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Wearables saw a lot of new launches in India in 2020, and we tried out a lot of them to find the best ones. With the ongoing pandemic, people are actively looking after their health and these wearables make it easier to keep a track of it. The ones that we have shortlisted help you keep a track of the amount of steps you’ve taken, your sleep duration, your heart rate and a few are also capable of tracking your blood oxygen levels. So if you are planning a healthy start to 2021, here are the best wearables of 2020 that’ll help you track your way.

Best Smartwatch of 2020: Apple Watch Series 6

The Apple Watch Series 6 gets the top spot in our list of the best wearables of 2020. You can get the Apple Watch Series 6 in different case finishes right from aluminium, all the way up to titanium. You can also customise different types of bands as well based on your preference ranking the Apple Watch Series 6 very high in terms of customisation.

Apple’s top of the line wearable packs in a powerful S6 SiP that is capable of delivering a smooth user experience without any hint of lag. It also gets Apple’s W3 Wireless chip and Apple’s U1 ultra-wideband positioning chip which is capable of keyless entry and ignition on supported vehicles. You can go for the GPS only model, else there is the GPS + Cellular model as well which offers LTE connectivity on the watch.

In terms of fitness tracking, the Series 6 has a wide variety of workouts it can track. It is also capable of tracking steps and distance quite accurately. Thanks to watchOS 7, the new Series 6 is also capable of sleep tracking, along with a few older models. There is SpO2 tracking as well which we found to be more accurate than the Galaxy Watch 3. The Apple Watch Series 6 can only be used along with an iPhone which limits its user base. It is also expensive with a starting price of Rs. 40,900.

 

Best Value For Money Smartwatch of 2020: Samsung Galaxy Watch 3

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 is the most value for money wearable you can buy in 2020. It packs in quite a lot of features just like the Apple Watch Series 6 but it is compatible with Android as well as the iPhone. Just like the Apple Watch Series 6, the Galaxy Watch 3 is available in non-cellular and cellular variants.

The Galaxy Watch 3 is powered by the Exynos 9110 SoC and has 1GB of RAM onboard. You get 8GB of storage onboard as well. The interface on the Galaxy Watch 3 was smooth and the rotating bezel made navigation easy on the watch. Tracking on the Galaxy Watch 3 was accurate as it could track steps, heart-rate and sleep very well. The SpO2 tracking on the Galaxy Watch 3 wasn’t as accurate though.

You will get about two days worth of battery life on the Galaxy Watch 3 which is good given the features it packs. The battery life is lower on the LTE variant when it’s connected to LTE networks. Charging time is longer as the Galaxy Watch 3 takes over two hours to charge completely. At a starting price of Rs. 30,990, the Galaxy Watch 3 offers the maximum bang for your buck.

 

Special mention: Oppo Watch

The Oppo Watch was a surprise entry in the wearable space in 2020 and is available at an affordable price point. The base 41mm Oppo Watch is available for Rs. 14,990 while the bigger 46mm Oppo Watch retails for Rs. 19,990. You get a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor and it runs WearOS. It offers decent step, distance and heart rate tracking and the bigger 46mm Oppo Watch offers about a day and a half of battery life as well. Charging speeds are quite good and the watch can be charged quickly in 45 minutes.

 

Best Notifier of 2020: Xiaomi Mi Watch Revolve

The Mi Watch Revolve was Xiaomi’s first smartwatch in India and it has managed to make its mark in the segment. The Mi Watch Revolve gets all the fitness features you would expect from a device at its price along with a crisp AMOLED display, and good battery life. The Mi watch Revolve was launched at a price of Rs. 10,999 but is available for Rs. 9,999.

With the Mi Watch Revolve you can track steps, heart rate as well as sleep. However, the Mi Watch Revolve isn’t very comfortable to wear while sleeping since the watch dial is a bit too big. We found that the Mi Watch Revolve worked best as a notifier as there’s no way to reply to incoming messages. You will be notified of incoming messages and calls but you’ll have to use your smartphone to reply or answer..

Battery life on the Mi Watch Revolve was fantastic and we got close to two weeks of battery life with our usage. Even if you track workouts, you should be able to get about 10 days of battery life out of the Mi Watch Revolve. Battery charging time is about two hours which is acceptable since the watch lasts very long.

 

Best Fitness Band of 2020: Xiaomi Mi Band 5

The Mi Band 5 is the latest addition to Xiaomi’s lineup of fitness trackers. It is the successor of the Mi Band 4. Xiaomi fitness bands have been consistently good and the Mi Band 5 gets incremental updates to make it slightly better. You get a bigger and brighter display and the charging mechanism has also changed to a more convenient one.

