Jump to content
×
×
  • Create New...

    6 articles in this category

    1. Apple Watch Series 5 - Review, Specification and Price In Nepal (2019)

      With the release of new arrival “Apple Watch Series 5” in September 2019, Apple proceeds further its domain over the growing global “Smartwatch” market. Apple has also confirmed its latest “watchOS 6.0” to be available on watch series 3 & 4. The previous “Watch Series 4” was admired for its gorgeous display, excellent battery life, and health-tracking features; the new “Watch Series 5” is likewise the same with a slight improvement over its predecessor.
      Design

      Always-on display in “Watch series 5” allows the user to feel like a traditional digital watch. Appearances between the Apple Watch Series 5 and the previous Watch Series 4 are quite similar. However, Apple has pushed its latest Watch screen right to the edges and curved the corners of the Watch to make it bigger and visually appealing. Apple’s latest watchOS 6.0 provides a more insightful and delightful interface and allows the user to customize with new Watch Faces. In a market, it is available in two models: Stainless steel and Titanium with available colors: space black, silver, and gold.
      Upgrade

      There are no significant differences between Apple Watch Series 5 2019 and Watch Series 4 2018. The major leap of “Apple Watch Series 5” from “Series 4” is better internal storage: from 16GB to 32GB and featured Always-on display.
      Display: Always-on display, OLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, Resolution: 448 x 368 pixels (326 ppi density), Sapphire crystal glass OS: watchOS 6.0 Storage: 32GB (only internal) Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion battery, wireless charging, 18hrs with Always-on display Sensors: Accelerometer, gyro, heart rate (2nd gen), compass Sound: Loudspeaker, no headphone jack Color: Space Black, Silver, Gold Price
      Apple Watch Series 5 has two models: Stainless steel and Titanium. Stainless steel model costs around $399, whereas the Titanium model costs around $799 in the US. Although it isn’t available in a Nepal market yet, the previous Apple’s “Watch Series 4” costs RS 68000. The estimated price of Apple Watch Series 5 is around RS 75,000 in Nepal. It will be soon available in “Olize Store” and “Tamrakar Complex” or around “New Road” in Kathmandu.
      Verdict
      Apple has been dominating the “smartwatch” platform for so long, and it is for various good reasons: a wide range of apps, fall detection, and many more. Apple’s Smartwatches are considered best by many. Apple Watch Series 5 does offer 18 hours of battery life with an Always-on screen display that grants users a full digital watch experience. However, Always-on display technology is no new tech trends in the market. Considering the time gap, Apple falls far behind from Android tech in comparison. The biggest flaw of Watch series 5 is its limited device connectivity. It is only supported by iPhones starting from iPhone 6S and has very minor upgrades. Since watchOS 6.0 became available to previous-gen Apple’s Watch Series 3 & 4, Watch Series 5 has very few to offer for a new experience. For the previous owner of “Watch Series 3 & 4”, if you value Always-on display and better navigation compass, then Watch Series 5 is worth an upgrade.

