Sports and Technology

-Wrik Karmakar

What do you get when you add a dash of ‘tech magic’ into the soup of ‘sports’ you are brewing? Well, no worries, it didn’t spoil it at all. On the contrary you just made it better than ever. You are about to receive a host of applauses for the very delicious and interesting dish. Its there you have a little problem- how much of ‘tech’ to add exactly, because you know that every moment you have a new and enhanced version of that special ingredient, so when do you add it? No I don’t have the answer, but I will tell you, go with whatever you think best,that is, if you can manage(read ‘afford’) it.

 Enough of metaphors,face it. You wouldn’t like sports had it not had the wonders of technology integrated. Basically every sports uses technology. Soccer, basketball, cricket…. there’s tech in each one of them. Be it equipment, assessment of the game or other aspects,every one of them need a good bit of thinking and planning.

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 Let’s start with soccer.  Since the world cup is on  full swing, by the time you are reading this, the concept isn’t that far off. Wrong decisions are not uncommon in any game and soccer is no exception. Suppose the goalie actually saves a splendid shot equally well but somehow the balls caught near about the goal line. The referee isn’t of much help given that he was most likely away from the penalty box. The nearest linesman couldn’t observe it because the place was too crowded and TV replay is reluctant to make a decision anytime soon. And here’s the referee forced to decide, to continue the game… and he goes with the scoring side. Unfair but necessary for the progress of the game, or so the referee thinks. Apparently this triggered a few concerned minds and they sought to bring out significant changes so that deciding on the score is no more a major time-taking dilemma.  Thus we have the goal-line technology. There are currently three options that are being looked at for soccer goal line technology. In 2013, FIFA granted a licence to third goal-line technology manufacturer, German firm Cairos, joining the Hawk-Eye and GoalRef systems for the rights for use at the 2014 World Cup and the 2013 Confederations Cup, both to be held in Brazil. A promising prospect has been a “smartball” loaded with a sensor suspended inside, jointly developed by German companies Cairos Technologies and Adidas athletic clothing and shoe company. The companies’ technology uses a network of receivers around the field designed to track the ball’s precise position in real time – including exactly when it has fully passed the goal line. That information would be relayed in less than a second to a watch-like device worn by the referee. The Hawk Eye system uses three cameras focused on each goal-line, and each taking footage at 600 frames a second. Hawk-Eye is able to give a definitive decision on whether the ball has fully crossed the line, and relay this information in the form of an audible beep to the central referee within half a second. As the Premier League referees use headsets, the signal is easily sent to them. In other leagues, other methods such as through a watch can be used.

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 Olympics is another field where the maneuvers of technology is quite distinct. Since most of the events are track and field, they require a precise timekeeping to make sure that the standings and results are accurate.  Italian company Mondo, designer of Olympic tracks since the 1992 games, has unveiled a racing surface called the Mondotrack that should make races even faster. Unlike typical tracks, which feature one combined layer of rubber, Mondo’s surface features a distinct, traction/performance layer set atop a “backing” shock-absorption skin. This thinner traction layer improves speed by reducing the bite depth of racers’ spikes (a slowing action), while diamond patterns in the bottom shock-absorbing layer provide more support and bounce back than the square-shaped cells from days of yore — mimicking the spring of a trampoline in miniature scale. Apparently the layers are both vulcanized; we think that makes them more like Spock, which is cool. Nike is also an enthusiastic company in this field. During the 2012 olympics, hosted by UK in London, Nike brought out a range of innovative gear. Nike’s suit “TurboSpeed Pro” claimed to reduce time, while the shoe “Nike Zoom Victory Elite” was made specially for the 1500-meter sprint, which is a mid-distance event, and used vertical flywire cables along its exterior to create a flexible fit with minimal weight. Getty Images used fully remote-controlled cameras, equipped with 360 degree swiveling heads, to shoot from vantage points photographers can’t access — like rafters and other nifty niches. Getty experimented with 3D imagery during the games, with rigs equipped with two DSLRs for capturing a stereoscopic sense of depth.

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Coming to cricket, the DRS concept now used widely is a remarkable feat achieved by technology for it empowers fair decisions more than ever.  The new review system was officially launched by the International Cricket Council on 24 November 2009 during the first Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan at the University Oval in Dunedin. It was first used in One Day Internationals in January 2011, during England’s tour of Australia. That moment when everyone’s unsure whether the bat really touched? Allan Plaskett thought of Snickometer .The snickometer is used to detect edges from the bat using a microphone placed near the stumps. Commonly known as Snicko, the technology uses the difference between sound frequencies of the ball hitting different surfaces. For example, a woody sound has a different frequency than that of the ball hitting the glove. Even judging the LBW?

You’d get nowhere without Hawk eye.

So you see, behind these sophisticated advances are some very innovative minds who spend their time and efforts for you to sit back and enjoy the game. The last few decades have proved to exceptionally fruitful in this field and I think.we can confidently say that it is just the beginning of technology in sports.

