Android Deals – Nov 26th, 2014: LG G Watch, HTC One M8, Moto X and More!

Published on November 26, 2014 by

Everyday, there are a ton of new products on sale. It’s our job to not just bring you all the news in the Android world, but to give you heads up on some killer deals. And that’s exactly what we do everyday with our Android Deals post. Below we have products sorted into five categories, Smartphones, Tablets, Accessories, Smartwatches and Other Tech. Under other tech you’ll find stuff that we don’t usually cover, but the deal was too good to pass up. So enjoy!





Other Tech

Rita Crook Benedict Cumberbatch Can Charm Humans, but Can He Fool a Computer?

The Imitation Game, a movie portraying Alan Turing’s life (who would have celebrated his 100thbirthday on Mathematica‘s 23rd birthday—read our blog post), was released this week, which we’ve been looking forward to. Turing machines were one of the focal points of the movie, and we launched a prize in 2007 to determine whether the 2,3 Turing machine was universal.

So of course, Cumberbatch’s promotional video where he impersonates other beloved actors reached us as well, which got me wondering, could Mathematica‘s machine learning capabilities recognize his voice, or could he fool a computer too?

I personally can’t stop myself from chuckling uncontrollably while watching his impressions, however, I wanted to look beyond the entertainment factor.

So I started wondering: Is he actually good at doing these impressions? Or are we all just charmed by his persona?

Is my psyche just being fooled by the meta-language, perhaps? If we take the data of pure voices, does he actually cut the mustard in matching these?

In order to determine the answer, 10 years ago we would have needed to stroll the streets and play audio snippets to 300 people from the James Bond movies, The Shining, Batman, and Cumberbatch’s impression snippets—then survey whether those people were fooled.

But no need, if you have your Mathematica handy!

With Mathematica‘s machine learning capabilities, it’s possible to classify sample voice snippets easily, which means we can determine whether Benedict’s impressions would be able to fool a computer. So I set myself the challenge of building a decent enough database of voice samples, plus I took snippets from each of Benedict’s impression attempts, and I let Mathematica do its magic.

We built a path to each person’s snippet database, which Mathematica exported for analysis:

Classify sample voice snippets

We imported all of the real voices:

Import real voices

The classifier was trained simply by providing the associated real voices to Classify; in the interest of speed, a pre-trained ClassifierFunction was loaded from cfActorWDX.wdx:

Classifier was trained simply by providing the associated real voices to Classify

My audio database needed to include snippets of Benedict’s own voice, snippets of the impersonated actors’ own voices, and the impressions from Cumberbatch. The sources for the training were the following: Alan Rickman, Christopher Walken, Jack Nicholson, John Malkovich,Michael Caine, Owen Wilson, Sean Connery, Tom Hiddleston, and Benedict Cumberbatch. I used a total of 560 snippets, but of course, the more data used, the more reliable the results. The snippets needed to be as “clean” as possible (no laughter, music, chatter, etc. in the background).

These all needed to be exactly the same length (3.00 seconds), and we made sure all snippets were the same length by using this function in the Wolfram Language:

Making sure snippets are all same length

Some weren’t single-channel audio files, so we needed to exclude this factor as an additional feature to optimize our results during the export stage:

Excluding single-channel audio files

Thanks go to Martin Hadley and Jon McLoone for the code.

Drum-roll… time for the verdict!

I have to break everyone’s heart now, and I’m not sure I want to be the one to do it… so I will “blame” Mathematica, because machine learning could indeed mostly tell the difference between the actors’ real voices and the impressions (bar two).

As the results below reveal, Mathematica provides 97–100% confidence on the impressions tested:

Mathematica provides 97-100% confidence on the impressions tested

For most impressions, there is a very small reported probability of any classification other than Benedict Cumberbatch or Alan Rickman.



It might be worth noting that Rickman, Connery, and Wilson all have a slow rhythm to their speech, with many pauses (especially noticeable in the snippets I used), which could have confused the algorithm.

Sad Benedict Cumberbatch

Now it’s time to be grown up about this, and not hold it against Benedict. He is still a beloved charmer, after all.

My admiration for him lives on, and I look forward to seeing him in The Imitation Game!

Does virtual reality space you out?

Put rats in an IMAX-like surround virtual world limited to vision only, and the neurons in their hippocampi* seem to fire completely randomly — and more than half of those neurons shut down — as if the neurons had no idea where the rat was, UCLA neurophysicists found in a recent experiment.