    2. Tesla Model X : Is it for Nepal ?

      Tesla, the electric car manufacturing giant, is a household name for most of Europe and North America. Since Tesla's first release, The Roadster 2008, which was the first highway legal all-electric car, Tesla has proven that they are in the market to stay and outclass every other automotive company. Their cars have always been superior to others in terms of energy efficiency, handling, speed, and safety. This means their cars are ahead in every essential front a car has to be great at. The Model X is arguably the finest SUV built by Tesla. It has set a benchmark for every other electric and even non-electric cars in the industry. After being stuck in customs for a very long time due to the Nepal Government regulations, Model X has finally entered the not-so-beautiful roads of our country. We should also keep in mind that this is a privately ordered vehicle and not something bought via a car dealership. That being said, a Tesla dealership showroom is currently under-construction in Kamalpokhari, Kathmandu. Model X is an excellent SUV for most of the world but what about Nepal? Is such an all-electric car viable? This is a heavily featured car with very advanced tech. Are these features even useful in the context of Nepal? Is the structure and build suitable for our bumpy roads? Is it worth the extravagant price? What is the significance of an all-electric and that too a Tesla coming to Nepal? Well, let's find out how the Model X realistically fares in Nepal.
      Exterior
      Model X's design is based on "Simplicity is Beauty." Nothing looks over the top or fancy, and it looks as elegant as cars can get. It's a head-turner on the road for sure. LED headlights and fog lights look smooth, small, and simple. The talking point of Model X on the front end is the unique-looking panoramic windshield, which is said to be the largest in any vehicle available on the market. This is extremely useful in Nepal as the traffic here is ugly, and we will benefit from the wide driving view. Another masterstroke of the Tesla Model X comes with its wheels. It comes in two variations, the 20 incher or the 22. Large-diameter wheels and tires improve handling, high-speed performance, and firmness which is something every car driver all over will appreciate wholly. It also has two individual rear-seat sunroofs. Is sunroof ideal here for our country? Straight No. Open the sunroof on the roads of Nepal, and the whole interior will be filled with dust in mere seconds.
      Dimension
      Length          :  5036.82 mm/ 198.3 inches                                                                                                                                                                                    Wheelbase  :  2964.18 mm/116.7 inches   The length is one of the main distracting factors, Tesla Model X has in the context of Nepal. It's a very long SUV. One of the most common compact-SUV in Nepal is the Hyundai Creta, which is 4300 mm long. The long length of Model X calls for a larger turning radius meaning Model X is quite hard to maneuver on the not-so-wide roads of our country. Height    : 1676.4 mm / 66.0 inches The Model X can be tuned to have up to 228.6 mm of ground clearance. This is a very reassuring number looking at the big holes and the deep puddles on our roads.
      Performance
      "Teslas fly." Every car reviewer says the same thing, and Model X is no different. It gets from 0-60 mph (0-96.56 kph) in just 4.4 seconds. The Performance model is even better, clocking only 2.7 seconds. This is an SUV that weighs over 2495 kilograms! On top of that, Model X has a top speed of 155 mph (249.448 kph). Amazing performance, right? Is it ideal in Nepal, though? Except for the highways, this is not practical. Also, why would anyone take the Model X on highways where there are no charging stations? So the performance front of this car is completely irrelevant in Nepal as of the current state.
      Energy Consumption/Mileage
      The most common question of every average Nepali while buying any vehicle is, "What's the mileage?" It is also the point where Model X is most relevant in our country. Model X is an all-electric car and hence promotes zero use of fuel. So there is no any unnecessary tension regarding fuel shortage, price increments, etc. Also, a person using electric means of transportation does not promote road pollution at all. That is something to be proud of in the current situation. Tesla Model X has a battery of 100 kilowatts. On a full charge, it runs near about 561 kilometers. On a charging station, it will take about 90 minutes for a full charge, whereas, on an average Nepali home, Model X will take a massive 30 hours to get fully charged. A hassle for sure, but a much better alternative to highly expensive fuels. This alone makes Model X the one to watch out for in Nepal.
      Interior/Tech Inside the Model X
      Model X has a futuristic-looking interior as expected. 17 inches vertical display on the center-front looks fantastic and is practical. Almost everything is doable with the huge center console. The system features Google Maps, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, access to satellite radio but also misses out on very basic features like Android Auto and Apple Car-Play. Voice-control is also present and can be useful in busy roads where you can't take your eyes off for a second. The name Tesla has become synonymous with advanced car technology, and the Model X as an SUV is critically acclaimed by the European and North American market heavily due to the tech inside the car. The most talked-about feature of Model X is, of course, the Self-Driving tech with semi-autonomous highway driving, automatic lane changes, and an automated parking and summoning function. All of the above features are completely useless in most of South-East Asia and not only Nepal because the roads here are not updated and mapped out correctly in any of the world navigation systems. Is this Tesla's fault, though? Not at all. This is to be blamed entirely upon our incompetent government.
      PRICE of Model X
      The price of the Tesla Model X puts off every average Nepali. Its price hasn't officially been revealed, but it's estimated to be around 3-4 crores with custom expenses and taxes. It doesn't help either as current electric cars in the market like Hyundai Kona and Kia Niro are much more affordable. Let's hope that with the official opening of a Tesla dealership, the price will be much lower and we'll also see a lot more Tesla cars in the market for the good of the environment and even for the government to realize that electric vehicles are the future and they should support the innovation.

    3. Nvidia Unveils the New Generation RTX 30 Series GPUs off to a fresh bold start

      Nvidia has announced the GeForce RTX 30 Series GPUs. With the announcement of these new GPUs, next-gen gaming seems closer than ever. Nvidia always comes out with some crazy core technology and this time it is called “Ampere - 2nd Generation RTX”. They have always set the industry-standard graphical leap and for the 30 Series cards to achieve that feat, Nvidia has partnered up with Samsung to use the cutting-edge 8nm chip process. 
      Three GPUs were announced for the RTX 30 Series family at the digital Nvidia event yesterday.
      RTX 3090 RTX 3080 RTX 3070 As expected, these GPUs are ridiculously powerful but what makes them “The Ultimate Next-gen”? Lets find out !!!
      RTX 3090:
      RTX 3090 is now the ultimate flagship product for Nvidia. It is exceptionally powerful performance-wise and also distressingly expensive but that’s to be expected of Nvidia’s flagship. 3090 is the new generation Titan with 10496 CUDA cores which is the Nvidia measure of raw computing power. (CUDA helps in the faster rendering of high definition character models, open-world space, lighting, shading,etc.) It has a huge memory size of 24 GB which is of GDDR6X type. The bandwidth capacity is 936Gb/s and the speed is 19.5 Gbps. It is an insane GPU for sure! 


