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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Apple CEO Tim Cook visits France’s Eldim, the company providing iPhone X optical recognition technology

Before a meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron today, Apple CEO Tim Cook made a surprise visit to a small company that’s providing crucial optical recognition technology for the iPhone X.

Eldim, based near the Normandy town of Caen, has been making various types of display technology for more than 30 years. More recently, this has evolved into making components that allow for “optical analysis of angular characteristics.” Apparently, a version of this technology is one of the critical components being used in the new Face ID system for the iPhone X.

Local reporters were invited to tag along for the visit, which they documented on Twitter and blog posts. A reporter for Ouest-France noted that executives said the two companies had actually been working together for almost a decade, mostly in an R&D capacity. It was only with the release of the iPhone X that the facial recognition system is being baked into a product, however.

Eldim CEO Thierry Leroux told reporters that working with Apple was “an incredible adventure,” but added that there have also been huge technical challenges over the years. “For us, it was a little like sending someone to the moon,” Leroux told reporters. Cook responded, “It’s great what you have done for us.”

The visit was no doubt a thrill for Eldim’s 42 employees. It was also likely a diplomatic move by Cook, who is scheduled to meet with Macron at 4:15 p.m. CET today. The official agenda for their meeting has not been disclosed, but it’s likely to cover the question of Apple’s tax payments in France, and in Europe in general.

While Macron has cultivated a pro-tech and pro-entrepreneur reputation, he also has been fiercely critical of American tech companies not paying sufficient taxes. Apple is facing a demand to pay $15 billion in taxes to Ireland following a European Union investigation that found the company’s tax structure there violated EU competition rules.

Macron is among the European leaders pressing the EU to develop a new taxation scheme for tech giants that would make it more difficult for them to duck taxes by creating elaborate systems of corporate shell companies.

Cook and other leaders have been eager to highlight the positive economic impact their companies provide in terms of job creation across Europe. The visit to Eldim serves as just one such example.

Cook got a little ribbing by the French on Twitter for this tweet.

It should read: “Bravo pour votre travail!” He deleted that one and posted a corrected version:

The French are pretty hardcore about this language stuff.

Samsung Galaxy S8 visits Geekbench carrying Android 8. Oreo

Previous week, we documented the Samsung Galaxy S8 duo will be updated to Android Oreo soon. SamMobile had claimed Samsung is already operating on Android Oreo update for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Additionally.

Samsung Galaxy S8 visits Geekbench carrying Android 8.0 Oreo

Turns out the report was not deceptive. The Samsung Galaxy S8 has just visited the benchmark web-site Geekbench with Android 8. Oreo. What’s additional, the system is powered by the Exynos 8895. This means it wouldn’t be extended in advance of the Galaxy S8 people in India would obtain the Android Oreo update. As of now nevertheless, Samsung has not introduced the exact timeline for the update’s roll out day.

Coming to the Geekbench score of the Oreo-dependent Galaxy S8, it is extraordinary but not better than what the system achieves on Android 7. Nougat. In any circumstance, at the time the Oreo update is pushed out, people will get a slew of new options together with photograph-in-photograph mode.

Samsung Galaxy S8 visits Geekbench carrying Android 8.0 Oreo

This mode will permit people watch YouTube films while working with other apps as nicely. This aspect is already out there on the latest model of iOS. On the other hand, people can only watch films working on Safari net browser. The YouTube application does not allow any these kinds of aspect on iOS as nicely.

Another aspect that makes Oreo a much much better improvement in excess of Android Nougat is the notification visuals. People will be capable to watch the notifications with much clarity and with many alternatives presented for each individual notification. Often-on display together with auto fill has also been presented in Oreo update as nicely.

Auto-fill lets signing into apps additional quickly. There are also many alternatives out there for any text range designed on Android Oreo. Google is calling the aspect good range because it gives people with more alternatives according to the text chosen. For illustration, if you pick an handle, Oreo will present you an choice to glimpse it up on Maps.

Mark Zuckerberg 2020? Facebook founder raises eyebrows with visits to swing states

The photos on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook feed the last few months make him look less like a Silicon Valley CEO, and more like an Iowa Caucus contender.

So is the Facebook founder angling to become commander in chief?

He’s certainly crossing some candidate rituals off the to-do list, like posting pictures of himself eating local fare with some residents in early voting states, donning a fluorescent vest on a factory floor, and even shooting hoops with both of swing-state North Carolina’s most beloved NCAA coaches, Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski.

