Google launches new phones, speakers in hardware push

A Google employee holds up a Google Pixel 2 XL phone at a Google event at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Updated 04 October 2017
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Google launches new phones, speakers in hardware push

SAN FRANCISCO,US: Alphabet Inc’s Google on Wednesday unveiled the second generation of its Pixel smartphone along with new voice-enabled home speakers, redoubling its commitment to the hardware business as it competes with a surge in devices from Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.
The new devices, which include a Pixelbook laptop, wireless earbuds and a small GoPro-like camera, showcase Google-developed operating systems and services, notably the voice assistant. That means usage of those devices should stoke the company’s core ad sales business as buyers of the hardware use Google services like search and maps.
The Pixel 2 smartphone comes in two sizes, with comparable features, including aluminum bodies and no traditional jacks for headphones. Prices for the base model start at $649, while the high-end version starts at $849. The phones will be available Oct. 19.
Pixelbook, priced at $999, is the first laptop powered by Google Assistant and will support Snap Inc’s Snapchat, the company said. It would be available in stores from Oct. 31.
Google Home Mini, the new speaker, is priced at $49 in the United States and would rival Amazon.com Inc’s popular Echo Dot. It will be available by the end of the year.
The Pixel debuted a year ago, with analysts estimating sales of more than 2 million, pushing Google to record amounts of non-advertising revenue. Google’s “other” revenue category, which includes both hardware and sales of online storage services, accounted for about 12 percent of overall sales in its most recent quarter.
Last month, Google expanded its hardware development capabilities by picking up a 2,000-person smartphone engineering team at HTC for $1.1 billion.
Still, Google has a large gulf to cross before matching the 215 million iPhones sold by Apple in the last four quarters.


Japan to trial ‘world’s first urine test’ to spot cancer

Updated 17 April 2018
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Japan to trial ‘world’s first urine test’ to spot cancer

  • Previous research has shown a new blood test has potential to detect eight different kinds of tumors before they spread
  • The research starts in April and will run until September

TOKYO: A Japanese firm is poised to carry out what it hailed as the world’s first experiment to test for cancer using urine samples, which would greatly facilitate screening for the deadly disease.
Engineering and IT conglomerate Hitachi developed the basic technology to detect breast or colon cancer from urine samples two years ago.
It will now begin testing the method using some 250 urine samples, to see if samples at room temperature are suitable for analysis, Hitachi spokesman Chiharu Odaira told AFP.
“If this method is put to practical use, it will be a lot easier for people to get a cancer test, as there will be no need to go to a medical organization for a blood test,” he said.
It is also intended to be used to detect paediatric cancers.
“That will be especially beneficial in testing for small children” who are often afraid of needles, added Odaira.
Research published earlier this year demonstrated that a new blood test has shown promise toward detecting eight different kinds of tumors before they spread elsewhere in the body.
Usual diagnostic methods for breast cancer consist of a mammogram followed by a biopsy if a risk is detected.
For colon cancer, screening is generally conducted via a stool test and a colonoscopy for patients at high risk.
The Hitachi technology centers around detecting waste materials inside urine samples that act as a “biomarker” — a naturally occurring substance by which a particular disease can be identified, the company said in a statement.
The procedure aims to improve the early detection of cancer, saving lives and reducing the medical and social cost to the country, Odaira explained.
The experiment will start this month until through September in cooperation with Nagoya University in central Japan.
“We aim to put the technology in use in the 2020s, although this depends on various things such as getting approval from the authorities,” Odaira said.