      Nvidia has marketed RTX 3090 as the “world’s first GPU that enables playing, watching, and capturing 8K HDR”. With that many CUDA cores and humongous memory size and rate, it seems to be more than capable of doing 8K HDR. The following graph put out by Nvidia shows the capability of this beast.

      For 4K120fps, 3090 is the ideal card whereas for 1440p and 1080p this card might even be overkill, such is its potential. It is not your average GPU and Nvidia has also made it clear that the RTX 3090 is more for the professional tech-oriented people and is also an option for the enthusiasts. Also, a thing to note for RTX 3090 is that the recommended system power is a whopping 750 watt(350W for the GPU only). 
      Release Date : September 24
      Price                 : $1500(~Nrs.1.7 lacs)
      RTX 3080:
      RTX 3080 will probably be the true consumer-chosen flagship for Nvidia even though it is inferior to the 3090 because of its mid-card recognition. It is less powerful than RTX 3090 but is significantly cheaper. Nvidia claims that 3080 out-performs RTX 2080 super by a big margin (twice to be precise). It is a powerful card that boasts 8704 CUDA cores, 10 GB of GDDR6X memory, 750 GB/s bandwidth, and 19 Gbps memory speed. It out-performs every other GPU in the market except its big-brother, 3090. It demands 320 Watts of the system power.

       
      RTX 3080 will certainly be the market-leader until AMD comes up with a better answer. It’s a great card for the upcoming next generation of gaming and will probably be the safest bet that can handle any game smoothly for the next 7 years or so. 
      Release Date : September 17
      Price                 :  $699(~Nrs. 90k)
      RTX 3070:
      Now, this is the stunner that took the GPU-world by storm. RTX 3070 is slightly faster than RTX 2080Ti on paper and is also significantly cheaper. This $499 card has everyone thinking “ Has Nvidia turned face from heel?” Nvidia claims that 3070 out-performs 2080 and 2080 Super and is equivalent to the performance given by RTX 2080Ti. The memory cap of 8 gigs compared to 11GB of 2080Ti might be the reason for the 3070 to not perform better at higher resolutions. 

      RTX 3070 has 5888 CUDA cores with a bandwidth of 512GB/s and a memory speed of 16Gbps. It is such a mouth-watering card for PC gamers which is just under $500. RTX 3070 will surely be popular for the next-gen budget build. The recommended System power is 650 watts with GPU itself demanding 220 watts of power.
      Release Date: October
      Price               :  $499(~Nrs. 70k)
      Now we await AMD’s answer to Nvidia’s bold products. An exciting time to be a PC gamer for sure. We will certainly be doing more follow-up on the topic after the “real-reviews” are out. 
       

    4. Mirrorless vs DSLR: Which Can Help You Take Incredible Photographs?

      The digital world Thrives on rivalry and competition. Whether it is mobile phones, Computers, or even simple Memory cards, the debate over what is better never Ceases to end. It is the competition that pushes technology to reach new miles. Now, if we look at the Photography world, there is a clear distinction between the two worlds: the DSLR world and the Mirrorless world.
      The entry of the mirrorless system in the photography world was not groundbreaking. It didn’t create big ripples to sway photographers all over the world into getting a mirrorless system. However, the same can’t be said today, even the deeply religious consumers are moving on. Moving towards the new system, a new way of photography.
      Now, the questions that remain are, does this mean DSLR is going to die? Should I discard all the DSLR lenses and bodies and get a mirrorless? Let’s find out,
      DSLR System
      DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. The system Combines the features of the Digital Imaging sensor and the SLR (Single Lens Reflex) Camera. This system relies on Mirror and Pentaprism. To take a photograph, the light passes through the lens, and then it reflects from the mirror inside to reach pentaprism. The pentaprism then reflects light towards the optical viewfinder or the Image sensor. This was massive deal for photographers who relied on films to capture the pictures. Many ways of usability and flexibility opened up for photographers.
      The era of DSLRs began when Nikon launched the first commercial DSLR camera, NIKON SVC, in 1988. It took a while to conquer the world. Still, by the early 2000s, DSLR completely dominated the Photography world, replacing Older SLR systems. Many issues were still lingering like Noise levels, Capture speed, image Size, sound during capture, and image stabilization. However, compared to the convenience the system provided, the limitations were overlooked by the larger user base.

       
      Mirrorless System
      As the name suggests, the mirrorless camera doesn't have a mirror inside reflecting light to the image sensor. In a mirrorless system, the light goes through the Lens and directly reaches the image sensor. The image can be previewed on LCD or Electronic View Finder that many mirrorless cameras use these days. This makes the inside of the camera much clean without additional components. Less component like mirror pentaprism means the size of the body can be made compact and small.
      The Mirrorless system began to surface in the photography world with the release in Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1. It took about five years for mirrorless cameras to take 5% of the market share. Then in 2015, the market share reached 26%. Furthermore, according to the Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA), the Mirrorless system's market share in 2019 rose to 47%, and the numbers are going up faster. Initially, there were many problems with the Mirrorless Systems, such as Slow Focusing, Bending, Distortions, Faster battery drain and, Lens selection and accessories. However, if we talk about the modern-day Mirrorless Cameras, most of the initial issues are already mended and are still improving.

