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    Light L16 Combines 16 Camera Sensors

    Boutique cameras like the Lytro and DxO One don't always resonate with users, but they demonstrate interesting experiments in photography to push camera technology forward. A new camera startup simply called Light today announced its L16 camera, which also takes a big risk with a new camera design concept. The company is calling it the first "multi-aperture computational camera", which is another way of saying that it combines the data from 10 out of 16 camera sensors (each with their own lenses) to composite a 52MP photo that you can adjust focus on in software. The predetermined placement of the sensors, along with their distribution of sizes and accompanying lenses, allows for the software to combine them to simulate a photo taken with a much bigger single sensor and lens.

    It's like the brenizer method automated in a point-and-shoot package. Form-factor is the big advantage here, since you don't need a giant piece of glass to get the kind of image quality promised. I see potential for this type of technology--leveraging increasing powerful mobile processors--in future smartphones. It's how we're going to get DSLR quality on phones without bulking them up. If you're interested, the L16 is available for pre-order today for $1700, and will ship late next year.

    How To Get Into Hobby RC: Recording FPV Video

    Most First Person View (FPV) aircraft have two cameras. One of those cameras is typically an action camera such as a GoPro or Mobius. Its job is to record the flight in unflinching high definition. The other camera is a small security-type camera which creates the video feed that is downlinked to the pilot's goggles or monitor. Although the latter cameras offer much less in the way of image quality, they work well for downlink because they adapt quickly to changing light conditions and provide very low signal latency. Today, we'll look at solutions to record video from those cameras.

    While most FPV models have a dedicated camera for HD recording, there are good reasons to record the lower resolution video from the FPV camera as well.

    Why Record

    When it comes time to share video of our FPV flights, we typically reach for the GoPro footage. After all, what's the point of schlepping around an extra camera if you're not going to utilize the hi-def footage that it collects? There are times, however, when you may want to record the downlinked video from your FPV camera as well.

    Even with the help of a spotter who has eyes on your aircraft, a downed model can be difficult to locate. Being able to play back the final seconds of a flight from the aircraft's perspective can reveal vital clues to help find the missing model. Another purpose for recording your video stream is to troubleshoot or tweak the performance of a model. This is especially true if you use an On-Screen Display (OSD) to provide a data overlay on the video downlink. This allows you to have a dashboard that correlates performance data with each moment of the flight. Since it's recorded, you can analyze the data after the flight - without the real-time overhead of piloting.

    Several smaller FPV options, such as this modified Blade 200QX, can't carry two cameras. Recording the FPV stream is the only way to capture in-flight video.

    A third rationale for recording your video stream is that it may be your only image source. There are a handful of ultra-small and lightweight FPV platforms that just don't have the capacity to carry a dedicated hi-def camera. The Blade 200QX, and FPV Nano QX are just two examples among many. Whatever these set-ups may lack in video quality, they more than make up for with versatility. It's perhaps the only way to record an FPV flight that takes place indoors!

    Michael Abrash and Mark Zuckerberg Talk Virtual Reality

    Consider this a palette cleanser from the technical talks at this month's Oculus Connect 2. Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Abrash were guests at Vanity Fair's recent New Establishment Summit to discuss their views on virtual reality, in a conversation moderated by Backchannel's Steven Levy. The 40-minute chat is complemented by this feature on Oculus from the most recent issue of Vanity Fair.

    In Brief: Interesting Things Happening This Week in Technology

    I just got back from my Seattle and New York trips--from which you'll see more videos and coverage soon (we visited the BrickCon LEGO convention and Valve!). As I'm catching up on this week's news, I wanted to share some of the announcements that stuck out at me. Microsoft chose this week to announce its new Surface Pro and Surface Book devices, and its partners Dell and HP did the same with their new laptops. Dell refreshed its XPS lineup with 12, 13, and 15-inch models, with the new entry-model being a convertible running Intel's Skylake Core-M. HP announced its own tablet/laptop hybrid with the 12-inch Spectre x2, also a Core-M machine. We're going to see a lot of Core-M convertibles this holiday.

    Next up, Adobe MAX was also this week, and there are a few cool demos and announcements from that conference. You'll want to check out the demo of "Monument Mode", the Project Faces font creator, and updates to Adobe's increasingly robust mobile apps. Lightroom Mobile is now completely free! Finally, two pricing updates. Sony dropped the price of the PlayStation 4 to $350, and Netflix is raising the price of its streaming service from $9 to $10. Existing subscribers won't see their bill go up for a year, and the Premium 4K plan still costs $12. Phiew--that's a lot of news!

