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Sony Launches New Products at IFA 2018

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At the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Germany, which began today, Friday, August 31, Sony Corporation is set to showcase an array of its latest products featuring cutting-edge technology. At the Sony press conference held on Thursday, August 30, in advance of IFA’s official opening, Kenichiro Yoshida, President and CEO of Sony Corporation stressed that Sony will enhance both creator and user engagement as per its corporate direction to “getting closer to people.” He added, “Our electronics products play the vital role of connecting creators that produce stunning audio and visual contents with users who enjoy them.”

He then stressed that “In addition to capturing ‘Reality’ through the pursuit of high-fidelity audio and high-definition video technologies, going forward, I believe it is equally important for Sony to also deliver ‘Real-time’ value. Real-time describes the concept of ‘this-moment-in-time’ or ‘live-ness.’” Following this, Ichiro Takagi, Senior Executive Vice President in charge of Home Entertainment & Sound Business stated that “Through the best images and sound possible, we want to fully convey the creator’s intent, and provide the ultimate audiovisual experience to users.” He then introduced Sony’s latest TV and audio products.

A video of the press conference can be seen below:

Home Entertainment and Sound
Sony unveiled WH-1000XM3, the newest addition to the 1000X series of wireless noise cancelling headphones. This new model boasts major improvements to its industry-leading Noise Cancellation technology with the newly-developed HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 to deliver approximately four times greater performance. The newly-developed component can not only negate low-range noises from aeroplanes, but also further cancels mid to high-range noise such as street noise and human voices.

The inclusion of a high-quality internal headphone amp for the HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 realizes stunning high sound quality. Customers can comfortably immerse themselves in their music anytime, anywhere. Elsewhere in the wireless headphone category, Sony showed off the WF-SP900 truly wireless sports headphones. The water-proof and dust-proof WF-SP900 feature an internal memory, letting customers play music from their smartphone with Bluetooth connection or no device at all, even while swimming in the ocean.

Sony’s Signature Series represents the culmination of Sony’s most refined technologies in pursuit of sound excellence. Its array of audio products brings music to life just as the artist intended. In this category, Sony added the DMP-Z1 digital music player and the IER-Z1R in-ear stereo headphones. DMP-Z1 utilizes a high-output analogue amplifier and a unique independent power system to deliver the ultimate sound. IER-Z1R boasts a frequency response of up to 100 kHz playback for an unprecedented level of immersiveness.

Sony will also introduce the IER-M9 and IER-M7 in-ear stage monitor headphones initially in the US and Asia starting this autumn, which deliver the sound quality, sound isolation, and stable fit that artists seek during a live performance.

In the TV category, Sony announced the launch of the BRAVIA MASTER Series in Europe from September, which seeks to fully convey the creators’ intent as originally envisioned. The AF9 series of 4K OLED TVs and the ZF9 series of 4K LCD TVs are equipped with the Picture Processor X1 Ultimate that features approximately twice the real-time processing capabilities of the current high-end models. It brings out the very best of OLED and LCD display features.

The AF9 series comes equipped with the Pixel Contrast Booster, which faithfully reproduces pictures with deep blacks and high luminance. The unique and advanced audio technology, Acoustic Surface Audio+ realizes new immersion through the addition of an actuator to the centre of the screen, as well as a TV Center Speaker Mode that makes the sound audible right from the centre of the screen.

At the venue, Sony will also conduct a demonstration using its suite of voice assistant-compatible AV devices, which can play music, provide news or other information, and control IoT devices such as room lights.

The demo will introduce WH-1000XM3 wireless noise cancelling headphones, BRAVIA with a built-in microphone that enables hands-free voice search, the EXTRA BASS series SRS-XB501G smart speaker with the Google Assistant built-in, the HT-ZF9 sound bar with Amazon Alexa control compatibility, and more. Sony’s ever more convenient and diverse array of voice assistant-compatible devices will be shown off in a host of different indoor and outdoor scenarios.

Seed Acceleration Program (SAP)
FES Watch U was born out of Sony’s Seed Acceleration Program (SAP), which creates startup projects and supports their business operations. It will be available for purchase in Germany, the UK, France, Italy, and Spain from mid-September. FES Watch U is a fashion watch that uses e-paper on the watch face and wrist strap. Users can switch between their favourite designs with only the push of a button. In order to showcase the new possibilities stemming from the combination of technology and fashion, Sony will also be displaying concept shoes (prototype), with an outsole and N logo whose design can be changed. These were developed using the 247v2 shoes from New Balance.

AI and Robotics
At the venue, autonomous entertainment robot Aibo is displayed in Europe for the first time. Since its Japan launch in January 2018, Aibo has reached over 2 million units produced and shipped and is set to launch in the United States this September. In the AI and Robotics domain, several projects are showing steady progress, and Sony will continue delivering new ideas that expand what is possible in the field of electronics by combining its imaging and audio technologies, sensors, and mechatronics with AI, robotics, mobile communications, and more.