       
      Benefits of DSLR systems over Mirrorless
      DSLR systems over the years have improved in astonishing speeds. The issues of Noise, image Stabilization, Image Size have diminished by a greater length. Let’s take a look at some benefits s of having a DSLR camera over Mirrorless.
      Autofocus
      DSLR cameras are high-speed at autofocusing on the phase Detection Technology. Ergonomics and Built
      DSLRs are usually built better. If you go with mid or high-end DSLR cameras, they are made better in comparison to Mirrorless. So, the durability of the DSLR camera is usually higher. DSLR cameras are built big, so the ergonomic is also made better. The grip and overall usability is much better in DSLR cameras. Viewfinder/Battery life/ Lens options/ Shutter
      The viewfinder on DSLR is an optical one that represents the Live view as it is without any delay. DSLRs have a greater Battery Life because Optical Viewfinder doesn't consume any power. The LCD live view is generally used less in DSLR cameras. Because of its presence for over two decades, the DSLRs have greater options for lenses and other accessories. Because the lens doesn't lose value much, the older lenses can still be used. As DSLR cameras have a considerable market share, the accessories you get are plenty. DSLRs have better Mechanical shutters enabling you to have better control in Studio where there are many fluorescent lights. The shooting speed and the Flash Synchronization is miles better than an Electronic shutter that Mirrorless cameras usually have. You don't have to worry about bending and rolling shutter (Distortion of image). Shortcomings of the DSLR system
      Let's face it; when there is a benefit, there will always be a shortcoming. DSLRs aren't all perfect. They have many things that need improvement. Let's take a look,
      Camera Body
      With more components inside, the DSLR body is usually big and heavy compared to a mirrorless camera Having many components inside makes it harder to clean the image sensor inside. Bulky design and poor continuous focus make DSLRs less capable at shooting videos. Shutter speed
      Because of having a physical Shutter inside, the shutter speed and FPS are limited on DSLR cameras Manual and Live view Focus
      Though DSLR Cameras have a better focus system with Phase detection AF, when it comes to a continuous focus on high FPS and Video mode, they fall short compared to the mirrorless. Focus is pretty slow during live view from the LCD because the focus system changes from Phase detection to the contrast detection on most DSLRs. Most DSLRs don't have a focus peaking option limiting the Manual Focusing. DSLR cameras have fewer AF Points. The AF area is centered around the center of the frame and very tiny in most DSLRs. In-body Image Stabilization.
      Most DSLR cameras prefer to have image stabilization on the lens rather than the body. It makes it compulsory to get a compatible lens making the purchase expensive. Viewfinder
      With an optical viewfinder, you can't see the changes you made before shooting a picture. This makes it hard to adjust to the right settings (Shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc.) Price
      It costs more to get a good DSLR with better features compared to Mirrorless. Usability
      You will need time to adjust to the whole system as DSLRs are meant for Professionals who work in manual mode most of the time. Benefits of Having a mirrorless System over DSLR
      Mirrorless cameras are not the same they used to be. The fundamental problems with the system have been gradually mended. If we look at the modern mirrorless camera, they are on par or even better in many aspects than DSLRs. Let's take a look at some benefits of having Mirrorless Cameras,
      Camera Body
      Mirrorless cameras have a smaller form factor because the components like mirror or pentaprism aren't needed. This makes mirrorless cameras weigh less, making them compact, and travel friendly. Having no moving components inside like a mirror enables mirrorless cameras to have a Better image stabilization system in the body itself. Most of the mid and high range Mirrorless cameras have in-body image stabilization, which DSLRs don't have. Mirrorless cameras are easier to clean as the sensor is exposed right after you separate the lens. Focus and Shutter speeds
      Focusing speeds on mirrorless stays the same with both optical View Finder and LCD screen. Mirrorless cameras have a better manual focus system. Features like Focus peaking are standard in Mirrorless, where Most DSLRs don't have this feature. Mirrorless cameras are better Video shooters. The continuous autofocus and many different modes, such as eye-tracking, object tracking, make mirrorless better at shooting video. Mirrorless cameras have a larger AF area and AF points. For example, sony A9 has 693 Phase detection autofocus points covering 93% of the frame. Mirrorless cameras have electronic Shutter that enables faster shutter speeds. Mirrorless cameras can shoot faster. Cameras like Sony a9 can shoot up to 20FPS with continuous autofocus. Because of having an electronic shutter, many mirrorless cameras can shoot silently. ViewFinder
      Most Mirrorless Cameras have an Electronic View Finder; it enables you to preview the final image before you shoot. This makes it possible to tweak settings like Super-speed, aperture, color settings, Picture modes beforehand, and not worry about the final image. Mirrorless Cameras have better options for previewing your image. You can use an electronic viewfinder or the LCD right after the image is taken. Lens Calibration
      Mirrorless have better lens calibration requirements as the only component in use is the Image sensor. Pricing
      Mirrorless cameras are usually cheap compared to DSLRs if we compare features they are providing. Usability
      Mirrorless cameras have better auto modes that can help beginners more than DSLR.
       
