OAPs to be given Samsung Galaxy tablets to SKYPE carers after cash-strapped council scraps home visits

A CASH-STRAPPED council is handing out high-end Samsung Galaxy tablets in a bid to make sick pensioners SKYPE their carers instead of receiving a home visit.

Up to 40 OAPs in Essex will be handed top-of-the-range 4G Samsung Galaxy tablets as part of the madcap scheme.

 Up to 40 Essex OAPs will receive top-of-the-range computer tablets as part of the trial

SWNS:South West News Service

Up to 40 Essex OAPs will receive top-of-the-range computer tablets as part of the trial

Last night Essex County Council bosses insisted the trial, run in partnership with Essex Cared LTD, will provide “a more convenient and prove a less intrusive method of interacting with a care worker, friends and family.”

But top GP Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard blasted: “What these patients need is someone to listen to them and to find purpose in life.

“GPs see patients, many of whom are widowed, who have multiple health problems like diabetes, hypertension and depression, but often their main problem isn’t medical, they’re lonely.

An estimated 1.1 million OAPs are chronically lonely in the UK, and lonely people are more likely to develop serious conditions like heart disease, depression and dementia.

Cliff Rich, CEO of Contact the Elderly added: “We gladly recognise the amazing strides modern technology has made in helping all of us, and especially older people, with staying in touch with family and friends who may live too far away to visit in person.

 Critics say the scheme will rob lonely pensioners of vital face-to-face contact

SWNS:South West News Service

Critics say the scheme will rob lonely pensioners of vital face-to-face contact

“However, we still believe that nothing can replace the essential human need for face-to-face interaction.”

John Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “It is important that we keep pace with new technology.

“I am pleased that Essex is trialling this system to have a positive impact on people’s lives.

“It will allow our vulnerable adults to live independently, providing them with something that is accessible from the comfort of their own homes.”

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Mattel scraps plan for digital assistant for kids


Mattel, whose CEO Margaret Georgiadis is seen at a 2017 conference, has scrapped plans to sell a connected speaker powered by artificial intelligence for children<!– –>

Mattel, whose CEO Margaret Georgiadis is seen at a 2017 conference, has scrapped plans to sell a connected speaker powered by artificial intelligence for children

US toy giant Mattel said Thursday it was cancelling its plan to deliver an artificial intelligence-infused digital speaker for children, following complaints from privacy groups and lawmakers.

The device called Aristotle was announced in January during the Consumer Electronics Show as a kid-friendly alternative to digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers and Google Home, and which could also be used as a baby monitor.

But several activist groups and at least two US lawmakers said Aristotle threatened to undermine privacy and could open up children to marketers, hackers and other threats.

Mattel said in an email to AFP that its new chief technical officer Sven Gerjets, who joined the company in July, “conducted an extensive review of the Aristotle product and decided that it did not fully align with Mattel’s new technology strategy.”

“The decision was then made not to bring Aristotle to the marketplace as part of an ongoing effort to deliver the best possible connected product experience to the consumer,” the statement said.

Last month, US Senator Ed Markey and Representative Joe Barton sent a letter to Mattel chief executive Margaret Georgiadis warning of privacy issues with the device.

The lawmakers said Aristotle was capable of “transmitting personal and sensitive information” about children to Mattel, and raised privacy fears because it could “build an in-depth profile of children and their family.”

Meanwhile the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood sent a letter and 15,000 petition signatures asking Mattel to scrap Aristotle.

“Aristotle would inject corporate surveillance and marketing into the most intimate and important moments of young children’s lives,” said the group’s executive director Josh Golin.

The dust-up was the latest over toys and devices for children which are connected to the internet cloud.

Last year, the US Federal Trade Commission said it would require toymakers to respect a law protecting children’s online privacy, and the FBI warned that devices such as Mattel’s “Hello Barbie” could “put the privacy and safety of children at risk due to the large amount of personal information that may be unwittingly disclosed.”

Faraday Future Scraps Plans To Build Factory In Vallejo, CA

Electric car startup Faraday Future scrapped plans to build a new factory in Vallejo, California, the Los Angeles-based company confirmed in a statement given to Business Insider. The firm negotiated a preliminary agreement with Vallejo administration in mid-2016 but has now decided to drop the idea of building a vehicle manufacturing facility at the location due to the fact it’s recommitting its resources towards commercializing its first electric car and building a manufacturing plant in Las Vegas, Nevada. Regardless, a Faraday Future spokesperson said the company will still consider Vallejo as a potential site for its future expansions but provided no specific time frame to accompany that statement.

The firm was reportedly given two extensions on its negotiations with the city as Vallejo officials apparently opted for a patient approach to the deal, but that strategy ultimately didn’t amount to anything as Faraday Future’s cash crunch and management departures led the company to deprioritize the project before finally scrapping it. The Los Angeles-based startup is now adamant to use its remaining resources to complete the development of the FF91, its first concept car that was heavily advertised at the latest iteration of Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. It remains to be seen whether the firm manages to realize that ambition seeing how the construction of its primary manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas still hasn’t started and it’s currently going through financial troubles that are apparently even preventing it from paying for promos it ordered for the FF91.

Faraday Future’s prospects aren’t helped by the fact that its main backer and LeEco CEO Jia Yueting is currently going through rough financial times as well. Following years of aggressive expansion, LeEco found itself strapped for cash in recent months and has been relying on external capital injections and liquidation of assets to keep its business afloat. While LeEco previously invested in electric vehicles and was supposed to be one of the main backers of Faraday Future’s Las Vegas plant, its financial difficulties have put its sights elsewhere. Time will tell whether the Los Angeles-based company manages to navigate through these turbulent times, but an update on the situation is bound to follow shortly.

