Thursday, November 15, 2012

Top 5 iPhone Apps for University Students

Student life on campus can be hectic, exciting and tiring, so it is best to prepare for it and manage it well. Luckily there are few apps that can help you do that. Here is a list of 5 iPhone apps that will help you in organizing your university life:
  • Evernote


    A note taking app, which lets you make and store notes, pictures, audio files and to-do lists that can all be categorized into different folders. All of that can then be accessed by you on your computer, phone or the web. This is particularly useful, as a student, when you get an idea, which needs to be recorded on the spot; when taking an audio memo of the lecture or when you working with a group on a project and need to make note of different topics discussed. The benefits are endless.  
  •  TranscribeMe 


    TranscribeMe -- an easy to use audio-to-text converting app. Being able to easily record the audio, or submit an audio that you already had, and then receive a transcribed text of that audio within a few hours is amazing. This changes the concept of note taking in lectures for students. Never missing any points and being able to concentrate more on the lecturer, rather than on notes, will improve your study effectiveness. 
  •  Astrid

    Another useful app is a to-do app called Astrid. It also allows you to keep on list of tasks that you need to do, which can be shared with your family or flatmates. Having collaborative lists means that your flat will be able to see if you have bought that dish-washing liquid that was needed or whether the toilet paper has ran out. In addition, it lets you to assign specific tasks to specific people, as a result making management of tasks more efficient. Astrid can also recognize a task with your voice, add a task with email and integrate with your calendar.
  • Trello

    Moving away from organising your personal life, there is also a cool app for organising individual and team based projects. Trello offers a unique way to do that by being structured into columns, which can be labelled as anything you choose then added responsibilities into it. You can add more people, attach pictures and files, set due dates, and more. If someone updates a card, then everyone receives a notification of the change.  
  • Mint

    Besides managing notes, tasks, as well as study efficiently, the students need to manage their finances. This is where Mint comes in, a free app for keeping of your finances and being on top of them, especially if you planning for good night out but need to know if you can afford it. It syncs with your financial statements and recognizes most financial institutions.  As long as you are connected to the Internet, it updates the three numbers: cash left, credit card debt you owe and your cash flow for the month. You can set up various budgets and iPhone highlights it for you if you have exceeded your budget, so no excuses for overdrafts!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Google Project Glass - The Technology and Its Implications

Technology just can’t seem to stop amazing us every day. The most brilliant minds around the world work day and night to bring us more and more innovations that transform science fiction into reality.It started with simple things like trains, electricity and the light bulb and has gone on to reach the impossible heights of today like 3D TVs, self-parking cars and so on. And then there is the Google Project Glass.

Image Source:Google+
Project Glass is Google's research and development(R&D) program, set to develop a head-mounted display (HMD) for augmented reality. Information would be displayed in a format similar to smartphones, hands-free and with an Internet connection controlled by voice commands. The operating system implemented in the products would be, of course, Google’s Android. The Google X Lab which is involved in the development of several technologies for the future is currently developing Project Glass and Google has already patented the design.

According to the product’s presentation, with Google Project Glass you will be able to check-in your location, set up meetings and reminders, make voice and video calls, check Google Maps and send instant messages (using the voice-recognizing software implemented in the product). The device will include a LCD or AMOLED display,an earpiece,GPS,3G or 4G data connection,motion sensors,a front facing camera and can be linked to your smartphone using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

The device itself is much smaller and thinner than previous versions of head-mounted displays and it differs from regular glasses only slightly. The idea is that in the future it will be available for integration into your own glasses.

Despite all the technological marvels we’ve seen in recent years, Google Project Glass may be the largest step into the future we’ve taken – the product really seams to have been taken right out of a science fiction movie, though to some it may appear even more daring.

Google's co-founder Sergey Brin wearing the glasses(Image credit:Thomas Hawk) 
Is the world ready for Google Project Glass? What are the implications of its mass production and use among the general population…?

If all things go according to plan, Google Project Glass products might be available to the public in a mere couple of years at the price of current smartphones. The reality of that would be people walking around and talking to themselves. Sure, we are quite used to that already since hands-free devices have been around for at least a decade… But Google Project Glass is a whole different story – people won’t be talking to someone we don’t see, they will literally be communicating with their glasses; not only talking, but seeing things that people around them cannot. Everyone will be literally living inside their heads without actually interacting with the world.

Of course, on the other hand, the device is quite handy. It allows you to plan and control your activities without putting too much effort into it – just talk to the glasses and they do everything for you like reservations at restaurants or buy tickets to a movie.The device can help you find restaurants,bookstores, or any other place for that just need to ask...But isn’t effort what makes our lives interesting? Don’t these glasses make it too simple?