      Shortcomings on a Mirrorless System
      Mirrorless is more intuitive and faster to adapt to change. Still, Just like DSLRs, Mirrorless cameras have many places that they need improvement. Let's take a look.
      Camera Build
      Small size is suitable for travel, but the ergonomic and the overall build of the camera is most often fall short in comparison to DSLRs. Shutter and Viewfinder
      Mirrorless cameras use an electronic shutter that is prone to bending, rolling shutter, Color distortion. Mirrorless performs poorly in the studio environment because of Poor mechanical performance as compared to DSLRs. The electronic viewfinder delays the live view compared to the optical one. Battery Life
      Mirrorless cameras tend to have poor battery life because they have an electronic shutter and LCD that drains more power. Lens and Accessory Options
      Mirrorless cameras have less Lens and Accessory options compared to DSLRs. Leveling the Playing Field
      Now that we know the Benefits of Both the mirrorless and DSLR cameras system, lets level the playing field. Let us focus on what is happening right now; how both cameras are fairing?
      DSLR Cameras
      Modern DSLRs like Nikon D5 have improved the shutter speeds to have better FPS on Continuous Autofocus. (D5 – 14FPS C-AF) Modern DSLRs are improving on their video capturing capacity. For example, Cameras like Canon 1dxM2, Canon 5D Mk4 can capture great videos, including high FPS 4k. Mirrorless Cameras
      Autofocus systems have come miles from the previous years in Mirrorless cameras. Now we can't positively say Mirrorless cameras have inferior AF. For example, Sony a9, Sony a6600, Olympus OMD E-M10 Mark 3 have superior autofocus. Aspects like focus points, Eye tracking, face tracking technologies have leveled the playing field. Modern mirrorless cameras have improved battery life as well. You can add a grip on the most mirrorless camera to add one or two batteries to extend the life as well. Modern mirrorless cameras like the Sony Alpha series, Fujifilm, even Nikon, and Canon have improved the bending and rolling shutter issues to a greater extent. Modern mirrorless cameras have a better mechanical shutter that can be used in the studio for better performance. Modern Mirrorless cameras have started to include dual card slots for better Buffer speeds. Now, to Sum everything up. We can certainly say no system is perfect. However, if we compare the changes and the improvements in the last two decades, the Mirrorless System seems to be more adaptive. Mirrorless cameras have improved way more than the DSLRs. The shortcomings that mirrorless faced during its initial release seems to be mended very well today.
      On the other hand, DSLR hasn't lost much value but hasn't gained any significant improvement in the last decade or so. That being said, is it really the end of DSLR? That is a question open for debate.

      Future Prospects
      Let's make some predictions based on the above facts. Where do we see these systems reach in the next decade? If you are new, which system should you invest in?
      Where do we see the Mirrorless and DSLR in the next decade?
      Looking at the Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA) report, the market share of the Mirrorless camera in 2019 is 47%. Moreover, the report suggests the numbers are going up faster than before. This alone shows how people are moving to the mirrorless system. From the report alone, we guess the numbers are doubling in the next ten years. So, mirrorless will likely hold more than 60 or 70% of the market share in the next ten years. That being said, the DSLR will not die in the next decade. Some faithful followers love the DSLR, and we wouldn't know for sure DSLR will not improve further.
      Do I buy Mirrorless or DSLR if I am new?
      If you are starting new, then go for mirrorless. They are cheaper, easy to get started, and are far better in terms of Auto features. The lens is more affordable to buy, as well. Mid-range Mirrorless cameras perform well in comparison to the similarly priced DSLRs.
      Do I sell all the DSLR lens and move towards Mirrorless?
      Suppose you are already engaged in the DSLR world, then you shouldn't move on just yet. As we have said before, the value of DSLR hasn't diminished much. The lens you have will not lose value if you use them with care. Moreover, many adapters are being manufactured these days, enabling the use of your DSLR lens on future mirrorless cameras. Currently, there may be some issues with autofocus and such using Adapters. Still, in the coming years, they sure will improve.
      Is mirrorless the future?
      It's likely not. Other versions of cameras are also on the rise these days. Mirrorless camera will probably be the main character in the next decade but its not the future. Other camera types such as Point and shoot cameras, Action cameras, Modular cameras, and many more are also shared in the Photo/Videography world. However, Mirrorless cameras will hold a larger market share in the next decade for sure.
      Which system is Futureproof? Mirrorless or DSLR?
      Mirrorless System, of course.
      Buying suggestions for DSLR and Mirrorless cameras
      DSLR Cameras
      Canon EOS 7D mark2 Nikon D7500 Canon EOS 5D m3 Pentax K-1 M2 Canon EOS 90D Mirrorless Cameras
      Sony a7 m3 Nikon Z50 Fujifilm X-T3 Sony A9 m2 Canon EOS R Sony A6600

