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Hardwares

‘MISSING LINK’ FOUND IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF BIOELECTRONIC MEDICINES

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New research, led by the University of Southampton, has demonstrated that a nanoscale device, called a memristor, could be the ‘missing link’ in the development of implants that use electrical signals from the brain to help treat medical conditions.

Monitoring neuronal cell activity is fundamental to neuroscience and the development of neuroprosthetics – biomedically engineered devices that are driven by neural activity. However, a persistent problem is the device being able to process the neural data in real-time, which imposes restrictive requirements on bandwidth, energy and computation capacity.

In a new study, published in Nature Communications, the researchers showed that memristors could provide real-time processing of neuronal signals (spiking events) leading to efficient data compression and the potential to develop more precise and affordable neuroprosthetics and bioelectronic medicines.

Memristors are electrical components that limit or regulate the flow of electrical current in a circuit and can remember the amount of charge that was flowing through it and retain the data, even when the power is turned off.

Lead author Isha Gupta, Postgraduate Research Student at the University of Southampton, said: “Our work can significantly contribute towards further enhancing the understanding of neuroscience, developing neuroprosthetics and bio-electronic medicines by building tools essential for interpreting the big data in a more effective way.”

The research team developed a nanoscale Memristive Integrating Sensor (MIS) into which they fed a series of voltage-time samples, which replicated neuronal electrical activity.

Acting like synapses in the brain, the metal-oxide MIS was able to encode and compress (up to 200 times) neuronal spiking activity recorded by multi-electrode arrays. Besides addressing the bandwidth constraints, this approach was also very power efficient – the power needed per recording channel was up to 100 times less when compared to current best practice.

Co-author Dr Themis Prodromakis, Reader in Nanoelectronics and EPSRC Fellow in Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton said: “We are thrilled that we succeeded in demonstrating that these emerging nanoscale devices, despite being rather simple in architecture, possess ultra-rich dynamics that can be harnessed beyond the obvious memory applications to address the fundamental constraints in bandwidth and power that currently prohibit scaling neural interfaces beyond 1,000 recording channels.

 

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Mobile Phones

SAMSUNG’S GALAXY NOTE 9 IS VERY EXPENSIVE

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We know almost everything about the Galaxy Note 9. While it has problems, the good news is all Samsung’s best changes are about making things bigger. That is, until now…

Polish tech site SpiderWeb has discovered the cost of the Galaxy Note 9 and it confirms bigger is not always better because Samsung is planning a sizeable price increase.

Galaxy Note 9 concept proved too ambitiousYOUTUBE.COM/DBSDESIGNING

In its home country, SpiderWeb cites both a local source and a Samsung representative as saying the Galaxy Note 9 will cost PLN 4,299 ($1,159) at launch. This compares to PLN 3,800 ($1,024) for the Galaxy Note 8.

For context, phones in Europe are typically more expensive than in the US but often only because their prices include sales tax. As such it is hard to see Samsung not pushing the $950 Galaxy Note 8 launch price beyond $1,000 for the Galaxy Note 9 launch Stateside.

This is a figure which has the potential to cause problems both for consumers and Samsung alike.

For consumers, the problem is the Galaxy Note 9 is not like other handsets. Millions are wedded to the Note series’ S Pen and the tightly integrated productivity software which goes with it. There simply isn’t another phone on the market like a Galaxy Note, which provides Samsung with an almost unique level of lock-in for an Android phone.

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Mobile Phones

GOOGLE FINED £3.8BN BY EU OVER ANDROID ANTITRUST VIOLATIONS

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Company made its search engine the default on most phones using operating system

Google has been hit with a record €4.34bn (£3.8bn) fine by the European Union for abusing its market dominance in mobile phone operating systems.

The EU imposed the multibillion-euro penalty after finding that the US tech firm required smartphone manufacturers to pre-instal Google’s search and browser apps devices using its Android operating system, otherwise they would not be allowed to use its Google Play online store and streaming service.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said Google has used its Android mobile phone operating system “to cement its dominance as a search engine”, preventing rivals from innovating and competing “and this is illegal under EU antitrust rules”.

Vestager added: “The vast majority of users simply take what comes with their device and don’t download competing apps.

“Or to slightly paraphrase what [US free market economist] Milton Friedman has said ‘there ain’t no such thing as a free search.’”

 

Wednesday’s verdict ends a 39-month investigation by the European commission’s competition authorities into Google’s Android operating system. Laying out the statement of objections in April 2016, the commission accused the company of abusing its market dominance on three counts. First, by installing Google search as the default search engine on Android devices; second, preventing smartphone manufacturers from running competing systems; third, denying consumer choice, by giving financial incentives to manufacturers and mobile phone operators to pre-install Google Search.

In response, Google had said users were free to delete its apps. The company had mounted a strong defence of its open-source Android operating system, saying it “keeps manufacturers’ costs low and their flexibility high, while giving consumers unprecedented control of their mobile devices”.

The decision could raise tensions with the US government before a visit to the White House by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, next week. Juncker will meet the US president, Donald Trump, on 25 July for talks on the economy, counter-terrorism, energy security, foreign policy and security.

According to Reuters, the competition authorities delayed the Google announcement by one week to avoid a clash with the Nato summit, where Trump lambasted the US’s European allies.

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Desktops

CHROME AND FIREFOX GAIN WINDOWS 10 TIMELINE SUPPORT WITH A NEW EXTENSION

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Microsoft’s new Timeline feature in Windows 10 is designed to let you pick up where you left off on multiple devices. While Timeline supports Microsoft Edge for web browsing history, Chrome and Firefox have not yet been updated to officially support the new feature. A third-party developer has now created a Chrome and Firefox extension to bring Windows Timeline support to both browsers.

The new extension is free and works exactly how you’d expect. Browsing history will be synced to the Windows 10 Timeline feature, so you can pick up old tabs across other PCs. Timeline in its current form is only really useful if you’re using multiple Windows 10 machines with the same account, so perhaps a desktop at home and a laptop on the go (or a work machine). The new extension also lets you push a website you’re currently viewing to another Windows 10 machine.

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