Gadgets, websites, games and computer industry news. Click visits the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to see the latest smart phone technology, plus more news and Webscape.
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Welcome to Click. I'm Spencer Kelly.
It is a beautiful, crisp spring morning.
And, currently, thousands of people are streaming into the most
important event on the calendar...
if you like mobiles, because this is the Mobile World Congress,
and it takes place here in Barcelona.
It's a show to make you smile as we go mobile mad.
As well as the big launches, we'll bring you the phone that
sees in 3D, and the phone that can't be seen at all.
We'll go underwater, and over the top.
And, if that's not enough,
there's the best of the web in Webscape, too.
The Mobile World Congress grows every year.
More than 70,000 visitors explore eight halls
and nearly 100,000 square metres of exhibition space.
Everyone has something mobile to show off.
Phones, tablets, and, increasingly,
the newest form of mobile tech, wearables.
The oldest mobiles are here, too, though. Cars. Of course, these days,
cars are learning to understand their environment, like this
example from Ford, which is using lasers to scan
nearly three million points every second and build up a 3D model
of the road ahead.
Just across the road from the Fira Gran Via convention centre,
possibly the coolest piece of 3D modelling tech I've ever seen.
This is one of only 200 prototype devices in the world that
make use of Google's Project Tango.
It's an Android phone with added 3D sensors.
In a similar way to Xbox's Kinect it, the phone sends pulses
of infrared light into the room,
and then records how it's reflected back.
The result is a depth map of the space that you're in.
As you move about the room, the phone's position
and orientation are constantly recorded,
using a combination of the phone's gyroscope
and complex image tracking,
which works out how the image is moving about.
Crucially, for navigating indoors, it doesn't need GPS,
or any other wireless signal to work out where it is.
The theories behind 3D mapping a room,
a landscape, or an environment in this way aren't new.
But they are incredibly processor intensive.
And what is new is being able to do all that thinking
in real-time inside a mobile phone.
Now, that IS cool.
Mobile technology that can understand its environment
is one of the holy grails of computing.
It opens the way for applications, such as modelling buildings,
or navigation for robots which can get about the place
without bumping into things.
Handy for Google, a company which already has a fleet
of self driving cars and at least
seven robotics companies under its wing.
Now, many of the big technology success stories have been
built on gathering huge amounts of data about their surroundings,
and, also, about us.
With so much data being transmitted by our phones, one company,
at least, is focusing on protecting our security.
We've talked about the Blackphone on Click before,
but this is where it launched.
And Jen Copestake went to have a look.
The revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden
into the mass trawling of meta data have led many to question how
secure their communications are.
So, if you need to whisper in someone's ear
from 1,000 miles away, we can help you with that.
Making the timing of the launch of a security focused device ideal.
And this is the Blackphone.
From the outside, it looks just like any other smartphone.
It's got a high-resolution display, a front and back camera.
But what really sets it apart is what's running on the inside.
It claims to offer encrypted text messaging and calls,
but only where both sender and receiver are using the device
or the Silent Phone app.
It also allows you to control what information the phone transmits
wirelessly as you walk around.
A growing issue for privacy campaigners.
What we can address successfully is the dragnet of information
that we're seeing from the Snowden documents,
the large-scale collection of traffic.
It might collect the traffic,
but they're not going to see the content.
The phone will cost 629 US dollars.
This includes a two-year subscription to the Silent Phone service,
and a few invitations for others to use the software
so you can have someone to talk to.
It will be available on any GSM network.
Silent Circle is run by a mix of cryptographers,
and ex-Navy Seals, and Special Forces.
So, perhaps no surprise who some of the first customers are.
US Special Forces are using our products.
As are the British Special Forces.
My strategy from the beginning of the company has been to get
government customers to create a kind of dependence
on our technology.
And, that way, it would reduce the chances that we would be...
The government would try to pressure us into putting backdoors in,
because it would create too much collateral damage to their own people.
And, while this might be the most secure phone coming to market,
Blackphone is keen to emphasise it is not completely NSA proof.
Oh, heavens, no!
If they really wanted to attack just YOUR phone,
and they made it a priority, they would find a way in.
A low-key launch, then, for a quiet phone.
But not all the announcements were quite that subtle.