“For an engineer and business tycoon to, all of a sudden, be kind-of hanging out with regular people, it does send a lot of political messages,” said Matt Schlapp, President George W. Bush’s former political director. “This is clearly political activity. Is it just to further popularize Facebook? Or is there a more personal goal here?”

But the summer vacation itinerary that closely resembles a Super-Tuesday swing isn’t the only reason political watchers think the social network pioneer may try his hand at politics.

Zuckerberg also recently hired former Clinton pollster Joel Benenson to work at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a charitable foundation the CEO runs with his wife, which already has former Obama campaign guru David Plouffe on the payroll.

“You don’t tend to hire pollsters unless you want to know what people are thinking,” Schlapp said. “So my guess is the pollster is helping him understand the American people.”

If Zuckerberg decides to run for president, some on the left already forecast some hurdles. Published reports say he’s not registered with either party, but some experts say he’s likely to run as a Democrat. 

“To survive the Democratic primary, the first thing he is going to need to do is appeal to women more than he has been able to do as a corporate leader so far,” explains Democratic strategist Pablo Manriquez. “One of the big criticisms of Facebook Inc. is that they don’t hire women, women aren’t elevated, and women’s voices are suppressed internally.”

Just more than one-third of Facebook’s workforce is female, according to newly released company data. The 35 percent of women working at Facebook represents an increase over last year.

“He’s looking at running against [California Democratic Senator] Kamala Harris, [Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth] Warren, and a lot of people who are just not going to give him a pass on that, the way he gets in the tech sphere,” Manriquez said. 

None of this means primary success is impossible for Zuckerberg, though.

“Donald Trump has shown that the American people have a great appetite for getting rid of the experts in politics, and trying new things,” Schlapp said. “I don’t think it’s implausible for the idea of a Mark Zuckerberg candidacy to really take fire.”

Peter Doocy is currently a Washington D.C.-based correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC).  He joined the network in 2009 as a general assignment reporter based in the New York bureau.

Stepping on Neil Armstrong: Ars visits the Navy’s newest research vessel

John Timmer

Chief Engineer Gary McGrath made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. Pulling aside a yellow cord that blocked off access to the lower reaches of the research vessel Neil Armstrong, he offered a look at the ship’s engines and the very bottom of the ship, where sonar arrays are plugged in to the hull. It wasn’t part of the planned tour, and it would require squeezing down a narrow ladder, but how could we say no?

In the fleet

Fleet Week, an annual event in New York City, generally features naval vessels from the US and other nations. So it was a bit of a surprise to get an offer to visit the Armstrong in the first place. But, while the ship is operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), it was built and owned by the US Navy. So, while it was poorly armed compared to the vessels that accompanied it up the Hudson, the Armstrong was right at home.

The US Navy has a long history of ocean research. The Office of Naval Research dates back more than 70 years, and Navy seafloor maps revealed the mid-ocean ridges, helping usher plate tectonics into widespread acceptance. And, in recent decades, the Navy has followed a model where it builds research vessels and then has academic institutions operate them. Those institutions accept applications from individual researchers to spend time pursing projects onboard.

The Armstrong is one of the two newest vessels in the Navy’s research fleet (the other, the Sally Ride, operates in the Pacific). Both are just over 72 meters long and displace a bit over 3,200 metric tonnes when fully loaded. And McGrath was happy to show us what makes them tick.

The engine room was dominated by the sound of four diesel generators, each of them capable of pushing out 1,044kW (1,400 HP). To move the ship, that power can be sent to two engines, each capable of using 876kW. The ship normally cruises at about 10 knots; as one of the bridge staff put it, that speed “tries to balance fuel efficiency with being able to get there in a reasonable amount of time.”

But the ship’s propulsion involves a lot more than raw speed. To begin with, it’s designed to be quiet, so as not to interfere with its own sonar hardware. And it’s extremely maneuverable, being able to turn within its own 72 meter length. That’s in part because the engines turn a system with two nested shafts that can shift relative to each other, allowing the propellers to swivel and direct force. There’s also a 620kW stern thruster that can push the rear of the ship left or right.

There’s also a 680kW thruster in the bow that can direct thrust in every direction but up. “It’s a water jet basically,” said one of the crew. “Takes it in, shoots it out, and we can turn it any direction.”