The Mi Band 5 is capable of tracking heart-rate, your steps, distance as well as sleep. We found the Mi Band 5 to be fairly accurate in terms of tracking. It is also capable of tracking a few sports including swimming since it is water-resistant up to 50m. The Mi Band 5 is compatible with Android and iPhones.

The Mi Band 5 lasted for 10 days on a single charge in our review and it took a little above 2 hours to charge completely. For a starting price of Rs. 2,499 it is the most affordable wearable on our list.

 


Is MacBook Air M1 the portable beast of a laptop that you always wanted? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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Open source magic solves a months-long problem in 20 minutes

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Commentary: Capventis and other system integrators increasingly depend on open source to help them solve critical enterprise IT issues.

Image: iStock/undefined

As more enterprises lurch towards digital transformation and cloud-native architectures, accelerated by the urgency of business changes during the COVID pandemic, many depend on systems integrators (SIs) for help. If you look under the hood of most successful digital initiatives created by SIs (or any company), you’ll find the engine involves a great deal of open source software (up to 90%, according to Sonatype data).

This rush towards digital transformation preceded the pandemic, of course, as enterprises also saw the need to move faster in their markets and accelerate the introduction of new technologies. But SIs have become key partners in driving open source deeper into enterprise IT, with projects like GraphDB increasingly important to solve data integration issues. Capventis offers a good example of how this works. 

SEE: Research: Digital transformation plans shift due to COVID-19 (TechRepublic)

Data problems

Every industry is trying to get to the future as fast as possible, and telecommunications is no different. As Iain Morris called out in a Light Reading article, in 2018 France’s Orange estimated that a third of its global workforce–more than 50,000 employees–needed reskilling if the company hoped to keep up with cloud vendors. In that same article, Morris pointed out that Spain’s Telefonica figured it would need nearly $2 billion in staff training and early retirement buyouts to bring in new talent with new skills to be competitive.

Such telcos often turn to SIs, like UK-based Capventis, who in turn bring domain expertise and work primarily with clients in the Business Intelligence (BI), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Customer Experience (CX) fields. These areas haven’t traditionally been ripe for open source, but even SIs with these focus areas rely on open source software to help their clients. It’s hard for even the best proprietary software vendors to keep pace with the innovation cycles of successful open source projects; so, these SIs will partner with companies like Alteryx, Qlik, Qualtrics, and Zendesk, augmenting their proprietary software with open source expertise.

In the case of Capventis, a big part of its projects involves pulling vast quantities of legacy and real-time data for its clients. It reminds me of a conversation from a decade ago with MuleSoft creator Ross Mason, who had started his career with an SI. He created MuleSoft (then called MuleSource) as something like an enterprise service bus to move lots of data around and connect it to an application or service. He kept having to do the same thing–moving lots of data–over and over for his clients, and he described it as “donkey work.” So he wrote MuleSource, which eventually ended up being acquired by Salesforce for more than $6 billion.

Today, Capventis faces the same challenges but at a larger scale, as data volume, variety, and velocity grow exponentially. “A client might have Zendesk for tickets and rely on Qualtrics for surveys,” said Mike Hawkes, CTO of Capventis. “But they all rest on a giant old Oracle database. There are typically many legacy systems that need to interact but none have a connector. And those that do have connectors don’t handle maintaining integrity between various systems.”

Capventis wrote its own data stack to manage this variety of data and integrations, giving it the appropriate name of Glü. But the company also needed some open source magic.

Integrating data the open source way

Across its client base, Capventis increasingly faced challenges with the limitations of SQL in scale-out, integration projects using legacy SQL databases with tabular structures that required large numbers of joins to integrate disparate data sources. After Capventis won a major UK government project, it struggled with how to integrate several older, proprietary databases that were still in production and being regularly updated with new information. The database project involved multiple departments that over time had merged and separated and merged again. What should have been a dozen tables had exploded into more than 300. The legacy database providers refused to collaborate on the project.

SEE: How to build a successful developer career (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Stymied, Capventis reached into its open source software bag of tricks. Based on the scale and scope of the project, the team wanted a GraphQL-based interface with a flexible, reliable, and high-performance graph database on the backend.

For this project, Capventis selected GraphDB from Dgraph Labs after an internal technology bake-off. Dgraph outperformed the others and had the added advantage of a global developer community that the company found to be responsive and friendly. (I’ve written about Dgraph before.) The Capventis team used Dgraph to convert all the legacy data from multiple sources and cleansed it on the fly with no data loss, while simultaneously generating a schema read for immediate queries.

“We linked Glü to their database servers, fetched all the data, and threw it into Dgraph,” Hawkes said. “Within 20 minutes we had the entire structure of the data set with all the proper interactions captured in Dgraph. We solved this problem in one hit. It was months in the planning and minutes in the execution.”