STRING QUARTET PLAYS
Probably the most anticipated was Samsung's behemoth
of a hullabaloo, complete with orchestra,
wannabe superstar execs, and, of course, new kit.
First up was the new Galaxy S5 phone.
Slightly larger than the S4 with better battery life,
a 16 megapixel camera, and a fingerprint scanner,
the S5 is also dust and water resistant, although not waterproof.
As seems to be the fashion these days,
the user interface now looks a bit cleaner and simpler, too.
There's a big emphasis on health and fitness apps at the moment.
The S5 comes with a whole raft of them.
There's a pedometer, for example, to measure how far you've walked.
There's a heart rate monitor which means if you hold your finger
over this little red light at the back, it'll take your pulse for you.
Possibly the most interesting feature
was the ultra power saving mode
which shuts down all non-essential parts of the phone,
and turns the display black and white.
Apparently, with just 10% of battery left,
this will keep your phone alive for another 24 hours.
Ironically, many of us at the press conference just now could have done with one of these.
It is, after all, nearly 10pm,
and most of our phones are on their last legs.
This kit also made a bit of a splash. The Galaxy Gear Fit.
It's a fitness wristband with a curved colour touchscreen
and it's possibly this type of thing that will make wearable tech
just that bit more fashionable.
Now, the Samsung event isn't the only one happening here at the Mobile World Congress.
Here's a round-up of the other big announcements from the show.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg used his keynote speech to extol
his vision of connecting the entirety of the world via the Internet.
And, after Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp for 19 billion,
they're on the right track.
Already boasting 450 million users,
WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum also announced a free voice calling feature
to debut in the app later this year.
Facebook has quietly pulled the plug on its own e-mail service.
A spokesperson for the social network admitted
they're making the change
because most people haven't been using their Facebook e-mail address.
And it's not all about Keynote.
Offstage, start-up Seene debuted its iPhone app which creates
simple, interactive 3D models using only the phone's built-in camera.
Sony unveiled its latest batch of waterproof devices.
The Xperia Z2 smartphone and its tablet cousin the...
Chinese manufacturer Huawei weighed in on the battle for our wrists
with its Talkband B1.
The hybrid device doubles up as a hands-free earpiece
and also tracks your fitness.
Huawei is already a big player in China
but has its sights set on the bigger things overseas.
Away from MWC, one of the world's largest Bitcoin trading sites,
MtGox, has disappeared off-line after the suspected
theft of millions of pounds of the digital currency.
It's rumoured up to 750,000 coins worth
a staggering £200 million have been stolen,
and the theft potentially gone unnoticed for several years.
Six other Bitcoin exchanges have since issued a joint
statement saying this didn't affect the resilience or value of Bitcoin.
And back at MWC, Mozilla,
the company behind the Firefox operating system, has showed off
a prototype super cheap smartphone which could sell for just £15.
Designed for the developing world, the phone uses the Firefox OS,
has a touchscreen, a 1GHz processor,
and a two megapixel camera.
Not blistering specs, admittedly,
but what do you expect for the price?
It's expected to launch later this year.
And Firefox isn't the only smartphone outfit
that's targeting the developing world.
Here's LJ Rich with news from Nokia.
Yes, it's the company that used to dominate the handset industry.
And now Nokia's aiming to claw back some market share with
a range of affordable smartphones.
The Nokia X and Nokia X+.
There they are, ladies and gentlemen.
While Nokia's always been open to Windows,
it's raised a few eyebrows by partnering with Google's Android
for its new low-priced Nokia X smartphone range.
When you look at the functionality of these phones,
it's surprising to think these come in at under 100 euros for this one
and 109 euros for this.
This is the Nokia XL.
Making a low-power, low-cost phone like this is a great way to
mop up all that revenue from the developing world,
especially for people who are skipping desktops,
skipping laptops, and going straight to mobile.
And it may look like a Windows interface but, actually,
it's running a highly tweaked Android mashup called Nokia X.
Instead of Google's services, like Gmail and Drive on Android phones,
there's Microsoft's Outlook and One Drive.
It's no wonder some people are calling the Nokia X
a crossover phone.
Of course, the manufacturer hopes the people will get on
to its ecosystem and spend money on apps.