Another issue with Google Project Glass is personal safety. There have been many parodies circling the web with concerns about the project. Though most of them are extremely exaggerated, there might actually be some truth there… Just imagine the possibility of looking at something while crossing the street and a pop-up ad showing up before your eyes.There are also privacy concerns involved with this technology because everything you do,everything you see,your likes and dislikes can be monitored and this information can be exploited by advertisers.

Google Project Glass is a revolutionary device, no doubt about that. The question is whether it is too big a leap into the future… Because by wearing the glasses and interacting with the created virtual reality, people might actually miss the chance to experience their own lives…

Guest Author:Rita Rova
Rita Rova writes technology articles for, the coupon code website that lists all the latest discounts for Australia’s top technology stores.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Novel real world applications of RFID.

Shanghai uses RFID to check illegal cabs:

Shanghai has started using RFID tags to curb illegal cabs in the city to protect both the passengers and the cab drivers.Authorities have put an electronic RFID enabled license on every one of the 50,000 cabs in the city.This tag will contain all the information about the vehicle which includes the licence plate number,engine number,color and other details.
Authorities can scan these tags using handheld scanners thereby identifying if the cab is legal or not.Since the introduction of the system,many counterfeit cabs have been detained by authorities.

RFID for border security:

Thousands of people cross borders between states everyday.There are long wait times at various entry points at borders.To reduce inconvenience to frequent travelers various governments have introduced smart identity cards.After a one-time background check the approved applicants are provided with a RFID enabled photo-ID.This RFID tag which contains all the information of the traveler is scanned by security personnel who verify the identity of the travelers before letting them proceed.This saves time as it eliminates the background check and verification of paperwork.
A similar system is also used by border patrol which involves combining the windshield RFID tags with Licence Plate Recognition to track and control import-export vehicles,immigrants and also for border security.

RFID in healthcare:

RFID Infant Security tag.
Image source :Accutech
RFID technology allows real time tracking people and equipment which is one of the reasons it is important in the field of healthcare.It provides quick and accurate access to data,equipment and drugs in an healthcare system.This leads to a more efficient workforce in the system as the resources are systematically managed in real time.It can prevent medical mistakes like errors in patient identification,mix-up of infants,surgical instruments left behind after surgery.It can also prevent theft of equipment from the hospital which results in huge losses.It can curb counterfeit drugs thereby preventing losses to the pharmaceutical industry.

Smart Refrigerators:

Image source:LG Electronics
RFID enabled Smart Refrigerators are personal refrigerators with an integrated automated inventory management system allowing the management of refrigerated stock in real time.It can notify users of  available stock,expiration dates,current temperature,etc.It can also prompt the shopping list via text messages notifying items that need to be replenished.The refrigerator can also be linked to the wireless network and can be remotely accessed.

Navigation for the blind using RFID:

One of the new innovations in this field is the development of navigation system for the visually-impaired.Though GPS navigation is available,it is limited to outdoor navigation.As passive tags do not require any power they can be embedded into any object with ease without any energy source.This system consists of the tags and an handheld reader.Different tags transmit different signals which is read and decoded by the reader and a suitable audible message in the desired language is delivered to the user.
For more info visit the Talking Tags project page

For information on the technology visit-What is Radio Frequency Identification

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology?


RFID technology is a widely used technology today.This technology which has its roots in WWII has various applications today ranging from tracking wildlife to identifying products in supermarkets.

The History:

Working of  IFF
RFID technology is one of the technologies that emerged due to necessities of World War II.Though RADAR technology existed during WWII there was no way to identify if an incoming aircraft was a friendly aircraft or an enemy aircraft.This led to the development of a system called Identification-Friend or Foe(IFF),to identify if the aircraft was a friendly or not.This involves a "Interrogator" on the ground sending signals to a "Transponder" on the plane.The Transponder on the plane is activated and responds by broadcasting signals back to the ground thereby identifying it as a friendly aircraft.The transponders are used by most aircraft even today.This is the predecessor to the current RFID technology.