    5. Self-driving Cars in Nepal are a Distant Future: Here's Why!

      Can we dare to dream just yet?
      I was part of a nasty micro-bus crash near Basundhara Chowk in Kathmandu last year. The street had broken off a piece of itself at the edge, and the micro-bus I was on lodged its front wheel in the dip so that the bumper caught the road. The vehicle spun quickly, and the lateral side of the vehicle hit an electricity pole. I had been reading about Tesla's self-driving cars earlier that morning, and I wondered, will I see that vehicle running scores on the Ring-Road within my lifetime? For context, if we look at the Mars business, humanity has already landed and operated 9 robots on the red planet, among which 2 are still in operation studying the feasibility for human presence. Could we see a driverless vehicle on the road before the first human sets foot on Mars?
      We are a country of surprises, and we do not fail to carry this element of surprise alongside us on our roads. With traffic discipline close to non-existent, this process itself could take years to conquer. Add bumpy roads, street dividers, lack of traffic control signs, and confident people crossing the streets under the bridges, and you have a recipe for disaster. Self-driving vehicles operate through a combination of cameras, radars, and sensors. Usually, the sensors on such vehicle support a range of about 8-10 meters. This implies that the vehicle will be able to sense the presence of an object up to 8 meters in its periphery. However, slithering motorbikes are daring maneuvers, make this process challenging even for the very capable computers onboard.
      How do self-driving cars work?
      Self-driving cars are a pot-full of sensors and cameras that work in a synchronized manner to avoid obstacles. In a nutshell, these autonomous wonders utilize the GPS, and inertial navigation system, laser-based range finding sensors, peripheral sensors, and video. The synchronization of all such systems in place gives these vehicles human-like accuracy out on the roads.
      GPS Most of all are already familiar with a GPS. It stands for Global Positioning System, and it does precisely what the name suggests. It communicates with a range of near-orbit satellites to map its position on the globe. It is useful primarily when navigating through to one's destination like a pathfinder tool. GPS also works in synchronization with other devices equipped with GPS sensors in order to find the easiest and the most open path that one can take to their destination.

                                                       GPS near-earth orbit
      Inertial Navigation System Contrary to the GPS, the Inertial Navigation system maps your position relative to your initial position. The inertial navigation system is comprised of tools like the Gyroscope and the Accelerometer, to map positions relative to where it started. Spaceships, aircraft, submarines, missiles, etc., use this system to navigate. This eliminates the errors made by the GPS, and when combined, provides a better understanding about position and movement. OXTS have an easy to understand guide about understanding INS better if you are interested to know more.

                                                                  Image: INS from Texample
      Sensors: Peripheral and Laser-based (Lidar) Self-driving vehicles use two types of sensors: Peripheral (Radio wave-based) and Lidar (Laser-Based).
      Radio wave sensors are the traditional sensors used in airports and harbors to detect aircraft and ships. These sensors emit radio waves all around the vehicle and check to see when they bounce back to locate other vehicles and objects. The time taken by the waves to be reflected back helps to calculate the distance between the vehicle and the object. D=ut if you remember school science! Contrary to the Radio wave, Lidar uses lasers of light at the higher end of the visible spectrum to create a map of its surroundings. Light waves are emitted around the vehicle. Once they are reflected back, they create something called a point-cloud mapping of the environment. Cloud points refer to data points in space that can be used to create a 3-D model of the space and objects in it.
                                                                                Cloud-point mapping 3D output
      Camera Cameras itself fall under the 'sensors' category. It is fairly obvious what a camera does, in addition to the other sensors. They provide real-time visible knowledge of the surroundings adding to the accuracy of all the other sensors. It is difficult, however, to map distances by using the camera. Still, the distinguishability that cameras provide is unmatched by the other sensors. While other sensors identify objects, cameras help identify the kind of objects present, i.e., people, road signs, blocks, etc.
      These vehicles use cameras all around to provide a 360-degree knowledge of the environment. In addition to that, they also use special lenses like the 'fisheye' to map larger areas for a panoramic view. Cameras, however, don't work very well in low light.
      What are the challenges?
      Since faults in an autonomous vehicle could have fatal consequences, they have to be put on hold unless everything is near-perfect. Families, children, older people, and all kinds of people and groups are going to be recipients of this technology. This makes perfection more than just a desire, a necessity!
      Building and maintaining a 'map' While the vehicles are expected to be 'smart' when it comes to mapping, Google believes that pre-mapping can reduce the number of computations required by the computers onboard. Using maps, the computer system can easily eliminate the analysis of objects like poles, fire hydrants, road dividers, etc., and focus on 'unknown' objects alone. This saves a lot of processing power and improves accuracy. Companies would have to manually drive along the roads in vehicles equipped with the same sensors to gather data. They'd have to re-do the whole process in cases of structural changes.
      Dealing with humanly impulses and interactions Majority of the roadway accidents happen because of impulsivity. An article published in [Researchgate] noted that most accidents tend to happen because of impulsive decisions made by people under the influence of drugs, anger, frustration, etc. This is a challenge since computers don't know how to do that yet. They lack a basic feature to deal with such scenarios: instinct. Despite the progress in AI, human intuition and consciousness remain unmatched. However, Google has been working on teaching its machines about everyday events such as hand signals from pedestrians and cyclists since as early as 2014.
       
