After moving on from semi-professional clunky digital SLR cameras to smartphone cameras and then to action cameras such as the GoPro Hero 3 Silver which I now own, the next evolution in consumer photography is no longer ground-based but rather over air autonomously.
I’ve been watching the development of flying drones with various functions such as photography closely. To me, the critical requirements for the drone market to mature and take off in the consumer world are:
- Ease of use – visual, WYSIWYG and commonly-available controls, reliable risk and recovery systems
- Flight time of more than 20 minutes – 10 minutes each way can establish a reach of 2KM to be practically useful
- Affordable and robustness in extending uses by means of module development, 3D printing and open sharing
The current clear winner to me is the Micro Drone 3.0. Although it does not yet fulfil the second requirement about, its strength is definitely in the third one. If the developer continues to openly and collaboratively develop and enhance the drone’s capabilities, this product’s market share will grow in epic proportions.
The stablization capability is impressive for such a small aircraft and yet it is able to carry various payloads, including a small active gimbal.
The crowdfunding for this product will end on 17 July 2015. Do check it out and support the product launch if this appeals to you.
Over the years and despite my 6/6 vision, I find myself struggling to see comfortably when driving at night. The halogen bulbs that I keep replacing every year seem to be getting dimmer and/or my eyes are not as good as before.
Combined with my quest to optimize light sources in my life (see LED torch lights, LED home replacement bulbs, laser pointers), I finally found a local installer and HID enthusiast who can solve my problem.
Jimmy or trxx7989 as he is known online supplies and installs quality HID parts and kits in Kuala Lumpur. He has a Lowyat.net forum thread where he advertises his service. Since he works full-time elsewhere, he only has Saturdays available to do installations at a car workshop in Shah Alam.
I posed Jimmy a couple of questions and after obtaining purchase approval from my boss, I arranged to meet up with him to retrofit the 5000K HID projector kit on my Honda City VTEC in January.
The kit includes:
- Morimoto Mini H1 2.5″ projectors and 5000K bulbs
- Mini Gatling Gun shrouds (doesn’t kill anyone)
- Bi-xenon wiring harness
- Taiwanese 35W ballasts
Jimmy does most of the retrofitting and dedicates time to do the job well, so be prepared to spend at least 5 hours of downtime. He would brief me on the parts and options before starting. I opted for:
- Smaller shroud to minimize effects to the light output
- No modification/smoke effect for the original reflectors
- 5000K colour output to achieve accurate daylight
He explained the important advantages of his offers:
- Morimoto is well-reputed for their quality build and beam cut-off and spread, equal or even better than OEM versions
- He has spent time to research and recommend the best parts
- His ballast has been tested to run reliably in the local climate
Spending time with him that afternoon I can see that Jimmy is passionate and knowledgeable about car technology. He would take the time to fine-tune the projectors and wiring, which takes the most part of the installation time. Making sure that the kit does not cause annoying glare to others in front is one of his main priorities.
Going with a retrofitter like Jimmy is important because this guy knows his stuff about the wiring. He uses proper relays and harness to ensure the proper startup and operation (hi/low beam) of the lights.
The light output is very impressive for an aftermarket kit. The main points I note are:
- Fast startup to final colour – under 10 seconds
- Clean cut-off and RHD pattern
- High lumens output – obviously better than 55W halogens
- Wide but even spread – about 40 degrees to the sides
- H1 size fits over the existing reflector mount with no modifications – I can switch back to H4 bulbs easily
Now, I feel confident and relaxed that my night drives, especially more to suburban areas and highways, will be covered by these 2.5″ HID babies.
Here are two videos of the startup shot in the day and night using a Nikon P7100 camera, focus and exposure locked.
If you are interested in putting the sun in your headlights, check out the links below.
The next generation of Google’s Android platform with their flagship phone model has been announced in Hong Kong on 18 Oct 2011. This is the fourth major version of the open mobile platform code-named Ice Cream Sandwich.
Here is my take on the new features and capabilities being shown now.
New look and feel – The new font is very pleasing to look with its slight curves at the ends of letters. I’ve always favoured the darker theme starting with 3.x and this version will do well to give that kind of sophistication to the device.
Face Unlock – Should be quite secure, knowing that face recognition technology can differentiate between a live human face and a photo. My concern is whether the front-facing camera is fast enough to be enabled and unlock the phone compared to existing methods. What about lighting conditions, cultural limitations, and when you are not in a comfortable position to use your face?
Android Beam – Now this is the future of sharing with friends physically near to you. It has always been a hassle to go through the vast data network just to go between devices a few feet away. Bluetooth transfers are not platform-agnostic and tends to be slow.
Voice typing – A useful feature we all know as dictation. Has to be real-time and not have to wait for it to “think” after finishing a sentence. Still, I’ve yet to see any such voice recognition technology being able to understand all variants of English. I remember IBM used to do this quite well with your own voice being trained first. Compared to Siri on the iPhone 4S, I think this lacks that extra ability to get your phone to do simple tasks without typing, such as create reminders and search for short answers.
Google+ – We already got that everywhere, Google.
Browser – Good to improve on the tab management. I find myself going to the menu too often to move between tabs. This is not difficult to implement, what took you so long?
Gmail – Offline capability is important, as much as people use this on their desktops. Bring it to Google Docs too!
Mobile Data Management – Eh, 3G Watchdog?
Single-Motion Panoramic Camera – Simple trick of recording your shot in video then stitching the best frames together to make that panorama effect. Nothing new or useful here (how often do you look or print a panorama?).
Vibrant high-definition display – 4.65″ sAMOLED with 720p screen? Sorry I don’t intend to carry a TV in my pocket and I don’t think I’ll grow bigger hands any time soon.
Contour Display – Nokia 8110, no thanks.
I’m not greatly impressed by the feature list. While it is good to leave hardware buttons in the past, ICS lacks new ideas on the way we interact with the device. Why don’t we make more use of the sensors such as the gyroscope, compass, GPS and microphone?
Location-based services are very useful these days, if you can develop the smart apps for it. Videos and other data-intensive apps need the ability to download via wi-fi and in the background, managed by the Android system.
Use the display in new ways, such as a means to communicate or as a dashboard in the car. We need better graphic API with lower cost of C/GPU usage. I’m not interested in having a 2GHz chip in my pocket when the GUI staggers along!
What are your thoughts on this phone and Android 4.0?
Google Galaxy Nexus – http://www.google.com/nexus
Unwrapping Ice Cream Sandwich on the Galaxy Nexus – http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2011/10/unwrapping-ice-cream-sandwich-on-galaxy.html