Apple captured 540% the profits of Samsung Mobile in 2016 as China’s phone makers battled for scraps


Apple’s iPhone continued to grab the vast majority of smartphone profits globally, due to poor performance by Samsung and largely profitless production of massive numbers of lower end models by several companies in China.

Numbers reported by The Korea Herald from Strategy Analytics estimated that of the $53.7 billion in operating profits generated by the entire global smartphone market, Apple took $44.9 billion.

The firm stated that Samsung Mobile posted operating profits of $8.3 billion, despite shipping more smartphones than Apple over the entire year. In the fourth quarter, Apple sold more iPhones than Samsung’s entire range of smartphones, largely as a result of the massive recall of defective Galaxy Note 7 models.

Samsung Mobile [IM] itself reported fiscal 2016 operating income of 10.81 Trillion KRW ($9.44 billion). That group also includes Samsung’s minor sales of tablets, PCs and other minor devices. Apple reported total operating revenue for fiscal 2016 of $60 billion. It’s not clear how Strategy Analytics arrived at its numbers, but in any case the disparity between Apple’s ability to make money and Samsung’s inability is striking.

An even greater contrast is apparent in China, where Huawei, despite being the largest phone maker in China, reportedly posted profits of only $929 million, which Strategy Analytics said represented 1.6 percent of global profits. Top Chinese brands together amounted to less than five percent of global smartphone profits

The firm also reported that “OPPO took 1.5 percent of the global profits, while its rival Vivo accounted for 1.3 percent,” however Oppo and Vivo are actually two subsidiary brands produced by BBK Electronics. Regardless, all three top Chinese brands together amounted to less than five percent of global smartphone profits.

Xiaomi, the third largest Chinese phone maker, has struggled with profitability. Last November, its former global Vice President Hugo Barra admitted in an interview that his company “could sell 10 billion smartphones and [the company] wouldn’t make a single dime in profits,” describing that the company has been giving away phones “without making any money” with the intent to make money in reoccurring revenue streams. Barra has since left the company.

ZTE, which has been shipping a similar volume of phones compared to Xiaomi, was poised to report about a half billion dollars in profit last year but ended up reporting losses of $342 million after it was forced to pay $892 million in penalties for criminal conduct in violating U.S. sanctions and lying about it.

The inability of China’s top five brands to earn even 5 percent of global profits despite getting so much ink for all the low-end devices they ship to lower tier cities in China makes a mockery of the incessant reporting of Apple “falling behind” in the Chinese market while earning virtually all of the available profits in the industry, both in China and everywhere else.

Outside of smartphones, which were historically profitable for most manufacturers, Apple also earns significant profits from sales of Mac, iPad and wearables among competitors that earn virtually nothing from their efforts.

Lenovo to revive Motorola brand globally, scraps future smartwatch plans

Lenovo acquired Motorola from Google back in 2014 and its plans for the new brand’s identity have been quite confusing. At the recently concluded MWC 2017, Lenovo finally cleared the air about its future plans for Motorola. Lenovo had earlier planned to use “Moto by Lenovo” branding, but now has decided to scrap it. The company has a new leadership team and a new plan in tow is to use the Motorola name, and also put the iconic “bat wing” logo both on the front and center as well. In an interview with CNET, Lenovo sheds light on its future plans for the year.

Motorola Chairman and President Aymar de Lencquesaing speaks on the matter by saying that the company plans to reinforce all its energy on bringing back the legacy of Motorola, the company that introduced cellphones. In its plan to do so, the company will promote its most popular product so far, the Moto Z by expanding its distribution. CNET quotes Lencquesaing as saying, “Moto Mods have exceeded our expectations” which goes on to say how the modular functionality for the Moto Z worked out unlike the failed effort with the LG G5. In line with this, Motorola also unveiled new Moto Mods featuring an extended battery, one that supports wireless charging, and also one that works as a gamepad for gaming. Amazon is also working on a Moto Mod that will come with support for its voice-activated assistant Alexa. ALSO READ: Motorola to launch 12 new Moto Z Mods in 2017: Report

In terms of reviving the Motorola brand, Lenovo will slowly promote it in all its markets. This effect will however take place depending on the markets, since their strength varies from region to region. In addition to this, Lenovo will also phase out other names it sells its smartphones under, like ZUK in its home country China as it reintroduces the Motorola brand. Lencquesaing however says that this would be a gradual shift and comments, “Everything is a journey. You don’t flip the switch and tell customers overnight”.

Jan Huckfeldt, Lenovo’s chief marketing officer says that in the US, the company hopes that the expanded distribution and marketing will help in re-branding Motorola. Being confident about his plans Huckfeldt says, “Give us 12 months, and everyone in the US will know the new Motorola”.

While Lenovo lays all its focus on re-branding Motorola, it will however not launch any smartwatch in the future. This comes as a surprise as Google recently launched the Android Wear 2.0 with the LG Watch Style and Watch Sport. The reason behind this comes from the fact that although the Moto 360 turned out to be a top seller, the numbers did add up to the business overall. Lencquesaing shares his thoughts on this by saying, “I don’t want to be in the business doing a product for the sake of doing a product because we need to do a follow-up.” ALSO READ: Huawei Watch 2, Watch 2 Classic with Android Wear 2.0 launched at MWC 2017: Price, specifications and features

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