The ship’s controls are heavily automated, as well. While there’s still a ship’s wheel, it has been reduced to the size of a large donut. With the right commands, the ship can zero in on its GPS position and adjust its various thrusters to keep itself in position without any crew intervention. Charts and radar all show up on computer screens, and closed-circuit TV gives the bridge crew a view of the ship and its surroundings in all directions. (Should everything go badly, there are two clear ports that are heated and rotate fast enough to keep ice and rain from building up.)

Two screens on the bridge also provide a full readout of what’s taking place downstairs in engineering. While it’s technically possible to run engineering from the bridge, the crew there quipped: “The engineers wisely lock us out of being able to change things.”

Instead, the engineering systems are run from a set of screens in close proximity to the engines, even though the hardware apparently doesn’t need intervention most of the time. “Most of the time we have an issue, we just reboot it.” When asked how often that happens, McGrath just replied, “often enough.”

Power to the science

When all those kilowatts aren’t being used to push the ship around, they operate a variety of hardware dedicated to science. The ship has more than 130 square meters (1,400 square feet) of lab space that can be altered to adjust to whatever researchers are currently on board. “It’s infinitely configurable,” said WHOI’s Dave Fisichella, “because we’re a general-purpose research vessel. So we have to be adaptable from one cruise to the next. We could be doing geology one cruise, and come in with two days to turn the ship around and start doing biology.”

There are some accommodations for shipboard labs. They lack the natural gas and vacuum lines that are typical of labs on land, and one end of a lab room has a roller door that opens onto the deck to allow samples to be transferred in. Plus one section of the lab’s floor features a hatch painted bright yellow. “That’s an emergency escape, probably from one of the engine rooms, so we have to keep that clear,” Fisichella said.

The labs do have a ready supply of fresh water, courtesy of an 18,000-liter, reverse-osmosis desalination system, powered by the diesel generators. McGrath, the chief engineer, said that the original idea was to use waste heat from the generators to boil water for distillation. But the generators had to capture that heat to increase their efficiency, so the reverse osmosis system was added later in the design stages. It isn’t the only water-handling system present; the Armstrong filters the water it pumps into its bilges for ballast in order to avoid transporting potentially invasive species.

Touring the R/V Neil Armstrong.

Some of the power also goes to on-deck hardware. There are cranes that collectively provide more than 30,000kg of lift to get hardware into and out of the water. The Armstrong can control a variety of remotely operated vehicles and has immense drums of cabling above the engine room for these operations.

And then there are the sonars. “The ship was pretty much designed around the sonars,” said Fisichella. A Woods Hole scientist had brought a variety of organisms and materials into an on-shore tank for testing, finding out which wavelengths they reflected most efficiently. Now, different sonar systems can pick out everything from specific species of fish to methane bubbles to tiny plankton and krill.

The sound frequencies themselves are generated by a small thicket of transducers deep in the ship. After McGrath led us down a ladder, we stood on a metal grid just inches above the Armstrong‘s hull and the Hudson River beneath it. The transducers are held in circular metal drums, bolted onto the hull. Some of them can be serviced internally, but for others, it’s easier to send divers to the exterior of the hull.

Power to the people

While the hardware is all new, some of the crew are old hands. Many of them, after having completed degrees at nautical schools, have been working research vessels for decades. A number of them came straight from the ship that the Armstrong replaced, the Knorr.

The Armstrong has a crew of 20 and enough berths for 24 scientists at a time. The scientists and the crew have access to a 24-hour mess and a lounge with satellite TV, as well as a sick bay with diagnostic equipment that, in some cases, can directly transmit its results to shore facilities over the satellite connections. One of the WHOI staff described the scientists’ quarters as a bit like a cramped college dorm room. Of course, she also noted, research time on the ship is rare enough that most scientists don’t spend much time sleeping when they get it.

Moving about the ship was easier than the quarters would suggest, due to wide hallways and the use of stairways instead of ladders to move between most floors. The Armstrong is actually compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act rules, something that’s a big deal for the two legally blind scientists on WHOI’s staff.

As someone who grew up watching PBS specials where WHOI’s submarine Alvin was launched from similar vessels, it was fantastic to see where technology has brought us in the decade since. Maybe some day, I’ll get the chance to spend some time on the Armstrong while scientists are on board and research is happening. Until then, I’ll have to settle for the opportunity to talk with some of those scientists—which we’ll get to later this week.

Motorola XT1773 Visits The FCC, Is This The Moto E4 Plus?

