Israeli Startup Bets on ‘Smart’ Satellite Antennas for Global Web Access

Israeli Startup Bets on 'Smart' Satellite Antennas for Global Web Access

Israeli startup Skyfi is looking to outflank Facebook and Google in a race to provide worldwide Internet access by developing the first self-correcting antenna that can turn mini-satellites into powerful transmitters covering the globe.

The two technology leaders are working on ways to beam Internet access from the sky to remote areas, Google with high-flying balloons and Facebook with a combination of drones and larger, more complex satellites.

But it will take an orbiting cluster of 60 miniature, or nano, satellites, each about the size of a shoe box, to provide full coverage of earth, said Raz Itzhaki Tamir, a veteran of Israel’s aerospace industry who co-founded Skyfi four years ago.

The way he hopes to do it is by using a parachute-like antenna that deploys once in space. The antenna can then mechanically adjust itself for imperfections in the transmitter’s surface, allowing a stronger signal to pass, and even alter the direction it points should broadcast needs change over the course of the satellite’s life.

That may not sound like much, but those are two major hurdles that have limited satellite operators for years.

While the company says it has a working “proof of concept”, the technology has yet to be proven in space, so don’t expect a fleet of Internet-providing nanosatellites for at least a few years. But the antenna alone could be big business in the meantime.

Thousands of new satellites will be launched into space in the coming decade and many will use technology from Israel, which has built on its military expertise to capture a sizeable chunk of the growing commercial space market, particularly in the field of miniaturization.

Skyfi raised $3 million in a round led by Jerusalem Venture Partners, one of the country’s most successful venture capital funds, and says it has signed letters of intent to sell its antennas to global players such as Lockheed Martin and Spacecom.

Spacecom, which is collaborating with Facebook to beam Internet services to Africa, said that if the new Skyfi antenna is successful, it would be in huge demand.

“This type of solution will conquer the market, because it addresses some of the most serious and bothersome issues for satellite operators,” said David Pollack, Spacecom’s chief executive.

For now, Skyfi is perfecting its system by testing a large version of the antenna in a 50-square-meter (yard) echoless chamber that simulates the conditions of space. It plans to launch its first unit in the next 18 months.

“Currently, if an antenna is not perfect, you have to live with it, with the losses,” said Tamir. “We can change that and be flexible, thus gaining more revenue from the satellite.”

Inbox by Gmail Gets New Snooze Alerts

Inbox by Gmail Gets New Snooze Alerts

In order to make it simpler for users to snooze their email alerts and get back to it later, the Gmailteam last week announced two new snooze features for its Inbox by Gmail application. The two new additions – Later This Weekend and This Weekend – will “hopefully save you some time, and decrease the need to use custom snooze,” as per the company.

Now while swiping an email alert to the left inside Inbox, users will see these two new options, which can be customised from the app’s Settings page. Users can select their Weekend days from options such as – Saturday-Sunday, Friday-Saturday, Thursday-Friday, Friday Only, Saturday only, and Sunday only. The tab itself has also received a new look for easy access to snooze options for email alerts. The feature is available in the latest Inbox app.

Google last month made it easier to search for frequent flyer number or shipping status without digging through numerous email conversations to look for it. Users also get streamlined search results. “Underneath any quick answers, you’ll see a “Top results” section that orders emails by relevance. Below that is all the email results, ordered by date, but chances are you won’t have to look here often,” added the company blog post.

In December, Inbox by Gmail also got an update adding Trip Bundles and mobile attachments. Users can share the trip summaries showed by Inbox by Gmail with others. Adding emails to a trip is also possible using the “Move to” menu. As for mobile attachments, Inbox by Gmail gives users easy access to recently clicked photos to add them as attachments and mail them.

Government Unveils Digital Literacy Drive in Rural India at Budget 2016

Government Unveils Digital Literacy Drive in Rural India at Budget 2016

The government would soon launch two novel schemes to spread digital literacy in rural India for deriving greater benefit from demographic advantage, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in New Delhi on Monday.