Put another group of rats in a real room (with sounds and odors) designed to look like the virtual room, and they were just fine.

“Since so many people are using virtual reality, it is important to understand why there are such big differences,” said Mayank Mehta, a UCLA professor of physics, neurology and neurobiology in the UCLA College and the study’s senior author.

When hippocampus neurons lose rhythm

When people walk or try to remember something, the activity in the hippocampus becomes very rhythmic and these complex, rhythmic patterns appear, Mehta said. Those rhythms facilitate the formation of memories and our ability to recall them. Mehta hypothesizes that in some people with learning and memory disorders, these rhythms are impaired.

The mechanisms by which the brain makes those cognitive maps remains a mystery, but neuroscientists have surmised that the hippocampus computes distances between the subject and surrounding landmarks, such as buildings and mountains. But in a real maze, other cues, such as smells and sounds, can also help the brain determine spaces and distances.

“Neurons involved in memory interact with other parts of the hippocampus like an orchestra,” Mehta said. “It’s not enough for every violinist and every trumpet player to play their music flawlessly. They also have to be perfectly synchronized.”

Mehta believes that by retuning and synchronizing these rhythms, doctors will be able to repair damaged memory, but said doing so remains a huge challenge.

The study was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. The research was funded by the W.M. Keck Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

* The hippocampus is a brain region (on both sides of the brain) involved in spatial learning and constructing and using mental maps.

Wireless electronic implants deliver antibiotic, then harmlessly dissolve

November 25, 2014

Imagine an electronic implant that delivers a drug when triggered by a remote wireless signal — then harmlessly dissolves (no post-surgical infection concerns, no fuss, no muss) within minutes or weeks.

That’s what researchers at Tufts University and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana have demonstrated* in mice, using a resistor (as a source of heat for releasing drug and help dissolving the implant) and a power-receiving coil made of magnesium deposited onto a silk protein”pocket” that also protects the electronics and controls its dissolution time.


There have been other implantable medical devices, but they typically use non-degradable materials that have limited operational lifetimes and must eventually be removed or replaced — requiring more surgery.

The research was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition the week of November 24–28, 2014. and was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

* Devices were implanted in vivo in S. aureus-infected tissue and activated by a wireless transmitter for two sets of 10-minute heat treatments. Tissue collected from the mice 24 hours after treatment showed no sign of infection, and surrounding tissues were found to be normal. Devices completely dissolved after 15 days, and magnesium levels at the implant site and surrounding areas were comparable to levels typically found in the body. The researchers also conducted in vitro experiments in which similar remotely controlled devices released the antibiotic ampicillin to kill E. coli and S. aureus bacteria. The wireless activation of the devices was found to enhance antibiotic release without reducing antibiotic activity.

Disruptive sounds help aging brain ignore distractions

November 26, 2014

As we age, we have an increasingly harder time ignoring distractions. But by learning to make discriminations of a sound amidst progressively more disruptive distractions, we can diminish our distractibility, new research in Cell Press journalNeuron reveals.

A similar strategy might also help children with attention deficits or individuals with other mental challenges.

Distractibility (the inability to sustain focus on a goal due to attention to irrelevant stimuli) can have a negative effect on basic daily activities, and is a hallmark of the aging mind.

Where were we? Oh, right, the research. To address the problem, a team led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco used sounds at various frequencies as targets along with distractors, with the goal of having trainees focus on the target frequencies while ignoring the distractor frequencies.

The training

In both aged rats and older humans, trainees learned to identify the target tone in each training session through reinforcement feedback, and then they had to continue to correctly identify that target tone amidst progressively more challenging distractor frequencies. In both rats and humans, training led to diminished distraction-related errors, and trainees’ memory and attention spans improved. Also, electrophysiological brain recordings in both rats and humans revealed that neural responses to distractors were reduced.

“We show that by learning to discriminate amidst progressively more challenging distractions, we can diminish distractibility in rat and human brains,” says lead author Dr. Jyoti Mishra.

The approach could also be modified to help individuals struggling with a variety of distractions. “This same training could be generalized to more complex stimuli and across sensory modalities — such as auditory, visual, and tactile — to broadly benefit distractor processing in diverse impaired populations needing such training,” says senior author Dr. Adam Gazzaley.

In addition to highlighting the therapeutic potential of this type of brain training to improve our ability to focus with age, it also shows that even in the aged adult, the brain is responsive to learning-based approaches that can improve cognition.