It seems like the Moto E4 Plus handset got certified by the FCC, which could indicate that the phone will be announced in the near future. This listing was spotted by Ronald Quandt, and the device comes with a XT1773 model number. Now, the Moto E4 Plus will sport a beefy 5,000mAh battery on the inside, and it will be fueled by MediaTek’s processor, though we still don’t know what SoC exactly, but probably one of the company’s more affordable offerings.

Both the Moto E4 and Moto E4 Plus have paid a visit to the FCC in the last week, the Moto E4 arrived with an XT1762 model number, and a 2,800mAH battery on the inside. These two phones will be direct successors to the Moto E3 and Moto E3 Power which landed last year, in case you were wondering. Now, both the Moto E4 and Moto E4 Plus are expected to ship with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, the Moto E4 will come with 16GB of storage on the inside, while we’re still not sure what can we expect in the storage department from the Moto E4 Plus. Now, as far as other specs of the Moto E4 Plus are concerned, we really don’t have any info at this point, though don’t expect high-end specs, quite probably not even mid-range ones, as the Moto E4 Plus will be one of Motorola’s most affordable devices in 2017.

The Moto E4 Plus will probably ship with a metallic trim, who knows, maybe Motorola opts to make this phone all-metal, we’ll just have to wait and see. Chances are that you will get a home key below the display on the Moto E4 Plus, and that home key will double as a fingerprint scanner. The Moto E4 Plus will probably be quite compact, as was the Moto E3 Power. Now, we still don’t know when will this handset be announced, but the Moto E3 was announced back in July, and was followed by the Moto E3 Power, so the Moto E4 and Moto E4 Plus could land in June or July this year, but nothing is certain just yet.

American Economic and Trade Delegation Group Visits Suning Headquarters

Suning Hosts Delegation Led by U.S. Consul General Hanscom Smith to Further Enhance its Global Footprint

NANJING, China, March 31, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — As one of the largest commercial retail enterprises, Suning, recently hosted at its headquarters in Nanjing a group of leaders from the American economy and trade sector led by Hanscom Smith, the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai. During the visit, Suning demonstrated its efforts to promote the growth of the entire retail industry, and simultaneously, expressed its wish to further expand its global business this year.

 

During the visit, Suning not only showcased its leading business model through the exhibition hall in its headquarter buildings, but also shared the story of its founding, as well as how the company transformed itself from a traditional commercial enterprise to a more tech-savy and innovation-led Omni-channel retailer that prides itself on its intelligent retailing. Suning is inventing a new mode of intelligent retailing, which integrates the Internet of Things (IoT), intelligent household products, AI and virtual reality into the entire supply, logistics and retail ecosystem to combine online and offline businesses together. Though this transformation Suning aims to help suppliers and manufacturers better understand and fulfill the needs of their consumers.

Hanscom commented, “Suning is definitely a legend in the industry as a successful entrepreneurship story. We see the efforts and progress Suning was making initially as a start-up company, and now it is leading the industry. Suning’s story is very similar to that of many big American companies.”

While exchanging ideas on global investment opportunities, Suning shared its recent initiatives and plans concerning the American market:

  • Earlier this year, Suning attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Las Vegas for the first time and introduced zc.suning.com, smart home products and other products to the show.
  • Suning also established a research institute in Silicon Valley to upgrade its IT strengths. Leveraging its technical expertise, the institute is developing a chat robot project to support its smart retail platform, which enables human-machine interactions and can communicate with consumers in a cordial, natural and anthropomorphic way.

“There are tremendous chances and resources in America; but to effectively utilize the resources, companies need to have knowledge of the local market. Chinese companies, such as Suning, are very welcome to invest in the U.S.,” said Hanscom. He also invited Suning to join the Global Capital Summit to be held in America this June, to seek more partnership opportunities.

With its international businesses covering supply-chain building, cross border e-commerce, IT research, distribution of oversea branded products and enterprises’ investments and mergers, now Suning has already extended its global path to Hong Kong, Japan, America and Europe. According to Yang Yang, Vice President of Suning Investment Group, “Suning is also expediting its plans to enter markets in Southeast Asia, Australia and many other regions.”

At the 2016 Annual Summarizing-commending Conference hosted in January, Chairman of Suning Holdings Group, Zhang Jindong released the “2017 Trillion Roadmap” strategy of Suning, directed Suning to become a trillion-sales scale company in 2017 while the company’s global expansion plan has played an essential role in it. By developing this global layout, Zhang says that Suning is going to continuously expand its smart retail business around the world and optimize its supply chain platforms to serve all the quality brands and products from both domestic and overseas, and eventually devote to global consumption upgrading and business cooperation.