    Hands-On: DJI Osmo Handheld 4K Camera

    We get our hands on the new DJI Osmo, an interesting handheld stabilized camera that makes use of the gimbal and camera from DJI's Inspire 1 quadcopter. Think of it as a portable steadycam. We show you how the Osmo works, how it pairs with your phone for live previewing, and give you a demo of its capabilities.

    Hands-On: Microsoft Surface Book and Surface Pro 4

    Norm's in New York this week for Microsoft's big Windows devices press event. We run through the announcements, including the new Lumia phones and HoloLens demo, and then go hands-on with the new Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. These new laptops have pretty impressive design, and we can't wait to test them in the office.

    360 Camera Rigs at Oculus Connect 2

    Filming and editing 360-degree videos requires special hardware rigs and stitching software, and filmmakers are still experimenting with how to make interesting 360 videos for VR viewing. At the recent Oculus Connect 2, we chatted with two companies working with 360 video to see what they've learned about producing video in this format.

    The Best Android Smartphone for Your Network (September 2015)

    Your phone is something you more than likely carry with you at all times and use to run every aspect of your day to day life. It's fine to spend a little money on the perfect phone, but which phone is that? There are a ton of options, and it's only getting increasingly complicated as more unlocked phones start hitting the market. As we do every month, let's dive in and see which phones are available on your carrier of choice, and which of those might be best for you.

    Carrier-branded Phones

    Carrier exclusives are mostly a thing of the past. There are occasional bespoke phones designed for one network or another, but the big flagship phones are usually available on all the major US carriers. I think your best overall option if you're going through the carriers is still the Galaxy S6, which you can get on all of them for $20-30 per month on a payment plan.

    The GS6 has a Super AMOLED panel, and it's really just fantastic. It's 5.1-inches and 1440p in resolution, which is small enough that most people should be able to use it comfortably one-handed. It's a stunningly beautiful screen, and I have no doubt it's the best you can get on a smartphone right now. This continues to be one of the primary selling points of this phone. There are devices you can get with better software or longer battery life, but none of them are as pleasant to look at.

    Show and Tell: Electric Objects EO1 Digital Picture Frame

    For this week's Show and Tell, we take a look at a new digital picture frame made by startup Electric Objects. The EO1 is a 23-inch 1080p display with a small computer built into it for downloading and displaying images and animated GIFs from the internet. One way it distinguishes itself from other digital photo frames is that its makers have intentionally not included slideshow functionality.

    Google Play App Roundup: ClickMe, Ski Safari 2, and Paper Monsters Recut

    Android devices do a lot of neat stuff out of the box, but you can always load it up with new apps to make if do more stuff. And maybe some games for good measure. This is the Google Play App Roundup where we tell you what's new on Android. Just hit the links to head to the Play Store.


    Your phone rides around in your pocket all day most likely, so it's an ideal vehicle for personal reminders. There are tons of apps that offer this functionality, and even Google Now offers a reminder feature. ClickMe doesn't have as many features as most reminder apps, but it lets you set reminders insanely fast.

    There are several ways to access the reminder features of ClickMe, the most obvious being to simply open the app. There isn't much to get the hang of in ClickMe. The app defaults to listing your last phone call as the "subject" of the reminder, but you can also tap the new reminder or contact button to remove the phone number. Simply fill in a subject and tap the button below with the desired time until you'll be reminded. That can be as little as 10 minutes or as long as a week in a single tap. There's a calendar button if you want to do a different amount of time. If you use one of the default buttons, that's it -- the reminder is set.

    I think what makes ClickMe interesting is the way it inserts itself into the user experience when you're doing other things. For example, when you finish on a call, ClickMe pops up a small bar at the bottom of the screen that allows you to set a reminder to call the person back in a single tap. This bar times out in a few seconds, and you can disable it completely if you want. The other optional integration is with screenshots. Whenever you take a screenshot, ClickMe pops up (in full screen this time) so you can set a reminder with the screenshot attached. This might be handy if you want to remind yourself to deal with an email or text message. Just take a screenshot and tap a single button in ClickMe to set a reminder.

    In the app, you've got a section where all your active and completed reminders can be found. The app also contains a voice input button if you want to speak instead of type. Next to that is the camera button if you want to attach a photo to the reminder. Whenever you set a reminder (however you do it) ClickMe closes immediately afterward. It's designed to get out of your way as much as possible.

    The reminders pop up with a UI that lets you quickly mark as complete, or place a call/send a message if there's a contact or phone number attached. I only wish the visual style was a little more consistent with Android. ClickMe is also free and has no in-app purchases.