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To fb or not to fb…

-Gautham Ramachandran

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1.15 billion users worldwide, spread across 213 countries, accessible from six of the seven continents, Antarctica being the only fortunate one extirpated from its virtual cobweb, for the sole reason that penguins do not own personal computers or smartphones, generating a whopping 5.1 billion USD in net revenue alone and accounting for a big chunk of The American GDP with a sky scaling 15.1 billion in total assets, one could say Facebook has done good for itself and by extension, superficially for the world too. Or has it?

Since its humble beginnings of being launched from the dormitories of Harvard in the February of 2004 to its meteoric rise of gobbling down every other IPO in the global internet market, Facebook has lived to serve its primary purpose: connecting people. But has it really succeeded in bringing people closer? Has it really increased communication for which it was essentially designed?

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I accept. Facebook helps connect people. I could sit in the suburbs of any third world town and access Obama’s profile, receive updates, ogle his cute daughter Malia from his family pictures but am I really connected? Or am I spawning delusional relationships with empirical data? How many of us sit at home waiting for our alleged ‘friends’ to show up online while we could very well go out and spend time personally with our real friends. How many of us sit in classrooms refreshing our Facebook page every other second looking for new posts when a friend actually sits close by with whom a joke could be shared for real, or may be a laugh. Don’t we grit our teeth over the number of likes a particular picture of our supposed ‘friend’ has received over ours or the magnanimity of the numericals in their friend list over ours? Is social networking inconspicuously pushing us into this perpetual abyss of isolation when in fact it should be doing the contrary? Is it not knitting us closer in the virtual world while alienating us in the real world at the same time?

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One of the most unforgettable moments in THE SOCIAL NETWORK, that suavely describes the void of connected loneliness that Facebook has created in its users is the final scene when Mark Zuckerberg himself, depicted by Jesse Eisenberg in the movie sends a friend request to his ex-girlfriend and then hits refresh, and then hits again and again recoiling into his own cocoon of perpetual isolation. Haven’t we all been in that situation?

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Wearable Technology

Wrik Karmakar

Rahul is driving through the national highway 1. He says, “Weather right now”. The tiny invisible projector embedded in his glasses projects the temperature and humidity. It is translucent so that Rahul doesn’t have to stop driving. He checks the route to Delhi and gets accurate directions. Soon Sweta calls him. Rahul, a responsible citizen, doesn’t look at his phone but pulls his left hand, in which he wore the smartwatch, towards his face.  After a short call, he uses his ring which doubles as a mini projector. His presentation charts are almost ready. He completes them wearing a sensitive cover on his fingers that do the work of stylus and typing for him. A sudden reminder from his glasses makes him concentrate on driving. He reaches Delhi in time, gives his presentation, takes a French perfume for Sweta and comes back.

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No, this is not a science-fiction story; it’s rather a suggestive image of our future in the next few years. In fact we already have the initial prototypes of  some of these gadgets, courtesy to Google, Samsung, Sony, Pebble and other tech-giants in the field of Wearable Technology (rumours are that even Apple, the rebel and innovator of the industry is also planning to introduce wearable watches by late 2014) – the next big thing in the world of silicon chips. Yeah, that what it’s called – “wearable tech”. And it ranges from costly glasses to cheaper watches.

 The terms “wearable technology“, “wearable devices“, and “wearables” all refer to electronic technologies or computers that are incorporated into items of clothing and accessories which can comfortably be worn on the body.(http://www.wearabledevices.com)  These devices in addition to their basic functions satisfy the user’s requirements in whichever way they are designed to. They complement their more standard counterparts and sometimes perform independently, outdoing the more stable laptops, and mobile phones. Their graphics and accessibility have improved considerably from the initial stages.

 The first appearance of wearable tech was as calculator watches. They were first introduced by Pulsar in 1975, and later by Hewlett Packard. Several watch manufacturers have made calculator watches over the years, but the Japanese company Casio produced the largest variety of models. Thus, Casio is considered the main player in calculator watches.

 Wearable technology has applications in monitoring and real time feedback for athletes as well. Athletes get vital information such as blood pressure, and heartbeats per minute hands-free. They give periodic notifications in intervals as configured.  Some of them can be paired with Mobile Phones syncing contacts and other information required to enhance the user’s accessibility. They may display prompts when text messages or phone calls arrive. Leading this race of wearable fitness trackers is an array of devices which can tell you calories burned, distance walked and other sophisticated measures of activity and can do even more when integrated with a cellphone. The smart accessories of this genre come not only from Silicon Valley companies but also from regular fitness brands like Nike. Nike’s FuelBand SE is a good example of a proper fitness tracking wearable device.

 User experience is a vital factor in measuring a wearable device’s efficiency and here modern upgraded devices such Google Glasses and the Motorola Watch score better than their predecessors. From synchronizing with the user’s calendar to allowing voice searching… these are no longer toys of the rich but useful tools for anyone who can afford them, and that’s a lot of people. They have become quicker and more user- friendly, so while they do all the complicated things, all you need to do is say a command out loud and Whoosh! You have the results around your wrist.