      Cybersecurity As machines grow smart, hackers also get one step further. Software companies have had to deal with hackers for a long time, and this is no different. The whole vehicle autonomy is based on machines and computers and software. That leaves us with a critical question "What are the chances of our car system getting hijacked, and we end up driving ourselves to our eventual doom?"
      Weather You plan to take your self-driving car on a little tour one morning and suddenly find the weather getting worse as a storm approaches. You decide to carry on placing your trust on your trusted little machines on board. Suddenly you find out that your GPS isn't working very well. Because of high winds and close to zero visibility, your sensors are not able to map objects around as well as expected. What do you do then?
      Challenges for us in particular?
      Before we worry about cybersecurity and weather, in our context, we just have to look at our infrastructure.
      Roadways Nepal has approximately 90,000 kilometers of the road network. Out of that, only about 19% is operationally Blacktopped according to reports from as near as May 2019. As far as the intra-city road network is concerned, only a few cities come to mind. Kathmandu also does not have a reliable road network that autonomous vehicles can operate on. Rain constantly changes the structure of how the street looks. Add poor management, and unsustainability on top of that; car manufacturers will find themselves updating map data every single month which is costly and not worth it given the market we would 'possibly' have.
      In addition to that, the terrain outside the southern plains and Valleys is challenging to navigate even by the best drivers out there.
      Traffic Discipline As noted earlier, human impulsivity is one of the major challenges barring vehicles their full autonomy. Our traffic discipline is a mess. Although efforts have been made from many different and even individual levels, the situation has not been any better. From lane changing to crossing the street, sidelights to U-turns everything has a fair bit of impulsivity attached to it. The only safe driver in Nepal is an aware and intuitive driver. Machines have a long road ahead of themselves to attain that status, so it does not look like it is going to happen anytime soon.
       

       
      Affordability If you refer to the report by the world bank, you can estimate the number of people who can afford such a luxury machine. I would not be surprised if one can count the number of such vehicles (if they happen to arrive right away)on their fingers! Given the lack of market, companies would have no incentive to invest in building infrastructure in Nepal. This is evident when we see that not even services like Uber have been adopted yet.
      And the list goes on!
      Our affinity to Technology
      Our affinity for advancement has always been positive. It is no surprise that people are always amazed by advances not just in Nepal but everywhere else too. Our response towards electric cars and recently launched Yatri electric motorbikes speaks volumes about our acceptance for progress. However, think about charging stations and the workforce for service and maintenance, and everything suddenly turns sour. We are, inevitably, bound by limited infrastructure. No matter how welcoming we are, our guests are far too tall to fit through our doors.
      What about our Neighbors?
      According to a report published in The Deccan Chronicle, China plans to have autonomous vehicles on its roads by 2025. India, however, is reluctant given similar problems that we have in terms of infrastructure and traffic discipline. It is also noted that 4 million Indian drivers would lose their jobs if such a step were taken. China had already tested these vehicles for over a million kilometers in its capital.

                                                  Wikimedia commons: Beijing 3rd ring-road airport express-way
      Parting Thoughts
      It does not seem very likely that AV (Autonomous Vehicles) or self-driving vehicles will be a reality in Nepal anytime soon. We have a long way to go. It depends on our actions as people as much as it depends on the technological advancements we make. Evolution as a society always lays the framework for projects so big. Several things are changing and hopefully, we will see a future where the evolution of technology begins in Nepal. For now, it seems plausible to assume that the first humans to land on Mars will not have read about self-driving vehicles in Nepal. Yet for a later possibility, we hope!
      Do join our FORUMS and spark a communication at cybernepal.com for all tech alike!!