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‘Black Panther’ and its Science Role Models Inspire More Than Just Movie Awards

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Written by Clifford Johnson, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

It has been said many times that the Marvel movie “Black Panther” is an important landmark. I’m not referring to its deserved critical and box office success worldwide, the many awards it has won, or the fact that it is the first film in the superhero genre to be nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards.

Instead, I’m focusing on a key aspect of its cultural impact that is less frequently discussed. Finally a feature film starring a black superhero character became part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – a successful run of intertwined movies that began with “Iron Man” in 2008. While there have been other superhero movies with a black lead character – “Hancock” (2008), “Blade” (1998), “Spawn” (1997) or even “The Meteor Man” (1993) – this film is significant because of the recent remarkable rise of the superhero film from the nerdish fringe to part of mainstream culture.

Huge audiences saw a black lead character – not a sidekick or part of a team – in a superhero movie by a major studio, with a black director (Ryan Coogler), black writers and a majority black cast. This is a significant step toward diversifying our culture by improving the lackluster representation of minorities in our major media. It’s also a filmmaking landmark because black creators have been given access to the resources and platforms needed to bring different storytelling perspectives into our mainstream culture.

2017’s “Wonder Woman” forged a similar path. In that case, a major studio finally decided to commit resources to a superhero film headlined by a female character and directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins. Female directors are a minority in the movie industry. Jenkins brought a new perspective to this kind of action movie, and there was a huge positive response from audiences in theaters worldwide.

And beyond all this, “Black Panther” also broke additional ground in a way most people may not realize: In the comics, the character is actually a scientist and engineer. Moreover, in the inevitable (and somewhat ridiculous) ranking of scientific prowess that happens in the comic book world, he’s been portrayed as at least the equal of the two most famous “top scientists” in the Marvel universe: Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic). A black headlining superhero character written and directed by black artists is rare enough from a major studio. But making him – and his sister Shuri – successful scientists and engineers as well is another level of rarity.

Scientists On Screen

I’m a scientist who cares about increased engagement with science by the general public. I’ve worked as a science adviser on many film and TV projects (though not “Black Panther”). When the opportunity arises, I’ve helped broaden the diversity of scientist characters portrayed onscreen.

Jason Wilkes is a black scientist on ‘Agent Carter,’ whose character emerged from the author’s talks with the show’s writers.
Panels from ‘The Dialogues,’ including a black female scientist. ‘The Dialogues,’ by Clifford V. Johnson (MIT Press 2017).

I’ve also recently published a nonfiction graphic book for general audiences called “The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe.” Its characters include male and female black scientists, discussing aspects of my own field of theoretical physics – where black scientists are unfortunately very rare. So the opportunity that the “Black Panther” movie presents to inform and inspire vast audiences is of great interest to me.

The history and evolution of the Black Panther character and his scientific back story is a fascinating example of turning a problematic past into a positive opportunity. Created in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, he’s the first black superhero character in mainstream comics, originally appearing as a guest in a “Fantastic Four” Marvel comic. As a black character created and initially written by nonblack authors, guest-starring in the pages of a book headlined by white characters, he had many of the classic attributes of what is now sometimes controversially known as the “magical negro” in American cultural criticism: He ranked extremely highly in every sphere that mattered, to the point of being almost too unreal even for the comics of the time.

Black Panther is T’Challa, king of the fictional African country Wakanda, which is fathomlessly wealthy and remarkably advanced, scientifically and technologically. Even Marvel’s legendary master scientist – Reed Richards of the superhero team Fantastic Four – is befuddled by and full of admiration for Wakanda’s scientific capabilities. T’Challa himself is portrayed as an extraordinary “genius” in physics and other scientific fields, a peerless tactician, a remarkable athlete and a master of numerous forms of martial arts. And he is noble to a fault. Of course, he grows to become a powerful ally of the Fantastic Four and other Marvel superheroes over many adventures.

While likening Black Panther to a ‘refugee from a Tarzan movie,’ the Fantastic Four marveled at his technological innovations in ‘Introducing the Sensational Black Panther.’

The key point here is that the superlative scientific ability of our hero, and that of his country, has its origins in the well-meaning, but problematic, practice of inventing near or beyond perfect black characters to support stories starring primarily white protagonists. But this is a lemons-to-lemonade story.

The Fantastic Four were amazed by the scientific ingenuity of Wakanda in ‘Whosoever Finds The Evil Eye.’

