This week, Essential Phone debuts in Canada, Sin City goes all-in for VR, and five groups of Canadian students have qualified for the James Dyson Award. But first, how Waze is helping to keep our kids safe.
School’s back in session, and Waze wants you to slow down in school zones
People need to slow down in school zones. No matter where you are in Canada, the speed limit in a school zone is 30 km/h.
Now maybe the people I see speeding through school zones just haven’t seen the street signs. You know the ones, with the silhouette of a couple of kids walking?
Waze, my favourite navigation app, has incorporated school zone data, and is now sending an alert to users whenever they enter a school zone.
The initiative is supported by Honda Canada, and it’s a fantastic idea. Waze users have no excuse for speeding through the school zones any more.
Essential Phone looks to make a dent in premium smartphone market
While everyone’s talking about the new Samsung Galaxy Note8, released last week, or the new iPhones from Apple that will be revealed on Tuesday, a new high-end smartphone has been quietly released.
The Essential Phone sports an edge-to-edge display, 128 GB storage, dual cameras, and is constructed of ceramic and titanium which, the manufacturer suggests, makes the device strong enough that you don’t need to buy a protective case.
Thinner and smaller than an iPhone 7 Plus, the 5.7-inch screen is actually bigger. Essential has a 19:10 aspect ratio, which makes it more square than the Galaxy S8.
Modular accessories for the Essential Phone, like the forthcoming 360-degree camera, attach to the device with magnets and are hot-swappable: click the camera on the handset and it works; remove it and the functionality turns off.
Essential, the company, was created by Andy Rubin, who founded Android, which was later acquired by Google and became the company’s mobile operating system. His new phone is available in Canada exclusively at Telus. It will cost $290 on a two-year plan, and $1,050 outright.
Virtual reality arena opens at MGM Grand in Las Vegas
Vegas is already a playground, and now you can go to Sin City to fight zombies.
Up to eight players can be in the 2,000 square foot room. Each player wears a VR headset attached to a backpack computer. The experience are 30-minutes long, and there are three adventures: two of them are shooters in which players fight against either zombies or killer robots, and the third is a physics-based puzzle game.
The VR is provided by Australia-based Zero Latency, which has VR gaming arenas across the U.S. as well as in Madrid, Melbourne, Osaka, and Tokyo.
Level Up sessions cost US$50 per player.
Canadian winners of the James Dyson Award
Projects from five groups of smart Canadian students are moving on to the final round of the James Dyson Award.
Robert Brooks and Justin Wee, two PhD students at the University of Toronto are the Canadian winners. Their project, ForceFilm is a thin material that can be used by surgeons to provide real-time feedback on how much force is being applied through surgical instruments.
You can see how ForceFilm works in the video below.
The four runners-up in the Canadian competition were selected from 41 projects submitted for consideration.
A panel of engineers from Dyson will select 20 projects from the international finalists, and one project will be awarded the grand prize, Can$50,000 for the students and $8,500 for the school.
Canadian scientists, engineers, and innovators tend to do well in this competition. In the past three years, a Canadian team has made the shortlist of 20 finalists.