With an estimated 1.8 billion people in the next five years getting
connected for the first time,
Nokia wants a slice of that purchasing power pie.
The Mobile World Congress is full of exhibitors big and small.
And it's amazing the sorts of things you do find
when you immerse yourself in the halls.
For example, here's a lab, which is itself quite immersive.
Hands up whose phone has met its end after an accident like this.
Well, this is why it happens.
When water gets onto an electrical circuit,
it causes the thing to corrode as soon as the current starts to flow.
Within seconds, the circuits are ruined. But, here is one solution.
Here are two tissues. They both feel exactly the same.
If I dunk this one in this bowl of water -
surprise, surprise - mache.
But if I take THIS tissue and dunk it in the water, watch what happens.
That is just the most bizarre feeling.
It kind of fights the water. It doesn't want to go under it at all.
And, even when it does, the water just sits on top of it.
And when I take it out of the water...
The water's just completely run off of it.
That is, to all intents and purposes, waterproof.
The dry tissue has been nano-coated with an extremely thin layer
of so-called hydrophobic material,
which keeps the water just nanometres away from doing any damage - presumably by scaring it.
Nano-coat your electronics in the same way,
and no amount of electricity will cause a fuss - or a fizz.
After five minutes, the untreated phone on the left
is so badly corroded you can actually see it.
The one on the right is totally protected.
And now, from one kind of dunking to a completely different kind,
The French basketball team have won their last 18 games,
but now I've come to give them a few tips.
They're actually here at Mobile World Congress
to demonstrate some technology.
And of course, it's wearable.
There are washable wires woven throughout this vest.
The wires send data from the players' bodies, like their heart rate,
to a detachable module on the back.
It's a prototype, so the finished module will be half the size.
A bit like me.
Data can be sent via Bluetooth for each player to use personally,
or all the players can share the data for more sophisticated analytics.
Good performance analysis
could make the difference between being on the winning or losing team.
Actually, sport strategy and technology have been entwined for many years.
Tennis changed radically after metal rackets were developed,
and anyone playing with a wooden racket would simply not be able
to keep up with the new technology.
These days, the racket race is still on,
with modern ones made from aluminium and carbon fibre
making the game faster and more precise than ever.
But this racket, from French company Babolat, has gone further.
It's also a virtual coach.
It analyses your moves, and collects information while you play.
To keep within the International Tennis Federation rules,
the data can only be accessed afterwards.
Once synced via USB with a laptop
or in this case Bluetooth to a phone,
the racket gives a post-match analysis.
It shows how long you've played, how many forehands and backhands
you've hit, that sort of thing,
but it also says exactly where on the racket
you're hitting, and how much spin you're putting on the ball -
presumably to help players modify their style
once they see the readings.
And, there's a social element to the app.
Here, my score is compared with top player Rafael Nadal.
Unsurprisingly, his score is a little higher than mine.
Back to Spen.
LJ Rich. Now, as smartphone processes get faster and more powerful,
one of the other technologies that needs to keep up is the storage.
As you take videos and photos with for example
this ring of smartphones, they have to write to their storage incredibly quickly,
and one of the things that SanDisk is showing off with this
ring of beauties is just how fast these cameras can catch the photo.
For example, if I turn around
you get this effect.
Now, to be honest this should have been something a little more like
The Matrix's bullet time effect
but due to shall we say network problems,
a lot of the cameras failed.
It worked for other people,
but after two days of trying to rescue MY footage
the Hollywood studio behind the prototype
had to go a little off-grid.
I do feel like I'm in The Matrix - just not in the way I expected.
And if you thought that was eye-popping, here comes Jen Copestake
with something that most definitely isn't.
Many people worry about the effects staring at a phone or tablet
for hours on end can have on the eyes.
But a new app aims to change your perspective.
The Ultimeyes app claims to help you see further
and sharper than before you used it.
It uses simple puzzles that activate the visual cortex in your brain,
which controls eyesight.
The app features a series of fuzzy target blobs you click on,
which become harder to see as the game progresses.
The game is targeting your brain, not your eye muscles,
and works on new research into how the brain
can be fundamentally rewired through exercise.
For years we've known that if you exercise your body,
it could be stronger and you could do better at the things you do.