Black Panther eventually got to star in his own series of comics. He was turned into a nuanced and complex character, moving well away from the tropes of his beginnings. Writer Don McGregor’s work started this development as early as 1973, but Black Panther’s journey to the multilayered character you see on screen was greatly advanced by the efforts of several writers with diverse perspectives. Perhaps most notably, in the context of the film, these include Christopher Priest (late 1990s) and Ta-Nehisi Coates (starting in 2016), along with Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey, writing in “World of Wakanda” (2016). Coates and Gay, already best-selling literary writers before coming to the character, helped bring him to wider attention beyond normal comic book fandom, partly paving the way for the movie.

Through all of the improved writing of T’Challa and his world, his spectacular scientific ability has remained prominent. Wakanda continues to be a successful African nation with astonishing science and technology. Furthermore, and very importantly, T’Challa is not portrayed as an anomaly among his people in this regard. There are many great scientists and engineers in the Wakanda of the comics, including his sister Shuri. In some accounts, she (in the continued scientist-ranking business of comics) is an even greater intellect than he is. In the movie, T’Challa’s science and engineering abilities are referred to, but it is his sister Shuri who takes center stage in this role, having taken over to design the new tools and weapons he uses in the field. She also uses Wakandan science to heal wounds that would have been fatal elsewhere in the world.

Black Panther isn’t an isolated genius – his half-sister Shuri is a technological wiz herself.

If They Can Do It, Then Why Not Me?

As a scientist who cares about inspiring more people – including underrepresented minorities and women – to engage with science, I think that showing a little of this scientific landscape in “Black Panther” potentially amplifies the movie’s cultural impact.

Vast audiences see black heroes – both men and women – using their scientific ability to solve problems and make their way in the world, at an unrivaled level. Research has shown that such representation can have a positive effect on the interests, outlook and career trajectories of viewers.

Improving science education for all is a core endeavor in a nation’s competitiveness and overall health, but outcomes are limited if people aren’t inspired to take an interest in science in the first place. There simply are not enough images of black scientists – male or female – in our media and entertainment to help inspire. Many people from underrepresented groups end up genuinely believing that scientific investigation is not a career path open to them.

Moreover, many people still see the dedication and study needed to excel in science as “nerdy.” A cultural injection of Black Panther heroics helps continue to erode the crumbling tropes that science is only for white men or reserved for people with a special “science gene.”

The huge widespread success of the “Black Panther” movie, showcasing T’Challa, Shuri and other Wakandans as highly accomplished scientists, remains one of the most significant boosts for science engagement in recent times.

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TP-Link to Showcase Neffos X20 and X20 Pro at MWC 2019

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Neffos, TP-Link’s sub-brand for smartphones, will be exhibiting at the Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, on February 25. The theme for the year’s biggest technology convention for mobile products and innovations is intelligent connectivity, which is in line with TP-Link’s slogan of “Faster Wi-Fi, Better Signal Phone, Smarter Home.”

At the MWC 2019 tech show, Neffos will display Neffos P1 as well with a built-in projector feature for beaming HD content onto a large wall. Neffos P1, which adds a laser projector that can throw a picture as large as 200 inches wide onto a wall or any flat surface in high resolution.

For the first time, the company will also showcase its new Neffos X20 and X20 Pro flagship phones. The two models are expected to hit the market sometime in June, along with Neffos’ own NFUI 9.0 software based on the Android 9.0 Pie operating system. As NFUI 9.0 hasn’t launched yet, the X20 and X20 Pro will be the first devices to run the latest user interface out of the box.

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OPPO’s VOOC Charging System Gets TÜV Rheinland’s Certification

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OPPO has received a new safety certification for its proprietary flash charging technology known as VOOC, which can charge a flat smartphone batter up to 40% in just 10 minutes. “The company recognizes that fast charging is now one of the most important demands from smartphone users globally who want a device that can fully charge in minutes, not hours,” said the company in a statement.

OPPO’s VOOC flash charging uses a special adapter and cables to charge devices safely at 25W without overheating—far above the industry standard. The company also offers a Super VOOC system that boosts the charging power to a massive 50W, capable of charging a flat battery to a full charge in just 35 minutes. Most high-end smartphones today take around 2 hours to fully charge.

The latest certification from renowned international safety authority TÜV Rheinland acknowledges that OPPO’s VOOC charging system has undergone rigorous testing across multiple sessions and test cycles to ensure its safety for daily usage. The VOOC system also allows users to safely use their smartphone during charging without it overheating.

OPPO’s VOOC flash charge technology is already used in more than 100 million smartphones worldwide including several models available in the Middle East today. The system is featured in OPPO’s flagship premium handset, the OPPO Find X, as well as its mid to high-end OPPO R17 and R17 Pro devices.

“Such innovations will continue as OPPO plans to raise its global R&D investments to around $1.43 billion in 2019, a 150% year-on-year increase,” said the company.

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