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The iPhone 15’s USB-C switch could simplify computing

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A special event tomorrow, Tuesday September 12, will reveal the iPhone 15, and rumors, supply chain sources, and European Union regulators have already given us a lot of information. Last source strongly suggests that the newest iPhone will have a USB-C connector instead of the Lightning connector from the iPhone 5 in 2012.

That’s not all we expect from a new iPhone, but it could be the biggest change due to what it could unlock. That’s especially true for the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, which are expected to get a Thunderbolt port that uses the same connector as USB-C but adds data, display, power, and other input and output options.

The iPhone’s hardware input and output capabilities affect its role in users’ computing lives. Samsung and Motorola, for example, have spent multiple generations of their devices iterating on how smartphones can do more for users than they might be used to. Samsung’s DeX, while awkward at its introduction, has become a surprisingly competent desktop replacement. Android may get a native desktop mode for Pixel 8, if rumors are true.

Apple has yet to prove that iPadOS can replace desktop computing, but it has the potential to transform the iPhone in this regard. The concept of a pocketable thin client, where you take your PC with you and plug it into displays and input devices to work anywhere, has been around for a long time. No technical barriers exist to making an iPhone 15 with a full-featured USB-C port that supports the latest Thunderbolt spec.

When connected to an external display, iPhones are very limited. If implemented by a developer, you can output video at a resolution and aspect ratio that maximizes a TV or monitor while removing the rest of the interface.

An iPhone that projects iPadOS (or, ideally, macOS) when connected to a screen could replace a laptop for a large portion of the population, including casual computing and most of the knowledge workforce’s work tasks. The iPhone’s processors, which are used in Macs, are powerful enough for email, web browsing, video, and photo editing.

The foundations are there, and iPadOS does most of what’s needed on similar hardware. Apple could lose some of its Mac market if it did this, but it hasn’t shied away from cannibalizing its sales in other categories to lead a paradigm shift in how people use their devices.

We know Apple will announce a USB-C iPhone tomorrow, but we don’t know if it will be the same story, slightly repackaged, or a new opportunity for Apple to lead what we think of when we hear the word “smartphone.” I hope a desktop mode is being worked on for a future launch, but I don’t think it’s coming this year.

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

Artificial Intelligence

Track People and Read Through Walls with Wi-Fi Signals

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Recent research has shown that your Wi-Fi router’s signals can be used as a sneaky surveillance system to track people and read text through walls.

Recently, Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists developed a deep neural network that digitally maps human bodies using Wi-Fi signals.

It works like radar. Many sensors detect Wi-Fi radio waves reflected around the room by a person walking. This data is processed by a machine learning algorithm to create an accurate image of moving human bodies.

“The results of the study reveal that our model can estimate the dense pose of multiple subjects, with comparable performance to image-based approaches, by utilizing WiFi signals as the only input,” the researchers wrote in a December 2022 pre-print paper.

The team claims this experimental technology is “privacy-preserving” compared to a camera, despite concerns about intrusion. The algorithm can only detect rough body positions, not facial features and appearance, so it could provide a new way to monitor people anonymously.

They write, “This technology may be scaled to monitor the well-being of elder people or just identify suspicious behaviors at home.”

Recent research at the University of California Santa Barbara showed another way Wi-Fi signals can be used to spy through walls. They used similar technology to detect Wi-Fi signals through a building wall and reveal 3D alphabet letters.

WiFi still imagery is difficult due to motionlessness. “We then took a completely different approach to this challenging problem by tracing the edges of the objects,” said UC Santa Barbara electrical and computer engineering professor Yasamin Mostofi.

 

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Bionics

Redwire Space produces human knee cartilage in space for the first time

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Redwire Space has “bioprinted” a human knee meniscus on the International Space Station, which could treat Earthlings with meniscus issues.

The meniscus cartilage was manufactured on Redwire’s ISS BioFabrication Facility (BFF). The BFF printed the meniscus using living human cells and transmitted it to Redwire’s Advanced Space Experiment Processor for a 14-day enculturation process for BFF-Meniscus-2.

SpaceX’s Crew-6 mission returned the tissue to Earth after culturing. UAE astronaut Sultan Al-Neyadi and NASA astronauts Frank Rubio, Warren Hoburg, and Stephen Bowen investigated.

Redwire collaborated with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Center for Biotechnology, which studies warfighter remedies, for the trial. Meniscus injuries are the most prevalent orthopedic injuries in U.S. service members.

In recent months, Redwire Space has advanced biotechnology. The subsidiary of Redwire Corporation launched a 30,000-square-foot biotech and microgravity research park in Indiana this summer.

Redwire EVP John Vellinger called the printing “groundbreaking milestone.”

He stated, “Demonstrating the ability to print complex tissue such as this meniscus is a major leap forward toward the development of a repeatable microgravity manufacturing process for reliable bioprinting at scale.”

The company has long-term bioprinting and space microgravity research goals. Redwire will fly microgravity pharmaceutical drug development and cardiac tissue bioprinting payloads on a November SpaceX Commercial Resupply trip to the ISS.

Sierra Space agreed to integrate Redwire’s biotech and in-space manufacturing technology into its Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) space station module. Orbital Reef, a private space station designed by Blue Origin, Boeing, and others, will include LIFE.

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Artificial Intelligence

The Matter standard is now supported by Google’s smart home appliances

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Only if goods truly support it can the Matter standard facilitate the use of smart home appliances from different brands. You don’t even need to download or install any updates because Google has just announced that it has enabled Matter compatibility for its Nest and Android devices. This means that Matter can now be controlled by the Google Home speaker, Google Home Mini, Nest Mini, Nest Audio, Nest Hub (1st and 2nd gen), Nest Hub Max, and the new Nest WiFi Pro.

Additionally, Google has made Matter compatibility available for Fast Pair on Android, which will let you to connect Matter-enabled devices to your home network “as rapidly as you can pair a set of headphones.” This functionality will make it simple to integrate your devices with apps and smart home ecosystems once they are linked. The tech behemoth has also upgraded the Nest Wi Pro, Nest Hub Max, and Nest Hub (2nd gen) to include Thread border router functionality. In this manner, you can utilize them to link items that support Thread, the networking standard for low-power gadgets like smart locks.

Since 2019, the Connectivity Standards Alliance, of which Google is a member, has been working on the Matter standard to address the fragmentation issue in the smart home market and make it simpler to use products from various manufacturers. It had to postpone Matter’s release a few times before it was eventually able to roll out the standard’s version 1.0 definition and product certification program this October. It had originally planned to introduce the standard in 2021. Soon after Matter was released, Samsung said that it is collaborating with Google to make it simple to add devices that are already configured with SmartThings to Google Home and vice versa. One of the other founders of the Alliance, Amazon, also provided a list of the 17 Echo devices that will support the standard as of this month.

The number of products that are Matter-enabled is now somewhat small, but according to Google, this holiday season and early 2023 will witness an increase. With the exception of the aforementioned Google items, all devices that implement the standard will be identified by the Matter badge and will function with all other Matter devices right out of the box.

 

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