    6. M1 Powered MacBooks To Drastically Change The Way Laptops Work? Or A Ploy For Platform Control

      With the release of Apple's first M1 powered MacBooks, the tech world has been shocked by the actual performance of these machines after they created much anticipated hype on papers. Apple's processing prowess had yet been measured in its A-series chips for iPhones and iPads which remains unmatched since more than a decade. The change, however, recently transformed the way we see laptops and our expectations surrounding these machines. 
      Ever since Apple announced the move to an entirely new breed of processors for its MacBooks, there had been much anticipation which was closely matched by an equal amount of skepticism. Apple claimed faster MacBooks with close to 20-hour battery backup which sounded ridiculous, but yet people banked on the thought since it was Apple. 
      The Story Until
      The first passengers on the ARM processors aboard the hype-train were companies like Qualcomm and Microsoft which failed to deliver when results were evaluated besides promises. It was in fact clear that Microsoft wanted to show-off what Windows could do on an ARM based system in the Surface Pro X. Several experts were quoted saying that these Surface machines are built for a world that does not even exist. [source] 
      The Apple Story
      Apple has in fact made sure that its promises hold fulfilled. Several users and developers have noted significant speed in terms of processing. Basic tasks like browsing/streaming etc. seem faster than ever. Even apps with no ARM compatibility run faster than they did on intel macs through the emulator: Rosetta. Here is an instance of compiling speeds achieved on the M1 MacBooks as opposed to the intel ones.
      The difference is notable enough to not ignore. However, most apps need to rely on the Apple emulator to run on the new Macs. That certainly raises concerns about how Rosetta handles App updates should the native ARM versions see a delay in the launch of native Apps. 
      Most larger companies will certainly accomplish and adapt, meanwhile the small developers and the Apps that do not posses the capital to invest in building an ARM native version of Apps will suffer. 
      Apple's Solution To The Money Matters
      Apple's solution is, on the hindsight, an effort to control its platform. This includes complete control over hardware, and a complete control over 3rd party software distribution on top of that.
      Apple has been encouraging developers to build ARM native Apps for MacBooks ever since the release of MacOS Catalina which saw the end of 32-bit applications. The adaptation back in 2018 was swift and most users didn't even notice the change, this one, however, is bigger. Most softwares, and especially, the creative ones (that Apple claims to build machines for) are based on the x86 architecture. 
      Despite that, even with Rosetta, Apple doesn't fail to deliver speed and efficiency. An article published in PC magazine saw the M1 MacBooks overpower intel counterparts and even machines like the Dell XPS 13 in a series of benchmark tests. 
       

      Image : PC Magazine
      Additionally, Apple announced that its Small Business Program will now only charge developers 15% of total sales under a threshold as opposed to 30% previously. This is a bid to encourage developers to build native Applications for the ARM MacBooks and thus empower the Apple ecosystem control.
      And Intel-AMD Race
      For years, Intel and AMD have been having a Dohori of sorts as both tried to topple one another in terms of speed and performance. Apple, it seems, has been in a completely different ballpark all together. Unlike most Laptop manufacturers out there, Apple already had experience working with an all owned platform with its iPhones and tablets. As it has been noted countless times previously, the company is spared the compromises that competition has to make when deciding a system that works well with everything. On the contrary, Apple, given its already large fanbase, has to focus on performance alone. 
      Additionally, it is not just the hardware. Apple's software is also optimized specifically to the hardware's capacity and limitations. Jon Gruber wrote an excellent piece on the M1 processors where he talks about claims from Dave Smith, and basically tells us that since Apple's building the processors from scratch, its software is able to achieve up to 5 times the speed on half the RAM usage than it could on even the best of x86 optimizations. 
       
      With one company able to control much of how a machine works, we are certainly seeing improved performance over the ones controlled collectively by a conglomerate of different interests and expertise. This absolute control, however, doesn't sit right with some people who are concerned about the future of 'choice' and will. 
      The Concerns of Control
      Performance aside, several experts have expressed concerns over how users are handing Apple full control of everything (on top of the ecosystem of devices). The switch of MacBooks to ARM means that the support for Bootcamp and Hackintosh is now over. While the switch to ARM doesn't directly kill Bootcamp or 3rd party hardware running macOS, the side effect certainly kills of such modifications (of software that you paid for). 
      However, Apple lovers defended the claim as they pointed out that we'll see several manufacturers shift to ARM long before Apple officially ends support for its existing x86 based systems. 
      Concerns have also been raised over killing intel based Apps which Apple has defended citing its emulator support which they claim won't end unless they can enable most developers to build an ARM native app. However, what this does to small scale developers remains to be seen still. 
      We cannot say that this 'innovation'/'Power Control' measure is positive or negative just yet. The pros and cons of a fully controlled system will need more time to be evaluated. Until then we can only sit back to marvel at what Apple has been able to achieve through its M1 chips, while the rest of us who can't do that will sit back in skepticism about what this means for tech freedom and complete ownership of devices/services that we pay for! 

Global Members Chat

Global Members Chat

    You don't have permission to chat.