By Aneesh Karuppur ’21
The start of the new year always marks the release of new tech. In this column, I will talk about the latest technology releases, products, and news. I will also report on updates in Pingry technology.
What’s happening in the Student Technology Committee (STC)? This past fall, STC sent out an application and accepted new members to its team. Currently, the Acceptable Use Policy is being revised to become more relevant to the community’s use of technology. STC is also interviewing students and faculty for feedback on Schoology, the online classroom platform that classes are currently using after the switch from Moodle. Furthermore, the virtual reality group is working on implementing Pingry’s VR system into multiple fields of the school. Finally, the coding group is modernizing the Community Service Portal using the programming language, HTML.
In January, the Consumer Electronics Show 2018 (CES 2018), where technology products are released and updated, took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here are a few of the releases that I found particularly interesting:
First, smart mirrors began gaining prevalence in this year’s show — think the Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter, which shows your heart’s deepest desires, though these smart mirrors aren’t quite as developed as the Mirror of Erised just yet. The Haier Magic Mirror allows you to try on articles of clothing virtually by superimposing images of clothing onto your reflection in the mirror. The clothes are scanned into the system via a Radio-Frequency Identification tag embedded in them. The HiMirror Mini is another interesting glass gizmo that allows you to track the effects of different skin care treatments.
Another interesting release is the rollable Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED), a 65-inch diagonal monitor created by LG. When not in use, the monitor, which can be used as a TV, can be rolled up into a long cylinder. The user can change how much of the monitor can be viewed by controlling how much of it is rolled up, similar to the way a projector screen can be pulled down at different lengths. This flexibility allows for different scaling options and optimizes the screen for different content.
My last pick is the Vivo X20 Plus UD, an innovative smartphone with a fingerprint scanner underneath the screen. One of the biggest questions leading up to the launch of the iPhone X was whether or not it would have an on-screen fingerprint scanner, since there would no longer be a home button that doubled as a scanner. Well, we now know the answer to that: no. While FaceID is a good substitute, fingerprint scanners work better in certain scenarios. It is a big deal that Vivo was able to keep a fingerprint scanner on a bezel-less screen without putting it in a less intuitive place like the back (á la the Samsung Galaxy S8/Note 8 and the Google Pixel 2). Hopefully, we will see this technology in more upcoming phone releases.
Apple made waves recently with its long-awaited launch of the HomePod. Although the release date was a smidge late (two or three months behind schedule), the smart speaker has racked up lots of good reviews and ratings. The HomePod is essentially a high-quality speaker with advanced Siri and “smart home” functionality, as well as the ability to play music from the Apple Music streaming service. The HomePod features impressive sound, coming from a large “woofer” on top and seven “tweeters” on the bottom — an unorthodox layout. Sandwiched in between them is a six microphone array, which assures that Siri can hear you over loud music. The HomePod only works within the Apple ecosystem, which means that you will need an iPhone 5s or later running iOS 11 to operate it. The $350 price tag makes it a tough sell since it’s stuck in Apple’s ecosystem of products, but Apple fans should find it a reasonable purchase.