About Suning Holdings Group

Suning was founded in 1990. Through decades of development and transformation, Suning continues its business growth across six industries. They include: Retail, Real Estate, Media and Entertainment, Investment, Sports and Financial Services. At present, Suning has two listed companies, namely Suning Commerce Group and LAOX Japan.

Suning ranks second place of Chinese non-state owned enterprises in 2016.

For more details, visit: http://www.suningholdings.com/cms/en/index.htm

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-economic-and-trade-delegation-group-visits-suning-headquarters-300432579.html

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg visits Charleston, attends Emanuel AME service Sunday | Business

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg visited Charleston this weekend, attending a Sunday morning service at Emanuel AME Church as part of a yearlong effort to visit communities across the country.

In a post to his personal Facebook page late Sunday, Zuckerberg described Charleston and Emanuel’s congregation as models of resilience and compassion.

“The community experienced a level of grief beyond what I can imagine, and they are still working through it. Yet in the face of such hate and tragedy, the victims’ families forgave the murderer and treated him with compassion,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We have a lot to learn from Charleston and Mother Emanuel.”

Zuckerberg also attended a Purim celebration at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, a historic congregation in downtown Charleston and the birthplace of Reform Judaism in North America.

Later in the day Sunday, Zuckerberg traveled to Greenville to stop by the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. The Greenville News reported that Zuckerberg toured the riverfront campus, took in a dance performance and met with a group of students.

Earlier in the weekend, Zuckerberg met with civic and religious leaders in the Lowcountry, saying he’d had dinner Saturday night with “the reverend, rabbi, police chief, mayors, and heads of local non-profits.”

He praised Charleston for making efforts to bridge the city’s divides and for coming together after nine black parishioners were gunned down at Emanuel by an avowed white supremacist in 2015.

But he also wrote that “the community still has issues.” Racial inequality and a sense of civility that leaves some issues “unspoken” challenge the city’s progress, he wrote.

The visit comes as the Facebook founder makes a series of trips around the country this year. In January, he wrote that he wanted to have met someone from every state by the end of the year, so he said he’d visit 30 or so states over the course of 2017.

Zuckerberg will travel next to North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, where he’s scheduled to give a talk Monday.

“I hope more communities lift up their eyes to see what you have built,” Zuckerberg wrote. “It will help them when their hearts are heavy, and it will help us all build stronger communities around the world.”

Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703 or on Twitter @thadmoore.

Nougat-Powered Samsung Galaxy J3 (2017) Visits The WFA

The Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) has certified a new Samsung smartphone which seems to be a part of the fresh Samsung Galaxy J3 (2017) lineup, however, unlike in previous instances where the Samsung Galaxy J3 (2017) reared its head, the new variant certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance is described as running Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box.

As readers should be aware of, over the past few weeks Samsung has been preparing a refreshed Galaxy J series for the year 2017, including the new Samsung Galaxy J3 (2017). Furthermore, a so-called Samsung Galaxy J3 Emerge was planned for a market release in the United States through Sprint and Virgin Mobile on January 6, and while the smartphone is nowhere to be seen on the carriers’ online stores at the time of writing, once again the Galaxy J3 Emerge was running Android 6.0 Marshmallow as opposed to Google’s latest mobile OS version. However, interestingly enough, the new Samsung Galaxy J3 model certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance does run Android 7.0 Marshmallow out of the box, and it may be a coincidence, but the handset has been certified on the same day the Samsung Galaxy J3 Emerge was planned for a release via Sprint and Virgin Mobile: January 6. In any case, the model spotted in the Wi-Fi Alliance database carries model number “SM-J327A”, which may suggest that the variant at hand is meant to hit the shelves in the United States via AT&T. This is due to the fact that Samsung’s smartphones designed for US carriers are usually identified by letters “A” for AT&T, “V” for Verizon Wireless, “T” for T-Mobile, “P” for Sprint and so on. As an example, the Samsung Galaxy S7 launched in the United States through AT&T carries model number “G930A”, whereas the same device for the Sprint network is identified by model number “G930P” – same model number with a different letter at the end.