That’s the power of open source.

Disclosure: I work for AWS, but the views expressed herein are mine.

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Diamonds may help measuring thermal conductivity in living cells

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Scientists have very precise instruments, but measuring properties of tiny little cells is still very difficult. Now researchers at the University of Queensland have developed a new tool to measure heat transfer inside living cells. It includes actual diamonds and it can work as both a heater and a thermometre. Someday it can improve cancer diagnosis.

Diamonds may help measuring thermal conductivity in living cells

Diamonds are essentially very hard pieces of carbon, which makes them great for some scientific applications. Image credit: En-cas-de-soleil via (Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 4.0)

Cancer cells are different – they behave differently and exhibit different properties. Scientists have long speculated that in some cases precisely targeted thermal therapies could be very effective against cancer. However, in order for this to become reality scientists needed to know thermal conductivity of living cells. With current technology it is literally impossible to measure thermal conductivity – the rate that heat can flow through an object if one side is hot and another is cold – inside of such tiny living things as cells.

Scientists from Australia, Japan and Singapore now employed nanodiamonds (just tiny little diamonds) to act as minute sensors in a new system. Diamonds are great, because they are very hard and because they are just a different form of carbon, which is very well-known to us. Scientists coated their nanodiamonds with a special heat-releasing polymer. This resulted in a sensor, which can act as a heater or a thermometre, depending on what kind of laser light is applied. This sensor allows measuring thermal conductivity in living cells with a resolution of 200 nanometres.

Associate Professor Taras Plakhotnik, lead author of the study, said that this new method already revealed some new interesting information about cells. He said: “We found that the rate of heat diffusion in cells, as measured in our experiments, was several times slower than in pure water, for example.”

If cancer cells and healthy cells exhibit different thermal conductivity, this kind of measurement could become a very precise diagnostic technique. Also, because these particles are not toxic and can be used in living cells, scientists think they could open the door for  improving heat-based treatments for cancer. Measuring head conductivity could help monitor biochemical reactions in real time in the cell. But that’s not all. Scientists think that this method could lead to a better understanding of metabolic disorders, such as obesity.

Diamonds are commonly used in science and industry. People oftentimes see them as something from the jewelry world, but they are much more common elsewhere. And they are not even that expensive. Hopefully, this study will result in a new method to research living cells and maybe some novel therapies as well.

 

Source: University of Queensland




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Redmi Note 10 Launch Teased Officially After Rumours Tipping February Debut in India

Redmi Note 10 launch has been officially teased on Weibo. The new development comes just weeks after the rumour mill suggested the existence of the Redmi Note 10 series that could include the Redmi Note 10, the Redmi Note 10 Pro, and the Redmi Note 10 Pro 5G. The new series is expected to succeed the Redmi Note 9 family that debuted with the launch of the Redmi Note 9 Pro and the Redmi Note 9 Pro Max in India in March last year.

Redmi General Manager Lu Weibing has teased the launch of the Redmi Note 10 on Weibo. Instead of giving away details of the phone directly, Weibing has posted an image of the Redmi Note 9 4G asking users about their expectations with the Redmi Note 10.

The Redmi Note 10 is speculated to launch in India alongside the Redmi Note 10 Pro in February. Both phones will be priced aggressively, according to tipster Ishan Agarwal. The Redmi Note 10 in the series is tipped to come in Gray, Green, and White colour options.

Although Xiaomi hasn’t provided any specifics about the phone yet, the Redmi Note 10 Pro 5G purportedly received a certification from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) earlier this month. The phone is also said to have surfaced on the US

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website with the model number M2101K6G. It has also reportedly appeared on the websites of other regulatory bodies including the European Economic Commission (EEC), Singapore’s IMDA, and Malaysia’s MCMC.

Redmi Note 10 series specifications (expected)

The Redmi Note 10 Pro is rumoured to come with a 120Hz display and include the Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G SoC. However, the 5G variant of the Redmi Note 10 Pro is said to come with the Snapdragon 750G SoC. It is speculated to have 6GB and 8GB RAM options as well as 64GB and 128GB storage versions. The Redmi Note 10 Pro models will come with a 64-megapixel primary camera sensor and include a 5,050mAh battery, according to a recent report.

Similar to the Redmi Note 10 Pro models, the Redmi Note 10 is also rumoured to have both 4G and 5G versions. The smartphone is tipped to have a 48-megapixel primary camera sensor and include a 6,000mAh battery.

The Redmi Note 10 Pro and the Redmi Note 10 are both expected to run on Android 11 with MIUI 12 out-of-the-box.


What will be the most exciting tech launch of 2021? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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