Elon Musk wants to revolutionize transportation. Again.
The serial entrepreneur envisions a future where mag-lev trains in enormous pneumatic tubes whisk us from Los Angeles to New York in 45 minutes. Need to be in Beijing tomorrow? No problem. It’s a two-hour ride away.
As crazy as it sounds, Musk is merely updating an idea that’s been around since the early 1900s, and at least one company is working on a functional prototype. But according to Wired sources, his involvement won’t be nearly as hands-on as Musk’s other endeavors at Tesla Motors and SpaceX.
The engineering behind the Hyperloop is similar to the old-school pneumatic tube systems used by banks to suck your deposit to the teller at the drive-through. But naturally, it’s more complicated than that.
A massive vacuum tube — mounted either above ground or even under water — would be combined with a magnetic levitation system used on conventional bullet trains. That means no friction, no wind resistance, no chance of collisions, and insanely high speeds.
Musk described the Hyperloop as “a cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table,” at AllThingsD’s D11 conference earlier this year. And in an interview with PandoDaily, Musk said the Hyperloop could form a fifth tent pole of modern transportation, joining cars, planes, trains, and boats, adding that because of its low energy usage and ability to get juice from solar power, it could generate more power than it would consume.
But up until now, he hasn’t elaborated on his involvement.
Musk’s interest in the idea was sparked after researching California’s new high-speed rail project and realizing that it will be the slowest and — at $70 billion — the most expensive system on the planet. To his mind, there’s a better solution. The Hyperloop is it. And one firm unaffiliated with Musk is in the early stages of development.
ET3, a company based in Longmont, Colorado, is working on a Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) system, which it describes as “space travel on Earth.” It uses two tubes — one for each direction — with 400-pound, passenger car-sized capsules that could house six people, each accelerated by linear electric motors. According to ET3, state trips would average speeds of around 370 mph, while international trips would hit that insane 4,000 mph mark.
The company, which calls itself an “open consortium,” claims that it’s working with partners in China and has sold nearly 100 licenses for the technology. But ET3′s claims pose more questions than answers, particularly when considering you can buy your own license for the bargain basement price of $100.
But the idea for a vacuum-sealed high-speed transit system isn’t anything new. The “vactrain” concept was floated in the early 1910s and a paper written by physicist R.M. Salter and published by the Rand Corporation in 1972 titled the “Very High Speed Transit System,” or VHST, describes something very similar to what ET3 is developing.
But where Musk fits in remains a question. Sources close to the Tesla co-founder and CEO say he believes ET3 is on the right track, but is missing some key components, and that Musk has his hands full with Tesla and SpaceX, and would rather have some involvement in the development, with another entity taking the helm.
That lines up with a few responses Musk made on Twitter when asked about patenting the technology. “I really hate patents unless critical to company survival,” Musk tweeted. “Will publish Hyperloop as open source.”
When asked about partners, Musk said he’s “happy to work with the right partners. Must truly share philosophical goal of breakthrough tech done fast & w/o wasting money on BS.”
We’ll have to wait until August 12th to find out more.
Microsoft Documents Confirm Futuristic Surface Plans
It’s rare that you see a Microsoft Surface device being promoted without its Surface Pen. It’s a key feature that is talked up regularly by the Surface team, and it’s one area ripe for innovation. The latest details show work continues to make a more intelligent Pen.
“…Microsoft says the stylus still uses a vibrating tip to determine when the contact with a surface occurs. The patented Surface Pen also comes with a capsule that is designed to minimize the motion of the shaft and the shaft runs parallel to the length of the stylus.
“The tip has two antennas and one is connected to the shaft using a track made of metal material. There’s also a transmitter located in its tip and it can detect the position of the stylus tip, and then quickly switch to inking mode.”
Microsoft’s Surface vision has always been built around different modes of working. Think of the Surface Pro 2-in-1s with their detachable keyboards that allowed for a tablet experience with and without qwerty input. Think of the Surface Book’s outstanding feature of a laptop with a fully detachable screen? Even in the Surface Laptop, which doesn’t have a physical transformation you can still move between pen input and trackpad movements. Surface is about multiple modes, and switching between them quickly and easily.