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And if this is the present, what about the future? What can we look out for in the coming decades or so? It is doubtless that very soon, in order to satisfy their customers, all the companies in the horizon would slowly create a segment of products in the field of wearable tech.  This progress would be inevitable and welcomed warmly by the masses. But what would be the devices of the future be like? As the heads of leading tech companies say, the wearables of the future would certainly look closer to fashion items and not geeky playthings. “They have to look like something you really want to wear before they get mass adoption,” said Mike Bell, head of Intel’s mobile business. “A problem they have is everything is a square touch screen. I’m pretty sure long term that’s not what people are going to want to wear all the time.” We can also look forward to a wide range of devices other than watches and glasses. “This year we’re hoping to see the beginning of the wearables market showing its diversity,” said Robert Thompson, business development leader for Freescale’s i.MX application processor line. And hopefully we will also have independent devices that can be used in the absence of smartphones or computers…

 Till then, we are left to our good old computers and primitive wearables. Sometime, in the future, maybe that will change…

NOKIA LUMIA 525

Debdeep Biswas

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Rightly described as “Fun in Pocket”,  the Big-B of the most famous Lumia 520 has no such difference from the former, except an upgrade to the 512MB RAM, which has been pushed to 1GIG , to give to the users an optimal gaming performance at a very low budget.

Leaving that aside, it has the same dimensions, the same 4.0″ IPS LCD display and the same scratch-resistant glass as the Lumia 520 did.

Talking spec- it comes with Qualcomm MSM8227 dual- core 1Ghz processor and an Adreno 305 GPU.

Captures video  at 720p@30FPS with its 5MP shooter. The stills are not that bad, as well.

It comes out-of-the-box with Lumia Black version of the Windows Phone OS and it can be updated to the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1

The only set-back is it’s not-so-good battery life.  But then again keeping the budget and the performance in mind, we have to.. You know what I mean!

All-in-all, it can be termed as a “must-buy” for those who are looking for a phone at a price of  ₹10,600 that can take a load of all the performance one needs.

LOGITECH POWERSHELL

Debdeep Biswas

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Probably the best designed gaming controller for the iPhone we’ve seen so far, the Logitech Powershell is made solid, with a rubbery surface that’s comfortable to hold. It’s also sturdy and compact enough to be stored loosely in a bag or pocket. The Powershell is built to slot the iPhone directly inside, without having to pull the controller apart to fit it in (unlike the Moga Ace Power controller). The phone retains all of its independent functions while attached to the Powershell, and the headphone jack and lock button remain attainable so that users can listen to music and lock their phone at all times. Despite its great design, some reviewers have criticized the Powershell’s single D-pad and lack of analog sticks. At $69.99, it’s a must-buy for part-time iPhone gamers.

SONY SMART WATCH 2

Debdeep Biswas

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If you’re looking for a gadget to accessorize your smartphone, a smartwatch is a logical place to start. The Sony SmartWatch 2 is only one of many options, but its simplicity and good price point (it’s $100 cheaper than Samsung’s Galaxy Gear) make it a good pick. Like any worth-while watch, this model cleanly bridges the gap between functionality and style. The SW2 comes equipped with a basic rubber band that can also be upgraded with a leather or metal alternative for added class. On the tech front, the watch comes with a 1.6 inch, sun-readable display that’s perfect for checking notifications, browsing media, and …reading the time, obviously.

THE SAMSUNG SELFIE CAMERA IS OFFICIAL

-Soureen Mondal

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The South Korean Android leader has made their Galaxy K Zoom official. In other words, it’s the Galaxy S5 Zoom just like its predecessor Galaxy S4 Zoom but this time with a different naming approach. The Galaxy K Zoom comes with features for which it can be prefixed as the “SELFIE CAMERA”.

 

KEY HARDWARE FEATURES:

  • 4.8” Super AMOLED Screen @ 1280X720
  • Hexacore processor 1.3Ghz quad core +1.7 dual core
  • 2 GB ram
  • 8GB internal extendable up to 64 GB
  • 4G LTE
  • 2,430mAH battery
  • 20.7 MP BSI CMOS lens
  • 10X zoom
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • Full HD 1080p Recording
  • Xenon Flash

Available in Blue, Black & White Colors

 

KEY SOFTWARE FEATURES:

  • 4.4 Kit Kat – out of the box
  • Auto Focus & Auto Exposure Separation
  • 5 Optimized Filter Settings
  • Selfie Alarm – For efficient Selfies
  • Object Tracking – For clearer shots of moving objects

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The overall design has improved from its predecessor making it more tempting to own. At last the company has provided us with a device worth owning for its specs and the making it more easy to handle thereby giving Nokia Lumia 1020 a hard time in future!!

The only problem Samsung has been facing since the very launch of the Galaxy Camera is the no. of very few limited customers. Because when it comes to hardcore photography no one would shoot with it but rather a DSLR. If you visualize the customer segment it’s either few Crazy Tech Lover or the Reporters who need to immediately send the pics to head office after clicking (just visualizing!!!)

So if you wanna have photography + android + Touch Wiz features in one package Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is your piece of Cake!!!