In this week’s Round-Up we hear about Google’s plans for a ‘Smart Contact Lens’, new screens for next-gen Apple devices, updates to Google’s Chrome browser plus possible new products from Amazon and Valve!
CUTTING EDGE: Google Working on ‘Smart Contact Lens’ To Monitor Glucose Levels
Google has announced that they are developing a ‘smart contact lens’ to measure glucose levels in human tears. It utilises a tiny wireless chip and glucose sensors, which are embedded between two layers of lens material.
To take the concept further, Google are said to be working on integrating small LED lights into the device to act as a warning when levels fall beneath a certain threshold.
Obviously, this device is still in the early stages of development but it will become part of a growing market for wearable technology and more significantly, could help those with diabetes manage their disease.
According to the International Diabetes Foundation, one in ten people across the world are expected to suffer with diabetes by 2035 so this new device and cannot come soon enough.
Google is working with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help bring the market to mainstream use, whilst also searching for app developers to help build an interface and make the information accessible to both user and doctor alike.
In the years to come, I think we can expect to see many more healthcare devices hit the open market and they could become invaluable to a great many of us.
APPLE: Possible 5-inch HD Display on Next iPhone and a Curved AMOLED for iWatch
The research firm DisplaySearch predicts that the next-gen iPhone could boast an impressive 5.5-inch ‘Full HD’ display and that the iWatch might feature a flexible AMOLED screen.
These are of course only projections but the firm has shown some success with Apple predictions in the past. The technology site CNET reported that there are two possible options for the display on the iPhone 6.
The first, lower-end option is a 4.7-inch 1600x900 pixel resolution display, which would still be an improvement on the iPhone 5S.
The second, high-end option is a 5.5-inch screen with the Full HD resolution of 1920x1080, providing an impressive 407 pixels per inch (PPI). As for the iWatch, DisplaySearch thinks that Apple will use and AMOLED screen, this would be the first time they have used the technology.
Two possible screen candidates have emerged, both flexible displays at 1.3 or 1.6 inches with a 320x320 pixel resolution.
However, it is too early to tell for sure, these are only predictions and 2013 saw many rumours of flexible displays for Samsung’s wearable tech that have yet to materialise.
ANDROID: Chrome Update Adds Data Compression and Home Screen Shortcuts
For those of you who use Chrome for Android as your mobile browser, you will be happy to hear that Google has introduced a new data compression option and simple home screen shortcuts.
Google’s bandwidth management compresses data through its own servers, which is great news for those on limited data plans. Simply launch Chrome, go into ‘Settings’ then ‘Bandwidth Management’ and toggle ‘Reduce Data Usage’.
A welcome feature indeed and it’s good to see Google looking after its customers’ interests here. The gorgeous simplicity of Chrome’s mobile browser has been improved by the addition of home screen shortcuts as well.
You can add any web page you like to your Chrome home screen by just going to ‘Settings’ and ‘Add to Home Screen’. This brings the experience much closer to its desktop counterpart, making regularly used links that bit more accessible.
Certain optimised websites will even appear in full-screen and be displayed separately in the Android app switcher, which is especially useful if those sites don’t already have their own Android app.
GADGETS: Amazon Working on a Device That’s “Bigger Than Kindle”
As seen on one of Amazon’s own event invites, the online retailer is said to be working on a product that will be “bigger than Kindle”.
Obviously, we don’t believe this should be taken literally; this isn’t about increasing the size of their e-readers. The company has not revealed publicly what this new product could be but they are set to discuss it further at a recruitment event in Boston on January 30th.
The Boston Globe reports that Amazon may be looking to hire people to develop a new set-top box to deliver digital content to your television. Certainly there have been extensive rumours about such a product but this could be the first real sign of its development.
It makes complete sense for the company to release such a device but would put it in direct competition with the likes of Google’s Chromecast, Apple TV and the Roku Box.
It’s a tough market to be in but Amazon could pull it off, we’ve already seen them diversify their product ranges and delivery options in the form of the Google Fire HDX and Kindle Air drones respectively.
Of course, nothing has been confirmed about this set-top box yet but if it does become a reality, would you make use of it?
GAMING: Valve Releases Virtual Reality Interface To The Public
The infamous games giant Valve has released a virtual reality interface dubbed ‘SteamVR’ to the public. It is currently available to anyone with an Oculus Rift device, the pioneering new virtual reality machine in the hands of many developers at the moment.
SteamVR allows users to explore the company’s digital game platform but could well be just a proof of concept at this stage as the company has already revealed bigger plans for virtual reality technology.
It follows Valve’s development of new, innovative interfaces; there is already a custom full-screen mode for Steam on PC.
Considering their development of the ‘Steam Box’ and ‘Steam Controller’ I am sure we can expect to see the company release its own virtual reality headset sometime soon.
Valve continues to re-affirm its commitment to innovative design and breaking down the barriers between game and gamer. 2014 could be a very interesting year for all us, potentially changing how we interface with our favourite devices for years to come.
James is a freelance technology and science writer from Bucks.
His interests range from gadgets and apps to movies and gaming, really anything geeky!
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