“We now plan to launch a new digital literacy mission scheme for rural India to cover six-crore additional households within the next three years,” Jaitley said while presenting the Union Budget for 2016-17 in the Lok Sabha.

Announcing that the government approved the National Digital Literacy Mission and Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (Disha) to promote digital literacy, Jaitley said of the 168 million crore rural households across the country, 120 million did not have computers and were unlikely to have digitally literate persons.

“Details of the twin schemes will be spelt out separately,” Jaitley added.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a digital platform for enabling farmers to sell their produce at a better rate anywhere in the country will be launched on April 14.

The Prime Minister pushed for more and more use of modern technology and equipment along with traditional wisdom of farming to boost the agriculture sector, not only to meet the domestic needs but also cater to the demands from abroad.

India Funding Roundup: A Baby Care Portal, Home Rental Aggregator, and More

India Funding Roundup: A Baby Care Portal, Home Rental Aggregator, and More

Our latest funding roundup compiles investments in Indian startups engaged in thematic investments, mom and baby care, real estate, vocational training, and marketing tech.

Tauro Wealth
Bengaluru-based thematic stock market investments platform Tauro Wealth has reportedly raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from TracxnLabs and a few angel investors. Incorporated in 2015 and currently in preview mode, the startup plans to allocate the current funding round towards building a Web platform, and for hiring developers. The firm is now looking for pre-Series A funding to roll out the live product, and manage the operations involved in providing online transactions and customer support.

Hopscotch.in
Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin has invested $13 million (roughly Rs. 90 crores) in Hopscotch.in, which operates on a flash sales model for mom and baby care products. The Mumbai-based startup has reportedly seen growth of over 700 percent year on year, and expects to break even by the end of 2016.

NestAway
Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata has invested an undisclosed amount in home rental companyNestAway, his eighth personal investment in a startup in 2016 so far. NestAway turns unbranded, unfurnished houses into fully furnished and managed apartments and provides them at affordable prices to verified tenants, said the statement by IDG Ventures India, which is an investor in the company. Until recently, NestAway counted working professionals who are single among its target audience, but now it has also forayed into the family segment. So far, the startup has provided rental homes to about 5,000 tenants across six cities.

EduBridge
Mumbai-based EduBridge, which provides a vocational training services for low-income youth in semi-urban and rural areas has reportedly secured $2.5 million (roughly Rs. 17.1 crores) in VC funding. The company claims to have trained over 50,000 youth so far, and plans to use the funding to expand its operations to Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand and Bihar.

Freedom Smart Labs
Delhi-based in-store marketing technology startup Freedom Smart Labs has reportedly raised Rs. 1 crores in funding from DCS Group. The startup provides IoT solutions for malls and shopping arcades to target customers with integrated promotions and proximity based offers.

ZTE Blade V7, Blade V7 Lite First Look

ZTE at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona unveiled two new smartphones, as well as a . The company expanded its youth-centric Blade series with the launch of the new Blade V7 and Blade V7 Lite. We got to spend some time with the new ZTE smartphones on the floors of the MWC 2016 trade show, and you can check out our initial impressions in the video.

The Chinese telecommunications giant said that the ZTE Blade V7 will go on sale this summer in Germany, Mexico, South Africa, and Spain, among other markets. The ZTE Blade V7 Lite will launch in Russia first, before being made available this spring in Germany, Mexico, Spain, and Thailand.

The ZTE Blade V7 has a metal body which tapers to only 3.5mm thick. It features a 5.2-inch full-HD display and runs Android Marshmallow with ZTE’s custom skin. It’s powered by an octa-core MediaTek MT6753 SoC, with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, which can be expanded with a microSD card. There’s also dual-SIM functionality with 4G.

You also get a 13-megapixel rear camera with phase detection autofocus and a 5-megapixel front camera. The Blade V7 is powered by a 2500mAh battery and will be available in Gold and Silver.