    My 10 VR Takeaways from Oculus Connect 2

    Last week's Oculus Connect 2 conference was perhaps a pivotal event in the story of virtual reality. It was the last developer conference before the floodgates of consumer VR open next year when three platforms--Oculus, Steam VR, and PlayStation VR--make their way into our homes and offices. In some ways, it felt like Apple's WWDC before the App Store and iOS SDK launched in 2008. Developers and users are on the cusp of a new frontier; there's so much we don't know, but the eagerness and excitement for this new platform is palpable. The lessons of early VR experiences are just starting to compound and fuel a feedback loop that will eventually lay out the foundation for our understanding of what works in virtual reality. There's a whole lot of figuring out to do, which is really exciting.

    The emphasis of this year's Oculus Connect wasn't on unveiling new hardware. This Holiday's Samsung Gear VR isn't all that much different from the past models. We didn't see new Rift headsets or controller prototypes--the first consumer release is pretty much set. More interesting were the software demos, both from first and third party devs. These demos show not only the current state of VR gaming and social experiences, but where developers' heads are at in fleshing out new ideas and focusing their efforts for experimentation. Oculus Story Studio, Medium, and the Twitch social experience are the best examples of that, and there are insights to be gleaned from each, even from short demo sessions. As with last year's Connect and our GDC hands-on with the HTC Vive, I'm going to share the takeaways that stood out to me most. If you followed along the announcements at Oculus Connect 2 or attended the conference, I'd love to hear your own takeaways in the comments.

    10 Amazing Crowdsourced Science Projects

    What do scientists need, more than anything else? Data. There is only so much you can do in a lab, and when you're working on truly world-changing ideas sometimes you need the whole world to help. Enter crowdsourcing, where everyday citizens like you and me can contribute to the march of progress. Today, we'll run down ten incredible experiments that are happening with the assistance of everyday Joes all over the world.

    Job Simulator: Making VR Games for Oculus Touch and HTC Vive

    Since Oculus, SteamVR, and PlayStation VR will each have different tracking capabilities and handheld controllers, how will virtual reality game developers make software that will work across all platforms? We chat with the devs at Owlchemy Labs, whose upcoming Job Simulator game will work on HTC Vive and Oculus Touch. Here's how they see cross-platform VR working, and what they think about each system so far.

    In Brief: iPhone Camera Improvements Over 9 Generations

    Photographer and iOS developer Lisa Bettany (co-founder of Camera+) has been running an ongoing test of the cameras on every generation of iPhone. Every year, she boots up every previous iPhone and runs them through a series of photo tests to compare their quality with the latest release. This year's test, featuring the iPhone 6S, shows how the new 12MP sensor and image processing improves color accuracy, auto-focus speed, and low light sharpness. Even though her comparisons are constrained to the iPhone cameras, it's educational to see what series of tests she runs and how Apple refines its image processing software from year to year.

    Tested: How the BB-8 Sphero Toy Works

    We recently visited the workshop of Mike Senna, a droid builder who has made his own R2-D2 and Wall-E robots. Mike's next project is recreating the BB-8 droid featured in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens! We discuss what's known so far about how BB-8 was built for the film, how a remote-controlled model could be built, and take apart a BB-8 Sphero to see if we can learn anything from the small-scale toy!

    Tested In-Depth: Google OnHub Router

    We test and review the Google OnHub, a $200 home router with a unique barebones cylindrical design. We talk about how its antenna configuration is supposed to make it a good access point, and the merits of an app-based router interface. Here's how Google's router performs alongside other 802.11ac routers!

    Google Announces Nexus 5X and 6P, New Chromecast

    The worst kept secrets in recent tech memory are now official. This morning, Google announced two new phones for this Nexus lineup. The first is the Nexus 6P, made by Huawei. It's the larger of the two, with a 5.7-inch 1440p AMOLED display running off of an eight-core Snapdragon 810 with 3GB of memory. Its standout feature is a 12MP world-facing camera with laser autofocus and a pretty big Sony sensor. Of course, it'll ship with the latest version of Android, 6.0 Marshmallow. That OS release bring integrated fingerprint support, Google Now On Tap, improved Chrome integration with apps, and USB-C support. Yep, the USB-C flagships that the OnePlus Two threatened to kill are finally here. Nexus 6P will start at $500 (32GB of storage, off-contract), and is available for pre-order now.

    The second new Nexus is the 5X, which is made by LG (who made the popular Nexus 5). This phone is equipped with a 5.2-inch 1080p LCD (LG loves its LCDs) display and runs off of a Snapdragon 808 with 2GB of RAM. That makes it sound like the little brother of the LG G4, and it unfortunately doesn't share the same awesome 16MP camera sensor from the G4. That phone starts at $380, which puts it closer to the $400 pricing of Lenovo/Motorola's received 2015 Moto X Pure Edition. Nexus software notwithstanding, that phone still seems like the Android flagship to buy right now. We'll let you know when we get our hands on them. Which of these phone are you most interested in?