Types of RFID:

RFID technology is based on wirelessly/remotely storing and retrieving data from miniature transponders(microchip with an antenna) called RFID tags/labels.There are three types of RFID tags-Active,Passive,Semi-Passive.Active tags require a power source and transmit a signal back to the reader/Interrogator(also with an antenna).Active tags are again classified into transponders and beacons.Transponders "wake up" only when they receive a signal from the reader thereby extending battery life.Beacons are devices which are always active and is used in Real Time Location System(RTLS) to identify and track objects within a given area.Passive tags do not require any power source and reflect back signals using the energy from the received signals.The third type of tag is called a semi-passive tag which has a built in battery which increases its range and allows it to work with weak signals. However it requires power from the incoming signals to broadcast information.This allows it to work with very weak signals and also over a greater distance.When these RFID tags receive signals from the scanner they get activated and transmit a signal back to the scanner thereby relaying the information stored on them.

Frequency Bands in which RFID operates:

Passive RFID tags can operate at low frequency,high frequency and ultra-high frequency.Low frequency tags operate at 125kHz-148kHz with 125kHz and 134.2kHz being the most commonly used.High Frequency tags operate at 13.56MHz.Ultra high frequency tags operate at 860-960Mhz with 915Mhz being the most commonly used frequency.Active tags operate at ultra high frequency(915MHz) and microwave frequency(2.45GHz).

Applications of RFID:

  • In huge warehouses to identify the inventory.
  • Baggage identification in airports.
  • Tags are implanted in animals to track animals and provide information about them.(Example:Endangered animals,animals in a wildlife sanctuary,etc..)
  • Can be used to identify lost pets.
  • In retail stores to identify products through RFID tags instead of barcode scanning.
  • In libraries as an alternative to barcodes on books.
  • To prevent shoplifting.
  • In prisons to track inmates.
  • Asset tracking.
  • In museums to tag objects and artifacts.
  • As an access key to restricted areas.
  • Active tags are used to lock and unlock vehicles.
For more real world applications view-Novel real world applications of RFID.

Privacy & Security Concerns:

The "mu chip" RFID tag manufactured by Hitachi
Passive RFID tags require no power for their working and hence can be very small in size.Due to their small size they can be concealed easily making them very hard to locate.Hence they can be used to track people or objects illegally.Also since the RFID tags can be activated without the knowledge of consumers and the data in RFID tags are not encrypted due to which the data contained in them can read without the knowledge of the consumer. Biometric passports and driver's licence which are RFID-enabled are vulnerable to identity thieves.RFID tags embedded in clothing have raised serious privacy concerns.

Conclusion-RFID at present and in the future:

RFID technology has already been adopted and is being used in various everyday tasks.RFID tags have the potential to replace and are replacing barcodes.Unlike barcodes RFID tags need be in the line of sight of the scanner/reader which reduces the time required for scanning and can reduce long queues in supermarkets proving a better experience to the shoppers.It has made inventory management in warehouses easy and has reduced the amount of manpower required.RFID tags can be directly printed onto products or packaging using semiconducting nano ink thereby reducing cost and size of tags further.The practical applications of RFID are many and the potential of this technology in the near future is astounding.If the security flaws in the technology are fixed we might see this technology being adopted more widely and being used in day to day life.

Monday, September 17, 2012

What is Wireless Charging Technology?

Inductive charging popularly known as Wireless charging technology used in modern electronics and electric vehicles is based on the principle of mutual induction between a pair of conductors such that when there is a change in the current flow through one wire it induces a voltage across the ends of the other wire through electromagnetic induction.This is the same principle that is used in transformers.
Cell phones on an inductive charging dock.

In the case of inductive charging devices the conductors are induction coils.The charger has what's called the primary coil used to create an alternating electromagnetic field.The portable or mobile device contains the secondary coil in which the varying magnetic field induces a voltage which in turn leads to current through the coil.This induced current is used to charge the internal cell or battery of the device.
The range of the charger may be increased by using a technique called resonant inductive coupling,wherein the coils used in the charger and the charging device are identical leading to electrical resonance between the coils.This leads to greater range with a slight decrease in efficiency.
A Nissan Leaf being charged by a inductive charger.

To promote compatibility between various chargers and portable devices,the Wireless Power Consortium(WPC) established in 2008 has created the Qi (pronounced "chee") standard for mobile electronic devices.The WPC consists of more than 100 member companies representing wireless power,automobiles,semiconductors,wireless operators,etc...Popular cell phone companies include Nokia,Samsung, name a few.The Nokia Lumia 920 is one of the first phones in which this technology has been completely integrated without the need for any additional accessory.
Lumia 920 on a fatboy "pillow" charger.

 Advantages of Inductive Charging:

-Eliminates the need for cables
-Eliminates the compatibility issues     associated with various types of  connectors.
-Lowers the risk of electric shocks.
-Can be used to charge medical implants through skin.
-Can be integrated into  furniture, walls.(coffee shop table,etc..)
-Can be used with devices designed to be sealed or waterproof.