That includes the Surface Pen. It has two modes of use. The first is the more traditional stylus-based approach to computing, replicating the ideas of a mouse or trackpad in operation. The second mode is inking mode, where your artistic flair can take over.
Allowing the Surface Pen to better understand when to switch modes, to decrease the delay in switching modes, and to create a ‘magical’ experience mixing stylus- and inking-modes, is a natural next step for Microsoft to address.
As always, a published patent does show the direction a company is taking with hardware development, but it does not guarantee that this technology will be seen on consumer devices. But some patents heel more likely to show up than others. This one feels like something we’ll be seeing in the near future.
100W wireless charging could be a thing next year
- A new leak points to 100W wireless charging by several brands in 2021.
- Heat and battery degradation would likely be two key challenges for the tech.
We’ve seen major strides in fast charging in the last two years, as smartphone manufacturers like Huawei, BBK, and Xiaomi upped the ante for both wired and wireless charging. We’ve previously seen wired charging top out at ~120W in recent months, but wireless charging solutions aren’t far behind, either.
Now, frequent leaker Digital Chat Station has claimed that several manufacturers are targeting 100W wireless charging for phones launching in 2021. Check out the post below.
This would be a major leap over current wireless charging standards. We’ve seen 40W wireless charging in the likes of the Oppo Ace 2 and Huawei P40 Pro Plus respectively. Oppo has also announced 65W wireless charging technology earlier this year, although we haven’t seen it on a commercial device just yet.
Nevertheless, we do wonder about heat and battery degradation with a move to 100W wireless charging. Oppo in particular stated that its 125W wired charging solution degraded the battery to 80% capacity after 800 charging cycles, compared to its 65W wired solution dropping down to 90% capacity after 800 cycles. So hopefully brands address this challenge adequately with 100W wireless charging.
Another concern with this tech is compatibility with other Qi charging devices. Oppo’s 65W wireless charging solution defaults to significantly slower 10W or even 5W topups for other Qi-compatible phones.
An iPhone 12 to please everyone — well, except Android fans
Remember when there was just an iPhone, and the only decisions you needed to make were capacity and color?
Well, if you like having lots of options, the iPhone 12 sounds like it’s the handset for you, with the latest rumors suggesting lots of choice.
It seems Apple wants to make an iPhone 12 for everyone — well, maybe not Android fans.
So far, we expect the iPhone 12 to be offered in the following configurations:
- iPhone 12
- iPhone 12 Pro
- iPhone 12 Pro Max
- iPhone 12 Mini
So, what’s going to be the differences between them?
All are expected to be powered by the new A14 Bionic chip, and all are expected to feature 5G. However, super-fast mmWave support could be reserved for the Pro models. Another commonality is that none will come with earbuds or a charger, but you will get a snazzy braided USB-C-to-Lightning cable.
The most obvious difference is going to be display size.
- iPhone 12: 6.1-inch
- iPhone 12 Pro: 6.1-inch
- iPhone 12 Pro Max: 6.7-inch
- iPhone 12 Mini: 5.4-inch
There are likely to be other differences to differentiate the Pro Max from the rest of the pack. The two biggest features — LiDAR depth sensor and 120Hz high refresh rate panel — are likely to be Pro Max only features.
Another difference that users will care about is battery size. The bigger the handset, the beefier the battery.
Rumors point to following capacities:
- iPhone 12: 2,775 mAh
- iPhone 12 Pro: 2,775 or 2,815 mAh
- iPhone 12 Pro Max: 3,690 mAh
- iPhone 12 Mini: 2,230 mAh
Another thing that people care about — because it can turn a cheap iPhone into an expensive one — is storage capacities. These are likely to be as follows:
- iPhone 12: 64GB | 128GB | 256GB
- iPhone 12 Pro: 128GB | 256GB | 512GB
- iPhone 12 Pro Max: 128GB | 256GB | 512GB
- iPhone 12 Mini: 64GB | 128GB | 256GB
RAM is another differentiator. The split here is likely to be Pro/non-Pro
- iPhone 12: 4GB
- iPhone 12 Pro: 6GB
- iPhone 12 Pro Max: 6GB
- iPhone 12 Mini: 4GB
Finally, starting price.
- iPhone 12: $749
- iPhone 12 Pro: $999
- iPhone 12 Pro Max: $1099
- iPhone 12 Mini: $649
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