Congrats if you read this without any distractions. …

New targeted, noninvasive treatments for mental illness to combine TMS and ultrasound

November 26, 2014

A new interdisciplinary Stanford University initiative called NeuroCircuit aims to find the specific brain circuits that are responsible for mental-health conditions and then develop ways of noninvasively stimulate those circuits to potentially lead to improved treatments for depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“You see things activated in brain images but you can’t tell just by watching what is cause and what is effect,” said Amit Etkin, Neurocircuit co-leader and a Stanford assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. “Right now, if a patient with a mental illness goes to see their doctor they would likely be given a medication that goes all over the brain and body. While medications can work well, they do so for only a portion of people and often only partially.”

Etkin has been working with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to map and remotely stimulate parts of the brain. A TMS device generates a strong magnetic field that stimulates brain circuits near the surface. TMS is currently used as a way of treating depression and anxiety, but Etkin said the brain regions being targeted are the ones available to TMS, not necessarily the ones most likely to treat a person’s condition. They are also not personalized for the individual.

The solution may involve combining TMS with ultrasound. In his lab, Baccus has been using ultrasound to stimulate nerve cells of the retina to develop a prosthetic retina. Other members of the team are modifying existing ultrasound technology to direct it deep within the brain at a safe frequency. If the team is successful, ultrasound could be a more targeted and focused tool than TMS for remotely stimulating circuits that underlie mental health conditions.

Baccus said that before merging with Etkin’s team they had been focusing on the technology without specific brain diseases in mind. “This merger really gives a target and a focus to the technology.”

The initiative is part of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute‘s Big Ideas, which bring together teams of researchers from across disciplines to solve major problems in neuroscience and society.

Stanford University/Kurt Hickman | Researchers hope to find the brain circuits that are responsible for mental
health conditions, develop ways to remotely stimulate those circuits, and potentially treat those conditions.

Chemicals in sunscreen, aftershave may affect male fertility


Magnetic fields and lasers elicit graphene secret

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have studied the dynamics of electrons from the “wonder material” graphene in a magnetic field for the first time. This led to the discovery of a seemingly paradoxical phenomenon in the material. Its understanding could make a new type of laser possible in the future. Together with researchers from Berlin, France, the Czech Republic and the United States, the scientists precisely described their observations in a model and have now published their findings in the scientific journal Nature Physics.

Graphene is considered a “wonder material”: its breaking strength is higher than steel and it conducts electricity and heat more effectively than copper. As a two-dimensional structure consisting of only a single layer of carbon atoms, it is also flexible, nearly transparent and approximately one million times thinner than a sheet of paper. Furthermore, shortly after its discovery ten years ago, scientists recognized that the energy states of graphene in a magnetic field – known as Landau levels – behave differently than those of semiconductors. “Many fascinating effects have been discovered with graphene in magnetic fields, but the dynamics of electrons have never been studied in such a system until now,” explains physicist Dr. Stephan Winnerl from HZDR.

The HZDR researchers exposed the graphene to a four-Tesla magnetic field – forty times stronger than a horseshoe magnet. As a result, the electrons in graphene occupy only certain energy states. The negatively charged particles were virtually forced on tracks. These energy levels were then examined with free-electron laser light pulses at the HZDR. “The laser pulse excites the electrons into a certain Landau level. A temporally delayed pulse then probes how the system evolves,” explains Martin Mittendorff, doctoral candidate at the HZDR and first author of the paper.

Electron redistribution surprises scientists

The result of the experiments has astonished the researchers. This particular energy level, into which new electrons were pumped using the laser, gradually emptied. Winnerl illustrates this paradoxical effect using an everyday example: “Imagine a librarian sorting books on a bookshelf with three shelves. She places onebook at a time from the lower shelf onto the middle shelf. Her son is simultaneously ‘helping’ by taking twobooks from the middle shelf, placing one of them on the top shelf, the other on the bottom. The son is very eager and now the number of books on the middle shelf decreases even though this is precisely the shelf his mother wishes to fill.”

With intense light from the HZDR’s free-electron lasers materials can be examined on the atomic level.

(Photo Credit: HZDR/Frank Bierstedt)

Because there were neither experiments nor theories regarding such dynamics before, the Dresden physicists initially had difficulty interpreting the signals correctly. After a number of attempts, however, they found an explanation: collisions between electrons cause this unusual rearrangement. “This effect has long been known as Auger scattering, but no one expected it would be so strong and would cause an energy level to become depleted,” explains Winnerl.

