Raspberry Pi Zero W rival: New $10 Orange Pi 2G-IoT hooks into mobile networks

Raspberry Pi challenger Orange Pi has packed a 2G antenna into its latest developer board, aiming to target Internet of Things applications.

The Orange Pi 2G-IoT goes up against the recently released Raspberry Pi Zero W.

Image: Orange Pi

Last year the Shenzhen-based maker of the Orange Pi developer board undercut the Raspberry Pi 3 on price but only by sacrificing the better-known board’s Wi-Fi.

Now, a new Orange Pi model, dubbed the Orange Pi 2G-IoT, goes in the opposition direction on connectivity, giving builders a 2G antenna for Internet of Things applications, as well as offering wireless LAN and Bluetooth for a price of $10.

The Orange Pi 2G-IoT goes up against the recently released Raspberry Pi Zero W, which also costs $10, and offers wireless LAN and Bluetooth but not mobile network access.

The new Orange Pi board features a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A5 32-bit processor with a Vivante GC860 graphics processor, and 256MB RAM.

It also supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, and features a Raspberry Pi-compatible 40-pin GPIO connector.

Other features include video and audio inputs and outputs, and USB 2.0 ports. The 2G antenna supports GSM/GPRS data connections and there’s, of course, a slot to insert a SIM card.

The device can run Android, Ubuntu, Debian, or Raspberry Pi, according to the Orange Pi 2G-IoT listing on Aliexpress.

While the Orange Pi 2G-IoT costs the same as the Raspberry Pi Zero W, the Raspberry board has double the RAM, at 512MB.

But as CNX-Soft notes, before buying the board it might be worth checking which carriers still support 2G. While some will continue to support it for years to come, AT&T, for example, killed its 2G network off at the end of 2016.

And there are still questions about software support, so CNX-Software urges anyone new to using these devices to proceed with caution. Raspberry Pi on the other hand is a known quantity and has a large array of operating systems and software to run on it.


Apple today has shared a new commercial for the Apple Watch Series 2. The new ad is titled “Live Bright” and highlights using the Apple Watch to live an active and healthy lifestyle.Throughout the ad, the Apple Watch is shown in a variety of different environments, including swimming, running, and even skydiving. The new ad also showcases features that can help improve a sedentary lifestyle, such as the Stand feature of the Activity app and the Breathe app.

The new ad seems destined for TV with its 1 minute length. This is opposed to some of Apple’s recent ads that have been geared more towards social media, such as the iPad Pro’s Twitter-based ads.

In the video’s description on YouTube, Apple touts that Apple Watch is the perfect companion for living a healthy life.

Built-in GPS. Water resistance to 50 meters. A lightning-fast dual‑core processor. And a display that’s two times brighter than before. Full of features that help you stay active, motivated, and connected, Apple Watch Series 2 is the perfect partner for a healthy life.

As for music, the ad is set to Beyoncé’s song Freedom, which features rapper Kendrick Lamar.

Most of Apple’s ads for the Apple Watch have been fast-paced, each highlighting a specific feature or capability of the device. Today’s ad is more generic and focuses on integrating Apple Watch into all aspects of your life. Watch the new ad below and let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Scientists grow beating heart tissue on spinach leaves

How crossing plant and animal kingdoms may lead to radical new tissue-engineering breakthroughs
March 31, 2017

A research team headed by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) scientists* has solved a major tissue engineering problem holding back the regeneration of damaged human tissues and organs: how to grow small, delicate blood vessels, which are beyond the capabilities of 3D printing.**

The researchers used plant leaves as scaffolds (structures) in an attempt to create the branching network of blood vessels — down to the capillary scale — required to deliver the oxygen, nutrients, and essential molecules required for proper tissue growth.

In a series of unconventional experiments, the team cultured beating human heart cells on spinach leaves that were stripped of plant cells.*** The researchers first decellularized spinach leaves (removed cells, leaving only the veins) by perfusing (flowing) a detergent solution through the leaves’ veins. What remained was a framework made up primarily of biocompatible cellulose, which is already used in a wide variety of regenerative medicine applications, such as cartilage tissue engineering, bone tissue engineering, and wound healing.

After testing the spinach vascular (leaf vessel structure) system mechanically by flowing fluids and microbeads similar in size to human blood cells through it, the researchers seeded the vasculature with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) to grow endothelial cells (which line blood vessels).

Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) and human pluripotent stem-cell-derived cardiomyocytes (cardiac muscle cells) (hPS-CM) were then seeded to the outer surfaces of  the plant scaffolds. The cardiomyocytes spontaneously demonstrated cardiac contractile function (beating) and calcium-handling capabilities over the course of 21 days.

The future of ”crossing kingdoms”

These proof-of-concept studies may open the door to using multiple spinach leaves to grow layers of healthy heart muscle, and a potential tissue engineered graft based upon the plant scaffolds could use multiple leaves, where some act as arterial support and some act as venous return of blood and fluids from human tissue, say the researchers.

“Our goal is always to develop new therapies that can treat myocardial infarction, or heart attacks,” said GlennGaudette, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering at WPI and corresponding author of an open-access paper in the journal Biomaterials, published online in advance of the May 2017 issue.

“Unfortunately, we are not doing a very good job of treating them today. We need to improve that. We have a lot more work to do, but so far this is very promising.”