Lumia 820 with a wireless charging shell.


-Efficiency is low leading to power loss.
-Heat dissipation is more which can be harmful to certain devices.
-Device cannot be charged when its being used unless its being used on the charger.
-Charging is slower compared to traditional means.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The (R)Evolution Of The iPhone

The first iPhone launched in 2007.
Although smartphones and touchscreens in phones existed way before the iPhone,there was a lack of products which had a perfect blend of technology,looks and ease of use(And a huge fan following...).With the launch of the iPhone in 2007 Apple changed the way the world used and perceived cell phones.It was an iconic product which changed the mobile communication industry and from then on cell phones were not just devices used to make and receive calls or send text messages,but were devices which could do a whole lot more.Lets have a look at the way the iPhone has evolved over the Years...

The Original iPhone:

Steve Jobs at the launch of the first iPhone.
The first iPhone had a plastic-metal  case and used 2G networks.It featured a 3.5 inch multi-touch capacitive touchscreen with a 320x480 pixel resolution.It was available in 3 variants 4,8 and 16GB.It had a 2MP camera and 128MB of RAM.It also featured an accelerometer,proximity sensor and ambient light sensor.It had bluetooth 2.0 and Wi-Fi.The CPU was clocked at 412 Mhz.Apple sold a million of these phones within five days of launch.It was 11.6 mm thick and weighed 135g.

The iPhone 3G:
The iPhone 3G
The iPhone 3G was launched about a year after the original iPhone in June 2008
The iPhone 3G retained the screen,camera,RAM and CPU from the Original iPhone but added features such as Assisted-GPS along with 3G data.It was available in 2 variants-8 and 16GB and runs on iOS 4.2.1.The phone also featured the newer iOS 2.0.It had bluetooth 2.0 with Wi-Fi.The case was entirely made of plastic unlike its predecessor.Apple sold a million units over the first weekend of launch.It was 12.3mm thick and weighed 133g.

The iPhone 3GS:

The iPhone 3GS
The iPhone 3GS was launched almost exactly a year after the iPhone 3G in June 2009.It featured a faster CPU clocked at 600 Mhz and RAM was upgraded to 256MB.It also had improved download speeds.The screen resolution was same as the previous models but the color depth was increased from 18-bit to 24-bit.It featured an inbuilt magnetometer and had a compass app which was unique at its time.The camera was upgraded to 3MP from 2MP featured on the older models.It featured bluetooth 2.1 and Wi-Fi.It had a thickness of 12.3mm and weighed 135g.Apple sold a million units over the first weekend of launch.

The iPhone 4:

iPhone 4
The iPhone 3GS was succeeded a year later by the iPhone 4.Unlike its predecessors it had a stainless steel frame which served as the device's antenna.It had an Apple A4 processor clocked at 1Ghz and 512MB of RAM.It was available in 8,16 and 32GB variants.The display underwent a major upgrade and now featured a LED backlit LCD display with 960x640 resolution called the "Retina Display".It had a gyroscope which gives precise information about the device's movement in space when combined with the accelerometer.It also featured a front facing camera for video calls and a 5MP rear facing camera with LED flash and HD video recording capability.It was 9.3mm thick and weighs 137g.

The iPhone 4S:

The iPhone 4S:
It was launched in October of 2011,available in 3 variants-16,32 and 64GB and runs on iOS 5.1.1.It retained the design,dimensions and display of the iPhone 4.It featured a faster 800Mhz dual core CPU and had 512MB of RAM.It also features bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi.It also has a new 8MP camera with face recognition and 1080p HD video recording.Apple sold 4 million units in first 3 days of launch.It weighs 140g.It was also the last phone launched during Steve Jobs' lifetime.

The iPhone 5:

Its the latest offering from Apple,featuring a faster processor and a bigger screen for the first time since the original iPhone.It has a 4 inch screen with 640x1,136 resolution with an 16:9 aspect ratio.It runs on iOS 6.0 and is available in 3 variants-16,32 and 64 GB.It has an improved front facing camera and is only 7.6mm thick with a weight of 112g.its powered by an apple A6 SoC  and RAM has been upgraded to 1GB.Newer features include 4G(LTE)data connection and smaller dock connector.


The iPhone has revolutionized the world of smartphones by seamlessly integrating mobile communication and mobile entertainment into a single sleek device wherein the software compliments the hardware.It also introduced uniformity in devices based on a single platform.Finally,the iPhone might not be the greatest phone but its certainly the phone which has challenged and changed the mobile computing industry in recent times.