Regardless of whether or not the Samsung Galaxy J3 SM-J327A is destined for AT&T, spec-wise the regular Galaxy J3 (2017) carries a 5-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 720 x 1280, a Qualcomm MSM8937 Snapdragon 430 SoC (System-on-Chip), an Adreno 505 graphics chip and 2 GB of RAM. It also sports an 8-megapixel camera on the back panel, whereas the so-called Samsung Galaxy J3 Emerge makes use of a 5-megapixel unit instead. Needless to say, it’s very likely that the SM-J327A now certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance will carry similar hardware components aside from a newer version of Android OS.

Mod the Future Visits the Big Apple: Behind the Scenes at the NYC Hackathon

What do 53 developers, 18 entrepreneurs, three designers, one surgeon and a dog named Goose have in common? These eager participants (and K9) all gathered this past weekend for over 24 hours at the first Mod the Future Hackathon in New York City in a quest to create a winning Moto Mod concept for the Moto Z.

The outcome was the creation of some truly amazing new Moto Mods concepts. We saw initial ideas for a video paging Mod, a ‘Smart Cart’ retail shopping Mod and an emergency situation response Mod for consumers. We also heard about an insulin level monitoring concept and a water pollution testing Mod. Encouraging participants’ individuality to shine, these concepts speak to the core principles of Moto Mods — continued innovation and unlimited possibilities for consumers. This is the future of mobile in an increasingly stagnant industry.

With teams and participants representing five different countries — from the U.S. and Canada to Brazil, Latvia and Mexico — the ideas presented at the hackathon were as unique and diverse as the participants themselves.

“It’s really exciting to think that I can take a piece of hardware, put it on my device, swap it out for something else and I don’t need an app to do it,” said participant and second place winner Aaron Franco.

24 Hours of Hacking
All of the wires, soldering irons and microscopes aside, hacking isn’t always so simple, especially when the sky truly is the limit.

The room was electric, yet calm and focused all at the same time. Energy drink cans covered tables and participants took quick power naps whenever they could, as teams of beginners and seasoned veterans alike worked to overcome challenges.

At the end of it all, 96 slices of pizza, 96 bagels and 128 energy drinks were consumed. More than 2,400 total man hours were put in, with 17 projects submitted by the deadline from participants ranging in age from 16 to 78. And after 45 minutes of judging, the top three Moto Mods concepts were announced.

Meet the Three Winning Concepts

“Advanced Audio”Curtis Mason, Andrew Afflitto, Mark Ayad, Abigail Brown and Yousef Alsayid
Using the USB MDK connection, Modio interfaces with a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and analog-to-digital converter (ADC) to provide audio input and output to the smartphone. This concept is hugely beneficial to musicians and audiophiles, giving the Moto Z HiDef audio ports (such as those found in recording studios and expensive speaker systems) that can transmit audio to applicable headphones/speakers in a much higher way than the standard headphone jack.

“This is crazy. I didn’t really expect this, but I know we all put in our maximum effort and it came together,” said Andrew Afflitto when they were announced as the winners. 

“Sidepad”Gabriel Ortiz and Aaron Franco
While playing games on smartphones is fun, the best gamepads are ones that are bigger than the mobile device and provide a more immersive experience. As a full-featured gamepad concept, Sidepad seeks to provide this enhanced experience for true gamers by adding gaming controls on the Moto Z (buttons versus touchscreen). According to Aaron Franco, it was “totally worth staying up all night.”

“Bella”Ally Cheung, Nancy Wan and Sylvee Lee
Bella is a skin care companion for your pocket that provides personal beauty and skincare tips. This concept allows Moto Z to collect real-time data from your skin and surrounding environment using built in sensors that examine factors such as UV levels, air quality, and if aimed at your face, skin elasticity levels.

“As modern women, we think it’s useful to be able to monitor our skin and stay youthful. It was such an amazing experience,” said Ally Cheung and Nancy Wan after learning they were in the winners circle.

Next Stop: San Francisco

This is only the beginning — our next hackathon will be in San Francisco on January 21-22. The Grand Prize Winners of both the New York and San Francisco hackathons will receive a team cash prize of $5,000 and a Moto Z and Moto Mods Development Kit per team member. A representative from the winning team will also be invited to Chicago to present their ideas to a panel of Motorola leaders at Motorola’s headquarters and discuss how to bring their idea to market. If the concept impresses Lenovo Capital, they could even receive investment funding. Additionally, winning teams will be entered into the Moto Mods Partner program and be connected with a dedicated Business Development Mentor. Anyone who creates Moto Mod concepts during a hackathon will have the opportunity to participate in the Indiegogo campaign, as well.

For more information or to register for the Mod the Future Hackathon in San Francisco, visit modthefuture.com.