Facebook Messenger, with both scoring 22 per cent.

10724v1 max 450x450 Top 10 Most Used Smartphone Apps

Visit CrunchBase

Online messaging service WhatsApp is used by 17 per cent of the global smartphone population and takes the number 9 spot. While WhatsApp is very popular in India, it is worth noticing that Weixin/WeChat and Facebook Messenger are more widely used globally.

At number 10 is Facebook-owned picture app Instagram, which has been actively used by the 11 per cent of the global online population in the last month. Twitter’s video-sharing app Vine still has long to go to catch up with Instagram and is also behind Foursquare, Shazam, Flickr and Yelp. Vine is ranked at number 17 and is used by only 2 per cent of the global smartphone population.


 Top 10 Most Used Smartphone Apps
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India’s Average Internet Speed Likely To Jump 1.8 MBPS This Year

By Aglaia Staff

The average Internet speed in India is likely to jump by over 40 per cent to 1.8 Mbps in the next 12 months on the back of investments in high-speed fibre network and affordable data plans, cloud computing firm Akamai Technologies said in a report.

In the first quarter of 2013, India saw an average connection speed of 1.3 Mbps (megabytes per second).

300px BSE Indias Average Internet Speed Likely To Jump 1.8 MBPS This Year

“Based on current industry growth trends, we expect a 40 per cent to 50 per cent increase in connection speed over the next 12 months. This translates to anything between 1.7 to 1.8 Mbps,” Akamai Technologies Director of Products for Asia Pacific and Japan Bruno Goveas said.

The country witnessed an average speed 1.0 Mbps in the first quarter of 2012. “Thus, there has been a 0.3 Mbps increase over the last one year,” Goveas added.

The global average connection speed continued to grow in the first quarter of 2013, increasing 4 per cent to 3.1 Mbps, said Akamai Technologies’ State of the Internet report.

300px India topo big Indias Average Internet Speed Likely To Jump 1.8 MBPS This Year

Goveas said connection speeds to the last mile (at home) have increased in the recent months, given the investments by telcos, cable operators and service providers in laying high-speed fiber direct to homes and apartments and offering high connection speed data plans, especially in urban areas.

“Many users now get online via mobile phones. High speed data plans are very affordable with some innovative data plan offerings from service providers. Hence, we expect to see a rise is high speed connections,” Goveas added.

Corporates are upgrading their bandwidth speeds to keep up with their growth and demand and it also helps that bandwidth is getting cheaper, it added.

300px Ch3e3d Indias Average Internet Speed Likely To Jump 1.8 MBPS This Year

Visit English: Availability of 4 Mbps-Capable Broadband Networks in the United States by County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“We expect growth in speeds from users in Tier II and Tier III cities as well, and not just Tier I, given the investments from telcos, and with users accessing the Internet from mobile phones,” Goveas said.


 Indias Average Internet Speed Likely To Jump 1.8 MBPS This Year
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The 2013 CES

By Sunil Kumar

One of the biggest fairs in the consumer electronics industry; the CES kicks off on Tuesday in Las Vegas. This is the forum where big guns such as Samsung, Sony, Intel, and more show off their latest and greatest technologies. In the past, electronics such as the CD player, camcorder, and VCR made their stateside debuts at CES. More recently, HDTV, tablets, and the Microsoft Xbox have been unveiled at the conference.

A few announcements this year: ultra-high definition televisions with large screens, evolution in smartphone glass technology, a new version of the Optimus and the Galaxy S4. Intel is going to introduce a new processor; the Bay Trail-T to take on Nvidia‘s Tegra and Qualcomm‘s S4. With CEA estimates that factory-installed automotive technology will generate $8.7 billion dollars in 2013, so it’s no wonder seven major car companies will be on the show floor.

The launch of a corresponding ecosystem means that companies from over 150 countries will be on display.



 The 2013 CES
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