Currently, it’s not clear how the plant vasculature would be integrated into the native human vasculature and whether there would be an immune response, the authors advise.

The researchers are also now optimizing the decellularization process and seeing how well various human cell types grow while they are attached to (and potentially nourished by) various plant-based scaffolds that could be adapted for specialized tissue regeneration studies. “The cylindrical hollow structure of the stem of Impatiens capensis might better suit an arterial graft,” the authors note. “Conversely, the vascular columns of wood might be useful in bone engineering due to their relative strength and geometries.”

Other types of plants could also provide the framework for a wide range of other tissue engineering technologies, the authors suggest.****

The authors conclude that “development of decellularized plants for scaffolding opens up the potential for a new branch of science that investigates the mimicry between kingdoms, e.g., between plant and animal. Although further investigation is needed to understand future applications of this new technology, we believe it has the potential to develop into a ‘green’ solution pertinent to a myriad of regenerative medicine applications.”

* The research team also includes human stem cell and plant biology researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Arkansas State University-Jonesboro.

** The research is driven by the pressing need for organs and tissues available for transplantation, which far exceeds their availability. More than 100,000 patients are on the donor waiting list at any given time and an average of 22 people die each day while waiting for a donor organ or tissue to become available, according to a 2016 paper in the American Journal of Transplantation

*** In addition to spinach leaves, the team successfully removed cells from parsley, Artemesia annua (sweet wormwood), and peanut hairy roots.

**** “Tissue engineered scaffolds are typically produced either from animal-derived or synthetic biomaterials, both of which have a large cost and large environmental impact. Animal-derived biomaterials used extensively as scaffold materials for tissue engineering include native [extracellular matrix]  proteins such as collagen I or fibronectin and whole animal tissues and organs. Annually, 115 million animals are estimated to be used in research. Due to this large number, a lot of energy is necessary for the upkeep and feeding of such animals as well as to dispose of the large amount of waste that is generated. Along with this environmental impact, animal research also has a plethora of ethical considerations, which could be alleviated by forgoing animal models in favor of more biologically relevant in vitro human tissue models,” the authors advise.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute | Spinach leaves can carry blood to grow human tissues

Tesla Software Update Enables Autosteer at 80mph

Other improvements includes a beta feature that will automatically park your Tesla without you in it.

Phonemakers battling over production contract for the Pixel 3, report claims

google pixel  news review

The competition over who will get to produce the future of Google’s flagship phones could make those phones better and more readily available for purchase.

As Google prepares the successor to the Pixel and Pixel XL due for release later in 2017, the battle has apparently already begun over who will get to manufacture the third iteration of the flagship Android phone.

HTC is once again in the running, along with LG, current Blackberry producer TCL, and Coolpad, according to Chinese publication Commercial Times by way of Digitimes. Google’s existing contract with HTC will expire after the release of the Pixel 2, so says the report, opening up an opportunity for other hardware companies. LG is purportedly leading the race, though Commercial Times does not elaborate as to why.


Since September, HTC has reportedly shipped more than 2.1 million Pixel devices, but Google may be looking to ramp output up to 5 million in time for the Pixel 3. Meanwhile, most variants of the original Pixel — especially the XL — remain out of stock about six months after the phone’s launch, as HTC continues to struggle to fill orders quickly enough.

Remember, too, that HTC may not have been Google’s first choice to build the Pixel, but rather Huawei, according to the accounts of multiple executives from the Chinese tech firm last fall. Keeping this in mind along with the supply-side constraints, it’s possible Google is more confident in LG’s manufacturing capabilities, given that the companies have worked together on multiple Nexus phones in the past.

Commercial Times’ report comes shortly after rumors that Google could be planning a third, larger version of the Pixel 2 for release, codenamed “Taimen.” This article only mentions the “Muskie” and “Walleye” devices we’ve already heard about, which lends credence to the theory that Google is simply testing a variety form factors for the next Pixel, but still only plans to release two of them.

There is also the chance of a lower-end Pixel phone named the 2B that broke early in the rumor cycle, though more recent reports — including a statement from Google’s Senior Vice President of Hardware Rick Osterloh — suggest that the Pixel brand will stay premium, and the 2B could instead fit into the Android One family.

Amazon’s best-selling smart thermostat works with Alexa and costs half as much as a Nest

Best Smart Thermostat

The Nest Learning Thermostat was a game-changer. It made people realize that a little smarts could go a long way in making their homes more efficient, thus saving energy and money. Of course with the Nest, you have to spend a whole lot of money to start saving money. The good news is that there’s another option out there that costs less than half as much as the Nest but can still save you just as much money. It even works with Alexa!

Check out the Sensi Smart Thermostat, which is on sale right now on Amazon.

  • Ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Smart Thermostat” by J.D. Power
  • No other Wi-Fi thermostat works in more homes (no “C-wire” required for many HVAC applications). Refer to Sensi’s online compatibility resources to verify compatibility in your home
  • Connect Sensi thermostat to your home Wi-Fi Network and control from anywhere via free mobile app (compatible with Android and iOS)
  • Optional 7-day scheduling helps reduce wasteful heating and cooling when no one is home
  • Quick and easy installation in 15 minutes or less. The Sensi app includes a step-by-step installation guide and video tutorial
  • Works with Amazon Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold separately) and Wink app (no Wink hub required)