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Comms and Internet

NASA's Low-Power Wifi "Reflector"

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NASA's Low-Power Wifi

Researchers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) design a wifi chip to bring great power savings to connected mobile devices through the use of reflections instead of the regular transmitter/receiver component.

"The idea is if the wearable device only needs to reflect the wifi signal from a router or cell tower, instead of generate it, the power consumption can go way down (and the battery life can go way up)," researcher Adrian Tang says.

In a few words, the concept uses a simple switch mechanism where incoming energy absorbed the circuit is "0" and reflected energy is "1." Such a system uses very little power and allows for fast data transfer between a wearable device and any other device capable of receiving data.

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Wifi Alliance Launches Wifi Aware

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Wifi Alliance Launches Wifi Aware

The Wifi Alliance presents a new certification program-- Wifi Aware, a means to validate the capability for energy-efficient, proxy-based service discovery among wifi-enabled devices.

In other words, it allows devices to discover other devices, applications and information nearby before making a wifi connection. The system continuously scans surroundings, anticipates actions and notifies users of available services and selected preferences.

The alliance adds the Wifi Aware operates indoors and in dense environments, and does not require cellular, wifi or GPS connectivity. Instead it makes use of small, power-efficient messages to create a common "heartbeat" between devices before an app initiates wifi connection to follow-up on activities such as photo sharing or multiplayer games.

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Powerline Kits from Netgear

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Powerline Kits from Netgear

Netgear launches a pair of next generation powerline adapter packages-- the Powerline 1200 (PL1200) and Powerline 1200 + Extra Outlet Adapter Kit (PLP1200), first seen back at CES 2015.

According to the company the kits deliver networking at up to 1.2Gbps with HomePlug AV2 compliance and support for multiple simultaneous data streams (MIMO) with Beamforming technology, making them ideal for video streaming, online gaming or whole-home video monitoring.

Further features include lug-and-play setup, automatic powering down when not in use and encryption capability. The PLP1200 package also includes a noise-filtered pass-through power outlet allowing customers to power devices as well as provide internet through the same socket.

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EC Opens Google Investigations

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EC Opens Google Investigations

The European Commission (EC) accuses Google of monopolistic practices as it opens antitrust investigations into two of the search giant's businesses-- online shopping comparisons and the Android operating system.

This makes the biggest EU case against a technology since the 10-year battle against Microsoft, which ended in 2004. In that case Microsoft was ordered to pay over $1.7 billion in fines, the biggest since a $1.4bn ruling against Intel.

Should Google lose the case it will face fines reaching up to 10% of its yearly earnings or as much as $6n.

"In the case of Google I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules," EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager says. "Google now has the opportunity to convince the Commission to the contrary. However, if the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe."

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Home Automation via Almond Router

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Home Automation via Almond Router

A firmware update adds home automation support to the Securifi Almond+ and Almond 2015 routers, allowing the two wifi devices to double as smart home hubs handling required automation commands.

The Almond+ is the higher-end device. It features ZigBee and Z-Wave support, 802.11ac dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) wifi, gigabit LAN and wifi coverage reaching 465 square metres.

Meanwhile the Almond 2015 covers 279 square metres (a 30% increase over the original 2012 model, Securifi says), a smaller display and only ZigBee support support. The company says the router also doubles as a range extender when paired with an Almond+ unit.

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Facebook’s Drones Get Closer

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Facebook’s Drones Get Closer

Facebook’s project to deliver internet services via a fleet of high altitude drones has moved a step closer, acquiring both a name and a speculative timeline.

The name (or probably codename) is Aquila, appropriate in being both Latin and Italian for eagle. The timescale, according to the New York Times, will see the first flights this summer, with commercial deployment over the coming years.

Facebook, Google and SpaceX are all exploring alternative approaches to delivering internet services to remote regions of the world. Google has experimented with its Loons (high-altitude balloons), and has purchased a low-orbital satellite company. SpaceX has announced plans to launch its own fleet of internet satellites.

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IDC: WLAN Growth Slows Down

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IDC: WLAN Growth Slows Down

According to IDC the global WLAN market shows an incremental growth decrease in Q4 2014, as the combined consumer and enterprise market segments show 7% Y-o-Y growth.

The consumer WLAN market is up by 6.5% Y-o-Y in Q4 2014, a "slight" increase over the 5.6% Y-o-Y growth of Q3 2014 as the transition from the older 802.11n standard to the faster 802.11ac drives shipments across all geographies. As a result global consumer 802.11ac WLAN revenues grow by 155.6% Y-o-Y, while shipments are up by 206.6%.

EMEA shows impressive 802.11ac shipment revenue growth of 479.2% Y-o-Y.

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The Active Steering Wifi Chip

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The Active Steering Wifi Chip

Antenna maker Ethertronics launches the EtherChip EC482-- the first RF device from the company featuring Active Steering "beam steering" technology for wifi and other MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) 5GHz applications.

Beam steering involves the generation of multiple signals from a single antenna. A combination of algorithms and RF signal monitoring predicts the optimal signal for use in the current situation, with the EC482 chip acting as master controller.

As the company puts the process provides "revolutionary improvements in range, data throughput and signal quality," as well as "interference reduction, robustness in multipath environments, improved connection reliability and better spectral efficiency."

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Better Wifi Through Eero

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Better Wifi Through Eero

According to San Francisco-based Eero home networking needs to be more like its enterprise equivalent through a mesh network formed by multiple cloud-connected wireless routers dubbed, well, Eero.

The Eero amounts to a router, wireless access point and range extender inside a small, white box. It features dual-wifi radios for simultaneous 2.4 and 5GHz connections, 802.11a/b/ac support and built-in Bluetooth 4.0, and according to the company provides up to 1000 square feet (around 92 square metres) of 50-100mbps wifi coverage. Thus the average house requires multiple Eeros, which is where the makers claim cleverness as the routers pair automatically to form an instant mesh network.

Eero also promises painless setup via mobile device (iOS or Android) app, as well as a cloud-connected component ensuring router software is up to date.

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