And now it's more and more the case that we know how to do this
with the brain, and so I'm excited about trying to make
tools that will be generally promoting mental fitness.
Ultimeyes was tested by 19 baseball players,
who used it 30 times in 25-minute intervals.
The distance at which they could see clearly
was lengthened by an average of 31% after using it.
Seven of the players achieved a remarkable 20/7.5 vision,
meaning they could see at 20 feet what someone with normal eyesight can see at 7.5.
Don't expect that if you just do the programme for 25 minutes
your vision's going to suddenly be better.
Prolonged exercise is required,
and typical studies in perceptual learning
require weeks and months of training,
and if you want to really get changes that are going to
make you be able to see a line or two lower on an eye chart,
you really need to work at this.
I'll be honest, it takes a lot of patience to get through the sessions.
The research into whether or not this app
will have any significant long-term effects is exciting,
but whether it can be replicated with a bigger sample remains to be seen.
Jen Copestake, going easy on her eyes.
And just as we're getting used to touching
and swiping our gadgets,
devices like Xbox Kinect have introduced us
to a whole new way to control them. Gesture.
And if your device doesn't come with gesture recognition,
or even touch for that matter,
then Israeli outfit eyeSight can retrofit it with special software.
Apps for Apple and Android devices use the front-facing camera
to watch out for your waggles, and then convert them
into their respective touch command.
This PC's webcam can do all that and spot special gestures,
allowing you to mute your music
with a simple shush.
OK - next up, it's Kate Russell, with Webscape.
It's thought that by 2016 one-third of the planet's 7 billion people
will be using social media.
For a more efficient way to talk to them, try Buffer.
This publishing tool lets you manage all your key accounts
through one simple dashboard,
with built-in analytics to help you see which content
is most engaging for your followers.
It's not uncommon to have more than one social media account for different purposes -
LinkedIn for business, Twitter for random link sharing,
Facebook and Google+ for longer conversations and keeping up with the family -
but you don't want to spend too much time keeping them all updated.
After all - you have a real life to live as well as an online one, right?
You can choose which networks to share stuff on, and even schedule
those posts to happen at times when your followers are most active.
Browser extensions in various flavours
are a brilliant time-saving addition,
and there's loads of other popular integrations
like If This Then That and Trapit,
to make sharing fantastic content even easier.
Another useful app if you want to know what's around you
is World Around Me, on IoS and Android.
The lite motion is free and ad-supported,
using augmented reality to put a label on your camera viewpoint
for attractions like restaurants, hotels and other useful amenities.
If you want to get really serious about finding your way about
in a strange place, though, you could hire a local guide.
Dopios is a community site that allows travellers
to search for local guides by destination,
and then filter the results by the kinds of things they like to do.
So, if you like going to museums and looking at dinosaur bones
you can choose someone who knows all the best historic sites.
Or, if you're more inclined to spend your time shopping, you can
pick the perfect partner to show you around the retail hotspots.
And this means you can make sure you get the best host
possible for your trip, whatever you like to do.
From art lovers to techies, foodies or the outdoors type,
each guide lists the tours they offer,
and the website checks and verifies them
to make sure everyone is kept safe.
You can sign up to be a guide as well
if you think you have something to offer, which could be a nice way
to earn a little extra money, just showing visitors around town.
Kate Russell's Webscape.
And just before we leave the Mobile World Congress for this year,
how about this as an idea for a future mobile application?
You've driven to work, parked your car in the car park
and then you remember you've forgotten to buy the milk.
Well, you go online, you do your shopping,
and Enrico turns up, with his shopping bike.
By pressing a button on a special app on his tablet
he makes your car flash so he can find it.
With a second press of the button, he unlocks your boot,
and then he can pop your shopping in there while you're still at work.
Closes the boot and then with a third press,
he can lock your car again.
This is possible on Volvo cars at the moment
because many Volvo cars are already connected to the internet, and that is an idea...
-BICYCLE BELL TINGS
for the ultimate mobile shopping experience.
And that really is it from Click in Barcelona.
For more on our adventures, go to our website
and follow our exploits as ever on Twitter.
Thank you very much for watching, and we'll see you next time.
This week, Click visits the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to explore the very latest in smart phone technology. Plus the latest news and Webscape.