HTC Desire 820G+ Dual SIM With 5.5-Inch Display, Octa-Core SoC Launched

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HTC has launched a new Desire-series smartphone, the Desire 820G+ Dual SIM, in Taiwan. The smartphone has been priced at TWD 5,990 (approximately Rs. 12,350).Unfortunately, the company as of now has not revealed any plans to launch the Desire 820G+ Dual SIM outside Taiwan.

The HTC Desire 820G+ Dual SIM runs Android 4.4 KitKat and features a 5.5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) display. It packs a 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, and an 8-megapixel secondary front-facing camera, just like the HTC Desire 820. It is powered by an octa-core processor (clocked at 1.7GHz) coupled with 1GB of RAM.

The 16GB inbuilt storage on the Desire 820G+ Dual SIM is expandable via microSD card (up to 32GB). Connectivity options on the handset include Wi-Fi, FM radio, Bluetooth, GPRS/ EDGE, GPS/ A-GPS, 3G and Micro-USB. According to the official listingof the HTC Desire 820G+ Dual SIM, the smartphone doesn’t feature 4G connectivity support. The handset is backed by a 2600mAh battery that can offer up to 12 hours of talk time and up to 560 hours of standby time. It measures 157.7×78.74×7.74mm and weighs around 155 grams.

Much like other recently launched HTC smartphones, the Desire 820G+ Dual SIM supports HTC DotView cases. The launch was first reported by Sogi.com.

HTC Taiwan has also launched the Desire 626G+ Dual SIM in Taiwan. The smartphone was launched in India back in April priced at Rs. 16,900.

The HTC Desire 626G+ Dual SIM features a 5-inch HD (720×1280 pixels) resolution display and is powered by a 1.7GHz octa-core processor coupled with 1GB of RAM. A 13-megapixel autofocus rear camera with BSI sensor, f/2.2 aperture and LED flash is onboard, apart from a 5-mgepixel front-facing camera with the same sensor and f/2.8 aperture. Both are capable of recording full-HD videos. The handset equips 8GB of inbuilt storage, which is further expandable via microSD card (up to 32GB). However, the Android-based handset will come with HTC BlinkFeed and Sense UI on top. 3G connectivity is also included in the handset besides Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS. The Desire 626G+ Dual SIM, measuring 146.9×70.9×8.1mm and weighing 138 grams, will be available in Blue Lagoon & White Birch colour variants. A 2000mAh Li-Po non-removable battery backs the smartphone.

MIT's Cheetah Robot Can Now Leap Over Obstacles

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MIT researchers have trained their cheetah robot to jump over hurdles as it runs – making it the first four-legged robot that can run and jump over obstacles autonomously.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers had demonstrated last year that the robotic cheetah was able to run untethered.

The feat was performed by the robot without the use of cameras or other vision systems.

Now, the robot can ‘see’, with the use of onboard LIDAR – a visual system that uses reflections from a laser to map terrain.

The researchers developed a three-part algorithm to plan out the robot’s path, based on LIDAR data. Both the vision and path-planning system are onboard the robot, giving it complete autonomous control.

To get a running jump, the robot plans out its path, much like a human runner: As it detects an approaching obstacle, it estimates that object’s height and distance.

The robot gauges the best position from which to jump, and adjusts its stride to land just short of the obstacle, before exerting enough force to push up and over.

Based on the obstacle’s height, the robot then applies a certain amount of force to land safely, before resuming its initial pace.

In experiments on a treadmill and an indoor track, the cheetah robot successfully cleared obstacles up to 18 inches tall – more than half of the robot’s own height – while maintaining an average running speed of 8 km per hour.

The team tested the MIT cheetah’s jumping ability first on a treadmill, then on a track. On the treadmill, the robot ran tethered in place, as researchers placed obstacles of varying heights on the belt.

As the treadmill itself was only about 4 metres long, the robot, running in the middle, only had 1 metre in which to detect the obstacle and plan out its jump.

After multiple runs, the robot successfully cleared about 70 percent of the hurdles.

In comparison, tests on an indoor track proved much easier, as the robot had more space and time in which to see, approach, and clear obstacles. In these runs, the robot successfully cleared about 90 percent of obstacles.

The team is now working on getting the MIT cheetah to jump over hurdles while running on softer terrain, like a grassy field.

Graphene May Be Used to Build Fuel-Free Spacecraft

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The wonder material graphene may be used to build fuel-free spacecraft that runs on just sunlight, researchers say.

These sheets of carbon one atom thick can turn light into action, which could form the basis of a fuel-free spacecraft.

Graphene’s flat structure is very strong and conducts electricity and heat extremely well.

Yongsheng Chen from the Nankai University in China and his colleagues have been investigating whether larger arrangements of carbon can retain some of these properties.

They have published details of a “graphene sponge”, a squidgy material made by fusing crumpled sheets of graphene oxide.

While cutting graphene sponge with a laser, they noticed the light propelled the material forwards.

That was odd, because while lasers have been used to shove single molecules around, the sponge was a few centimetres across which is too large to move.

Researchers shot lasers of different wavelength and intensity at pieces of graphene sponge placed in vacuum.

They were able to push sponge pieces upwards by as much as 40 centimetres. They even got the graphene to move by focusing ordinary sunlight on it with a lens.

Photons can transfer momentum to an object and propel it forwards, and in the vacuum of space this tiny effect can build up enough thrust to move a spacecraft, ‘New Scientist’ reported.

Recently, the Planetary Society in California launched a small solar sail to test the technology. The forces the team saw were too large to come from photons alone.

Researchers believe graphene absorbs laser energy and builds up a charge of electrons. Eventually it can’t hold any more, and extra electrons are released, pushing the sponge in the opposite direction.

They were able to confirm a current flowing away from the graphene as it was exposed to a laser, suggesting this hypothesis is correct.

Researchers said graphene sponge could be used to make a light-powered propulsion system for spacecraft that would beat solar sails.

E-Library, Swayam Portal to Help Achieve Zero Illiteracy

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Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Saturday said the setting up of a national electronic-library and project ‘Swayam’ were among the many steps being taken by the government to achieve the target of zero illiteracy in the country.

“India is making significant changes in the next six months. The first mega project is the national e-library wherein the IITs (Indian Institute of Technology), IIMs (Indian Institute of Management), NCERT (National Council for Educational Research and Training) and also the National Archives will be pooled in,” the human resource development minister said in the 90-minute programme ‘Talkathon’, organised by the information and broadcasting ministry.

“On one platform, maximum education resources will be provided. Even the Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) nations have asked us to extend these resources to them and we are doing it,” she said.

Irani said that providing quality higher education was a challenge and therefore the government was on the verge of starting the “Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds” (Swayam) online portal that will bring together IIT, IIM, CBSE, NIOS, and other institutes to provide free, quality education to classes 9 to 12.

“Education will be provided free and exams can be given at any of the 500 earmarked centres that will come up all over the country. Degrees and diplomas will be given if you pass the exam,” Irani said.

Under its initiative to highlight the achievements of the government in the past one year, union ministers Irani, Piyush Goyal and Nirmala Sitharaman interacted with netizens through Twitter using “#AskYourGovt @MIB_India” and the answers were streamed live on the information and broadcasting ministry’s YouTube channel.