This new discovery could be used in the future for developing a laser that can produce light with arbitrarily adjustable wavelengths in the infrared and terahertz ranges. “Such a Landau-level laser was long considered impossible, but now with graphene this semiconductor physicists’ dream could become a reality,” says Winnerl enthusiastically.

Berlin researchers calculate complex model for Dresden experiments

After the fundamental model used in the experiments had worked satisfactorily, the precise theoretical work followed, which was carried out at the Technical University Berlin. Berlin scientists Ermin Malic and Andreas Knorr confirmed, using complex calculations, the Dresden group’s assumptions and provided detailed insights into the underlying mechanisms. The HZDR researchers additionally cooperated with the French High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Grenoble (Laboratoire National des Champs Magnétiques Intenses – LNCMI), the Charles University Prague and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta (USA).

This is a model of the electron redistribution through Auger scattering that HZDR researchers discovered in graphene.

HTML5 Page Turning Software Now Enables More Impressive Reading Experience

The multimedia magazine publishing platform FlipHTML5 has announced a new version that can enhance the page turning effects for publications.

Central, Hong Kong — (ReleaseWire) — 11/24/2014 — FlipHTML5 Software Co., Ltd.,introduces a user-friendly page turning software that changes the way plain PDF files will be presented. FlipHTML5 multimedia magazine software is the solution to help individuals enhance PDF files into a captivating digital publication that is engaging and will leave lasting impressions on all viewers.

With over 1 million downloads of HTML5 flip solution, HTML5 online publishing platform is a free software aimed to make it simple for individuals to create flip books for magazines, textbooks, brochures, catalogs, and much more. Users can create an interactive digital publication that can be viewed across a number of platforms ranging from desktops, mobile devices, and tablets. On this online publishing platform, over thirty pages can be converted from PDF, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and other formats to an attractive digital online publication that will appeal to targeted audiences. This enhancing publishing software allows individuals to add logos and adjust color schemes to match their company’s brand, which helps create a more captivating and memorable presentation. The platform also provides various templates for designs and themes for a number of different settings that can fit anyone’s needs.

About FlipHTML5
FlipHTML5 also provides an easy way to share page turning publications offline and online with no installation required. Users can use HTML5 online server to share files directly with business partners and clients through email, website, and various social networks. It also allows individuals to embed HTML5 flipbooks to a number of different websites to increase online exposure. The software can be downloaded on Windows and Mac, making it accessible to all users.

Offering some of the best digital publishing tools since 2008, FlipHTML5 is trusted by over 50,000 companies worldwide. They provide individuals with a unique publishing software that creates visually appealing and stimulating way to share portable documents.

Nexus 6 earns favorable repairability score in teardown analysis

By on November 24, 2014, 6:45 PM
google, motorola, smartphone, teardown, ifixit, repairability, nexus 6

Google and Motorola’s lovechild has inevitably found its way into the hands of teardown specialist iFixit. It’s generally good news for the Nexus 6 as it is reasonably easy to repair so long as you can get inside.

Breaching the perimeter of the Nexus 6 will require a bit of prying although the adhesive holding it on didn’t put up too much of a fight. With the rear panel off, however, you still have a lot of screws to remove – 22 to be exact – before making any real progress.

First up is a 3220mAh battery with inductive charging coil. Also of interest is the outer camera assembly; its circular camera lens cover mimics a ring flash. The rear camera itself uses a Sony Exmor IMX 214 CMOS image sensor which is the same model used in the OnePlus One.

Digging a little deeper, the team managed to free the display assembly. Although it was somewhat easy to get to, the display is fused to the digitizer glass meaning it won’t be cheap to replace should you somehow crack the screen.

All said and done, iFixit awarded the Nexus 6 a repairability score of seven out of 10 (10 being the easiest to repair). The phone earned praise for the use of pressure contacts and cable connections that make replacing cameras, buttons and the headphone jack a painless task.

What’s more, the Nexus 6 uses only a single type of screw throughout and although there are a lot to deal with, it’s certainly better than the alternative: clips and gobs of adhesive.

Oh the flip side, several other components are directly soldered to the motherboard which makes them more difficult to replace. And as mentioned earlier, the digitizer is fused to the display meaning you’ll need to replace the entire assembly in the event of a cracked screen – a costly affair.