On the other hand, the Blade V7 Lite sports a smaller 5-inch HD display but gains a circular fingerprint sensor at the back, and an LED flash for the front camera

It’s powered by a quad-core MediaTek MT6735P processor and has 2GB of RAM. There are 8-megapixel cameras sensors for both, the front and rear of the phone. Other features are similar to what the Blade V7 offers.

Nintendo NX to Resemble Samsung Hardware, Nintendo 2DS

Nintendo NX to Resemble Samsung Hardware, Nintendo 2DS: Report

Another week, another Nintendo NX rumour. This time, industry tipster Geno who has a surprisingly solid track record chimes in with what to expect from the House of Mario’s next console.

“I don’t have many details on the device itself but I do have some background for it and some PR techniques they will use for it. A thing to note about this device is that much of its production was started in 2014 and many [sic] of the stuff I list here was outlined by the late Satoru Iwata before his passing. Hence in the company, the NX is considered the last project of their late president,” the insidersaid in conversation with Dual Pixels. “Employees since his passing utter a phrase at the end of meetings and during idea brainstorms which is “岩田のために!” which roughly translates “For Iwata!””

According to Geno, motivation at Nintendo is high to deliver a top-notch console.

“The importance of this is that this “new” Nintendo is highly motivated in delivering a fantastic system and games, something that I quote from an employee “have not seen this much forward momentum on a project since they launched the original Famicom”,” the post continues.

Geno went on to outline six potential Nintendo NX features. Here they are:

  1. It features an advanced iteration of the streaming technology seen in the Wii U. Users can pull out a wireless HDMI dongle attached to its back and insert it into a device with an HDMI output.
  2. Analogue controls have small motors for full haptic feedback. What this means is, if you hit a wall in a game or fire a gun, you’ll get a larger amount of feedback from the controller as the sticks would move away from the direction you’re going in, allowing for greater resistance.
  3. Bluetooth sync across devices so you can take calls and get texts on your console without having to get to your smartphone.
  4. In terms of power, it’s comparable to the Xbox One. Games made for Android OS or in Unreal Engine 4 can run with almost no changes to the source code. “It’s the easiest device we’ve ever developed for. You just take your code, compile it and it works,” claims one of Geno’s sources. This could possibly explain why some third-party developers don’t have developer kits yet.
  5. Augmented Reality (AR) and multiplayer features will evolve beyond what we’ve come to expect. Pokemon Go will be an example of what to expect.
  6. Usability and ease of use are key tenets of the Nintendo NX. NintendOS is what its operating system is called and it visually and functionally resemble the Nintendo 2DS and something Samsung would make.

Like most rumours, we’d suggest taking this with metric tons of salt despite Geno’s past accuracy. Hopefully we’ll hear something from Nintendo soon.

PlayStation TV Discontinued in Japan. Other Regions to Follow?

PlayStation TV Discontinued in Japan. Other Regions to Follow?

PlayStation TV (PSTV) – Sony’s attempt at having a presence in the micro-console space – seems to be on the way out. While the company has not made an official announcement, eagle-eyed industry enthusiasts at NeoGAF noted that the official Sony Japan website mentions “end of shipments (translated)”. What this indicates is that the device is discontinued in the country.

This should come as no surprise. The PlayStation TV has been relegated to bargain bin status in stores the world over. For a substantial period of time, you could buy one in the US for $20 (around Rs. 1,400).

In India it retailed for Rs. 9,990 with four games, a PS3 controller, and an 8GB memory card. Though that might sound like a decent proposition, it’s a poor buy what with an 8GB memory card being barely hold four PS Vita games and cost in excess of Rs. 2,000 each, the value proposition doesn’t look as pretty.

It’s something most Indian gamers have realised as well. Take a cursory glance at most game stores and you’ll notice launch day PSTVs hidden under a thick layer of dust. So poor was the response that Sony hasn’t bothered bringing new shipments in after the initial lot.

All of this indicates that it’s just a matter of time before Sony pulls the plug on the PSTV the world over. What does this mean to you? Well, if you’re looking to pick up a device that lets you play PS Vita games on a big screen, act fast.